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God is Doing a New Thing!

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 NIV

Hello, dear one.

It’s been five months since I last opened the Scriptures with you. I can hardly believe that time has flown so quickly! I’ve missed sharing God’s Word with you. Thanks for sticking around.

I’ll be honest with you. When God called me to take a Sabbath rest from my weekly teaching posts, I wasn’t sure what that would mean for the ministry.

Don’t get me wrong. I looked forward to the rest. The freedom from weekly deadlines. Time for my body to heal and to seek the Lord with new fervor. But humanly, it’s hard to let go of the work and trust that when you return, you’ll still have people to serve.

I’ve come to believe that rest requires more faith than work does. Rest trusts that God will still do His thing while you rest from yours. That He still holds everything together for you. That nothing slips from the gaze of the One who never sleeps.

And as I connect with you again during this season of rest from blogging, God has been so faithful. He has never stopped working and moving in this ministry. In fact, as 1 Corinthians 2:9 challenges us to believe, God has exceeded my expectations.

But, as it is written, “… no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Have you ever experienced a beyond imagining move of God in your life? I pray you have, dear one. But if not, I invite you to trust Him for more. He may just knock your socks off.

These past months I have sought God’s heart over His vision for this ministry, asking Him to articulate our mission so we could step boldly into His plan. Three simple statements have emerged that encompass our calling:

Reveal Christ.

Live Truth.

Love People.

Simple, yet profound. Our mission in a nutshell. Reveal Christ to a needy world through our character and our faith. Live according to His Word, releasing the power of His Truth.

And love.

Really love.

Everyone. Not just those who love us. We need to love those who don’t.

Why?

Because love is God’s heartbeat, beloved. Love describes His very being. God doesn’t just love in action (Romans 5:8). He is love (1 John 4:8). And His love holds the power to redeem and transform.

But it must be given. Freely.

“Freely you have received; freely give.” Matthew 10:8b NIV

Like Jesus did.

We must learn to live from our heavenly identity and catch people with Christ’s love. Because when love enters, darkness trembles. Hell cowers to God’s presence. And lives change.

I believe that with all my heart, dear one. And I aim to let God prove it.

So, we have stepped in faith to invest in a ministry space. A place where we can teach God’s Word, gather churches to pray, and to minister to hurting people. A place to store provisions for needy families and introduce the broken to God’s love.

And as we stepped in faith, God moved! He brought others to us who wanted to invest in what we’re doing. Builders, plumbers, and electricians offered time and resources to build our offices. A business donated desks and office equipment. Volunteers helped move our Love LIVES donations from our old storage facility in just a few hours.

And now we look at what God has built in a few short months with awe and gratitude. His Spirit leads with vision for the days ahead. And joy floods my heart for what He has yet to do beyond my ability to dream.

So to mark this new phase of ministry, we’ve developed a new logo, centered on the Word of God and boldly proclaiming our mission.

Thanks so much for being a part of our journey. We invite you to join us in our mission.

Reveal Christ. Live Truth. Love People

It will change everything.

Take a quick peek at the warehouse God has blessed us with

Below are photos from our new Love LIVES warehouse where through God’s provision, we meet the needs of abuse victims and broken families in our community. It offers an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus by providing for financial, physical, emotional and spiritual needs. In meeting the most basic of human needs, we build trust. This lays a foundation that enables us to share the love of Christ and the good news of the Gospel.

We invite you to join us in all the new things God is doing through prayer and financial support.

stubborn hard heart

The Danger of a Hard Heart

Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble. Proverbs 28:14

Sometimes life just gets hard. Particularly when you have to watch people you love suffer. We hurt when they hurt, and we don’t like it. So when people or circumstances inflict pain, our hearts get a little stony toward those responsible. We want to shut them out at best, and at worst, give them a taste of their own medicine.

But something happens when we allow our hearts to harden toward people. They begin to harden toward God.

You see, God loves people. He’s for them. All of them. And He offered up His Son on a cross to rekindle selfless love in the hearts of humanity. So the still, small voice of Jesus will incline our hearts toward mercy. Forgiveness. Love that covers a multitude of sin. Truth.

And when we insist on something else—anger, bitterness, retribution, deception—we harden our hearts to the leadership of our Lord. If we persist in denying Him, we will find ourselves in serious trouble.

Look at how God responds to perpetually hardening our hearts to His voice.

And now, because you have done all these things, declares the Lord, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim. Jeremiah 7:13-15

When we allow our hearts to harden toward what God is speaking, we harden our hearts toward God. And when we bear His name—claiming a position in His house—He will not tolerate our refusal of Him indefinitely. When we persist in disregarding His Word, eventually His presence withdraws and we relinquish the safety He brings.

That’s not all. God added this astonishing command to Jeremiah in verse 16.

“As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you.”

Can you imagine how Jeremiah must have felt hearing those words? God commanded him not to pray for these people who bore God’s name.

Judgment had fallen against the people of God. And Jeremiah couldn’t stop it. God told him not to even try.

I wonder if that thought unsettles you like it does me. God instructed Jeremiah not to intercede. He would not hear prayer on the matter. Surely this seems out of God’s character.

But this wasn’t the only time it happened. Here’s another.

For I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey my voice. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart…”

 Again the Lord said to me, “A conspiracy exists among the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words. They have gone after other gods to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant that I made with their fathers. Therefore, thus says the Lord, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them. Jeremiah 11:7-11

Did you notice in both passages that God warned them persistently? Over and over, God extended mercy, imploring them to respond. Yet these members of God’s house repeatedly rejected His cries, refusing to acknowledge His desires. Their hardened hearts unleashed consequences that could not be undone.

And again God commanded Jeremiah.

“Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.  What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds?…” Verses 14-15

Oh, brothers and sisters. Verse 15 brings me to my knees. What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds?

Indeed. What rights can we expect God to honor when we abuse our position in His house? How long will He suffer us to disregard Him when He speaks?

Are you listening, beloved?

It’s easy to feel discouraged by the condition of the church today. In many places, an enemy has misconstrued grace for license. Holiness seems foreign. The people of God resemble the world far more than Jesus. We build our own kingdoms with little regard for Christ’s.

Yet with all of this, something stirs deep within me.

Hope.

You see. God hasn’t commanded me not to pray. Quite the contrary. His Spirit calls me to my knees. And that, beloved, means we have not yet wandered so far that we can’t return.

Do you hear Him calling too?

As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:15

God speaks, beloved. Our future depends on how we respond.

Whose Image Do You Bear?

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

Why am I here? Every soul seeks an answer to this question. Every heart cries out for purpose. And yet most find the answer elusive. Many live their whole lives without discovering it.

But you don’t have to wait your whole life, beloved. I’m going to tell you today.

You exist to reveal God.

It’s true. God created you to reveal His glory—His very nature. You see, God created man and woman to reveal who He is.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…” Genesis 1:27-28

Beloved, when God repeats Himself, He wants us to take notice. God blessed mankind to multiply and fill the earth with all that He is.

We were supposed to reveal His image, dear one. His love. His joy. His peace. His patience. His gentleness. His faithfulness. His kindness. His goodness. His self-control. His unity. His life.

God created man as an earthly expression of who He is. The same oneness shared by Father, Son and Holy Spirit joined man with God in beautiful fellowship. And life flowed unhindered on earth through our perfect union with our Creator.

Until the serpent slithered into Eden and convinced Adam and Eve to separate from God by disobeying His word. Man exchanged truth for deception, and our enemy planted a new seed—the seed of sin— in man’s heart. That new seed changed the fruit we produce. Now, instead of revealing God’s character, we display His enemy’s nature.

Beloved, the fruit of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)—given by God to nourish, grow, and produce abundant life—has been replaced by sin’s fruit.

  • Love became selfishness that bred hate.
  • Sorrow overtook our joy.
  • Instead of peace, we naturally worry.
  • Instead of patience, anger erupts.
  • In place of kindness, we hurt people.
  • Evil has overrun goodness.
  • Faithfulness withers into doubt.
  • Harshness crushes gentleness, and self-control is all but lost.

God’s image on earth has been overshadowed, beloved. Instead of mankind revealing God’s loving and giving nature, we bear our enemy’s self-centered one. And devastation increases as God’s blessing over man proves itself.

You see, when God speaks, nothing can render His Word void. And God blessed man to bear fruit, multiply, and fill the earth.

So man continues to bear fruit. And that fruit multiplies and increases. But instead of giving and sustaining life in God’s image, the fruit man produces destroys it.

We see the evidence of sin’s increasing nature as violence becomes commonplace in our world. Hatred divides and separates, and terror claims innocent lives with growing frequency.

Mankind reveals our enemy’s nature with increasing measure.

But here’s the good news. God didn’t leave us alone to reap the consequences of our sin. He sent Jesus to conquer the sin in man’s heart through the cross and restore us to God’s image.

Beloved, Jesus enabled us,

…to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

Christ has empowered us to fulfill our true purpose. We can once again reveal God’s image. Jesus restored our ability to produce godly fruit that reveals God’s character.

Beloved, only the church can counter evil’s rise on earth. Believers must submit to God’s Spirit within them and fill the earth with God’s image. His nature displaying itself on earth produces life and peace.

Only the church can counter evil's rise on earth. Let Jesus reveal His image in you. Click To Tweet

“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15:8

I have to ask, dear one. Whose image do you bear? Does the fruit your heart produces resemble God’s character? Or are you still overcome by selfishness, worry, anger, and sorrow?

Christ endured the cross to make your heart love again. He suffered so you could be healed. He gave you His own peace to ease your worry.

Do you experience His gifts of grace? Or have you rejected them in favor of your old nature?

Living from your old nature will only cost you, beloved. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. Jesus came to restore you to life.

Don’t live the rest of your life in the desert, dear one. Let God show you who you really are. As you step into your redeemed nature, the life of God will manifest though you. And you will show the world who He is.

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe. Ephesians 1:16-19

Know who you are, beloved, so you can show the world who God is.

When Jesus Speaks Your Name

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

Mary Magdalene stood weeping before an empty tomb. She had come early on the first day of the week, before even the sun had risen. What she found sent her running to find the disciples. Someone had removed the stone from Jesus’ tomb.

Peter and John both ran to the site. John’s young legs made it there first, but he didn’t enter. Instead he simply stared at the empty linens that had wrapped the Lord. Peter arrived behind him and stooped to go in. John finally joined him. Bewildered, they took in the scene and returned to their homes.

But Mary couldn’t leave. She stood weeping outside, grieving yet another loss. First His life. Now His body. Finally, she entered the tomb, only to discover she wasn’t alone. Two angels in white questioned her.

They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” John 20:13

My throat catches a little as I read Mary’s words. They have taken away my Lord.

I can’t imagine how she must have felt. Jesus had been taken from her. Her Deliverer (Mark 16:9). Her Savior. Her Hope.

Turning around, she saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognize Him, mistaking Him for the gardener. Jesus echoed the angels’ question.

“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

Desperate, she pleaded, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take Him away” (verse 15). The next moment changed everything.

 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

The Word made flesh spoke her name, and suddenly, she knew. He didn’t look like the Jesus she had known. He didn’t sound the same either. She hadn’t recognized His voice when He questioned her. But when He said her name, she knew Him. She knew because she belonged to Him.

Jesus said it would be so.

“The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” John 10:3

Does He speak your name, beloved? Do you recognize Him when He speaks it?

Mary responded precisely how a sheep would.

Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). John 20:16

Jesus spoke her name, and she turned.

Believing in Jesus isn’t religion, dear one. It’s personal. He speaks, and those who belong to Him hear and respond. They know when He calls their name. They move to the sound of His Word. They allow it to lead them, even when they have to change direction. But they follow, because they know Him. And they love Him.

They belong to Him.

It strikes me that Jesus waited for Peter and John to leave before revealing Himself to Mary. The disciples didn’t see the angels or encounter their Lord that morning.

But Mary did. A woman. An ordinary woman who offered Jesus extraordinary love. And I can’t help thinking that a God who IS love, cannot withhold Himself from one who gives it so freely.

Have you offered Jesus your love, beloved? Would you grieve like Mary at the thought of someone taking Him from you? Or have you kept Him so distant you’d hardly notice?

He notices, beloved. He calls your name, and invites you to respond. He bled and died so that you could know Him. Intimately. Many know about Him, but those who belong to Him know Him. And they follow, because they love Him.

Many people know about Jesus. But those who belong to Him, know HIM. Click To Tweet

On Sunday, we will celebrate the resurrection of our Savior. As we remember the cross and the empty tomb, let’s also remember what it bought us.

Intimacy. Love. Belonging. And the power to follow.

Oh Lord, I want to know You when You speak my name. And I want to turn to You every time. Empower me, Lord, to love You with obedience, that I may see You and proclaim like Mary, “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18)

Is Love Worth the Pain it Brings?

The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23

Love.

It moves us. Compels us.

Sometimes it breaks us.

Recently my heart broke under its weight as we said goodbye to our beloved Annie, our Australian Shepherd puppy-person that melted our hearts from the first day we met her.

Some of you may not understand such a strong attachment to a four-legged creature. But perhaps you’ve never opened your heart to receive the love of one.

You see, our Annie never held her love back like people do. She gave it. Freely.

She always greeted us with enthusiastic kisses—whether we’d been gone for 15 minutes or 15 days—and she loved snuggles more than anyone I know. Her tender heart often reflected our moods. She would share joys and bear burdens, lovingly coming near to lay with me and comfort me when she sensed my heart hurting.

Annie knew how to make a girl feel special. She followed me wherever I went in the house—even if only to run back upstairs to grab something I forgot. But Annie was unconcerned over the reason for going. She simply went. Because nothing gave her greater joy than to be in the presence of the one who loved and took care of her.

Oh, that we would love our God without restraint like Annie loved me!

Over these last ten years, she taught me so much about unconditional love. But recently, as cancer revealed itself in our family again—this time in our furry, precious loved one—a fresh awareness of the cross washed over me. While laying with Annie to comfort her when disease had rapidly taken her strength and she could no longer get up to follow me, an overwhelming desire to release her suffering gripped my heart.

And I realized. That’s precisely how God feels about our suffering. He aches. And He wants to remove everything that hinders our capacity to enjoy one another completely.

God wants to remove everything that hinders our capacity to enjoy one another completely. Click To Tweet

But being God, He’s able to do something about it. And He did. He sent His Son to bear our suffering, so that He could redeem it. And suffering itself became the catalyst for our redemption.

Christ’s love flowed red at Calvary, beloved.

Now the only thing that can keep us from the power of His love is our refusal to receive it. A guarded heart that won’t open to love will never experience its resurrection power.

And so the enemy of our souls keeps us fearing love.

In this fallen world we live in, we’re going to hurt, dear one. Man’s choice to separate from God brought pain—pain the enemy of our souls has convinced us we can escape if we avoid loving freely.

But you and I were created to love. Made in the image of the God of love, we can never experience the joy of abundant life without loving. Love brings life to dead places. It exhilarates. It heals. And yes, sometimes it hurts.

But the beauty of pure love reveals itself in its faithfulness. In love’s embrace, even the hurt will become joy again as love heals.

You and I don’t want to run from love, beloved. We want to run toward it. We want to dive headlong straight into the arms of its Source. So we can become it. And give it. Freely. Because only as we give it can we receive what it gives. Jesus said so in Luke 6:38,

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

But loving takes faith, dear one. We’ve got to trust to love. We must love without fear.

God is love. Love is eternal. Love never fails. Nothing entrusted to love is ever lost, and nothing birthed out of love well ever die. But there are some places that love does not grow; love cannot flourish in the company of its rival, fear. Fear has an end—actually, fear is a dead end. Fear is an ungodly spirit that leads to torment. Fear advises from its seat in the shadow of doubt, while love draws its wisdom from the light of faith. If you heed the counsel of fear for too long, you will fail.

(Lisa Bevere, THE ONE THING I WOULD CHANGE IN MY MARRIAGE, Messenger International, http://messengerinternational.org/blog/lisa-devotional/one-thing-change-marriage/)

As I lay holding Annie, my heart in shattered pieces under the heavy weight of loss, I never regretted my decision to love her. My lips offered a sacrifice of praise to my God for the privilege of it. I thanked Him for the cuddles and kisses, the laughter, and the joy. And I know my heart—though broken—will keep beating. My Father’s love will heal and mend it, making it even stronger. Increasing its capacity, and allowing it to give even more.

Beloved, when we love, we bear our Father’s image.

Don’t hold back from love, dear one. Become it. Give it. Feel it.

And live reaping its resurrection power.

Would You Let God Birth a Miracle Through You?

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38

We all want to witness miracles.

We want God to wow us with wonder like He did so many times in scripture. And let’s be honest. We really just wish God would show up and prove Himself.

So we cry out for miracles.

Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2 NIV

Yes, we want the miracles. We just don’t want what God requires of us to release them.

Faith.

I’m not talking about a theory of faith. We’ll grab hold of that easily enough.

No, I’m talking about hitting the pavement with it. Living faith that defies difficulty. That stretches and grows us. Faith that believes an unbelievable promise, then holds onto it no matter what.

Do you have that kind of faith, beloved? Do you take God at His Word, no matter how crazy it sounds? Because that’s the only way you and I will ever witness miracles.

We need to trust God’s Word more than we value our comfort.

We need to trust God’s Word more than we value our comfort. #Heplanstoprosperyou Click To Tweet

I wonder if you’ve thought much about Mary’s response to the angel who had just informed her she would give birth to God’s own son. “Let it be to me according to your word.”

 Really? Is that how you would’ve responded?

Let’s forget for a moment that we know how it all works out and slip our feet into Mary’s sandals. She was just an ordinary girl, planning a wedding with the man of her dreams.

I wonder how many times she had imagined her wedding day. Would she wear flowers in her hair? Did she help her mother design her dress? I imagine she dreamed of a beautiful gathering with family and friends offering warm smiles and supportive hugs.

Then a messenger appeared with news of a very different dream.

A baby. Before her wedding day.

In this new dream, her husband wouldn’t father her firstborn child. She would face ridicule and judgment. She might even lose the husband her dreams encircled.

Yet when an angel of the Lord appeared to her declaring that God had chosen her to mother the Son of God Himself, she said,

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

Amazing. Mary simply believed God, and that was enough for her. She was an ordinary woman who set her heart toward godly purpose. God’s Word became more important than her comfort and ease. More powerful than doubt, ridicule, shame, or loneliness.

She believed God, and trusted that His plan was the very best for her.

“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

Mary’s belief invited God’s seed to create life in her womb. And God would use this ordinary girl as a vessel through whom He would bring about His plan of redemption for the world.

Do you think she found it worth it, beloved? When she finally looked into the face of the miracle she had carried within her for nine long months, do you think she felt regret?

I don’t, dear one. My guess is one emotion consumed her. Love. She gazed into Love’s face and held Him in her arms. I imagine she wept with wonder.

But then her miracle asked more of her. More surrender. More sacrifice.

One day hatred would tear her Son from her. The man He would become would hang before her, bloodied and beaten on a wooden cross.

Her child that kings had worshipped with gifts of gold would become the sacrificial Lamb. And Mary would receive her greatest miracle. Eternal life.

Will you trust God to work miracles through your life, beloved? Will you trust even when you don’t understand? Would you believe the blessing overshadows the cost?

Mary believed.

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord. Luke 1:45

Only Jesus Can End Division

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. Ephesians 2:14

Peace.

It’s an alluring prospect, isn’t it? The eternal longing God set within each of our hearts yearns for it. Yet hatred and hostility rise in our midst, driven by fear and deception.

The recent presidential election has brought out the worst in us.

We watch in horror as hate prevails in this nation. Without seeking to understand another point of view, fellow citizens hurl insults at one another like daggers, hoping to draw blood.

Our forefathers gathered to form a more perfect union. What we have now is anything but.

Beloved, peace will never come through convincing arguments and carefully framed rhetoric. Peace comes through Jesus.

How?

Jesus suffered the breaking of His own flesh in order to destroy the divisive nature of ours.

Yet somehow the church is missing the message, although it remains the very heart of the gospel. The cross conquered sin, overcoming the destructive power of the flesh. Faith in Jesus provides believers with a new heart, and a new Spirit to guide them.

Christians are supposed to live changed and unified. But most of us look remarkably like the unsaved.

Our nation stands divided, dear one. Even worse, so does the church. Christians all over this nation are taking sides. Yet we continue to choose the wrong side. We forget that we’re supposed to be on God’s side.

“Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord, “who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin.” Isaiah 30:1

You and I need to carefully consider this question, beloved. With whom have we made our alliance? You see, we can’t align with God’s Spirit when we fight one another. Jesus’ own words defy our discord.

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:22-23

Beloved, Jesus imparted His glory to us so that we could become perfectly one. So why aren’t we? Why aren’t love and unity evident among God’s people?

According to Jesus, love and unity among the body of Christ should prove that He was exactly who He claimed to be.

Beloved, the division and disunity so prevalent within the church is of far greater concern than the rantings of the lost in our nation. Dissension reveals enemy strongholds that must be cast out. Consider scripture’s warning.

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. Titus 3:10-11

Beloved, love and unity don’t just describe God; they define Him. Where His presence manifests, those qualities will be evident. So will the other fruit of His Spirit… joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.

Hatred and division reveal God’s absence, dear one. How it must wound God’s heart that His people push Him out of His own church, aligning themselves instead with the divisive spirits governing the flesh.

“Ah, stubborn children, … who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit…” Isaiah 30:1

As we watch our nation battle with division and hatred, we the church must take an honest look at ourselves. If we alone carry His Spirit within us, we alone bear the responsibility for His absence. We ourselves have quenched His Spirit in our land and blocked His movement.

Forgive us, Father.

The church must unite, dear one, unite with Christ and with each other. Disunity reveals the absence of His Spirit. We must learn to discern the false from the True.

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. Jude 1:17-23

Only the people of God hold any real power to bring unity because we alone carry His Spirit. And that Spirit reveals His nature when we yield to Him.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Deuteronomy 6:4

Beloved, Jesus suffered to destroy hostility, greed, selfishness, and hatred. Let’s submit to our Lord and let love prevail.

From Victim to Victor

By Juliet Sharrow 01419676c13f3393ae901dec23ae13cff24f8cb52d-1

Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others. Titus 3:14a NLT

Victim.

It’s a label no one ever asks for. In fact, it’s a label that has to be forced on us! No one EVER chooses to be a victim. But that label forever defines us. It taints every decision, every moment, every occasion for the rest of our lives. We filter everything through our victim mentality. It can take years for us to trust again, to feel normal, to hope… to love.

Even if you’ve never been a victim yourself, I would guess that you know someone who shamefully wears this label. Victims see the whole world and every circumstance through the tainted lens of their victimhood. Victim becomes their identity. They believe this is who they are and who they always will be.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, a time for us to remember and honor victims, especially those who have died as a victim, carrying this identity to the grave. The sad part is this is not an unstoppable evil! It is not a cancer that ravages our body and we have no control over it. Abuse is one person choosing to hurt another.

Often abuse occurs between two people who love each other, and sadly even occurs in marriages. Do you know what it’s like to be beaten every day by the person you love? Have you been torn down with ugly, hateful, demeaning words until you believed they were true? Do you understand how it feels to wake up each day and wonder if today is the day they will kill you? Countless people around the world live with this fear every day!

UNICEF reports that 1 billion people worldwide who are alive today, have experienced or are currently experiencing domestic violence. And in the US, 1 in 7 adults (over 40 million people) currently live with or have lived with domestic violence, causing UNICEF to label it “one of the most pervasive human rights violations in the world.”

Do these numbers surprise you? They should, because domestic violence is our best kept secret in this country. No one wants to talk about it, and even fewer will admit they are part of this statistic. But I stand before you today admitting that I a member of this statistic. I have worn the scarlet letter of victim for most of my life. I carried the shame of victimhood far too long. I believed the lies my abuser and Satan spoke to me, lies that told me I was unloveable. Unwanted. Worthless.

Can I let you in on a secret? All victims believe these same lies. Just ask them if they feel unloved, unwanted or worthless, and you will see their eyes well up with tears as they lower their heads in shame!

Life experiences have taught them they are unlovable. But God says differently.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

God believes these victims are worth dying for.

Their abusers and sometimes even their families tell them no one wants them. But God says:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” Jeremiah 1:5a

“You did not choose me, but I chose you…” John 15:16a

Society tells her she is worthless. Worth less than those who have a husband, or a good job, or a put together life. But she is treasured by God. Created in His image. Priceless!

These women don’t realize how beautiful, loved, wanted and valuable they are! And they won’t know until someone shows them. They need someone who makes them feel things like hope for the first time in a long time. Someone who speaks light into their darkness and life into their crippled hearts of stone. Someone who shows them their beauty in Gods eyes by loving them in all their ugliness, who shows them the depths of Christ’s love for them by serving them in their darkest hour and providing for them in the direst of circumstances.

These women don’t just need a handout. They need love. They need someone to show them how desperately God wants them by walking alongside them through even the hardest of days.

This is the mission God has laid before us here at Kelley Latta Ministries. We have felt His call to be His hands and feet and minister to these broken families. To serve them and love them and walk alongside them on their journey to independence and freedom. To break through the lies in their belief system and deliver them into the freedom truth promises.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

This ministry was birthed through my own background of abuse, domestic violence, and homelessness. God used my past, my pain and my struggles to birth a passion to minister to and love those who are where I have been. While at the same time laying it on Kelley’s heart to reach out to the orphans and widows of our day—broken families—as scripture commands. God joined our hearts and our passions as we obediently followed His lead in founding this outreach ministry called Love LIVES.

The focus of this ministry is to meet the needs of abuse victims and their families along with the broken and down trodden in our communities. We do this by providing for financial, physical, emotional and spiritual needs. In meeting the most basic of human needs we build trust and show them they are not alone and that someone cares. This lays a foundation that enables us to share the love of Christ and the good news of the gospel with them.

When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Romans 12:13 NLT

We also offer a mentoring program that allows us to walk alongside the victims on their journey to freedom and victory. Our mentors were all victims themselves, so they understand the struggle these ladies are going through and can minister to them in ways no one else could! In this way we share life with them, counsel them, love them and help meet ongoing needs with the goal of enabling them to not just survive but to thrive!

Through Love LIVES we have answered the call to minister to the forgotten and unwanted. We stand beside these victims and broken families to show them that their lives matter. That they are valuable. And that someone actually cares whether they live or die!

But we need your help. We cannot do this alone. We invite you to partner with us in making a difference in the lives of these women and their families.

You can help us meet the needs of our clients on an individual basis by joining our email list. We send out emails listing individual client needs as they come in from the Safe Home. We don’t expect you to help with every need, but only as you are able and feel led to. If you get the email and want to help, you let us know. It is that easy! And remember, even what seems like the smallest gift can mean the world to them.

We are also looking for those who would like to partner with us financially through a one time or monthly tax deductible gift. We use these funds to help victims with first month’s rent & security deposit to get an apartment or to help pay their rent or utilities in extenuating circumstances. We also use financial donations to purchase needed items that aren’t donated, or that we must purchase new, like car seats and mattresses.

Would you prayerfully consider partnering with us as we reach out to a lost and hurting world, giving them hope and sharing the love and grace God has so lavishly blessed us with? Will you stand with us to prove that Love LIVES?

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Salty Streams

Don’t you know that the Lord, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt? 2 Chronicles 13:5 NIV

I recently enjoyed a sweet time with Jesus in this very spot. Beautiful, isn’t it? I always somehow feel especially close to Him by the sea.

And this particular morning, a gentle but steady breeze blew the hair from my face while the sun cast its warmth upon it. I couldn’t help but close my eyes and lift my face toward heaven.

Blessings of praise soared from my lips to God’s ears, followed by fervent intercession. You may not have realized it at the time, but you were there with me. Unseen faces filled my thoughts with urgent need.

God means to awaken His church, dear one. And you and I are the church.

Something occurred to me as I sat there with Jesus inviting Him to merge my heart with His. You see, while I cried out to Him for you and His kingdom purpose, tears fell. Many tears.

Eventually I tasted them. And a new thought emerged about what’s found in them.

Salt.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Matthew 5:13

Jesus declared that you and I are salt, dear one. And He cared a great deal about whether we reveal and display our saltiness. In fact without saltiness, He said we have no use except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

Are you feeling trampled, beloved? Perhaps it’s symptomatic of an absence of salt.

I wonder. Have you and I become the salt Jesus described? What if one way we’ve lost our saltiness is that our hearts don’t feel what God feels?

It occurred to me that day by the sea that our tears—or lack of them—might indicate our level of saltiness.

I’m not talking about the tears we cry for ourselves. Most of us can easily shed a tear over our own losses and disappointments. But what about shedding tears for our brothers and sisters in Christ? What about feeling another’s pain so intensely that our own heart hurts? Or what about anguish over a stranger’s poor choices that makes salty tears fall?

It sounds crazy, I know. But it’s Jesus. He offered a prime example of it as He looked out over the city sheltering the mob that would crucify Him.

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42 NIV

The words strike me every time I read them. Jesus knew exactly what the people of Jerusalem were about to do to Him. Yet He wept for them, because He knew their rejection of Him would cost them dearly. And He loved them.

You see, that’s what God’s heart does, dear one. It loves. Deeply. Sacrificially.

And that’s the salt He means to put in you and me, beloved. Love. That’s what makes us different from everyone else, what keeps us from tasting just like the world.

Love is the salt Jesus wants in you and me. Love keeps us from tasting like the world. Matt 5:13 Click To Tweet

Jesus feels. He weeps when people suffer and celebrates their blessings. He calls us to do the same.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

You and I are supposed to cry when others experience pain. We’re supposed to long to see blessings released in the lives of people around us so we can rejoice with them.

But often rejoicing isn’t what we do when we see blessing poured out on someone else, is it? Bitterness more readily rears its head. After all, how can we rejoice for them if we lack what they received? And we can’t be expected to weep over someone else’s sorrow when we have so much of our own.

I’m going to tell you the truth, beloved. Those responses reflect a calloused heart. A heart centered on self instead of others. One that doesn’t resemble God’s.

But here’s the good news. Hard hearts happen to be God’s specialty. We just need to offer it to Jesus—no strings attached—and invite Him to make it like His. That is, after all, why He went to the cross.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

Perhaps that’s how you and I become the salt of the earth, dear one. We repent of our self-centeredness and allow Jesus to give us that new heart. We invite Him to make us feel what He feels and start letting His tears flow through us.

There’s nothing to fear, dear one. I’d rather taste a few salty tears than find myself useless to Jesus and trampled underfoot. Wouldn’t you?

 

Love in Action

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18 

It’s time we awaken, dear ones.

Prosperity has lulled the western church into a false sense of security. We visit our beautiful buildings on Sundays to hear a message from the pulpit and to thank God for His provision. Then we return to our homes where we work diligently to build our own kingdoms.

And all around us evil surfaces. People are beheaded. Women are sold. Children bear children. It doesn’t touch us personally, so we pause in indignation at the news and then return to what matters in our own lives.

Meanwhile, Jesus’ call rings forth, carried on the breath of His Spirit.

“I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18

Where is the prevailing church of Jesus Christ?

I fear she has been sleeping. And if she continues to sleep, evil will soon find its way to our own doors.

Jesus calls us to wake, beloved.

“I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” Revelation 3:1-2

Will you wake with me before it’s too late, dear one? Will you rise in love that acts?

Today I share Ann Voskamp’s words from a recent post after visiting Iraq. As you read them, I ask you to open your heart and seek God’s face. It’s time we feel what He feels and start doing what He would do.

Blessings, dear one.

What the News Isn’t Telling You and Why We Can’t Afford to Pretend it’s Not Happening