No Matter the Cost

I started a new book last night, “Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where It’s Not Safe to Believe” by Tom Doyle. Yes… The title is shocking… But I’m convinced we need to know what it means to persevere in faith. To love Jesus with full abandon NO.MATTER.THE.COST.

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Wow.

One of the most interesting facts that I’m learning from reading books like this, is where Christians are being persecuted for their faith – Christianity is spreading and thriving!

In places like the United States, where we have every freedom in the world, and virtually no persecution for our faith, (have you ever been persecuted for your faith in Jesus? I haven’t.) the spread of Christianity in the U.S. has plateaued at best.

What’s wrong with this picture?

One true story in this book recounts a Syrian Believer who along with several other Syrian brothers in Christ pooled their money together to buy a plot of land to bury each other in after their deaths. Because, they knew at some point they would all die for their faith. They believed their lives were in God’s hands, and resigned themselves to a violent death by shooting, beheading, or torturous crucifixion.

He says this, “There is remarkable freedom in having no expectations, no plans for tomorrow. The question I and many others start every day with is this: “Jesus, what do You have planned for me and my family?” Only today matters. Only how I live for Jesus counts. Everything else is superficial… Is your life about Jesus and nothing else? When you may die at any moment, it has to be that way, but we’re all called to live only for Him, no matter what.”

He goes on to say, “Pray for us in Syria but please do not feel bad for us. We have never been more free.”

One of the startling things I’ve noticed, as I’ve read these books on believers in persecuted countries is this: they don’t ask for prayer for deliverance from their persecution. Because – they know that through their persecution, God is glorified, and more will come to know Jesus personally. Over and over, I’m learning that these believers are asking for prayer to have strength to continue on in the faith boldly proclaiming Jesus as Savior and Friend. They don’t ask for an end to their suffering, but to endure.

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What an example. Just think about that for a moment. There are believers in the Middle East, Africa, China, North Korea, and many more places in this world that have a faith I can’t even imagine having – but pray that maybe I would gain a few ounces of eventually! At least, that is the goal!

Maybe that’s why I love reading these books – they inspire me to look at my faith differently. To analyze and attempt (feebly) to imagine putting myself in their position and wondering – “what would I do?”

What would YOU do?

Persecution is not a pleasant thing to ponder, think about, or read about. But, I’m convinced, at least for myself, I need to read more about the “cost” of discipleship. What it truly means to love Jesus with absolutely EVERYTHING that I am. And be willing to GIVE everything to Him.

Pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ all around the world. There is real suffering. Real danger. Real persecution and torture.

Yet; there is REAL FREEDOM and REAL JOY that is only and always found in Christ. Pray for endurance, joy, and peace.

God bless your day!! Live inspired to love Him even more than you did yesterday!!! 

~ Allison

Joy-Full

Happy Tuesday friends!
 
Anyone need a dose of *JOY* today?
 
Joy is something that I have focused on in my life for awhile now. Somedays are easier than others. Some days I am just naturally joy-FULL, and other days, I have to make an effort and dig deep to find joy. Can you relate at all?
 
Jesus came to us to give us life abundant! A life filled with JOY that comes only from Him, that others will crave that same type of joy. People who don’t know Jesus personally can live ‘happily’ but I truly believe that JOY comes only through Him.
 
I recently read this quote,
“Joy is the flag that flies above
the castle of our hearts indicating that
the King reigns within.”
~unknown
 
Joy comes from within. Happiness is based on circumstances.
There’s a big difference.
 
Paul was a great example of joy to us. And if you’ve read through the New Testament you will find that Paul actually had a lot of things and experiences in his life that you would not find joy in. Imprisonment, discouragement, persecution… But, he says,
“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength!”
Philippians 4:12-13.
 
Paul’s lesson to us is this – no matter our circumstances, we have the ability and right to CHOOSE JOY.
And the opposite is also true, we have the ability to choose being downcast, and discouraged, even bitter or angry. (Oh our flesh can be so powerful sometimes! It’s a constant battle for me!).
 
Have you noticed, even with the recent tragedy in Las Vegas, that we cannot avoid pain and heartache. But, whatever circumstances come our way, we can choose to pursue joy with all of our hearts. By pursuing Jesus, we pursue joy.
 
I pray that for all of us, the pursuit of JOY {aka: JESUS} would be our top priority!
Take note of how your day changes… how do you treat people, react to people, work at your job, how does your perspective change on every aspect of your day…? Write it down. Journal it. Go back to it when you need to choose joy – when it doesn’t just come naturally.
 
You will be astounded and blessed!!
 
Thank you for showing up here… you don’t have to… But I hope and pray you are blessed as we walk this awesome, incredible journey of faith together!! One day at a time…
 
Peace and love,
 
Allison

Grow… in Grace

Lately, God has placed it on my heart that I really need to grow in the area of GRACE.
 
Romans 8:5 says – But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
 
His love is UNconditiional. What else in this world can you think of as “unconditional?” We can’t earn His grace. It’s given. It is the most precious of gifts.
 
I feel like I struggle with the same things over and over. 
One of the things I wrestle with is being gracious… When I look back on my life and relationships, I have a pretty good track record of being hurt by someone, and holding a grudge, or giving up and turning away from that person.
You got it – that is NOT grace.
 
God wants us to grow strong in grace. To live by His example of grace to us.
 

Colossians 3:13 – “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

And…
 
The opposite is may be true as well. Sometimes when we’re being apologized to we say, “It’s ok.” When it’s really not. If someone is apologizing to us, something happened that needed apologizing for. And, it’s actually NOT ok. But, that is where forgiveness, and grace comes in. Jesus showed us His perfect example of grace and forgiveness. When He died on the cross for our sins, He wasn’t just saying “it’s fine.” He was saying, “I forgive you. I love you. I am wiping the slate clean.” For ALL time…
 
And now He asks us, “Will you accept my forgiveness? Will you accept my grace? Will you humble yourself to offer the same to others?”
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Before you answer an enthusiastic “YES! Yes of course!” Take a moment to really think about your yes… My yes, and your yes comes with responsibility. Growing in grace is serious business, not to be taken lightly. Accepting and extending grace is something we grow in. Something we strive for, and must live out probably daily… 
 
When we fail to grow in grace, we face lost relationships, and opportunities. And the one who hurts the most in this – is ourselves. When we allow the root of bitterness to grow, it doesn’t destroy the other person – it destroys us.
 
Here’s the GOOD news (I have to keep reminding myself!): It’s not impossible to grow in grace! We have to remember, and constantly remind ourselves that Christ forgave us – and we must forgive others in the same way. If we are intentional in growing in grace, we will. God will be faithful in our pursuit. He will give us strength and guidance in that area.
 
The stakes are high! We can choose grace, or choose heartbreak.
 
My prayer is that you, and I – choose well…
 
God bless us all!
~Allison

Ill Equipped and Unworthy, Yet; Called

• Jeremiah 1-5 • (2)I am starting to read the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was one of the greatest of prophets that God used to communicate with His people. Through him, we see how God uses the most unlikely people in His kingdom! When Jeremiah spoke, nobody listened! But he consistently and passionately urged the people of Judah to LISTEN. He didn’t give up! He was obedient to God’s calling on His life. Jeremiah had to speak unpopular words. Words of warning to a people who had greatly fallen away from God. {Sound familiar?}

When I read the first chapter, and read a little history on the book of Jeremiah, I was struck by Jeremiah’s courage. By his faithfulness and obedience to God, even when it was uncomfortable, or he didn’t feel equipped to take on the role of prophet.

Friends, we have the absolute best message in the world to share. We have the message of absolute freedom, peace, love, and joy. Why, then, is it so hard to share?

Have you ever felt ill equipped, or too unworthy to share your faith with someone you know? So did Jeremiah! We’re all in good company. The difference between Jeremiah, and myself is he was obedient to His call, and so often, I am so disobedient to God’s calling. I am pretty good at coming up with excuses like, “Well, it just wasn’t the right time…” or “When I know my Bible better I will…” or, “I feel so unworthy… I’ve made too many mistakes in my life…”.

There are a thousand excuses.

But, here are God’s words of promise to each of us today –

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations….Do not be afraid, for I am with you,” declares the Lord. “I have put my words in your mouth. See today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

{Jeremiah 1:5-10}.

He has appointed YOU, and I to go to the nations and share His life saving and life giving message of restoration and freedom in and through Him. When He gives us a job to do, you can be sure that He will also provide the strength, wisdom and provisiion to do it! IF we are obedient to His calling.

“Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them… Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land… they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,”declares the Lord.

{Jeremiah 1:17-19}

YES! THAT has got to stir something within you today, right? Doesn’t that make you stand a little taller and straighter? Does that promise give you a little more confidence, and a little more passion? The time is now!

We CAN do this! We’ve got the best message in the world. It’s just WAY too good to keep to ourselves! Today, share that love with at least ONE person!! I dare ya!

Blessing’s and strength and joy to you today!! You got this!

~Allison

Take a Peek!

This morning, as I was having my quiet time, I came across some verses on prayer.

I Thessalonians 5:17 – Pray without ceasing.
Romans 12:12 – Always be prayerful…
Ephians 6:18 – Pray at all times and on every occasion.

As Christians, we hear a lot about prayer. Many of us were taught to pray as young children. And some are probably pretty new to prayer.

Prayer is a really broad topic in Christian circles. There is just SO much to discuss, and learn. Right?

For me, this morning, as I tried to apply them to myself, right then and there – my focus was directed toward my every day, every moment CONVERSATIONS with God.

Living in a constant attitude of prayer.

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I read a wonderful quote by one of my favorite authors, Max Lucado –

“Think of prayer less as an activity FOR God,

and more as an awareness OF God.”

I love that! Sometimes, I admit, prayer can become one of those “to do’s” and something to check off my list for the day. Which, now when I t hink of it in light of that quote – is more FOR God. I love thinking of being more AWARE OF God.

How does that play out for us as we go about our day? Well, it’s acknowledging His presence in and around you, at all times. It’s praising and worshipping Him as you stand in line at the grocery store – thanking Him for His presence with you at that moment. It’s lifting up the co-worker who’s in the next office or cubicle in prayer. It’s blessing the gal who waits on you at the coffee shop. It’s asking God for His protection of our kids throughout the day. It’s thanking Him for the blessing of the car you’re driving to work. Catch my drift?

It’s DWELLING with Him, and allowing Him to transform even the every day – mundane aspects of our lives.

When we do that – every day, and every opportunity and activity we have throughout our day is an adventure, don’t you think? It sure makes things more exciting when we live in the expectancy that God can and will show up in every small and big way throughout our days on this earth. I want to live in that type of expectancy! It’s refreshing, and exciting! Living in a way where we are anticipating a God moment right around the corner is a pretty cool way to live. Yes?

“The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer,

and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen while several persons

are at the same time calling for different things,

I possess God in as great a tranquility as if I were upon

my knees at the blessed sacrament.”

– Brother Lawrence, “The Practice of the Presence of God”.

God BLESS your day!

Take a peek around the corner… what’s there?  Have fun!

~Allison 

Shhh!!!

“The tongue is but a small, soft flesh. Yet it is capable of breaking the strongest bonds and destroying the most powerful of relationships.”
“The tongue has no bones but it is strong enough to break a heart.”
The tongue. Small, but powerful. The power to build up, and tear down. Words are on the ‘tip of our tongue’, or words ‘roll off our tongue,’
This morning I read James chapter 3 which talks about taming the tongue!
James 3:9-10 – With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers (sisters) these things ought not to be so.
God’s timing is always so perfect isn’t it? I’ve been struggling with a situation and relationship in my life over the past few days. I’ve thought, and even said some unkind things in my hurt, and bitterness. Proud of it? Nope. Not at all. The last few days I’ve been actually quite bummede about the situation.
So this morning, when I read those verses, they just hit me like a ton of bricks. All people are made in God’s likeness. That puts us all on the same playing field, right? There are mean people, there are kind people, there are selfish people, there are sweet people. We were all made in God’s image. We are no different. That fact is sobering to me and it changed my perspective on that current relationship I’m struggling with, as well as all of my relationships with people.
Being people who love God, and called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), we are called to a higher standard. A Godly standard. We are called to consistency. Being contradictory in what we profess to believe, and how we behave is not living a Godly life. I truly believe that out of the depths of our hearts our tongues speak. So, what we harbor deep within us, is eventually what comes out. Whoa.
If you want to understand “who” someone is, listen to how they talk. It’s quite telling. And I confess, over the past few days some of the words I’ve spoken have been ugly. I was hurt, frustrated and confused – and… in a place of weakness, I allowed those feelings to be more powerful over me, than my love and devotion to Christ. Yuck! Double yuck.
Through my time in His Word this morning, God softened my heart toward this person, and showed me where I needed to change. It was made very clear to me, that perhaps the situation won’t change, but my attitude about the situation has the option to change. That’s HUGE. BIG stuff. Life altering, really.
I realized in that moment that my bitterness had absolutely zero impact on that person – but 100% impact on ME.
I was the one struggling and feeling bad about the situation, not the person I was upset with. My attitude affected me, and only me. {Well, and maybe my husband who had to listen to me vent.}
Once I realized that it was indeed ME who needed to change, a flood of peace fell over me. The other day, I wrote about God’s covenant of peace with us. His unshakeable promise of unfailing love and peace freely given.
Isaiah 54:10 – Though the mountains be shaken, and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of PEACE be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Isn’t it beautiful how God weaves His Word together with the circumstances of our lives? How he shapes and molds us? Oh how I needed to be redirected this morning. God gently reminded me that I can always switch my sail, turn my rudder, or change the address on my GPS when I’m going in the wrong direction.
Thank God He speaks so clearly and boldly through His Word and His Holy Spirit! He knew this morning, that I needed some major tweaking in my attitude, and my heart. When I hear people say the Bible is not relevant to today I know those people have not read it lately. It is powerful, it’s alive, and unchanging. The Word of God is like no other. Cling to it. Make time for it. Be open and willing to listen, and act upon it. It’s truly life changing!
We often overlook the power of the tongue. So, if your tongue occasionally gets you into trouble, like it does to me… Pray for control over it – God hears our prayers, and will answer it.
God bless us all in the journey… He is with us every step of the way, guiding, helping to change our course, and encouraging along the way. If we listen, and obey – we live lives of peace, joy and freedom from the sins that so entangle us.
Live free today friends!
Allison 😊

His Covenant of Peace

I’ve quit watching the news. I don’t miss it, frankly. My husband and I used to watch the 6am news together in the morning’s while drinking our coffee and waking up to the day. But, it’s been several months now that we decided to just shut it off. It probably coincides with election season. Enough said.
 
Although it’s important to be informed, and aware of what’s going on around us, I found that being filled with the news first thing in the morningt robbed me of peace. The news is so often unsettling, negative, and disturbing. I do believe it is vitally important to be aware of what’s going on in the world, and to use that knowledge to PRAY.
So I do get my news, I just don’t start my day with it.
 
But, having said that, we have made the choice to start our day more peacefully. Have you noticed it doesn’t take much to drain our souls of peace? Some of us start our day off running the moment our feet hit the floor. And some, like me prefer to start out slowly with a half pot of coffee, and quiet music.
 
Once we move on with our day and go about our work at home, or away from home – little by little we deplete ourselves. We give to our kids and spouses, we give to our jobs, we give to our co-workers and friends.
 
Giving is all good. But if we give without taking the time to receive – we will find ourselves depleted and empty. Running on ‘fumes.’
 
I don’t know about you, but I don’t function well (at all) feeling depleted. When my reserves run low, everything, and everyone suffers for it.
 
But here’s a beautiful promise from the book of Isaiah 54:10 –
Though the mountains be shaken, and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of PEACE be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
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Ahhh… take a moment… breathe in the promises of that verse. Let it soak in. Memorize it. Write it down on a sticky note. Highlight it. Circle the words that stand out to you. ❤
 
Though our lives or our world around us be shaken, His unfailing love CANNOT be. His promise of peace CANNOT be removed from us. When we put our full faith and trust -confidence and hope in the person of Jesus, we are unable to be robbed of the peace that only comes from Him. The world around us may offer a temporary peace or sense of well being – but it is so often fleeting and completely dependent on circumstances. But the peace of God that transcends all human understanding is eternal. It lasts and cannot be removed.
 
Claim it today. Own it. Trust in it. CLING to it. I know I have had to tighten my grip on MANY occasions in my life and struggles. But even in the darkest of days, I never doubted His love. I may have held Him at arms length at times, but I always knew to the deepest of my core that He loved me.
 
Do you ever feel robbed or depleted of peace? By looking honestly at where or from whom we seek peace, we may find that we are seeking in the wrong places. It’s ok – we can change course so easily. I have had to switch course many times… Our God is so very patient with us, isn’t He?
 
Today, I am wishing each one of us peace and the assurance that He loves us with an everlasting, unfailing love that will not, and cannot be shaken.
 
Blessing’s on your day, friends!
 
Allison