No Longer Needed

“No manna appeared that day, and it was never seen again. So from that time on the Israelites ate from the crops of Canaan.” (Joshua 5:12 NLT)

At this point in the Scriptures, Joshua had successfully led the nation of Israel across the Jordan River. The Promised Land now, awaited their taking. Have you ever stopped to consider that the very food source (manna) that had been provided to Israel during their forty long years in the wilderness, was gone? Never to be seen again.

It’s as if the Word of God is screaming out to each of us to, ‘Turn the page. There is so much more that I have in store for you to eat.’

Perhaps He is. And perhaps, if you are somewhat like me, you often miss this. You see, God had miraculously met Israel’s physical needs to eat with manna yet, it was time to now eat from the land itself. Canaan was ripe for planting and harvesting crops, but Israel would require some skin in the game.

Prayer is not an alternative to preparation and faith in God to provide for your needs, is never void of your own hard work. Do you keep asking God to provide something in your life and it doesn’t appear that He is listening? There is a time and a place for everything. God will never lead you into the next journey without having first, prepared you to walk with Him. Israel no longer needed this manna because the land in which they were about to enter would abundantly provide all in which they could only dream of eating.

I wonder if today, those seemingly unanswered prayers are in reality, your own manna? Could it be that God has already provided you with the tools and soil necessary for harvest? May I encourage you today to take a moment and pause? Those unanswered prayers might not be so unanswered at all.

Today, I pray for your eyes to be open to seeing that.

Stefanie Calens
loveSTRONG Ministries

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A Legacy of Love or Lies?

It happens more than I care to admit -- those dreaded bouts of insomnia.  When it’s really bad, I’ve been known to resort to late night television. During one such spell a few weeks ago, I tuned into one of those ridiculous “Real Housewives” shows. After just a few minutes, I determined that the people on this show were anything but “real.”  I’m ashamed to admit, the story line drew me in like a toddler chasing a shiny toy.

One story in particular regarding a housewife’s so-called “legacy” both intrigued and shocked me. This woman boasted about the great legacy she would someday leave behind. She had no children, had never been married but recently had become engaged to her longtime, live in boyfriend. She appeared to be in her 50s, so the likelihood of motherhood seemed pretty slim. Her “great legacy” was some sort of dress she’d designed that could be worn multiple ways.

This woman gushed over how proud she was of her design and how she’d accomplished this “great thing” (in her eyes) completely on her own. Sadly, she thought the most important contribution she could provide to the world was … a multi-purpose dress.

There were so many things wrong with this whole scenario. You’ve got someone with a huge pride issue who wasn’t about to share credit with anyone else – even though she had help along the way.  In my mind, the worst part was she truly believed making money and leaving this fashion legacy to the world was a magnanimous achievement.

I’ve never seen anyone who needed Jesus more. Are there really people in the “real world” who act and think like this “Real Housewife?” Without Jesus in our lives – the answer is … yes! Without Jesus - money, achievements, accomplishments and possessions are the things that drive worldly ambition.

As children of God, Jesus tells us our real pursuit and the most important commandment is:

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’  The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 (NLT)

As ambassadors for Christ, our “real” life purpose is simple: love God, love others and share this real truth with everyone we can!  If we fulfill our purpose - someday we can look forward to meeting people in Heaven who have benefitted from our commitment to share our legacy of the love of Jesus.

Are you working on your legacy? It’s never too late to start …

Kathy Kurlin
Author

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CAMMI THURLBY

Cammi Thurlby
loveSTRONG Ministries

“I want with every single fiber of my being to be one of those self-assured, confident, bold women of God who knows exactly who she is, and walks in the freedom of knowing how loved she is, and how precious she is, how validated she is.” – Mandy Hale

Those may not be my exact words, but those words describe me to a tee.  I want to be that woman, but I am not.  However, I am on my way to becoming her.  Step by step.  Day by day. For me, the beginning of this journey to becoming a bold and confident woman of God started with one encounter from one of the women of loveSTRONG Ministries.  You see, I moved to Arizona from Illinois in the summer of 2016 after feeling a sharp and distinct kick in the butt from up above.  God had pulled me away from my home and guided me to the west valley of Phoenix where I was led straight to this ministry and into the arms of the women who lead it.  I had a whole life and future planned in Illinois.  I had great friends, a great job with opportunities to grow, and the potential for a relationship with a great guy.  But God had MORE in store for me.  And as I continue to pray for God to reveal His plan for me (in His time, never in mine), I am blessed and honored to say I have the opportunity to be a part of loveSTRONG Ministries.  As a single woman, I have struggled tremendously with finding my identity in this world.  This ministry has graciously shown me that my true identity is only rooted in our Heavenly Father – the source of all creation.

I am a Registered Nurse of almost ten years, a daughter to two amazing parents, a sister to one brother, a sister-in-law, an aunt to a beautiful niece and nephew, and a friend to many.  I am embracing this current single season of my life, and I rest in the fact the God can do abundantly more with my life that I can do myself.

But I Don’t Even Like Mustard

Here we go again.

Again and again and again.

I get so exhausted with finding myself in the same place over and over again. Not praying just venting. Complaining and whining and crying but never learning. God why? Why again? Why this? Why does this keep happening to me? Why, why, why?

I wish I was one of those women who smile sweetly through adversity, calm and collected knowing that the Lord will be there with them through their trials. Not to say she doesn’t have her moments of weakness, but she is constant in her pursuit of Jesus and finds her way back to his arms quickly. She is faithful.

I am not that woman. I am the one sitting in her car hyperventilating holding back tears on the verge of screaming and blaming. The only constant for me would be the worry lines on my brow.

I’m the woman holding all the bags and trying to pick up more while reassuring God Almighty, that it’s okay I got this one. I want Jesus nearby but please don’t hover. Fix my mistakes but don’t take control - Lord. I can’t handle any trials right now, but maybe next week when I’m more rested and I’ve caught up on the grocery shopping and house cleaning. Please just let me schedule a little time aside for the next crisis.

I am not faithful, but I want to be.  “Faith no bigger than a mustard seed” always made me confused. I always took it to mean a tiny, the tiniest, amount of faith will see you through any circumstance. Maybe for that wonderfully faithful woman that is what it means. For myself and my hardheaded compatriots it might mean something a little different. For me faith no bigger than a mustard seed means that I will find myself in situations, possibly many situations that will require no more from me than to take a deep breath and let God have control, faith. Duh right?

Isn't that what I just said it was for the faithful woman? What I mean for me is not it is that simple but rather it is that difficult. A mustard seed has a hard shell. Mustard seeds are hard and having faith can be difficult for some people. People like me, and maybe people like you. Maybe life grinds you down. You find yourself between a rock and a hard place and you want to just give up, but next time you think to yourself  “I don’t have faith like a mustard seed,” - don’t look at your faith as a quantity look at its quality.

Sister, sometimes my faith can’t be measured without the use of a microscope. But not the world, or sin or the devil are going to crush it. Be tough, like a mustard seed.

And the Lord said “If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea’ and it would obey you.” Luke 17:6 ESV

Huni McGee
Author

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Radiating A Filtered Perspective

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

This world is very much performance driven.  And, from a very young age too.  For example, "If you eat all your dinner... you can have desert."  With social media, it's taken on new heights and depths that threaten to eat us all alive if we are not careful.

Psalm 18:30a - God's way is perfect.

So why do I strive to have MY way?  God must think I look silly straining and striving to just measure up and do all and be all "that" -  whatever or whoever "that" is.  He's probably thinking... “Girl, you are gonna pull a hamstring trying so hard. Or slip a disc with all the ways you are trying to bend over backward to do things YOUR way. Don't you know you're not built for that?  I in all My infinite wisdom did not build you to do that, or to be like so-and-so either.”

Jeremiah 29:11  - For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 

Before I hurt myself something awful maybe I need to be more about His presence than my performance.  Look at Exodus 34:29-30 Here we see Moses spending time with God and his very face began to glow radiantly. (Who knew!?  All these expensive face creams and all it takes to glow radiantly is to spend time with our Maker...for free.)

This verse states that, Moses wasn’t aware his face had become radiant.  Moses wasn't thinking about what he looked like only what his God was like. Yet what did others notice? The radiance of Moses' face. When we marinate in His presence it will be His fragrance we leave in our wake everywhere we go. People will experience the fruit of His Spirit within us.

Jesus, make me more about Your presence than my performance in life.

Independent Read: Ephesians 3:14-21

Janette Kieffer
Author

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First Step

After the end of a recent mission retreat in Guatemala, my husband and I needed to leave our hotel in Antigua at 3:30 a.m. in the morning to go to the Guatemala City Airport.  I decided to shower the night before because 3:30 a.m. is not meant for anyone to be awake. (Surely there is a special place in heaven for night shift workers.)

I turned the shower on and waited and waited for hot water.  None. Only cold. So I turned the cold water handle on just in case it was plumbed backwards. No hot water.  I turned the hot water faucet back on and waited and waited some more. Because I was committed, I was going to do shower with or without hot water.

First my right foot went into the shower.  Then my left. Brrrr.  “I can do this. I need to do this.”  Then the water began to feel less chilly.  Soon warm water was falling on my head. Ah....the warm water became warmer and warmer until several minutes later I was enjoying hot water. It was wonderful.

This might sound silly but I thought - this is what happens when God asks me to step out in faith!

It looks like nothing is happening. I don’t always see (or feel) the blessing right away.  It’s only when I step out in obedience that He empowers me to do what He’s asked of me. I believe it’s the same for you, too.

What is it you are waiting for?

May God give you - and me - the courage and faith to take that first step.  May your cold water turn to hot water when you do.

May your first step be one of many steps.

May you enjoy His “showers of blessings”.

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. Ezekiel 34:26

Kathy Troyer
Author

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Which One?

It's certainly no coincidence that the very first Psalm harbors a thematic backdrop in the choices of life's two roads. Here, we read about the life of the faithful person contrasted with that of the faithless.

Life is all about choices. Some may be easier than others, but nonetheless, our daily directions can be downloaded into our hearts from God.

It's no accident that at the very center of Scriptures, we find the Psalms. An entire range of human emotion expressed, confessed. From songs of praise, to crying out in pain, we read it all.

But, one simple question remains foundational.

Which road do you choose?

Psalm 1

Stefanie Calens
loveSTRONG Ministries

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Game. Set. Match.

Game.  Set.  Match.

Stupid.

Why was I so stupid?

I was not laser focused.

My mind was not laser focused on the right thing.

I didn’t think of Jesus first.  I did not react with love.

That punk, satan, tempted and I reacted.

Stupid beyond stupid.

What happens now?

Crawl into a hole and cry?

(Cry, yes.)

(Crawl into a hole, no.)

Ask for forgiveness and bow my head?

Yes.  I get back the laser focus.  I ask for forgiveness.  I ask for help.  I crawl to God.

God knew what I was about to do and without knowing why, He prompted my friend to be praying for me.

I had no idea that my safety net was already in place.

The safety net was ready for my fall.  God wants me to be a better person.

He wants me to throw my arms in the air and cry out to hear Him say He still loves me.

Stupid decisions and all.

He loves me.

No excuses.  I take responsibility and know the warning signs so I can be prepared next time.

One day it won’t be so difficult.

Until then, I trust in His word.  I trust in His love.  I trust in His promise.  I trust.

The desire of my heart is to be like Jesus.

As a human, I can strive to be better.

As a woman, I can recognize the strength He gives me.

As a child of God, I can know the Father loves me even when I’m stupid.

This life is not for the faint of heart.  I will not buckle my knees except to pray.

My focus will be clearer and I will immerse myself in the Bible.

I remember,

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

So, I will pray for that desire over and over.  And then again and again.

It will be God’s game, set, match.

Not satan’s.

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG Ministries

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Where Are You Staying?

"Come," he replied, "and you will see." John 1:39

My husband and I started out the day playing Lumosity games together for fun, laughs, and maybe even to ward off the fear of losing our minds. We're not losing our minds because we have six young kids and a moose for a dog (so many blessings, right?)--but because of those six kids, the thought of losing our mental faculties in old age is even more frightening. I mean I'm already mentally planning play dates with my future grandchildren!

Why do we let fear and worry have such control in our lives? Fear is faith in the enemy, the liar... F.alse E.vidence A.ppearing R.eal.

Isaiah 9:6 states Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace... Phil. 4:19 says He will provide for all our needs - so then why are we so inclined to default to fear and worry?

I find a good example of dealing with fear in Luke 2:8-15. Go ahead I'll wait while you read it.

Did you notice in verse 9 that when the glory of the Lord shone around them their reaction was terrified fear? Isn't His presence supposed to bring peace and strength?! I believe it does but we must be willing to give Him a heart of flesh willing to receive Him rather than a stubborn heart of stone.

The shepherd did experience fear like all humans do but as you see in verse 15 the shepherds reaction was "Let's go..." to God. They wanted to receive Him. They were willing to let go of fear and allow His peace to be received into their hearts right THROUGH their fear! They didn't allow their fear to freeze them into a stone of ineffectiveness.

Now look at John 1:35-39.

Jesus asks two men "What do you want?" What if God asked you that? What would you say? The two men gave an answer I want to heed in my life. They answered with a question back, "Where are you staying?" Jesus answers, "Come, and you will see." Interesting that Jesus didn't give specific directions complete with land markers and an exact address. No, He said walk with Me. Just come with Me and see.

So often we want specific answers to our fears and worries but Jesus just says

“Trust Me, walk with Me and you will see. You will see how I am faithful and provide for all that you need, that my strength is perfect in weakness. My grace is sufficient."

Today I pray to choose to respond like the shepherds. To allow His peace and strength to come through my fear and worry and take His perspective on my situation and circumstances. I choose to go and see and not remain frozen in fear but to walk with Him one trusting step at a time because He who promised is faithful!

So where are you staying? I'm staying with Jesus.

Independent Read: Ezekiel 36:26

Janette Kieffer
Author

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Slam The Brakes

You do it.  I do it. We notice what other people have. Or what they accomplish.  Or how they live.  And we don’t think we have enough.

Slam the brakes!

To stop comparing would give us more time to be happier.  If we stop wishing for the next cool thing, we may just appreciate what we have right now.

I remember in our first year of marriage there were times when we had $2.00 to last from Wednesday to payday on Friday.  And you know what?  We were just as happy then as we are now.  When I get caught up in the mindset of comparing and wanting more, with a quick jolt I remind myself things are things but a peaceful life centered on Jesus is what I should crave more.

And when I experience time with a homeless person that quick jolt becomes a kick realizing I have a home to sleep in at night.

For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need. You already have more access to God than you can handle.”  I Corinthians 4:7-8 MSG

Enjoy life...just the way it is.  Stomp on the brakes.  Stop with the comparing.  Settle in. Thank Jesus for what you have.

Your gratefulness will spill into someone else’s life, you will be happier and it will show.

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG Ministries

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