The Great Unknown: The Land of Obedience

The Great Unknown: The Land of Obedience

Ali R

Hey! While most of my life was spent in Colorado, I am happy to now call Oklahoma my home. I am amazingly blessed to have a supportive and God-fearing husband who is also a terrific dad to our four kiddos (who we had in a 3 year 9 month time frame). I love to drink coffee, sing, hear people’s stories and have dance parties. I am passionate about my relationship with Jesus and desire to share that gift with every person that I meet. My hope is that I can encourage someone today with and through the Word of God and His steadfast love. ::psalm 27:4::

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“Then the LORD said to him,

‘This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said,

‘I will give it to your descendants.’

I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.’”

– Deuteronomy 34:4

 

I have read this passage about God speaking to Moses multiple times. Every time, all I have ever seen was the love of God as He let Moses actually see the Promised Land even though he wouldn’t be able to enter into it (Numbers 20:12). Blame it on my optimism or my view of God, but I have never looked beyond that sweet act of mercy. It was almost as if God had told Moses:

“I made a promise years ago and you have always trusted in that promise.

You may not have understood where I was leading you, but you always followed.

I led you into a land of unknown for forty years and you never stopped seeking Me.

 It is because of this that I will show you what I said was true.

I want you to know, my son, that I always have been and always will be faithful to my people.”

How could you not be overwhelmed with the grace and love of God in that moment? He is so good to us even though we don’t deserve it. Because of this great truth, I looked at the passage differently last week when I read it. I could not help but look beyond God’s blessing and look at God Himself, as Moses did. Even though he knew he would not inherit the blessing of the Promised Land, he continued to trust and serve the Lord. Just knowing God was enough reason for Moses to obey all those years spent wandering in the wilderness. It didn’t matter where he was going or what God would give him in the end. If God said “Go,” Moses started walking.

Of course, God, in all his perfect timing, placed this truth on my heart in a season where there are many unknowns and uncertainties of what lies ahead. In a season like this, doubt and fear can easily infiltrate my heart if I do not hold on to God’s promises. Friend, if you find yourself in the same season of life, my hope and prayer is that these words the Lord placed on my heart would also encourage you…

“I made a promise years ago and I need you to trust in that promise.

You may not understand where I am leading you, but I need you to follow.

While I lead you into a land of the great unknown, never stop seeking Me.

I will show you what I said was true.

I want you to know, my daughter, that I always have been and always will be faithful to my people.”

So what do you say, beloved?

The Great Unknown_ Call to Action

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

With my little baby bundled up in the back seat, we started the drive to the allergy clinic downtown. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Our little one hadn’t been doing so well, and we’d been working with a GI doctor and her pediatrician to figure out what it was her body didn’t like. I was scared and uncomfortable with the process. Uncomfortable with what we might find out. Uncomfortable with what we wouldn’t find out. And frustrated. So, so frustrated that my baby girl was having to go through this.

I was trying to pray, but I wasn’t sure what to pray for. I’d been praying so much for our sweet girl and her troubles. What could I possibly say right now, as we were nearing this critical appointment? About as soon as I had these thoughts I heard this song playing on the radio:

“And I know any second You could take my pain away, but even if you don’t, I pray

Help me want the healer more than the healing.

Help me want the Savior more than the saving.

Help me want the giver more than the giving.

Oh, help me want you Jesus more than anything.”

I burst into tears as I felt God’s arms around me in that moment.

The song went on to talk about the weakness we face on our own and the feeling of overwhelm we can feel from our burdens. It helped me realize that God has already done everything that we need, no matter the circumstance we face.

He sent Jesus. 

“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 

Isn’t that all that really matters? Of course, in our humanness we forget. We become consumed by our circumstances and it’s not enough. This is nothing new for our generation.

God’s Presence is Enough

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the first few books of the Bible lately. Oh, the Israelites–how easy it is for us to judge them! This group of Hebrew slaves has been known through the ages for their complaints. God delivered them, but again and again their struggles consumed them and they started to question God. Their struggles were very real, by the way. Can you even imagine being in their place? Wandering about for years, facing the harsh realities of the desert, and going through foreign lands? Their complaints and questioning frustrated God. God wanted them to understand that his presence with them was enough. He would sustain their needs. He wanted them to trust him.

Why is this so hard? Why do we act like God is never enough? 

Trusting God is Enough

Thankfully, our God is a God of grace and mercy. He knows our weakness. In our faith, we can cast our burden on him (Psalm 55). He hears us and cares for us. We must remember, though, that our true battle is already won. Our hope is not in answered prayers, but in God. So through our struggles, may we want to be drawn closer and closer to the Lord. May we remember the love he has bestowed on us and find peace.

That day, I met my fears head on as I faced the situation I’d been dreading: peanut allergy, among other things. Our family entered a new reality that day, one I still don’t like. I pray boldly, asking God to take this burden away from us, to protect and heal our daughter. While I pray, though, I understand that even more than this, I want God to stay close with us. I want to remember what He’s already done for me. I want to praise Him still, knowing that come what may, He is God, the blood of Christ saved me, and victory is mine. 

Remember God is With You

Whatever struggles you are facing, I encourage you to take hold of the big picture. Draw near to him and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8) I will end this post with Natalie Grant’s song “More Than Anything.” I hope this beautiful song comforts you and reminds you of God’s presence and redeeming love.

 

 

Will You Take the One Word Challenge This Year?

Will You Take the One Word Challenge This Year?

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

Have you heard of the “One Word Challenge?” It’s not really a challenge so much as a focus. You choose one word to be your focus for the year. As a Christian, this word is so special when it comes after much prayer and with a focus on spiritual things.

“Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. ~ Colossians 3:2

colossians-3_2

This is my fifth year to do this challenge. Each year, God has revealed the perfect word for me.

There are many ways to approach your word for the year. You can use your word to inspire different goals. You could do a word study through the Bible on your word, or even find different books and podcasts for more inspiration. Over these last few years I’ve discovered my favorite approach:

Give God the ropes. 

Once I determine my word I like to let God take it from there. It is amazing how he orchestrates my situations so that I can learn more. For example, one year my word was grace. Our ladies’ bible class topic turned out to be on the book of James, which is laced in a message of grace. I spent my summer doing a personal study on James, and then we moved to a different church. Guess what their ladies’ bible class was studying? You guessed it–James. It was as if God knew how badly I needed the message.

The year I chose joy for my word still gives me chills. It was that August we discovered my husband had testicular cancer. We had several months of surgery, recovery, and many tests. I’d been praying about joy all year though. When I was anxious I would listen to songs like Chris Tomlin’s “Whom Shall I Fear,” and I found joy–true joy. Thankfully the surgery removed the cancer, and my husband has remained cancer-free! But experiencing joy amidst scary and unknown circumstances is tough, and I’m so thankful for the way God helped me grow that year.

This past year has been the most exciting! Out of pure faith, I chose the word hope. Believe me, I did not want this word. For some reason, the Lord put it on my heart. God showed me much about hope, but the greatest excitement was finding out just days before Christmas that I was pregnant after dealing with minor infertility issues for most of the year. God is good, and year after year God has shown me his faithfulness through my word challenges.

I enjoy giving God control and seeing where he’ll take me, but I do seek out inspiration along the way as well. Apart from prayer here are some other ways I’ve focused on my one word:

  • At the beginning of the year I look for a few key verses to meditate on which relate to my word.
  • Find a special way to keep the word nearby. This past year, I found a tea bag rest that had my word–hope–on it. Seeing that nearly every day was a gentle reminder.
  • Make a Pinterest board! Fill it with quotes, verses, articles, and pictures that will fill you with inspiration. Don’t forget to check in and browse your board every now and then.
  • Be on the lookout for books, Bible stories, and Bible studies that relate to your word. (This is something I pray about, asking God to put the right material in my hands.)
  • Make a playlist of Christian songs that remind you of your word.

The One Word Challenge has truly been a blessing for my soul. I grow in new ways each year and I’m so excited to see what God will show me this year!

You might be thinking, “This all sounds great but New Year’s Day has passed and it’s too late to start this challenge.” No way! Last year it was almost the end of January before I committed to my word. (Remember when I said I didn’t want the word hope? I spent a few weeks wrestling with God over that one!) So if you’d like to shift your goals to something simple but very meaningful, I encourage you to pray about it and see what God has in store for you!

Have you ever done the One Word Challenge? How has God revealed himself to you through it? I’d love to hear your testimonies in our comments!

What is your word for this year?

give-god-the-ropes

When Satan Attacks: God’s Armor as Protection

When Satan Attacks: God’s Armor as Protection

April E

April E

I grew up in Oklahoma and attended Oklahoma Christian University. Right after earning my degree in Music Education I moved to Germany to do mission work for 5 years. During those 5 years, I married my husband and we eventually became parents to our spunky daughter! We settled back in Oklahoma and added an energetic son to our family! I am now a stay-at-home mom who is still very passionate about mission work, Germany, singing, family, and most of all, my relationship with God.
April E

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Not “If” But “When” Satan Attacks

It’s not really a question of “if” but “when” Satan will try hard to fight against the plans of God. I felt like Satan was especially on the attack during the summer of 2015, when my family led a campaign to Germany. So many things didn’t go as planned or were frustrating, and it seemed like Satan was trying to ruin our excitement and efforts. But thankfully, we were able to use God’s strength to push through them.

when-satan-attacks-pin

As we prepared to leave for our trip overseas, a couple of things happened that were not in the plans. About a week or so before we left, we found termites in our house. Ugh! Thanks to a great friend and pest control guy, he was out quickly to get rid of those awful things. Then, only a couple days before we left, we had a strong rainstorm and our office ceiling started to leak. It was a holiday weekend, so of course no one was really open until THE DAY we were scheduled to leave on our trip.

Once again, friends stepped up to help. A friend knew a roofer and personally called and asked if they could come out as soon as possible. Thankfully, we weren’t leaving until later in the day. The roofing company came out first thing that morning, checked everything out, and fixed the leak. Thank you again, Lord! God showed us again that His plan was greater than Satan’s.

romans-8-vs-31

One Problem After Another

What, then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Romans 8:31-32

I felt like I actually got to see this verse face-to-face during that summer campaign. What a testimony to His goodness! One thing after another kept happening, yet God continued to work and allowed us to go on with the plans He gave us to do. We had a cancelled flight on the way to Germany, causing us to arrive one day late. I was feeling sick when we left and ended up going to the doctor in Germany for antibiotics. So, for the first couple of weeks of our trip I was without a singing voice. This was a problem since I was the music director and was also supposed to sing with the group!

One of our campaigners fell on some stairs and hurt his foot and needed to use crutches for a majority of the trip. My husband Clint got a bug bite or tick that got infected and had to take a strong dose of antibiotics in case it was Lyme disease. Clint also pulled his calf muscle at the end of our trip and needed crutches the last few days and for the trip home.

Realizing Satan was Behind the Attacks

Can you see why I feel so strongly that Satan was attacking us and trying to prevent the work we were trying to do? I’m thankful that in those moments, I realized it was Satan just trying to discourage us and prevent us from going on. That realization gave me the great motivation to not be discouraged, but to keep reaching for our goals and to do everything we could to ruin Satan’s plan.

ephesians-6-vs-11

Our Protection Against the Attack

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Ephesians 6:10-20

Fighting Back with the Armor of God

If we can acknowledge when Satan is attacking, we can fight back using the armor of God to protect us. God has given us this armor to protect us from evil and to keep us close to him. First, we have the belt of truth.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

imageJesus needs to be our first protection. He is the truth that gives our lives purpose. We need to trust in Him to fight our battles for us and to guide us through all evil.

Put on Your Breastplate and Shoes

The breastplate of righteousness protects our heart. We must make the decision every day to choose God’s righteousness over the evils of this world in order to protect our hearts from being overcome by darkness. The shoes of readiness could represent the need to stand firm in our faith and be ready to bring God’s gospel of peace to others.

How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!

Romans 10:15

Take Your Shield and Helmet

The shield of faith protects us from the flaming darts that Satan throws at us. Maybe those darts are doubts, worries, temptations, or difficult times. Whatever Satan hurls at us, we have to trust in God to be our protector and strength. The helmet of salvation is what helps sustain our confidence and assurance in our salvation through God. Satan wants to break our confidence in order to tear us away from God. Have you have had thoughts of doubt, worry, anxiety, and hopelessness start to take root in your mind out of nowhere? I know I do at times! I feel very strongly that these thoughts come specifically from Satan and this world’s evil forces. Praise God that He gives us so many promises of peace, hope, and love!

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

Don’t Forget the Sword

The sword of the Spirit is God’s Word, which the Holy Spirit led men to write these divinely inspired words. We must continue to go to the scriptures to learn how to navigate through all of Satan’s attacks. By strengthening our knowledge of God, it will bring us closer to Him. Other ways we fight against Satan’s attacks are praying in the Spirit. Let the Spirit speak through our prayers by listening and keeping alert with all perseverance. Ephesians also says that we should be in supplication for all the saints. It’s important we encourage each other and pray for one another in times when we are under attack. If we share with one another when we are attacked, we will have our brothers and sisters to lean on and fight with us.

Have you ever felt like Satan was attacking you?

How did you fight against these attacks?

I would love to hear how God helped you through these times!

Embracing His Love

Embracing His Love

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

Last Thanksgiving my husband’s parents generously hosted Thanksgiving at a condo in Branson so that we could enjoy the holiday festivities at Silver Dollar City. It was truly a wonderful idea! We were very excited about taking our then two-year-old daughter to experience such a fun place!

embracing-his-love-pin

It just so happened that Silver Dollar City’s holiday hours were a tad bit inconvenient for our daughter’s nap schedule and so we went in the evening, a time that is usually not her happiest. In addition the crowds were heavy, which meant we couldn’t let her toddle around very much, and it was so, so cold. As you can imagine, she wasn’t very happy. She cried and cried. My husband’s sweet parents soon took her back to the condo where she could play in a more comfortable setting.

Of course, we were not angry with her for causing stress on our delightful plans. We could see her tiredness and frustration. Understanding her limits as a toddler, we had compassion for her. (As a side note, we really had a great trip and thankfully everyone was able to have a fun time. We just had to work around the limitations of our young daughter!)

The Lord’s Compassion

Psalm 103:8-14 says:

“The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens of the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.”

psalm-103

Do you ever feel distraught over your mistakes? Perhaps you were given a wonderful opportunity to do something marvelous but ended up making a mess of everything. In these times it can be easy to let fear and embarrassment keep us from approaching our Heavenly Father. We might even back away from our church family. It is so easy to be overcome by our pride and insecurity. How easy it is to forget that God loves us as a father does his children, that he understands our limits and frailties.

I’m reminded of the prodigal son. He begged for his inheritance money and foolishly blew it all on worthless things while living a lazy lifestyle. When he humbly returned home with the plan to work as a servant, his father RAN to him and threw him a large party. His son’s return filled him with joy! Christ explained that God’s enthusiasm is the same when one of his precious children returns to him.

Embracing God’s Love and Presence

Our Father God is rich in love for us. We must be kind to ourselves when we mess up. We should humbly seek him at even our most shameful times. He understands. He will welcome us! When we rest in His love for us, we will be able to move past our mistakes and shortcomings. We can dare to do great things for Him without worry and doubt in our way!

So be encouraged, sweet friend! How freeing it feels to know the pressure to be perfect can dissipate when we truly embrace that we are His child, whom he dearly loves.

I love the music video for Andrew Peterson’s song “Be Kind To Yourself.”.” Two of his children are featured in the video with him, and the affirming words of his unconditional love for them are a gentle reflection of God’s love for us. I hope it will encourage you today if you are struggling with insecurity or past mistakes. God loves you so deeply! Embrace his presence today!

Click HERE to watch “Be Kind to Yourself”.

*A discussion topic found in The Lifegiving Table Experience by Sally Clarkson inspired this post.

 

you-belong-to-me

 

A Refuge of Hope for the Struggling Soul

A Refuge of Hope for the Struggling Soul

Melissa W

Melissa W

Melissa is an Okie with a Texas heart. She is a wife and a mother of three - two boys and a girl (the girl being squished right in the middle). After having taught in the classroom for 8 years, she now happily finds herself as a stay-at-home homeschool mom living life on her little 1 1/2 acre homestead raising chickens, two goats and a small garden. In any spare time, she enjoys leisure reading and also enjoys writing on her blog (chroniclesofakeeper.com). Out of all the little adventures of life - her greatest joy is found in her relationship with God. Walking in His grace, living in His peace and resting in His redemption is something she is very passionate about sharing with others.
Melissa W

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To understand Him is to understand hope. To understand His gift of mercy is to understand His gift of grace. To understand our continued state of rescue is to understand our place of refuge. 

Abide.

Lately, nothing soothes my heart and mind more than the moments where I find myself sitting still and abiding with my Lord. There, I draw comfort and strength. I focus on Him and who He is as Father, Son, and Spirit. In the place of full abiding is where I can breathe Him in, refreshing and perfectly good.

Abide in His refuge.

Who He is completely captures me. Though I should want to recoil in shame, I am nonetheless drawn into His presence fully aware of the grace and mercy covering me. The very essence of my continued rescue is found in those moments when I rest in Him, and the exceptional standard of hope that is found in Him is given during these moments. Words from the Psalmist come to mind as I recall the image of refuge, a refuge found in those moments of abiding.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

Psalm 46:1-3

Abide in His Dwelling Place

The Throne Room of Heaven, the Holy of Holies. It is a place to where I move beyond seeking escape. It is a place where I can come to Him and it is intimate, beautiful, and holy. Holding fast to Jesus, I can enter His presence with reverence and with rest. This combination of feelings produces an attitude which depicts the place of His dwelling. Here grace envelops me all the more, so wherever sin has tempted and tried…sin finds full defeat.

Abide in the Rescuer

Through the God-Son, there is no manner of sin that was not defeated through His perfection, through His death, and through His resurrection. So, in all the ways fleshly desires hound us and in all the way sin’s aroma seeks to draw us in, we can hold fast to the knowledge of a Rescuer who felt the same temptations and conquered them.  His accomplishments over–not just the very nature of sin, but as well as its enticing, tempting ways–are a victory we can claim. This continued state of rescue is what heals, strengthens, humbles, and produces an immense sense of awe.

“Therefore, since we have such a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:14-16

 

Abide in Jesus

Maybe, like me, you sometimes feel the heaviness of struggle. Perhaps you empathize with Paul when he said, “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” There is hope. For the believer, hold firmly to Him. Approach the throne of grace with the confidence you have as one who has been redeemed by, and through, Jesus Christ. He is our help and our refuge in time of need, in time of temptation and struggle. His grace binds us to Him completely. Hold on to that and find rest in Him. While on this side of heaven we are not free from temptation, but we are free from its chains–through Christ alone. Abide in Him, for in Christ our holiness is found.

 Teach my song to rise to YouWhen temptation comes my wayAnd when I cannot stand I'll fall on YouJesus, You're my hope and stay.Lord I Need You (Matt Maher)
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