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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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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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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Shine

Seeking to discover purpose in life is perhaps the greatest of all human quests. It is the central thematic backdrop to each stage of our lives.

Our Father hand-crafted the human race on purpose, with significant purpose. As believers in Jesus Christ, coming to a greater understanding of what that purpose is comprised of is vital to the effectiveness of our pursuit in walking with Him. The stage is set and as the encounters of everyday life are writing the script, understand this--your very reflection will lead you into the light of your ordained purpose.

The term “Phototaxis” is the natural instinctto be affected by light sources. Having positive phototaxis means you are attracted to light, while negative phototaxis means you avoid it. At night, insects use natural light sources, such as the moon and stars, to navigate through the world. Bugs and moths have been found to follow the moon to stay upright, fly straight, and remain oriented. It is certainly a matter of life or death. So, in other words, the light IS the very source of navigation.

Light sustains life.

In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus is delivering the Sermon on the Mount when He makes one of the most profound statements of purpose to believers everywhere:

“You are the light of the world-like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (NLT)

In a world that aches to feel worthy, it is not simply suggested to shine the light that is created within you--Jesus commands it! Your purpose begins and rests in the image you were created in.

There are no limits to the mission field and your life is your ministry. In an age where we often rely on GPS to ensure our arrival at the next destination, trying to navigate this life without the light of Christ will leave you lost and confused.

The greatest accomplishment is to be mistaken for Jesus Himself. Who needs His light today?

Is it you?

Stefanie Calens
loveSTRONG Ministries

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Listen & Obey

Imagine this: You, along with your entire family, have been oppressed within the confines of a foreign land, ruled by foreign peoples, and rooted in foreign customs for nearly 430 years (Exodus 12:40).

Now imagine that the very person tasked in securing your deliverance was an 80-year-old runaway named Moses (Acts 7:30). And as unfathomable as this scenario was, this mass exodus would not take place solely on the backs of the latest factory edition model donkey or alongside a freshly paved city highway.

Why not? Because God desired for the Israelites to never forget who He is and what He had done. And He wanted to use Moses to accomplish this.

“So the people of Israel walked through the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side!” (Exodus 14:22).

What exactly was Moses supposed to do with a few million Israelites who needed a reminder of who the God of their ancestors is, and just minutes after their feet would step onto higher ground?

Enter: The Book of Leviticus

The very purpose of Leviticus was for God to establish a guidebook for holy living. These were His people and they were to be set apart from the nations that surrounded them. They had to be different. No longer were the Israelites under the reigns of Pharaoh. They now belonged to the authority of the One, Holy God.

Do you know that Holiness is mentioned more times in Leviticus than any other book in the Bible? 152 to be exact. Living among and worshipping a Holy God required God to constantly instruct Moses with His Holy commands. “Then Moses told them, “When you have followed these instructions from the LORD, the glorious presence of the LORD will appear to you” (Leviticus 9:6).

Obedience is the foundation to holiness.

The “when” is the first step in understanding the “why” and ultimately seeing the “Who” behind it all. Obeying God’s commands in your life, whatever they may be, glorifies Him. Friends, it is so incredibly easy to seek out glorious acts of God in our lives without submitting to His commands of obedience first.

So, let me encourage you. Before you are tempted to petition God to part the seas of your life, ask yourself one important question first: What is He asking of me?

Stefanie Calens
loveSTRONG Ministries, Author

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Nature Revealed

The clouds are a shade of absolute perfection. The sun is playing hide and seek in the mid-morning sky, and the wind’s breath softly caresses your face in between periods of stillness. Your body becomes one with the earth. Your toes find themselves nestled beneath the tiniest grains of sand. The sound as each wave arises and departs sedates the soul.

Can you hear it? Can you smell it? Most importantly, can you see HIM?

Scriptures express two distinct, two very separate yet profound ways in which God communicates and shares Himself with us through what is known as general and special revelation. The latter is for another Note however, Paul departs his wisdom with regards to the concept of general revelation in his letter to the Romans in 1:20:

“From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse what-so-ever for not knowing God” (NLT).

Nature reveals to all of creation a God of order, a God of magnificent power, a God of intelligence, a God of overwhelming beauty, and a God that unmasks Himself in the most intricate of details.

Have you ever become mesmerized by the flawless symmetry of a snowflake? Or what about the fingerprint imparted on a leaf? No two are identical. And have you ever stopped to consider how the ocean understands just how far its reach is allowed on land? Or do you discover yourself deep within a forest, captivated by the rustling of the tree tops, as if they harbor their own form of spoken language? The Father reveals not simply His divine and perfect nature, but also His personal qualities with each and every one of us through nature.

As believers, we can stand upon Scriptures and their assertions regarding the omnipresence of our Lord yet when chaos enters our lives, we fail to recognize Him. You may have even found yourself begging Him to “show up," not realizing He never once left.

Truth is, friends, make it a point to unplug and spend more time with nature. Whether it be from a boat or in your own backyard, be intentional. God desires to show Himself to you.

The real question is, can you see HIM?

Going deeper: Genesis 1:31; Psalm 19:1-4

Stefanie Calens
loveSTRONG ministries

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Bridges & Boots

“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:18) NLT

Recently, I had myself a sound cry. It was one of those ugly kind of cries where no emotion was spared. Each tear drop that departed from my eyes felt as though it was carrying the weight of my soul within. And as every pain-riddled droplet vacated, I was left wondering how I would gather the strength to continue that day.

It was at that exact moment when I felt as though I could walk no more, a vision of a bridge appeared, and the faintest whisper could be heard requesting me to “get up.” There I was, standing on one side of that bridge desperately longing to embrace what awaited me…..until I looked down only to realize my boots were tattered and worn from walking through many previous storms. Surely I couldn’t face this bridge with my ratty old boots. I required a brand new pair for the journey ahead.

You see, each plank on our bridge of life is a lesson waiting to be learned. A life experience handcrafted by The Bridge Maker Himself. An experience designed to embrace triumph despite whatever kind of tragedy lies in its wake. In order to reach the other side, we are required to walk as Jesus did. There are no shortcuts my friends and obstacles are guaranteed. There will always be those who deem the task too difficult and turn around to where the terrain is less demanding. And then there are those who lace up their boots and get to walkin’. Don’t forsake your eternal reward based on the intensity of today’s temporary pain. Your bridge was not constructed for you to simply view it at a distance. It was manifested out of the deepest pain Christ would ever have to endure in order for you to reach the other end.

Do YOU need a new pair of boots? If so, be encouraged for they are specifically designed to withstand the splinters of your life’s bridge. Step into your destiny, lace em’ up and get to walkin’ friends. The journey is not void of hardship. The end result, however, certainly is!

Stefanie Calens
loveSTRONG ministries

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A Child Is Born

The dual natures of Jesus Christ, alongside that of His distinct person in the Trinity, defies all human capabilities of comprehension. Our finite minds are frankly not designed with the ability to decode infinite concepts. One thing, however, remains abundantly clear-the Bible is the greatest love story ever to be written.

At the beginning of this year, I gave birth to my third child. She entered this world as a six pound nine ounce bundle of the purest form of joy. The love I harbor for this child is fierce. Yet the love in which the Creator embraces each one of us, His created, simply cannot compare. He chose to offer salvation to sinful man and He, too, chose to enter this world as a child.

Without ceasing to be God, He became human.

The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2:7 “He made Himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form” (NLT). Jesus set aside the right to His glory and power and completely submitted to the will of the Father. He became man. A sinless God chose to walk among sinful man. Friends, this is the very embodiment of unconditional love.

The Father knew that Adam and Eve would not comply in the Garden. And He would one day rectify that broken relationship through His one and only Son. Talk about the ultimate parent! In order to eliminate the chains of death for all of eternity, God willingly gave us His Son as the very key that opened the lock. He became the sacrifice for all of our sin. A gift so undeserved, but freely given. Rest on that.

Each night as I lay my newborn down to sleep, her two little eyes always peer up at me. And even if it is just for a moment, just for a second, I find myself gaining a glimpse of Heaven. God gifted me this precious baby girl just like He gifted Mary that precious baby boy thousands of years ago. Little did she fully understand how that gift was meant for us all. That baby may have entered this world as a child, but make no mistake…..that child was born a King.

Jesus lived so we would not die. And He died so we could have the chance to live.

STEFANI CALENS

Stefanie Calens
Author

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Wallowing in the Whispers

Each one of us has probably heard the phrase “time heals all wounds” at some point in our lives. However, when your wounds remain unprocessed and unsealed, this very statement could not be further from the truth.

Unprocessed pain will prevent you from fulfilling your God given purpose. THAT, my friends, is what the enemy would love to take place!

Author Jimmy Evans in his book titled “When Life Hurts” makes the following statement:

“It’s no accident that the first recorded utterance from Satan in the Bible begins with Satan questioning the words of God, because that’s where the devil always begins. Satan can’t implant his own thoughts in our minds until he first causes us to question God’s thoughts. The two ideas CANNOT coexist.”

The same voice that spoke to Eve in the garden, twisting God’s words and confusing her mind, speaks to you and me in the midst of our pain. When you allow for pain to remain unprocessed, you not only can guarantee Satan will knock at your door, you might as well hand deliver him the invitation yourself.

When the enemy offers his whispers it is so easy to listen because we have not taken the necessary time to challenge the negative against the light of what God tells us is true.

Peter was an ultimate example of this. In Matthew 16:21-28 Peter had just been given the best news he would ever hear, yet he wasn’t able to receive it. He just couldn’t fathom that through the deepest pain Christ would ever endure, it could actually be a design of God’s even greater plan for all of humanity.

Why? Because Satan’s ultimate goal was to keep Peter from fulfilling his purpose and accepting the destiny that God had in store for him. Satan knew the fear in Peter’s heart and used it against him. Jesus’ very response in verse 23 was “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, and not from God’s.” Jesus was not implying that Peter was in fact the enemy, but He knew the whispers upon Peter’s heart were not divine.

The enemy will continue to use your pain to disarm and defeat you until you decide to deal with it. You must fight this battle suited in the armor of the Holy Spirit. To know God is to first know Jesus.

Remember, even Elijah encountered God in a whisper as recorded in 1 Kings 19:11-12. The ultimate gift God gave us came from the deepest pain Christ was called to endure.

What makes you think God cannot accomplish victory through yours?

Stefanie Calens
Writer
stephanie

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GO!

Often times, the assumption is made that ministry is in essence, merely a line of work. We truly fail to understand this term not defined within a title, but as Christians, a way of life. In the Gospel of Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus’ earthly ministry has come to an end, and He delivers to the disciples His last words which are known as “The Great Commission.” Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  

Please understand something here. Jesus does NOT say you are required to be of a certain age or height, there is NO final exam to pass, and here’s the kicker…you are NOT even expected to have all of the answers either. Christ instructed the disciples with one simple action…GO!

Up until this point, the mission of the twelve had been restricted by Jesus mainly to the Jews. However, their message following this was to become worldwide. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior through baptism, discipleship is not something you acquire by learning an equation, but by living life through a covenant commitment with God’s people. The very significance of a covenant revolves within a relationship. Jesus explains the Parable of the Lost Coin in previous scripture reference yet closes with “In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” (Luke 15:10)

Friends, the angels of God rejoice when ONE person comes to know Christ. Imagine all of the un-tapped joy to be found in churches and in communities if more people actually shared the love and concern for the lost, NOT just the righteous!

I caution you to avoid only exposing yourself with others whom are already saved, and I challenge you to higher levels of obedience.

Who is it that He has placed upon your heart? Is there a co-worker at the office, a member of the PTA, a neighbor down the street, or someone within your own family? I urge you to shut down the whispers from the enemy that tell you you’re not good enough, or intelligent enough, or equipped enough to disciple anyone.

I am saying to you today that Jesus IS enough. Stop making excuses for all of the reasons why you “can’t” and in His love, just GO!

Stefanie Calens
Writer
stephanie

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