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Jul 29, 2012

Refuse to be a Grasshopper...

FAITH...

Child-like faith is an amazing thing. I am privileged to have been a part of 2 kids/jr youth camps this summer. Watching those kids (aged 6/7-12ish) worship alongside some amazing JR youth leaders (13+) and their counsellors/lead staff (16+?) is a joy to my heart. They just believe in their heart all that is told to them about JESUS and His love for us. He doesn't have to prove alot, they just have to see it lived out in those around them. They sing from their hearts, and worship God in their own way, whether it be with clapping, dancing, standing, sitting, cheering, shouting, or being still. My passion for children's ministry and imparting into their lives is definitely deepening into much more... I am excited to see where God is taking me as well in this adventure. Living out the 'life verse' found in Psalm 78:1-8 {mostly verse 4 "We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done." & verse 6-7 "That the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments;"}

God does indeed have BIG plans for us (no matter what our age is). Some of us have been Christians since we were little (like myself), and some of us just became Christians maybe even just today. God is never finished with us... if we are still breathing and living, God has plans for us. :) So why is it we feel like GRASSHOPPERS at times??


A grasshopper just hops aimlessly through a field, and blends in with the grass... he's a grass hopper. One who travels aimlessly through their life blending in with the world around him... just waiting for a 'GIANT' to come along and either catch him, step on him, disect him, or maybe even eat him. Do YOU want to be a Grasshopper??

The Israelites saw themselves as grasshoppers, and went by what they could see and feel, instead of using the faith they had in their God. (Well all except two faithful ones, Joshua & Caleb.) Here's the 'historical facts' found in Numbers 13; God told Moses to send out spies into the promised land, the land of Canaan. God told him to send out one man from each of the tribes of Israel. There were 12 in total, and they went to spy out the land. They were to see;
* what the land is like
* whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many
* whether the land is good or bad
* whether the cities are like camps or strongholds
* whether the land is rich or poor
* whether there are forests or not

He instructed them to BE OF GOOD COURAGE and bring back some of the fruit of the land, because it was the season for the first ripe grapes.

So according to the 'historical account', it says they returned with a cluster of grapes and some pomegranates & figs, and said in Numbers 13:27, “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. v. 28 Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. v. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.” But thankfully Caleb stepped up and said in v. 30, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it. Caleb and Joshua were the only ones to come back with a good report, for the other 10 men replied in verse 31, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we." 32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Telling the others that there were giants, and that they are stronger than them, and that they are like grasshoppers in their sight would not be an encouraging word to Moses and the other Israelites. Moses' instruction (from God) was to 'BE OF GOOD COURAGE'... these words don't sound very courageous to me. The fact of the matter is that they saw themselves as 'grasshoppers'. We are not to live by what we see or feel, we are to live and walk by our faith. The faith that we have in Jesus to receive the inheritance that He has promised to us.

Canaan was the 'promised land', the land flowing of milk and honey. God had led them this far, only for them to walk by fear and not by faith. If something is 'promised' to you, that means that it is yours. (usually) A promise from God would be more reliable than a promise from man. {as I remember a promise made to me when I was little, by a little boy that he was going to marry me - and then hearing the news that he was getting married on New Year's Eve several years ago was kind of disheartening, but slam, reality!! - seriously who keeps their childhood promises?? (still love you like a brother, you know who you are). But I'm definitely happy for whom I did marry! Love you Mark!} Sometimes however, we need to do some work to receive that promise. It doesn't always come easy, but if it's promised, it usually does come. :) The Israelites just had to obey God and walk out in the PROMISE that He had given them.

Why do we always question God? Why does God always have to prove Himself for us to listen? Why do we usually rely on the circumstances around us; what we see & feel, rather than Him and His Word? Why do we need to KNOW everything before we act? Why do we not always fully receive that which He has promised us? Why does our faith seem to grow 'weaker' with age... and not remain child-like, believing God will do what He says He will do?

We need to press through, and contend for the harvest or that which He has promised to us. We need to REFUSE TO BE GRASSHOPPERS. We shouldn't see ourselves as grasshoppers, nor should we allow others to see us as grasshoppers.

Step out of your comfort zone and step into the comfort of Jesus' love as you walk out blindly in an adventure with Him. Trusting Him alone in all that you do! For according to another one of my 'life verses' if you "trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, He will direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Refuse to be a GRASSHOPPER... and be a FAITH-GIANT! :D Remember NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!

Check out this song that we sang at both camps:


Be blessed & be a blessing!

Jul 3, 2012

FAITH...

'FAITH' is such an easy word to say, and an easy word to use in a sentence, especially at church or in circles of Christian friends. But bring up the word in a crowd of non-believers, and I'm sure alot of different viewpoints will be brought forward. Most times they would first think of their 'faith', what religion or religious beliefs they have (or don't have for that matter). Their first initial thought, probably wouldn't be a thought, they probably won't even think before they speak, they would speak out in regards to 'keep your #!@* faith to yourself'. I am and have been a CHRISTIAN for over 32+ years now. I always thought I was around 5 when I accepted Jesus as my Saviour, when I invited Him into my heart. My 'faith' is important to me, meaning my relationship with Jesus, and what I believe in. True Christianity is not a religion, or based on certain beliefs or creeds, it is just simply a personal relationship with JESUS. There are indeed more 'Do's' than 'Don't's' in the Bible.

This is not the kind of 'Faith' that I am talking about... the faith I am talking about is more of a 'VERB' to me, than a 'noun'. But the only faith found in the dictionary is viewed as a noun. Here is the definition of 'faith' according to Dictionary.com;

"Faith
noun
1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.
2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith."
I am focusing on #'s 1 and 2 above... faith (a confidence or trust) in GOD and faith that is a belief that is not based on proof. FAITH itself is actually a VERB like LOVE is. There are many different viewpoints on living out one's faith, and proving to the world and yourself (and to God) that you are FAITHFUL. We need to live out each day, taking one STEP of faith towards the future that God has called us to. Each step of FAITH, shows us more and more of the staircase ahead of us. God and only God Himself can see the entire staircase, what obstacles might be sitting on those stairs, and where those stairs can lead us.

There are sooooo many quotes on 'faith' out there, and I have quoted a few below that have touched my heart and spirit (today while I was searching Pinterest & Google).
"Faith is seeing the light with your heart when all your eyes see is the darkness ahead".
"Faith in God includes faith in His timing." Neal A. Maxwell
"Faith is not believing God can, it's knowing that He will!"
"...to get something you've never had, you need to do something you have never done."
"Having Faith often means doing what others see as crazy." Francis Chan
"FAITH : Sees the Invisible; Believes the Unbelievable; Receives the Impossible." Corrie Ten Boom
"Continue to plant seeds of trust and faith, they will bear great fruit!"
"Hope is the ability to hear the music of tomorrow; Faith is the courage to dance to it today!"
"Faith is to believe what you do not yet see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe." St Augustine
"The more you WORRY & STRESS, the more it shows how much faith you lack."
"WHEN YOU HAVE COME TO THE EDGE of all light that you know and are about to drop off into the darkness of the unknown FAITH IS KNOWING one of two things will happen: there will be something solid to stand on or YOU WILL BE TAUGHT TO FLY." -Edward Teller/Patrick Overton
"When walking through the 'valley of shadows', remember a shadow is always cast by a Light." John Lancaster Spalding

Here's a cool video I found on YouTube (through Pinterest) with many different 'faith' quotes -



Now obviously, the best VIEW to take, and the best place to find QUOTES on faith, is in the Bible. The Bible is God's word directly and indirectly. There are ALOT of verses on faith, and you can google those, or look them up in a concordance, but today I am going to again focus on just a few.

* Hebrews 11:1 -- "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

* 2 Corinth 5:7 --"(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

* Matt 9:22 -- "But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour."

Now, there are certain situations that come up in life, in a Christian's life and a Non-Christian of course. However the Christian has been given a sure-fire escape... not to the problem, but to getting a solution to the problem. A Christian's life is and never has been promised to be easy, but God is always there to help us through the 'storms' of life. He's more than just an umbrella though. Too often, we place God in a closet like our umbrellas, using it in times of 'storms'. But we never take our umbrellas with us on a sunny day, because people will laugh at us and think we are crazy. But in times like this, we must remember Francis Chan's quote above; "Having Faith often means doing what others see as crazy." I have heard of a story where a 'farming' church was in a time of drought, and they all needed rain, so they decided to have a prayer meeting at the church to pray for rain. One little girl brought a red umbrella with her, and she sat in the front row. The pastor went up to start the service, and he saw the little girl. He spoke to the congregation as his heart broke, and said something like, we all came to pray for rain, but this little girl brought her umbrella because she has faith that God will do what we ask. They had all come to pray for rain, but she had come expecting God to answer with the needed rain.

That story has always hit home to me, as I have grown through my Christian walk from that innocent five year old. The Bible says, we are to have 'child-like faith', and my 'faith' (verb) has always been a BIG part of my life. Yes, I have had troubles. Yes, I have walked through storms and deserts, or what seemed like storms or deserts. (They were more like puddles or ant-hills probably.) No, I'm sure they weren't as bad as others have had to succumb to. No, my faith wasn't always 'super strong', but Yes, my God did come through. There are things in life that we all desire and dream and wish for... through the years, our wishes, dreams and desires change...

Maybe like me, you wished for a puppy or a kitty cat... (or a hamster)
Maybe like me, you wished you could have your own Cabbage Patch Kid... (or other popular toy)
Maybe like me, you wished you could go to Disneyworld... to explore and see the things of the movies that you loved to watch as a little child with your family.
Maybe like me, you wished you could be a GREAT teacher like the ones that taught, equipped, trained, invested & loved me...
Maybe like me, you dreamed/wished for the 'cute boy' to look your way... or to have 'that boy' be 'the one'...
Maybe like me,  you wished that God would NOT send you away to Africa on a mission trip. (Check out the song, 'Please Don't Send Me to Africa' by Scott Wesley Brown)
Maybe like me, you dreamed that God was going to give you 'twins'...
Maybe like me, you wished you could meet and marry the man (or woman -if you are a man) of your dreams, and you would have a nice home (which you could always have open to strangers, family & friends - cause that's the way your home was when you were little), and you would raise little 'angels' to grow up in the love and admonition of God as you were in your home.
Maybe like me, you dreamed about your future...

Maybe NOT like me, you didn't have a 'family' that was 'perfect' like you thought your friend's family was, and you wanted to experience a home with a loving Dad & a Mom, that were married, and stayed married.
Maybe NOT like me, you dreamed and wished you could get out of trouble, and get out of drugs, sex, drinking, smoking...
Maybe NOT like me, you wished you were dead...

There is just ONE thing that could make all these desires/dreams/wishes/goals happen... and no, it's not pixie dust... but if you find some, give it a try, while you seek God and have FAITH. There is also a point to the above dreams and wishes... some good and some bad. God has to be in those plans. If those are not the plans He has for you, then you are much better off waiting for the plans He has for you. Sometimes we think that God didn't hear our prayers, or that He doesn't want to answer. God doesn't leave you with 'empty hands', He is preparing you to fill them with things that are BEYOND even our 'wildest' imaginings or dreams. (see Eph. 3:20)

Now don't get me wrong, some of the above dreams are great... and of course some of them have come 'true'...

* I had a LOT of pets growing up; a scotty dog named Scottie of course, was one of my favourites and a Calico cat named 'Buttons' was another fav'. But we did have responsibility when it came to receiving these wishes and dreams. We had to make sure they were watered, fed, walked, played with, in the house, out of the house, not scratching Mommy's furniture... LOL! I had hamsters that ran through our heat vents... eek!
But we received the dream, and when we get another 'home of our own' I plan on getting another pet to show love to.

* I had some special Cabbage Patch Kids (and I still own them) - Roger Bernard, Arlene Lilly, Felice Lynette and of course my homemade one Meagan Amy. My Mom created (or had someone create) Meagan Amy for me, and she is just as special as a real Cabbage Patch Kid. We weren't rich by any means (financially), but Mom and Dad gave us some of the toys we desired. But I was happy with 'no-name' brand items and clothes. You respect what you are given, when you know how much trouble it is to get it. :)


Some DREAMS you have to WAIT for... and wait a long time... DisneyWorld was one of those dreams. Now don't get me wrong, we did take family trips, and a lot of them, and I enjoyed all of them, and enjoyed the times and memories we made together. We travelled to BC on a few different occasions. We travelled 'down home' to Maxville/Glengarry area. We went to Canada's Wonderland, MarineLand, and more... but I never got to go to DisneyWorld with my Mom & Dad (& brother). My brother went to Florida with my Mom and family. But I wasn't bitter, nor was I mad... I just hoped that I would get to go there someday... and that day DID come... in 2003 when I was 28 years old. Mark took me there on our honeymoon... what a special memory-making time that was. I would love to go again, now that I have experienced it... and would love for my Mom & Dad to come too. :)

Some DREAMS God needs time to prepare you for... like 'teaching'... but I began my 'children's ministry' at the age of 11... when I started babysitting. Since I was 11, children have been a major part of my life. WOW! I know that God was indeed preparing me for what was to come... as I now have babysat, taught, trained, led, equipped, invested into MANY different lives from infants all the way up to teenagers. (and they are more similar than you may think) LOL! Teaching is a passion of mine, and I believe it was because of the relationships that I had with church teachers, babysitters, school teachers and leaders. God was preparing ME to do GREAT things for His glory through the generations behind me.
Some DREAMS & WISHES seem to be unanswered (or not answered 'right' according to us)... like the 'cute boy' (or girl if you are a boy). Now don't get me wrong, there were A LOT of cute boys in my life, and thankfully I was friends with most of them anyway, so I wasn't TOO upset that I couldn't 'date' them. Different times I caught myself praying to God for a certain someone... and then they would date someone else (or worse one of my friends)... or they would marry someone else... and there I would be 'alone' again. But when you give those hearts desires over to God, He comes through in HIS timing. You need faith to know that GOD IS. Of course, you try things in your own 'strength'... and phew, God helps you out of those choices too. Thank you Lord!! Of course, God has granted me more than my hearts desire in Mark... a heart for God most importantly, a heart of worship, a heart for kids/teens, a 'kid-at-heart', and of course my knight in shining armour! :) But we do need to remember, God is still 'answering' our prayers, whether or not its a definite 'yes', or 'no', because sometimes it's a 'wait, not yet'. There is a song out by Garth Brooks called 'Unanswered Prayers'. It speaks of the lives that could have been, the man went to his high school reunion/football game and saw his old High School flame, the one he cried out to God for back in High School. Then he looked at his own beautiful wife that God had given to him, and he thanked God for his unanswerd prayers, because if God answered his prayers with a 'yes', then he wouldn't have had the woman, or the kids, or the life that he had. "just because He doesn't answer, doesn't mean that He doesn't care..."


Some WISHES or DESIRES are altered... and through the hand of God are changed to be formed into His plan for your life. Africa was always a great place to hear about, to see and hear from different missionaries that went there, lived there and came to share at our churches. The little faces always broke my heart, and I didn't feel ever like I was led to go away on mission trips like some of my other friends... BUT, according to God I was to be a part of a Mission Trip. (Originally I was to go on one just before we were married in 2003 to Kyrgyzstan, Russia - but I stepped out of it due to the planning of my wedding, and I was still kind of unsure about mission trips.) In the Fall of 2009, Mark & I were blessed to be part of a mission team that went to Kigali, Rwanda, Africa for two weeks. It was a life-changing experience for sure, and now it is something that I would love to be a part of again... but maybe I was only meant for one... or maybe God has BIGGER plans for Mark & I in Rwanda.

Some DREAMS, DESIRES, WISHES, HOPES are hard to wait for... seem hard to believe that they will actually happen... seem hard to imagine that will actually come about... but that is when your FAITH is put to a test. That is when you have to PROVE that your FAITH can overcome ANY obstacle. That YOUR GOD is FAITHFUL and WILL DO what He says He will do. No matter how much time, no matter how BIG your dream seems, no matter if those around you (even Christians) tell you to choose to do it other ways... YOU CAN KNOW in your KNOWER that God is going to come through. He will be faithful to do what He says He will do!! Some of your DREAMS are altered a little, and ones like wishing for a child or a family of children can be answered when you are able to touch the lives of many children (through teaching like mentioned above). Spiritual children are those who are under your teaching and training, and those to whom you have planted seeds, watered them, and even harvested... BUT, somehow you KNOW that God has promised in the way that GOD says He will do. Do you give up the faith and again try it in 'your own strength'... do you stand in the gap and choose a fantastic adoption agency (because after all God did give us the adoption agencies, and wants those kids to have homes too)... do you travel to an orphanage to be there with several orphans and love on them (because they are important too, and God wants them to be loved)... or can you sit back KNOWING that God will come through with what He says He will do. It's easy to 'wait' for a puppy, or a doll, or even for a trip to DISNEY... it's easy when God says 'go' to Africa... it's easy when you have the gifts, talents, patience, passion & heart to teach, train play with & love children of all ages, no matter where you are, or who's kids they are, if they are 'dirty' or 'clean'... it's easy when through a 'blind date' (something you told God you would never do) that you meet the 'man of your dreams'...

... but why does it not seem 'easy' to trust God with your 'future'? Why does it not seem 'easy' when you see others around you having lots of babies (some of whom totally 'suck' as parents who swear, curse, & abuse, etc the gifts that God has given them), but even in 'upset' times your faith can HOLD STRONG... Why does it 'feel easy' because you know your FAITH is strong, yet it can easily seem to be 'undone' by others comments about 'there's always adoption' or 'maybe you two are just choosing not to have kids' or 'maybe its not God's plan' or 'well, you are getting up there'... or 'well Jesus is coming back soon, so you don't need to worry about it, cause you'll never be able to watch them grow up'... etc, etc. BUT, Why can it be 'easy' to remember the stories and truths found in the Word of God like Abraham & Sarah (who were way past conceiving age) who were given a child (and they became the FATHER of many nations). Abraham could have 'listened to the words of those around him' (not adding to the Bible, but comparing it to our lives) and saw that 'being the Father of many nations' being a 'spiritual father' was the plan that God had for him and Sarah. Sarah even herself laughed at the thought of her having a baby. They could have just left it there, and said 'thanks God'... But did they give up faith, or did they stick to the Word of the Lord that they heard from the servant of God? What happened? Isaac was born... and yes, I do know the rest of the story, Abraham was asked to sacrifice that which he had waited so long for. But, yes I do know the END of that story, God PROVIDED when Abraham walked in obedience and FAITH that God would PROVIDE! And Isaac became the father of another GREAT MAN of God - Jacob. :)  -- Then, there's the story of Hannah who cried out, and God heard her cries, and Samuel was born 'for such a time as this'. There are MANY stories of the faithfulness of God shown to those who were faithful and believed in their God. Why is it NOT easy for other 'Christians' to be proud of us in our 'faith' - to stand behind us in prayer?

As a child I grew up hearing the stories (historical facts) found in the Bible. They were not just stories to me. Each of the words in the Bible are there for a reason. God wanted them there to teach us and help us in our times of happiness and joy, yet even in sorrow and despair. God gave us Scripture so that we may learn it and utilize it in our lives. Memorizing Scriptures and Bible truths have been a part of both our lives. Mark's life verse (one of them) is 'Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.' Matthew 6:33 One of mine is, 'Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths (or make your paths straight).' Proverbs 3:5-6 This verse is one that I have clung to throughout my life. It's not about us, nor is it up to us. We are NOT to lean on our own understanding. We are not to care how old, or how equipped we are, or if we even understand it all; if we are called by God, we are just to 'trust Him' and 'acknowledge Him' and to 'seek Him above all else', and He WILL direct our paths. The paths that lead to fulfillment through Him.

There is a MOVIE out called 'Facing the Giants', and the story is a tear-jerker, yet has a GREAT storyline for men & women alike. It is written, directed and produced by the Kendrick Brothers (same as the newer story COURAGEOUS). The family in the movie are faced by a lot of 'giants', things that are obstacles to them receiving the fulness of God. However, they are a family of 'faith'. They come to different problems in their family life, in their home, and in their careers. Different sized and shaped giants come out of nowhere, and try to bring them down. BUT GOD... those two words make a difference in anyone's life. Now I won't ruin the story, because I hate hearing too much of a story before I have seen it... but their life motto becomes 'If we win, we will praise Him; but if we lose, we will still praise Him'. That is the way that Mark and I are choosing to live our life, in all the areas of our life. God has BLESSED us in so many ways, and we have sowed financially and spiritually, and physically, and He will continue to bless us in ways that we cannot even IMAGINE or DREAM... those are the DREAMS I am waiting for, those are the WISHES & DESIRES that I want to see come to fruition in our lives. GOD's PLAN for us... whatever that may be.

When 'little giants' come into play or times that seem like a 'storm' or a 'desert', like a sore throat/summer cold... or an infected finger... or job mini-crisises... I remember that GOD IS. When we WIN, we will praise Him, but when we LOSE we will still praise Him!! (Just like the story of JOB... another great story in the Bible.)

Here are two trailers: one for 'Facing the Giants' and one for 'Faith Like Potatoes'... in Facing the Giants, the main character tells those around him that if you want rain, you gotta prepare your fields for rain. In 'Faith Like Potatoes' he doesnt just prepare his fields, he plants the seeds too... a true act of faith. So I thank God for His TIMING, and His time of preparation, and know that DREAMS can be fulfilled if they are in line with the Dreams that HE has for us.

Facing the Giants - trailer


Fath Like Potatoes - trailer



Now the last three dreams mentioned above, the ones that I personally didn't have, but I know some of you did... GOD can and will help you through those if you let Him. He CAN restore broken homes, and broken famillies... He CAN and WILL get you out of bad habits and FREE you from evil... and He is the giver of LIFE not death!

May God bless you as you walk out your own FAITH, and TRUST in Him!!

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