Did you ever start a new job with the hopes of finding that “perfect” career, but soon found out that the workload was much more stressful than you expected?  Have you ever begun a monumental task and wanted to simply stop in your tracks, due to utter exhaustion?  Perhaps you started a charitable project, knowing it would benefit people who needed it the most, only to wish you could do something for your own family instead, lacking the time to meet the needs of everyone depending on you.  Sometimes, we literally bite off more than we can chew.  We want to help others.  We want to be kind to our neighbors.  We want to lend a hand.  But, there is only one of us.  There comes a point where we have to seek God’s will for our lives, and then choose what we feel He is calling us to do at this very moment.

A few years ago, I heard a preacher say, “Instead of asking God to bless what you‘re doing, do what He‘s blessing.”  Take a look at your own life.  Are you asking God to bless what you’re doing, or are you doing what God is blessing?  Surely, there are times in our lives when we, at least for a moment, think we know what is best.  But, in the times when we try to do something that is not in the will of the Father, we will find that the going truly gets tough.  On the other hand, if we are in the perfect will of God, we will be able to soar like eagles.  We will be amazed at what we can do.  We can do more than we ever dreamed if we are following the will of God, and if we are doing what God is blessing.

At times, God gives us blessings that we may even overlook.  Or we may purposefully push these blessings aside, simply because we desire something greater.  Imagine an individual who needs money to make a mortgage payment on their house.  God may provide an opportunity for this person to obtain a better job and a larger paycheck.  Instead of being grateful that they will soon be able to make enough money to pay their mortgage, they may be disappointed that God chose to give them a job instead of the money itself.  Of course, God knows that a good job with a steady salary will not only enable them to pay their mortgage, but to also afford to pay their electric bill, purchase groceries, and fill their tank up at the gas station.  While they may not initially see God’s plan for their life, God not only blessed this person with an answer to their prayer, but a better standard of living as well.

In other situations, God may bless us with the desires of our heart, yet we may not be able to fathom every single detail in the very beginning.  Let’s consider someone who may be praying for a new car.  They may want the flashiest sports car available, but an angel in disguise may freely give them a brand new SUV instead.  Rather than being excited about receiving a brand new vehicle as a gift, they may prove ungrateful, disliking the SUV because of their desire to have a sports car.  Nevertheless, God may know that a sports car would be impractical for them, since He may know that they will be expecting their first child in the coming months.  In the big picture of life, God has a much broader view of the future than any human being on the face of the earth.  He knows everything that will happen, when it will happen, and to whom it will happen.  He knows our comings and goings, even before we come or go.  Like the title of the classic television show, Father Knows Best, our Heavenly Father truly knows best.  Matthew 6:8 (NIV) says, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”  He knows our needs before they even cross our mind.  We need to seek His will for our lives, so we can be content and receive His blessings with favor.

Maybe you have been praying for God to bless your family, your job, your church, or some other part of your life; yet, you haven’t seen evidence of His blessings in your life.  When we pray “In Jesus’ name,” we are not reciting a magical phrase.  We are asking the Lord for His guidance, His wisdom, and His help.  When we pray, we should be praying for things that are according to His will for our lives.  We should pray for the things that are of interest to Him.  No matter what we do, if we do it in Jesus’ name, it should be something that He wants us to do.  If we decide to do something on our own, something we want to do, we should do it in our name instead.  So, before you make a decision, seek God’s will and follow His leading.  Do what He wants you to do.  Don’t make life more difficult than it already is by creating tasks of your own choosing.  Get involved with the things that God is blessing in your life.  Do what God is blessing, and you will find that you can do more than you ever imagined!

In Christ’s Love,


The Calm in the Storm

As I am writing this blog, Northern Florida is experiencing a Tornado Warning.  The rain is falling steadily, the thunder roars, and the lightning flashes.  Looking at the physical size and strength of the storm, there is a sense of danger and anxiety in the air.  Like myself, I am sure many people are praying for the safety of themselves, their loved ones, their homes, and even their pets.  Others may be worried about all of these things, instead of trusting God to take care of them.  While no one knows how much damage the storm may cause, worry will not make it go away.  Worry will only make it seem more threatening and more brutal.  Instead of worrying about each drop of rain, each clap of thunder, and each bolt of lightning, we need to put our complete trust in the One who provides a shelter from the storm.  Jesus Christ is the Calm in the storm.

Have you ever experienced a really severe storm?  Perhaps you have somewhat unpleasant memories of a time when you stood, huddled with your family in the smallest room of your house, waiting for a hurricane to pass.  Or maybe you can recall a time when you sought protection from a tornado in a basement or other safety shelter.  Or you might be enduring a storm right at this very moment, one void of rain and wind, void of thunder and lightning.  You may be experiencing a storm of greater magnitude than the most relentless storm ever recorded in history.  Only the storm you’re going through is not likely going to be featured on the evening news.  It may be a financial storm, an emotional storm, a mental storm, or even a storm relating to the physical condition of your body.  But whether or not the storm you are in is literal or figurative, it is still a storm.  It is a storm that can cause damage, whether to your home or your mind, body, and soul.  And surely, either type of storm could harm your family and friends.  You may think, is there any way out?  Will the storm ever end?  Yes.  If you call on the precious name of Jesus, the storm will cease.  He will bring you calm in the midst of the storm.

In life, we often experience storms beyond our control.  We are powerless when it comes to extinguishing a tornado or melting hail before it falls from the heavens.  We cannot prevent someone from being diagnosed with cancer, nor do we have the ability to keep other trials from coming upon us.  Thankfully, though, our Heavenly Father is not powerless.  He is all-powerful.  The Psalmist David wrote, “Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding” (Psalm 148:7-8 NIV).  While we cannot stop the storm clouds from gathering overhead, there is One who controls the universe.  Everything must obey Him, including the “lightning and hail, snow and clouds, [and] stormy winds.”  Jesus loves you, and He wants you to live a life of peace and happiness, not a life of turmoil and distress.  He does not desire for any of His children to endure the storms of life, but He wants us to fully trust Him to take care of us when these storms arise.  We need to give our worries and cares to Jesus.  We need to truly rest in Him, unwilling to let the storms of life toss us to and fro.  We need to have faith that He will protect us from all harm.

Jesus’ disciples learned this lesson when they were with Jesus upon the sea.  Mark 4:37-41 (NIV) gives a recount of what happened: “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.  Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’  He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’  Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?’  They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this?  Even the wind and the waves obey him!’”  You see, Jesus knew a storm was approaching, yet He had complete assurance that God would protect Him.  As such, He decided to get some much-needed rest.  The disciples, on the other hand, were worried that the ship would sink.  When Jesus saw the troubled looks on their faces, He simply states, “‘Quiet! Be still!’”  Immediately, the winds ceased and the sea became calm.  He was the calm in the storm.

We need to take Jesus’ example to heart.  When the storms come, we need to put our faith in God and rest in Him.  We need to trust that He will keep us safe, despite the things that may be going on around us.  No matter what is going on, God is right beside you.  He is with you during an earthquake or a thunderstorm, and He is with you in a hospital room or in a nursing home.  God is everywhere.  He is a refuge from the storm that you can always run to.  David said, “‘I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm’” (Psalm 55:8 NIV).  When the storms of life are raging, we have a shelter in which we can hide.  God is our shelter.  He will bring us through any storm, any trial, and any situation we encounter along life’s journey.  Although the rain may fall and the lightning may flash, we have a Heavenly Father who wants to comfort us and reassure us that, yes, everything will be alright.  The storm will pass.  A rainbow will appear.  Rest in His arms today.  Rest in His arms today.  Let Jesus be your Calm in the storm.

In Christ’s Love,

In ALL Things???

Are you thankful in ALL things?  Do you thank God in every circumstance you may find yourself in?  When your car breaks down, do you say, “Thank You, Lord?”  Or when the phone rings and causes you to leave the house later than you planned, do you give thanks to God?  When you plan a huge outdoor event, only to have it flooded out by rain, do you show your appreciation to the One who created the rain?  Perhaps you are thinking, “How in the world could I ever be thankful in ALL things?”

As humans living in a less-than-perfect world, it is a challenge to be grateful in every situation we encounter.  Still, God’s Word tells us that we should “give thanks in all circumstances” (I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).  Why?  The Bible tells us that, too.  It says, “For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).  In other words, God wants us to be grateful for the life He has given us, whether we are experiencing a joyful time or a sorrowful one, an uplifting moment or a down heartening one, a relaxing day or a tiring one.  Another translation says, “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens.  This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live” (The Message).  Even if it may be somewhat difficult at times, God wants us to be thankful, no matter what is happening around us.

God knows our future.  He knows where we will be in one year, one month, one week, one day, one hour, one minute, and even one second from this very moment in time.  When your car breaks down, you should be thankful.  God may be preventing you from being involved in a fatal accident.  When the phone rings, God may have someone that you need to receive support from on the other end of the line.  Or they may need to be encouraged by you.  Of course, He could be delaying you for other reasons as well: to prevent you from falling and breaking a limb, to stop you from being in a vehicular accident, or for any number of other possible reasons.  And when you plan a huge event, only to have it rained out, He may be standing right beside you.  You see, He may know that a brush fire will be easier to control, or He may know that an emergency will not occur at the event, such as a child being injured, due to the postponement.  God is omnipotent.  He knows where you should be and when you should be there.

Some people may say, “Why does God have control over me?”  He doesn’t have control over you, nor does He have the desire to control you.  He gives us the choice to follow His will for our lives.  For instance, you could have called a cab and been on your way, leaving your broken down car to be towed at a later time, even though you had a feeling you should stay with your car.  Or you could have made the choice to not answer the phone, even though you felt led to answer it, despite the fact you were running late.  And in reality, you could have found an alternate site for the outdoor event, but maybe you just didn’t feel inclined to find a second location.  You see, God may not always tell us audibly what we should or should not do.  But, if we pay close attention to His still, small voice, He will guide us according to His will.  And if we choose to ignore His leading, we may encounter even bigger problems, causing our momentary inconveniences to pale in comparison to the permanent tragedies that may await us.  If we will only let Him, God wants to help us through life’s valleys and guide us to the mountaintops.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  Notice the scripture does not say to thank the Lord for everything that goes wrong, but it says that you should pray, instead of worry.  Tell God about the things you need.  Tell Him what needs fixing.  Tell Him what is wrong in your life.  You see, God already has it under control.  Think of all of the times that He has brought you out of a discouraging situation, or even a dangerous one.  Be grateful to Him for delivering you from these circumstances.  Show your appreciation to Him for the blessings He has given you, instead of worrying about the difficulties you currently face.  Once you have done that, you will have true peace.  The Bible says God’s peace “exceeds anything we can understand.”  Choose to be thankful, and experience God’s unfathomable peace today.

God gives us the choice to choose what we desire to do.  He gives us the choice to either be grateful in all things, or to complain in all things.  We can listen to His leading in all things, or ignore His leading in all things.  We can love Him in all things, or hate Him in all things.  The important thing to remember is that God loves you, no matter what.  Whether or not you listen to Him, He loves you unconditionally.  Even if you never once say, “Thank you,” Jesus loves you.  He desires for you to serve Him, to be His child, and to love Him.  But, He gives you the freedom to choose who you serve, to whom you belong, and who you want to love.  If you choose to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you will experience countless situations in which you see how the hand of God has protected you, kept you safe from harm, and provided a shelter in times of need.  And it is in these moments that you will not thank Him for the minor setbacks or major changes that transpire, but you will thank Him for what He has done in these moments.  You will praise Him for the peace and joy He has bestowed upon you in these times of distress.  Then, as the beloved song says, you will proclaim, in ALL things, “Thank you, Lord, for your blessings on me.”

In Christ’s Love,



Today, there was an assembly at the middle school where I teach.  The Strength Team presented a motivational program for students, encouraging them to hold on to their dreams and reach their goals.  The one thing that stood out to me is something they said about the choices we make in life.  One of them said that we are not born as winners or losers.  Instead, he explained to the student body that we are born as choosers.  In other words, we can choose what path in life we will take.  We can choose the easy path or the hard one.  We can choose to be happy or choose to be sad.  We can choose to be positive or choose to be negative.  We can choose to love or choose to hate.  Life truly is full of choices.  Yet, there is one choice that is the most important one of all.  The most important choice you will ever make is to choose Christ.

In John 15:16 (NIV), Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”  Jesus is telling us that He wants us to have a personal relationship with Him.  He wants us to be able to come boldly to the throne of grace and to present our requests to the Father.  God will give us the desires of our heart.  But, first we must choose to serve Him wholeheartedly, so we can receive the blessings He desires so greatly to bestow upon us.

Jesus has made His choice.  He has chosen you.  He wants you to experience the joy and peace that comes from knowing Him.  He wants you to enjoy the life that He has planned for you.  Even before you were born, He knew the choices you would make that would lead you to where you are right now.  All along the way, He has given you the freedom to choose the path you prefer.  Have you chosen correctly?  Or have you made a not-so-good choice along life’s journey?

Often times, people may make bad choices.  A child may choose to eat too much candy, causing them to become ill.  A teenager may choose to engage in underage drinking, which could put them in jail for the remainder of their life.  Someone may choose to drive just a few miles over the speed limit, resulting in a wreck that could cause an innocent person’s life to be taken away.  You may ask, why doesn’t God intervene to reverse our poor choices?  God has given us the freedom to choose.  In addition, He has given us the Bible, which serves as an instruction manual on how we should live our lives.  It is up to you and me to decide whether or not we will follow this guidebook, or precariously follow our own path in life.

You may think, how can I make the right choice?  Everything seems so complex and I simply don’t know which choice is God’s will for my life.  Maybe you want to take the wrong path because it seems like the easier way out.  Perhaps you want to choose that path because you feel it will be more enjoyable.  While there may be things in this world that seem enjoyable for a time, these things do not have eternal value.  I John 2:17 (NIV) states, “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”  If we do the will of our Heavenly Father, we will enjoy eternal life.  Think about it.  Would you rather have a very brief, perhaps painful or deadly existence here on this earth, or would you rather enjoy eternity where there is no pain and no death?
If you are at a place in your life where you are uncertain as to what path you should take, look to Jesus.  If you do not know which choice is the right choice, look to Jesus.  And of you feel you are at your rope’s end, look to Jesus.  And as you look to Him, seek His will for your life.  I Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV) says, “Pray continually.”  We should always look to Jesus before making a choice in life.  There is never a time when we should make a decision, whether big or small, without seeking God’s will in our life.  Read your Bible.  Speak to a Christian counselor, pastor, or Christian friend.  Most importantly, talk to the Lord.  He is the Friend who will stick with you closer than a brother.  He already knows what you’re going through.  Pray every day, and you will find that God hears every word you say.

When confronted with a difficult decision, ask God to help you make the best choice.  Do not treat the decision as if it doesn’t really matter.  Treat it as if it will have an impact on your life.  Why?  Because the wrong decision will likely have a negative impact on your life, and the right decision can have a delightfully positive impact on your life.  No matter what happens, trust God to help you make the right choices.  Jesus wants you to live a long, fulfilling, happy life.  He is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, waiting for you to seek His will for your life.  Don’t make a choice on your own.  Ask Jesus to help you decide.  You can be a chooser.  And you can choose to live a life of joy!

In Christ’s Love,


Never Give Up

Did you ever say in utter exasperation, “I give up?”  Sometimes, we get so tired, or so sad, or so discouraged, that we simply want to throw in the towel.  There are many disappointments in life, and it is easy to lose sight of what truly matters.  I have been there, too.  Nevertheless, I am here today to tell you that there is joy around the bend.  God wants you to trust Him, to keep keeping on, and to emerge victorious.  Admitting defeat is not the easy way out.  Quitting is not the wise choice.  Giving up is not the answer.  Jesus is the answer.

Many times in my life, I have heard someone say that they just wanted to give up.  I recall stories of people, who could not handle their load of college classes, their work hours were too long, or they could not stand the physical problems they were currently facing.  One person I encountered had a physical problem that forced them to take an early retirement.  I heard them say that they just wanted to stay at home and do absolutely nothing, if they could not go about their normal, daily life.  Think of all of the blessings we would miss if we just hid inside our houses and stopped living life.  We would not see the sunrise or sunset, except through the glass pane of our window, we would not see our children graduate or our grandchildren take their first steps, and we wouldn’t see a friend or even a stranger in need on a routine trip to the grocery store.  God wants us to enjoy life, no matter what trials may come our way.  He wants us to cherish every moment we have, enjoying the things we are able to do, as opposed to focusing on the things we cannot do.

Other times, our burdens are heavy not because of the things we can or cannot do, but the things that we must do.  At times, our to-do list is overwhelming and we are stretched too thin.  I am reminded of a dear friend who was going through a difficult time in which she was taking care of her mother who was ill and caring for her husband who had multiple health concerns.  On top of all of that, she was trying to keep up with her responsibilities at work where she consistently was given new tasks to complete, resulting in extra unpaid work hours.  When I spoke to her, she sounded as if she was hanging by that last thread of hope.  She was done.  She was done trying to balance work, family, friends, and all of the layers of responsibility each one contained.  When we talked, I encouraged her and reminded her that Jesus would walk beside her, holding her hand, and even holding her up when she felt she would fall.  Amid our conversations, she once said to me that she felt as if the tables had been turned.

You see, this particular friend and I have had several heart-to-heart talks.  She was there the night my Mom went to be with the Lord.  She held my hand, she hugged me, and she cried with me.  Just this past year, we talked about that night.  It was something we had to do to rid our friendship of the seemingly “elephant in the room.”  We could not pretend we did not think of it daily, no more than my Dad and I could hide our feelings in the days, weeks, and months that since that tragic night.  The topic had to be addressed so we could stop dwelling on the past and enjoy the future.  She listened and she offered advice when I was hurting.  By talking to my Dad and a few others, I became determined to enjoy living life once again.  I stood firm, my faith unwavering, even in the midst of my sadness and despair.  And through these conversations, I noticed that the pain lessened.  Notice I did not say the pain went away, but it did not hurt quite as much because I was no longer compressing and stowing away my emotions.  Instead, I was being open and honest.  Through my honesty, I found that I was able to get past the fact that life had changed, and move forward to the hope-filled future that God has planned for my life.  I still think of my Mom every day, but I strive to think of the happy memories, not the horrific night that changed everything.  Since then, I have gradually arrived at the place where I have found joy in the journey.

During the time that my friend was hurting, I reminded her of our conversations.  She said she realized that I was giving her similar advice, as she had given me.  Of course, It is always easier to give advice when you are on the outside looking in, as opposed to being the one buried inside the trial itself.  Still, we both knew that we did not have to bear our burdens alone.  Even in these difficult times, we had the assurance that God was and continues to be our Refuge.  If we felt as if we would slip and fall, there was a solid ground on which to stand.  Psalm 40:2 (NIV) says, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”  The scripture does not say that God removed all of the mud, but it says that God provided a “firm place to stand.”  When you pray, your burdens may not instantly disappear, but God will give you the strength you need, the peace you desire, and the joy you long for to bring you from the rain and into the sunshine again.  Even in the storm, there is a rainbow of hope to be found.

If you feel like giving up, don’t give in.  Keep pressing on, doing what you can realistically do with God’s help.  Ephesians 6:13 (ESV) says, “Having done all, to stand firm.”  God does not ask us to do more than we are capable of doing, but He simply wants us to do as much as we can.  Then, after we have done everything we can possibly do, we should just stand.  If you feel that you are hanging by a thread, with absolutely no hope in sight, look to the One who is the Giver of hope.  Your life has not ended.  The Bible says to “Stand firm, and you will win life” (Luke 21:19 NIV).  Think about the gift that the Lord is giving you.  He is giving you life.  It is no secret.  The way to obtain a life worth living is to firmly stand in God’s presence, seeking His perfect will for your life.  When trials come, give your burdens to Jesus and stand strong.  Jesus does not want you to throw in the towel.  If you feel like giving up, remember Jesus will lift you out of that pit of despair, set you on a firm foundation, and allow you to enjoy living your life.  Never give up.  Give your life to Jesus.  He will do more than you ever dreamed!

In Christ’s Love,



Have you ever felt unappreciated?  Do you feel as if you give 110% to your job, your family, and other activities, only to feel as if you haven’t done enough?  Is there ever a time when you just wish someone would say, “thank you?”  Even in the times when you feel unappreciated, remember that God sees everything you do, whether big or small.  He loves you.  He thinks you are amazing.  And He loves when you do something for His honor and glory.  Even if you may not receive an audible thank you, God is wrapping His arms of love around you to show you just how important you are to Him.  And sometimes, He may even use a relative, friend, or coworker to pass along that unforeseen “thank you” for which you have been desiring so long.  God is truly the Creator of gratitude.

This afternoon, I received an unexpected e-mail from a colleague.  Inside, I found an unanticipated “thank you.”  They were expressing their appreciation to me for making a difference in the lives of my students.  They said that I had been an inspiration.  As I sat at my computer, I recalled the real reason I became a teacher: to make a difference in the lives of my students.  Every day, I pray that I will have a positive impact on their lives.  I strive to be their teacher, their mentor, and their friend.  There are times, though, when I wonder if I am truly making a difference.  Do my students really listen to the life lessons I share with them?  Does it matter if I have well-constructed lesson plans?  Do people really appreciate the valiant effort I put forth?  And then, an e-mail like the one I received today comes along to reassure me that yes, I am appreciated.  How special to know that someone noticed what I have been doing for five years.  To think that they actually took the time to thank me for going the extra mile to make the difference in the life of a child.  Wow.  I thank God for sending this e-mail my way.  He always knows what I need, even before it enters into my mind.

While it is always nice to receive gratitude, it is equally exciting to share appreciation with others.  When you sit down for a nice meal at a restaurant or even at home, do you thank the person who serves the meal or the chef who prepares it?  Do you thank the cashier in the check-out lane at Wal-Mart, or the one who held the door open for you at the bank?  Did you remember to thank the person who carried your groceries to your car for you, or the secretary on the telephone who put you right through to the person whom you were trying to reach?  Every single day, we are given opportunities to express gratitude to others.  Whether they are strangers or friends, I am sure they experience the same feelings that we do at times: overworked and unappreciated.  Wouldn’t you like to be a part of something really big?  It’s quite simple.  One simple “thank you” could literally make someone’s day.  Or it might even change their life.  To know we are appreciated means to know we are loved.  And to know we are loved means we have a reason to get up in the morning, go to work or school, and simply put, to live according to the dream that God has for our life.

Even Jesus gave thanks to God, His Father, on many occasions.  He understood how important it was to show His gratefulness to His Father, and He gives us a wonderful example to emulate.  In Matthew 11:25 (ESV), we read, “At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth.’”  Jesus wanted His Father to know that He appreciated the things that were given to Him, so He thanked Him always.  He also taught His disciples to be grateful by modeling a life of gratitude.  For instance, He taught them to give thanks for their food.  Matthew 26:26 (NIV) says, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples.”  According to this scripture, they did not eat until after the blessing had been given.  When partaking in a meal, giving thanks to the Lord was the number one priority among Jesus and His disciples.  Do you thank the Lord for the food He provides?  Are there ways you can follow Christ’s example, showing gratefulness to the Lord in your daily life?

You may wonder, how often should I thank someone?  Will they think that I am simply saying “thank you” because of lack of knowing what to say?  The Bible offers advice in this area as well.  I Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV) says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  So, should we only give thanks for our food?  Or to someone who helps us?  Or to a friend who offered encouragement to us?  No.  It is God’s desire that we should give thanks “in all circumstances.”  Notice this scripture does not say to give thanks sometimes, but it says to give thanks always.  This doesn’t mean we should thank God that our car was totaled, a loved one is sick, or that we lost our job.  Instead, we should be thankful to God for the blessings we have.  God will then bless us, restoring our lives according to His perfect will.
So, the next time you feel unappreciated, look around.  God may be sending an angel in disguise your way with a small token of their appreciation.  It could arrive in an e-mail, or it could be in the form of a phone call, a hug, or even a smile.  And while you are enjoying the new-found joys of feeling appreciated, remember to pay it forward.  Say “thank you” more often.  Shake someone’s hand.  Give someone a handwritten note telling them just how much you appreciate their friendship.  Most importantly, thank the Lord for allowing you to feel appreciated and giving you the opportunity to allow someone else to feel special as well.  Psalm 118:1 (NIV) calls us to “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”  Tomorrow morning when you awaken, thank the Lord for His many blessings.  Through this expression of gratitude, you will be reminded just how much Jesus loves you.  Not only that, but you will have the opportunity to have a personal conversation with the giver of hope, the giver of peace, and the giver of life.  How can anyone be ungrateful for such a precious gift?  God gave His only Son.  Doesn’t that just make you want to spread gratitude for the love of Jesus to everyone you meet?

In closing, I would like to show my appreciation to you for reading my blog by leaving you with this scripture: “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers” (Philemon 1:4 NIV).

In Christ’s Love,


Forever Friends

When you were a child, did you ever tell one of your friends that you were their best friend forever?  You may have even made a pact, promising to let nothing ever tear your special bond apart.  All of this, just to find that many years down the road, the only communication either of you can make time for is to send an annual Christmas card and form letter through the mail.  Funny how things change, isn’t it?  Still, there is one friend who will never change.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He will never forget the promises He has made to you and I.  He is the one, true, forever friend.

In the society in which we live, we have deadlines to meet, phone calls to make, and families to care for each and every day.  Often, the day-to-day responsibilities, whether desired or undesired, may interfere with our ability to have and maintain long-term, quality friendships.  Still, if God is at the center of our friendship, we may be blessed with life-long friendships that result in that special bond we once experienced as children.  We may feel that our friendship is the best we will ever experience.  We may think of our friend as the most perfect individual on the face of the earth.

In other instances, we may make a friend who we feel a unique bond with, yet they are oblivious to our desire for camaraderie.  Or they may decide to be our friend for a season, only to find a more “perfect” friend.  A friend may tell you a lie, they may cancel a lunch date, or they may promise to call and later tell you they “lost” your number.  It’s true; some friends may prove to be undependable.  In Proverbs 18:24 (NIV), we read: “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  Sadly, it is true that some friendships we make in this world will not last, and often, these crumbled friendships will cause us pain, embarrassment, or distress.  Isn’t it comforting to know that we can take comfort in the fact that Jesus is a friend who will be with us, through prosperous times and destitute ones, healthier days and ailing ones, joyous moments and sorrowful ones?  He will never leave us.  He is our friend forever.

Recently, I taught a lesson to my students about a speech written by George Graham Vest titled, “Tribute to a Dog.”  The speech talks about how "man's best friend" is loyal to its master to the very end.  Consider the dog: a dog loves its master unconditionally.  A dog does not see a person’s skin color.  A dog does not see what type of clothes you wear, how you wear your hair, or even whether you are short or tall.  A dog does not care if you have great riches or if you are living paycheck to paycheck.
Inevitably, we could take a lesson from the dog.  Think about it: how would the world be different if we looked at other men, women, and children completely indifferent to their ethnic background, socioeconomic status, or physical appearance?  Certainly, a world void of prejudices would be a much more positive place in which to live.  God has called us to be this type of a friend.  John 15:13-14 (NIV) says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  Jesus wants us to experience long-lasting friendships, where loyalty surpasses all hindrances this world may bring.  He commands us to “Love each other” (John 15:17 NIV).  Jesus desires for us to be so devoted to our friends that we would do anything we could to encourage them always, to help them when they need it most, and to simply love them unconditionally.

Even if there are times in life when a friend lets us down, there is a friend who will never disappoint us.  John 15:15-16 (NIV) shares one of the wonderful promises found in God’s Word: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”  Not only will Jesus be our friend forever, but He promises us that He does not hide things from us when He says that He has revealed everything He has learned from the Father to us.  He wants us to be prosperous, as He says that we will bear fruit.  Furthermore, He promises that we will receive our greatest desires, if we will simply ask the Father.

The next time you make a new friend or reconnect with an old one, remember the scripture that says, “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17 NIV).  Show the love of Jesus in the way you look at them, through the words you speak, and by radiating joy of Jesus through the smile on your face.  If a friend betrays you, or causes you pain, do not dwell on the disappointment, but look to the friend who sticks closer than your family or friends.  Jesus Christ is the one true friend who will never change.  Hebrews 13:8 (NIV) says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  He loves you so much that He literally gave His life for you.  Call on the name of Jesus.  Ask Him to be your friend.  He will never leave you, nor forsake you.  He will never let you down.  He will be forever faithful, forever loving, and forever with you.  Jesus Christ is the quintessential forever friend.

In Christ’s Love,



Have you ever been afraid?  Not just a little scared, but truly in fear for your life?  Perhaps you were in a car accident, or saw your child fall down a flight of stairs?  Maybe you were scared that you would lose your home to a fire or due to lack of funds to pay your mortgage?  Many times, fear can cause us to literally shut down, unable to live our lives as God has intended.  God knows that we will be afraid at times, and He has promised that He will help us through the most terrifying experiences of our lives, so we can enjoy the rewarding, peaceful life that He has planned for us.

Isaiah 41:13 (NIV) says, “I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”  No matter what we may be experiencing at this very moment, God is standing beside us.  Not only that, but He is holding our hand, guiding us through the rough patches of life.  He longs for us to have the peace that only He can give.  He wants us to have the reassurance that He will help us through any situation that life may bring our way, no matter how frightening it may be.  He is the calm before and after the storm.  He is the master of the wind and maker of the rain.  Put your faith in the Lord, and He will calm all of your fears.

If you feel that being afraid is a sign of weakness, I want to assure you that this is certainly not the case.  Consider Jesus’ disciples.  One night while they were out on the lake, they were literally afraid of Jesus himself, thinking that He was a ghost.  In Matthew 14:25-27 (NIV), we read: “Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.  ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.  But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’”  Even when His disciples did not recognize Him, He wants them to be at ease, unafraid at seeing Him walk across the water.  He wants them to know everything there is to know about Him, beginning with the fact that He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, able to walk on water.  He wanted them to trust Him completely, just like He wants us to do today.

Even the Psalmist David knew that He needed to put His trust in God in order to avoid the fears that encompass us in life.  Psalm 56:3-4 (NIV) says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?”  David is reminding us that we do not need to be afraid, even if trouble comes.  Even if the bill collector calls or a friend stabs us in the back, there is still no reason to be afraid.  When we put our trust in God, nothing can steal our peace.  Nothing can steal our joy.  Nothing can take away God’s hand working in our life.

Mary was afraid when she saw the angel standing before her, delivering the message that she would be the mother of Jesus.  “But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.” (Luke 1:30 NIV).  There are times when we may receive news that is saddening, shocking, or simply unexpected.  Regardless of whether the news is positive or negative, God is in control.  God knows that there are times when we may experience fear in order to make the journey from where we are to where we need to be.  Like Mary, we may be afraid for a season, only to find that we have been called to serve the Lord in a way in which we had never even dreamed.

Time and time again, the Bible tells us that we should not be afraid.  Psalm 118:6 says, “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.”  Hebrews 13:6 says, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”  Even Jesus himself tells us in Revelation 1:17 (NIV) that we should not be afraid, and He says, “I am the First and the Last.”  So, no matter what trials come and what fears may Jesus Christ has paved the way for you to live a fearless life of joy.  He has a dream for your life, void of all fear.  He wants you to experience a fearless life that is greater than anything you ever imagined.

In Christ's Love,

Wanting It All

Did you ever hear a child say, “I want it all?”  They want all of the latest toys, all of the coolest clothing, and all of the sweetest candy.  In addition, they want all of the attention.  As we grow older, our desire to have it all only changes slightly.  Instead of toys, we may want all of the latest electronic gadgets, fancy cars, and a home fit for a king.  Instead of the “coolest” clothing, we may want the most fashionable, designer clothing that we can afford.  In addition to the sweetest candy, we also want gourmet meals and other delicacies that tantalize our taste buds.  And yes, we may still desire all of the attention.  Nevertheless, adulthood also brings with it the realization that the desire to have it all can often lead to disappointment.

As human beings living in a world with so many opportunities, it is easy to desire to want to see it all and do it all.  A person may wish they could travel and see the entire world.  Sadly, the average lifespan is too short to literally visit every navigable location in the world.  Someone may want to volunteer for every worthy cause, yet time does not allow a person to be involved in every volunteer position available.  The desire to have it all goes beyond what someone can see or do.  Someone may even want to eat all, having seen the delicious variety of food and beverages available.  Yet, their physical ability to literally eat it all is not adequate.  With only 24 hours per day and 365 days per year, we are limited as to what we can accomplish each hour, day, week, month, and year that we are alive.  Realistically, we cannot have it all.  We must make good decisions, ensuring that we use each and every moment of our time wisely.

Not too long ago, I heard someone say, “Life is full of choices.”  From the moment that we awaken in the morning, we are confronted with a constant stream of decisions to be made.  How many times should we hit the snooze button?  What should we wear?  Should we have breakfast or wait until lunch?  As we are confronted with these choices, we need to remember that we cannot do it all, nor can we have it all.  We cannot hit the snooze button five times and still have time to read our morning devotion.  We cannot wear our favorite outfit if we chose to wait another day before picking it up at the cleaners.  We cannot skip breakfast if we know it will be detrimental to our health.  Needless to say, life is like a flowing river of choices, bringing some positive things and some negative things downstream.  One good choice could make someone’s day, while one bad choice could ruin someone’s life.

Despite the infinite number of choices we will make during our lifetime, there is one choice that is the most important choice we will ever make.  While we may be concerned over the places we go, the clothes we wear, or the food we eat, there is only one decision that ultimately affects eternity.  Matthew 16:26 (NIV) says, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”  You may have all of the wealth and worldly possessions you desire.  You may be healthy and physically fit.  You may have everything your heart desires.  But, if you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you do not have anything.

God’s Word says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV).  Even though we may have a strong desire to have it all, the things we acquire in this world will always remain in this world.  When our life comes to an end, the only decision that will matter is whether or not we chose Christ.  For the only way to truly have it all is to have a personal relationship with the One who gave His all.

In Christ's Love,

Three Simple Words

When was the last time you told someone you love them? Was it last night, this morning, this afternoon?  Did the person you were speaking to return the sentiment?  You might use those three little words to show your love to that special someone, the person with whom you will spend the rest of your life.  Or perhaps you often say these three words to a parent, grandparent, child, or dear friend.  While we may love our family and friends unconditionally, there is one whose love surpasses all of the love we could ever give.  Jesus loved us before we were even born.  He loved us when we were unlovable.  Although three of the most touching words in this world are “I love you,” it is certain that there are three words that carry an even greater meaning.  Those three words are: “Jesus loves you.”

This past week, someone asked me what I would consider to be my favorite phrase of all time.  I thought for a moment about this question, ensuring that I considered the vast majority of phrases I have heard in my lifetime.  There are humorous and solemn ones, positive and negative ones, happy and sad ones…but, then, it dawned on me.  I realized at that moment that there was one phrase that truly stood above the rest.  One short phrase says it all.  Three simple words, yet they encompass such a complex meaning.  The phrase?  Jesus loves you.

After I gave them my response, I began to think about what those three simple words truly mean.  Sure, I often say “Love ya” or “I love you” to close friends and family.  Yet, I am not capable of loving as Jesus loves.  I cannot comprehend the unconditional love that He has for us.  I cannot fathom the depth of His love.  Jesus not only loves those who serve Him, but He loves every single person on earth.  He loves the single mom whose husband passed away, so now she works three jobs to provide a shelter, food, and clothing for her children.  He loves the preacher who burns the candle at both ends, simultaneously caring for his own family, ministering to his congregation, and visiting the unsaved, the sick, and the dying.  He even loves the person who spends their life on the streets, purchasing illegal drugs and continually searching for happiness that they cannot seem to find.  It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, where you are, or where you’re going…Jesus loves you.

Think about it.  To Jesus Christ, what does it mean to say, “I love you?”  Does it mean you love everything the person does?  Does it mean you like everything they say?  Does it even mean you approve of the way they look?  No.  Romans 5:8 (NIV) says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  This verse doesn’t say that Christ died for the good-doers, the eloquent speakers, or the person with a pretty face.  It says that God loved us enough to give His only Son to die for our sins.  God loved the sinners.  Christ died for the unlovable.  He died for you, He died for your family, and He died for your neighbors.  Jesus died for every man, woman, and child.  No matter who you are, Jesus loves you.

The most wonderful aspect of Jesus’ love is that it is eternal.  He gives us an infinite supply of His unconditional love.  There is nothing that can take away the love He has for us.  Romans 8:39 (NIV) says, “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  While a husband and wife may quarrel, children may argue with their parents, and two friends may go their separate ways, the love of Jesus will never change.  His love is the same yesterday, today and forever.  There is never a time when He will stop loving you.  Why?  Because Jesus loves you unconditionally.

The next time you hear someone say, “I love you,” consider the wonderful opportunity to share God’s love with them.  If you are a Christian, I challenge you to allow God to use you to be a witness for Him.  If you are not a Christian, and you want to know why the King of all Kings would love you unconditionally, remember this: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).  God loved you enough to give His only Son, so you could have eternal life.  He thinks you are amazing.  He knows that your life is valuable.  He longs for you to love Him.  Jesus’ love is limitless, and He loves each and every one of us unconditionally.  No matter what, JESUS loves you!

In Christ's Love,

Why, God?

Did you ever experience a terrifying storm?  Do you recall the fear and uncertainty that gripped your mind, as you wondered if your family and friends were safe?  Or perhaps you are enduring an emotional, mental, or physical storm in your life at this very moment.  Does it feel as if they sun will never shine again?  In life, we encounter a plethora of tragedies.  There are natural disasters, illnesses, wars, and many other difficult situations we may find ourselves in.  There may even be times when we find ourselves concerned with a catastrophic event that has not even happened directly to us.  Yet, the tragic occurrence causes us to reflect back on the difficult times we have endured.  Think about the devastating earthquake that struck near the coast of Japan.  When you heard about this natural disaster, did it bring to mind the storms in your own life?  Have you wondered why God did not provide a shelter from the storm for those whose lives were lost?  Or why He has not sheltered you from the storms you are currently going through?

As humans living in an imperfect world, there are moments when we may question, “Why, God?”  There may be times when we do not understand His plan for our life, since our plans may be entirely different.  As I was getting ready for work this morning, I was saddened to hear the news of the massive earthquake that had occurred off the coast of Japan.  Such a tragic event, yet there was no one to blame.  No human being on earth could have precisely predicted this natural disaster.  I am sure the citizens of Japan did not expect this catastrophe.  They planned to enjoy another routine weekday ahead, where everything happened according to their plans.  Then, their plans changed.  Instead of going to work or school, they will spend the day searching for missing persons, digging through rubble to find survivors, and wondering if their loved ones are safe.  And I am sure they will be pondering the question, “Why?”  Why did this happen?  Why couldn’t we prevent the loss of life?  Why didn’t God stop the destruction?

Although I cannot answer these questions, I can assure you that God was right in the midst of that storm.  He was standing right beside the people who were safely evacuated from derailed trains, broken bridges, and crumbled buildings.  Granted, our human minds cannot comprehend why some lives would be spared and others taken.  I cannot explain why every life is not spared.  Even in my own life, I often wonder why my Mom, three grandparents, two infant brothers, and numerous other relatives and friends are not still with me today.  Still, one thing is certain.  God is a sovereign God.  God’s ways are perfect.  The destruction in Japan may seem insurmountable, but God has a perfect plan for the entire world.  He knew this day would come even before we were born.  The storms in your own life may seem equally undefeatable, but rest assured, God has everything under control.

No matter what storm you are currently facing, God is greater than your storm.  Psalm 93:4 (NIV) says, “Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea—the LORD on high is mighty.”  The one and only true and living God is greater than all of the earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, fires, tornadoes, and any other natural disaster that may come upon His Creation.  Not only that, but God is greater than cancer, divorce, terrorism, and any other social, economic, political, or environmental problem in this world.  For every problem, God is the solution.

In life, there are no guarantees of tomorrow.  There are problems we must face.  There are tragedies to endure.  Nevertheless, we can find shelter in the arms of Jesus.  He has already walked ahead of us, and He continually prepares us for the difficult storms that we may encounter on life’s journey.  He will give us peace in the midst of the storm.  John 16:33 (NIV) says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  Jesus knows what you are going through.  He knows you will face storms in life.  He knows you may even wonder, “Why, God?”  These questions of why may go unanswered.  Even so, you can always find peace in the one true answer: Jesus.

In Christ's Love,

Secret Place

As a child, was there ever a time when you enjoyed hiding in a “Secret Place?”  Or have you ever tried to hide from the problems you were facing in life?  The Bible promises you that you can always rest in the safety of Jesus’ arms.  He is the Shelter in which you can hide when life gets tough.  During these moments of unrest, it is easy to search for a secret place, a place where you can escape the worries and cares of this world.  Sometimes, though, Jesus brings us through trials in order to bring us to victories.  He will walk beside you, in good times and bad.  He will be your help in times of trouble.  Don’t hide in secret; instead, seek shelter from the One who gives us life.

When I was a little girl, my Mom and I would always go into our “Secret Place.”  Our “Secret Place” consisted of a lower piece of ground in my Papa Joe and Grandma Ethel’s woods.  I would always pull my little red wagon out there, full of Cabbage Patch dolls and stuffed animals.  We would spread a blanket out on the ground and have a picnic together.  Other times we played dress-up or Barbie dolls, and baked cookies together.  Even as I grew older, we still did things together like making jewelry, scrapbooking, and of course, we still baked sweet treats together.  Needless to say, my Mom and I were best friends who did everything together.

On August 2, 2008, my life changed.  My Mom went home to be with the Lord as the result of a heart attack that occurred while we were vacationing in the mountains.  Without her, my life is incomplete.  While my heart is broken, my heart also rejoices.  My Mom has not gone to a “Secret Place.”  I know where she is, and I am pleased to say that her new home is not a secret location, nor is the method of getting there a secret.

Although that day was the saddest day of my entire life, I know in my heart that it was one of the happiest days of my Mom’s life.  She was a Christian who loved the Lord with all of her heart.  2 Corinthians 5:8 (KJV) says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  While the absence of my mom is extraordinarily difficult, I know that the moment she entered the presence of the Lord, she began worshipping and praising our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

For Christians, this world is simply a temporary home, similar to a waiting room at a doctor’s office.  We are waiting for God to call us to our true home in Heaven.  Still, as humans, this wait often seems like it is never-ending.  Then, something life-changing happens, like losing a parent, spouse, or child.  It is at this moment that you find out who you really are as a Christian.  This is the point when your faith in Christ is truly put to the test.  Whether we are celebrating a victory or healing from defeat, our faith should be an ever-present part of our daily lives.  The Bible says, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 KJV).  We need to walk as if our eyes were closed, allowing God to guide our steps according to His perfect will.

Many times, things happen in our lives that cause us to question, “Why me, Lord?” or “Why now, Lord?”  Although it is natural for our human minds to question God’s direction in our lives, we need to realize that His plan is perfect in every way.  Psalm 18:30 (NIV) says, “As for God, His way is perfect; The LORD’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him.”  Satan may try to convince us otherwise, but God is a sovereign God.  He has a plan for our life that is more than we ever dreamed possible.

God will never lead us into a sunset without providing a sunrise.  He will never take us into a cloudy day without providing a rainbow.  God’s word says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 NIV).  This means that we may not always understand something on our own.  Instead, we need to lean on the Lord and trust that He will give us strength to weather every storm.  The journey of life is full of uncertainties and often seems like a frightening place to be.  Even so, we will never find ourselves trapped in a tunnel of darkness.  In every situation, Jesus is the light at the end of the tunnel.

Jesus extends an open invitation to all who believe.  And I know in my heart that my Mom would not want me to write this blog without extending the same invitation to you.  Accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior today before it is too late.  I can assure you, the valley I have been walking through would be far too much to bear, if it was not for my relationship with Jesus Christ.  Jesus offers everyone hope and everlasting life.  All we have to do is have faith and believe.  The Bible says plainly, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13 NIV).

My Mom, Dad, and I accepted the invitation.  Because of this, my Dad and I will see my Mom again when God calls His children home.  While my Dad and I miss my mom greatly here on earth, she is in Heaven.  Although our hearts hurt, we have hope in Christ.  Daddy has not lost his wife.  I have not lost my Mom.  Pamela Suzanne Campbell is not lost because we know exactly where she is.  Her new home is not a “Secret Place.”  In Heaven, we will see her again, where there is no sorrow or tears, sickness or pain.  Until that happy reunion, we can rejoice the promise of God in Revelation 21:4 (NIV): “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  Heaven is not a secret; it is only a prayer away.

In Christ’s Love,


A Greater Love

Did you ever notice the way some children really look at their mother or father?  Their eyes become wide, their lips gently separate, and their head tilts upward ever-so-slightly.  It’s as if they will hang on to every word spoken and record every move their parent makes in their permanent memory bank.  This devotion is the result of a wondrous gift from God: the gift of love between a parent and child.

A parent does nothing special to earn this kind of love.  They just have to be there.  A parent has to be there to wipe a runny nose, bandage a scraped knee, or help mend a broken heart.  They need to be there to cheer and clap for their child in times of victory and to cradle and comfort them in times of defeat.

As we grow older, we realize that parental love is often more important as an adult than it was as a child.  There comes a time that we may be faced with the difficult task of coping with the loss of a loved one, maybe even our parents.  In these times of distress, we long for the moment that we can look up into the face of our mother or father.  We desire just one more embrace, one more conversation, one more “I love you.”

God knew that we would experience a special bond with our parents.  He also knew that we would eventually encounter the loss of one or both of our parents.  That is why He gave us His only Son.

Whether you are young or old, the Heavenly Father is waiting with open arms to cheer you on in times of joy and cradle you gently in times of sorrow.  Although sickness and death may temporarily separate us from our earthly parents, there is absolutely nothing in this world that can separate us from God’s enduring love.

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV) states, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.”

Regardless of what is going on around us, there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love, if we have turned our lives over to Jesus Christ.  While the bond between a mother and child or father and child is extraordinarily strong, the relationship we have with Jesus Christ is greater than relationship that any two individuals can experience here on earth.

Make a point to reflect on the ways the love of God permeates your own life.  Take a moment to thank God for this love.  He shows it to you every morning when you awaken to a brand new day.  His love shines in each and every sunrise and sunset.  His love is present in church on Sunday morning.  His love is present in the beauty of His Creation.  God’s love is revealed everywhere.

Take time to really look at your Heavenly Father.  Let your eyes become wide, your lips gently separate, and your head tilt upward ever-so-slightly.  Listen for His still, small voice, and record it in your permanent memory bank.  He longs to wipe your tears, fill your heart with joy, and be a friend who is closer than a brother.

Let God’s love be revealed in your own life.  Smile more.  Pray often.  Share the love of God.  You have been given two wondrous gifts from God to share with the world: the gift of love between a parent and child and the greater love between a child of God and our Heavenly Father.

In Christ’s Love,

Let Go

Have you ever taken a vacation, only to arrive at the destination with the realization that you packed way too many items for the length of your stay?  Or did you ever try to carry an entire load of groceries into the house in one load, just to avoid making a second trip?  Perhaps the burden you carry is not a literal one, but a figurative one.  Do you ever stuff your emotions into a bag and then carry them around, unsure of what you should do with them?  When we find ourselves toting around extra baggage, we need to learn to trust God.  We need to trust God and ask Him to bear our burdens.  We simply need to let go.

Last October, I had the opportunity to attend my first Women of Faith conference in Tampa, Florida.  This was one of the most uplifting experiences of my life, and it came at the perfect moment.  This event allowed me to clearly see the purpose-filled future that God wanted me to enjoy, as opposed to that one sorrow-filled night, which I had focused on far too long.  I thank God for this renewal of joy, as it enabled me to let go of some of the emotional baggage I had been holding onto for over a year.  Of course, that one tragic night continued to haunt me, even after this time of fellowship and worship.  There were things I still held onto, even after letting go of a few burdens along the way.

Several weeks later, I was blessed to be in attendance at the first “Shelter of God’s Promises” tour led by Sheila Walsh.  During the concert, Sheila sang a song titled, “Let Go.”  In this very moment, I felt God speaking to my heart, telling me that it was time to let go of all of the emotional baggage that I had stored up since my Mom passed away.  Every word spoken seemed to be articulated just for me.  The messages brought forth brought to mind the verse in the Bible that says, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22 NIV).  I knew that this was the moment that I would give my burdens to the Lord.  Not only that, but I was determined to give them away and never pick them back up again.  God ministered to my heart, giving me calm assurance that this was the day that I would begin my journey back to true, unconstrained joy.

Later in the day, Sheila asked how we would feel if our friends and family could see a movie of our life, including every single detail.  She proceeded to say that God has seen our movie.  I began to think about the fact that the burdens I had been carrying around were seemingly pointless.  While I had kept the majority of them hidden from many people, God knew about every single one of them, whether big or small.  He knew that I was carrying these burdens around.  He longed to help me carry them.  He wanted me to release these burdens, and He waited patiently for me to finally decide to let go of the things that had been weighing me down.

Imagine you are planning to run a race.  But, there is one catch.  You are the only one competing in the race who must wear 500 pounds of baggage on your back for the duration of the race.  It is likely that you would not have the stamina needed in order to finish the race.  Your body would not be able to withstand this additional weight, eventually collapsing under the load.  The emotional baggage we carry is much like the extra baggage required to run this race.  Inevitably, we cannot carry our burdens alone and win the race.  Instead, we must cast aside our burdens, so we can endure to the end.

In Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV), we read, “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…”  Notice that the author of this scripture did not say to “lay aside” a few weights, but to “lay aside every weight.”  Many times, it may be easy to let go of a small burden.  Or it may even be effortless to release two or three pieces of “baggage” that we carry around inside.  But, in order to live a life according to God’s will, we need to look to Jesus and let go of all of our burdens.

I encourage you today to let go of your emotional, physical, mental, financial, and any other burdens that you may be carrying around.  God can do the same thing for you that He did for me.  He will take your burdens, every single one of them, and allow you to enjoy living your life.  Talk to the Heavenly Father.  He wants to hear your story.  Give your burdens to Him, and let go of the things that have been weighing you down.  He will reveal to you the life of perfect peace and abounding joy that you have been searching for so long.  And the best part?  All you have to do is to simply let go.
In Christ’s Love,


Always Enough

When is enough really and truly enough?  Have you ever thought to yourself, I wish I had enough money, or enough time, or enough friends?  Do you ever feel like there is never enough of you to go around?  There are times in life when we feel stretched too thin.  But even in those moments when there doesn’t seem to be enough, God is always enough.

Last fall, I had the opportunity to hear Karen Peck & New River in concert.  Toward the end of the concert, Karen sang a song titled, “My God Will Always Be Enough.”  Although I have known Karen for many years, and have heard this song many times before, something was different.  God knew I needed to hear this song at this exact moment.  My Dad, Grandma, and I were vacationing in North Carolina, the same place where my Mom passed away.  The night before, I had been having some flashbacks of that very night, to the point of crying myself to sleep.

As Karen began to sing this song, tears welled up in my eyes once again, only this time, they were tears of joy.  God used Karen to minister to my heart in a special way.  At this very moment, I needed to be reminded of the fact that God will always be enough.  Even in the times when we feel we are traveling through a dry, desert land, Jesus brings us Living Water.  He will always provide what we need, and He will always be enough.

In life, we have countless responsibilities.  There are deadlines to be met, decisions to be made, and obstacles to overcome.  At times, we wonder how we will ever get everything accomplished.  Sometimes, everything doesn’t get done.  We often feel like we may even let people down, due to our shortcomings.  We may think, “I don’t have enough time.  I don’t have enough money.  I don’t have enough of me.”

Of course, we are in good company.  Even Jesus’ disciples worried about having “enough.”  Mark 8:4 (NIV) says, “His disciples answered, 'But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?'"  With only seven loaves and a few fish, they served over 4,000 people a satisfying meal.  While the disciples were worried over whether or not they would have enough, the Bible says that the disciples gathered “seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over” (Mark 8:8 NIV).

On another occasion, one of Jesus’ disciples, Philip, was concerned over financial shortcomings.  Philip said, “‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’” (John 6:8 NIV).  Andrew said, “‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’” (John 6:9 NIV).  Although Philip and Andrew were concerned over whether or not there would be enough food to feed the five thousand men sitting on the grass, Jesus knew there would be enough.

God’s Word says, “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.  He did the same with the fish.  When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over.  Let nothing be wasted.’  So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. (John 6:11-13 NIV).  Once more, Jesus showed His disciples that the amount that man saw as not “enough” was more than enough in God’s hands.

Even when we do not feel that we are enough, GOD is enough.  When we feel powerless, God is powerful.  2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) says, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”  In other words, God’s grace will make up for our shortcomings.  God is the potter and we are the clay.  He can take the small piece of clay that our life represents and mold it into a beautiful work of art.  When we are not enough, God’s grace will work in our lives to help us be enough.

As Christians, we are like the loaves and the fish.  On our own, we are truly not enough.  Nevertheless, when we rely on God to bless our life, we can experience a life worth living.  We can meet the deadlines.  We can make time for family and friends.  We can be enough.  If we put our complete trust in Him, just as Jesus’ disciples trusted Him to feed the multitude, we can do more than we ever imagined.

In Christ's Love,