Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Okay, yep . . . it's that time of year. I know everyone is making them only to fall short on keeping them! NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS. I love to set goals, make lists, evaluate, reflect, etc. So that's what I've been doing anticpating this new year. However, I know that when I do this, they tend to become more of a "weight" than a goal. So I'm reflecting and evaluating.

What would I like to 2011 to be like? What will I do different next year? What are some new things I'd like to try? How can I live in a way that brings more honor and glory to God?

So here are my goals for 2011:
1. Simplicity. Resting. Remaining. Abiding. Fullness in Him!

2. Live intentionally. How can I be intentional in spending my time? Having conversations? Sharing God's love? Serving others? Doing life with purpose and passion?

3. Be healthy. All around.
Spiritually-keep Jesus the main thing. Know Him . . . Make Him known.
Physically-sleep, exercise, healthy eating (these are the things I'm the worst at).
Relationally-God first, Santino second, figure out the rest :)

4. Try new things. In 2010 it was painting. 2011, maybe sewing, photography, new recipes??

5. Read. More Bible-transform and renew my mind daily (Romans 12:1-2). Read the books on my shelf that have been waiting for me! And seriously, I'm not buying another book until these 16 on my shelf are read (unless I see a good one).

So some are broad, some are simple, some are fun! Balance. These are my goals. Now I seek the Lord and say, what are your goals for me this year?

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:1-3)

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. (Psalm 37:4-5)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I just read ahead in my devotional “Comforts from the Cross” by Elyse Fitzpatrick because tomorrow’s topic was on prayer. Prayer. . . what a struggle! While I enjoy it, and long for moments of stillness and silence before the Lord, some days it is such a struggle. She says there are 2 reasons we don’t pray, both rooted in not fully believing the gospel:

1) We don’t really think we need to (self reliance)
2) We don’t feel comfortable in the presence of God (shame and guilt).

I think there is a 3rd reason too . . . we don’t know how! I really think the struggle in prayer is just getting there. We don’t need to read a book on prayer, listen to a sermon on prayer, or talk about prayer, we just need to pray!

When I first started to pray I think I read 10 books on prayer. There are so many thoughts on prayer, “how to pray. . . start like this . . . ask in this way”, etc. I started to feel like a robot in my prayer time and like I was doing it “wrong”. It was too formulaic for me. So I finally put down all the books on prayer. I went to God and said “I love to pray, but I have no idea what I’m doing! Is it okay if I just talk to you?” I started to imagine myself at coffee with Jesus or resting in the arms of my Heavenly Father . . . and it was like a weight lifted off of me!

I’m reminded of Romans 8:26-27 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” We don’t know how to pray, the Word of God says so himself!

Even as I’m writing this, so much scripture is coming to mind about prayer. Abraham asking God to save Lot; Moses interceding for the people-God relents; Hannah praying for a baby-He answers; Daniel praying, and the angel reminds him God has heard, but there is a battle going on in the heavenlies delaying the answer; Psalms-David sometimes crying out, sometimes praising, sometimes confessing anger and fear; Jeremiah praying for mercy on the people, God says stop praying, it’s time for judgment; Paul teaches us in Colossians to pray watchfully and thankfully; Jesus teaches us to pray humbly, yet also telling the story of the persistent widow to continue asking, etc.

So, I don’t have a formula. I believe Jesus taught his disciples to pray a certain way-Praising the Father, praying for His will and provision, and to be humble before the Lord with our sin. But, I don’t think it was to show them how to get what they want from the Father, as much as it is getting the Father-fellowship and communion with Him. His will for us is not to give us the idols we crave (health, wealth, relationship, jobs, etc.). His will is for us to be sanctified to look more like His Son. His will is that we know Him and make Him known!

Which is why we don’t know how to pray. We don’t know how to ask for things like that! We wouldn’t, we are in too much pursuit of self, to pursue Him and His kingdom.

So can I encourage you to be honest about prayer with our Heavenly Father? “I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know what to ask for”, and bring yourself to the place where his disciples were, where I am regularly and say . . . “Lord, teach me to pray.” I sort of think that’s what He wants from us anyway-to be like Mary, to sit and listen, to have a teachable and humble heart, and submit to His way.

Let us be intentional about carving out time for the Lord, be honest with Him when we go to the Throne of Grace that we don’t know how to pray and then just start talking. No need to be intimidated, God already knows your heart. No need to feel like you don’t know how, none of us do (Romans 8:26). All we need is to be intentional and honest, to go to the throne of grace and . . . pray.

Practical Tips
(Just some things that have helped me when I’m stuck in a rut in my prayer life.)
1. Start with just 2 minutes a day. Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking you have to pray for 3 hours, the hardest discipline is doing it daily. Pick a consistent time each day for 2 minutes.
2. Read a Psalm or listening to worship music before you begin. Get the attitude of your heart right before going into his presence.
3. Be honest-don’t add fluff, don’t recite quotes you’ve heard people say. Talk to him the way you would talk to a friend on the phone. (Not that you don’t revere Him, He is the Lord, but be real and pure before Him too.)
4. Keep a notepad next to you if anything pops up while you pray (groceries, etc.). The enemy will try to distract you, write it down, and persevere!

Prayer: A Holy Occupation
by Oswald Chambers
Alone with God by John MacArthur
Genesis 18-19 , Exodus 32-33, Daniel 9, Nehemiah 1, Matthew 6-7, Luke 1, 11, 18, John 17, Colossians 4, Ephesians 3, Romans 8

Leave a comment with some things that have helped your prayer life too!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Trust in His love.
Delight in His ways.
Hope in His promise.
Rest in His grace.
Joy in His presence.
Know Him. Make Him known.
Refreshing. Fulfilling. Satisfying.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

He Hears

A few weeks ago I saw the grandmother of one of my former students. She shared that she was going back to court soon to try and get custody of her 3 grandkids (10 yrs, 5yrs, and 8 mths). The father of my former student was shot and killed years ago, and the mother has spent the last few years in and out of jail, on drugs, etc. and she is now missing.

I was so inspired for her love for her grandkids. She does not have much, and is even disabled, and I know providing and caring for them is difficult. I talked with some of my friends from life group and asked if they would want to pitch in to give her some gifts for her grandkids.

Well time went by and I didn’t go shopping. So I decided to just get a gift card to Target that way she could buy whatever she thought they’d need or want. I had plans to deliver it early in the week, but didn’t send the gift card home until Thursday afternoon.

Yesterday, she came to my classroom weeping! She said she spent all of Thursday morning crying because she had no money to buy Christmas gifts. She told her kids they would have to wait for presents until January. She said all morning she was crying and praying and then my former student came home with the gift card. She said she couldn’t believe it! She never thought God would hear and provide the way He did! She said she was overwhelmed and so excited, she was able to go out and buy her kids gifts! We were both crying as she told me, it was amazing.

I thought about how perfect God’s timing is. I had not had time to go shopping, which is why she didn’t get the card until Thursday. If I had given it sooner, she wouldn’t have been able to praise God for answering her prayer! It was just amazing to praise the LORD together and confess together that God hears prayers. He proves again, that He is able to do immeasurably more than we might ask or think . . . He hears, He provides, He loves.

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause (Isaiah 1:17). Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you (Psalm 55:22). Blessed be the LORD, Because He has heard the voice of my supplication. The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him (Psalm 28:6-7).

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure(Philippians 2:13). Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights (James 1:17). 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, to HIM be glory (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Proclaim the Excellencies of Him

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

I want my life to proclaim the excellencies of Him . . . how he has chosen me and called me out of darkness and into light. I want that to be on my lips, on my mind, on my heart, and worked out with my hands and feet daily.


Praiseworthy & Excellent.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Scripture 20

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2)

I literally just wrote the word endurance on the board today in my classroom during a "teachable moment". We were learning a difficult skill and I could see my kids getting frustrated, shutting down, and giving up. So I stopped, and told them not to give up, to have "endurance"! Being the teacher, I knew that it would be hard at first but if they would just hang in there, they'd get the lesson and learn the skill!

I taught them that having endurance means to keep trying even when it's too hard, to never give up! All the while, I'm preaching to them to endure when times are difficult, realizing that I was full of hypocrisy! I know when the LORD is bringing me through something difficult, that I don't understand, or feel like is just "too hard" for me to go through, I get frustrated, shut down, and want to give up too.

So once again, the Lord teaches me through His word (and through these precious little children) a great life lesson. Just as I know when I am teaching them something difficult, it's for their own good. It may seem too hard at first, but they will learn and it will be for their benefit. They can't see beyond the task, the circumstance. Just like me. When our Heavenly Father, the Good Teacher, is teaching me, I can't see beyond my circumstance. All the while, He is reminding me to endure and keep my eyes fixed on Him.

Oh that I would lay aside every weight, look to Jesus, and trust Him all the more!

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance" (James 1:2-3)

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Friday, November 26, 2010


Jesus, the living Vine in heaven, and I, the living branch on earth! How little have I understood how great my need of-and also how perfect my claim to-all His fullness! How little understood, how great his need of-and also how perfect His claim to-my emptiness!

Jesus is indeed to me the True Vine, bearing me, nourishing me, supplying me, using me, and filling me to the full to make me bring forth fruit abundantly. Then I will not fear to say, ‘I am indeed a branch to Jesus, the True Vine, abiding in Him, resting on Him, waiting for Him, serving Him, and living only that through me He may show forth the riches of His grace and give His fruit to a perishing world.’

You are weak, but I am strong; you are poor, but I am rich. Only abide in Me; yield yourself wholly to My teaching and rule, simply trust My love, My grace, My promises. Only believe; I am wholly yours. I am the Vine, you are the branch. Abide in Me.

Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Monday, November 22, 2010


I have been meditating on the Psalm 16:11 this week, and because of that, the word presence has been on my mind and my heart. I was also reading through 2 Thessalonians and this caught my eye “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9)

I remember staying home once last year because I was sick. I watched TV all day . . . didn’t read, didn’t pray, and didn’t listen to worship music. I stayed on the couch all day watching TV. I can remember late at night feeling this very lonely, dark feeling. I had filled my day with reruns, nothing of substance, and it felt like I was so distant from God. It was a weird, eerie feeling. It was so empty, so lonely, felt like I had nothing inside. I soon realized that the LORD was showing me what it is like to go through a day without Him, without being in His presence. It was reminder of what it used to feel like before I knew Him, a feeling of distance, of what it’s like to be “away” from God.

This word has just got me thinking . . . if eternal destruction is away from the presence of the LORD, than eternal life is being in His presence! While we think so often of Heaven as things (streets of gold, no more pain, etc.), the real joy of eternal life is to be in His presence. I was so refreshed in the LORD yesterday in my time of prayer, realizing again how true Psalm 16:11 is, in His presence there is fullness of joy. I love what Tim Keller says in "The Reason for God" We were made to center our lives upon him, to make the purpose and passion of our lives knowing, serving, delighting, and resembling him.” Let’s start our eternal life now by dwelling in His presence.

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fullness of Joy

"You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever." (Psalm 16:11)

I’m in a place right now where I am asking God, not just if there’s more He wants me to be doing, but something else. Is there something else I am supposed to be doing with my life? Is this discomfort and discouragement because I am not supposed to be on this road? Is this my plan or your plan? OR is this discouragement and feeling of weakness because you want me to endure and rely on you? Your word tells me that “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4). Are you producing character in me? Am to obey and endure? OR am I in a place you never intended me to be?

I don’t know . . . but I could not take my eyes off this verse tonight in my time of prayer with the LORD. In Your presence is fullness of joy.

I know why I am struggling with my circumstances; it is not the place the LORD intends me to find joy. He intends me to find joy in His presence. He wants me to delight in Him. The path of life is not this job or that job, this place or that place, this road or that road, etc. The path of life is Him. He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. It’s loving, abiding in, delighting in, obeying, and worshiping Him. That is the only place I will find fullness of joy.

At the end of my prayer time, I still have no idea if I am to endure or move on. I don’t know if this is my plan or His. But I know that the place He wants me to be most, is in His presence . . . that I may have fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.

“But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8)

“Cease striving and know that I am God . . .” (Psalm 46:10)

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I am reading “The Reason for God” by Tim Keller. In this book, he answers the most common questions people have in regards to Christianity: “How could a good God allow suffering”, “How can a loving God send people to Hell”, “Hasn’t science disproved Christianity”, etc. I had many questions like this myself before becoming a Christian. I couldn’t understand why people kept telling me about Jesus and His death on the cross, I remember thinking it had nothing to do with me because it happened so long ago! I also remember feeling so offended hearing people talk about “sin” or “being a sinner”. I was a good person, with a kind heart, how dare you say that about me!

In this book, Tim Keller says that “most people think of sin primarily as 'breaking divine rules’”. He says “Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity apart from him . . . It is seeking to establish a sense of self by making something else more central to your significance, purpose, and happiness than your relationship to God.” (p.162)

Sin is not just “doing bad things”. It is finding your significance and identity in anything apart from God. If I find my significance (meaning) in being a good teacher, what happens when my kids don’t do well on the test? If my identity is found in being a good parent, what happens if one of my kids strays? If it’s in my successful career, what happens if I lose my job? If it’s being the funny one at the party, what happens if no one laughs at my jokes? If my identity is in my beauty, what happens when I age??? Yikes!

The reality is if we’re not finding our significance in Christ, we’re finding it in something else. Tim Keller calls these our “god-substitutes”. They can be your job, family, political affiliation, even your charity work. We’re all finding our significance and identity in something. He also says “A life not centered on God leads to emptiness.” (p.166)

You’ve heard it said there is a god-shaped hole inside all of us. St. Augustine said “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee!” (p.165) I think that’s why Jesus starts his Sermon on the Mount with “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:3) Until we come to the end of ourselves (poor in spirit), saying we want God and His way of life, we are just filling our life with “god-substitutes”. We are finding our significance in places that will never make us feel significant. We are seeking identity in places that will never show us our purpose.

I realize that Jesus has paid my debt and redeemed me. However, when I peel away what is on the surface, I realize that at times I am finding my significance in other things. I am not fully “resting” in who I am in Christ. If my identity and significance does come from my job, my ministry, my marriage, friendships, etc., what would happen if all of these things were stripped away? Is my identity solely found in God? Do I fully understand my significance in Christ?

In the book “Respectable Sins” Jerry Bridges reminds us not only to preach the gospel to others, but to also preach it to ourselves daily! The more and more I understand sin (Genesis 3), the more I understand and am thankful for John 3:16. I’m praying that I find my significance in Him, the only One who can satisfy!

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:1-2)

“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Scripture 18

Sow Bountifully
"The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." (2 Corinthians 9:6)

I recently went through the World Vision Aids Experience where a child from Kenya walked me through his life as an AIDS orphan. Shortly after, I read the book “The Hole in Our Gospel” by Richard Stearns (the president of World Vision) and I have been burdened for those suffering around the world from poverty, hunger, disease, etc. I have been evaluating and reflecting on how I live my life and how I can be living differently. These are some of the questions that have been on my mind and stirring in my heart ever since my World Vision encounter:

How am I showing love to people?

What kind of legacy am I leaving on this earth?

How am I helping those in need? How do I contribute to the needs of others?

Am I storing up treasures in heaven or am I filling my closets here on earth?

If I moved out of this neighborhood, would my neighbors notice? If I left my job, would my coworkers notice? If I left this world, would people notice?

Does God want me to go and serve? Give and Pray? All of the above?

How can I be a better steward of my time, talents, and treasures?

These questions have not been easy to answer and I’m not asking them to beat myself up. I have just been truly challenged and convicted when I learned that if you make more than $55,000 a year, you’re richer than 99% of the world. Or that as many as 5 million people die every year of water related illnesses, I realize that I can do much more than I’m doing to help. I realize that each and every person on earth is created in God’s image, has value and worth, and it’s tragic to think they die from things that can be easily prevented through clean water, medicine, and even education.

Looking at the “needs” of others can be overwhelming, and I’m thankful that through this process, the LORD has reminded me not to look at the needs of others, but to look at Him. It’s not my responsibility to fix the world’s problems, but it is my responsibility to obey Him. It’s my responsibility to help in some way. So I’ve asked “LORD what do you want me to do? How do you want me to live differently?”

I pray that I would leave a legacy of love and compassion, that I would put the needs of others first, that I would live with and eternal perspective, truly desiring in my heart to “Let your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”

Live intentionally. Give generously. Pray fervently. Obey willingly. Love wholeheartedly. Sow bountifully.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I’m reading through Acts, the history of the church, and noticing how so many people/people groups are mentioned. There are so many names, so many stories, summed up in just a paragraph or sometimes just a sentence. It got me thinking . . . I wonder what my life story would be summed up on a page, or in a paragraph, or even just a sentence.

Those of good reputation . . .

Believers: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers”. (2:42) they were of one heart and soul(4:32), And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.” (2:46-47)

Gamaliel: “a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people” (5:34)

Stephen: “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (6:5)

Paul: “he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.” (9:15)

Dorcas (Tabitha): “She was full of good works and acts of charity” (9:36)

Cornelius: “a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God.” (10:2)

Barnabas: “for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.” (11:24)

Others . . .

Sadducees: “greatly annoyed” (4:2)

Ananias and Sapphira: “Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back to yourself part of the proceeds of the land” (5:4)

Simon the magician: “Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.” (8:22)

Herod: “Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.” (12:23)

After reading these chapters tonight, I really started to think about my life. I wonder what the pages of my life would say. How would people remember me? How do people speak of me today? What is my reputation like? Hopefully it’s not that I’m “greatly annoyed, or did not give God the glory”. I hope it’s “full of good works, devout, and full of faith”.

What would your life story say on a page? In a brief sentence? What is your reputation like?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Scripture 17

My Treasure
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matthew 13:44)

I have been reading through the gospels these past few weeks (thank you Academy) and it’s been amazing. I love seeing how Jesus interacted with people. I love seeing how He would teach and have compassion on others. I love hearing him explain what the Kingdom of Heaven is really like, what our Heavenly Father is really like, contrary to what “religious people” have explained them to be. He explains how in order to find your life, you have to lose it. To be called great, you must be called last. To be blessed, you must be poor, mourning, and hungry.

To be a part of the Kingdom, you must enter the narrow door. You must be willing to deny yourself and “follow”. You get the sense that everything in Jesus worldview is upside down and backwards from all that we know. There is a big sense of not completely understanding, yet trusting. Surrendering and following. Understanding the cost is great, but the treasure you receive is much greater.

I love this verse. When I first came to Christ I can remember so many people asking why I would want to give up drinking and all this “fun” stuff to be a boring Christian. This verse has reminded me what it was like to leave my old life, which at the time, seemed so confusing to those around me.

I imagine that’s what people would have told this man who sold all he had to go and buy a “field”. Can you imagine, his friends saying, “you’re going to sell everything for that field? But it doesn’t have any crops, a place to live, and it’s not even pretty looking!” Meanwhile, the man secretly knows, there is a hidden treasure in the field. What looks dull and of no value is worth far more than you could ever imagine.

It’s hard to explain to others the treasure you have found when they can’t see it with their own eyes. It seems confusing, even foolish; to abandon all you’ve ever known to pursue something that seems worthless. You can tell them there is a treasure, but they won’t always believe you. I love this verse because it explains so much about how we should feel when we encounter Jesus and his redeeming love. We should be willing to give up all that we have, and surrender to His ways, His plan. We should be able to do it “with joy” as the man who buys the field, because the treasure is great, more than any earthly treasure we could ever find.

He is my treasure . . . with joy I will surrender and follow Him.

Has following Jesus cost you anything?

Do you surrender all to Him? With joy?

Do you delight in Him as your treasure?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

8 Years Ago . . .

8 Years ago, I was 19 years old. I was in my 3rd year of college, working at a restaurant, and enjoying life as a college student. 8 years ago, on September 18th, my sister and I were home alone, my parents were in Stockton and my dad was on his way back home to Fresno. I wondered why he was coming home so late, but I went to bed anyway knowing he would be home soon. I was lying in bed, falling asleep. I remember waking up almost gasping for air, my heart pounding. I sat up in my bed and thought that was weird. Shortly after, I heard a knock at the door. I looked out to see an unfamiliar man in a white van. I thought it was one of my sister’s friends so I yelled to her to go answer the door, so she did. I looked out of my window at the van again and saw the word “Chaplin” on it. I ran down stairs to see what was going on. It was in fact a Chaplin, and he was there to deliver the terrible news.

My dad on his way home to Fresno, pulled over to the side of the road because of chest pain, had a heart attack, and died.

It was so unexpected and confusing that I actually called my dad’s cell phone to tell him some weird guy was here telling us he died. Shortly after I gulped, and realized this was real. I had to call my mom and tell her. Still not fully believing it, I called my mom and told her what was going on. She called Highway Patrol and a few minutes later, they were there (at my Grandma’s house in Stockton) to confirm the nightmare. My father, at the age of 50, had unexpectedly died of a heart attack. Our lives would NEVER be the same.

8 years ago our world was flipped upside down. My father was my mom’s best friend. He was my rock. I loved him, laughed with him, learned from him. He was a loving father who protected his daughters, defended his home, and loved us so much. We could not believe this had happened. No one could. I remember feeling so overwhelmed with peace and love during my dad’s funeral. His funeral was truly a celebration of his life. There were about 1,000 people who came to honor my dad and celebrate the legacy of love, laughter, and wisdom he passed on.

8 years ago my faith journey began. 8 years ago I began asking questions like “Who is God? If someone is in charge ‘up there’, who is it? What happens after death? Why do I have peace at my father’s funeral? Why do people keep telling me about Jesus? His death on the cross? What does that have to do with me?” I began seeking out Truth about Creation, death, life, salvation, Jesus. I had always believed there was one true God. I never bought into this whole “all ways are right”; it just never made sense logically.

A year or two later, I ran into my old boyfriend from high school (now my husband) and God used him to answer many of these questions. He helped me process through my thoughts on God and this longing in my heart to find the truth. It was then, after going through this horrible tragedy, and coming into contact with someone who not only had the right answers for me but lived them too, that I understood the gospel. A light went on, my eyes could see clearly who God is, what Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection meant for me, and how I can live in light of that!

I understood that the peace I felt when my dad died was God’s love. I understood that God used that horrible tragedy to teach me that I am not in control of my life or the days spent here on this earth. I understood through a tragic circumstance that this pain was meant to bring me to my knees, to surrender my way of life, and learn to live the life He had planned for me.

I can’t imagine where my life would be if God did not intervene. God was working in my life in a way I could not understand. Now I reflect on the love of both my earthly father and my heavenly father and I am incredibly thankful for the love I’ve received.

Although there are still days, like today, when I miss my father dearly, I have hope knowing that there is something greater for me. The thought of seeing my father again is so precious to me. But even more precious to me, is knowing the love of my Heavenly Father, spending all eternity with Jesus Christ my savior, and rejoicing in the hope of these things yet to come.

I know how much my earthly father loved me. But oh how much more does my Heavenly Father! It’s weird to think that 8 years ago was the worst day of my life, and yet still something to be thankful for.

8 years ago, I lost my earthly father . . . but gained a Heavenly Father.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Scripture 16

Not by Bread Alone
“But he answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:4)

In keeping with the theme of “food” (my last scripture memory verse) I thought this one was perfect! A few years ago when we were living in Pleasanton, our pastor taught through all of the Red Letters (Jesus’ words he spoke). I can remember his teaching on Matthew 4, on Satan tempting Jesus three times, and each time Jesus response to the temptation was “It is written . . .” Powerful. Jesus weapon against Satan and temptation was The Word.

My mind has been a battlefield lately. Each new school year I struggle with how hard teaching is, dealing with kids’ behavior, the baggage they bring to school each day, exhaustion, etc. Each year I question if this truly is the job for me, is this where God wants me? How can I be useful when I’m always tired, constantly doubting, overwhelmed, etc.

Reading through this chapter in Matthew I’m reminded that I can’t let my thoughts or the enemy’s temptation win. I have to look at what is “written”. What does His word say about how I am supposed to live for Him? His kingdom? How am I supposed to be during trials? What about all my grumbling!!?!?!!

If I am not daily nourishing myself with His word, I just won’t know how to see past my current set of circumstances. I am left to my own thoughts and/or listening to the lies of the enemy. I have to renew my mind daily with what God says about me, who I am in Him, what I am to do in the midst of these trials. I need to seek comfort from the God of all comfort, seek wisdom from the Wise Counselor, seek refuge in the shadow of His wings.

I am not going to live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

"How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalm 119:103)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nothing More, Nothing Less

“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38)

This is just one of my favorite pieces of scripture. It shows so much about Jesus. He taught others, he proclaimed the gospel; he healed people of their diseases and afflictions. It shows his heart, when he looks out on crowds, he feels compassion. He sees them as harassed and helpless, sheep without a shepherd.

I have often asked of the LORD to help me to be like Him according to this scripture. I have asked Him to help me to do His work, for His kingdom, through His eyes- to teach and proclaim the gospel of the kingdom, to pray for healing for people with illness, to encourage those in affliction. To shepherd and have compassion on those who are harassed and helpless, who do not know the One True God, the Good Shepherd.

However, where I struggle is letting go of the work that is not mine. I am to pray for more laborers, not try to labor and do everything. I have to remember that in the scripture above, Jesus did not look out to the crowds and feel overwhelmed because there were too many sick people, or overwhelmed because there were too many who did not know the gospel, or too many sheep to shepherd! He felt compassion, he taught and proclaimed, he healed those he was supposed to, and what he could not do, he prayed for others to come and labor.

As I meditate on my scripture memory verse “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34), I have to continue to ask for wisdom and discernment to what work I am to accomplish . . . to obey and do what He’s asked of me (and the freedom to say “no” to what he’s not asked of me), to feel compassion for others, but not to get overwhelmed and discouraged. He sustains me. He does not overwhelm me. His will is my food . . . Nothing more, nothing less.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Scripture 15

My Food
“Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34)

My last two bible studies have referenced this scripture. I think the LORD is trying to teach me something?!?!?!

My current bible study said “Jesus time on earth was limited, but he never hurried”. In Charles E. Hummel’s Tyranny of the Urgent he talked about how we often let the “urgent” things in our life crowd out the “important”. He says “Jesus’ prayerful waiting for God’s instructions freed Him from the tyranny of the urgent. It gave Him a sense of direction, set a steady pace, and enabled Him to do every task assigned by the Father. Jesus worked hard, yet his life was never feverish, he always had time for people.”

I am reminded of how Jesus could have gone to many more towns, healed many more people, discipled 112 instead of just 12, and he didn’t. He only did the will of the Father. He drew back, stopped, paused, rested, retreated, prayed, obeyed, and worshipped. I am reminded that my sufficiency is in Christ. I am fulfilled by abiding and delighting in Him. I am reminded by this scripture that I am called to do the will of the Father. Nothing more . . . nothing less. That will be my nourishment.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Scripture 14

Be Imitators, Walk in Love
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

I love how God’s word is not a mere rule book to “good” behavior, but a guide to changing our thinking, which renews our mind, then refines our hearts, which leads to changing our behavior. I really liked some of the exhortations Paul gives us in Ephesians 5. It’s not a just list of “do’s” and “don’ts”, but it’s full of admonitions to help us live in a way that would imitate God.

Do not be deceived by empty words (v.6), walk as children of light (v.8), try to discern what is pleasing to the LORD (v.10), look carefully as to how you walk, not as unwise but wise (v.15), give thanks always and for everything (v.20), and submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (v.21).

The LORD could give us a list of “good” behaviors and “bad" behaviors, He could simply say “don’t do this or that”. Instead, like the Good Shepherd he is, He leads us to think for ourselves, to consider, to try to discern, to look carefully, to figure out what is wise and unwise living.

So this week, as I meditate on Ephesians 5:1-2, I will ask the LORD to show me what it means to be an imitator of God, how I can better walk in love. I am asking Him for wisdom and discernment for my life, my choices, my relationships, etc. I will not simply try to do better at my life, but get to know the LORD better, the only One worthy of being imitated, the only One who can change me from the inside out.

What do you think it means to imitate God?

To walk in love?

To discern and be wise?

(Matthew 5-7, Romans 12, Exodus 20, Psalm 37, Micah 6:8, James 4:7-10, 1 Corinthians 13, Philippians 4:8)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Train Up . . .

I am heading back into my classroom today to start the new school year and my time with the LORD this morning was a perfect way to begin! I listened to another sermon by Chuck Swindoll from Ephesians 6:1-4, and Proverbs 22:6.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land."Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:1-4)

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

I’m not a momma yet (LORD willing someday), but I do adopt these 20 or so students into my heart during the school year. I love them, pray for them, cry for them, give to them, guide them, teach them, shepherd them, counsel them, and discipline them. I remember reading during my first year of teaching that discipline means to “teach and train”, and I thought “great, I can do that”!

A couple of years ago I had a VERY difficult and challenging student. He was exposed to drugs in the womb, watched his father violently attack his mother when he was little, had night terrors, fits of rage, talked to himself, was diagnosed with depression . . . and more. Needless to say, every minute of the day was a challenge, not knowing which side of him I would see.

I soon realized that being “firm” with him just wasn’t going to cut it. I thought, well this guy has just never been “disciplined” before, so I’ll break him in, and it will be tough at first, but he’ll learn to “obey”. Little did I know that this type of an approach, with a child like this, was a recipe for disaster. I soon realized that my “firm hand of discipline” exasperated him.

I remember reading in Ephesians 6:4 one day “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” I realized what I had been doing. I wasn’t “bringing him up” I was "jerking him up", expecting him to “obey” me, and he looked to it as a fight! I was provoking him to fight with me, rather than nurturing him and pointing him in the right direction.

Listening to this sermon reminded me of my role as a shepherd for these children. A shepherd nurtures, guides, and protects. A shepherd doesn’t just stand over there sheep and whack them with the rod when they’re off the path! There is more to it than that. Chuck Swindoll reminded me that “training a child up” does not mean taking them to Sunday school, getting them around the right people, forcing them to memorize scripture, etc. It’s not about getting them to bend to your rules or forcing them to act a certain way. It is about creating and cultivating a thirst to obey God.

Bringing them up means nurturing them to be the people God intended them to be, and remembering as we do that, to point them in the proper direction (by teaching, training, and disciplining).

And while sometimes a shepherd does have to break a sheep’s leg to keep him from running off now and then, it is not without proper instruction of why he did it and pointing out the correct way so he doesn’t have to do it again. So as I prepare for my new school year, I meditate on this concept of shepherding, on training up a child, and on what it means to nurture, love, instruct, guide, and train.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Scripture 13

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Last week in life group, we had to share the biggest thing we have prayed for and the greatest answer we received. I was so thankful to exalt His powerful name in sharing the day He answered my prayer far more abundantly than I could ever ask or think.

My first year of teaching, the teacher next to me became a very good friend. Her name was Rachael and we she was so helpful, funny, and kind. She was so gracious to me. I was a new teacher, a new bride, and new to Pleasanton. She gave me so many fun ideas for teaching and invited Santino and me over for dinners and parties, making my transition into a new city and a new career so much easier.

I can remember talking with her about God and religion and her philosophy was “That’s fine if that’s what you believe; just don’t try to push it on me.” She was very open, respected others beliefs, etc. She had been trying to get pregnant for a few years, and soon she was! Sadly, a few weeks later, she told us she had a miscarriage. This was her third miscarriage in two years. I was so sad for her. I remember just sitting on my couch weeping for her pain and so sad for her heart that longed to be a mother.

All I could do was tell her “I’m sorry, and I will be praying for you.” And I did. I remember praying for her, through tears, asking the LORD to heal her broken heart, and LORD willing, to bless her womb in the future and show her His love and power. I prayed for her here and there over the next few months, as the LORD would put her on my heart, continuing to ask Him to bless her womb and draw her near to Him.

A few months later, she announced she was pregnant again! This time she waited until she was 20 weeks along to share the news! She said but wait, that’s not all . . . I’m pregnant with twins! I can remember rejoicing, and feeling like the LORD has just answered my prayer in a huge way, beyond what I asked! So I continued to pray for those babies to grow healthy and full term.

They were due on December 16th that year. Soon, it was Halloween. She was still working, the babies were still growing. The next day, she did not show up at work. She had 6 weeks left in her pregnancy, and we were all waiting to hear if she and the babies were okay. At around 10:00 that morning, November 1st, there was an announcement that the babies were born, and both were doing just fine. I can remember standing there, filled with joy, because the day after Halloween, November 1st, is my birthday!

I felt overjoyed and so humbled! The LORD not only answered my prayer for Rachael to get pregnant, he blessed her with twins, and she delivered them on my birthday! I wanted to fall on my face and just praise the LORD. He led me to this scripture . . .

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” He answered my prayer in ways I couldn’t think or imagine. God is beyond our expectation!

I talked to Rachael after she came home from the hospital and told her how I had been praying for her and how amazing it was that her babies would share my birthday! She thanked me for her prayers, and told me she named her baby boy Tobias. She asked if I knew what his name means . . . The Hebrew meaning for the name Tobias is “God is good”. Yes He is!

From that day forward, I decided to pray for anything and everything, knowing that He is able to do far more than I would ever ask or think, according to the power at work within me.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Do Not Lose Heart

I don’t know what it was but for the past week or so I just felt so different in my spiritual life. For some reason, I had this overwhelming feeling that what I did was of no value. My service on the ministry team didn’t really matter. I felt so discouraged in my leadership in our life group. I felt drained when I would go to pray, distant from the Father, couldn’t get myself to the Word. It was a strange feeling, not sad or depressed or anything, just sort of foggy. I couldn’t really tell you why. No horrific circumstances or major trials. Just sort of out of nowhere, somewhat subtle, just a little heaviness on my heart. What’s really weird is that I didn’t quite recognize it in the moment. Not until now did I realize I was feeling . . . discouraged.

A sweet friend emailed me with words of encouragement in the midst of this. She didn’t know at the time I was feeling this way, I could barely even put words to it! The LORD spoke to me through her email, lifted me up and reminded me that my service and worship does matter to Him! I can’t believe what Satan was whispering in my ear . . . at one point last week I felt like quitting it all, life group, writing, prayer team, etc. He was whispering that these things are of no value for the Kingdom, and the more I let him whisper, the louder his voice became.

I started to talk about it a little and everyone was shocked and thought I was so ridiculous for feeling this way (not in a condemning way, but surprised at what I was feeling). That made me feel like I need to shake my head around a little and get with it! And you know what, I really needed to just tell Satan to “knock it off” and “get behind me”!! So I did!! I read my friend’s email like 40 times. I thanked the LORD for speaking to me, even when I never spoke to Him about this. He knew what I was feeling, and answered a prayer that was in my heart before it was even in my head!

I listened to another sermon from Chuck Swindoll out of Ephesians 3 today. He was reading Paul’s prayer at the end of the chapter. I love what he had to say about this verse “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,” (Eph 3:16). He said Paul prayed this for the Ephesians because they were losing heart. They were feeling discouraged. He said Satan loves to use discouragement because it is subtle, he can get us to quit working for the LORD by making us feel useless and of no value. He said when you’re discouraged it effects you physically-you lose energy, emotionally-you feel useless, mentally-you lose memory (of what God’s done for you), and spiritually-you lose heart(strength in your inner being).

I was so encouraged by Chuck Swindoll’s words and Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians! I felt like that’s what I needed, strength for my inner being! He said when we’re discouraged we should 1) claim His strength, and 2) remember we’re loved. So that’s what I’m doing today. Going back to reread Ephesians 1, pray Psalm 100 and Psalm 145, and lean on Him. I’m plugging my ears to the enemy and looking to Jesus!

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Scripture 12

Workmanship & Works
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

So, I decided to give painting a try this summer, as a new hobby . . . trying to do something totally different, since my idea of fun is usually organizing or studying! And let me just tell you, I have a hard time painting! I’ve really had a hard time mixing the colors, not doing it perfect, and being “free” as my art teacher tells me! Oh it’s almost embarrassing to admit just how rigid I’ve become. She actually had to tell me “Melissa, the police aren’t going to come and arrest if the colors aren’t perfect”! So needless to say, these lessons have been SO good for me. Painting has been really fun, relaxing, peaceful, and different. I really respect and admire those of you that have artistic ability.

After Brad’s sermon a few weeks ago in James 2 on “faith and works” and these painting lessons this summer, I thought this would be the perfect verse to memorize!

I like this verse for two reasons, “His workmanship” and "good works". Through my very little painting experience, I’ve realized that as the artist you get to start with a blank canvas and make it all your own! So, if He is the artist, I am His workmanship, his blank canvas. The LORD is the one planning the portrait, mixing the colors, and making the strokes. So I’ve been asking the LORD “am I allowing you to paint the picture of my life the way you want it to be? Am I allowing you to make me into the woman you want me to be? Or am I trying to grab the brush and paint the picture that I wanted??? Using the colors I like, the way I want, etc.”

The other reason I like this verse is because of the “good works” part. James 2:14 says “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” I’ve been asking the LORD if I’m living a life of love in response to the grace He’s shown me? Does my faith show itself in works? I’ve also been asking the LORD about the “good works” He’s created me for. What are they? Am I walking in them?

I love how the LORD has used that sermon a few weeks ago and my new painting hobby to bring me to Him in prayer over my life . . . my canvas . . . my works . . . and His plan for me. So, as I memorize this verse, I am trusting Him as the artist, and asking Him to reveal to me what good works He has for me to do. I can’t wait to see the “finished work” . . . with Him . . . in glory!

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:14)

And just for fun . . . here’s some of my “original” works from this summer. I'm not the best photographer either, so sorry about that! Can’t quit my day job just yet . . .

Wednesday, July 7, 2010







Thursday, July 1, 2010

Scripture 11

God’s Love

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Someone asked a question that got my mind stirring. “How do I know God loves me? I could think of lots of ways and answers, but there are two words that keep coming to mind.

Depravity & Election.

I have been meditating on Ephesians 2 and thinking on how it says “you were dead, but God made us alive”. I think until we truly understand the depths of our sin and just how sinful we truly are, it’s very hard to understand why we need to be saved from it. If we don’t understand that we were dead, we don’t understand that we need a Savior. If we don’t undertstand that we’re in bondage, we don’t understand why we need a Redeemer. Then, we think of God’s love only in our present circumstances. If God loves me, why is He letting this happen to me? If God loves me, why is this going wrong in my life? We can’t get past the present! We truly have to understand what we have been rescued from in order to understand our Rescuer and His love.

The other thing that brings me to my knees is election, knowing that I was chosen by God. Not only did He save me, rescue me, and redeem me, but He chose to do so before the foundations of the world! (Ephesians 1). God had me in mind and my redemption before he formed the earth. He predestined me for adoption! I can’t help but be grateful to our LORD for that! I think once we realize where we truly are before a Holy God, and think of Him as a Rescuer and Redeemer, we can’t help but fall on our face in gratitude and embrace is grace and love.

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters . . . He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” (Psalm 18:16,19)

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Far Above

“. . . what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet . . .” (Ephesians 1:19-22)

If Jesus Christ, my Redeemer, my Savior, is FAR ABOVE all things, if all things are under His feet, if He is seated at the right hand of the Father, why do I doubt? If God’s immeasurable greatness of His power is accessible toward us who believe, why do I not trust? Stay paralyzed? Frozen? Confused? Insecure? Frustrated? Why do I try to work or be strong in my own strength?

Christ is FAR ABOVE all . . . He died that I would live in freedom. He was raised that I might have life. He is in the heavenly places interceding for me right now that I might become the woman God intends for me to be. LORD, help me to remember you are far above all and your power is beyond my comprehension.

“But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

“So we do not lose heart . . . as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16, 18)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Reflections from Life Group

Last night was amazing! I love Tuesday nights with these ladies! Here are some of my favorite things we’ve learned from/about each other this summer:

Hot Seat-we’ve been playing hot seat each week and learned so much about one another!

1. Girl #1 is an only child and pursuing her master’s in Speech pathology.
2. Girl #2 used to be Mormon, and was converted back to Christianity through her husband.
3. Girl #3 only likes things in even numbers (stereo volume, air conditioner, etc.)
4. Girl #4 is an exercise physiologist and her husband is a real, actual park ranger!
5. Girl #5 was raised in a home with a mother who was Methodist and a father who was Muslim.

We shared some time-efficient ways to memorize our scriptures:

1. Tape them to the shower door! (The outside of course)
2. If you don’t have a shower door, use a sandwich baggy and tape them inside your shower.
3. Tape them to the mirror and read them while brushing your teeth (and if your Rema, you’re also doing squats)
4. Leave your scripture/bible out on the counter as your getting ready in the morning.
5. If you’re Marylou and you have 5 kids-Lock yourself in the bathroom, climb into the bathtub, close the shower curtain and read! This was my favorite, I love it! Too funny!

We went around and shared what we were reading in the bible and what the LORD taught us. This is the part that just truly excites me! Is God working in us, or what?

1. Steph shared how John 14:15, 21 spoke to her, how our love and obedience for the LORD really go together. If we love Him, we’ll obey Him.
2. Stacia is reading Ezekiel, however last week she reminded all of us that we are a “Child of God” and that stuck with us throughout the week.
3. Michele is reading Isaiah. She shared about all of the judgment and wrath God poured out, reminding us that He is jealous for us, pride produces self-sufficiency, and God really wants us to rely on Him.
4. Marylou shared Colossians 3:12-13 with us, reminding us to have a Christ like attitude towards others (compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience).
5. Jaime is reading Ephesians 1. She shared in the greeting how Paul is writing to those who are “faithful in Christ Jesus”. She asked herself and all of us “what would it take for others to characterize you as faithful in Christ Jesus?” She thought about if people were to talk about her at her funeral, would people describe her this way? Powerful.

So I want to ask you that! What would it take for others to characterize you as faithful in Christ Jesus? Leave a comment . . . what does that mean to be “faithful in Christ Jesus?”

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Service and Submission

Twice in the last week I have received the same lesson from God. The first time it came from an article titled “Tyranny of the Urgent” by Charles E. Hummel in our bible study for life group (from the Navigators Colossians 2:7 series on discipleship-“Growing Strong in God’s Family”). To summarize, this article was about how we “let the urgent things crowd out the important”. I’ll just list some of the things I underlined:

“Yet Jesus’ life was never feverish; he had time for people. He spent hours talking to the Samaritan women, yet when his brothers wanted him to go to Judea he replied ‘my time has not yet come’.”

“He prayerfully waited for his Father’s instructions and the strength to follow them. He discerned the Father’s will day by day in a life of prayer. Jesus’ prayerful waiting for God’s instructions freed Him from the tyranny of the urgent. It gave him a sense of direction, set a steady pace, and enabled Him to do every task God assigned.”

“It is not God who loads us until we bend or crack . . . these come from our inner compulsions coupled with the pressure of circumstance.”

“Frenetic service for God can become an escape from God. If a Christian is too busy to stop, take spiritual inventory, and received his assignments from God, he becomes a slave to the tyranny of the urgent. He may work day and night to achieve much that seems significant to himself and others, but he will not finish the work the work God has for him to do.”

The second time, this same lesson came from a devotional I read this morning by Oswald Chambers.

“We consider what we do in the way of Christian work as service, yet Jesus Christ calls service to be what we are to Him, not what we do for Him.”

“Our Lord’s primary obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of people— the saving of people was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father.”

I can easily overwhelm myself with service and shepherding. So many times I have come to the LORD with a list of people my heart longs for to be saved and freed from sin, Satan, and death. I have asked the LORD how I could possibly shepherd and evangelize all of these people. To which He responds, you don’t have to “save” all of these people. You just need to be an instrument for me to work through. I will save, just obey me when I ask. I love the message in both of these articles/devotionals. Jesus’ served and guided others, but submitted first to the will of the Father. He did only what His father asked and that is where His sufficiency came from.

Are you there? Feeling overwhelmed? Burdened for the needs of others? Not knowing where to start/stop? I’m there. I thank God that I can come to Him in prayer for discernment, wisdom, and peace about my part. My job is simply to listen and obey . . .

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Scripture 10

"I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe . . .” (Ephesians 1:16-19)

I have been praying this for the ladies in my life group. So I thought I might as well try and memorize it! I have absolutely enjoyed Tuesday nights with these women, it’s the highlight of my week!

To the wonderful ladies in my life group . . .

I am so grateful to serve you and have you in my home every Tuesday! You encourage me each week. I delight in hearing what the LORD is teaching you. I consider it an honor that you invite me to share in your lives. It’s a privilege to pray for you and to grow along side of you! I truly hope that all of our hearts are enlightened to what God has called us to, the wonderful and intimate relationship with our LORD and our inheritance as daughters of the King! I know that you all are facing trials and struggles right now, and my hope is that we would all cling to Christ, lean on one another, and press on . . . I love you all! You bring me so much joy!

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

“that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Romans 1:12)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Jesus' Love

This morning in Kid’s Connection we talked about stewardship and read about the Rich Young Ruler. I understand the lesson in this story. I know that the point is not to love our stuff more than God. I’m not trying to stretch or pull out something from the text that isn’t there. So please just know this was just a little side lesson the LORD taught me this morning. As I was reading this story to the kids, 2 words really stuck out to me. My heart was moved by two little words in this scripture that I never really noticed before.

“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." (Mark 10:21)

What I loved about rereading it today were those words, “loved him”. I love how Jesus doesn’t give us a formula for following him, but out of love, He speaks directly to the issues in our hearts. The issues that are personal, the struggles we have specific to our self, the things that keep us from completely surrendering and trusting him. He did this with the woman at the well, remember? He spoke to her about her “many husbands”. He did this with Nicodemus, telling him to be “born again”. He did this with Martha reminding her not to busy herself with serving but to choose the “good portion”.

I love this about our LORD! He knows us so intimately, He loves us so much, that He will address those things in our lives so that we may have eternal life, that abundant life He died to give us. He knows it is going to hurt us a little to have these inner issues revealed, but He also knows it’s the loving thing to do to bring these out into the light so that we would grow closer to our Heavenly Father and be conformed to the image of His son.

I learned that the more loving thing to do sometimes is to speak truth directly to heart issues. The more loving thing to do is help someone see what it is that might be interfering with and preventing them from having an intimate relationship with God. I learned from Jesus that this is not judgment, but love. (Oooh, fine line I know). Jesus loved the rich young man, Jesus loved all of the people he spoke these hard truths to. As a community of believers, we are called to speak truth in love to one another, so that we grow up in Christ (Ephesians 4:15).

Will you allow Jesus to lovingly address the heart issues in your life? Will you allow friends/family to lovingly speak truth into your life? Will you lovingly speak truth to others?

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:5-6)

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Delight in the LORD

Santino came home from work this week after listening to a sermon from his favorite pastor John MacArthur. The sermon was on Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” He asked me to tell him what I thought this scripture meant. I said “if we are delighting in the LORD, our desires will be His desires. If we are seeking and following Him, our hearts will want what He wants for us.” Then I thought . . . hmm . . . what is he getting at here?

We were talking about how often this scripture is quoted and even misquoted. It is almost as if we just use that second part to confirm our desires, as a guarantee to get what we want. We miss the whole first part of this scripture. “Delight in the LORD”. Santino was saying how if we delight in God, He will give us our desires. Not meaning he will grant what we want (whether it is or is not a desire from the LORD) but that the LORD will give us desires. We will desire the right things; we will want what God wants because we are delighting in Him. If we find our joy in the LORD, He will put things on our heart. We can pray confidently for those things because they are from Him!

I think the question becomes . . . are we truly “delighting in the LORD”? We don’t have to ask if God can and will give us the desires of our heart, He can and will. The question is . . . are we only thinking on the second part of this scripture? The part we can “claim” without pursuing and delighting in Him?

What does it mean to “delight” in the LORD? How do you find joy in the LORD? John Piper says in his book Desiring God, if we can think of Heaven as streets of gold, reuniting with our loved ones, enjoying blessings, no more crying and suffering, etc. without Christ, we’ve missed the point. He reminds us that the joy of Heaven is Christ! When you think of Heaven, do you think of his blessing or do you think of Him? Are you thinking of the gifts, or the Giver? Do you find joy in the LORD; joy in knowing that He is your Creator/Sustainer . . . Savior . . . Redeemer? He is the one in whom we delight! How do you delight in the LORD?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

His Glorious Grace

This morning, I did my second lesson in Ephesians from Chuck Swindoll’s online course. He titles his study on Ephesians “Becoming a People of Grace.” He says living by grace means . . .
1) Accepting others (failures and all)
2) Forgiving
3) Refusing to live in bondage to guilt and shame.

He was teaching through Ephesians 1:1-14 and gave us a few things to think and reflect on. He had us . . .
1) List the verbs in verses 3-9.
Blessed, chosen, predestined, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, lavished, obtained (an inheritance), sealed (with the Holy Spirit), guarantee (our inheritance).

2) Write down who was responsible for the actions of these verbs. God.

3) What does that tell us about the nature of our salvation? It tells us that God is the initiator and the One doing all of the work to save us and to sanctify us.

He finished his lecture having us look at v.6, 12, and 14. Why does God save us and bless us?
v.6 “to the praise of his glorious grace”
v.12 “to the praise of his glory”
v.14 “to the praise of his glory”

This is why we are saved . . . to praise Him. We are chosen by Him. For that and no other reason should we surrender our pride and live the rest of our live as a praise offering for our redemption. We should spend our life singing of his glorious grace to Him, with gratitude, and to others, with compassion. Our job is to praise Him and show others His grace.

Let’s praise Him, His glorious grace, to the praise of His glory.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Scripture 9

Our Redeemer

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7)

I have been reading Ephesians 1 over and over these past few weeks. I just think it’s so rich of doctrine, theology, our identity, and our position in Christ. I am just trying to wrap my mind around it all! So I will continue to work through this scripture and will be trying to memorize through verse 7. I love verse 7!

One of my favorite ways to think of the LORD is as my Redeemer. I can remember growing up and people telling me “Do you know that Jesus died on the cross for you?” I can remember thinking “what does that have to do with me?” Then I watched the Passion of the Christ. Remember that scene when the women caught in adultery is about to be stoned? The scene shows her on the ground, shaking, her face is covered in dirt. She stretches out her hand and looks up, and Jesus is standing in front of her. He is defending her, rescuing her from physical death, and ultimately redeeming her. The rest of the movie you see this woman faithfully following Jesus. She is there every step of the way . . . faithful . . . loyal . . . to her Redeemer.

That is so powerful to me! She was filthy and about to be killed for her sinful behavior. Although I am not faced with a stoning, my sin has made me dirty and my penalty is death. For no other reason than love, Jesus stepped in, defended me, rescued me, and redeemed me. I pray that I respond like this woman . . . with faithfulness, loyalty, obedience, and gratitude to my Redeemer for the rest of my life.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

"S" Words

God has been putting a lot of “S” words on my heart lately. No, not the bad ones! I am approaching a season of Sabbath, or my time to Selah (stop, pause, listen, reflect) with the LORD. I will be home for about 6 weeks with no agenda, no work, no kids, just time. I have just felt Him stirring in me, asking me what I will be doing with my summer, what I am going to do with these “S” words.

Do you know that your sufficiency is in God? The LORD will supply us the desire and ability through His grace to serve Him.
“Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant . . . “ (2 Corinthians 3:5-6)

Will you submit to what God is putting on your heart? Will you step in faith and obey?
“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples . . .” (Exodus 19:5)

How and who will you be serving? Will you serve from an overflow and not compulsion?
“So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them . . .” (Romans 12:5-6)

Who will you be shepherding? Who will you commit to guiding and nurturing?
“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly” (1 Peter 5:2)

Who will you be sharpening/encouraging? Who will be sharpening you?
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

What will you be reading? How will you grow in Truth, worship me with your heart and mind?
“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

In all of this, will you remember to keep the main thing, the main thing? Will you discern what God is putting on your heart and God alone? Will you remember to keep it simple this summer? Will you say “no” if you need to?
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)

I can easily overwhelm myself with the endless possibilities of how to seek Him and serve Him. I am trying to hear from the LORD, obey, but be sure to that I don’t “busy” away my time of rest, make sure that I’m serving out of an overflow. I can’t wait for my time of Selah to abide in my Savior, Sustainer, Strength, Source, and Song.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


So, I took a solo road trip this weekend to the Bay Area. I went to visit a dear friend of mine that I used to work with when I lived in Pleasanton. She is pregnant with her first child and went to celebrate with her at her baby shower. And guess what . . . I got LOST!!! And I don’t just mean I took the wrong exit, but found my way back, I mean LOST!!!!

I got off on the right exit, and then I went the wrong way! And oh my goodness, I found out that if you stay on this particular road for too long, you can’t get off for miles! There were no turn offs and a median that kept me from making a U-turn to the other side! I was driving for what felt like 100 miles knowing I was going the wrong way and could not turn around! I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone! Seriously, I wanted to pull over to cry, and I couldn’t even do that! It was nothing but two lanes, in the middle of the hills, cows, shacks, a sign that said “Contra Costa County Line” and I couldn’t turn around!!!

The worst part is it was totally my fault. Last time I went to visit my friend; I got only a little lost. Went North instead of South but I figured it out. Well I wasn’t going to let that happen this time! So I remembered from last time, went against what the written directions told me (because I mean who can trust MapQuest, right?) and I went North instead of South. I had the directions right there in front of me and I trusted my instinct and went the opposite way!

Then, when I realized I messed up and was finally able to turn around (after 20 minutes in the wrong direction) I stop and asked a lady for directions. She seemed very confused, and being the trusting person that I am I took her direction. And guess what? She sent me right back on to the wrong road and I got lost again!!!! Why did I listen to a woman who I knew had no idea where I needed to go?

So, after an hour of driving, frantically crying out to God to reveal the right direction, I swallowed my pride and I called . . . my husband. He pulled up a map and led me to the very place I needed to be.

Then of course I started thinking . . .

Isn’t this what we do? God gives us clear directions, a map for our life, in His word. We trust our instinct and go the way we “think” we should go. We end up lost. Crying out to God for help, a turn-off, revelation, etc. when all the while we’re on a road He never intended us to be on. It’s not until we look to others who can “read the map” with clarity that we can get back on the right path. God heard my cry for help. He provided me with someone who could guide me back on to the correct path. I had to push aside my pride, confess my confusion, and ask for help(from someone who knew the right way to go).

I’m thankful, that even though I was horribly lost, I made it. I was nearly 2 hours late, but still . . . I made it.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart,and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Scripture 8

Chosen and Set Free

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” (Ephesians 1:3-8)

(I will only be memorizing Ephesians 1:4-5, but wanted to read this whole section of scripture together before we pull out just a few verses to memorize.)

Shea shared a story in Residency when we talked about what it means to be adopted into God’s family. He shared something along the lines of how there were children who lived in an orphanage, and ate cockroaches and rotten bananas. Then, one of the kids was adopted into a rich family that would provide fresh homemade food, great meals, etc. He said, could you imagine if this child still chose to eat cockroaches and bananas, not enjoying the feast that is provided for them as new members of a rich family?

Isn’t this what we do as believers? We are adopted into the family of God, chosen to be holy and blameless, and yet we live as if we are still a part of our old family, eating our old disgusting food that has no nourishment at all!

I feel like I have talked with a lot of ladies lately and this theme continues to come up. Ladies having a hard time resting in God’s love and grace, walking in freedom instead of guilt, etc. Are you there? Is it difficult to believe you are truly forgiven? Redeemed? Holy and blameless? Can I encourage you to meditate on this portion of scripture? It has brought so much comfort to me . . . I have put in bold the words “love, chosen, adopted, forgiven, redeemed.” When my mind is filled with thoughts of guilt, shame, etc. I try to replace those words with His words that He has spoken about me!

Are you walking in freedom? Are you feasting on the Bread of Life (John 6:35) and drinking from His river of delights (Psalm 36:8)? Or are you still eating cockroaches and rotten bananas?

I want to hear from you! Where are you? How can I pray for you? Is memorizing scripture in your heart helping you to take your thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5) and renew your mind (Romans 12:2) so that you do not sin against the LORD (Psalm 119)?

"For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you . . .” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8)

P.S. I will be spending my time with the LORD in Ephesians in these next few weeks/months. If any of you want to read along with me, I am going to follow Charles Swindoll’s online course, here’s the link:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Scripture 7

“For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:10)

Mike shared a story in Residency last week out of 1 Samuel 15, comparing King Saul (the king the people wanted) and King David (a man after God’s own heart). You see God using Saul but Saul’s heart is far from God. He is much more concerned about himself, his reputation, his own image. When he finally does confess to being disobedient, he only does so to save face and avoid consequences. He does not want his sin to embarrass him in front of the people. Meanwhile, he has no concern for how his sin hurts God. The final verse of the chapter says “And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.” (1 Samuel 15:35).

Mike summed up King Saul by saying “It seems as though God was on his lips, but never in his heart.” WOW. Convicting!

Is God on your lips, but not in your heart? We have been reading through Romans in life group and as I thought about this story, I was reminded of Romans 10. “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:10) I looked at this scripture, and do you notice where belief, justification, and salvation start? In your heart. It begins in your heart! We went through Romans 12 last week, talking about how we are “to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1). Can we live this way if God is not in our hearts?

Notice though, it doesn’t just say believe in your heart, but confess with your mouth. After inward belief comes outward evidence. My ESV commentary says “saving faith is not mere intellectual agreement but deep inward trust in Christ at the core of one's being.”

It is only when we have both, the deep trust (inward belief) and the confession from our lips (outward evidence) that we are saved. Believe Him, trust Him, let Him and His word dwell in your heart . . . and be saved!

Monday, April 19, 2010


"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:33-36)

We are reading through Romans 11 tomorrow in life group. Paul is finishing up the doctrinal section of the letter, teaching, explaining all these mysteries and theological concepts, etc. . . . and I just love how he finishes this section . . . with praise, with adoration, with worship.

I pray that at the end of our “bible study”, our “quiet time” whatever it may be, it would bring us to this place. A place where we can step back, perhaps not fully understanding God’s way or plan, but worshipping Him because He is good, He is beyond our thinking, He is the source, sustenance, and the focus of it all . . .

Let our learning about God lead to our worship of God.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Scripture 6

Our Deliverer
We have learned through our scripture memory verses that reverence for God is the beginning of knowledge. God is our Creator, Sustainer . . . Hiding Place . . . Dwelling Place . . . Hope.

In our next verse we learn that God is our Deliverer.
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14)

He will deliver us, save us, redeem us, and restore us. When we trust in Christ, when we confess with our mouths and believe with our hearts (Romans 10) that Jesus is the Messiah, that He is who HE says He is, and HE will do what He says He will do, we are delivered. We are delivered . . . delivered from the “domain of darkness” (sin, Satan, and death) . . . delivered from the penalty of sin (past), power of sin (present), and presence of sin (future).

We are delivered from . . .
Penalty of sin-death and eternal separation from God. Remember the penalty of sin? Death.

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12)

When we trust in Jesus, we are delivered from the penalty of sin, forgiven, and made righteous in the moment of belief.

Power of sin- We are no longer bound to sin, in the present we can choose to resist and run to Christ!

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7)

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:7-8)

Presence of sin-In Heaven, in His Kingdom, we will no longer be with sin. We will be clean, justified, and glorified.

“But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.” (Revelation 21:27)

“And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8:30)

I just think it’s amazing, knowing my own sin and filth that I am delivered from the “domain of darkness”. I am delivered from the consequence/penalty of sin, delivered from the guilt, delivered from the power, and someday I will be delivered from the presence of sin all together into the “kingdom of his beloved Son”. Not just delivered, but transferred into His kingdom, His family. I can’t even believe that I will get to see the Holy One face to face. It brings me excitement and fear just thinking about that.

God is our Deliverer, past, present, and future. We have redemption, we are freed and forgiven.

Let’s meditate this week on what we’ve been delivered from . . . and . . . what we are saved into.

I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:1-2)