serenity

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Happy Valentine’s Week!

Serenity. Eight letters. One meaning. In the above picture “serenity” is written 9 times, in 9 different colors and fonts. Does that change the meaning of the word?

The correct answer is no, although for art fanatics, the argument of color connotations could be made. But I digress, my serenity during the Christmas break is much different than the serenity I am experiencing (or at least attempting to 🙂 now. Life is all about seasons and what makes Jesus so amazing and relatable is this: He has gone through all of life’s seasons and is more than willing to be our comfort, peace and tour guide as we navigate through them.

I’ve mentioned this before (or at least I think I did!), that God is One of excellence and authenticity! He doesn’t recycle ideas or plans for His children’s lives. Each and everyone of us having a gift or calling that is unique to us and us only. We get fresh grace and mercy every morning, not because God just wants something to do, but because He knows that both our needs yesterday and tomorrow will be different than what we are facing today.

Have serenity in the fact you are Jesus’ Valentine all year long and His love is always changing forms, in order to better serve us!

Until Thursday

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Too Well

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In a competition against someone, chances are not probable that you will choose a game/sport that you have never played or know nothing about! You’re going to choose something of familiarity…something that you know the ins and outs of, with your eyes closed.

Our adversary, Satan is no different. When he plans he attack against us, he doesn’t employ love, truth or kindness, his weapons of choice are worry, fear and anxiety. He is excellent at hitting us where it hurts, giving us a virtual theatre to play out our worst fears. “You’ll never make it, and when you don’t, this how your life will fall apart.” & “You’re irretrievably broken, look at all the times you have had a ‘fresh start’” to name a few. These visions of demise are always so vivid and real, putting 2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV to the absolute test.

Satan is great at imposing stress and insecurity into our lives, because he knows the feeling all too well. His endgame of disintegration is just about as cemented as Lot’s wife and the layers of sediment on the ocean’s floors. He’s been nervous about how rough his end is going to be since he was promptly ejected out of heaven, which if it’s anything like Romans 16:20 MSG says (“… the God of peace will come down on Satan with both feet, stomping him into the dirt.”), then he has ample grounds to be worried! Like most villains, Satan wasn’t evil from the beginning. He was actually an angel that dwelled with and worshipped God, until one day he became unsure of his identity and bumped his head on an evil ego rock, knocking him unconscious. When Lucifer woke a few hours later, he declared to himself, “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High”, Isaiah 14:14 NIV and the rest is history.

If you go read Isaiah 14, it won’t read about Satan being knocked unconscious, I just applied my own embellishments on how he went from riches to rags, for personal understanding. At any rate, dissecting Satan into the feeble, fearful failure that he is, helps us to decrease him in our eyes and increase Jesus in our spirits.

Now, in light of all that, do we even have an enemy or it is just the shadow of a stuffed animal?

Until Thursday,

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Oh Boy!

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Last week, my sister was reading a Christmas story that she had written for an homework assignment when she exclaimed “oh boy!”. Up until that point, I was listening enough to understand the general plot, but was definitely focused on other things. The enthusiasm of that little 8 year-old girl really resonated with me!

Oxford Dictionaries define “oh boy” as a phrase “used to express surprise or excitement.”

Hours later I was giving myself a prep talk about loving the life I lead and the precious price that Jesus paid, when God started up a very peculiar conversation with me.

“Oh boy!” God shouted.
“What?” I asked confused.
“Oh boy!”, that’s what King Herod said when my Son, Jesus was born.” God replied.

Flipping to Matthew 2, I immediately could hear a chorus of “oh boys!” from God and my sister!

“When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, “[Oh boy!] Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?””
Matthew 2:3-4 MSG

Now the scripture doesn’t explicitly say that Herod said “oh boy!”, but since God said He did, and I wasn’t there to witness it myself, I’m sticking with His recollection. This baby who prophets have been talking about for years. This baby who in His infancy was already being called the “Prince of Peace” and “Wonderful Counselor”. This baby who had finally made his glorious appearance! King Herod was far from excited, but definitely surprised as well as terrified along with Satan himself. We all know how the story goes…King Herod attempts in vain to kill Jesus before He would save all of humanity, by ordering the murder of every boy born in Bethlehem under the age of two. But of course Jesus was saved by Joseph and the Three Wise Men’s obedience to God’s quick thinking angels.

Now I’m about to wrap this post in a nice bow…AD’s gift to you!

When Satan gets wind of the amazing and unprecedented plans God that is drawing up for your life, he desperately tries to halt them by any means necessary. Even if that involves assassinating your character, confidence, faith, self-esteem, emotions etc., just as Herod attempted (but failed) to kill Jesus in His infancy.

You’ve got such an unthinkably unique and outrageously extraordinary agenda assigned to you, that every time you breathe, Satan and his equally reprehensible schemers all are screeching “oh boy” or “oh girl” 🙂

The power that made the Word flesh in the form of Jesus, is the same power that also rose Him from grave. That same power flows throughout us, thanks to Jesus! Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday to our Great and Selfless Savior…Jesus!

Until Thursday,

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Acceptance

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I’ve tried to spend this past week engaging and being active with my loved ones. All the tragedies and disasters of this year have really caused me to pull back the smoke screen of “happiness” to see the things that truly matter!

I often wonder about Jesus and how he handled the notion that he had to go to the Cross. Giving his life for people that may or may not even acknowledge his name. What a challenging thought to come to grips with!

It’s clear from Matthew 26:39, that Jesus pondered other options, pleading with God to find another way. Just as we would if our parents came to us and said, “Hey, My Beloved Child, I need you to sacrifice yourself for the redemption of your siblings (you and I) and the people down the street who can’t stand the ground you walk on (the Pharisees).” Jesus was facing a grave task that he frankly didn’t want to do. Yet, there came a time when He realized that he was The Way and that God’s grace would see him through.

Applying that to our lives, I’m curious about what things we need to just accept and rely on God’s grace to deal with. If there was another way of handling life besides depending on God’s timing, I’m sure we would have already found and put it to great use…but there isn’t. Now, thankfully we aren’t facing death for the salvation of others! And what is even sweeter is that all the things we are facing, have already fallen thanks to the same grace and power that snatched Jesus from death’s grip.

My prayer is that you’ll accept the plan that God has for your life and whatever challenges may come along ,never forgetting the fact that only good things come from God, James 1:17.

Until Thursday,

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peace.

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Instead of attending to my never-ending to-do list, I kicked off the Christmas season with a Hallmark movie. The last couple of weeks have been such a tremendous time of growth and reprioritization. I seemed to have been neglecting the very person that I will be forever stuck with…myself.

Life is all about balance and I now see that I didn’t have very much J! Proverbs 24:33-34 talks about how poverty creeps in with excess slumber. Yet Proverbs 3:24 promises a sweet and peaceful sleep when we lie down. Bible contradiction? Nope, just another sign of how God truly intended for us to exercise wisdom in our lives. Now, I can’t watch movies every afternoon and expect to be successful in life. Just as I can’t work my fingers (and brain) to the bone and expect to be fulfilled in life.

In a world where everybody is trying to acquire more, be better than the best and achieve speeds faster than fast, I pray that we will be the first ones to slow down the pace of our lives. Bulldozing the first domino down that could lead to less stress-related diseases and more laugh-related wrinkles!

…even God rested on the seventh day…

Until Thursday,

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Downside Up

Downside Up

What if when life feels turned upside down, it is actually downside up?

A couple weeks ago, my life got a little more challenging (or should I say my academic life:) I was spinning wheels like the little engine that could, going nowhere but feeling exhausted like I’ve been everywhere! Spent out of gas and left to settle myself, I finally had a prodigal moment (when you think something else besides “woe is me”) and was like, “I can be miserable and at His mercy or I can be joyful and at His mercy. Either way I’m at His mercy, so I might as well be happy.”

Looking back I see that my life was completely upside down, as I was trusting God, but also subconsciously dependent on myself. That is why my peace was fleeting, as soon as it came, it went, just like a glass full of water that has been inverted. Jesus is a well of living water, 100% accessible to us at all times, but if our cups are turned upside down, then all the joy and tranquility that He offers will leave just as quickly as it enters. Although, this week has been a bit stormy, I’ve had the most constant and lingering peace. It is now truly well with my soul.

Satan cannot and will not bother those that he has his hold on, so if he is afflicting you, that is a great sign. My hope is that Satan is very busy, vainly attempting to steal the peace of God’s children!

Until Sunday,

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Grace’s Rhythm

Graces Rhythm

October is historically a challenging month for me, as there is so much going on in a such a small length of time. And don’t even get me started about all the heartbreaking things that have happened since October 1st flew in.

Friday, God laid Matthew 11:28-30 on my heart. I was feeling extremely burden, burnt out and highly fatigued. Sometimes, there seems to be hardships everywhere you look. Externally, there are assignments to finish, applications to fulfill, deadlines to meet and qualifications to exceed. Internally, there are goals to finish, dreams to fulfill, milestones to meet, and progress to exceed. No matter where you look, outwardly and inwardly, there is likely something lacking!

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”- Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

Now, the initiative is on us. Jesus says, “come to me.”, not “I will come to you.” We have to take the first step of surrender and then Jesus will meet us halfway. Another key phrase, that I saw, was “learn the unforced rhythms of grace”. When we go to Jesus and lay down our burdens at His feet, He gives us eternal rest by singing songs of grace over us. His songs bring peace as they melodically remind us that we are empowered to prosper…entitled to mercy…entrusted to God. His rhythms usher in a faith’s lens, marching fear’s out. As long as we are willing to listen, Jesus is more than willing to strum his guitar strings and belt out a tune.

If you are worn out from the world, feet barely up from the ground, take a minute to hear Jesus’s sweet supernatural song of mercy singing over you…

Faith: “Shush Fear…!”

Fear: “Oh please, I could care less.”

Faith: “…Grace is singing!”

Fear:

When Grace speaks, Fear falls silent.

 

Until Thursday,

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Butterfly

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“Why doesn’t she release us?” Freedom, a bright blue butterfly says to her prison companion, Forgiveness.

Freedom and Forgiveness are butterflies that have been imprisoned for more years than they can count. They long for the smell of outside air and the scent of fresh sprouting flower blooms.

“I don’t know?” Forgiveness replies, who also happens to be an equally beautiful and bright butterfly in his own right, except white in hue.

“It is the most asinine thing I have ever experienced.” Freedom remarks.

“It really is. She has the key to free us but she refuses to put it to good use!” Forgiveness adds.

“Exactly and if her sanity wasn’t enough, then the price her Savior paid for the key should be.” Freedom adds.

“Yeah, a hefty price! Talk about some unconditional love and mercy.” Forgiveness says.

“You see my wings? Their sparkling white and created to withstand the troughs of tribulations.”

“Freedom you and I were meant to fly, high into sky. You, near the clouds, light and free. Me, in the skies, full of blithe.”

“Couldn’t have said it better, Forgiveness. Although, you did forget your scintillating blue wings, strong enough to cut through the harrowing winds of hate.”

“Freedom, you are-Wait, do you hear that?” Forgiveness whispers.

Dear Savior in Heaven,

Thank you for waking me up this morning and blessing me to see another day! Without You on my side, I could never find the way. You sacrificed Your life and paid the ultimate sacrifice for my freedom and well-being. Help me to forgive others just as You did on the cross. Help me to release the desire to be in control of my life. Show me how to walk, live and revel in love all the days of my life. It is time for me to let go of these heavy weights that have been holding me down and grab tight to the promise of new life. I leave the past, present and future where they rightfully belong…in Your Almighty Hands…

In You Great Name, alone. Amen.

“I can’t believe it. We’re finally going to be free!” Freedom screeches.

“After all these years of being held in captivity and oppressed. I’m so elated that she decided to roll the weight of hurt and worry onto Jesus’ mighty shoulders. And I’m even more ecstatic to feel the wind through my wings again!” Forgiveness says

“Me too! Although, I am really going to miss you, Forgiveness!”

“Same here, we have had a lot of great times together.” Forgiveness responds.

“Well goodbye then, be blessed!”

“You too, but it is not goodbye, it is till next time…”

Butterfly, The Play

Starring:

Freedom
Forgiveness

Personification brings the Bible to life for me and allows me to not only retain God’s Word, but also understand it. What I would give to have Calculus and Chemistry textbooks in story form!

Unlike “Roll Call”, this one (Butterfly) is a little more abstract, so I am going to do a quick summary just in case you got lost in story! The butterflies are mental visuals of what goes on in our hearts. Past hurts and strongholds often hold us back from fully surrendering to God’s goodness. We have the keys to The Good Life, thanks to Jesus dying for us, yet we hesitate to use the precious gift that He sacrificed so much for! Your trapped butterflies might be different, maybe it is Peace or Joy. Kindness or Compassion. Temperament or Patience. Whatever they might be it is time to set them free

At the start of this year, AD declared that 2017 was A Year To Fly, and although there are only 112 days left in 2017, that is still plenty to stretch our wings!

Until Thursday,

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Settled.

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Sometimes my life looks like the picture above. Everything is blurry. Running together. Spiraling somewhere. And like a strong force of gravity the chaos of my life tries pull my mind into it. Blurring my focus. Running faith and doubt together. Spiraling nowhere.

Tries, is they key word here. Satan tried to stop Jesus as a baby, when King Herod authorized the order to kill all baby boys in Bethlehem. Satan tried to discourage David, by making his death, Saul’s personal mission. Satan tried to discredit Noah’s resolve in God, by speaking words of doubt through the townspeople. Satan a trying god…I’ll give him that! He has a fairly decent persistence rate and an equally mediocre creativity rate. He neither stops afflicting God’s children nor cease thinking of devious way to do it.

Try as the big bad wolf did, but he could not blow the third little piggy’s house down. That little piggy was settled. Satan will huff, puff and tell us that he is going to blow our houses down, destroy our careers, rip apart our families and do us completely in, but like a good villain, he never spills the bullseye of his demise. The bullseye: He can’t move settled people. Confident and resolute Christians will withstand all of his fiery trials and fierce floods.

I have made the decision to finally settle some things in my life. Things that were like measly sticks and straws in my heart, shifting around every time life’s gravity pulled on them. No longer am I am double minded. Triple minded. And unsettled. Today, I choose to change and be single minded and settled.

My thoughts and prayers are with the world today as I hope that a settling peace will overcome this world, in the midst of Satan’s last days of destruction…

WE WILL NOT BE SHAKEN, PSALM 55:22.

Until Sunday,

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Roll Call

Roll Call

“So—who is like me? Who holds a candle to me?” says The Holy. Look at the night skies: Who do you think made all this? Who marches this army of stars out each night, counts them off, calls each by name—so magnificent! so powerful!—and never overlooks a single one?” –Isaiah 40:25-26 MSG

As night begins to fall, high up in the highest skies, the lights of the night begin to be awoken. It is time for their nightly assignment: light up the skies for God’s earth. Radiance is the first one up and quickly rouses the others to get ready. It will only be a short time for their Lord arrives to call roll and kindle their lights.

“Stars, are you ready for tonight?” God asks, fully aware of the fact that His faithful night servants are always ready to go at the drop of sunset.

“Yes, Father! We are delighted.” Dazzles replies, now completely awake thanks to Radiance’s friendly wake up call.

“Father God, he would not have been ready, if it had not been for me!” Radiance huffs.

“Radiance, stow your jealously. We all know I shine so very bright.” Dazzles counters.

“Here I am!” Bright, the baby of the bunch exclaims, thinking his name has been called.

“Not you Bright, the word bright.” Dazzles corrects.

“Oh I–” Bright begins talking in attempt to salvage some of his dignity.

“I spy with own eyes two of brightest blockheads in the skies tonight.” Radiance says, roaring with laughter.

“All of you just stop! We need each other –”, Sparky says trying to bring the peace, but is interrupted by Glow.

“Yeah, Sparky you need us, because your light only sparks. The rest of us, well at least me, glow all the time.” Glow replies with a chuckle.

“Now, Glow, that is just a dim comment.” Luminous, the elder star of them all chastises.

“What kind of name is Luminous anyway? Luminous…horrendous…” Radiance yells.

“That is enough.” God says with the sternest, but stillest of voices.

“I have let you all carry on long enough and I am very disappointed at your behavior. You all have a responsibility, an important one at that! To light up the night for my children on earth, during what would otherwise be a time of darkness. Not everyone has the opportunity to be stars. I hand crafted each and everyone of you, to be just as your are. The most beautiful and bright…in your own light.”

“God, I apologize for darkening the mood and being selfish.” Radiance says sincerely.

“Yeah, you definitely–” Dazzles starts but is quickly interrupted by God and given a silent warning.

“…Definitely weren’t alone in your selfishness.” Dazzles says, thankful for the quick save.

“Sparky, I’m sorry for my comment. Your scintillating sparks are what make you stand out from everyone else!” Glow says.

“Thanks Glow, you know you are the one who brings the real star show!” Sparky replies.

“And to Luminous, I owe an extra special apology. You have been nothing but kind and helpful to all of us stars. As the oldest, you are greatest star to ever chase away the dark!” Radiance speaks.

“I love the sight of this. Look at how you all are just illuminating. Your love and forgiveness for each other has kindled you all tonight. My touch isn’t necessary! Whose ready for roll call?” God says with a warm smile.

“Yay!” Bright screams.

 

“Sparky to the North.”

“Yes, Lord!”

“Glow to the East.”

“Yippee twinkles, Lord.”

“Dazzles to the South.”

“Thanks, Maker.”

“Luminous and Bright to the West.”

“Ready, newbie?”

“You bet I am!”

“And my sweet Radiance, to the center.”

“The center? God, I –”.

“Am underserving? Yes, you are! And despite your moment of strife tonight, I still love you and will not hold my compassion from you.”

“God, how could I ever repay you for loving me, the unlovable?”

“Radiate so that all the world can see. Gleaming so brilliantly, that all those who have sight, know it is because of Me.”

 

Roll Call, The Play
Starring:
God

Sparky
Glow
Dazzles
Radiance
Luminous
Bright

Hopefully you enjoyed that! Now, there are more (much more) than 6 stars in the sky every night. 6 trillion is probably more accurate, but I would not have been able to keep up with 6 trillion characters! Isaiah 40:25-26, is just one of those verses that truly comes alive for me. And when I was thinking about it today, God gave me this vision of how He marches the stars out at night. How amazing, yet completely unfathomable is that? Maybe God will give me the conclusion of this vision telling me how He marches the stars in 🙂

If God can remember the names of 6 trillion stars, then surely He can remember our names and march us into our bright futures! And He loves us, just as He does Radiance…acting on His love and not our actions…

Until Thursday,

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