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Colossians 3:15—the end of this verse is my favorite line in the Bible:
“And be thankful.”
Thanksgiving is a command. This is an imperative statement. It is saying, “And you, be thankful.” I believe we are commanded by God to be thankful.
I often think of thankfulness as thoughtfulness. Thankfulness and thoughtfulness go together. The Word of God tells us to think of others above ourselves. We should in fact think other people are more important than ourselves (see Philippians 2:3–4). But how often do we do that? We fight to get through traffic. We fight to be first in line. We run into the restaurant to cut someone off so maybe we can get seated three minutes before they can. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been passed on the highway only to catch up with the person who almost caused a wreck a few minutes earlier.
I think when we are thoughtful and thinking about someone else deeply—about what they have done for us or the sacrifice they have made—it evokes an overwhelmingly thankful heart. Is it thankfulness or thoughtfulness? Regardless, thoughtfulness is the root of thankfulness every time.
My cousin is on her honeymoon right now. Because I helped her plan her honeymoon, she sent me the sweetest message. She is on the final night of her honeymoon. What is going on in her mind that she would send me a text on the final night of her honeymoon? Really! The two of them were thinking about this trip and how amazing it was, so they began to be thankful for the person who helped them plan it. Here is her message:

It’s our last night. I checked in online. We are freshening up to go to the fire and then the pool. We have had the time of our lives. There have been many times I thought I needed to be pinched because everything is so perfect here. We have laughed endlessly. Thank you for booking our vacation. Thanks to you, we have had the best honeymoon imaginable. I am so thankful to have a great cousin like you. I love you. You are a prayer warrior. The weather has been incredible. God is good. We are sure this trip is a start to a very happy marriage. Thank you.

When we are mindful and thoughtful of others and we consider what they have sacrificed or what they have given, it always results in thanksgiving. The Bible tells us that in the end times, people will be lovers of themselves. They won’t be thankful because when you love yourself more than anybody else, you are not thoughtful of the person next to you.
You cannot do anything about a person who is not thoughtful. But you can do something about you. You can be one who deeply considers the sacrifice of Jesus and what He has given. When we deeply consider what He gave—His body and His blood—and that He was naked on a cross, someone gambled over having His undergarment, and He was marred beyond human likeness for our sins, then we can become thankful to God.

Thank you, Father, that we have life. Thank you, Father, that I’m no longer a slave to sin because You have set me free. I’m no longer under the power of darkness. I’m in the power of light. It’s because of You and Your sacrifice.

Thankfulness always changes the game and your attitude. When you are thankful, you cannot remain anxious or depressed. You can’t stay there.
So here’s the challenge: Open up a journal, a notebook, sticky notes, a chalkboard, or whatever else works for you and compel yourself every day to write down what you are thankful for in the morning, at lunch, and in the afternoon. At the end of the week, I want you to see what has changed, what is different about you. Then share it with us. Come back to this blog post and tell us what is going on in your life.

Two Ways

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There are two ways we can minister: One is out of compassion in response to someone who’s hurting or something that we see. The second is out of the Spirit’s leading.

All too often, we minister out of compassion and not out of His leading. When the Spirit leads us, we will always see His power flow. 

What I love about the Original Design Youth Group is that they have been ministering out of the Holy Spirit’s leading. The week before they go out to minister, they ask the Lord to whom He wants them to give love. They write down clues and pictures that the Lord gives them. The following week, we worship and then go out to look for the people God described the previous week. 

These young students have learned the power of sitting and listening to the Lord and allowing His Spirit to lead them to minister and bring amazing encouragement, freedom, and healing!

Do you primarily minister out of compassion as a response to people, or are you leading from the Spirit’s prompting?

Temple Fitness

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Don’t be so focused on the physical that your eyes are not on the eternal. There is tremendous worship and spirituality in taking care of your temple because it’s God’s house.
But for so many people, it is all they talk about. 

All they think about is every meal and every detail. They are obsessed and consumed with: “I don’t eat this. I only eat that. I don’t do this. I do that. I flavor with this. I flavor with that.” I can see how people like me can be annoying to the rest of society because we do put a ton of focus on working out and eating a certain way.
We have to keep in mind that we are aliens in this world. This is not our home. We are not of this world. But if we don’t take care of our temple, we won’t be in this world, either. There is a good balance.

We constantly need to remember that it’s not what we put in our mouths that defines us; it is what comes out of our mouths. We need to be careful about how we talk. We need to be careful of our aggressiveness. I am so guilty of this—almost aggressively saying, “My way is the right and only way.” But it’s not loving or kind. If you are having to be aggressive and mean about something, then maybe your opinion is fueled by a lie or some wound or hurt you have been through that has made you mean and aggressive to anything mean or an opposition.
I want us to be eternally minded and make sure our focus is on God. If we eat something not on the plan, or if we have to eat something that isn’t hormone free, or if we need to eat a grain and we are on paleo, or if we have to eat a carb and we’re on a ketogenic diet, then we should recognize it is prayer over our food that cleanses it. It’s not the food itself. You cannot put your hope and faith in your food. It’s only emptiness. It’s going to come up empty every time.
So let us keep our minds on the eternal and not focus too much on the physical, because we are aliens in this world.

Out of the Pit: What to Do When You Are Discouraged

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When I am super discouraged or my hope is deferred, I am cautious of whom I talk to. I don’t want anyone speaking death over me, agreeing with what is going on, or giving me advice that contradicts the truth of the Word of God. Every time, I am very careful of whom I speak to and whom I lock arms with.

Everyone’s steadfastness in the Lord can have highs and lows—with moments of firm commitment and, other times, feelings of weakness. If I focus on my circumstances, I can easily become discouraged. When I focus on the face of Jesus, everything He paid for on the cross, and the truth of God’s Word, my hope can be revived. He has been faithful in the past and will be faithful today. He is faithful today, and He will be faithful tomorrow. My God is good, but sometimes I have to ask myself, “Do I really believe who God says He is? Do I believe it?”

What I do to get myself out of a pit—because I seem to be in one this morning—is start praying. I tell God how I really feel. I don’t hold back. I give Him all my ugly thoughts and all my ugly words. I give Him all my doubt and disappointment. I confess it all.

The next thing I do is start asking Him whom I could talk to, who could encourage me. I don’t need anybody to crawl into a pit with me because then we would both be stuck down low. I need someone who is up high and will encourage me with mercy, love, and truth. I need someone who will say, “That sucks, but God is really the only person or thing we can put our hope in.” I ask the Lord to bring someone to mind, or I simply listen and wait for peace. He will direct my steps if I ask Him. “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2 NIV). But if you seek Him, you will find Him.

Sometimes I don’t talk to anyone else. I let the Holy Spirit be my comforter. Today what came to mind was that I needed to call into a prayer line with beliefs similar to mine. I know, without a doubt, 100% of the time, they will strongly encourage me. They will agree with me in the truth and renew my hope. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and it is certain. It is absolutely resolved. It is believing for things that aren’t seen; it’s not visible. Man’s eye can’t see, but I am sure it is there.

I am reminded of the testimony of a man named Allen Moore. He had a stroke. He is not supposed to be able to walk or talk. His MRI to this date reveals that the part of his brain related to these abilities does not work. With man’s eye, it appears he should not be talking or walking, yet he does. I have met him personally, and he is walking and talking—living the unseen.

I start reminding myself of all the things God has done for me in my life and my family. I start reminding myself of the miracles and the power of God that have been on display in my life for years. As I do that, it encourages me. I am encouraging and sharpening myself in the Lord and in the truth. It awakens me and gives me hope. It gets rid of doubt. It doesn’t increase my faith, but it begins to smash out any doubt so my hope can be renewed. When my hope is renewed, faith is restored. Faith is present.

I can use my imagination in faith to see a part of my body completely healed and whole again. What would it look like the next time I can see it? I won’t look at it again until I have done this for a while and feel it is time.

When I fall into a pit, I do this to get out of it. How about you?

Being a Woman of God

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I had a God encounter. I spoke with a woman who loves the Lord with all her heart. We shared testimonies while we did some dishes. It was a random meet for only a moment between women a few generations apart.

She had lost her husband of thirty years. I began to weep at the thought of even starting to lose mine. All those little things I am nagging about—like his socks beside the bed and the protein powder he sprinkles but never wipes off the counter—started to grow faint. These are minor issues. They’re immaterial, really. Why does this type of thing bother me? Why does it nag me? Why do I have to open my mouth? Shut up. Shut up. I hear it repeating in my head. I would rather have those socks on the floor, and the protein powder on my counter than not have him there at all. Who cares about the house? It’s about people.

She told me her last words to him were, “Hey, you aren’t supposed to be doing that.” He was on doctor’s orders not to do certain things because his heart was fragile. She said she had to forgive him for doing things outside of what he was supposed to do because that was who he was. He didn’t want to be someone different. He didn’t want to live a different life.

I have been thinking about this nonstop. I thought that if we knew how to war in the name of Jesus Christ, then the dead would be raised up until they had long lives. When we are given a doctor’s report, we don’t have to receive it. We don’t have to receive the doctor’s report. We have to stand up in the name of Jesus Christ and receive the truth for our medicine, not a fact. I thought to myself, “If that happened to me, I would not only have to forgive my husband, but I would also have to forgive myself for not being the warrior that I was supposed to be, for not being someone so firmly established in the truth that facts don’t faze me.”

Truth is my fact. The truth should be my reality above everything else in this world. I do live in this world. I live in a body, but the truth is that I am a spirit. I am a spirit with God living in me. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in me. It does no good to have that power inside of me if I can’t use it in this world, if I can’t draw on it to help people. It does no good if I just receive all the dark, sick evil in this world. It does no good whatsoever.

I want to be a woman of God. I want to be a lioness arising, according to Lisa Bevere. I want to be a woman standing at the gate with my sword and refusing to let in any stealing, killing, and destroying. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in me, and I have been commissioned and called by God and given authority over darkness in the name of Jesus Christ.

I hope you have a God encounter today and a revelation that changes you forever. Stand up, ladies. Stand up, women of God. Stand firmly in the truth, knowing that this is a spiritual battle. It is not a battle in physical. It is won through the name of Jesus Christ.

Allow God’s Truth to Renew Your Stolen Life

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Let’s be real, life can be tough sometimes. We all have those moments where we feel like we’re stuck in a rut, or we’re not living up to our potential. Maybe you’ve gone through something traumatic, or you’re having trouble letting go of mistakes you’ve made in the past. No matter what, it’s easy to feel like your life has been stolen away.

Here’s the good news: God’s truth can renew your life! When you turn to Him and allow His truth to transform your thoughts and actions, you can break the chains that are holding you back and start living the life you were meant to live.

But what does it mean to allow God’s truth to renew our stolen lives?

It starts with giving our lives over to God and admitting that we can’t do it on our own. We have to be willing to let go of our past mistakes and flaws and let God work in us and through us.

It also means seeking out God’s Word in the Bible. It’s chock full of God’s truth, and the more you immerse yourself in it, the more you’ll begin to see the world through His eyes.

This is a big one: be assured that you’re loved. It can be hard to believe sometimes, but God sees you as His beloved child. When we know that we are loved by God and that nothing can separate us from that love, we are able to let go of our fears and doubts and begin to live in the freedom that comes from knowing Him.

We need to embrace the fact that we all make mistakes, because the beauty of God’s truth is that we don’t have to be defined by them. Choose to let go of your past mistakes and focus on the present and the future.

Of course, renewing our minds is not a one-time event. It’s an ongoing process that requires daily surrender to God and a willingness to let His truth shape our thoughts and actions.

So, if you’re feeling like life has been stolen from you, take heart! God’s truth can breathe new life into your situation and help you become the best version of yourself.

Dear New Driver

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Dear New Driver,

As much as Disney and Pixar want you to think your car has a personality, I hate to tell you this, but it doesn’t. You can name it. You can put eyelashes on it. You can put a girdle in front of it or decorate it with a tail on the back. You can call it by a name all day long, but your car does not have a personality. I’m so sorry. I apologize from the bottom of my heart that you have a friend you think is real and legit; it’s not.

Let me tell you this: since your car does not have a personality, it takes on your character. When you hop in the car, if you are happy, your car will be happy. If you are sad, your vehicle is going to be sad. If you are angry, your car is going to be angry. It will be blasting through traffic, flying around people, thoroughly annoyed. If you are in a hurry, your car will be fast. It didn’t turn into a sports car overnight. It’s not a Camaro. But you put that pedal to the metal and press it down because you need to get somewhere on time.

Just because you’re a new driver who can drive does not mean you have to. When you are in a hurry or distracted, asking your parents to drive you where you need to go is okay. Tell them, “I’m in a really big hurry, and I don’t want my car to be in a hurry,” or “I’m very upset right now. I’m afraid I won’t be able to drive through my tears,” or “I won’t be able to drive without anger.”

If you recognize that your car takes on your personality, you can stop it. You can say, “It’s not okay to drive an angry car around town because that could hurt people.” There are consequences to driving your car when you are emotional. When your vehicle is angry, you can end up in a wreck by hitting another car or someone walking on the sidewalk. Wouldn’t that be awful? That is horrible. You would have to live with it.

We don’t want to do that. We want to ensure we realize our car does not have a personality—but it takes on ours.

Awaken Me

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Ever feel dead to the things of God? Or feeling Asleep? Distracted? Unaware of his plans for the day or your life?

I have. It’s seems His voice is so quiet I can barely hear it. This is my hearts cry. Is it yours?

Awaken me to your gentle voice.
Awaken me to your endless hope.
Awaken bravery for your glory.
Awaken bones to run after you.
Awaken my heart to hurt when you do.
Awaken my hands to carry your love.
Awaken my voice to speak only what you speak.
Awaken my mind to think only what you think.
Awaken my soul to surrender to your spirit of life.
Awaken me today Lord.

Lost In A World Of Shiny Things

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I spent so much of my life trying to be happy, loved, and appreciated. I was like a little girl wandering around, and when I saw something shiny and beautiful, I would pick it up and make it my greatest treasure.

It’s easy to get caught up in the shiny things. But you know what? I’ve learned that the things in life that really matter aren’t things at all. Once I found my faith in God, I realized that all the things I had been chasing were just distractions and that my relationship with Him was the real treasure. It’s like the difference between a cheap trinket and a priceless gemstone.

I encourage you to ask yourself: What shiny thing are you holding on to? Is it worth the pursuit, or would you be better off putting your time and energy somewhere else?

What Happens When You’re Praying for A Miracle, And You Don’t Get It?

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There is not a day that there are not many prayer needs.

Did you know that the medical field is now the #1 business in our nation? People are sicker today than ever historically. We have huge opportunity to pray for the sick, but why are so many are too shy or scared to pray? Is it because:

  • You don’t know how to pray for the sick?
  • You think “What if they die?”
  • You have prayed before, and it didn’t work?
  • You are heartsick because you have lost someone you loved and needed?

First of all, I am so sorry if your heart is hurting because the people you loved are no longer here with you. I have experienced this pain.

In 2003, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. That was when I realized when I personally did not know God’s will. I did not know if it was his will to heal my mom or if it was her time to go. I sought God and his will like never did before. I read my bible round the clock, at the stop sign, waiting in parking lots. Every spare minute, my nose was in the word.

It was during that time that the Lord opened my eyes to John 10:10. It changed the entire direction of my life. “The thief came only to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come to give life and life abundantly.” You see, up to that point, I thought sickness and disease were just a part of life. I didn’t realize that that was a thief. But Jesus came that we could have life and life abundantly. Cancer is not abundant life. Sickness—if you talk to any sick person—you will find out that it is not abundant life. I realized at that time that I didn’t know the difference between God’s fingerprints and the thief’s. Because of that, I wasn’t able to resist the thief’s fingerprints. I was fearful of sickness because I didn’t understand God’s purpose for me was to have an abundant life.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.
-Proverbs 13:12

Still knowing this truth, I prayed for my mom night and day, but on February 6, 2006, I lost my mom. I was heartbroken. Did God not come through for my mom and me? Do I quit praying for others? How do I continue when the miracle didn’t come?

Most of us try to understand what happened? We come up with our own understanding and then with the best intentions share it with those who have lost have a deep loss, like it is somehow going to make it all better:

  • “It was just their time to go.”
  • “God needed them more than you do.”
  • “God just said, ‘No.’”
  • “God always takes the best. He gives and takes away.”
  • “In time, everything will be okay.”

None of this is helpful to a hurting soul.

But if this does not help, how then are we to respond?

Just do not try to make sense of it. We are not supposed to understand (Proverbs 3:5-6), but we are supposed to pray about everything so we can have the peace that is BETTER than understanding (Phil. 4:6-7). When we try to explain it, we put limits on God.

Stop trying to understand. Stop trying to explain why. You do not know or understand. In fact, Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to not even lean on your own understanding. There is something better than understanding, and you can find it in Philippians 4:6-7. It’s the peace of God that guards your heart and your mind!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:6-7

After we don’t see the miracle, many of us back off from praying because we feel inept. We wonder: “Does healing really work?” “Am I qualified to pray?” “Maybe I don’t have this gift.” When mom wasn’t healed, I felt unsure, and my questions caused me to stop praying for miracles for almost four months. It rocked my foundation because I was carrying the weight of the outcome. The burden was never mine to bear, but I did! Never allow your circumstances and own understanding to cause you to make up our own doctrine. The thief wants us to stop to shrink back, but all of God’s people should say, NO WAY – not today!

“But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he shrinks back, I will take no pleasure in him.”
– Hebrews 10:38

So what happens when you’re praying for a miracle, and you don’t get it?

Let’s say your father asks you to go fishing with him. Some of you are already cringing, but fishing isn’t about how many fish you catch, it’s about spending time with your dad. It’s like Father God has asked you to go on a mission trip with Him, and it’s not about how many souls you save or miracles you witness, it’s about doing it together.

Are you ready to join Him because He’s asked?

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
– Mark 16:15-18

We are supposed to share the good news gospel. Does this mean that every time we do, but people aren’t saved that we just quit? By no means! We are also supposed to place their hands on sick people. It doesn’t say, “You make them well.” The weight of the outcome was never meant to be on your shoulders.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
– Phil. 3:14

Believing isn’t seeing—it’s continuing to believe even when we do not see.

Since the loss of my mom, I began to pray for everyone, everywhere in every way, believing and knowing that God is for us. He is not against us. He is for us, not against us. He came to bring life and life abundantly. I was convicted that instead of praying, “Lord, if you will,” “If you are willing,” or “If it agrees with your will,” I knew God’s will at that time. I knew for sure that it was God’s will to bring abundant life. I begin to pray with that expectation. I know the Lord is bringing abundant life.

I prayed with someone who had a broken toe and it was healed immediately. I got to witness it. I prayed with someone that had one leg shorter than the other and their leg is perfectly healed and whole now. I’ve seen the power of God bringing abundant life, bringing healing. But I have also not seen it. I came upon an accident where a pedestrian had been hit in the street. I pulled over, jumped out of my car, ran up to her, laid hands over her, and prayed over her. She didn’t get up. Nothing changed. I heard from the news that she lived a day and a half. I don’t know how my prayer impacted her or anyone on the scene or if it did at all.

But faith isn’t seeing. Faith is not knowing. Faith believes even when you do not see. Faith is following God and doing his will even when you do not see the results and believing the results are happening somewhere regardless of what happens. Some miracles I’ve seen immediately, and other miracles I’ve seen nothing happen. When I prayed over someone’s eyes recently, nothing changed. They were still blurry; the symptoms were still fully present. But if I say, “Well, it didn’t work. It must not be God’s will,” if I lose heart and give up hope and give up faith just because nothing happened, it would be going in complete opposition of what I know God’s will is which is to give life and life abundantly.

So I press forward, running towards the goal, continuing to pray and believe in every single thing that I pray about because I know the Lord. He is good. I know he is a good father. He desires healing and miracles to happen. When the miraculous occurs, a crowd gathers because they want to know, they want to have a part of the power. So you prayed, but didn’t get the miracle right away; don’t stop, just believe. Never stop believing in a God who sent his son to die so you could have abundant life.