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From Grace to Gratitude

Have you ever had a word from the Lord? I mean a literal word. As I was reading my Bible and several of my devotion books, the Lord kept showing me this one word. It seemed to keep popping out of the page into my face. That word was “gratitude”. And like most words I had to stop and think about what the word meant. Well, of course I know that it means being grateful or thankful. But I wanted to know more. What was it again; a feeling or expression of being thankful or appreciative. Hmmm, so being grateful …

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Jesus

  “Now that we know what we have-JESUS, this great High Priest with ready access to God-let’s not let it slip through our fingers.We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all- all but the sin.So let’s walk right up to him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” Hebrews 4: 14-16 When I am overwhelmed with shame about my past, difficulties in my present, or fear about my future, I would love to say I always go to Jesus and pour …

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Who are we pleasing?

A thought has been in my mind for quite some time. A thought that seems to judge, but I am just as guilty. A thought about parenting, about the past, about what my spirit is teaching, and about what I am learning… a thought about truth. You see I look around and see. I see more deeply than before. I see what my past has done to me; the thoughts, the inescapable connections in my brain that have been hard wired because of a choice or a thought, whichever it may be, that occurred a long time ago. Sometimes I …

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Personal Liberty

    Freedom: Personal liberty as opposed to bondage or slavery I am so glad to be born in America. So often I wonder why I was born in a land of so many freedoms, while someone else millions of miles away was born into an area of oppression and hardship. I know things are not always easy here in the US. As one of our writers brings to light this edition, there is a terrifying and growing slave trade here that rivals any other country. There is poverty, hunger, unemployment, abuse, and many other areas that are keeping America …

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Becoming a Slave and Gaining Freedom

Freedom is, by definition, the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. Slavery is, by definition, a relationship where one person has absolute power over another and controls his life, liberty and fortune. As a teenager I had been engulfed in a life of sin. I was captivated by its lure and enticed by its stronghold. I was a slave to sin, until freedom pursued me and I began to allow God to draw me to Him. As I entered adulthood, I aspired to be happy. I longed for all the normal …

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Grace Expectations

No human will ever be able to meet our deepest needs. This is something I’ve learned over my life. We often put so much pressure on our husbands, children, friends and family to fill a void in our lives, to be a certain way, or to be who we think they should be so they can meet our needs and our expectations.  Whether we are aware we do this or if we do this unknowingly, it’s wrong. Let me say it again, no human will ever be able to meet our deepest needs. It is Jesus’ job to fill that part of our soul …

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Grace and the Good Girl

I was raised in a Christian home and became a Christian at the age of 12. I knew I loved Jesus but I did not have a full understanding of salvation. I tried very hard to live like a Christian but failed many times and still do. I tried to “be good” and by some accounts I was considered “a good girl”. I did not consider myself to be good enough so I tried to be perfect! I am not sure how I came to put this upon myself but for some reason I believed that I had to be …

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Sufficient Grace

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. Romans 12: 4-5 Grace is defined by Merriam-Webster as a way of moving that is smooth and attractive, a way that is not stiff or awkward. Grace is the strength beyond your physical limitations to do what only you were created to do. It is given to us individually to bring …

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The Sacrificial System

  Hebrews 9: 26-29  “…He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”   God had created man in His image.  His very presence was shared with His creation as He communed with Adam and Eve in the beautiful Garden of Eden. But when Adam and Eve made the choice to disobey God …

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The Resurrected King

The Lamb of God was dead.  He had been sacrificed as prophesied by Old Testament prophets. Everything seemed lost to the followers of Jesus.  The disciples were scattered for fear the Romans would be coming after them.  They were hidden from sight.  The Messiah, the one they had followed and loved for three years was dead. Their understanding of what had just happened was null.  Depression, fear, overwhelming despair, angry at themselves for not standing by Jesus were thoughts and feelings they now experienced.  What would they do now? Where would they go? Would they be executed as Jesus had …

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God’s Plan for Redemption

God wrote His story before creation came into being even before He created the heavens and the earth. Because God is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent He sees all, knows all, is everywhere at the same time and so powerful He can speak a word and it will be so. Because of who He is, God had a detailed plan to bring about the redemption of fallen man even before Adam and Eve were created and sinned in the Garden of Eden. It was God who planned to bring salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son.  He determined the …

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The Day of Atonement

John 1: 29  “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” The Old Testament gives vivid, detailed instructions about the offering of a sacrifice in atonement for sin.  Since Jesus was the sacrifice for your sins and mine, we do not offer blood sacrifices on this side of the cross.  And because our culture is so different from God’s people in the Old Testament, we often do not fully understand the significance of its meaning. Because sin had entered the world through Adam and Eve, man could no longer come into the presences of Holy …

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He is Your Shelter in Place

      Numbers 35: 13 And the cities that you give shall be your six cities of refuge (ESV) 1 Timothy 2: 3-4 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (ESV) I just finished reading through the book of Numbers and all I can say is “Wow”.  This book has provided so much revelation regarding what we are experiencing as world right now. If you think about the times we are living in, we are literally …

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His Rock, Your Wave

    THE ROCK, His work is perfect; ALL HIS ways are entirely just. A faithful God, without prejudice, HE is righteous and true. (Deuteronomy 32: 4) Have you ever really examined a rock? I mean really examined it? Or even better, have you ever wondered why a rock is named a rock? Well, let us take a moment to get out of what we are thinking right now and shift to this topic for a few minutes. A rock is a solid mass that is formed by three different mechanisms but the running theme is that it is SOLID. …

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Be Stirred Not Shaken

      “Not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word..” 2 Thessalonians 2: 2-3 (ESV) All I can say is that it has been an interesting few weeks. I think we all can agree that life as we know it will NEVER be the same. It can rattle the mind and distress our spirit if we are not careful and over the last few days as I watched the news, read social media posts and studied the statistics regarding the rate at which this virus is increasing, I thought to …

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A Pregnant Pause

Have you been wondering lately what God is trying to convey to you in this season we are all in or is it just me? I had a recent conversation with a group of friends that I pray with every Thursday evening and I mentioned that I felt like I was on pause and needed prayer in order to learn the lesson that I need to learn to graduate to the next level that God is taking me to. Although there is so much happening all around us and its literally hard to keep track of what is the latest …

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Courage in the Crisis

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1: 9 (ESV) “One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, just as He promised you.” Joshua 23: 10 (ESV) “And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed you. All have come to pass for you; …

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I Pray

Pray Continually. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16) My mom sent my husband and I two t-shirts last summer that read: “I PRAY“. I was not aware of its significance then, but wow have things changed since last summer. This t-shirt with just two simple words are so meaningful now and I am not sure if she knew what God was going to do through me but the words on this t-shirt have …

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Moving Forward Despite Fear

As I am starting a new chapter in my life, moving into my husband’s childhood home, I find myself exhausted, but wanting to put my mark on the place. I’ve always loved gardening, and now I have a new blank canvas to start all over again. Gardening can have many challenges, weeds being one of them. They definitely weren’t invited, but they come regardless, popping up everywhere, all over the yard. I’ve found that as soon as I see the weeds, I pluck them out of the ground and move on. Isn’t this like fear in our life? Once we …

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Motivation

People are motivated by two things: They’re motivated by principle and pleasure, or they are motivated by pain. We create our own jail cells, where bars are made of anger, bitterness, resentment and grudges. What’s the key to all of this? Forgiveness. It’s your choice. Do you want to stay where you are, in misery, or do you want to be free of this state of mind? When we’re hurting it’s only human to want to blame someone else. Quit running away from it. Face the fear. Forgive. Once you forgive you’re given the opportunity to live an amazing life …

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Consistent

  We’re living in a world of inconsistency. There seems to be nothing consistent in our daily life. That is, unless you’re a Christian. I do have days when nothing seems to be going right (broken door knob, leaking pipe in the basement), but I don’t let these distractions lead me into anger or frustration. I turn to God and ask Him for help. Most of the time I don’t even ask why. If you’re consistent in your walk with God, you’ll find a deeper peace. Just as you are consistent in your gardening, you’ll reap the harvest come Fall. …

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He Knows My Name

  As we age, remembering someone’s name, of whom you just met, can be a challenge. Calling someone by their name shows respect, and shows you care and that they are important. When you think of how big our God is, it’s hard to imagine that He knows every person’s name on the planet. But, He does. God is waiting on you. If you believe this, but don’t really know God, take a moment of your day and imagine a God who created the heavens and earth, knows you and knows your name. Talk to God as if He were …

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Count Your Blessings

  It’s hard to be thankful when nothing is going right in your life.  I know that God is faithful.  He’s our guard and protector from the evil things of this world. God’s plans and His timing are always perfect.  I have so many things to be thankful for. I have so many blessings poured out to me every day.  I have a family, a home, a job and friends.  I can serve God without being persecuted, and I can praise God openly and not worry about being shot or ridiculed for my faith. I do thank God each day for my blessings.  Friends, God …

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Anticipation

      Without Christ in your life, there is no future. Without Jesus, what’s there to look forward to? Anticipation is something to look forward to. It’s something you’re anxious to see or experience. There are a lot of people anticipating their next job promotion, their next child, or even their next vacation. Anticipation is a good thing, but it can be a great thing if you have Jesus in your life. I’m excited for my future. Do I know what it holds? No. I know what I want to do; my desires in life. God also knows my …

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Beautifully Broken: Learning to live

As I write this article I am sitting on a roof top patio in Nairobi, Kenya at the home of our missionary family. I close my eyes and smell the savory meat grilling nearby as the warm African wind is blowing my hair and I can hear banana tree leaves clapping in the wind. I opened my eyes to watch the sun set on Western Kenya. I am in awe of the tranquility and peace my heart feels in this beautiful country. As fulfilled as my soul is here, I am unable to escape Jesus’ call to follow Him. This …

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The Unexpected Warrior

What do you think of when I say “warrior”? What do you see? Do you see a roughly cut man with bulging muscles, sweaty and dirty? How is he dressed? More importantly, what does God say about being his warrior? Does God mean me? I have found myself lately in a lot of turmoil. I am in the middle of a storm, a fight no doubt about it. As I read, Jesus continues to tell me to be “strong and courageous”. If I am totally honest with all of you there are times that I am tired of being strong …

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How To Boil a Frog

Do you know how to boil a frog? No? Well let me tell you that it really is pretty easy. All you have to do is put them in cold water then slowly and gradually turn the heat up. As I was getting ready for church this morning, I couldn’t put this image out of my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking about how many times that I have been this slimy green amphibian. Things start happening and the heat gradually turns up. I never see it coming. I should but I never do. There is little doubt that Satan plans this for Christians lives. This …

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Hello From the Pit

  Have you ever felt like you had been thrown into a lion’s den knowing the lions were hungry and ready to eat? Be honest, I’m sure you have felt that way at one point in time.  I know I have.  Matter of fact, I feel like I live down there with the lions a lot of times. Every day, I wake up surprised to still be alive but at the same time in awe of my Savior that continues to shut the lion’s mouth.  That doesn’t mean that it is not a nasty place to be.  Imagine, living there among the bones, …

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He Is With You Always

My oldest nephew and his sweetie went on a ski trip. Her words at the end of the trip went like this, “What was I thinking? That I could take up two slim sticks, and slide real fast down a mountain and not have problems?” That’s after her injury was looked at again by a physician at home. Don’t we often have the same attitude of our walk with God? “What was I thinking? I accepted Christ and thought I could just slide through life and right into heaven’s doors. No problems?” Oh beloved, this walk of faith is not …

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Sharing A New Journey

Some have asked about the next Encourage Retreat. The ministry team for My Journey of Faith has decided not to hold a large weekend event for 2019. We feel that God is calling us to get smaller and more intimate with this awesome gift we have that is the Encourage Retreat Model, so we are making it mobile! If you are interested in hosting a mini-retreat for your church, a friend group, a recovery center, really any group of 20 or less- we would love to offer this to you! We are also offering individual Story Coaching and Spiritual Direction …

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Be Still

The Christmas tree is decorated. Gifts are being wrapped and lovingly placed beneath it. It’s Christmas time again. I know this not just because of the beautiful decorations everywhere or the calendar, but also because the mall and commercials made sure to tell me about it months ago. So many things are left to do and experience, but though my schedule and life are saying “hurry, rush,” I can’t miss how often my heart is whispering, “slow, be still.” I often see depictions of the time leading up to Jesus’ birth as still and calm, but I’ve had three babies …

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Great Joy

                              “… I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2: 8-9 NIV, emphasis added) My youngest son loves to play with our toy nativity. It is a “Little People Nativity” that has lasted through his older sister and brother and now has been discovered by him. Three different sets of little hands have held the little baby Jesus, made the …

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Hope

      When I said I would write about hope during the Advent season, I thought it would be easy. Hope is a wonderful thing, right? So surely the words would flow easily, giving way to a hope-filled post. Only, when I started to write, the words simply wouldn’t come. I wrote “Hope.” at the top of the page and it just sat there, as if it were mocking me. You see, lately I’ve been afraid to hope. It seems like every time I get my hopes up about something, it all comes crashing down around me—my heart in …

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He Hears

It had been one of those weeks. Sometimes I had felt as if I could hardly breathe. I had been weepy and my emotions were raw. Usually, when I feel this way it is because I was tired from lack of sleep or exhausted from traveling or even tired from doing “good” things that I knew were worthwhile. Sometimes I felt something else was going on. It involved the spiritual realm; I knew God was up to something involving me in some way especially if I was being obedient to God’s leading. A spiritual battle was raging and I felt …

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Prayer Changes Things…Beginning With Me

I can remember the day my sister called me with panic in her voice. As I sat in my office as a new temp hire at Stephens Inc., I remember her screaming to the top of her lungs that her then boyfriend had a gun to her baby’s head. As I visualized this scene, thoughts of this pattern of behavior that I had become accustomed to with her begin to play out in my mind. Such as the time she went to jail because she drove her car and ran over her then boyfriend, or the time her children were …

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