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You Are God's Creation - Guest Post by Ramelle T. Lee 

You Are God’s Creation 

By Ramelle T. Lee ©2017 

Meditation Scripture: (Psalm 139:14 KJV). 

 

“ I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 

Marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” 

 

YOU ARE VERY SPECIAL!    You are one of a kind!  You are unique in many ways. What has God done in your life?  Do you realize what He has uniquely done to make you so special?  You were born with something special and unique.  Your characteristics are not like anyone else. You are God’s unique creation.  You don’t really understand how wonderfully you were made. 

Have you ever taken the time to look in the mirror to see yourself as God sees you?  Are you happy with whom you have become?  Do you like who you are?  What are your thoughts and opinion of what you look like to God?  How do you feel?  It’s time that you discover who you are in God.  Keep your eyes opened to see who God has made you to become.  You are a miracle made in God’s image, His likeness.  You may not always feel significant, important or worthy.  However, you must get a new attitude and disposition about yourself.  It is time to come away from negative people who will destroy the true you!  Stay away from situations that will bring you down! 

God has planted or placed you in this world to be a part of His kingdom.  God can use you!  He wants you to help change lives.  He can work in your life if you let Him!  You can help others because there is something extra special about you.  You can give others hope. They will be lifted inspired and encouraged!  Your life will be a light to show them how to see Jesus.  They will learn of His power and work as you allow Him to work through you. 

You are unique and needed by the Lord.  Sure, you have experienced sorrow and hurts in your life that have caused you pain, suffering and grief.  But, God has kept you through every storm or hard-time.  No matter what Satan has done, God has been there for you.  He brought you through to be victorious! In God’s eyes, you are newly created!  You are a new person! God made you anew when you accepted His Son, Jesus Christ. You made the right choice to allow Jesus into your heart. 

Now, this has opened the door for Him to enter in to show you the way to live a better life. God has transformed your way of thinking.  Now, you can see Him more clearly.  As you read God’s Word in the Holy Bible, your life will ultimately change from the inside out. You will become reborn, changed and empowered with a brand new life in Christ!  The love of God will live inside of you.  He will lead and guide your every step. 

Realize that God has given you His power to further build your character. With His help, you will be able to tear down false images or thoughts of hopelessness.  You will see that they can interfere with who God has called you to become. When you were formed in your mother’s womb, God already had His hands on your life. 

You are somebody special to Him.  You were always created to share His love with people.  You have been chosen to be used by God. You have been given a mandate or godly orders to take God’s Word everywhere.  Stand for what is right, true and honest.  God has placed His Words in your heart.  You are equipped to share His love.  You can help those who are not living for God!  You have His power to reach out to those who are uncertain or unsure as to whom they are in Christ.  You can help them to discover who God has created them to become. 

Proudly serve God, the Almighty Master of the Universe.  Follow the Holy Spirit as He leads your life.  You will receive God’s blessings.  Every false thought or image of yourself will be destroyed!  You are God’s amazing creation! There is nobody like you!

 

Ramelle T. Lee is a poet, author of four books, speaker, businesswoman, radio co-host and a staff writer for The Lamp Newsletter.  In 2006, she founded Touching Your Heart Ministries to reach people who feel hopeless, deeply hurt, rejected, wounded and brokenhearted.  She is also a CEO of Treasures from Heaven Ministries and a leader in several other organizations. 

For more information or to contact Ramelle: Touching Your Heart Ministries 

P.O. Box 119 Lincoln Park, MI 48146-0119 

(313-680-4429) Ramelleskip@aol.com

 

Repost - Would Santa Punch You In The Face? 

Would Santa Punch You In The Face? by Dr. Naima Bush, Founder of The Refreshing Life 

Who knows how a Turkish bishop named Nicholas, who was orphaned at a young age and had a penchant for gift giving and died centuries ago, became an eternally living, jolly fat man, who lives in a snow covered wasteland, riding around with magic reindeer while managing to defy the space time continuum that the Good Lord put in place. 

Don’t get me wrong, I think the idea of Santa is a wonderful thing, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t hope to one day leave milk and cookies out for the dude with my own children.  When my brother and I were little we left Santa some Chips Ahoy and an orange plastic Tupperware tumbler of Vodka… don’t ask… 

But this year as I flipped from channel to channel it seemed that every holiday themed movie or TV show that was on was about Santa Claus, or an Elf, or a dysfunctional family. Unless it was a Hallmark or Lifetime movie, then it was about some professional business woman to busy for love and how seasonal magic somehow ushered her into the arms of Mr. Right. 

Not one show about the birth of our Savior, the true meaning of Christmas, the greatest gift ever given, at least not until Charlie Brown comes on, and then we’ll hear Linus preach the gospel message until the day that somebody protests that Christmas tradition as being offensive. We already lost the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and Rudolph is facing the axe because of bullying… but I digress. 

As I was pondering my TV selections, I thought about a conversation I had with a Catholic friend of mine in regards to the true history of Santa Claus. Now Nicholas was a devout man, who loved the Lord with his whole heart.  There are many stories of how he gave away everything he had to meet the needs of others, all in the name of Christ. 

But he shared with me a story I had never head before.  This one was about how St. Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 with three hundred other church leaders under the direction of the Emperor Constantine. During this major ecumenical event, the Nicene Creed was produced, but before that Santa got a little unruly… 

Arius, a church leader from Egypt had the floor and was going on and on about how Jesus was not equal to God the Father, thus rendering the Trinity as null and void. The longer Arius talked, the more perturbed Nicholas became, until he could take the heresy no more and dashed across the room and smacked in some accounts, or punched in others, Arius in the face.  Which to be honest, makes me laugh uncontrollably, since the only image I have of Saint Nicholas comes from the imaginings of the secular world. 

Well, of course Nicholas, the patron saint of children, repentant thieves, merchants (might explain all the shopping) and pawnbrokers (yes, pawnbrokers)  was punished and stripped of his bishop’s garments and thrown in jail… and then there’s a miracle and restoration… you’ll have to look it up to get the details on this one or we’ll be here forever… But Nicholas does get out of jail and is restored to his office. 

The point is Nicholas was willing to risk it all to defend the truth. Christmas is about Christ, and I believe Saint Nicholas would agree. If he got so upset he was clocking folks in the eye over the importance of the Trinity, what would his response be to how the world has taken this most sacred time and turned it into a Black Friday brawl over a $198.00 TV set? 

Yes, Christmas is a sacred time. It should be more about giving the gift of His eternal love, of forgiveness and restoration then about elves and grinches and stockings. I’m not saying not to put out your cookies, or decorate your tree or hang your Christmas lights. Jon and I watched Elf this past weekend and I laughed so hard I almost choked. But while we are doing these things, let's not forget The One who gave us breath in our lungs so that we could laugh, The One who loved us so much that He left His throne to be born in this barren place to give us hope and a future. 

What I am saying is that although many believe that the story of Saint Nicholas smacking Arius is a myth, it still begs the question. A man so on fire for the Lord that he risked everything to tell the world he would not stand for the demotion of his Savior, that he would not stand idly by while someone made the Lord Jesus Christ less then what He Is, that someone would so reckless disregard the gift the Father gave us to restore us, pushed Santa Claus to the brink. 

If Jolly Old Saint Nick was here today, would he be so jolly? Or would he be running around malls, TV stations, Christmas events and even churches smacking folks in the face? 

This blog is a repost from last year. I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please leave us a note below or on our Facebook page! 

#santaclauspunchesarius #saintnicholasandarius #slappingsanta

Irish Springs Bring Peace! 

Irish Springs Bring Peace by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder of Refreshing Life With Naima

Every now and then I like to confess something just a little strange about myself.  I’m an avid War Movie buff with Hacksaw Ridge, Miracle at St. Anna's and When We Were Soldiers being my three favorites.  I am an introvert by nature, I like to be alone and although I love to sing, I don’t really like being in front of people.  And Rum Raisin and Pistachio are my favorite ice cream flavors…  but one of the strangest things about me is that I have a peculiar fascination with soap. 

And I do mean peculiar. I love the way a good bar of soap feels in my hands.  I can tell you which brands have the best lather, which retain their scent the longest, and which ones get you the cleanest.  I can even tell you when brands change their formula resulting in inferior or superior soap quality.  My husband’s love language is gift giving – and he gives good gifts.  Out of all of the wonderful gifts he gave me last Christmas, the gift I treasured the most was a basked of soaps he had curated from different shops and vendors – BEST GIFT EVER! I spent a good portion of Christmas Day with my nose in the basket inhaling deeply, opening soaps testing them out and placing them in baggies so I could retain their fragrance. 

My struggles with food addiction have never been a secret, I walk this thing out on a daily basis.  I find in times of great strain it is easy to reach for a cookie, when I should be laying before the Lord.  The euphoria of the moment of chewing for some strange reason brings a sense of false calm and deceptive peace – because there is always a price to pay. 

These last few months have been difficult and I’ve found myself falling short quite a bit.  But then something interesting happened.  I was in that melancholic artist mood, distraught about some thing I can’t even remember now, and I opened the fridge to see what was inside.  But then I thought – well actually I believe the Lord whispered to me – you need to wash your hands you’ve been cleaning.  

I found myself at the sink, lathering up my hands with some $5.00 soap that I had brought from the local department store, a good quality soap.  It was called Coastal Waters and the more I rubbed it together the thicker the lather became and the calmer I felt. I stood there for a good ten minutes, singing and washing my hands, lather everywhere, hands soft and wrinkled from the water.  But it felt so good, I felt so much better.  And let’s face it, washing my hands is a much healthier habit then eating a bunch of junk food with my health challenges. 

I thought to myself, what if every time I feel like the world is ending I came to the sink and washed my hands? What if the sink became my altar, my holy place? A memory floated up from the past at that moment… When I was in my early 30’s working with the youth group living in Ohio, I would carry in my purse a box of Irish Spring Soap.  And whenever I needed a moment, needed to focus, needed peace, needed clarity, I would take that soap out and sniff it! Everyone would laugh at me, but I was able to accomplish so much more because of a love of soap that the Lord put in me.  Yes, Irish Springs brought me peace. 

Now when I feel like I need a moment, I run to the sink to wash my hands and sing or talk to Jesus.  It leaves me with a peace I can’t express.  Maybe you need a touchstone, a holy place that you can run to when times are hard.  It may not be at the sink washing your hands, but finding out what it is will help you live a life of joy in the perfection of His will. 

So wash your hands. Make yourselves clean. Get your evil actions out of my sight!

Stop doing what is wrong! Isaiah 1:16

Inclined To Worship 

Inclined to Worship Guest Post By Ramelle T. Lee © 2012 

Meditation Scripture:  I Chronicles 16:29 (KJV) 

"Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name:  bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness." 

 

The Lord said, "Have you ever thought about what I want you to do for me?  Are you longing to love me with all your heart?  Can you live without my love?  Ponder these questions for a moment.  Now sit back and relax in me.  Allow my love to surround you. 

Allow the Holy Spirit to settle your thoughts and allow you to lift your voice in praise.  Let His Spirit take you to a place of peace and total tranquility.  Are you there yet?  Have you called out my name and lifted your head and hands in total surrender? 

You are precious in my sight.  I love to hear you speak my name.  I love to hear you sing my praises.  I love to hear you witness to others about the way I make you feel inside. 

Can you reflect what you adore about my love? I know it's personal. I realize that you can't always put into words what is truly in your heart. However, I am pleased that you would speak my name aloud.  You are not ashamed to recognize that I am your beloved.   I, your Heavenly Father, am pleased that you take the time to worship me in the beauty of holiness. 

Raise your voice so that it can be heard in the heavens!  Realize that the angels of the Lord are also listening.  You have an audience that never sleeps.  The heavenly choir is also standing at attention.  They glorify my name, just as you choose to do through your worship and praise.  You make me feel special as you praise and worship me.  I am never too busy to hear your voice lifting up beautiful words of adoration to me, the King of glory. 

As you spend precious time in my presence, I will come to your rescue and reward you for reverencing and lifting up my name. I will take care of your needs and shower you with blessings. I see your desire to please me and show forth your praises. While you are showing love to me in your heart, just know that I am smiling at you. 

Continue to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.  You will be given treasures from heaven that no man can take away.  I will bless you.  I will always love you!"

 

Ramelle T. Lee is a poet, author of four books, speaker, businesswoman, radio co-host and a staff writer for The Lamp Newsletter.  In 2006, she founded Touching Your Heart Ministries to reach people who feel hopeless, deeply hurt, rejected, wounded and brokenhearted.  She is also a CEO of Treasures from Heaven Ministries and a leader in several other organizations.

For more information or to contact Ramelle: Touching Your Heart Ministries 

P.O. Box 119 Lincoln Park, MI 48146-0119 

(313-680-4429) Ramelleskip@aol.com

The Weapons of My Warfare! 

The Weapons of My Warfare! A Teaching Blog by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder of Refreshing Life with Naima

There are dangerous times afoot. We face the attack of the enemy at every turn, in our churches, schools, homes, jobs, supermarkets, airports and even the movies. Now more then ever we must arm ourselves, we must take up our weapons and be prepared to go to war! But the weapons I speak of are not guns or knives… I speak of weapons more powerful then bullets, mental illness and the plans of the devil. 

The scriptures tell us in 2nd Corinthians Chapter 10 Verses 4 and 5 that: 

The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 

The purpose of the weapons that the Lord gives us is to bring us to a place where we walk and live in total victory and obedience to Him and through Him.  Something I know I am still personally working on.  When we are able to walk according to His plan, hear and obey and live a lifestyle of worship, we can walk in confidence and not fear and we are prepared to set the captives free and can boldly go about the business of doing so. What are these weapons? They are the weapons of reading, studying and memorizing His Word and learning to stand on His promises, speaking the Word of God in every situation and circumstance, good times and bad times.  The weapons are also prayer, intercession, praise, fasting, singing, shouting, dancing, worship, obedience, sacrifice, tithing, serving… It is ultimately living a life according to to His will. 

The Lord has already promised us the victory, He’s given us the tools to walk in obedience – He said in His word that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church, and since the Lord cannot lie we better believe and better get to learning how to use the weapons He has given us to complete our battle assignments. 

If you don’t know the purpose of a thing, if you don’t know why it’s important, you often abuse it or you ignore it and don’t use it. Like a tablet or even a smart phone.  Many of us don’t take full advantage of all the gadgets and features that are contained in these tools.  Super organized folks use their phones for everything, they understand all of the workings of the tool and thus they reap all the benefits of it. 

Like obedience and worship, if we don’t know how these tools connect, if we don’t understand how they are used in our daily warfare, then we can’t reap all the benefits of them.  If you want to truly connect with the Lord, truly worship him and show Him you love him – you must obey Him. Often the struggle in this area begins with a thought… a thought that leads us astray and cause us not to do what the Lord tells us to do. 

We overcome the world through living a lifestyle of worship that first recognizes who God is, how powerful He is, how holy He is and how He sacrificed for us. Through these recognized facts, we choose to make Him Lord of our life.  We also know that every day the battle rages, but with the Lord on our side and through seeking to live a life of obedience, we become battle ready. When we apply the weapons we are able to submit our minds to Him, we are able to overcome temptations, make Godly decisions and regulate our thinking. In our personal prayer time and in studying and applying His word we get to know the Lord intimately, that’s where we learn of His heart, hear His voice, understand His love and become empowered to love and fight on the behalf of others. 

That’s how we learn to start using our weapons, that’s how we start to control our thinking and live a life of obedience.

Are you ready for the battle? We'd love to hear your thoughts - leave us a comment below!

Tell The Devil Nuts! 

Tell The Devil Nuts! by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder of the Refreshing Life with Naima

*This post originally appeared in the Naima Newsletter and original blog in June of 2015.

 

Here’s a tidbit that most people don’t know about me.  I love watching war movies, as a matter of fact one of my favorite movies of all time is, When We Were Soldiers.  I can watch that movie over and over again.  Recently, I got a chance to watch, Band of Brother’s Series on HBO, a WWII docudrama that focuses on the experiences of the paratroopers who landed behind enemy lines during the invasion of Normandy.  My favorite part comes near the end when the 101st division is surrounded by the Germans at the town of Bastogne in Belgium. Dealing with a brutal winter, a lack of supplies and an overall weariness, the division Commander is issued a demand to honorably surrender by his enemy.  General McAuliffe who was in charge at that time responded to the German commander one word, “NUTS!” 

Despite the opposition, the appearance of defeat, the lack of resources, General McAuliffe told his greatest enemy in no uncertain terms, “You sir, are crazy, I will not stand down.”  Shortly after McAuliffe wrote that one word in faith, the 101st was resupplied and joined by a fresh division and were instrumental in bringing to end one of the most horrid and brutal events in world history.  It was almost as if his very defiance changed the atmosphere and shifted the war in the favor of right. 

What I’m learning is that as Christians we need to take the same approach.  We need to look the devil in the eye, and let him know that the Creator of Heaven and Earth is on our side and we will not back down.  We need to remember that no matter what it looks like or feels like, God has a greater plan that He is working out on our behalf.  Fresh supplies and reinforcements are on the way!  By faith we have to take a step towards victory declaring that we know by faith it is right around the corner! 

When things go wrong, I’m going to start to yell, “NUTS!”  It is going to be my war cry that I will not be defeated, but rather that I trust the perfect plan of God.  If you are struggling, sick, can’t seem to find your way, if you are in need, if you’ve been fighting and you are tired, yell, “NUTS!” Then start to praise the Lord!  Use the word to declare that the very thought of you being on the losing side is crazy because the Lord of all is sending fresh supplies, angelic and human reinforcements to hold you up.  We will not surrender, even when it is the darkest night!  God has declared the time of victory is now, NUTS to anyone or anything standing in your way!

I'm Dying Here... 

I’m Dying Here… 

One of the problems with reading a lot of books, watching educational videos, listening to good preaching sermons and enjoying podcasts, is that you often hear a nugget of wisdom that profoundly shakes your world.  I jot those little scraps of wisdom down and they exist on napkins, in my phone notes, on church bulletins, my desk top and on random pieces of paper scattered around my home. 

I pull them out often and review them.  Sometimes they spark a song or lead me to do a more in-depth study of the topic. Classes have been created from these gems, presentations and sermons birthed from the little notes to Naima that I keep in a system that only makes sense to me.  I write these notes and quotes because they resonate with me, they challenge me or change me.  Sometimes I write these notes and quotes because I totally disagree with the premise of what has been said and want to examine it from all angles. 

I can’t remember where I got this one from, but there it was was tucked away in my phone notes with no attribution. 

It said, “You don’t win wars by giving up your life.” 

And I can totally understand how that makes sense… when you are perceiving things in the natural.  But the spiritual realm is a whole different story.  As a matter of fact, the way to win the war, the path to achieve great victory, is in fact, giving up your life. 

Jesus illustrates this point when He won the greatest war ever, the one that made Him champion over death, hell and the grave.  He got up on the cross and gave His life and He won the war – and we are always expected to follow His example. 

I am at a cross roads right now, a place where I have to decide what is my number one priority, what am I willing to give my life up for? It’s a difficult, gut wrenching decision, one that has caused me to re-evaluate, reconstruct and listen more closely then ever for the voice of the Father. 

This battle that we fight is unseen, subtle and can make us a casualty of war for the wrong side if we are not paying attention to life.   We can get easily sidetracked when we begin to think about what we want, and not what the Lord wants.  And often what He wants requires us to give up our lives for His glory and purpose.  I don’t mean to physical death of course, but it may mean dying to our own selfish desires, our own plans and dreams. 

How do you reconcile that? Well, I’m thinking that giving my life up to Jesus is much better then trying to hold on to it and finding at the end I’ve been a dead woman walking all along.  I’m going to die in this war – die to myself so I can live for Jesus. 

For whoever would save his life,  will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.  Mark 8:35 

I'd love to hear your thoughts, shoot me a note or leave a comment on my FB page at www.facebook.com/ministryofnaima

 

#dyingtoself #spiritualwarfare

#thepowerofprayer #layingdownmylife #naimajohnstonbush

A Great Hope 

A Great Hope, Guest Post by Beth Jones 

Has something great happened in your life, when all of a sudden everything turned totally upside down and you're like, "What?!" 

As of this writing, it is Palm Sunday--the time of year when Christian believers celebrate Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey and the people waved palm branches shouting, "Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" (John 12:13-13) 

By the time you read this blog post, it may be past Palm Sunday, but this post's message is still relevant, no matter what day or month it is. 

One minute the people are making such a happy brouhaha, and next thing you now they're crucifying the guy. Typical human behavior. Man is fickle. None of this took Jesus by surprise; He came to earth for such a time as this. He knows what is in man's heart and mind. (John 2:24) 

But wait, hold on a minute! When you're going through a dark storm, all is not lost. You don't need to despair. Easter is on its way! Jesus, after being tortured, dying on the Cross, and buried in a borrowed tomb, rose from the grave three days later, just as He said He would to His disciples! (Mark 9:31) 

We can read this true and powerful story with a great hope. Life can be so busy, hectic, and challenging. It can hurt deeply. You and I can get hit by Satan and his minions suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere. The devil often uses those closest to us or other believers to cause us the most pain, confusion, and doubt about God and ourselves.  

While I've experienced Satan's demonic attacks my entire life, the last few years the attacks have been coming against me more frequently and are much more intense than ever before. You wonder what in the world is going on here? 

Personally, I believe we are living in the end times and that is why. Satan knows his time is short. While many people have been saying for hundreds of years that Jesus is coming back soon and nobody knows the day or hour but God (Matthew 24;36), Jesus said we will know that His coming is near by the signs. (Luke 21:5-31) Today's headline news are the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies. We see Revelation coming to pass before our eyes.  

So Satan is increasing his attacks on Christian believers, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8) If he can't kill us, he'll do everything he can to distract, discourage, and derail us from our faith in Christ. The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10) 

But there is GOOD NEWS! We know that Easter is not about cute little bunnies or candy (although as a child, I always enjoyed my Easter basket and chocolate is good any time!). Easter is about Jesus dying for your sin and mine, and Him resurrecting from the grave so we'd be forgiven and live with God in Heaven forever.  

Easter is about the power of the Living, One and True God, the great 

I AM, the King of Kings, to whom all glory and praise and honor is due, forever and ever, amen! 

Jesus died so that you and I would live His abundant life. In our family, health, church, business, ministry, job, at the movies, on the road or in a plane, wherever we are and whatever we are doing. In church and in the marketplace. In the nations where God says, "Go," and sends us. (Isaiah 6:8) 

Are you living that abundant life right now? Are you fully using the spiritual gifts God has given you for His glory? Are you fulfilling your great purpose? 

Selah. Take a pause. Reflect and think on these things today. 

"The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over, no matter what my circumstances."--Robert Flatt

Answered Prayer Awaits You 

 

Answered Prayers Await You By Ramelle T. Lee ©2012 

Meditation Scripture: (Psalm 138:3 NLT).  "When I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me the strength I need." 

                       

What does it take for God to answer your prayer?  What are you afraid of?  Do you think He will not listen to your plea?  Do you think that when you cry out to Him that He will not come to your rescue?  Do you think that you are so self-sufficient that you can do it by yourself?  Do you have a crystal ball that can give you the answer without seeking God first? 

Well, it's time that you awaken from your sleep.  It's time you face the truth and understand that God is standing at attention to hear you pray.  You don't need a crystal ball.  You need to rely on God, for your very existence in this world.  You have been sitting there in your unresolved situation, and not believing that you can get a prayer through to God. 

The enemy has clouded your vision and you are far off track.  The enemy has caused you to revert back to your old ways and not believe that you must rely on God for your answers to life's issues.  Prayer changes things.  Prayer is the key to the kingdom of God. When you realize that God holds the world in the palm of His hands you can shake off the weight, and stand firmly, believing that your situation can be fixed. 

Your heavenly Father has the right course of action for you to take.  He has the right answer to your prayers.  Will you yield to the Voice of the Holy Spirit and relinquish the control to resolve your problems by yourself?  You have been given a wide open window into the heavenlies.  But it's up to you to take up your cross and follow the Master of the Universe.

God will deliver you from the hands of the enemy.  He will deliver you from the storms of your situation.  He will cause you to be strengthened in your inner man daily, as you walk by faith and not by sight.  Can you believe God for your breakthrough?  Can you believe that God will turn your situation around?  Can you believe that God will give you the ability to face the giants in your life? Can you believe that God will provide you with blessed hope to defeat those battles in your life that cause you to mistrust? 

God wants you to be strong in the power of His might. He desires you to believe that you can have mountain moving faith. However, you must firmly stand on His Word and rely on Him to help you conquer fear, that attempts to defeat your spirit and keep you from having victory in your life. Pray for guidance daily and seek the Lord to deliver you from a spirit of selfishness.  Release your cares to your Heavenly Father and allow Him to show you the way to truth.  God will show you how to resolve your issues that have come to defeat your spirit.  God answers prayer!  Believe it and walk daily in the revelation knowledge that you are given everlasting hope. 

Walk in the assurance that God will be there to guide you every step of the way.  You will not fail. You will not fear!  You can climb that mountain of hope and believe that God will hear you when you pray.  God will deliver you and give you the liberty to walk in total victory. Follow His leading one step at a time. Stretch your faith and move towards the promise that has already been established in heaven just for you. 

Thank God for answered prayer and stand in obedience with your head held high.  Watch God show up and rescue you. Give your appointed heavenly angels their chosen assignment to deliver your soul from trouble.  You will receive miraculous blessings, as you believe God for your breakthrough.  Stand and see the salvation of the Lord this day, says the Spirit of God. 

 

Ramelle Lee is a poet, author, radio host and the founder of Touching Your Heart Ministries. Her first book, Step Into His Greatness is filled with 35 refreshing meditations to encourage and transform.  You can contact her at: ramelleskip@aol.com. 

 

Picking Weeds... 

Picking Weeds by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder, Refreshing Life with Naima

When I was a little girl, I thought that dandelions were the most beautiful flowers in the world.  Every spring they would pepper the project grass plots and I’d climb over the little chain link fence to pick a few and hand them as an offering of love to my mother. Bless her heart, my mom would take them up to our stuffy New York apartment and put them in water.  Can you imagine how hurt my feelings were when I discovered that those perky little yellow buds were not flowers, but in fact weeds? 

Life is like that… it’s all about perspective when you think about it.  What do you see when you look at the wide world and the life you are blessed to be living? Do you see your life as a garden overgrown with the white wisps of future weeds? Or do you see flowers that spread like wildfire with the ability to express the sacredness of love? 

I have always lived by the mantra that, “What you call it, it will become.” 

If you call a child stupid or ugly or unwanted long enough, they will listen and believe what you say and act accordingly.  If you call yourself stupid, or ugly, or unworthy, then pretty soon you’ll take on the false attributes of these titles. Even though the Lord has never called you any of these things… 

What if we took the ugly bits of our lives and began to call them great things, what if we called them God things? What if instead of us always complaining about our bodies, our eyes, our voices, our jobs, we began to call ourselves fearfully and wonderfully made?

What if we started looking at life and instead of thinking nothing will ever change, we started thinking about the promises of God – that all things were working together for our good? That we could cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us, that we were fearfully and wonderfully made? 

What would life look like if we started seeing flowers instead of weeds? 

And what joy would we have if we gathered those weeds and handed them as an offering of love to the Creator of the Universe? 

April 5th is National Dandelion Day… (Seriously) what are you going to do about it!?

I'd love to hear your feedback, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me a message.  And if this blog blessed you, please share it with someone who might benefit from it. 

#nationaldandelionday #findingmorejoy #joyonthejourney #fearfullyandwonderfullymade

Let Go of the Weight 

Let Go of the Weight, Guest Post by Alicia Terry

Some years ago I wrote a blog post titled, Get Rid of Those Keys. I referenced a key chain I carried that had a lot of keys, but they no longer gave me access to the doors, vehicles and anything else they unlocked. So, why did I continue to carry them? Good question. At the time I thought for sure I would get rid of the keys after I published the blog post.

But, I didn’t. I continued to carry them out of habit, a sense of nostalgia and being comfortable with the weight. It wasn’t until the other day when the leather strap to my automatic car door opener tore and the keys fell that I had to acknowledge the weight had been too much. Years ago I knew the weight was too much, but ignored it until things broke and I found myself picking up the pieces.

Have you ever done this? Are you doing it now…carrying weight that serves no constructive purpose and only wears you and things out over time? Let’s stop doing this to ourselves. We have the power to live in and from victory and accomplish what we’ve been put on earth to do.

Hebrews 12:1 says: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (NLT)

You and I, we can do this. The Bible is full of stories of people who serve as examples for us. They are the great cloud of witnesses, who, by faith, dropped the weight of their circumstances and moved forward with great focus and determination. The lighter load enabled them to endure to the end and win the race God intended for them to win.

We can experience this too. Let go of the weight. Run with endurance. Complete your race!

 

As the owner and founder of Idea Haven, a communications and training practice, Alicia Terry helps entrepreneurs, teens and women clarify the message around their mission so they can attract and connect with the people they are meant to serve. You can learn more about Alicia at aliciaterry.com and connect with her on Facebook. She is a frequent writer for the Refreshing Life Blog.

#crushfear #overcominglimitations #nolimits #Aliciaterry #livingalifeofjoy

In The Pit 

In The Pit by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder of the Refreshing Life

I promised myself that I would never return to this place.  But I look around and find myself halfway back to the start. What is it that is so broken in me that seems unable to walk in the fullness of Christ’s healing? 

Yep, I’ve found that I’ve picked up quite a few pounds. I can blame it on the sudden move last year, dealing with aging puppies who have been like children to me, infertility with my own advancing age, family illness or the sudden death of three loves, or just being super busy.  But that does not cut it. 

The truth of the matter is that I’m a food addict. And when I take my eyes off Christ, there is trouble ahead.  Addiction is a tricky thing. Just when you think you’ve conquered it, when it’s under your feet, when you’ve given it over to the Lord, you blink and find yourself deep in a pit. 

Living in a pit is not ideal – seriously.  You can’t see what’s going on around you because you are down so low.  

You can’t go where you want to go because you don’t have the physical strength to climb the walls. 

And you find yourself slipping even deeper in a hole because you keep making choices with a shovel and the dirt is piling up around your knees as you sink lower and lower. 

I hate pits. I have no desire to be Joseph stuck down below waiting to sell my own self back into a slavery that I have already escaped.  There really is only one solution, to get on my knees in this dark dank place and scrape a little foothold into the side of the wall. Then to take a step up and dig another little place for my hand to rest. until I find myself climbing up, up, up! 

I refuse to fall all the way back down the rabbit hole, not when I have a song to sing and a God who hears and comes when I call out to Him – so I guess I’d better get to scooping and climbing. 

 

I waited patiently for the Lord, He inclined to me and heard my cry. He lifted me up from te pit of destruction, out of the miry clay.

He set my feet upon a rock and made my footsteps firm.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see

and fear and put their trust in the Lord. 

Psalm 40:1-3

I'd love to hear your thoughts! Leave me a comment below or check us out on Facebook at: The Refreshing Life With Naima

#weightloss #healthandwellness #foodaddiction #escapingthepit #josephinthepit

Jesus Loves Iris! 

Jesus Loves Iris by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder of The Refreshing Life with Naima

I stood in the line at Wal-mart, nervous, hesitant and tongue tied.  She checked my items, scanning the incidentals that meant nothing to her but would feed my dogs, clean my bathroom and wash my clothes.  A young girl with ponytails and a bright smile, she chatted about how she couldn’t wait to get off her feet, how tired she was.  I laughed back and informed her, she was much to young to be tired. 

But no matter how I tried to focus on the conversation, the rising costs flashing across the register, and my own nervous knots, I could not block out the little voice that was whispering in my spirit. 

It was my own fault. I’d been praying those dangerous prayers again. You know the ones you pray with power and simplicity, truly meaning them when you lay them bare before the altar. Then boggled and challenged when those very prayers start to be answered in ways that throw your entire life into a whirlwind. 

For example, I’d been praying, Lord, break my heart with the things that break your heart… now I’m busting out crying when I hear something that I know tears the heart of the Lord to pieces.  But the prayer that brought me in front of the young cashier at Wal-mart was, “Lord help me to be bold!” Yeah, ok…. 

It wasn’t even anything major that the Lord was asking me to do. He wasn’t whispering, lay hands on the woman right here, or ask her what her prayer needs are and rebuke the devil on the spot… nope, He wanted me to do one small thing. Simply tell her, that He loved her. 

So why was this so difficult? Why couldn’t I get my mouth to work? I can get on a stage and preach a sermon, teach a lesson based out of the word of God, sing before hundreds of people and I could not tell this young lady this one little thing? 

She scanned the last item, I paid and she handed me a receipt and a little card that said if I had a good experience today, I should let Wal-mart know and that her name was Iris.  I took the paper glanced down at the paper and looked her in the face and said, “You have a great day Iris… and remember, Jesus loves you.” She smiled brightly and I took my bags and walked out. 

In the blink of an eye, I realized that I was afraid of many things, what she might say, what she might think, what others around me might say, if I did this one small thing would the Lord require more of me the next time around? Yep, that’s the big one, because if you prove to the Lord He can trust you, He will… and next time it may be something more then just a simple I love you, it may be the difference between life and death. And of all the things I was afraid of there was one thing I was even more afraid of… not hearing, Well done, good and faithful servant.   

 

 

Thank you for hanging out with us over here on the Refreshing Life Blog! If it blesses you please consider, writing for us, sharing the post or commenting below! And don't forget to grab your Refreshing Life Prayer Journal! They are on sale now! Click here to purchase your six Month Prayer Journal.

 

 

#witnessing #evangelism #overcomingfear #sharinggodslove #naimajohnstonbush

Would Santa Punch You In The Face? 

Would Santa Punch You In The Face? by Dr. Naima Bush, Founder of The Refreshing Life

Who knows how a Turkish bishop named Nicholas, who was orphaned at a young age and had a penchant for gift giving and died centuries ago, became an eternally living, jolly fat man, who lives in a snow covered wasteland, riding around with magic reindeer while managing to defy the space time continuum that the Good Lord put in place. 

Don’t get me wrong, I think the idea of Santa is a wonderful thing, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t hope to one day leave milk and cookies out for the dude with my own children.  When my brother and I were little we left Santa some Chips Ahoy and an orange plastic Tupperware tumbler of Vodka… don’t ask… 

But this year as I flipped from channel to channel it seemed that every holiday themed movie or TV show that was on was about Santa Claus, or an Elf, or a dysfunctional family. Unless it was a Hallmark or Lifetime movie, then it was about some professional business woman to busy for love and how seasonal magic somehow ushered her into the arms of Mr. Right. 

Not one show about the birth of our Savior, the true meaning of Christmas, the greatest gift ever given, at least not until Charlie Brown comes on, and then we’ll hear Linus preach the gospel message until the day that somebody protests that Christmas tradition as being offensive. We already lost the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and Rudolph is facing the axe because of bullying… but I digress. 

As I was pondering my TV selections, I thought about a conversation I had with a Catholic friend of mine in regards to the true history of Santa Claus. Now Nicholas was a devout man, who loved the Lord with his whole heart.  There are many stories of how he gave away everything he had to meet the needs of others, all in the name of Christ. 

But he shared with me a story I had never head before.  This one was about how St. Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 with three hundred other church leaders under the direction of the Emperor Constantine. During this major ecumenical event, the Nicene Creed was produced, but before that Santa got a little unruly… 

Arius, a church leader from Egypt had the floor and was going on and on about how Jesus was not equal to God the Father, thus rendering the Trinity as null and void. The longer Arius talked, the more perturbed Nicholas became, until he could take the heresy no more and dashed across the room and smacked in some accounts, or punched in others, Arius in the face.  Which to be honest, makes me laugh uncontrollably, since the only image I have of Saint Nicholas comes from the imaginings of the secular world. 

Well, of course Nicholas, the patron saint of children, repentant thieves, merchants (might explain all the shopping) and pawnbrokers (yes, pawnbrokers)  was punished and stripped of his bishop’s garments and thrown in jail… and then there’s a miracle and restoration… you’ll have to look it up to get the details on this one or we’ll be here forever… But Nicholas does get out of jail and is restored to his office. 

The point is Nicholas was willing to risk it all to defend the truth. Christmas is about Christ, and I believe Saint Nicholas would agree. If he got so upset he was clocking folks in the eye over the importance of the Trinity, what would his response be to how the world has taken this most sacred time and turned it into a Black Friday brawl over a $198.00 TV set? 

Yes, Christmas is a sacred time. It should be more about giving the gift of His eternal love, of forgiveness and restoration then about elves and grinches and stockings. I’m not saying not to put out your cookies, or decorate your tree or hang your Christmas lights. Jon and I watched Elf this past weekend and I laughed so hard I almost choked. But while we are doing these things, let's not forget The One who gave us breath in our lungs so that we could laugh, The One who loved us so much that He left His throne to be born in this barren place to give us hope and a future.

What I am saying is that although many believe that the story of Saint Nicholas smacking Arius is a myth, it still begs the question. A man so on fire for the Lord that he risked everything to tell the world he would not stand for the demotion of his Savior, that he would not stand idly by while someone made the Lord Jesus Christ less then what He Is, that someone would so reckless disregard the gift the Father gave us to restore us, pushed Santa Claus to the brink. 

If Jolly Old Saint Nick was here today, would he be so jolly? Or would he be running around malls, TV stations, Christmas events and even churches smacking folks in the face?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please leave us a note below or on our Facebook page! 

#santaclauspunchesarius #saintnicholasandarius #slappingsanta

Does It Have To Be So Hard? 

Does It Have To Be So Hard? by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder of The Refreshing Life

How difficult can it be to speak by faith to the divine Creator of Heaven and Earth who you may not physically see but who has shown time and time again that He exists. When we think about prayer, we are often caught up in the ritual of it. We sometimes get stuck thinking about how to say the right words or making sure that we pray at the right time or we trip over our language trying to make the cries of our hearts sound lofty and eloquent.   

But what if prayer didn’t have to be so hard? I have longed to have a life of powerful prayer, one where my life evidenced that my supplications were not bouncing off the wall but were penetrating the throne room of heaven and impacting lives for eternity. And honestly, sometimes it’s not that deep, sometimes I just want to know He is near, that He hears, that He cares. 

When Jon and I were engaged we took a short trip to Texas so that he could introduce me to his family.  It just so happened to be the 4th of July and we spent the evening sitting on the stone embankment that overlooked the Gulf of Mexico and watching the fireworks. Some lit up the night sky from boats on the water, from the professional production that was taking place and some from were being set off by the many families gathered around us. 

I saw that little girl and the potential threat she possessed before the incident even took place. Unsupervised, unaware and much too young to be handling things that had the potential to blow her face off, she recklessly lit color changing, gravity defying fireworks in blissful oblivion as she got closer and closer to where we sat. 

An then there it was. Spinning and puttering, changing colors it flew into Jon’s face, the threat of a third degree burn was all I could imagine.  Jon says all he could think was how he was going to have scars on his face for our wedding pictures… all I could do was to call on the name above all names. 

"Jesus!" I yelled. And that spinning, maddening firework fell to the ground instantly extinguished. It was like I called to Him to sits on the throne and He answered instantly. 

And that’s one of the keys to powerful prayer. It is simply believing that God hears you, regardless if He chooses to answer right away or if it seems the answer is delayed.  

In Jeremiah 29:12 the Scripture tells us: "Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."

There are a multitude of scriptures where the Lord tells us that He hears us when we call or pray to Him.  Jeremiah, was a prophet for over 40 years, he saw how revival came when the people followed the Lord – and he saw destruction come when they failed to obey the Lord.  But again and again, Jeremiah did not wavier from knowing that God hears and God answers prayer. 

One of the most powerful ways you can get the Lord’s attention is to simply call Him. A call means to give something a specified name – a name denotes or rather it tells us, what something is – not what it does. 

Like a chair. By virtue of experience we know what a chair does, it allows us to sit without fear of falling.  We know what a chair is used for and we’ve given it a name. Chair. 

The same is true with the names of God. We know that His name describes the powerfulness of His character.  So, if you need healing you call – Jehovah Rapha. 

If you need God Almighty, the all sufficient one – you call El Shaddai. 

If you need Him to be with you, call for, Immanuel, God is with us. 

When you need help in the battle or the struggle – Call Jehovah Nissi – the banner under which we are victorious! And sometimes you must simply call – Yahweh – I AM That I AM and He will rush to your aid. 

Remember the name we call tells us not only what God does, but who God is… He is more then what He does.  He is the healer but He is also healing! He is a provider but He is also provision. He is present always with us. 

And the name I love the most… sometimes you got to simply call Abba which means Daddy or Pappa…  and who loves and more protects and cares for their children more then a faithful Pappa?

One of the first keys to understanding powerful prayer is that you must believe that He hears you when you call out with passionate trust knowing and believing that God hears you. And what you call Him, He simply is and will provide.

 

Have you grabbed your copy of Naima's new book, Keys To Powerful Prayer and the six month Refreshing Life Prayer Journal? You can purchase your copy today by clicking here: Power Prayer Book and Journal

Set The Standard  

Set the Standard - Guest Post by Alicia Terry

In May the company I worked for had a lay-off and I was one of the people let go. I was certain I would find work inside of a month, but that hasn’t been the case. As I write this post it is October 3rd and I am still looking. 

I’ve applied like crazy and have had my fair share of interviews, but nothing has come to fruition. At one point I found myself applying for jobs simply based more on my ability to do them. Would I be happy to do any one of them? May be…may be not. 

One thing I do know for certain is just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.  There is a grace, a time and season for everything (Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). 

I wouldn’t advise anyone to take a buckshot approach to job hunting, but there I was doing it. Trying to force something to happen when I really didn’t know what I wanted to happen. My buckshot strategy was totally misguided and I knew it. 

Why is it when stressful situations arise it’s so easy to fall back into familiar bad habits? 

Of course I have people praying with me for the right job at the right time and all according to God’s will for my life. However, when I asked my friend Jackie to pray she requested I give her specifics for what I’m trusting God for. Later that day I sent my specific request to her.  

That one exercise was a game changer. Why? Because I now had a standard by which to judge each and every job description before I took action to pursue it. Does it meet the standard or not? Yes or no. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. 

God’s Word is like that too. It sets the standard that brings great clarity for how we are to live in today’s society. It enables us to stop exerting energy on things that rob us of it. God’s Word equips us to focus on the things that matter. That is why we, as Christians, must read the Word, know it, own it and live it. Clarity based on God’s standard is how we will change lives and how we will impact the culture for His glory. 

Let God’s Word set the standard.

 

As the owner and founder of Idea Haven, a communications and training practice, Alicia Terry helps entrepreneurs, teens and women clarify the message around their mission so they can attract and connect with the people they are meant to serve. You can learn more about Alicia at aliciaterry.com and connect with her on Facebook. She is a frequent writer for the Refreshing Life Blog.

#aliciaterry #jobsearch #trustinggod #godstiming #godsstandards

 

Brother Harlow Turns 90 

Brother Harlow Turns 90 by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush

I miss unlimited soup and salad from the Olive Garden. I desire to pop into Barnes and Noble and visit the discount craft store when I want to pay less than Michael’s prices. I long for prepackaged nuts from Trader Joe’s and nitrate free turkey pepperoni from Whole Foods.  And let’s not even talk about skipping down to Disney on a Saturday afternoon, laying on the beach, burying my toes in the sand and roaming the countless thrift stores, vintage shops, flea markets and garage sales that pepper the greater Jacksonville area. 

In these areas JAX – Duval County to be exact, where they bring the RACHET… (yes that is a city wide slogan) has tiny little Leesville/New Llano, LA beat.  But these temporal things mean nothing when I think about the family we have found in this place.  We have been embraced by the beautiful and colorful southern hearted home folks in this area.  In this place I’ve puzzled over crawfish houses, been introduced to finger licking Cajun cooking, been bitten by fire ants, waved at the po po, who always make sure I’m safe when I’m in the yard with the dogs after dark and everybody else who has driven up our street, and had more, “Girl how you doing!” meetings in Wal-Mart then I can count. 

But I knew I was home when I attended Brother Harlow’s 90th birthday party.  Brother Harlow is the sweetest man, filled with faith and a mischievous twinkle in his eye.  He always makes sure that Jon Bush is behaving and seriously insists that if my husband steps out of line I should promptly inform him.  We celebrated him with the most delicious cake, mounds and mounds of food, lots of laugher and a picture to commemorate the event. When we told him we were honored to be invited, he told us we were family. 

As Jon and I left we paused to view the display that had been set up to celebrate his life. My heart filled as I examined a life in pictures that told of triumph and struggle, of love, faith, family and great loss.  And when we left I was overwhelmed with sadness because the last picture I studied was of Brother Harlow and his beautiful wife who had passed away. I remember thinking, I wished she was here to celebrate with him and how much he must be missing her even with all the laughter and the crowded room of well wishers and loved ones. 

And it dawned on me, that one day, if Jesus should tarry, Jon or I would be in the same situation. There will be a day when one of us will have to say good bye to the other one for a season.  I can barely breathe just thinking about it.  How many of us have had to say goodbye to the ones we treasure and have never really recovered even though life and the love still goes on? 

At the end of that wonderful man’s party when grief tried to grip and squeeze me, the Lord reminded me of this simple truth. Death is hard because it is unnatural. How often do we hear death is a natural part of life? But honestly, death was never part of the Lord’s original plan for us, so it isn’t natural at all.  We mourn because we lose something we were never supposed to lose…  each other. That’s why it hurts so bad. And every new person that takes up residence in my heart gets not only my love but will one day be mourned or mourn me. And recently in the tiny town where I now live, many people have made my heart their home by moving in and finding a favorite chair or a place on the couch to chill out. 

The thought could be unbearable, but that is when hope rose up with healing in its wings. Brother Harlow’s wife was a believer, so we rest assured that we will see her again. And all the separations, all the loss, all the tears will be wiped from our eyes because death, hell and the grave will be over and done forever. I’ve dealt and struggled a lot with death this year, so here is where I dig in and refuse to let my faith be shaken.  I know God is a promise keeper and a miracle worker.  And I know He is not a liar.  

There are many mansions in my Father’s House, if it wasn’t so He would have told me.  And somewhere in that huge dwelling, Sister Harlow is worshipping with my grandmothers, my aunts and my sweet Leslie. Accepting and living for Jesus means forgiveness, unconditional love and everlasting life… so life is like the night and being in the eternal presence of the Lord is the morning. 

Remember, the Lord never lies… fill your heart with love knowing that one day you will face the unthinkable. Because weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning – and reunions to!

 

Dr. Naima Johnston Bush is the founder of The Refreshing Life with Naima and is on a mission to help you live a life of joy, powerful prayer and sincere gratitude! Please leave a comment if the blog is blessing you and feel free to share if you think it will bless someone else!

Have you grabbed your copy of the Refreshing Life Prayer Journal? For more information click here: The Refreshing Life Prayer Journal

Get Yo' Heaven Bucks! 

Get Yo' Heaven Bucks! by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush

Sitting on the front row, doing my due diligence as the Principal’s wife, smiling, nodding, shaking hands and sitting through presentations on class schedules, dress codes and behavior polices – that’s how I spent my first Thursday evening in August.  

As I sat listening to the teachers instruct the parents on the specifics of the discipline policy I found myself in that strange dream like place where unicorns and rainbows and “To Do” lists reside. You know that place- where you are kind of paying attention, but you are also thinking about all the things you need to do, all the things you need to remind your husband to do and pondering those life changing questions, like what really happened to the dinosaurs… 

And then something that one of the teachers said brought me back from the stone age.  In an effort to encourage the students to behave and limit discipline problems, the teachers were introducing an incentive program for the students.  Based on a weighted scale the students would be given “Eagle Bucks” when they met the expectations of good stewardship, citizenship and the community standards. In exchange for this good behavior they could turn their “Eagle Bucks” in for various rewards.  The more bucks you had, the better rewards you could purchase. In other words, if the students stayed out of trouble they would get fake money they could use to buy goodies and prizes and go on trips. 

What, the what!? Ok… I mean it sounded great and all, but my first thoughts were, why are they being rewarded for doing what they should do? What happens when they get older, will they expect “Eagle Bucks” for showing up on time for their jobs? Doesn’t keeping track of all this stuff make extra work for the teachers? And after all, shouldn’t kids just do what adults say anyway? 

Don’t you love moments like that? When you are pondering questions that seem to make sense to you and the Holy Spirit just drops a bomb on you to illustrate how off base you are in your thinking! In the ten seconds it took for me to scroll these thoughts through my big head the Lord had a lesson to teach me. 

Why was I internally fussing about the school’s incentive program when I was on the ultimate incentive program myself?  Instead of a teacher handing me “Eagle Bucks” when I did what I was suppose to do and I exhibited good behavior, Jesus was offering me “Heaven Bucks.” How do we earn these “Heaven Bucks?” 

Matthew 6:33 – If I seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness good things will be given to me. 

Matthew 19:29 – If I leave my home, my family or my work to do the work of Christ I will be given a hundredfold and I will inherit eternal life. 

Luke 11:9 – If I ask I will receive, if I knock it will be opened, If I seek I will find. 

Mark 11:24 – If I ask in prayer and I believe that I have received it, I will receive it. 

John 3:16 – If I believe that God gave His son, I will not die, but I will have eternal life. 

These are just a few of the promises of the Lord that are available to us if we do what we are suppose to do to earn our “Heaven Bucks.”   Seeking the Lord, believing what He says, loving others, serving others, working for His glory, spending time in prayer, committing our lives to Him and most importantly, the promises of eternal life… what beautiful incentives these are! 

Who wouldn’t want to follow a God who gives such good and perfect gifts?

Life Was Not Meant To Be Lived Off Leash 

Discovering Healthy Boundaries - Life Was Not Meant To Be Lived Off Leash by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush

It is not unusual to wake up in the morning with a mouse in my bed.  The mouse is usually not alone; sometimes there is a cow, a Rug Rat, several bones and a six-pound Chihuahua.  Sometimes it’s a fuzzy pink pig, a monkey, a chicken, some bones and a dog.  Only the dog is alive, the rest are her "stuffed babies." 

Anyone who knows me well or has come to a concert or workshop that I’ve conducted knows that I love my dog.  Bianca drinks bottled water, does not know the first thing about being put in a crate, is paper trained so she does not have to go out when she doesn't want to and – Does Not Walk On A Leash!!!!  She is either carried in my arms or she walks next to me when we are out.  

Bianca’s lack of leash hasn’t really been an issue, since Bianca does not really go out anywhere, she doesn’t even really walk anywhere.  She's not spoiled, she's blessed!  And she's a good dog, she does not chew up shoes or make a mess in the house, she wraps herself in her blanket and waits for me to come home, she's playful, likes to be held and loves to give kisses. 

But my desire to allow Bianca to explore the world freely has taught me several valuable lessons.   After celebrating our church’s fourth anniversary, I came home and exhausted took Bianca out for a short walk.  As we were standing in front of our door a guy whizzed by on his bike and Bianca took off after him.  She is fast and well, I need Richard Simmons.  She chased that guy up the street, into traffic, barking and yipping with me screaming her name and running after her – in heels.  I was making so much noise, the local police who were driving by pulled over to see what the commotion was about. 

Bianca finally turned around and came back, she knew she was in trouble.  I was just so thankful that a car had not hit her.  I grabbed her, popped her little tail and sent her to her bed.  About an hour later she peeked at me from behind the couch, nuzzled my hand to see if we were cool and then promptly jumped into my lap.  Of course I gave her a good talking to…  

So now Bianca has to go out on her leash, she didn't like it the first few times, but after a while we were able to go out and walk to a new place. She seemed excited about the new smells, the new grass, I let her off her leash for a while and then put it back on her and we walked home.  

Bianca’s adventure got me thinking about the Lord.  He puts boundaries on our lives (a leash) because He loves us and cares for us.  He is not trying to deny us when He says – aw, you really don't need to be over there.  We are not aware of the danger; we go (running into traffic) chasing things that are exciting with no clue about the danger that is on the way.  We can be hurt, we can even be killed.  

And when we are in a safe place, when we are mature enough to handle a little more, in a place He has selected, He gives us a little more room to explore and walk around.  So the boundaries that the Lord places on our lives are for our own good.  And as we get use to submitting and living within these boundaries, we begin to enjoy them.  They protect us, keep us safe, and allow us to go to new places in the Lord just like Bianca and I did when we went for our walk.  It's much more fun for Bianca and I when she walks by my side and I only have to carry her when she needs comfort or to be loved on.  

I'm sure the Lord carries us when we need comfort or when we need to be loved on.  But it's a great testimony to be able to walk into what the Lord has called us to do, proper boundaries in place, letting Him lead, but walking together.  

You are my rock and my fortress. For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger. Psalms 31 Verse 3 

Lord, sometimes I don't like it but let me always walk on Your leash and thank You for carrying me when I need comfort and love.

always walk on Your leash and thank You for carrying me when I need comfort and love.

 

This Blog originally appeared in the book: Dr. Nay's Random Recovery Life Lesson

 

To Purchase Naima's Book Click Here: Random Recovery Life Lessons

I See You - Guest Post by Heather Hughes 

I See You - Guest Post by Heather Hughes

Towards the end of last spring I had the privilege of attending the Sandy Patty Farewell Tour Concert and then hearing Christine Caine speak at an event. There were similarities in both events, such as the worship. All I can say is the Spirit moved in both sanctuaries. Lights were turned down low and they gave you the time to be "alone" with the Lord. The second thing both had in common was they talked about how the Lord says "I see you," "I found you," and "I know you" repeatedly throughout scripture. 

"I see you." How amazingly wonderful is that? Back in Genesis the Lord asks Adam and Eve "where are you?" It's not that He didn't know the answer, but the Lord was letting them know that He knew. No matter where we are in life, He knows. No matter the amount of running and hiding we try to do, He sees us. He sees all of us and knows everything there is to know about us. There is no thought or action we have that He doesn't already know. The things we are the most scared others may find out about us, He knows and loves us anyway. 

"I found you." Like the parable of the lost sheep, the Lord comes and looks for us when we walk away or are trying to run away. He sees us valuable enough to come looking for us and then rejoices when we are found. Personally, there are days when I want to run and hide. I may not necessarily want to run from the Lord, but circumstances in life cause me to want to run away, never to be seen again. The thing I find most comforting in those moments in life is that I know the Lord loves me and will never leave me. 

"I know you." That's right. There is nothing the Lord doesn't know about us! He knows it all because He created us. The deepest pain and biggest dreams we don't dare to share, He already knows. Those things we long to say to another person, but are too afraid to speak, we can tell Him, because it isn't a secret to Him. Those things we dared to speak, but no other person wants to believe, He does! He knows every single movement we've ever made, every thought we've ever had and saw every tear that fell in private. 

As I reflect on all of the craziness in the world today, I take comfort in knowing the Lord sees all of us. So many times, I think that's what people want. We want to know that someone sees us, not just acknowledges our presence, but really sees us, the good, the bad and the ugly. We want to know to someone cares enough to really listen to what it is that's on our hearts and minds. We want to know we are valued. We want people to look below the surface and see into our hearts. Even when it seems not a living soul around is capable of this, the Lord is. 

What would happen if we followed the Lord's example on this? What would happen if we really took the time to see the people in front of us who may be driving us crazy and even causing us to be angry? What would happen if instead of muttering under our breath when we encounter that one person/ group of people, we took the time to really listen to what it is they want to say without trying to rely on an auto response based on what we think we know? 

What if we really took the time to look deep into the eyes of our friends to see what is beneath the surface. Too many of our friends put on a brave front every day. They work so hard to keep their hurts concealed, while hoping and praying someone loves them enough to see pass the mask. We have friends we interact with on a daily basis, but don't take the time to have deep heart to heart conversations with. These friends not only need to hear from you that you see them, but more importantly that the Lord sees them. They need to hear the Lord loves them and took the time to seek them out, even if they can't feel His presence.  Who in your life needs to hear that that they have been seen, found and known? I challenge you to take a look around you and find the person in your circle who needs to hear this message. 

Take the time to be the voice and the hands of Christ.

Heather Hughes is a wife, mother of three and on staff at The Glade Church. She has been blogging for several years and has a book in progress. Heather's passion is to speak into the lives of women, assisting them to build authentic relationships with the Lord and those around them.

Abolish Anarchy - Part Two by Pastor Jack Osteen 

Abolish Anarchy - Special Guest Post by Pastor Jack Osteen 

 

Welcome back for Part Two of Abolish Anarchy.  Let's review our Guiding Scripture:

Judges 2:1-5 

Now the angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, "I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.' But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you." As soon as the angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim. And they sacrificed there to the Lord.

 

Let's look at morals, in Judges here they had no standards. Sounds like today…..NO STANDARDS! No values! We value self over God. No value for spiritual disciplines. No value for the power and the presence of God. No value for church. Church has become an option for folks. Relationship with Jesus has become a convenience. Come on…..there has to be more! 

If you will raise the standard in your life, you would abolish the spiritual anarchy of your soul. If you would establish your leadership in this life, you would annihilate the spiritual anarchy of your soul. If you would rise up in faith, rise up in the power of the Holy Spirit, walk in a manner worthy of your calling, take your relationship with Christ serious, then you would annihilate the spiritual anarchy of your soul. Do all of that then and only then will you really know the right direction.

Come on church, you and I know that the anarchy in our society today is leading us in the wrong direction.  STAND UP CHURCH…….., take your place! 

Finally here in Judges, Good people did NO-thing! Nothing produces no-thing!

Paul said: “This ONE Thing I do” That meant that he did something. That meant: “I might not be able to do a lot, but this ONE thing I can do!” When people do nothing (NO-thing is established) And when nothing and NO-thing is done guess what happens: God gets blamed, God gets ignored, No one wants to listen to Him or obey Him. 

Do SOMETHING! Remove the excuses. Kill the lie you believe. 

There are things that you can’t do, but oh…..you can do something and today is a great day to start. Here is my heart! I refuse to sit back and watch the enemy destroy brothers and sisters in this region. I will fight for racial reconciliation. I will defend my black brothers and sisters, my white brothers and sisters, my Hispanic, my Asian, all ethnic groups of people. I will fight for and defend the orphans and the widows. I will stand for righteousness. I will not tolerate injustice or prejudice of any kind. I will not tolerate self righteous, religious, pious gas bags. I will stand for Jesus Christ and the freedom that He brings. I will do my absolute best to annihilate spiritual anarchy in the body of Christ and in my own soul. 

Spiritual Ingredients for Spiritual Transformation! Authority must take its place. Authority must be established! In Judges they had No Authority, so they had no revival. We must know what is right and we must do what is right. Do you know who you are in Christ? You get your spiritual authority by connecting daily with God. Rise up in that spiritual authority, take leadership, ownership and don’t you dare back down. Encourage those around you. Become a spiritual recruiter. 

We must re-establish absolutes! In a world where there no longer any absolute truths, we must demonstrate and model what our absolutes are in this region. Don’t you dare do something half-way either! We don’t serve a half-way, half-heart God. Excellence is the key! Don't you dare settle for anything but the BEST! The BEST is Yet to Come. You and I are the BEST that God wants to use for the world to experience! 

We must re-establish Accountability! We need accountability structure! When good people do good things, the world will change. I dare you to be accountable to someone. I dare you to hold someone accountable.  We need a Spiritual Transformation. We need an Awakening. For that to happen we have to abolish anarchy in our lives. What will you do to abolish anarchy in your life? Come under the Lordship of Jesus and the leadership of your spiritual leaders. 

Raise the bar of standards in your discipleship. Reach for the absolutes of Christ’s example. Stop waiting to see if something will happen, you do something and make something happen for God!

Pastor Jack Osteen is the Senior Pastor at Leesville First Assembly in Leesville, Louisiana. He is a husband, father and community activist that is on a mission to impact the world for the glory of the Lord. For more information about Pastor Jack visit: https://www.facebook.com/lfarocks/

Abolish Anarchy - Special Guest Post by Pastor Jack Osteen  

 

Abolish Anarchy - Special Guest Post by Pastor Jack Osteen 

Judges 2:1-5 

Now the angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, "I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.' But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you." As soon as the angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim. And they sacrificed there to the Lord. 

We are living in a day of extreme anarchy!  Anarchy in the church! In Judges 2, God had reminded them of how He brought them out of Egypt and then told them that He would not break His covenant with them. He gave them instructions and then they didn’t heed His voice, they didn’t obey. They were disobedient and now they were to live with a thorn in their side. How did they forget so soon they victory of the Red Sea? How did they forget so soon the release from slavery and captivity? There was anarchy in the camp. Makes you wonder why great moves of God, revivals are short lived? 

Anarchy defined:  Absence or denial of any authority or established order; A state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority. 

God is a God of order! He is the supreme governing force for us. We need to abolish anarchy. We need to annihilate anarchy in our lives. Who is in charge of your life? We need the power of the Holy Spirit at work in every aspect of our lives. Annihilate Anarchy! What the Spirit starts, the spirit continues. 

In Judges, there was NO King! There was no one to defend the rights of the poor! There was no leadership to stop the fighting. There was no leader to take the responsibility to promote Godly lifestyles. There was no leader to give vision. Where there is no vision, people parish! There must be a leader! People don’t want a “MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY” leader. They want a team player. Someone who values people. The Church needs to be that Leader! You and I are the church.

You may say: “Well not everyone is called to lead!” I disagree! You and I are the church. The church is the hope of this world. You and I are called to lead. We may have different levels of leadership, but you still need to lead! Our lack of leadership today is really helping the anarchy of today’s issues. In order to annihilate anarchy, my friends, we must rise and take our place. We must rise up in the Authority and Power of the Holy Spirit and lead. 

No Authority! Everyone Did there Own Thing! We have the old “Have it your way mentality”! Burger King slogan: For 40 years their slogan was “Have it your way”.  

Then in 2014 they scrapped that slogan and adopted a different slogan…. “Be your way!” Taco Bell adopted a slogan that says: “Live Mas” or “Live More”.  Both chains adopted these slogans in an attempt to be more hip and create a non-corporate attitude to gain customers. 

In fact Burger King is stated to say the following: “people should live how they want anytime. It's OK to not be perfect ... Self-expression is most important and it's our differences that make us individuals instead of robots” 

It’s OK not to be perfect, but we are to live our lives in such a way, striving for perfection found in Christ Jesus. The world has adopted a lifestyle that says: “Do you what you want, live how you want, it’s your life”!

Where is God in your life? Where is God in your self-expression? Where is God in your opinion? Where is He? Is He visible to others around you?

 

This is Part One of a Special Series submitted by Pastor Jack Osteen.  Pastor Jack is the Spiritual Covering for The Refreshing Life with Naima and serves as the Senior Pastor of Leesville First Assembly of God. Stay tuned for Part Two of Abolish Anarchy next week!

 

Because I Am Young - Guest Post By Gena McCown 

Because I Am Young - Guest Post By Gena McCown

 

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech,

in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 

1 Timothy 4:12 

 

I was invited to speak at a local church for an upcoming Women's Conference.  There were many emails sent back and forth about the event, but now it was time to have a face to face meeting with the Women's Ministry Leader.  You can only imagine my surprise when I entered the room to find a nineteen year old waiting for me.  It was such an encouragement for me, someone who invests in raising up women into leadership, to see such a young woman in this position.  I was impressed that the church saw her potential and had a willingness to let her lead this ministry.  

I probably stared at her all googley eyed, enamored by the child of God sitting before me.  On the way home I was even praying, “Lord, let there be more like her... nineteen year old women ready to take up the mantle of ministry leadership!”.  After arriving home I had some time to really think about our conversation that day.  Another woman had joined the meeting and after discussing my years of serving in the ministry, she pointed out to me that I had begun as a young leader too.  After twenty years of ministry service, I had forgotten that fact.  Just like someone believed in this young lady, there were people who believed in me. 

Even at the ripe age of forty, I have days where I feel like people look at me and think I am too young to be an expert in my field.  They see my face, they don't see the twenty years of experience that brought me to where I am today.  I have to put a voice to that experience, share my education, etc. all to prove that I actually know what I know.  My mother says that the last born always stays a “baby” in the eyes of their parents.  I often wonder if that is the same in the church.  When your faith journey allows you to grow in front of the church body... can they see who you have become, or do they still see only who you were? 

Whether you are nineteen, forty, or ninety-nine, there always seems to be a least a hint of feeling inadequacy that we battle.  It may because of our actual age or based on our number of years in service, it could be the lack of formal education too.  We begin to doubt ourselves because we are not enough.  But the Lord says that we are more than enough in Him, because He equips us for what He calls us too.  The Word reminds us that even our age doesn't matter to God, who created us for his delight and purposes. 

Jeremiah 1:6-7 reads, “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” 

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.” 

Be encouraged that the Lord can use YOU where you are at.  When Moses questioned God's appointment by pointing out that he wasn't a good speaker, God didn't change His mind.  Paul told Timothy to not let anyone look down on him because of his youth.  Whatever it is that you believe disqualifies you, cast it aside.  When the Lord asks... “Who will go?”, reply “I will.  Send me.”  He will handle the rest.

 

Gena McCown is an author, speaker, teacher and ministry leader who makes her home in Southern Florida.  She is the founder of the Lead Her Women's Conference and leads The Women's Ministry Council.  For more information about Gena visit:  www.GenaMcCown.com)

I Think I've Been Shot... Or Did I Shoot Somebody - Dr. Naima Johnston Bush 

I've been amazed at the things that are coming out of people's mouths over the last few months. If we prayed as much as we talked, sniped, argued and berated - the nation would be in a different place. I now know why the Lord had me study the book of James so intensely!   I've spoken out of turn more times then I can count, but I'm thankful for the grace of God and the Word of God, which is constantly correcting me and training me. 

Some of you know I keep a list of what I like to call; Dr. Nay's Random Life Lessons and I love to share them with the world.  Now please don't respond if your temper gets tweaked, the Lord teaches me these life lessons usually because I've been guilty of them at one time or another in my own life.  So I'm pointing the finger at me first – hey, then I have three more pointing back at me again cause you can't count your thumb – LOL! 

So here is Random Life Lesson 438… 

Words can be used as weapons.  Be careful how you use them.  You might shoot yourself in the foot.  Ha, you might even kill yourself or someone you care about by playing around with a loaded "word."  So the next time you go to speak remember, "Words don't kill people, people who use them incorrectly kill people."    

James 3:2 - The New Living Translation 
Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
 

There's always a time or place to speak, to stand up boldly for the Lord.  But that is not what I'm talking about, I'm talking about gossip masked as prayer requests, attacks hidden under personal opinion, statements that simply don't need to be stated and fact finding that is grounded in falsehood. 

Let's not make our brother and sisters victims of "friendly fire." We're in a war – we're in the army of the Most High God.  Let's aim our weapons in the spirit realm and take the enemy out.  As Christians let's pray more and talk less.  I'm praying daily that the Lord would cover my emotions and help me guard my own tongue. Heck, I don't want the guilt of shooting anybody; I've got enough stuff to repent of already. And I don't want to be shot, seems to me that being shot could be pretty be painful… 

So, that's His word, and I'm sticking to it.

God's Plans For You - Guest Post by Wanda Burnside 

                          

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you 

and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”  (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). 

        Life can get so difficult with one thing and another happening all of the time.  You wonder if God cares about the difficult situations and perplexing circumstances in your life.  You try to handle them, but they can come against you making you feel defeated and downhearted.  They can become major trials and overwhelming dilemmas.  Satan’s plans are to make you doubt if God is on your side.  He will make you feel drained and hopeless.  You will begin to believe that you won’t make it.  You want to give-up! 

     You’ve been hurting and praying.  You wonder what to do.  I know!  I go through difficult times and situations.  However, I am reminded of the Words of the Lord who speaks to me and lifts my spirit.  I cry out to Him for help and direction.  I get quiet and still in His presence…then I heard Him speak to me in a new way.  He blessed me with the message that I have presented here.  Let your spirit rest.  Release yourself into His presence. May you be encouraged and empowered! 

    God has plans for your life.  Here are His Words to you: 

       “I have plans for your life.  Your life has been designed for greatness.  I have made a way for you to succeed.  I know what is best for your daily walk from now into your future. 

     My plans are to bring you hope and success that will not fail.  My desire is that you have what will bring you peace and not sorrow. 

   I don’t want you out of control, confused, frustrated or worried.  I want you to receive bountiful blessings that overflow the top of your cup.  I desire that your cup overflows all those low places in your life. I want you to have more than enough.  I desire that you have more than you expect.  I have a special plan for you.   “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us”  (Ephesians 3:20 KJV). 

     Speak boldly according to My Word.  Trust me to provide everything that you need.  Wait for My blessings.  Stand still and wait upon Me.  Allow Me to give you blessings that will satisfy you.  Hold out your hands.  I will fill them.  I will give you what you need.  I have blessings that will empower you!  I have blessings that will elevate you!” 

  

I AM THE AM 

I am your Way. Follow Me. 

I am your Hope. Trust Me. 

I am your Provider.  I will provide. 

I am your Creator. 

I formed and shaped you. 

I am your Father.  You are My child. 

I am your ALL in all. 

I care about you. 

I will equip you. 

I will anoint you. 

I will keep you. 

YOU ARE VICTORIOUS!  Victory and blessings are yours! 

          

“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” (3 John 1:2 KJV) 

Wanda Burnside is the author of14 books, her latest being,  Don't Mess With Me, Who Do You Think You Are which can be purchased on Amazon. She is the founder and president of Write the  Vision Ministries and Media Productions International. To contact here click here: Wanda J. Burnside