One of My Biggest Road Blocks to Following God’s Will

Written by: Cindy Morrone

It’s nothing new.

It was one of those ah-ha moments, as I listened to the Bible teacher share the story of The Fall, found in Genesis Chapter 3.

And as she relayed the events of deception and disobedience, it struck me personally.

Like Eve, I can believe that in following the Lord’s leading in my life, that I may miss out.  That He, God will withhold something from me.

My tree in the middle of the garden? Provision.

Provision of needs, provision of strength, provision of love, provision of grace……..

I have been struggling with this especially of late. With little peace obtained, I knew my personal battle was not yet over and I waited patiently for this very moment.

The moment of revealed Truth that would calm my doubts, my fears and my strife.

You see, my life today is so very different than what I had planned out.  I had a plan, a direction and since I have been trying to follow the Lord’s leading in my life, it couldn’t look any more different.

Many times, I’ve wanted to eat the apple; take things back into my own hands, my own ways, my own will.

It seems that the deeper I follow His will for me; the more tempted I am to pluck of the fruit.

Thankful for this moment.  Thankful that the serpent of deception lost, yet again.  Immersed in the Word, and in the company of others encouraging the Faith, my battle at this time is over.

Once again, I chose to say, ‘Yes,’ to God’s will in my life and the life of my family, believing that He will provide all that we need.

‘Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:39-42

What Name Are You Answering To?

Written by: Sarah Walker

When my son was in his first year, I was preparing for his next doctor’s check-up appointment by going through the checklist of milestones that he was supposed to be able to accomplish at his age (sit up by himself, roll over, make cooing noises, etc). I read through the list, checking off, “yes, yes, yes, yes,” but then I came to a stop at one of them: “Responds to his name.”

He was a few months older than the suggested time frame to which he should have been able to accomplish this task. As I thought about it, I actually couldn’t remember a time when he had in any way responded to the sound of his name.

I wasn’t overly worried, but it was time to experiment! I started to call his name. “Matthew?” No response. I went right up beside him and called his name. “MATTHEW!” No response. No matter how I said it, he just wouldn’t respond!

I spent the rest of the day a little worried. As I went about my day, I spent some time praying for him. As I did, I realized that, along with his given name, my family actually also called him by several different nicknames.

Mr. Man, Handsome, Buddy Boo, Matty-Matt, Big Man, (Silly) Goose, Baby Boy, Monster, and Monkey – just to name a few!

I figured out that he was being called by so many different names all the time that he wasn’t hearing his own name enough to actually know that it was his given name – the only name that truly matters!

Today he is almost three, and of course he still has a few pet names! But now, it’s not only the sound of his name that makes him turn towards me – he just knows my voice, whether I call him Matthew or Goose.

Sometimes I find this to be true of myself. I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, helper, and blogger, among other things. I respond to many different names, but my most important name is Sarah, child of God (John 1:12).

There are many days where I might sense God calling to me, wanting me to connect with Him, but the cries of “mom,” “wife,” and “helper,” seem to be much louder, winning my attention. The more I put my other names first, the harder it is for me to hear when God calls after me.

In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success. (Proverbs 3:6)

When I am intentional to respond to God’s call first by setting aside time to pray, worship and invest in my relationship with Him, it becomes much easier to hear His voice and direction in all areas of my life.

I then feel Him with me when I hear the call of other names and it is easier to respond to those other names with respect, patience, love and wisdom.

Sometimes as I try to answer all the names that are calling for my attention, I start to feel overwhelmed. I can’t seem to find the time to respond to everyone and everything. I have found that by putting God first in my life, He helps me to make room for everything else that is of importance to me.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, an all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

I have learned that I can’t do it alone. I need to put God first. I need to answer to the name “Sarah, child of God” each and every day. When I lose sight of putting God first, I become less productive and often fail to respond in love and patience with those that I love. When I connect with God, His presence and guidance direct my steps in all that I do!

 

Secondhand Faith

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Point your kids in the right direction— when they’re old they won’t be lost. (Proverbs 22:6)

I saw a quote this morning by Joyce Meyer that really spoke to me:

“You can’t get buy on secondhand faith. It doesn’t matter what your Mama believes. You have to find out what YOU believe.” -JM

It’s true that I am praying my guts out that my kids grow up to believe in Jesus Christ like my husband and I do. It is also true that they have the choice to believe in whatever they want.

I believe it takes so much more than words to leave an eternal impression on our children. We need to be living examples of God’s truth and love. We need to pray without ceasing for their salvation. We need to share with them the wonder of the miracles that God does in our lives; both big and small.

I was raised in a bible-believing, faith-based home but I made my own decision to serve Christ at the age of thirteen. I was surrounded by generations of family that simply lived their faith in Christ out loud every day. Their faith stirred up a craving for a relationship with God – a relationship of my own.

This is what I so hope to be for my children; a living, breathing example of faith in Jesus Christ. I don’t simply want to pass down my faith to my kids. I want to live in such a way that my children are inspired to embrace an authentic journey of faith of their own.

God gives us lots of opportunities to share in his realness and goodness. Will you embrace these opportunities?

Jesus, thank You for my precious children. I pray for their hearts, that they would seek You with all of their might. That they would turn to You at all times. That they would live in Your truths and share those truths with their children, and their children’s children. Jesus, I pray for my friends with young kids- please give them wisdom as they raise their children to serve You. I also pray for my friends with older children who are running from You……Jesus, I pray that You will give them peace and perseverance to continue living an example of truth. I pray for those kids who are running, please help them to see the truth and turn back to You. I pray these things in Your holy name, Jesus, Amen.

It’s About Who We Are

Written by: Conny Varga

A few weeks ago, I was standing at the graveside of my mom, who lost her battle against cancer at the young age of 60. While remembering her God-honouring life and grieving her passing, this resolve began to form in me: “I want my life to count!”

At no other time are we confronted with the brevity – and purpose – of life than in the face of death. Ecclesiastes sums it up this way: “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” (Eccl. 7:2) So if there is wisdom in acknowledging that all of us must face death sooner or later, the logical conclusion would be that it should motivate us to action. Just what action will I take? What is the purpose of my life supposed to be? Is it to make my life as comfortable as possible, to travel the world, amass wealth, and focus on my happiness? Or is it to be philanthropic, spending my life for others to the suffering of my own body? Am I to make great discoveries and inventions to the benefit of mankind?

The answer is, none of these options will fulfill the purpose of our lives. Not unless our focus is bigger than this life, bigger than humanity, and bigger than the universe. So what then is the solution to this dilemma? The answer is surprisingly simple: Jesus! He is the difference between what counts for eternity and what doesn’t. During His time on earth 2 millennia ago, He radically turned the worldviews and beliefs of humanity upside down.

Jesus made it clear that it’s about identity, not about actions.

It’s about who we are, and not about what we do.

Have I fully and whole-heartedly surrendered my life to God and accepted Christ’s sacrifice on my behalf? Have I allowed God to adopt me into His family and embraced the freedom He has purchased for me as His daughter? Then everything about me has changed – my dreams and desires, my motives and passions, my outlook and worldview, even my citizenship and name. In short, I HAVE A NEW IDENTITY! And here is the amazing part: We do not have to feel pressured to come up with great plans on how to make our lives count – God will give them to us. If we choose to listen to Him, He will give us the right perspective, right plans and purpose, and He will be the One accomplishing it all through us. All we are required to do is fix our eyes on Jesus, and out of love for Him, seek to imitate and obey Him faithfully, whatever He tells us to do, and wherever He commands us to go. This may mean wiping noses and changing diapers, or telling people about the hope that is within us. Sometimes, it’s as simple as an encouraging smile, and other times, it’s as glorious as helping someone become a child of God. It’s buying groceries for the young mom whose husband just left her, and caring for the orphaned and needy by taking them into our homes. If God places the need before us, then it will count for eternity, and it will impact and change the lives of those we choose to help.

Over 400 people came to bid their last fare-wells to my mom. People whose lives had been touched in one tangible way or another by her love for Jesus. People who, sometimes for the first time, took Jesus seriously because of her. My mom grew up in poverty, had no formal education past grade 8, and lived the majority of her life in a country that was not her own by birth. And yet, God used her for His glory in innumerable ways. I am resolved to become a woman like that! I want Jesus to shine through everything I do and every word I speak. I want the rest of my life to count for the glory of God! Will you join me?

Time is Short

Written by: D’Anne Mullin

I once heard my absolute favourite preacher, my very own husband, say in a sermon on love the following statements:

“All the trials, temptations and outside forces we face are simply a device of the enemy to distract us from the sole purpose of our fleeting lives; that is to love God, love others and bring the lost to Christ.  Time is short, so don’t give in to the stress of life, and the garbage it throws us, but rather focus on the cross and save souls!”

As I sit and reflect on my husband’s words to us that Sunday morning, I am reminded again of two very clear directives from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ found in His Word.

The first directive is found in Mark 12:29-31 and was Jesus’ response when asked what the greatest commandment was.  He said, “The most important one is this…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this; love your neighbour as yourself; there is no commandment greater than these.”

His second directive, otherwise known as the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20, says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Further, when I ponder the speed at which my life has flown James 4:14 comes to mind.  “What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  It only seems like yesterday that I graduated from University, got married and somehow now my boys are young men!  I remember songs and television shows from my childhood with fondness and when I reference them individuals less than 30 years old have no idea what I am talking about.  Time flies!

Life is short, filled with joys and hardships, ups and downs, twists and turns.  Distractions and pleasures are a plenty.  But, we can simplify our time on earth and fulfil the “sole purpose of our fleeting lives” by simply loving God, loving others and bringing the lost into relationship with our Saviour.  Time is short!

Life on Purpose: Identity Check

Written by: Emily Pelley

What defines who you are? What role, what responsibility, what title, defines your identity? We often play many roles in life- wife, mother, daughter, employee, friend, etc- all of which carry with them different expectations and benefits.

As a new mom, I feel like my sense of identity has been tranformed. For so long, my life was about myself and what I could do, but now…I find myself consumed with someone else’s well-being. Is she happy? Is she healthy? Am I being a good mom? I’ve realized that a big part of who I am now is defined by my little girl.

So what does this mean for my identity? I’m still the same person as I was before I became a mom, with the same past, but now suddenly I feel the enormity of my responsibilities to this little life. And it has pushed me to try to better understand…what makes me…me?

Is it my abilities? Is it what I do? Or who I love?

All of these things make up our story, but I think we need to be careful in what we point to as our identity. Because as followers of Jesus, we have adopted the identity Jesus gave us when He died on the cross for each of us.

In several places, the Bible talks about who we are as followers of Jesus:

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 1 John 4:15

And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Romans 8:17

And we are also reminded that this identity is not just a label but a source of strength:

With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.     2 Chronicles 32:8

I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

You are a daughter of God- a “co-heir” with Christ. Before any other responsibility or identity you carry today, this is who you are. To live our life on purpose, we need to be confident in this identity; it needs to be at our core. If we can keep this as the centre of who we are, all our other roles will benefit from it. For myself, being a mom is so very important to me. Which is why I must, first, see myself as a follower of Christ. A close relationship with Jesus will empower me to love and serve my daughter, and fulfill all the other responsibilities I have in life. The strength God promises us will spread and reach into our families, our friendships, our responsibilities. What would it look like if we allowed our beautiful God to power our lives instead of relying on our own strength or resolve? We would live lives at peace- godliness with contentment (1 Tim 6:6).

Friend, discover who you are, believe who you are, and walk in who you are- the redeemed and loved child of God. Because nothing can change that.

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.  Romans 8:38-39

Unfailing Love

Written by: Christianne Williams

Psalm 36:7 “How priceless is your unfailing love!  Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

How I love this verse!  It brings such joy to my heart to know that God’s love is not intended for just a few who are in places of power and authority.  It’s not just for the privileged in society or the wealthy.  It’s freely given to all who come to Him and put their trust and hope in Him!  It’s the one thing our money cannot buy.  No amount of working will earn it.  We can’t rely on our talent, our will, or our good looks to get us this wonderful gift.  No, it’s completely given by grace, to us, a group of people who take it entirely for granted sometimes.  The only payment is that we love Him back, do His will, follow His ways.

Loving God means loving each other, the same way He loves us.  With grace.  It’s so easy these days to associate love with gushy feelings or fireworks exploding, but that’s just not the kind of love that we’ve been given by Him.  We are to do our very best to extend love that goes beyond how we’re feeling today, to love beyond looks, social status, or action.  We need to ask God to help us love like He does.  To look at the downcast in our world and have compassion on them.  To actually be the hands and feet of Jesus.

This doesn’t always happen right away, and with some people it may never happen, but we should be seeking to show the heart of our Father to a world that has a completely distorted view of love.  There are so many who don’t know what real, authentic, love is like.  They’re so used to being loved because of what they are instead of who they are.  It’s a plastic, throw away, type of devotion.  A lot of Christian’s aren’t able to completely accept God’s love because they’ve never know anything to be so limitless, they’ve only ever experienced the love the world has to offer, which is false.

I have four kids, from age 16 down to 7, and I have learned by listening to them that the feeling we’ve made love to be comes and goes, very quickly, almost like flipping a switch.  My seven-year old will love her brothers one minute, you can see her eyes light up and she throws her arms around one of their necks, declares her undying love to them because they shared their candy and the next minute she’s mad because the same brother won’t drop everything to get her a cup for her water.  At that point she’s decided she’ll never talk to him again, which also doesn’t last.  My 16 year old loves pizza, guitars, and BMXing.  I’m guessing someday he’ll love a girl and want to marry her and I’m sure the feeling won’t be the same as he feels for pizza or bike tricks.

I also know something else from having this mess of kids: I love them all the same.  I have no favorites.  They can’t do anything to earn my love, they can’t do anything to lose my love.  They can, however, make me upset, but they can also make me laugh.  My feelings change but my love for them does not.  I can’t imagine that their social status as they get older will affect my love for them.  This is how God loves us, not with feeling but with choice, covenant, and faithfulness.  His love is priceless and unfailing, available to all, no exceptions.  I’m so glad that He loved me when I was unlovable and that His love found me.

Have You Stopped Dreaming?

Written by: Cindy Morrone

Do you remember a way back when you would dream about your future? Let’s think back if only for this moment.  Maybe it was your dream to be a princess just to wear a crown or maybe a veterinarian to heal you beloved friend; a pilot or captain to see horizons abroad; a musician to rock the world; a teacher; a Mom…?

Our heart’s desires won every time and the possibilities were endless and only limited by our imaginations.

Remember when.

And then life seemed to happen.

As the demands of daily routines set in and the circumstances and life happenings dictated our time, energy and efforts, our heart’s desires were silenced.

The years push them down deep, until somewhere along the way our dreams seemed lost.

Dare to dream again.  For you…….

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

  • Believe that this is for us. That Jesus wants this for you and me….to live life to the fullest.
  • Know that He, Jesus, has done all that is needed for us to have this abundant life.
  • Realize the sacrifice made out of His intense, and deep love for us.

After homeschooling our daughters for 5 years, I find myself in a season of rediscovery.  A time to ask the Lord,” What’s next?”

I am in amazement about His continued plans for me and our life.  Just when I thought I had fulfilled my God given purposes, He shows me more…more for Him, His glory and His purposes. And in His plans for me, I am living an abundant life!

God is With You

Written by: Carolyn Ruttan

My husband Dale and I teach the Word of God in the public schools.  It is refreshing to have that freedom in Honduras, and share how the Bible stories are relevant to them in their lives today.

A recent story was about Moses and the red sea crossing.  The Isrealites were finally allowed to leave Egypt after more than four hundred years of slavery. The Bible tells us that when they left Egypt, they raised their fists in defiance. I wonder if that ticked Pharaoh off and was part of the reason that he changed his mind and sent all of his troops back after them.

Now the Isrealites are at the Red Sea. The sea is in front of them and their enemies are chasing them in hot pursuit. They felt trapped with nowhere to go. They were in danger. They were scared. I am sure they must have thought things like “this is it…we are so done”. They grumbled and complained and blamed Moses. They panicked.

Exodus 14:13 Moses told the people “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Lord will fight for you. You only need to be still”

So basically he was telling them to calm down. God has got this.

We all know what happened next. Moses lifted his rod, the water divided and the Isrealites walked on dry ground with a wall of water on either side. Amazing! I don’t know about you, but I think if I were there I would have been in awe. I think I would have been tempted to reach out my hand and touch the water on either side.

How many times are we like the Isreaites? We find ourselves in situations where there seems to be no way out, and nowhere to go.  We’re not able to take another step.  Things seem hopeless. We feel like we are drowning in despair.  We can’t see any way around our situation.

Dale and I have been through many things on our journey that at the time seemed impossible.  Especially during our first two years in Honduras. First of all, moving to a country where everything is so different, is stressful.  Along with missing our home and all that was once familiar, we also dealt with things like identity theft .  New credit cards were opened in Dale’s name and tens of thousands of dollars charged. We didn’t file our income tax properly and lost all our government tax credits.  We relied on those credits to financially survive. This meant racking up a huge bill on our line of credit.  We were robbed… twice. Our kids didn’t exactly all transition so well, and I bore the brunt of their frustrations. But in time, things worked out. The waters parted and we came out on the other side. And although the process was long and painful and stressful, He was there, walking through it with us.

It’s in times like that we need to hold onto the truth that He will never abandon us. We will go through times that are hard. That’s a given in this life.   But how wonderful it is to know that we don’t have to go through them alone.  He goes before us.

Joshua 1:9 “This is my command.  Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”

How about you?  Are there obstacles in your way? Is fear holding you back? Are you afraid to move forward? I know it sounds cliché…but pray about it. God wants to hear from you. Tell him the things on your heart. Leave the situation with Him.  Trust the God will work things out on your behalf. You don’t have to handle anything alone…

Prov.3:6  Seek His will in all you and he will show which path to take..

Mathew 21:21

Then Jesus told them,  “ I tell you the truth, if you have faith, and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain ‘may you be lifted up and thrown into the sea’ and it will happen”

Carolyn loves Jesus and has lived in Tegucigalpa, Honduras for more than four years with her husband Dale. They have been married 22 years.  Along with her husband she shares the gospel to children in the public schools through regular Bible classes.  She is the mom to three amazing children, all of them gifts from God through the miracle of adoption, and all of them now teenagers.  Her oldest transitioned back to Canada over a year ago.  She loves to cook, bake, read , write and work out.  She also very much enjoys coffee  and going for long walks through her neighbourhood with her schnauzer Abby.

A Pile of Dirt

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Imagine a beautiful garden.

In my minds eye I picture a beautiful cream coloured cement deck overlooking a large body of water that spans as far as the eyes can see. All around me are beautiful bunches of luscious red and pink roses. The sun warms my face as a soft breeze wisps my hair around ever so gently. I almost need to squint when I look out at the water because the sun bounces off so radiantly. It’s beauty at its finest.

Out of the corner of my eye I notice a flower garden with a vacant spot. A space that is void of the beautiful roses I see all around me…..a space that is just soil. It almost seems to be out of place; a distraction from the magnificence of its surroundings.

Do you ever feel like that pile of dirt? All around you are beautiful roses (successful business women, really awesome ‘got-it-all-together’ moms, amazing wives) and you just feel like the dirt…. Like you never could compare to their greatness? You feel like you give your roles as wife, mom, friend, etc your best and you still feel like everyone else is ahead.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9 NIV)

Sometimes our God sets us on a journey of growth. That doesn’t mean that we are destined to be dirt until the end of eternity; it just means that this season is for growing. Sometimes situations we face make us feel like we are buried underneath the dirt…..but I believe that If we give God the reigns He will give us deep roots in Him, and in His timing we will see the beauty of the harvest.

Sister, don’t waste your time looking at this one or that one, comparing your lack-of to her abundance. Look up, thank God for the very place He has you and let Him rain down on you, filling up your soul with His love and beauty.

Don’t worry about how long it will take to get to the harvest, instead enjoy all he has for you during this time of growth.