Have I Taught Them To Fight?

BY JESSICA LANDMON

I was recently reflecting on the earlier days of motherhood, suddenly realizing that my little ones are far from little anymore. My daughter towers over me, and my 6’5 teenage “man-child” has his license and is no longer dependent on me to drive him places. This certainly is an interesting season for me.

And to add to that, I have several mom friends who will be sending their kids off to college soon. The common question that I keep hearing from each of them is – have I prepared my child for what's ahead? And, of course, this is every mother's concern. 

From the moment we bring our children home from the hospital, our lives transform into varying seasons of preparing our children for life’s next step. We often wonder if we have done a good enough job. Have we taught them to be kind and considerate? Have we taught them about social cues, looking people in the eye, and the power of a firm handshake? Have we taught them to be thankful and content with all that they have? Have we taught them to be independent and to work hard?

These are all important life skills, but lately I've been asking myself something even more critical: “Have I taught my kids to fight?” Now, I know that sounds like an odd question for a mom to ask herself, but it is definitely a valuable one. 

My children having a relationship with God is the most important thing I can teach them. And, I pray that they walk with Him all the days of their lives. But, living a life sold out to Christ is hard. I know this first hand. And walking in our God-given destiny is even harder. In fact, unless we are willing to fight, none of us will ever fully realize God’s full potential for our lives.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6:12

There is a real enemy that wants to stop us, and our children, from moving forward into our destinies. We must fight. But, we must fight spiritual opposition with Godly tactics.

Are we teaching our children about spiritual warfare? Are we teaching them how important it is to have the Word of God entrenched in their hearts so that scripture naturally pours from their mouths when hard times come? Do they actually understand what putting on the armor of God is?

When obstacles arise, will they know to press in with prayer? When fear and anxiety cripple them, do they know how to silence the lies of the enemy? When it seems like their dreams are an impossibility, do they know to chase after them with power and strength from on high?

Moms, these are the questions we need to be asking ourselves. Listen, I'm concerned just as much as the next mom about whether my kids will be ready for the real world. But, I'm realizing that the best way to prepare my kids for this crazy, unpredictable world is to teach them to fight. 

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. – 1 Timothy 6:12

Summer Rest

BY SHILA ANDERSON

I love summer. I love having my kids at home. I love not waking up early. I love swimming and sunbathing and relaxing. I love vacations and getting away from it all – from the overscheduled sports and dance and the work and the dishes! I love to unwind and take a break.

The problem is, when I’m in vacation mode, I tend to take a break from everything, including my quality time with God. 

I’ve been feeling very dry, and I have had a lackadaisical summer feeling about everything and wondering why God hasn’t been showing up. God’s not going to just show up and help me along when all I’m doing is reading my Bible really quickly so I can check the box and start the day. The reason I’m feeling distant is because I’m distancing myself. My idea of being relaxed and taking a break is only making me stressed and edgy because I haven’t invited God to join me on my “days off.” 

There is a way to take time off and still invite God to join you. In fact, the more we invite Him, the more relaxed we will be. 

My Netflix binge watching maybe isn’t the best use of my time. And a few of those episodes are not so uplifting. Perhaps, I can skip that “one more episode” at midnight and actually get a good night sleep instead. Maybe, I should pray and ask God if this is really something I should be watching?

My kids love listening to the most current music, but I need to be diligent about putting my Christian radio stations on too. Did you ever listen to some of the words of those songs, on Radio Disney none-the-less? I need to be careful what I’m letting my children fill themselves with (even if they don’t understand what the lyrics mean) and filling myself with as I listen alongside them. 

When leaving the house in the morning to do something fun, we should be inviting God to join us – to show us favor and be with us all day. When we try to do it on our own, it’s just exhausting.

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. – Hebrews 4:9-10

We need to take time to rest. Let’s find time to rest in His presence. When we unplug from the world, we need to plug into Jesus. That’s the best rest we could ask for. 

So ladies, let’s relax the remainder of this summer. Let’s enjoy the sun and the vacations and the not so rushed schedules. But, let’s not forget to invite God to join us in whatever we do. Let’s remember to put Him first and keep Him with us all day. Just because we are vacationing from work and dishes, doesn’t mean we need to take a break from God.

Keep Stepping

BY JESSICA LANDMON

Life is tricky. And confusing. And sometimes, downright complicated. But, I think we can all agree that we want to live this life to the fullest. We all have varying ideas as to what this means. For me, I truly want to live the life that God has called me to live. Nothing more. Nothing less.

With that said, I’m very aware that being on the right path is important. I have learned through the years that the best (and safest) place to be is on the path God wants me on, even if it doesn’t make sense in my own head. However, I have also learned that this, in and of itself, is simply not enough.

Let me explain. To be on the right path is crucial, but this is only part of living a successful, fulfilled life that honors God. We need to constantly be moving forward, chasing after the things God has in store for us, not sitting idle for the next thing to be deposited into our laps.

Many of us have started on our journeys strong, but now hesitate to keep going forward for a number of reasons. Maybe the road has gotten difficult, and fear has crippled us. Perhaps, we have simply become lazy in our pursuit of God’s plans or just too busy with things that aren’t part of God’s best for us. In any event, this is a dangerous place to remain.

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”  Will Rogers

God is constantly pushing us further in our walks. He wants to stretch us, change us, and most importantly use us for His purpose. It's not enough to be headed in the right direction. We need to head out and keep moving forward, conquering new things. If we stay stagnant, we may miss opportunities that God has put into place for us. Or worse yet, we can get run over!

Ladies, we need to stop waiting for conditions to be perfect, and for all the trials and hardships to be removed. Start chasing after the life God planned for you. Step out in faith. But most importantly, keep stepping.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. – 1 Timothy 6:12

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

BY WENDY MEZA

If there is one thing that I have learned over the years walking with Jesus, it is this: keeping the main thing the main thing is so important. This journey is a series of different seasons and different assignments until the day we walk into eternity and give an account before the Lord of our lives here on earth.

So many women and men start off this journey of knowing and loving Jesus with simple intentions. They love God so much and want to live their life in a way that pleases God and builds His kingdom. They start off "doing" out of the overflow from a relationship with Jesus. They are just "being." They can't help but be loving, faithful, thankful, sincere, and because of that, they are effective in everything they do.

Sadly, along the way, in the midst of positions and the "happenings" of ministry, people often get lost in the work of the ministry and forget what the main thing truly is staying close to Jesus and helping others stay close to Jesus. If what you "do" for Jesus ever takes you away from a close relationship with Him, and those around you, it's really important to take a healthy re-evaluation of the condition of your life and get back to the main thing.

Here are a few questions I often try and ask myself:

Is my relationship with God healthy and growing? Am I spending quality, uninterrupted time with Jesus and truly connecting with Him?

Are my relationships healthy, authentic, and growing? Are people more important than what I am doing?

Am I staying true to the last thing He told me to do or have I gotten off track?

I hope this was helpful and pray that each of you live successful healthy lives for Him. And, I pray that you would always try to keep the main thing the main thing! 

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. — Acts 20:24

But God . . .

BY JESSICA LANDMON

Don't you just love it when words are spoken, and they speak directly to your heart? I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with a friend just last week where that is exactly what happened. We were chatting about a situation that I recently went through, and her only response to me was "but God."

Now I know that some of you might be thinking that those words don’t sound super spiritual or even noteworthy. But, let me tell you that those words resonated deep in my soul. She spoke them with such power and encouragement.

What we need to realize is that no matter what circumstance life throws at us, God has the final word. We can list all the impossibilities of the situation and dwell on each and every negative aspect, or we can recognize that the Creator of the universe has another move He can make. The best part is that He doesn't need to play by the rules of the universe that limit us. His power knows no boundaries.

I know some of you are sitting there reading this blog with broken hearts and downcast spirits. But, I am here to tell you but God. You may be struggling with physical or mental health issues, but God can heal them both. You may have no job, no money in you bank account, and are about to lose your house, but God can find a way where there is no way. Your marriage may seem dead, but God will breathe life back into it. You may have been betrayed, attacked, and beaten down, but God will bring restoration.

Ladies, stop limiting the capacity to which God can move on your behalf based on natural solutions. We serve a supernatural God. Start looking at His promises. Memorize them. Claim them over your life and your situation. The next time you feel defeated, and the enemy whispers lies of hopelessness is your ear, simply respond back, oh . . . but God!

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. – Romans 15:13

 

Life's Waiting Room

BY RACHEL AXTMANN

It was seven long years. During that time, there were moments of great faith and times of deep discouragement. After seven years of praying and seven years of waiting on God, there were times when I began to wonder, is God listening? Does He even care? 

My prayers were centered on my husband and his career. After several years in his field, he longed for more responsibility and hoped to be promoted into the position he had studied for and worked towards achieving. Coupled with our decision for me to stop working to raise our children, it seemed the “perfect” time for God to intervene and bless my husband with his heart’s desires. And so, we began to pray for just that.

Initially, my prayers were filled with hope and expectancy. Mind you, I may have planned out exactly how this could/should all come to pass. You know – time frame, position title, salary – just a few of the small details. As the years went by, however, my plans didn't come to fruition. This all left me feeling disappointed and even angry at times. 

During my season of discouragement, there were some very important lessons. Had I not been in this position, I may not have had the opportunity to take in and appreciate all that the Lord was trying to teach me.

First, I became very aware that I wasn’t alone. Several women around me were in their own “waiting room” of sorts. Some were waiting to find the right spouse, others were waiting for their own job opportunity, others were waiting on a much-desired pregnancy, while others were waiting on healing. Even though learning this didn’t change my situation, it helped me see that I wasn’t alone and shouldn’t face my season alone. 

Second, while I didn’t understand what God was up to, I clung to this verse in Jeremiah.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11

I began to understand that God was at work to bring out the best outcome, but in His timing. Mind you, this doesn’t give us a free pass to sit around and do nothing while we wait for God to just miraculously pour out prosperous blessings in our lives. In fact, the opposite is true. God has plans for your life. But, you need to set out each day determined to use the gifts, talents, and current position He has given you with all your might. God can then steer your life when you are a “moving ship.”  It’s impossible to steer a ship that is sitting in the harbor with the engine off.  Seeing the truth in this, my husband continued to work hard and take on all he could in his current position. 

Third, I learned that we can plot our way in life, making many plans, and even achieve great success in doing so, but I sure don’t want to settle for what I think is best. I desire to align my desires with the will and plan God has for my life. Could there be anything more fulfilling than walking in the destiny of the one who created you?

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my way, declares the Lord. – Isaiah 55:8

As we began to release our own plans and clung tighter to our faith, God began to change the desires of our hearts. Slowly, the prestigious job title and position began to lose its zeal. God placed new desires in our hearts – ones that I am certain we wouldn’t have been open to had God answered our original prayers. Over time, we were filled with a greater desire to serve Him rather than to serve our own pre-set plans. In His perfect timing, way, and provision, the promotion came. Not to the position we were originally hoping for, but to something far greater – a full-time career in ministry. 

God’s answer to your season of waiting may not come when you’d like. It may not even be what you are hoping for, but you can be certain that He is working all things together for your good, when you purpose your life after serving Him. This brings me so much peace and comfort, and yes, even gratitude for the long years of waiting. May you find hope and even joy in a waiting room of your own.

The Story of Your Life

BY JESSICA LANDMON

Last night, my sweet girl graduated from the eighth grade. As you can imagine, it was filled with many emotions and moments of reflection. It seems like just yesterday that I was pushing her on the swings and having princess tea parties. But things are changing. She is changing. In fact, her story is just beginning.

Like with every good book, the first few chapters are dedicated to setting up the storyline. These chapters are more foundational in nature. But now, as she enters high school in the fall, a new chapter begins – one where I take a step back, and where she takes a big step forward in independence. This step will be filled with many decisions and choices that will impact how the rest of her story goes.

So what advice can I tell her? What guidance can I give to all the young women out there who are starting a new chapter in their lives? What advice can I offer to women who are in the middle or nearing the end of their story? Truthfully, it’s all the same.

First, and foremost, you need to decide who is going to author your story. Are you going to make decisions based off your emotions? Or, are you going to use the Word of God and the counsel of the Holy Spirit to set out your path? This is a big decision – one that will set out the course of your life. Following your emotions will only lead to failure and frustration. But, allowing God to author your story will guarantee a life of peace and fulfillment. I’m not suggesting it will be all rosy, but God will be with you every step of the way.

The LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6

With that said, we can all agree that a good story is filled with all sorts of subplots: adventure, romance, friendship, betrayal, trial, success, and failure. We need to recognize that the ups and downs are a part of a successful Godly life. God is knitting together all the pieces, good and bad, to set you up for your destiny. Don’t run from the difficult times – grow from them.

Moreover, be true to yourself, and don't let culture be the standard that you measure your worth. There is no size, beauty or education requirement that makes you more valuable to God. Our identity is based in Him. So, make decisions that honor Him. The decisions you make today in this chapter of your life will catch up with you tomorrow.

“Someday your past will meet your present. Make sure she doesn't embarrass you.” – All Mascara Is Not Created Equal

We often hear phrases like, “You only live once, buy the shoes, eat the cake.” I would challenge you with something deeper because you do only have one story to live out. Make it count. Take the leap of faith. Make the most of the talent God gave you. Don't let fear or the opinions of others stop you from living out God’s story in you.

Ladies, what do you want the story of your life to look like? Do you want it filled with conformity and worldliness? Or, do you want your story to be one of a kind, written by the greatest author ever. The choice is obviously yours. And that decision starts today. 

Aging Gracefully

BY SHILA ANDERSON

I never really understood the term “aging gracefully” until the other day. Interestingly, you can find all kinds of tips and tricks on the Internet on how to age gracefully. There are creams and toners, Spanx, hair dyes and waxes, and even surgery and injections to help us to age gracefully. But, they have it all wrong. I believe the true key to aging gracefully is having grace with ourselves as we age.

I was just chatting with a good friend, and she told me she recently had Botox injections. She also had Cool Sculpting done to help freeze away stubborn fat. That made me sad. I would never think that she would need that done.

As I get older, I see an increase in wrinkles, cellulite, varicose veins and smile lines. But saying that, I know that comes with getting older, and I want to embrace my age. I will do my part to take care of myself, but I can’t make my looks be all that I focus on. I’m not a teenager anymore and shouldn’t expect to have the body like one. I want to love myself, with each passing year, just the way I am. 

So, why do we think we need to alter the way we look? Where are we getting these negative views of ourselves? Are we listening to negative comments, either from others or from ourselves? Is it the magazines or the shows with all the famous, skinny, beautiful women? News Flash Ladies – they get paid to look like that! They have makeup artists fixing them up. We need to remember that it’s their job to look good! Are we comparing ourselves to others? I know I personally will never be as fit as the running moms, that’s just not me. So, I can’t compare myself to them, especially if I’m not willing to do what they do in order to be that physically fit.

“But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!” – 2 Corinthians 10:12

Let’s look at ourselves through God’s eyes. How does He see us? He is the King of Kings, and we are His daughter. That makes us a Princess! He says we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” We have been knit together in our mother’s womb. We are loved . . . just the way we are. 

I want to be the kind of woman that is happy swimming in public with my kids, instead of being concerned about how I look in a bathing suit. I want to be the woman that doesn’t stress over which picture to post on Facebook based on how good I look in it. I want to be the woman with smile lines because you know what, I like to smile. I want to be real. I want to be me. I am blessed, I am happy, and I am beautiful.  

I hope that you too will have the grace to love yourself, just the way you are. No matter how old you are, let’s make a pact that together we can give ourselves grace to age. Come on ladies, age gracefully along with me!

“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.” – Robert Browning

 

Get Out of Your Own Way

BY JESSICA LANDMON

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I don’t know about you, but at the end of the day, I simply want to use every bit of talent God trusted me with and use it for His glory. This seems simple enough. But if I am truly honest with you, I admit that I often get in my own way. You see, the female mind is an interesting place. On one hand, it is full of dreams, vision, and hope, but on the other, it can also be filled with negative thinking, fear of rejection, and a desire to control. We are often the ones who are holding ourselves back from our calling. Let me explain.

First of all, we are our hardest critics. We tend to focus on all the negative attributes in our lives, rather than God’s power at work within us. We allow feelings of inadequacy, shame, and insecurity hold us back from fully realizing our potential in Christ. The biggest problem is that we think that we have to have it all together to be used by God. That is a lie. It is the Holy Spirit power alive in us that enables us to do anything.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. - Ephesians 3:20, NIV

Second, as women, the fear of rejection is especially real. From those early days in gym class where teams were being chosen, right through womanhood, we have dealt with acceptance issues. What happens if we put ourselves out there and people reject us? What if we volunteer in ministry and we are told no? What if we apply for that job and we get turned down? What then? We allow this fear of rejection to cripple us, and consequently, we never take that step of faith.

And lastly, we often try to make things happen in our own strength. We think that in order to get to point A, we must travel a certain route, one that makes sense in our own mind. This is wrong thinking.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” – Isaiah 55:8, NLT

God’s ways are higher than ours, and much better. We need to lay down our ideas and preconceived notions, and allow God to do His work. By putting our hands in it, in an effort to control, we simply make a mess. We need to completely submit to God’s ways.

It is time to get out of your own way and walk in the calling God set before you. Will you be courageous enough to trust the Lord and His plans for your life despite your insecurities? Will you lay down your fear of rejection and hold on to the promises of God? Will you relinquish control and embrace the unknown? If your answer is yes, get ready for the Holy Spirit to take you on an adventure beyond your wildest imagination.

Ladies, your destiny is waiting . . .

Waiting on a Promise

BY WENDY ARROYO

I am currently sipping coffee out of my "I'm engaged, duh" coffee mug looking down at my beautiful engagement ring, teary-eyed, thinking about what a whirl wind it has been the past few years. 

Everyone around me has been celebrating my soon to be husband and I as we plan and enjoy this season. It's been full of joy, lots of planning, and new things that have stretched us, but through the change, it has been beautiful. 

What they do not know is that just under two years ago at 28 years old, I was living with my parents, wondering what was going wrong in my life. I had left a director position and was working a couple of part-time jobs trying to figure out my next move. I had devoted my life to the Lord faithfully and was committed to building the Kingdom. I worked alongside my parents for several church plants, traveled the world telling people about Jesus, but there I was 28 years old fighting fear of the future and anxiety of the unknown. I was also fighting being upset with God, and if I'm honest, blaming Him.

I don't think I realized it at the time, but in my heart, I couldn't understand why God was blessing everyone else with this gift of marriage, but not me. On New Years that year, I was in flight to visit my hometown and found myself in a puddle of tears at midnight as I re-surrendered my future to Jesus. Alone. In the air. 

My now fiancé, JC, walked into my young adults group one night that year and at the time, I didn't give him a second thought. Ten months later, he came back into my life and our story began.

I will save our full love story for another day, but this is the biggest lesson I learned – sometimes the only reason you are where you are in life is simply because it is just not time yet to be anywhere else. That's it! It's not because you sinned or made a bad decision that changed the course of your life. Sometimes, it's just simply that you are still waiting for the promise to come to  pass in His perfect timing. Everything else is just not for you. It's just a season of FAITH 

Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way that you cannot force your days to unfold in the timing you want. All you can do is trust in the one who always keeps His promises. And, it's hard. 

But, oh how He keeps His promises! All of them! 

I still get teary-eyed when I look down at my ring because it is evidence of faith meeting sight. It is evidence of God hearing every word, every time, and loving me through all those moments of fighting for the promise, all the while never knowing God had more than just a spouse for me. He had a place for me in this season. He has truly directed my steps.

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!  Luke 1:45

I won't lie and pretend the road ahead looks easy or hasn't been laced with some trials, but it is Him that set me on this road, and it is Him that will walk me through this journey of being a good wife. 

I don't know what promise you are holding on to, but I do know that God's promises are worth fighting for. Keep moving forward because I know that one day you too, will reach that moment when faith meets sight. 

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  Hebrews 10:23

Getting Real With My Mom

BY JESSICA LANDMON (AND LOUISE ANDERSON)

With Mother’s Day just behind us, I really started to think about how truly blessed I am to have my mother as my mom. She has trained me in the things of God and been an example of what living a life devoted to Him really looks like. I also realize that not everyone is so fortunate. So, I decided to share some of her wisdom with all of you. Join me as we “Get Real” with Louise Anderson – my mother, my friend.

In what moment did you know that Jesus was real?

I was brought up a Catholic, attended church regularly, and lived in a home where God was revered. I accepted the Lord in my early 20’s without any pastor, televangelist, or person witnessing to me. It was me alone and the Holy Spirit convicting me, and I knew I needed a savior – a personal relationship.

But, it wasn’t until I had a serious heart illness a few years later and given months to live that I knew HE was real – I mean really real. I was in a coronary care unit in the hospital when HE appeared to me quietly; no words were spoken, and we just gazed at each other. Immediately after that my condition improved, and I knew that the Lord was personal. He totally healed me. I never, ever want to miss an opportunity to share that.

You've served the Lord for many years, what wisdom can you pass along to younger women or newer believers that you wish you knew back then?

I would not necessarily do anything differently, but definitely pray more. Pray, Pray, Pray and Pray specifically. The reason I say pray specifically is because I did not realize how under attack from the spirit of darkness our children are. The drugs, porn, bullying, insecurities, and sexual permissiveness are rampant.

My husband and I prayed together every morning in agreement for their safety. We anointed them with oil every day before they left for school. Even if he was in Europe on business, he would call me and we would pray for them over the phone. Now my children do the same thing. They pray the promises of Psalm 91 every day and so do I. I encourage you to read it and claim HIS promise for you and your family.

Where has your faith been challenged the most? How did you overcome?

Waiting for God to answer prayers and seeing that sometimes the answer is no. It is God’s way, and that is PERFECT.

What do you think is the secret to living a life devoted to Christ?

The more time you spend in prayer and in quiet time seeking Him, the more you will be able to hear HIS voice, and HE will direct your paths. Read the Bible. Read other Christian books, and go to Bible-centered small groups. You learn so much in an informal way. Plus, watch some Christian TV. What you feed your spirit will grow. Ask the Lord to give you strength to stand for the things of God. HE will. Your children will notice and do the same!

As a mother to two and now grandmother to four all serving the Lord, what parenting advice would you like to offer our moms?

It was tough then, but nothing like what moms are facing now!  But before I address the moms, I have some advice for the Grandmas – please don’t just pray for your grandchildren, but pray for their parents too. We never had to deal with what our children and grandchildren are dealing with.

Moms, ask your children lots of questions, not in an interrogative way, but in a way that shows you are interested in what is going on in their lives. Don’t over react when they tell you things. Otherwise, they will stop communicating. Don’t turn everything into an opera.

Be a nosey mom. I will NOT apologize for this. Find out about the kids they are hanging around with. Nowadays, you can check out their Facebook pages and other social media accounts. Look at their history on their computer too.

Volunteer at their schools. Talk to other parents, and get to know them. Go to their games, recitals, and activities. Show your kids that you support them. Have their friends at your house. Not all parents hold the same standard of TV watching, activities, or even their safety as you might. Lots of parents are “cool with activities.” They may have adapted a more nonchalant attitude. This is not what the Word of God holds us to do.

Have dinner together at a table as much as possible. We always talked and discussed things at great length during dinner. We also laughed and played a lot of games. We even had an occasional food fight. Praise God for washable wallpaper in the 80's!

Remember what it was like to be young. I had pool parties, sleepovers, and yes, cake fights. You are their parents, but you can still be fun. Be creative with their birthday parties. I know my daughter and daughter-in-law plan the best parties with themes and activities.

Take them on your vacations. I know all the books say that you need your time, and of course that is true, but please take them away. There is nothing more exciting than watching your children’s face as they are on vacation. Bring them in on the planning too. You just can’t buy those memories!

Make the holidays memorable – not just big presents, but develop traditions – your traditions. Don’t be a scrooge at Christmas and complain how busy you are. Celebrate it with gladness. Remember, it is our Savior's birthday.

Take your kids out to dinner – not just fast food. Get dressed up and have fun. It does not have to be expensive. They will learn at a young age how to behave. Plus, you can laugh when you tell them that the escargot that they ordered (and now love) is snails!

Be generous. My mom always said that if you don’t bless your children, don’t expect others to. Be generous with your time as well. Remember, you never get these days back.

Speak blessings into their lives. That is what the prophets of old did. Be an encourager. Don’t poo poo their ideas. Each child is different. You are different from your siblings. And, their dreams may not be your dreams.

Pray specifically that God would fulfill their destinies. Pray that the Lord would open doors that they should go through and close doors that they should not.

Pray for their spouses now. God has ordained the perfect spouse for your children. Pray for strong marriages. Pray that they would be Godly parents, good providers, and they would serve the Lord.

God heard my prayers and gave us the most extraordinary in-laws in the world. Like the scripture says He will do exceedingly, abundantly more than you ever hoped or dreamed. Some people do not know who are the in-laws and who are my children. I just LOVE that! Forgive me, but I prayed that they would be smart too. I did not want dumb grandchildren.

Don’t be too proud to say you are sorry and you are wrong.  Sometimes you are.

Don’t be the parent that is legalistic. I have seen that in the Church too often. Too many rules can cause kids to rebel once they get on their own in college. Let them go to dances and movies. Just monitor it. I told my daughter you can dance like a lady or a “tomato,” but I will find out. I told my son to always act like a gentlemen.

Talk to your kids honestly and frankly. Don’t let them hear things from the world.

Take them to church and get them in Sunday School and Youth Group. They need to hear the Word of God. Plus, they will develop Christian friends with the same like-minded faith and learn that they are not alone.

Teach them to tithe! In Malachi 3, it tells us to give a tithe (10% of our income – gross) to the Lord. The best promise of the tithe is that HE will rebuke the devourer for your sake. Come on MOM, don’t we want that for our children. HE will open the windows of heaven and pour you out blessings that there is not room enough to contain. 

I taught that to my children at a very young age. When they got allowances, they always tithed. As a result, God was and still is always faithful. When my children graduated college, lots of kids did not have jobs right away. But Praise God, they both had good jobs with good salaries and signing bonuses. And Mom, if you are not tithing, I suggest you start. We all need those promises of God.

Love their DAD . . . show him respect. God called him to be the head of the house. Watch your tongue. If you have an argument and the children hear it, it is okay. Parents can argue and still love each. Children learn what they live.

Lastly, the most important thing is to not let a day pass without telling your children how much you love them and how proud you are of them.

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.  - Proverbs 22:6, NKJV

 

Don't Miss the Boat

BY JESSICA LANDMON

I want to share with you a funny story that I read on social media. I’m sure many of you have heard this in one form or another:

A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help. Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, "Jump in, I can save you." The stranded fellow shouted back, "No, it's OK, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me." So the rowboat went on. Then a motorboat came by. "The fellow in the motorboat shouted, "Jump in, I can save you." To this the stranded man said, "No thanks, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith." So the motorboat went on. Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, "Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety." To this the stranded man again replied, "No thanks, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith." So the helicopter reluctantly flew away. Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, "I had faith in you but you didn't save me, you let me drown. I don't understand why!" To this God replied, "I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?"

We all can agree that this is a humorous story. I’ve chuckled every time that I have heard it until about a year ago when I realized that I was acting just like the foolish man is this story. Let me explain.

Shortly after pregnancy, I noticed that my hearing wasn’t as sharp as it used to be. I went to my ear, nose and throat doctor only to confirm that my hearing was starting to go. As time went on, it continued to progressively deteriorate. Now to a normal person, this could be alarming, but I’m a FAITH GIRL. Confident that God could and would heal me, I really didn’t worry too much about it. I read all the healing scriptures, claimed each and every one over my ears, and trusted God.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. – Isaiah 53:5

Time went on, and my healing didn’t arrive. I pressed in with even more tenacity. I attended healing services and continued to believe that God would heal me (in His timing). After a particularly dedicated time in prayer, my doctor referred me to a specialist who determined that I had an unusual condition that could be corrected with surgery. As with every surgery, there are risks. So, I refused and continued to wait on the Lord.

A couple of years passed, and my hearing was down to about 65% in each ear. That doesn’t seem too bad, but trust me, hearing was a challenge. I caught only parts of conversations and became an avid lip reader. Embarrassed to tell most people I had hearing loss at such a young age, I just suffered through and smiled like I heard them.

Then one day, God brought this story to my remembrance, and I realized just how foolish I was being. I was expecting God to act a certain way, and consequently, was completely missing the answer to my prayer. I was anticipating a “divine” moment, but somehow missed God.

Can anyone relate? This can apply to any area you are waiting on the Lord. Perhaps you are looking for financial freedom, but haven’t been willing to change jobs. Or, you are waiting for a miraculous touch in your marriage, but refuse to go to counseling, the very means in which God intends to heal and restore it.

Well, I am excited to report that after this revelation, I opted to have the surgery done in one ear this past fall. And because my God was in it, I didn’t just receive an improvement in my hearing, but 100% restoration. I recently had the second ear done and know that I can expect the same results. Remember, I am a FAITH GIRL.

Ladies, we need to remember that God doesn’t use a one-size fits all approach to answering prayer. Make no mistake – God still heals supernaturally! I have been the recipient of this type of healing many times. However, if we expect Him to respond only a certain way, we may miss the answer altogether. We need to be sensitive to God’s plans and open to the many ways in which He can provide an answer. If we refuse to listen, we may miss the boat!

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.  Proverbs 14:12

Too Much of A Good Thing

BY RACHEL AXTMANN

I started out this year desiring for it to be better than the previous. So much of this becoming a reality hinges on the decisions that I will make. In the past three months alone, I’ve faced several decisions – some, more impactful than others, but all requiring my time and consideration. I’ve found that many of the decisions placed before me have been really good things. Let me explain.

I presently work part-time in ministry and recently was given the opportunity to take on more responsibility and hours by planning this year’s mission’s trips. It’s been so awesome to be part of the planning process, preparing teams to share Christ’s love around the world. A good thing! Additionally, I’ve been part of some really interesting meetings at my son’s school in regards to homework, and the research has been fascinating. Another good thing! 

Some other decisions I’ve faced recently revolved around which sports my boys should play this spring? Did you know they can run track, play baseball, lacrosse, tennis, or soccer? Yup! And if I choose, they can participate in more than one. Imagine that? And if that isn’t enough, we’ve got play dates to plan and attend, after school activities and birthday parties to go to.  All good things too!

On top of the small group my husband and I lead each week in our home, I’ve joined an additional women’s group, meeting weekly. I just love it! Good again, right? Hobbies, ministry, sports, parent meetings, play dates. I like all of these things. Of course there’s the in between decisions as well, what I like to think of as the fillers of our days. How much time will I spend on emails, texts, phone calls, shopping, cleaning, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs, cooking, browsing our favorite websites, or watching an online feed of a pregnant Giraffe named April, to name a few.

By now, you might be thinking, "I get it. Your life is busy. Get over it, SO is mine!" Oh, perfect! I was so hoping you could relate. Of course your decisions may be different from mine in some ways, but the truth is, I tend to think we all have a lot on our plates with the never-ending option of adding MORE!

For the sake of taking on what appears to be good, we can often lose our peace and focus. The good things blend together and can leave us feeling tired and overwhelmed. Too much of a good thing just isn't good anymore. We tend to tune out, ignore things and people right in front of us, react sharply, and forget to do things. We just don’t feel like ourselves.

So what’s one to do? We can follow the cultural trend that would tell us to just go with it – busyness is a part of life! Or perhaps, we can take a stand. We can live our lives set apart. There is a little saying that often comes to mind as I try to navigate the numerous decisions I face.

“Don’t let the good things in life rob you of what’s best.” 

The best plan for our lives can be found when we align our perspectives with the truth found in God’s Word. The truth leads us to a balanced life of peace. When I follow the opinions and ways of others, when I seek to please, when I try to just go with the flow of culture, it’s only so long until the “good” things I’ve built my life upon begin to crumble underneath me. Yes, even the good things.  

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105

God wants to show us the way. He desires to lead us on the pathway of a peaceful, sustainable life. He wants something so much better for us than just running after every opportunity. But, we have to be willing to do two things. First, read the Word. Then, make decisions that reflect the wisdom learned. The way we live and the decisions we make reflect what is within. Are we honoring God or honoring our pride?

Better is one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 4:6

It is far BETTER for us to have MORE of what matters in life and LESS of what doesn’t.

It is better to have one hand free to pursue time with your Heavenly Father, unrushed moments with your children, or quality time with your husband. When you have one hand free, you have time to use the free hand to give someone a hug, make a meal for someone in need, write a note or text of encouragement, or jot down your thoughts in a journal. Keeping a hand free allows God the opportunity to bring blessings into your life that you would otherwise have been too busy to acknowledge.

In order to live this out, there are things you are currently doing that you need to let go of, things you might just need to get rid of, and times when you just need to turn it off.  

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – Hebrews 12:1

Time goes by so quickly. We can get caught up in a rut of continuing to do the same things over an over again, even when they aren't working. I want to live a life marked by excellence. I want to pursue the better way. I want to give up things I love, for things I love EVEN more!  Will you join me in living a better life, with one hand full instead of two? Let’s take the bold step today to leave behind those things that hinder us from experiencing God’s best.

Far Beyond Our Ability to Endure

BY JESSICA LANDMON

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I know there are many of you out there that are at the end of your rope. You feel like this season of despair is far beyond your ability to endure. Your peace is robbed, and you feel completely helpless and consumed by this trial or circumstance. You are not alone. The Apostle Paul also felt this type of deep anguish.

We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. – 2 Corinthians 1:4, NIV

I don’t know about you, but reading Paul’s words gives me great comfort. I am not rejoicing that Paul felt this way, I am just comforted knowing that I am not alone. There have definitely been seasons in my life where I felt unable to stand and endure. And, I am sure that Paul and I aren’t the only ones who have felt this way.

We all go through periods like this – a heartbreaking diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, marital strain, miscarriage, betrayal, unemployment or financial burden. Like Paul, we may feel like there is no relief in sight. It may seem that all hope is gone. We may even feel that we are on the verge of death. But, I am here to encourage you to hold on.

If we cry out to the Lord in the midst of our weakness, He will strengthen us to continue. Paul is correct. Certain circumstances do surpass our ability to endure. In these moments, we must lean on Jesus so that His strength becomes ours. This is when God’s power is demonstrated most.

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT

We also need to recognize that this type of despair is not in vain. It forces us to learn how to become completely dependent on the Lord. In these moments of absolute weakness, we MUST turn to Him. With a heart of desperation, we raise our hands up to Jesus in an act of true surrender, and ask for His strength to endure. 

Ladies, it may seem like there is no end to the pain you are feeling. In fact, you may feel that you have no strength left inside you. But, I encourage you to invite Jesus into your situation. I promise you that there is always hope with Him on your side.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandonded; struck down, but not destroyed.        – 2 Corinthians 4:8, NIV

A Call For Holiness

BY JESSICA LANDMON

Years ago, you truly couldn’t distinguish between who was a follower of Christ and who wasn’t solely based on conduct. Morality was expected from everyone, and there was shame in not living a life full of integrity. Unfortunately today, you still often cannot distinguish between the two. But nowadays, it is because Christians are abusing God’s grace and are using it as an excuse to live like those who don’t know Him.

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. – 2 Timothy 4:3-4, NLT

It is very easy to get caught up in the world’s ideas about living. But once we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, a transformation in our hearts and minds should begin. We should turn away from anything that is sinful, for this grieves the Lord. I recognize that we will all fall into traps that entangle us, and forgiveness is extended. But, I am witnessing an unsettling trend.

In the past, there was a legalistic movement in the Church that led to a list of things you couldn’t do. You couldn’t dance, you couldn’t go to the movies, you couldn’t drink a glass of wine. Women couldn’t wear pants or make-up. The list went on and on filled with rules and regulations, many of which weren’t even sinful. If that weren’t bad enough, the major problem with this thinking was that people believed that if you obeyed this list, you earned your salvation, regardless of your heart. And, we all know that is nonsense.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV

Unfortunately, the pendulum has now swung in the opposite direction. In an effort to escape this dangerous legalistic thinking, people have gravitated to an “anything goes” philosophy of Christianity where they believe that any behavior is covered by grace. This is also nonsense. We are called to live a holy life.

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:14-16, NIV

Ladies, we need to ask ourselves some tough questions. Are we living a holy life? Does sin sadden us? Do we know what the Word of God commands, and does our life reflect it?

In an effort not to be vague, let’s get specific in some areas. Are you using language that is crude or foul? Do you lie to suit your purposes? Is anger ruling in your heart? Are you having sex outside of marriage? Do you get drunk on the weekends? Are you gossiping about your boss or your pastor? Are you entertaining yourself with media that is contrary to a Godly life?

When you truly love Jesus with all your heart, you should want to live a life that is pleasing to Him. Remember, His commands are not suggestions, they are requirements. And, the best part is that you don’t need to do it in your own strength. In fact, you couldn’t. We have the Holy Spirit available to us to empower us to live the life we’ve been called to live.

We need to get on our knees, repent, and turn away from any sinful behavior in our lives. God is calling us to be holy. Will you answer the call?

Finding Joy In the Rain

BY SHILA ANDERSON

I was having one of those days. I woke up to the rain, and rain always gets me down. I finished our tax return and found out we owed more than we thought we did. I left my lunch in the refrigerator at home, so I was starving at work. And when my daughter got home from school, I had to deal with ten-year-old girl drama – not fun. All of these “things” put me in a bad mood. I spent the whole day with a bad attitude and a scowl on my face. When my husband got home and asked me if I could please just smile, I wanted to scream.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to think my joy is based on my circumstances. I would be happy if only I got enough sleep the night before, if I didn’t get stuck in traffic, if my house was clean, or even if the sun was shining! I have the mentality that people or things can steal my joy.  Newsflash – no one and no thing can steal my joy. I am the one choosing to give it up.  Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, joy is always available to us. 

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.               Galatians 5:22-23

If we ever feel like we aren’t portraying these “fruits,” honestly, it’s our own fault. Sometimes, we just need to pray and ask God for help. Since we, as Christians, are supposed to be living by the Spirit, we need to let the Spirit lead us in every part of our lives. Sometimes we might need to force that smile, instead of barking out our laundry list of reasons why we aren’t happy.  Just because we are Christians, doesn’t mean that we are always going to get what we want. The test is how we act when things don’t go our way. Are we going to be filled with joy because we are filled with the Spirit, or are we going to be filled with anger, bitterness, and unhappiness because we are filled with the world?

I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High. -  Psalm 9:2

I decided after my husband told me to smile (and I wanted to scream) to actually smile. It was not easy at first. I had to pray and give my nasty attitude to God. Then, I tried to fix my mind on happy thoughts and on good memories. I actually went and looked at pictures of when the kids were little to change my focus. They were just so cute. I couldn’t help but smile.   I have been so blessed. I felt foolish for being crabby after all God has done for me.

Satan would love nothing more than for us to walk around miserable. How about we make him mad and walk around happy? When you get up each day (even the days with rain), say to yourself, “This is the day that the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it.”  And as you are standing at your closet, trying to figure out what to wear, don’t forget to put on your smile!

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice. - Philippians 4:4

The Gift of Presence

By Jessica Landmon

Most people who know me typically say I'm hard to buy a gift for. They would argue that I have very specific tastes or that I am too practical. So, when a holiday or birthday rolls around, the interrogation begins.

Between you and me, I think I am quite easy to buy for, and I do love gifts just as much as the next person. But, what I really have discovered is that the gift of presence is the best gift you could give me. I love to spend time with my family, so gifting me an activity or an opportunity to spend more time with them is my most treasured of gifts.

With two teenagers in the house, we are definitely in a season of busy. In fact, I feel that I spend more time driving my kids to and from activities than anything else. I know most moms can relate. Sure, we make every effort to spend time with each other, but most often, it happens in the car, squeezed in between activities, or during our late night dinners. And, it certainly isn’t the unhurried time that I so desire.

Thinking about all this got me reflecting on my relationship with my Heavenly Father and what He so desires from me. He longs to spend time with me, just as I long to spend time with my children. Squeezing in some prayer time in the car or in between a hectic day isn’t exactly the “quality” time He wants of me.

Am I giving the Lord my best? Have I given Him the gift of my presence – my undivided attention, setting my focus on Him, and Him alone? Do I set apart time to spend with Jesus when I'm not looking at my phone, mentally creating a to-do list, or otherwise consumed with another activity. Do I come unplugged before Him each and every day?

Unfortunately, my answer saddened me – not always. Days get crazy. Demands are high. And in fact, they are often filled with tasks that I'm doing for Him. But, what I have learned is that I will never achieve the level of intimacy with the Lord that my spirit craves until I gift Him this – the gift of my presence.

The funny thing is that I recognize how important this time with the Lord is to me. Yet some days, I simply fail to fit it in. These unhurried moments before the Lord provide me peace like no thing or no person can. It calms my heart and refreshes my spirit. It also gives me an opportunity to pour out praise to my awesome God, thanking Him for all He is and for all He has done.

Here, in this unhurried time with the Lord, He and I can dream and plan together. He provides understanding and comfort to situations my mind can’t comprehend in the natural. He heals my hurts, convicts me of bad choices, and helps me align myself with His will. In His presence, His majestic power, grace, and abundant love are revealed. Ultimately, I walk away stronger and empowered to do what I have been called to do.

Ladies, I encourage you to check yourselves in this area too. Have you given Jesus the gift of your presence – the uninterrupted, unhurried moments of your day where you spend solely with Him? If not, it's time to rethink your schedules and reprioritize. I can assure you that you will never regret any time spent in His presence.

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. – Revelations 3:20

Fighting For Your Destiny

BY JESSICA LANDMON

Did you ever just wake up in the morning with an overwhelming sense that you were called to do something greater? You capture glimpses of your destiny, your very purpose of existing, and excitement starts to rise within. Then, that all too familiar voice invades your mind, telling you that you're just a dreamer and that you don’t have what it takes to make your dreams, the very dreams that God instilled in your heart, a reality. If this is you, you are not alone.

The enemy is real, and he will do anything to hinder you from walking into your destiny. His best strategy is to keep you a prisoner to his lies and deception. He wants you to believe that you are not good enough, that you don’t have enough resources, or that you are prideful to think that God would want to use you.

He also uses fear tactics – fear of failure, fear of people’s opinions, fear of the unknown – to cripple you from moving forward. The devil is smart and wants to stop you from realizing your purpose because, once you walk in it, he knows that you will be an unstoppable force for the Kingdom of God!

"The enemy does not attack you according to your history. He attacks you according to your destiny." - Lisa Bevere

The enemy has been attacking women for too long, and I, for one, have had enough. It's time we become wise to the enemy’s strategies and soar like we were destined to do. I am not suggesting we are all called to full-time ministry, but each of us has a purpose on this earth that is greater than ourselves. God wants to use us all for His purposes, but we need to tell the devil enough!

So, Lord Jesus, I break off every lie attacking my sisters today, discouraging them from pursing their destinies. I pray faith will arise. I speak goodness and success into their future. I don’t care what their pasts look like because Jesus, you can restore all brokenness and hurt, replacing it with hope overflowing. I command all fear to dissipate and for freedom to arise.

Lord, embolden all of us to take a step of faith today, trusting that you are right there alongside us. We will not worry about failing or what others may think. We will chase you with tenacity and will fight to become the women you’ve destined us to be.

Authors, Politicians, Teachers, Singers, Doctors, Pastors, Mothers, Business Owners. Raise us up, Lord God. Let us dream again. Let us not dismiss that nudging deep in our soul. We are not too old. We are not too weak. We are not too broken. We invite the Holy Spirit to equip us now as we boldly step into our destinies.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.     Matthew 19:26

The Great Compromise

BY JESSICA LANDMON

Compromise, in most instances, is usually a good thing. It is a way of finding common ground or a means to settling a dispute. Compromise is the key to healthy marriages and most relationships. It is necessary in politics and the business world. However, there is one place where compromise becomes destructive. It comes disguised as good intentions and packaged up beautifully under the label of love. 

The Holy Spirit has been tugging at my heart for quite some time now, and I feel I need to share about a great deception occurring right before our very eyes. In an effort to reach all people, in an attempt to tear down the boundaries that keep the “unchurched” out of church, in a means to reach more souls for Jesus, a great compromise of truth is happening.

The Christian Church, yes the Christian Church, is sacrificing the very foundations of our faith to become more relevant and culturally acceptable in an attempt to lead people to Christ. Church has become more about creating a great experience for people, rather than allowing them to experience the true presence of God at work within us all. We have become so fearful that we will offend people, that we have ultimately offended and grieved the Holy Spirit.

You will watch a generation of Christians – OF CHRISTIANS – set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. And stunningly it will sound completely plausible. This will be perhaps the cleverest of all the devil’s schemes in your generation. Sacrifice TRUTH for LOVE’s sake. And you will rise or fall based upon whether you will sacrifice one for the other. Will you have the courage to live in the tension of both TRUTH & LOVE?” – Beth Moore

We don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable, so we present feel good messages that resemble that of a life coach, and less like the words of Christ. We water down the Word of God and avoid the controversial and challenging parts. Ladies, I have news for you – the Word of God is offensive. In fact, that’s its very purpose.

 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edge sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight; everything is uncovered and exposed before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. – Hebrews 4:12-13

God’s Word has power. It exposes our sinful nature, and it helps us realize that we need a savior. His Word, along with the power of the Holy Spirit, is what brings us to Jesus. We are doing people a disservice by withholding the whole Gospel from them.

Yes, we are called to love. That is the greatest commandment. But, at what cost? Jesus never sacrificed truth for love. He was able to offer both, and He is the greatest evangelist of all times. 

We need to check our hearts. We need to check our motivation. We cannot fear rejection from some because the truth is uncomfortable. Let’s love people so much that we present the whole Gospel to them. We will be accountable for the message we carry. Do you have the courage to take a stand in this generation and be a voice of both love and truth? 

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

 

 

 

Getting Through the Drought

BY JESSICA LANDMON

Life is marked by many seasons. One of the most unsettling seasons for a Christian can be one of drought, or spiritual dryness – a time when you no longer “experience” God’s presence like you used to. You once felt God in almost everything you did, and now it appears that He has moved away from you. Your prayer time seems mundane, your Bible reading is uneventful, and even your worship time doesn’t evoke the same emotions it used to.

What do you do? How do you respond to this? Well, one way to respond is to accept this as the new normal and become complacent in your walk. Obviously, this is dangerous territory. If you aren’t moving closer to God, than you are falling away. This is exactly what the enemy would love you to do because it provides a prime opportunity for him to move in on you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8

The other response, and the right one, is to chase after God with a new ferocity. Put everything else on hold, and seek Him like never before. Don’t stop until you push past the dryness.

Instead of viewing this season as a setback, view it as an invitation from the Lord to go deeper with Him. Going deeper shows Him that you are all in and that your desires aren’t as important as His. Going deeper brings you to a place where God can share His heart with you. Going deeper means He can trust you with Kingdom purposes. 

Unfortunately, a lot of us seek God until we feel Him a little, and then stop, never going further. This is so sad. This depth of relationship may sustain us for a while, but ultimately, it will never be enough to continually nourish our spirits. We need to go deeper.  

Going deeper with the Lord may require a great deal from us. We need to be disciplined and press in. We need to let go of some worldly habits and strongholds. But in the end, if we strive for this type of intimacy with God, we will always have enough to sustain us through each and every season of our life.

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

I don’t know about you, but I want to go deeper in 2017. I want to get to a place with the Lord where I won’t ever go dry. This isn’t just about going to church more often or reading the Bible again and again. I want to have an intimate relationship with Him. I want to go deep so that He may reveal revelation knowledge to me. I want to invite Him into every area of my life. I want to align my heart with His, so that His purposes become mine.

Ladies, it is time to push past the drought. I believe a rainstorm is coming!