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
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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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Raging Waters

Sometimes, life has a way of gifting unexpected storms.
The rain pours with ferocity,
The winds take your breath away,
The waters rage.

You quickly find yourself knee deep.

The water, so cold, it's painful. The sting of each thrash. Each twist. Each twirl. It's more than you can fight.

So you let go, lay back, and ride it out.

Dead roots get pulled, dying branches rip away, and the more you experience, the more you realize, the once muddy waters you began in, start to appear clear.

The junk, the insecurities, the weights of opinions....

It all begins to float away.

At the end of your journey, you discover the beauty of the color that lies beneath. The process of being refined. Jagged edges, emerge smooth.

Polished.

Each ride produces new life. The dead is gone, and what was mistaken for broken, is revealed in all its beauty.

Every storm builds character.

Embrace them. But learning to ride.....That's the best part.

Stefanie Calens
loveSTRONG Ministries

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Just Pour It

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25

Don't let what you don't have keep you from using what you do have.

Reading The Widow's Olive Oil story in 2 Kings 4, we see the widow do exactly what the devil wants us all to do. Verse 2 says, Elisha replied to her, "How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?"

"Your servant has nothing there at all," she said, "except a small jar of olive oil."

Do you see how she almost didn't even mention the small amount of oil she did have?! Oh how Satan wants us to discredit what we have been given, to make us think it's so insignificant and not even worth mentioning.

The widow, however, does mention her little, she does offer the small amount she has and thus witnesses a miracle! She begins to pour out the little that she has and God continues to fill her with more oil until all the jars collected are filled up.

Don't let the devil fool you. We have all been given something and even if it seems small, you only have to look in Scripture to find that when little things are placed in God's hands they can become more than we ever thought imaginable!

Independent Read: 2 Corinthians 12:9

Janette Kieffer
Author

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Build a Pause

Pausing.

When in doubt, walk away from the keyboard and clear your head.

Now that is good advice in the heat of a moment!

How many decisions that are a bit bold in response would be squelched or softened?

How many commitments would we reconsider?

How many times would we react positively rather than with negativity?

The hasty comment, the rushed reaction, the attitude that flies from our fingertips can get us into situations that are unpleasant at best.  I know this from experience.  And, I have had to apologize more times than I care to admit.

If only there was a snooze button that pops up intuitively to stop me from firing off the words I should not say.

Then I read these words:  May my spoken words and unspoken thoughts be pleasing even to you, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 TLB

There it is.  The intuitive snooze button.  When I keep this as my daily reminder, those unfortunate responses should disappear. If I do my part:  Say the verse.  Say the verse.  Say the verse.  Morning, noon, night and all times in between.

Let’s do this together.  I will promise you to say the verse and practice pleasing God.

Will you do the same?

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG Ministries

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Blue Ink

Awhile back, I was attending a ministry meeting, patiently waiting for the leader to begin. A group of us women were preparing to discuss, dig in, and discern together God’s direction.

One of the team members was eager to pass out some newly branded pens. They perfectly captured the ministry logo with such elegance and appeal.

These weren’t just any ol’ pens however. They felt different, and they did not harbor the common boring black ink.

No. These ones were set apart. They had blue ink.

During the time that Moses was leading the Israelites into constructing the tabernacle under the direction of the LORD (Exodus 35-36) the colors incorporated into the finest linen sheets, were not just any colors. They held significance. Symbolism. Prestige. Value.

They were set apart.

“The skilled weavers first made ten sheets from fine linen. One of the craftsmen then embroidered blue, purple, and scarlet cherubim into them.”(Exodus 36:8) NLT

The color blue represented the baptism of Jesus.

Scarlet - His blood,

And purple - His Royal Divinity.

Isn’t it interesting how a simple change of color, can ignite such a profound emotional response as it makes contact within the paper? There was something distinct about this blue ink. It captured the eyes, and even seemed to harbor the power to transform the most complicated letters into such a polished, peaceful finish. Surely, set apart from all the rest.

“Under the old covenant, the priest stands before the altar day after day, offering sacrifices that can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as one sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down at the place of highest honor at God’s right hand.”(Hebrews 10:11-12) NLT

In a world where you can choose the color to the story of your life, can I encourage you to set aside what feels comfortable, familiar, and even mundane?

Can I encourage you to choose blue?

The journey is worth it, and the pages……oh, so beautiful!

(Further reading on the plans of the Tabernacle: Exodus 26-27)

Stefanie Calens
loveSTRONG Ministries

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SONrise

The sunrise over the snow reminds me of His faithful presence in and over all - that He did rise that third day!

So often I want God to lift the fog in life so I can see clearly the way to the destination, and He’s trying to say I AM the destination, I AM the Way.

He comes from outside all time and space and amazingly desires a relationship with us yet so often we only want to concern ourselves with our little moment in time and space when His promise is for so much more!

On the cross He said it’s finished. By His stripes we are healed yet maybe we don’t feel “healed.”  it’s a promise already, but not yet.

Jesus thank you for Your sunrise to remind me that You did rise and this is not how it ends. Pursue my heart till it’s completely enraptured in the fullness of Your joy so that even in the fog I will praise Your name.

“They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings--and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers." Revelation 17:14

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” Psalms 94:19

“O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.” Psalms 95:1

God bless your day!

Jeanette Kieffer
Author

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