Heaven Is Here

Heaven comes to earth when forgiveness is extended without merit of it being earned.

Heaven comes to earth when grace outweighs the stench of condemnation.

Heaven comes to earth when Truth confronts the lie in the boldness of love.

Heaven comes to earth when humility breaks the chains of your pride that bind you.

Heaven comes to earth when obedience to God requires you to stand alone.

Heaven comes to earth when your prayers are sent to its gates.

Heaven comes to earth when you choose to be a peace maker in times of war.

Heaven comes to earth at every chance to love others despite themselves.

Heaven comes to earth when relationships are restored.

Heaven comes to earth when we declare our allegiance to the One True King, and lay down our sword.

All of this possible, because Heaven came to earth. His name, is Jesus.

Stefanie Calens
loveSTRONG Ministries

Archives

Tied Up In “Nots”

When my kids were younger, they were huge fans of the movie, Bruce Almighty, starring Jim Carrey. In this movie, Bruce grapples with an existential crisis that has him doubting the existence of God. God summons Bruce (played by Morgan Freeman) and challenges him to see if he, Bruce, could do a better job at being God. God transfers all of his powers to Bruce for a period of time.

Initially, Bruce is overwhelmed with such power and uses his authority for purely selfish reasons. It doesn’t take Bruce long though, to discover that the job of supreme ruler over mankind comes with hefty responsibilities.

The writers of this movie most likely wanted to offer a comedic interpretation of God while peppering the story line with a few serious undertones.  My greatest takeaway message wasn’t so much about who God is and what He can do – but rather, what God IS NOT.

Throughout his stint as God, Bruce’s pursuit of selfish fulfillment is frequently interrupted by prayers from people all over the world. Millions of voices in his head praying constantly all at the same time. This at least, is not fictional as we know from Scripture God is omnipotent and hears all of our prayers.

The Lord is watching everywhere,
keeping his eye on both the evil and the good.

Proverbs 15:3

Bruce’s solution to receiving millions of prayers at one time, was to simply reply “Yes” to every request. His simple “Yes” destroyed a lot of people’s lives, as so many of the prayers were for completely selfish reasons.  Like composing a group email, God (Bruce) said “Yes” to millions of people who prayed to win the lottery. Every prayer was answered, but because so many people prayed for a lottery win, the giant Powerball was split between millions of people, totaling winnings of a little over $12.00 per recipient.

In the “real world” innumerable people pray for lottery winnings or get rich quick schemes. We know, however, God is NOT some sort of Genie who quickly grants our wishes for wealth and material things.

God is NOT going to get even with an ex-friend or spouse because you’ve prayed for revenge.

God is NOT going to supernaturally erase your obesity overnight because you are ashamed and miserable with yourself.

God is NOT going to give you everything you want when you want it.

God is NOT to be mocked (Galations 6:7) and Hollywood-ized for the purpose of selling tickets or turning a profit.

Kathy Kurlin
Author

Archives

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know?

“Jesus loves me, this I know …”  

This song in its simplicity provides us with a basic foundational Christian principle. It’s a song we learn as children, yet how many Christians do you know that have difficulty grasping this simple concept?  I know I’ve certainly struggled in this area on more than one occasion.

I became a believer as an adult, so I didn’t have that early childhood reassurance to remind me of Jesus’s love. I grew up “semi-religious” in a church that portrayed God as an unreachable deity that was more fire and brimstone than love and all the good-feels. Consequently, I feared God, anticipating lightning bolts every time I messed up. If I’d been taught the love of Jesus as a child, I wonder if I would still struggle with doubts regarding my relationship with Christ.

Having children and grandchildren is kind of a “do-over” for me in this department. Through a great Bible-believing church, kid’s programs and being able to model the love of Jesus, my kids grew up knowing Jesus on an intimate level. Now as adults, whenever they have a challenge or trial, their first inclination is to call and ask for prayer. With confidence and certainty, they know Jesus is the ultimate “go-to” for any and all situations.

I provide daycare for my baby granddaughter. I’m a grandmother/nanny or “Granny,” which allows me to pour Jesus into her young life. I pray over her, I speak blessings for a bright future over her and I sing Christian songs to her at nap time. Most days whenever I sing “Jesus Loves Me” to her, I’m barely able complete one stanza before her little eyes start to flutter and close. Literally within minutes, she’s fast asleep. Every time!

I like to think that the love of Jesus is some sort of miracle sleep potion. It’s uncanny. I promise, it’s not because I have an amazing singing voice, either. My grandmotherly reasoning believes this little babe feels so secure in my arms as I speak blessings over her and sing about Christ’s love for her, she is able to fully relax. She sleeps restfully swathed in my love and the love of Jesus, as well.

This song is more than a lullaby. It soothes even someone like me whenever I feel stressed or doubtful of my place in God’s kingdom. 

Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His faithful love endures forever.
Psalm 136:26 (NLT)

What a great “go-to” reminder for us all. Jesus loves ME, this I know!  Do you KNOW this to be true in your life? It’s simple … but it’s true!

Kathy Kurlin
Author

Archives

Yo! I’m Right Here.

READ Luke 24:13-35

This scripture takes place right after the death and resurrection of Jesus.  It is the telling of two men, heading home from Jerusalem, going to Emmaus.  They are walking and talking about all the events that had occurred in the last week. This would have been the time of the celebration of Passover, but with the recent events (crucifixion and death of Jesus) these men are downcast as they walk home.

Then, a third man comes up alongside them, and walks with them on their journey home.  This man is Jesus, but as it states in verse 17 “…They stood still, their faces downcast.”  They didn’t look up.  They continued on their walk rehashing all the events of the last week, explaining TO Jesus what happened, TO Jesus.  Can you imagine?  Jesus walking up along side these two men, who are clueless that they are informing this “stranger” of the actual events that JESUS  (who is walking along side them) LIVED THROUGH.

Jesus had to have been like “Yo, I am right here…if you would only look up.”

So these two men continue to walk and talk for the next 7 miles.  (verses 19-24)  Finally in verse 27, Jesus gets a word in edge wise.  “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself.”

When they reached Emmaus, Jesus proceeded as if he were going on farther, but these two men asked him to stay.  He was invited into their home where Jesus, in verse 30, “took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.”  Then what happens next is the very magic of this whole story.  In verse 31 it says, “THEIR EYES WERE OPENED.”  Yes, they finally, after all this time, an entire afternoon of being in the actual presence of Jesus Christ did they finally realize and see who was before them.

How many times in our lives does this happen to us?  I know it happens to me, a lot. I get so set in my ways, looking down and looking back that I forget to look up and see Jesus is walking on this path right along side me.  And most of the time, I do all the talking! I love to tell Jesus all the things, all the details, all the drama and rehash everything He already knows.

What Jesus really wants us all to do is invite Him in.  It is when we invite Him into our homes, and our hearts, and those secret places that we bury all the “stuff.”  Yeah, that stuff that Jesus already knows about. He just wants to be invited in, and he will STAY.

Cammi Thurlby
loveSTRONG Ministries

Archives

I Praise

I praise you in the sunshine.

I praise you under the clouds.

I praise you when I’m running fast.

I praise you when things slow down.

I praise you in the middle of the messes.

I praise you when things are going smoothly.

I praise you when the decision is easy.

I praise you when the decision has wrecked me.

I praise you while I laugh.

I praise you when I cry.

I praise you at the beginning, in the middle and at the end.

I praise you for when you give.

I praise you when you take away.

I praise you for changes that upset my world.

I praise you for consistency.

I praise you because you always love me.

I praise you because you see me.

I praise you because you won’t turn your back on me or give up on me.

I praise you as best as I can as often as I remember.

I should not forget to praise.

I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
Deuteronomy 32:3

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG Ministries

Archives

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

Archives

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

Archives

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

Archives

STEFANIE CALENS

Writer

Stefanie is a wife, a mother of three, and holds a degree in Biblical Studies from Colorado Christian University. Her passion to teach Biblical Truths has collided with her God given purpose to connect with others, sharing the love in which Jesus has for them. She harbors a heart to specifically minister to women and teen girls in the arena of domestic abuse and human trafficking. Through the founding of her own ministry B.I.G. (Believing in Grace) she has taught weekly Bible studies to teen girls who have escaped the life of sexual exploitation and finds solace in mentoring victims of abuse, seeing them to a life of complete restoration in Christ.

Stefanie grew up playing the guitar and enjoys spending quality time with her family and close friends. She holds a true adoration for the art of writing and her greatest desire is to eventually become a published author.

Exodus 14:14 “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still” (NIV) is a verse she is committed to live each day by.

“When you have personally experienced the transforming grace and love of Jesus, it is a gift too profound, to simply keep to yourself.” -Stef

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

Archives

Contact Us