When My Plans Don’t Work Out

Written by: Sarah Walker

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline.” (Timothy 1:7)

In the last few months, I have come across a few new and different opportunities to minister to other people. Each opportunity has been outside of my comfort zone, and would require me to take a step of faith. After taking time in prayer and seeking out counsel from people that I trust, I felt God’s leading to say “yes” to stepping out into each new opportunity.

Even though I trust Him, it can still be scary to step forward and say, “yes” to God! Taking a step of faith is a step towards the unknown. Questions like, “Can I do this?”, “How will I do this?”, and “Will I succeed, or will I fail?”, start to take over my thoughts. (And as they do, I notice how “I”-focused such thoughts are!)

If I were to dwell on all of the negative possibilities too much, it would probably be pretty easy to talk myself out of things before they even start!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I have done lots of different jobs in ministry over the years! I’ve lead several small groups, I’ve lead women’s ministry, I’ve been a Power Point person, I’ve been a youth leader, I’ve hosted endless events, I’ve been heavily involved in children’s ministries, I’ve filled in wherever help was needed! (except worship – my love and passion for singing is apparently not matched with any talent for singing!)

As I stepped up to fill into various roles, there have been many times that I’ve seen God do incredible things and where I have been incredibly blessed through the process!

Then there have been times where I feel like I failed miserably. Things just didn’t go the way I wanted them to! At one church, I took over leading a women’s ministry. I had arranged an amazing and powerful curriculum by a popular writer/speaker. I prayed a lot, and I put in a lot of work into preparing teaching and activities for women’s nights. There was lots of great social time, great teaching time, and great outreach time built in.

And in a church of about one hundred women, my average attendance for our events was five!

A ton of work and countless hours had gone into this, but all my efforts seemed fruitless.

Maybe I was wrong and I had missed God’s will in taking the leadership position. We all make mistakes in discernment sometimes! We can do a lot by our own strength and effort, but sometimes, if God isn’t in it, our efforts will be fruitless and frustrating.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Maybe it was a test, to see if I would persevere, to see if I would stick it out, to see if I would have the courage to say yes again, even after a rough season?

For you, God, tested us; You refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance. (Psalm 66:10-12)

A challenging attempt at women’s ministry is definitely not like being in jail or going through fire, but it did take down my self-esteem for a while, and made me question my ability to lead!

Maybe I just failed at figuring out the right way to minister to that particular group. As I look back, I probably should have taken a different approach with those ladies, which I would do differently if I were doing it all over again!

That being true, it’s also very possible that what I saw as a personal failure was also God’s victory.

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1Samuel 16:7)

I based success on what I could see with my eyes. I was caught up in that oh-so-common church focus on numbers and visible results. The time and energy I put in did not match the attendance or the results that I expected, but if even one heart was impacted, one life encouraged – then all the hard work was not in vain! Sometimes God is up to things that we don’t comprehend at all!

And I have come to trust that hard work and perseverance, when it is done as worship to God and service to others, is never a bad thing! Even though the ministry didn’t go as I would have liked, I still showed God that I was willing to take a risk in stepping out into what I believed was His will – and that’s never a waste, either!

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9-11)

I learned a lot in that season. As much as we learn in the good times, I feel like I learn even more in the challenging times. We don’t always succeed in everything we do, at least not tangibly. My husband, a pastor, often says that if someone can’t comfortably give an example of a failure in their life, and what God taught them through it, then he’s not interested in putting them in ministry positions! Through the failures, we are humbled, our character is developed, our faith is stretched, and we are reminded that GOD is the one who brings about ministry, not us!

I’m still learning how to do this, and I don’t always do it so well! But knowing that God is still God, no matter what, gives me the courage in HIM to step out again and again!

Facebook Friends

Written By: Sarah Walker

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.
(Deuteronomy 4:29)

Isn’t it amazing that the God of the universe asks us to seek him! Not only does he want us to believe in Him and follow His ways, but He also desires a relationship with us!

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3:20)

It’s like Jesus has sent a friend request, and patiently waits for us to respond!

I first met my husband in passing at his church’s Christmas banquet. He was the Lead Pastor of the church, and some friends and I had come to visit the church that day. That evening, I found him on Facebook and sent him a message thanking him for allowing us to “crash” the church’s family dinner. (Yes…I did make the first move!)

He responded to my message and sent me a friend request. From there, dozens of messages were sent back and forth, which ultimately lead to our first date, our brief courtship, our engagement, and eight months later, our wedding day!

Our relationship started with a single message sent, as I nervously hoped for a response. As we got to know each other beyond just messages on a screen, love started to bloom.

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-40)

Recently, I went through a devotional by Mardi Collier called “What Do I Know About My God?” She says that, “Because God wants us to love him, and we can’t love someone we don’t know,” we must therefore turn to the Word in search of the qualities and characteristics of God, and when we start to know and understand who God is, our love for Him will blossom and flourish.”

My husband and I spend lots of time talking with each other and spending time together. We intentionally set aside time to pursue our relationship in order to keep our connection close and healthy.

It can be so easy to let the busyness of life, with jobs, kids, sports and hobbies, keep us from spending that necessary time together. We could remain married but our relationship could grow cold if we are not careful.

That same concept is true with God. God wants to be in relationship with us, but it can be easy to say “Yes” to Jesus and start working really hard to follow his ways – but forget that He desires a relationship with us the most!

On Facebook I have many friends. Some of them are just that- “Facebook friends”; my account says that we are friends, but we have no “real” relationship. I might like their status updates or pictures from time to time, but there is no real and sincere connection.

There are times when I receive a friend request and I will decline or ignore the request. This usually only happens when I don’t know that person at all, and I don’t want to let them share in the details of my personal life.

Then there are friends and family whom I “follow” – I continually connect with them not only through message or text but also through real life connections.

Have we accepted Jesus’ friend request?

Is He like a “Facebook friend” to us? Do we stay loosely connected, maybe like what He has to say, but keep a casual distance from Him at the same time?

Or do we “follow” Him? Do we take time to read everything He has to say, replying to every message with the excitement of a budding relationship, and anxiously awaiting the times we get to spend together in His presence?

Come near to God and he will come near to you. (James 4:8)

God promises that as we look for Him we will find Him, because He is eagerly waiting for us to respond to His invitation. He is hoping that we will come to Him, and when we do, He will respond and come near to us! What an amazing promise, and what an amazing God!

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!

From Inside the Mind of an Enthusiastic Worshiper

Written by: Sarah Walker

That my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever! (Psalm 30:12)

I am one of those people that as soon as the worship music begins, I always have my arms stretched up high. I like to clap and sway to the music, and sometimes you can even catch me jumping, dancing or kneeling to worship my King!

This was not always me.

There was a time when I would look around during worship at those who had their hands raised up high and think, “I don’t want to raise my hands, and I really don’t want to dance, that is not who I am!” I used to be very shy, and I still do not like to draw attention to myself. I was afraid to lift my hands, afraid of letting go, and afraid of what others might think.

One Saturday night my friend and I attended the concert of one of my favourite bands, Switchfoot. We stood and cheered loudly when the band entered the stage. We sang along with great passion to each song, we clapped, we danced and at times I even raised my hands up high to applaud!

The next morning I was in church, and I thought about my night before at the concert. I had shouted, danced, and raised my hands – all these things that I was so against doing in church! That’s when this question came to my mind: “How would I be worshiping if Jesus was physically present in the room?”

Would I still be standing with my arms crossed? Would I be on my phone? Would I be mentally complaining about how I don’t like this song, or that it’s too loud? Or would I be singing my heart out? Would I maybe be shouting and dancing? Would my hands be raised? Would I be on my knees?

For where two or three gather in my Name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:20)

God challenged my heart that morning! Here I was, standing in the midst of a few hundred people, all who were gathered to worship the Name of Jesus. The Bible says that when even two people gather together in His Name, He is present with them. Clearly, in that moment I was standing in God’s presence, and yet I was completely motionless, lamely staring and repeating the lyrics that were up on the screen.

Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heavens! Praise Him for His mighty deeds; praise Him according to His excellent greatness! Praise Him with trumpet sound; praise Him with lute and harp! Praise Him with tambourine and dance; praise Him with strings and pipe! Praise Him with sounding cymbals; praise Him with loud clashing cymbals! Psalm 150:1-6

The Bible is filled with commands to praise God! We are called to thank Him, to sing to Him, to get loud, to get excited, to play music, shout and dance before Him.

As I read my Bible and found verse after verse about praising God, I realized that I had been making worship all about me!

I don’t want to raise my hands.

That is not who I am.

I don’t want to sing.

I don’t want to dance.

I don’t like this song or worship style.

I’m not in the mood to worship today.

That is a lot of I! It is not about how I feel in the moment or if I like the song being played – I’ve been called to praise God, whatever my circumstances. I have been called to give up my wants and personal preferences, and to follow after God.

As I stepped out of my comfort zone to worship God in a way that I wasn’t comfortable with, I was surprised with the results. I started to feel more at peace, I was more joyful and I began to feel a closer connection with God’s presence than I ever had in worship before!

Come near to God and He will come near to you. (James 4:8)

We are called to live a life of sacrifice, to give up ourselves to chase after God’s heart. I felt like God was asking me to give up my image and pride to be able to worship Him with new passion. Sure, I had been singing along but I certainly wasn’t giving God my best! When I put myself aside, I was met with a new freedom and confidence in God.

I am always amazed that the God of the universe keeps His promises. I am no one special, and yet He continually comes near to me, He gives me love, peace, strength, endurance, and wisdom. There is never a moment where He is not worthy of ALL of my praise!

The Power of Prayer

By: Sarah Walker

I have often shied away from prayer. I felt that my prayers were weak, short and sloppy. Even though I had complete faith that God could answer all my prayers, I sometimes doubted that he would answer mine. I am not a great speaker or leader, and I felt inexperienced in how I should be praying. Compared to others, I didn’t feel “Christian” enough.

My daughter and I were in the middle of baking chocolate chip cookies one afternoon when the phone rang. One of my best friends was calling because her infant daughter, River, had a fever of 106 degrees, and Mom was looking for some support, advice and prayer.

As I hung up the phone I turned to my three-year-old girl and said, “That was River’s Mommy – Baby River is very, very sick!

My toddler’s face twisted in concerned as she gasped and cried out, “OH NO!

I asked, “Should Mommy pray for her or would you like to?

Me pray,” she cried, (speech impediment added for emphasis and cuteness): “Weer Jesus, Sank you for a very fun day. Sank you for very fun blessings. Make Baby River better. Amen.

Less then 20 minutes had passed and my friend was calling back with an update. As I picked up the phone I said, “Kaylee prayed for River as soon as I got off the phone with you!

My friend said, “Well, it worked, because her fever just went from 106 degrees down to 98 degrees without any meds!

It is amazing that my three-year-old daughter said a basic prayer and instantly her voice was heard, her prayer answered! Her speech is not eloquent, her grammar is far from perfect, and she does not have any clue about the complexities or doctrines of the Christian faith, BUT, she knows that there is a Jesus, and that we pray to Him and He makes us better. She believes that fact, no questions asked!

It’s no wonder Jesus calls us to be like little children.

“In him and through him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Ephesians 3:12)

She came to God with freedom, freedom from being self-conscious about her words, her age, or what others may think of her. She also came to God with confidence; her prayer was simple and faith-filled. As I looked at my free and confident little lady, I was so proud of her, and a little disappointed in myself! There are still times when I am afraid about what God and others may think of my prayers – are they good enough?

Then I remember 2 Corinthians 12:9: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Now I come before God with new confidence! Confidence in the promise that God’s power is making my weak prayers PERFECT! Just like my daughter’s! I am resting in the freedom that I don’t have to be perfect in prayer for God to hear and answer me!

The Plastics

Written by: Sarah Walker

“For we have all sinned and fall short the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)

When I was in high school, a movie came out called “Mean Girls.” It was about a group of popular girls at a high school, who are nicknamed “The Plastics.” On the outside, they appear flawless. Their outer appearance is always perfect; they seemingly have it all together – the right clothes, cars, boyfriends, and social life. As the movie title implies, even though they look pretty on the outside, they are not so nice on the inside.

“The Plastics” sometimes remind me of a lot of us Christians! Maybe not the “mean” part so much, but the plastic-y part for sure! By all appearances, we try to look perfect in every way. We always have a smile on our face, we are dressed in church-appropriate clothes, and we say and do all the “right things”. We put on a good show!

Deep down, however, you can still find all of our flaws and sins, and all of our struggles, as hard as we try to show the world that they aren’t there.

I knew two lovely ladies both going through difficult times. I asked them both how they were doing.

The first replied with a big smile and an upbeat tone, ““Oh just great, things are going well! Thank you for asking!”

We both knew what she was facing, but for my genuine concern, I was met with a very “plastic” answer!

When I asked the other lady how she was doing, she said, ““Some days are a lot harder than others. I am just trusting in God to help me through.”

With this honesty and transparency, her response was refreshing. She easily admitted that she was struggling, and because of her faith and trust in Jesus, she actually ended up encouraging my own faith life!

There is something really attractive to me about a Christ-follower who is not afraid to be exactly who they are – just a regular person, striving to know Jesus better, someone who is putting all their hope and trust in Him, despite their very real imperfections and tough circumstances.

I keep an actual list of sins that I struggle with. I don’t like having this list written down of my flaws, but when I read through them, I am always reminded that I fall short.

Does this mean that I justify my sinfulness and say “this is just who I am”?

No!

This means that I admit that at times I can be judgmental, prideful, rude, mean, impatient….. (OK, you get the picture!) I am not going to just give in to these behaviours. My list is a reminder that I can do nothing to change who I am without God’s help. I am trusting in Jesus:

“For by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14)

I am in the process of “being made holy.” Thankfully, I am not the person I was ten years ago when I first said “yes” to Jesus! I am also not the person I could be yet. I am in process.

As I continue in my relationship with Him, I trust that tomorrow, I will not be the same person I am today. I trust that I will have more patience, that I will be quicker to love and less quick to judge, that I will remember that I don’t have it all together, and that I should be loving, even to those who are not loving towards me.

King David is an incredible example of being “non-plastic”:

“For troubles without number surround me, my sins have over taken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails with in me…” (Psalm 40:12)

“Why are you downcast; O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:11)

I love how David (called “a man after God’s own heart,”) never sugarcoats his circumstances or his sin, and yet he stands firm in his trust and hope in God. He is honest, and he is real – honest about his many shortcomings, but also honest in his absolute dependence on God in spite of them.

If I don’t admit that I am sick or in trouble, how will anyone know to pray for me? If I don’t confess that my kids are driving me crazy today, how will anyone support me? If I don’t tell someone that I’m really struggling to resist sin in some area of my life, who will come to help me? Our bumpy circumstances don’t magically go away when we refuse to admit we need help. We need to confess our brokenness and go to God in prayer, and ask others to help us through, because none of us have this all figured out!

There is incredible beauty in our brokenness. The heart of the Gospel is ACKNOWLEDGING our sin, our weakness, our inadequacy – through our weakness God’s power is made perfect, so let’s avoid trying to cover it up with a big plastic smile when we’re having a rough time. Then, we can get the help and support we need, and can be there to help and support others too!

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!

 

Asking for More

Written by: Sarah Walker

One evening, following a women’s ministry event at our church, we had finished up early with a challenge: leave the church right now, head out with a few others, and prayerfully find someone to bless with our time or finances.

A few ladies from the group went to the grocery store, bought a hundred dollar gift card, and walked up and down the aisles praying to find the right person to bless with the money that night.

After wandering for a while, they came across a mom with her two young children. As they approached her, they explained to her that they had just come from church and that they really felt like God wanted them to pay for her groceries.

This young mom was amazed; as it turns out, she had come to the grocery store that day worrying about not being able to afford her groceries. She was a single mom and was barely making ends meet. Amidst her very real worry, God was waiting to show her that He loved her and would take care of her in her struggles.

As I followed up with each of the ladies who had gone out on the mission to bless someone, they all had an incredible story to tell. Each one of them was filled with overflowing joy and amazement! As they stepped out in faith, wanting to be a blessing, God had used them to make a difference in someone’s life that night. While listening to their stories, it was like each woman had come to life with new energy, joy, love and a renewed sense of purpose!

“Even Jesus, when teaching us the Lord’s prayer, prayed for his portion: “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). If He had to pray for His portion, why would we think that we wouldn’t have to?” (Lysa Terkeust, What Happens, When Women Walk In Faith)

As I read this quote from Lysa Terkeust’s book I couldn’t help but wonder, “What would my life be like if I honestly asked God for my daily portion each day? What is my daily portion? What would it mean if I asked boldly, and then stepped out in faith, trusting that God will answer? ”
Jesus taught us to pray this way:

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:10-11)

I pray for a lot of different things each day. Amongst many things, I pray for my family, my friends and my church. I also pray a lot for myself. I pray to be the best wife, mother, and friend I can be. I want to bear the fruit of the Spirit within all my relationships. I pray to have wisdom throughout each day. I pray that God helps me with these things because without His help and guidance I know I will fall short. All of the things I pray for are good things, but I have never really asked God for my daily portion before.

You do not have because you do not ask God. James 4:2

Every day I pray for what I think I need, but God knows exactly what I need each day!

As I began to pray for God’s will to be accomplished each day. I started to become more aware of ways to show love to others each day, even in small ways like sending an encouraging note, holding the door for someone, giving a smile or taking my elderly neighbour to the grocery store.

Although all of those things seem small in the moment, they can still be difficult to walk out. When I’m having a bad day, it’s not easy to think beyond myself and offer a warm smile or an encouraging word. When I’m running short on time, taking my neighbour to the store is a sacrifice. When I’m trying to wrangle my two little ones into a store by myself, even taking a minute to hold the door for someone is not an easy task.

But I have found that when I sacrifice what I want for the sake of others, then whatever I am struggling with quickly gets replaced by joy and a sense of God’s closeness.

I have begun to see that God’ s daily bread is not just about my physical basic needs. For that young mom in the grocery store, her daily bread literally was bread! But God’s “daily bread” can also be the tools needed to carry out his will, tools like having strength, peace, wisdom, love, patience and discernment.

I believe that as I spend each day trying to walk out what God has called me to do, God will continually give me the courage and endurance to carry out his will, and I know that as I am faithful to step out in faith, God will continually fill me with his joy.

Facebook Friends

Written By: Sarah Walker

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.
(Deuteronomy 4:29)

Isn’t it amazing that the God of the universe asks us to seek him! Not only does he want us to believe in Him and follow His ways, but He also desires a relationship with us!

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3:20)

It’s like Jesus has sent a friend request, and patiently waits for us to respond!

I first met my husband in passing at his church’s Christmas banquet. He was the Lead Pastor of the church, and some friends and I had come to visit the church that day. That evening, I found him on Facebook and sent him a message thanking him for allowing us to “crash” the church’s family dinner. (Yes…I did make the first move!)

He responded to my message and sent me a friend request. From there, dozens of messages were sent back and forth, which ultimately lead to our first date, our brief courtship, our engagement, and eight months later, our wedding day!

Our relationship started with a single message sent, as I nervously hoped for a response. As we got to know each other beyond just messages on a screen, love started to bloom.

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-40)

Recently, I went through a devotional by Mardi Collier called “What Do I Know About My God?” She says that, “Because God wants us to love him, and we can’t love someone we don’t know,” we must therefore turn to the Word in search of the qualities and characteristics of God, and when we start to know and understand who God is, our love for Him will blossom and flourish.”

My husband and I spend lots of time talking with each other and spending time together. We intentionally set aside time to pursue our relationship in order to keep our connection close and healthy.

It can be so easy to let the busyness of life, with jobs, kids, sports and hobbies, keep us from spending that necessary time together. We could remain married but our relationship could grow cold if we are not careful.

That same concept is true with God. God wants to be in relationship with us, but it can be easy to say “Yes” to Jesus and start working really hard to follow his ways – but forget that He desires a relationship with us the most!

On Facebook I have many friends. Some of them are just that- “Facebook friends”; my account says that we are friends, but we have no “real” relationship. I might like their status updates or pictures from time to time, but there is no real and sincere connection.

There are times when I receive a friend request and I will decline or ignore the request. This usually only happens when I don’t know that person at all, and I don’t want to let them share in the details of my personal life.

Then there are friends and family whom I “follow” – I continually connect with them not only through message or text but also through real life connections.

Have we accepted Jesus’ friend request?

Is He like a “Facebook friend” to us? Do we stay loosely connected, maybe like what He has to say, but keep a casual distance from Him at the same time?

Or do we “follow” Him? Do we take time to read everything He has to say, replying to every message with the excitement of a budding relationship, and anxiously awaiting the times we get to spend together in His presence?

Come near to God and he will come near to you. (James 4:8)

God promises that as we look for Him we will find Him, because He is eagerly waiting for us to respond to His invitation. He is hoping that we will come to Him, and when we do, He will respond and come near to us! What an amazing promise, and what an amazing God!

Having Faith in School

Written by: Sarah Walker

Just two short years ago, my daughter (our firstborn) started Junior Kindergarten! Of course I had mixed emotions, but I was mostly thrilled! She had been asking to go to school since she was two; she loves independence, making new friends and learning. I had no doubt she would thrive and flourish in her new environment, and I couldn’t wait to watch her grow!

However, her going to school brought new concerns: Who is she making friends with? What she is learning? What she is observing? For the first four years of her life, my husband and I had been her main teachers and influencers, and she had been shielded from things that we wanted to her protect her from.

For the Spirit that God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

It could be easy to fear for her while she is out on her own, but Scripture says that God’s Spirit within us doesn’t make us fearful. Just the opposite – the Holy Spirit gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Instead of worrying about her each day, I am brought to my knees in prayer with new passion and purpose.

“Prayer projects faith on God, and God on the world. Only God can move mountains, but faith and prayer move God.” (E.M. Bounds)

At the Last Supper, Jesus knows that Peter is about to deny Him three times. But instead of condemning him or judging him, Jesus says to him, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)

I like that Jesus prayed for Peter’s faith. He knew Peter would stumble, but He wanted Peter’s faith to remain secure even in the midst of failure, and that when he “turned back” from his failure, that he would be a source of strength to others. In Luke 18:8, Jesus asks, “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?” He doesn’t ask if He will find perfection; He is looking for faith.

Faith is what I need as my daughter heads off to school again for another year: faith that God will be with her, will protect her, and that He will use school to teach her and form her into who He wants her to be! Fear tries to creep in for what might happen, but faith is there to push fear back and say, “God is bigger!”

I will boldly be praying for my daughter, and praying for her faith – that her faith would remain secure, and when she falls she rises up stronger than before. I pray that she stays safe from the evil one, that she develops an understanding of how important her light is, and that she will remain a godly influence wherever she goes in this world!

And in all of it, I will trust that God will be faithful to hear the prayers of a praying mom, and that the God who moves mountains is more than able to take care of her each and every day!