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There are some days when I feel like the world is collapsing around me and I just do not have enough hands to keep all of the pieces held up.  I can manage for awhile juggling things and trying to keep everyone around me happy and at the same time, keep myself healthy (and happy).  This does not include the way I wear a smile when it feels like my heart is being wrung out like a wet towel.  Sometimes I feel like all I need to do is get away from everyone around me and other times when I am finally alone I feel like the loneliest person in the world – so I start to feel lonely even when I am around people.

 On just such a day I reached out to my heavenly Father and I begged and pleaded with Him to show me what my path includes.  I wanted Him to reassure me that things were going to work out how I have them planned.  I cried out to Him for peace and answers, but mainly I just cried in the lap of my Father and echoed that “this world is full of pain, and You are the only True answer.”

He did not respond to me right away but He did slowly wash the weights away and my shoulders began to feel a little lighter.  I then was reminded of my own words: when we are at our highest peaks it is then that we lift our hands in praise to our Father for these blessings; on average mundane days that drag on forever it is then that we talk with our Father and rationally praise Him, worship Him, seek His guidance and pray on behalf of others; and when we are in our lowest valley it is then that we crawl into His lap and cry out to Him as our Daddy.  We need to do these things because He is our God and Creator, we can do these things because Jesus Christ, His Son, paid for the bridge and we should do these things because God is our Father and He is only good.

God did not tell me all the details of my path as I had asked.  He did not promise to take away the pain, He did not promise that it would work out how I want it to.  He did not reassure me that there would be no more storms… He only calmly whispered in my ear that I am exactly where He wants me to be and that I am doing His will.

And I say Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah! Our God on High reigns forever on high and in the hearts of men.

Thank you also to Kelsea and Charles for being vessels for the message of the Lord.

All glory and honor to the Creator, Father and Sustainer of life!

TaiAnn <><   

Oh God, I have tasted Thy goodness and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. Oh God, the triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, “Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away!” Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.
-A.W. Tozer “Pursuit of God”

Living in the Past….Waiting for the Future

Paul: Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:12-14

One thing I’ve learned from being in ministry – too many Christians are bound up in their past. What is unfortunate, as a result, they cannot fully live in their present.  All of us to some degree or another have issues from our past that have to be properly dealt with before we can really proceed to walk into the perfect plan of God for our lives. Some Christians are so bound up with some of the things that has happened to them in their past – that they literally cannot get off the couch to start living again, much less ever fully walk into their real calls for the Lord.

So here is my question to you…what part of your past is controlling your future?

  • Letting go of your past means accepting that there’s nothing you can do to change history. What’s done is done.  It is what it is (a statement that my husband hates to hear me say) LOL.  It’s knowing that, even if you had a “do over,” you would still be the person you were with the knowledge you had and would have still done the same things.
  • Letting go of your past means forgiving yourself for your mistakes. Thinking on what you could’ve or should’ve done is ineffective and unhealthy. If you’re dealing with your mistakes or facing your failures, try to forgive yourself.  If God can forgive you, who are you to hold a grudge?
  • Letting go of your past means being aware of your thoughts. When you find yourself dwelling or obsessing over the past, gently draw your thoughts back to the present.  “Whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8
  • Letting go of your past means trusting the nature of time. You will heal and move on. Your wound will slowly close up and soon only a faint scar will remain. Sometimes that scar even will disappear!
  • Letting go of your past means seeking balance in your conversations. It’s important to vent and share your pain and sadness with a close confident, and it’s equally important to show your interest in other people’s lives.
  • Letting go of your past means letting go of yourself.

Read Philippians 3:12-14 again. Paul really puts this idea of letting go of the past in a way that we can understand. In a way that it relates to the big picture – the picture of our involvement with the Lord as Christians.

Notice Paul starts out the second part of this verse with the words “but one thing I do.” And from there he goes into the idea of not looking at what is behind him – but looking and reaching forward for those things which now lie ahead of him. The words “but one thing I do” are meaningful and very important. He is really making sure that he does this on a regular and consistent basis. This daily practice is one that you will have to stay on top of and not let get away from you. It’s very easy to start falling back on all of the bad things that may have occurred in your past, and then use that as an excuse to start feeling sorry for yourself or to justify some of the irrational things you may be doing, thinking about doing or even saying.

But notice this -Paul ends this verse really putting everything in proper perspective when he says that what he is wanting to press forward on is the “upward call of God.” God the Father has a specific plan and call for each of us who will come to Him and fully surrender our entire lives into His hands. But you will never be able to press forward and walk into this upward and high calling unless you can first learn to let your past fully go. Remember that letting go of your past is a process and will take time.  Keep your eyes on the goal and hang in there. Surround yourself with fellow brothers and sister that will hold you up when you cannot stand on your own. Most importantly, learn to enjoy life.  Learn to make each moment count. Don’t just exist.  Learn to really live.

Learning to Live,

Pastor Janice

sin.

SIN.

Such a nasty little word. But what is it? Some view sin as an action. It is something you do. If you have sex before marriage, if you lie, gossip, murder, cheat, steal… these are “sins”. Bringing some to the conclusion that one could abstain from this list of actions and therefore abstain from sin.

SIN: moral evil; transgression of or rebellion against God’s laws; perversion of the heart; missing the mark.

Some passages that deal with sin:

Matthew 18:3turn from your sins and become as little children
Matthew 18:15 “…another believer sins against you
Luke 15:18 (Parable of the lost son) “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you
John 1:29the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jesus Christ)
John 16:9 Jesus said, “The world’s sin is unbelief in Me
then continuing in verse 10: “Righteousness is available because I go to                                                                                 the Father, and you will see me no more

Leading me to the conclusion: the Prince of this world has already been judged.

My point of this blog is to question our perceptions of sin.  Is it possible that sin is more than just an action?  Can we look at sin as not just actions and behaviors or “mistakes” that each of us display differently, but look at it as the entirety of the human condition to be inherently unbelieving and self-serving?  Sin is unbelief in God, and rejection of His ability to come to the earth in human form.  Sin is unbelief that Jesus, who walked the earth 2000 years ago was God incarnate and the Savior of our human condition.

Paul describes this in chapter 8 of Romans as our “pregnant condition” and adds that God knows exactly what kind of condition we are in, and He still wanted direct communication with us.  Since the beginning of time we only know humans as ones who are unsatisfied with full reliance on God the Father.  The sin in the Garden was man and woman disobeying God because they wanted to know what He knew, or they felt that they could know.

Jesus came onto this earth as God incarnate and at the same time, He came as the Son.  I know this is not something we can wrap our brains around, but for the sake of this blog I’m assuming we can accept that with blind faith.  Jesus came here to show us the perfect version of a human being – a living example of the kind of person He created us to be.  And as we killed Him for this beauty that we despised, He realized that humans will never be able to recover on their own.  Now this is not to say that an individual does not have the capacity to fully accept this and walk so humbly with God that they are taken up to heaven before death… but as a population, as a majority, we are unbelieving and self-serving.

Sin is not just a “lie”, a lie is merely a product (or fruit) of our pregnant, human condition.  Our human condition that Jesus met first hand. And what did Jesus think of us?

and He had compassion on them because they were like
sheep without a shepherd. So He taught them many things
” – Mark 6:34

He taught them to love God, to love others, to take care of the orphans and widows, to make amends…

Jesus, God, knew we could never do it on our own.  And God the Father loved us so much that He didn’t want to destroy us.  He wanted to give those of us who cannot humanly turn from sin a chance.  Does He want us to stop sinning?  Of course!!  But did Jesus die on the cross to allow us communion with God even when we continue to sin?  Yes!

Jesus died on the cross as a perfect living sacrifice.  That means His blood covers sins past, present and future – a continuous sacrifice.  Unfathomable.  He is a sacrifice so those of us who “live in sin” still have a chance to know Him, to know God the Creator.  Jesus truly is the bridge.  If you are without sin you can obtain direct communication with God the Father, but if you have sin, then Jesus is now the conduit.

Jesus’ words are all 100% Truth.  If you choose to believe Him, you must believe that His words are not contextually based and that His words are absolute Truth.

Jesus, on earth, came to realize that even a disciple whom He shared everything with and called brother would betray Him.  Even when the True Son of God who created the waters is standing on water before you, your weak faith causes you to sink.  Jesus got to know us on a level so deep He was one of us, He came to realize that some humans even with every opportunity for faith would still mess up, or “miss the mark”.  No matter how much He taught, how many He healed, no matter how many miracles He performed or how much compassion and love He shared – the majority of human beings were unbelieving and self-serving.  So He gave Himself up as a final, living sacrifice.

He not only died humanely like a lamb at slaughter – He went beaten and bloody.  He realized fully how depraved we were and He wanted to know us anyway.  Jesus came to this earth to teach, to bring the sword of Truth and to see what we were made of.  Well, we didn’t fight fair: we became selfish babies.  And we didn’t accept His love: we were unbelieving.  So maybe when Jesus prayed to God the Father in Gethsemane He was wrestling with the fact that when He died and the veil was torn, these evil humans who were in the process of betrayal  would have full access to the Father and to the Kingdom (Mark 12:1-12).

It is our duty to try every day and in every circumstance to live as we believe to be right and good.  Never condemning another for how they choose to live right because that is now between them and the Father.  In the garden, Jesus loved God so much that He admitted God to be the only good, He humbled Himself before the Father to say “You know the greatest good, not my will but Yours be done!”  I want to be bold and say that sin is so much more than we give it credit for – it is this entire world and our entire hearts.  Jesus came to abolish the separation that sin creates so we, as sinners, can come directly to God.  The Father saw how from the beginning of time He sent prophet after prophet and yet we never chose the right path on our own.  He sent His Son to show the perfect way and we rejected Him, killed Him.  God the Father knows all of this and yet said, “But how can I still have a relationship with them?”  And God the Father chose to raise His Son from the grave so that He could know us.  So yes, sin is everything we know and everything we are… but God is still bigger.

We are now free from the bondage of sin. In our own lives and yes, even in the lives of the people around us.  What do we have to do for this gift?  Believe in Him and accept His forgiveness as whole and everlasting.  This means that the blood that covers my sin of theft, covers your sin of adultery, covers his sin of greed and her sin of homosexuality.  It means that we can look at the world around us as lost sheep in search of a shepherd rather than sinners who need forgiveness… we are all sinners, and we all need forgiveness.  Since you now have the cure you should not condemn others for not having it, or chastise someone for not living the way you live, but lovingly shepherd lost souls towards the cure and encourage those who already have it towards the words of Christ.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6).

 

All glory to the Creator, Sustainer and Father of life!

= TaiAnn <><

So, Here’s my Question…

The Bible teaches that we can have wisdom from God whenever we ask – that we can know God’s good, pleasing and perfect will - that we can even speak the very words of God.  So, here’s my question…why don’t we trust that?

Why are we so scared to get outside of the comfort of our own experience and logical understanding? Why are we so scared to follow God out onto a limb or afraid that we might not know enough in certain situations?

Here’s a kicker – I am becoming more comfortable being uncomfortable in this sense.  I am learning to embrace the unknown and to enjoy the risks…because when I am more desperate to hear His voice, it comes through to me more clearly.

I am trying to train myself to pray specifically and WAIT for clear answers.  Amazingly, they are there.

God does not leave me hanging and his timing is not off.  He is there when I need Him and with the answers that are necessary. As in NECESSARY, not always what I WANT.

If we as Bible-believing, Jesus-loving, want-to-be-a-part-of-what-God-is-doing Christians really want to be close to Christ, learn to hear His voice, and make a difference, we need to do something BIG. What you may ask? Well sit down people, cause here it is… We need to get out of God’s way so that He can teach us to trust.

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”  Romans 8:24-25

In other words, we are saved by TRUSTING. And trusting means looking forward to getting something we don’t yet have. That something could be anything from relationships to material things to security. After all, a person who already has everything in his life doesn’t need to hope or trust. But we must keep trusting God for something that has not yet happened in our lives yet. Why? Because it teaches us to wait on Him – patiently and confidently. 

Leaning on His everlasting arms,

Pastor Janice

Do You Know How to Laugh?

The other day someone said to me, “I loove your laugh! It’s the best ever!” That statement made me laugh even more because for anyone who knows me – knows that my laugh is a LOUD one! I don’t know why, but I just throw my head back, mouth wide open and just let a hearty one fly out! My co-workers say they know when I’ve walked in the back door of the Pharmacy because they can hear my laugh all the way in the front of the Pharmacy! LOL Yes, I am loud. I giggle loud, I talk loud and for sure, I laugh loud!  

 The funny thing is, I have always wondered what makes God laugh.  My answer – I think we do.  As much as I laugh at my children and the funny things they say and do, why would God not be laughing at our antics?  Actually I think God laughs at our youth group quite often.  How could He not?  We can be quite silly, fun and hilarious (if I do say so myself).  I believe God enjoys laughter and loves for us to enjoy it as well.  Its part of His plan for us and it comes in the form of JOY.

 “You will show me the path of life; in Your presences is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  Psalm 16:11

 “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.”  Psalm 32:11 

 “His Lord said to him, “well done good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Lord.”  Matthew 25:23

 “These things have I spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”  John 15:11

 Laughing is an expression of JOY that comes from the heart of God Himself.  Good humor is edifying and encouraging.  Colossians 3:23 tells us that.  “Whatever we do, do it heartily as unto the Lord.”  Humor shows the joy, the passion, the great adventure of the Christian life.  Laughter and music are two of God’s greatest gifts to us. They give us the ability to express our inner feelings with a sense of joy, anticipation, and participation.  Laughter puts things in perspective.  The one who knows God can laugh even in the face of death because to die with Christ in our heart is to live – and laugh – with Him forever.  So laugh.  Life is meant to be laughed at even during the trials. I wake up every morning with joy in my heart. You may ask “Why” as some of you know the trials in my life currently….but here’s the answer – Because I have been saved by a King and with Him there is always Hope and with hope I find the humor in the lessons my Savior is trying to teach me. So, again I say; LAUGH. Enjoy the great gift of life and of humor.  Put things in their proper perspective. 

 With a hearty LOUD laugh,

 Pastor Janice

 

“For my loins are filled….”

The very first time that I ever heard the comedian Tim Hawkins was when he shared a true life story. He was signing autographs after doing a show and a lady in line had asked him to write the reference to his favorite Bible verse also. Without missing a beat he wrote Psalm 38:7. Tim thought what a great idea it was to share his favorite verse with everybody, so he started to write that reference on every CD, DVD and autograph that he signed. He was very proud of himself as he knew that there were over 3,000 people at the comedy concert that day and several hundred in line for signatures and pictures. What a great witness, right? Weeeellllll – sort of. LOL A few days later a friend of his had pointed out to him what a hilarious verse he had written on the entire autograph’s that day. Confused with the comment, Tim looked up Psalm 38:7 and to his horror read this: “ 7For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh.” Ops! Hahaha Unfortunately, Tim had written what was supposed to be his favorite Bible on hundreds of items that day. Ahhhhh, beautiful! (Nice to know that I’m not the only one who does stuff like that.)

I bring this story up because I had the blessing to see Tim Hawkins this past weekend (my 5th time) for a comedy concert. When it was my turn to have him autograph my new DVD of him, I jokingly said, “Hey, would you write your favorite Bible verse for me?” He laughed and said, “Yhea, good one!” and then proceeded to write, “The BIBLE”. That cracked me up! LOL “The BIBLE”…well I guess that covers everything! I got to thinking today about this whole idea of having a “favorite” bible verse/life verse/theme verse. I got to realize that I don’t exactly know what mine truly is! Throughout my walk with the Lord, I must say many verses have become my favorite. God in His awesomeness always places the right one before you during your deepest need. That verse becomes the one that you cling to as you walk through your valley of sadness or struggle. The verse that has been resonating in my mind and heart during this season of my life is John 3:30 “He must become greater, I must become less.”  Amen and Amen!

As I have been thinking about all this, there is a truth to what Tim wrote on my DVD this past weekend. “The BIBLE”. Makes sense doesn’t it? Why shouldn’t the Bible be our favorite everything! After all, it is the breath to my spiritual life. Will you ever have a verse that resonates in your life when you need it the most? Absolutely! Maybe one will even become the theme of your life – one that you live by everyday. That’s great! I applaud you and encourage you to find that ONE that means so much to you. But I also want to leave you with this thought….as you pick up your Bible this week for devotions, try looking at each verse, each word as the best, most perfect and favorite thing that you have ever seen. Soak it into your soul and find in it hope, encouragement and love. For these words were spoken by your Creator and Sustainer of Life! Amen!

Becoming less…

Pastor Janice

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