Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What lies within us

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson 

What a wonderful quote, and so true! Do you know that is also Biblically sound?  In 1 John 4:4, the Bible reminds us that “….the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”(NIV)  When you are a child of God, “what lies within us” or “the one who is in us” is the Holy Spirit!  We have a form of God Almighty that resides in us – what power! Sometimes it seems that external circumstances, decisions and actions determine our path.  And to some extent, external circumstances will influence our situations – but they are not more powerful than God! He has given you the power to rise above anything that life throws at you.  He has given you the power to overcome any deficiency or past mistake. Through Jesus, we are already victorious! 

I have the privilege of leading two study groups on a 6 week study of how God intends for us to have extraordinary lives.In one group we have decided to explore what being “extraordinary” really means to each of us.  What does it mean to you?  What would your life look like if you were to think of yourself as extraordinary?  Did you know that God has already given you the tools to live out this vision?  Has God put a dream in your heart? Then he will help you carry it out! 

I am reading of the Israelites, of how God has promised them this land flowing with milk and honey, and had delivered them there – right to the front door. But do you remember that the initial group of Israelites didn’t see the Promised Land? Spies were sent to check out the territory to devise a game plan – of the 12 sent, only 2 believed they could take the land, the remaining 10 only saw the challenges and decided it was too hard to accomplish.  Really?  God told the Israelites this was their land to inhabit – but they chose not to try.  How often are we like that in our lives?? 

Let’s not miss out on having the best life for God that we can possibly live (one that he has already equipped us for, let’s not forget), because we can only see the challenges that we must overcome!  Don’t let distractions and hurdles discourage you from claiming what God has for you in this life. You are already extraordinary - resolve in your own mind to claim that truth!

Now go live it out! 
Have a wonderful day! :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


“It's the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don't deserve

It's the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just to real
It takes everything you have just to say the word...


Friends, do you want the most of what God has planned for you? Do you want to feel the FULL expression of God’s love?  Then you have to step out in faith and forgive. This song by Matthew West came to mind last night after praying for a choir member who is going to see his dying, aged father this weekend for the first time in over 30 years. He is going to forgive his father, and seeking forgiveness himself.  This song would not leave my mind all night, so I figured God put it heavily on my heart and mind because he needed me to share it with you all, and also make sure my own plate is clean.

“It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It's always anger's own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It's the whisper in your ear saying 'Set It Free'



Some of you may feel offended or irritated that I would suggest that to feel the full measure of God’s love that you would need to forgive others. You might be thinking right now of a person who you should forgive but don’t want to. You know of someone that justifiably deserves your anger for all of the wrong committed against you, right?  I don’t know what you’re going through. That’s true – I don’t. But God does.

“Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Help me now to do the impossible


You see, God does understand.  He sees your life. He sees you’re hurt. He knows the pain that has been brought on you by others.  But he says to lay your cares on Him, to let Him avenge your wrongs – he is faithful to do those things for you, because he loves you. He also knows that when you don’t forgive someone, the person it really hurts is YOU. The anger, the emotion, the pain – it keeps you in bondage. When you don’t give that person over to God to deal with, you remain a captive to the hurt you feel. The circumstance has power of you, not the other way around.  And, in case this hasn’t crossed your mind lately, when was the last time you hurt God? 

It'll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it's power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you


Was it yesterday that you sinned against God? Have you even made it this far into the day before you’ve done something that could separate you eternally from the presence of Jesus? Do you really understand the power of God’s love and forgiveness toward you? In 1 John 1:9, the Bible says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  God can (and will) forgive us daily.  If you’ve truly felt the full measure of God’s forgiveness – why not extend that to someone else?

“Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible

I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me

You know, no one said forgiveness is easy. And you may not forgive others because you don’t fully realize what it feels to be forgiven. You may not accept the gift that forgiveness is. But God is here to help you – to help you accept your own forgiveness, and to help you forgive another. Try it today – and experience freedom from the bondage of hurt!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The "Thank you, God!" Challenge....

“THANK YOU, GOD!!” Challenge!!   

I love it when a child prays – they thank God for EVERYTHING, right?  They will go down an extensive list of things for which they are thankful : thank you, God, for the sun; thank you, God, for the flower;  thank you, God, for my crayons, etc. Don’t you love it? (Except when you are starving, and the only thing standing in the way of you and dinner is a prayer…..)  

We should be more like children!  They have a beautiful, simple faith and are so pure and energetic in their love for God! Children have the ability to be grateful for even the most mundane things, and are not ashamed to say so! In Matthew 18:3, Jesus says: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.” 

So my challenge today??  Be more childish! J   Spend your day thanking God for everything that matters to you.  The tree, the sunshine, your beat up car, your husband that is being a little grumpy, the food on your plate, fresh air – you get the picture.  He gives us so much – and we don’t thank him nearly enough!  See how much brighter your day becomes when you spend your time looking for something to reasons to thank and praise God! 

Do you want the ADVANCED challenge??  Try turning something that is troubling you, or something you dislike into a cause for thanks.  Here’s an example – I hate cleaning the bathroom. It totally disgusts me. So when it is time to clean the bathroom, I find myself grumbling and complaining.  Here’s how I try to turn that around on bathroom cleaning day – Thank you, God, that I have indoor plumbing. That my toilet works. That I have the extra money to buy a surplus of cleaning supplies that are easy to use and smell good.  That I have the dogs I love (who are unfortunately leaving hair for me to clean up). That I have a husband whom I love (even when he sometimes hits the rim of the toilet instead of the bowl…). And mostly – THANK YOU GOD FOR SWIFFER AND FEBREZE PRODUCTS!! (I seriously do thank God for them, I love those products – they almost make cleaning house fun??)  See what I mean? In ALL things, we can give thanks.  (And yes, I will get deep. When we suffer from sickness or loss, we can still thank God – He encourages us to lean on him as he gently heals and comforts us.) 

So back to being childish for the day!!  Will you accept the challenge?  If so, can you tell us how it went for you today???   

Have a blessed day, friends!
Thank you, God for providing for us......

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hurting? Help is here.

“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.” ― Mary Anne Radmacher



Can I be real, friends? And by real, I mean honest. I am encouraging us all to live our lives in an extraordinary way – but life isn’t always easy, is it? Just because we are Christ followers, that doesn’t mean our lives are always going to be rosy or that we will be cruising down easy street or that everyone is going to like us all the time. In fact, life can be brutally, excruciatingly painful. Unbelievingly disappointing. Crushing. I’m talking about circumstances that hit us so hard we can hardly breathe – cancer, abuse, mental illness, being a victim of violence or being violated, loss, death.


Have you been there? Are you there now? Struggling to hang on? Desperate? Broken? Wondering what the last straw will be until you unravel? Ready to scream/cry/ crawl into bed for days?


Do you blame God?  Question His timing? Wonder how can what is happening to you possibly be in His will? Do you wonder where God is?


He’s right next to you.


Psalm 34:18 says “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  Sisters, I don’t know why bad things happen to God’s people. I don’t know how it all works out in His master plan. What I do know is that God loves you deeply. That he sees every tear, hears every cry of anguish, listens to every fearful prayer, is keeping you company every sleepless night. He’ll give you the strength to say “I will try again tomorrow.” He may not take away your pain, but he will help you deal with it, help you cope and eventually restore you. In these times, don’t run away from God – draw closer to him. He will save you.


I’ve shared a song that is on Christian radio right now, it’s called “Need you now”. I’ve just been so struck by the pain in this girl’s voice – I’ve felt the way she feels. I’m sure you have too. When you listen, be aware that God draws near to ALL of us that are broken. If you need him, all you have to do is ask for his help, and he will graciously give it to you.  You don’t even need to shout – he’s right by your side.


I pray comfort and strength for all of you, friends!  I pray you feel God’s love all around you.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

No take backs

“…for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29

 I love this verse. If you are anything like me, then you haven’t always led the most Christ-centered life. There was a time that I lived my life on my own terms. I still had some form of Christianity, I mean, I still believed in God and Jesus and the whole nine yards, but I didn’t live in obedience with the will of God. I guess I “lost my religion” for a while.

 When I came back to the Lord and decided to really devote my life to him, not just talk about it, I was filled with remorse over who I was and how I had behaved. It’s hard to accept grace and forgiveness sometimes. I wondered: “Would God ever use me in an important way?” “Have I squandered away my talents?” “Is it possible for me to ever affect someone for God in a me...aningful way?” “Does God still have big plans for me, after all I have done?”

 In short, the answer is YES.

 God led me to this verse over a year ago, and it’s been an important component of my spiritual armor. You see, if God has called you – you will ALWAYS be called. If God has given you a gifting, you will ALWAYS have that gifting. (Irrevocable means unable to be changed, reversed or altered.) Now, understand this – you may ignore the call on your life and you may choose not to use your gifts – those are YOUR choices. But God doesn’t change his mind and take them back. He doesn’t necessarily bless you with more gifts or responsibility if you don’t use what you’ve already been given, but he doesn’t take them back.

 Why do I bring this up? So many of us feel as if we are trapped by our circumstances, our past or our actions. We feel like God can’t or won’t use us, or that he has given up on us – like he is capable of being surprised by our actions. God knew what we were going to do in our lives before we were even born – and called us anyway.

 If you feel like you aren’t capable of having an extraordinary, meaningful or impactful life because you have made mistakes and disappointed God, guess what? You’re in great company. Abraham, David, Moses, Peter and Rahab (to name just a few) all made a few mistakes along the way, and God still worked through them. Just like He’ll work through you, if you let him.
God thinks you're awesome! Try to start getting used to that idea, and I'll see you next time.


Friday, February 8, 2013

the rescued heart

This entry I wrote for a blog that I was intending to start, entitled "a rescued heart".  Decided to put all my longings for God into my "comforts and joys" blog - but still wanted to help explain the love of God in a different way.  Hope you enjoy. RJC

Why entitle this blog the rescued heart? The genesis of the idea came one Saturday when we were visiting the animal shelter where we adopted both our dogs, Wyatt & Dyson. I have an incredible soft spot for dogs, especially rescue dogs. I firmly believe that one of these days when we own our own home and have a lot more land, we will be adopting several more. (I could have a pack of 6 to 8 - I believe my husband would prefer fewer than that....) Anyway - I digress - back to the shelter.

I tend to get very emotional at the shelter, as I instantly fall in love with all of the dogs there, and want all of them to find good homes and love. Some dogs are irresistible, some not. some loud, some quiet. Some have personalities that instantly click with yours, some wouldn't be a good match for your home. Many are not "perfect" - strays, older dogs, malnourished, disabled - those, especially, have a special place in my heart. I'd love to take all of the hard to place dogs home - kind of like "the island of misfit toys" - only for misfit fur babies. The desire to care for them was so strong, it choked me up.

That's when it hit me - that's exactly how God and Jesus feel about the world. When people want to tell you that God "hates" certain people, don't believe it, it's a lie. God loves ALL of us, and wants all of us to be saved. We're like those dogs in the cages at the shelter - strays, given up on, desperate for a home and someone to love us. God the father and his son Jesus see us - imperfect, damaged, broken, in need of a lot of care and attention, perhaps even sitting in our own filth - and say "I want that one!" In fact, they want to adopt everyone. They want to rescue us all, take us home, smother us with love, care, provision, protection and shelter. That's what it means to be loved. That's what it means to be rescued. And that's what God is really like - the ultimate rescue parent. We just have to want to be rescued.

I have been rescued. Not only by God, but by the dogs that my husband and I rescued from the shelter. I gave their lives new meaning, and in return, they gave my life new meaning. God gave my life new meaning. I am eternally grateful - to my God AND my dogs!

Wyatt (on the right) and Dyson

Hey friend! Remember me?

I know, I know. I'VE been the stranger. I've definitely been gone a long time. Sorry, friends - I've been on a bit of a journey.  And often, ironically enough, even with the detours and side steps, if you are supposed to be somewhere, God often leads you back to the intended path.

I'm back!  I'm gonna be sharing some things with you - hopefully they will be of benefit to you! They will be a little more personal in nature - some funny, some serious, some dog-related - but ALWAYS God-related. 

Our Pastor this year has challenged us to live out the extraordinary lives that God has planned for us. It has so resonated with me that I have decided to step out and encourage all of us to live in an extraordinary way.  Maybe God has something big planned for your life, maybe something small, but God has plans for you. You matter! You are important! Most importantly, you are loved. :)

So stick around - I'll be seeing you a lot more.  Probably daily, or close to it. Feel free to share how God has touched your life, too! With all the negative mess you can hear every day, welcome to a place of laughter, safety, comfort and joy. 

It's a brand new day!  Enjoy it.  See you soon.