Change Your Name

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble” (Psalm 90:14-15, NIV).

For many, many years I suffered.

With ill health.

With no possibility of boys to date (oh the horror, seriously).

So many years I cried out to God, wondering “where is he?” and “Does he even exist?”

Of course, I knew better. On September 20, 1998 God told me that I would NOT be lacking a mate. His Spirit would make all come true (Isaiah 34:16).

This world told me a long time ago to give up.

Have sex.

Go all the way.

Find a guy. Heck, multiple guys and just go crazy.

But I held strong.

I did not give in.

I kept reading the Word.

It is through my desire and devotion to the Word of God that He has changed me and given me a new name. I married Mr. Fisher on Oct. 15, 2011 and forever became a “fisher” of men.

It is my desire as a new bride to show my devotion to my husband and more importantly to the Lord, why it is important to intentionally follow Jesus.

To be His disciple.

But I’m warning you because some days are going to just plain suck. You’re going to want to give up hope.

Trust me.

I’ve been there. FOR YEARS.

It wasn’t until I read in my quiet time tonight in my One Year Bible that I realized it was exactly two years ago TODAY that I left my job at Outreach Events. Moved home to be with my parents AGAIN. I never felt more like a miserable failure than I did those two years ago. Even though my first book was going to be published soon, I was a wreck.

I was afraid to let go. Let God expose me for everything I was. To show His strength through my weakness. My anxiety made me a stronger person because God instantly became glorified.

It became less of who I was and who my ministry was and who God was and His mighty power in my life.

That is why I decided to THROW MOUNTAINS.

To carry my life as a burden to the 20-somethings because somebody’s gotta do it–and God was calling me specifically to lay down my life and take a giant leap of faith.

So I leaped.

And I cried.

And I had terrible panic attacks.

“So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:8-9, NLT).

It wasn’t until two years ago that I learned what SHAME meant. I was ashamed of who I was. God was ashamed of who I wasn’t.

Never tell God who you are because He just might change your name!

Oh and God–thanks for making the past two years up to me on the sweetest day of the year. You rock. Please give everyone else the strength to continue on…to YOUR hopes and dreams for them (which are FAR beyond what we could ever ask, imagine, or hope for!)

[Picture is taken of my first glance of Marc in my wedding dress]

 

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My New Name

In 8 days I will have a new name:

Mrs. Renee Fisher.

All those years ago, God knew.

He prepared me.

Changed me.

And now, He wants to give me a new name.

When Jesus asked his soon to be disciples to follow Him they were FISHER-men. They simply worked to make money and provide for their families.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

In this next year of marriage, I want to be a living example. No matter who you are or what job you have–I want you to know without a doubt that Jesus loves you and wants to have a relationship with you.

I look forward to revamping my entire website and blog once my new name change is complete. It is my hope that I will be able to bring even more glory to Him through my writing than I could as a single person.

Imagine that.

One of my values this year is GLORY. It surprises me with joy to know God had me pick glory–knowing just a few days later I’d meet Marc.

Recently, I stumbled upon a verse in Numbers 6. Normally, I just read verses 24-26. I’m quite familiar with the priestly blessing. It’s a common saying among Christians. I’ve heard it numerous times by pastors and other leaders in the church.

The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
‘The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.’

But then verse 27 caught my attention: “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

I anxiously shared the verses with Marc. I wondered, “Is that the same thing as taking someone’s name–as in I’m going to be Mrs. Fisher soon?” Yes. Then Marc pointed me to Genesis 48.

Then he blessed Joseph and said,
“May the God before whom my fathers
Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully,
the God who has been my shepherd
all my life to this day,
the Angel who has delivered me from all harm
—may he bless these boys.
May they be called by my name
and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac,
and may they increase greatly
on the earth.” (Genesis 48:15-16, NIV).

Did you notice that both verses proclaim blessing on the person BEFORE changing their name?

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4, NIV).

I am blessed.

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It's Not Who You Know

This is the Devotional I wrote and shared at the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild Fall Conference hosted at Maranatha Chapel in Rancho Bernardo, CA.

Morning Devotional ~ Saturday, September 24, 2011

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken!’(Jeremiah 9:23-24, NLT)

Writing is a journey. I can say this with full confidence because I remember sitting at one of the back round tables many years ago when Jerry B. Jenkins was the main speaker. When his “Left Behind” series was in full storm. I was 19. With newly healed skin and a fresh heart to share God’s truth. I hungered to be seen. Heard. And read.

It took many years of obscurity to bring me to this place for such a time as this.

I stand before you now a broken individual full of God’s grace and hope. I am a walking miracle of what it looks like to walk in the Spirit. I am ready to be blessed. I want you to know that I waited seven years to get my first book published, more than two years to get my second book published, and over five years of waiting on my third. Not to mention the 12 years, 10 months, and 24 days I waited on God before He blessed me with a future husband.

Writing is a journey. Remember and don’t forget that. Along the way God may ask you, “See! I am going to do a new thing. Do you not perceive it?”

Last year when I accepted the Nancy Bayless award for my first book, “Faithbook of Jesus” the verse from Isaiah 43:19 was inscribed on the plaque. I cried inwardly as I accepted the award because days/weeks before one of my book contracts had just been canceled, but not before I had heard the words “I am going to do a new thing.”

Friends, let us never be afraid of the journey. Of new things. New places and new people. Let’s be confident in this one thing that it is He who makes us lie down in green places. It is in the valley of vision when we come to know the Savior, Healer, Friend. And even more so the Author, Himself.

Today—let’s not walk in the flesh. It’s not whom you know, but Who knows you. Instead of saying “I know Him” may it be said of you, “He knows and delights in me.”

It’s not who you know.

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I'm Engaged!

12 years, 10 months, and 24 days ago–God promised me a husband. On August 13, 2011, Marc asked me to be his wife! I’m engaged!!!

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to meet Marc, please let me introduce you to him:

Marc grew up in San Marcos, CA. He has three sisters: Marsha, Alicia, and Sandra. He has two degrees from Cal State San Marcos, Math and Computer Science. He has taught English in Kazakhstan, hiked the Himalayas in Nepal, and in his spare time he loves to read the writings of past missionaries and revivalists. He works as a Software Engineer for Teradata, and just bought us a home!

We met at North Coast Church as I was his co-leader. I love how God brought him directly to me in my parents home. I didn’t have to go searching for him. He FOUND me. He helped me move down to San Diego, when I originally thought I was going to attend Bethel Seminary for Marriage & Family Therapy. (As a single person I always wondered what God had in mind).

A week after I moved, he asked me out.

After our first date he emailed me a piece of his writing–a devotional. (What’s my registered trademark???) He won me over by his heart and knowledge of the Word. A few months after living in San Diego, I decided to move back and pursue our relationship while finishing my second book.

While I was editing “Not Another Dating Book,” everything my editor asked me to change I was living with Marc. It was nuts. I remember running up and down the stairs of my apartment in San Diego yelling, “WHAA????” All those years of bitterness and anger towards God melted as I began to see the timing of God’s sovereignty in both of our lives. His promise to me did not hold void and I am so glad I waited.

How he proposed

Marc came over to hang out on Saturday. He surprised me with my favorite flower, gerber daisies. I gave him a letter when he came over, so I didn’t expect anything to happen that night. He said he was “craving” Italian and that he had a letter for me too. He told me the restaurant was in La Jolla and I was puzzled. That’s a bit far…

So I agreed because I thought, “well maybe…” because I wasn’t feeling that well.

He kept driving past La Jolla, past San Diego, and we ended up in Coronado. He made reservations at Vigiluccis Restaurant. That was the BEST pasta I’ve ever eaten. The Salmon melted in my mouth. Seriously. The entire time he had a letter on the window seal waiting for me. So again, I had no clue.

After dinner, he suggested we walk down to the Hotel del Coronado and go for a walk on the beach. When we got to the beach there was a white towel on the sand just sitting there. We sat down and enjoyed the sweet silence and the sound of the waves. I asked Marc, “so do I get the letter now or later?” and he stood up because he wanted to read me the letter.

I was shocked.

It was everything I wrote in MY letter that God had put on my heart to write to him earlier, but he couldn’t tell me until that point. We both laughed and he kept reading. I thought he was finished and he quickly said, “wait, I have one more thing…” I started screaming as he pulled out the ring and asked me to marry him. Then I cried, then I screamed, and then I tackled him.

YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. A THOUSAND TIMES YES.

Our Wedding

We are getting married on Saturday, October 15th. Please keep us in your prayers as he closes on the house next week, and we go through the crazy process of planning a wedding. We decided to invite 50 people to keep things small and intimate. For all those who have prayed along the journey with me to find a man–let’s celebrate! God is faithful and He keeps His promises.

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20-somethings need a home

In today’s economy it’s pretty rare for a 20-something to own their own home. Especially in California. At the very least it’s even more rare to live in a stable living environment (that’s not their parents).

A safe place.

Tonight, after leading another week of the Summer Book Study it hit me.

20-somethings need a home.

My friend Summer’s graciously allowed us to meet in her home the past three weeks, and it’s fostered so much more than a Panera or a Starbucks ever could.

Why?

Because there’s less people.

Less distraction.

Less noise.

No interference.

You get the picture.

Remember those drawings we used to make when we were a kid of a house? It’s like that.

We need a place to belong.

To feel at home.

A place to share our deepest, darkest fears…usually stemming back from our childhood. It’s super painful and if not dealt with in a safe environment…one might never share.

Or find help.

This group that I’m leading this summer was totally impromptu. It wasn’t affiliated with a church. I didn’t ask for a pastor’s permission.

I just did.

I asked around who wanted to be involved and those who came, came.

“You get what you put into it” is our motto.

And you know what? It’s refreshing. Those who are committed show up. On time. Every week.

I love it.

So much.

If you’re wondering how to lead young adults at your church…the best place to start is in a home. It doesn’t even have to be official.

“You build it and they will come” is your motto.

Over the past three years I’ve had the privilege of leading discussions, small groups, spoken at conferences, attended conferences, launched and re-launched a 20-somethings ministry at North Coast Church in Vista, CA…and let me tell you…it’s rough.

Once you think you’re building any sort of momentum it changes.

Someone leaves.

Moves.

Quits.

Marries.

Falls away.

Whatever.

That’s why I think the importance of building a Christ centered community starts in the home. It’s what my parents taught me from such a young age. Not one night has gone by in the Johnson household where dinner wasn’t being served. Together.

In community.

That’s why I take such great responsibility in finding a tool that will work with an age group that is always (and will always be–for that matter) in such great transition.

So here’s where you come in.

Suggest meeting together.

Find a home.

Meet.

Keep meeting.

The end.

Dear Jesus,

Thank you God for the opportunity to continue to lead my generation and be a facilitator. Wake up those who are capable of leading and provide a home for those who are willing to host. Amen.

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11, NIV).

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Daddy Issues

“I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me” (John 15:15, NLT).

“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father'” (Romans 8:15, NLT).

Last week I posted 34 Pre Engagement Questions that Marc and I have been going through. I wanted to highlight truth I learned while using another tool “Family Matters.” It has questions like “List what you feel are the positive qualities of your father/mother” or “Describe how you feel about your father/mother.”

i.e.

Do you have daddy issues?

I wrote, “Once I had to tell [my dad] that I had a hard time to seeing God as loving because of how unemotional [he] was. That was the toughest and worst conversation I’ve ever had with my dad, but ever since then things have gotten way better because I addressed it with him.”

I didn’t think much about my answer until my Summer Book Study group this week. We were discussing El Roi. “He Is My God Who Sees.” When one of the girls shared a major family issue and it hit me.

I feel it’s crucial as a single person to accept and take responsibility for your own family before becoming “one flesh.”

I cannot tell you how grateful I am now for having had that VERY difficult conversation with my father when I was in my early 20’s. At the time, I was going through The Father Heart of God at DTS (Discipleship Training School).

I realized I couldn’t press forward with my relationship with God until I told my dad how I felt, and it was super disappointing to me to have to tell my dad I couldn’t feel God’s love for me because of his lack of emotion and how we related to each other.

My dad came back to me a few weeks later and apologized.

He didn’t have to.

But he took the blame for his part.

And I did the same.

Since then, my relationship with Jesus has flourished. Instead of blaming my dad for my relationship with God–I work through the emotion until I feel God’s love for me. It honestly took me a few years to not wince at the fact that Jesus loves me, and the last thing I want to do is repeat the same cycle in my future family.

Of all the characters in the Bible, Ruth had reason to complain. Her husband died and as a result she lost her income. In Biblical days the man took care of the family. He was the head of the household (literally, physically, whatever!). She decided she would go with her mother in law to a foreign land…

“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!’” (Ruth 1:16-17, NLT).

Did you catch all the “I” statements? Ruth owned her family issues. I love this woman!!! Because of her faith, God used her to as  redeem her family…

“May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband. That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers” (Ruth 2:20, NLT).

Ruth married this man and they had a son named Obed. Obed was David’s grandfather. God used a pagan, foreign, homeless woman named Ruth to redeem his people..

“This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham…Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab). Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth). Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David” (Matthew 1:1, 6-7a, NLT).

That is my heart for you.

Jesus calls you His friend and as our Heavenly Father He tells us to come to Him without fear.

i.e.

We are no longer slaves.

YOU have a voice. YOU have a choice to speak up about the issues you have. I challenge you–as I did–to take responsibility for your life.

Is this the life you’ve always wanted?

Then change it. Work on it. Go to counseling. Seek therapy for your family issues.

No matter what kind of family you come from, wish you could forget, are running from, or love dearly–take a moment and reflect.

Do you have daddy issues?

And if so what are you going to do about them?

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When God Says No

I wanted to dig up this blog post from 2004, but I’ve been so busy with life that it took me longer to find it. I did a clean sweet of my blog a few years ago and removed all blog posts from my beginning years of blogging, but I felt God impressing this one on my heart to share again–a key principle that most (if not all) will learn at some point.

Do not be afraid.

You are not alone.

[What happens when God says no? -Previously Posted, November 23, 2004]

This Thanksgiving will be a one-year anniversary for me. Last Thanksgiving is when the bumps on my right pinky finger got infected and started rapidly spreading. I let it spread for 2 months before coming home from my mission’s trip. At the time I just thought, “well, God is God and He must heal me.”

I was SO offended when God didn’t heal me.

Well, if I would have taken proper care of myself I would have come home immediately and gotten off my high horse and humbled myself, swallowed my pride that I F-A-I-L-E-D at being the missionary I wanted to be, and thought God wanted me to be. I would have spared myself lots of needless suffering.

I feel like screaming!

I am realizing that life is not always about this big spiritual high.

Yes, God is sovereign and He is in CONTROL OF EVERYTHING, but I cannot analyze everything and say things like “God said” or “God told” or whatever.

I want to be Holy Spirit led, yes.

I want to be God’s child and obey Him, yes.

I want God’s will for my life, yes.

Sometimes I get so caught up in my pride and my life and where I want to go that I can’t help but making a big fool out of myself.

Who the heck knows where my life is going now! I have to re-build. It’s only been about 4 months that my life has been in an okay, and somewhat stable position. I am working now, barely, and surviving okay.

My soul yearns for more, yes, but I am not letting myself get to the point where I was before.

I’ll never forget being on the phone with my dermatologist (whose only reference to God was the cross warn around her neck) over the weekend. I had called her home in an emergency because my rash was now all the way up my arms. I felt so helpless that I wanted to commit suicide, and she told me “well, sometimes God says NO!”

Tears.

Tears.

Tears.

Tears.

Tears.

Seek God FIRST, and then all these things will be added to you.

Two weeks later, I gather enough courage and physical strength to go to church, ask the pastor to pray over me.

I believe that I need God first and if I die, I die.

If I can’t use my arms, I can’t use them.

If another man finds me attractive again…

If I never work again…

If I never write again, I will be okay.

Not my will but yours.

From that Sunday on, God removed the rash from my arms, and has been helping me deal with any flare ups on my right hand where it started.

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good (and faithful). His love endures forever.

Pictures from 2004: Finger & Hand before it spread all the way up my arms.

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Love Speaks

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 14:1, NLT).

Love speaks. It doesn’t clang. Or give off false hope. It doesn’t come up empty or count how many times you’ve come up short. Been embarrassed. Failed.

Recently I started a book study called “Lazarus Awakening” by Joanna Weaver with my friend and author, Lisa Velthouse. It’s been a while since I’ve done a one-on-one study with someone and I’m really excited to dive in.

We discussed Chapter One: Tale of the Third Follower last week. One of the things that stood out to me was a study on Ephesians 3:17-19.

She wants us to pray, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that SURPASSES KNOWLEDGE—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (NIV).

Did you catch that?

You can’t understand fully (NLT) the love of Christ. No matter how wide, long, high, or deep you can imagine–God’s love is deeper still.

So what does love have to do with the story of Lazarus you ask? [I challenge you to read the entire story in John 11:1-12:11].

In her study in the back of the book, we’re supposed to write out to what stands out the most in this passage and why.

I said, “amidst His [Jesus] ministry, He made time for love.”

Jesus was about ready to go to the cross. It’s not like He wasn’t busy. It’s not like dying for the sins of all mankind left him with plenty of free time.

Of all people Jesus knew what it was like to have “places to go, people to see, and things to do.”

…And yet He made time for Lazarus.

I love that Joanna makes us think in this book. She pointed out that Lazarus had no speaking lines. Martha (Lazarus’ sister) is the one who gets all the crap for making Jesus (or trying anyway) to get her sister, Mary to help her with the dishes. And Mary is the one who famously broke her perfume jar over Jesus feet and WORSHIPED Him. Or Prepped Him for burial really.

So what did Lazarus do?

Nothing.

At least we’re not told exactly what it is.

We have to guess it was something.

“So the sisters (Martha & Mary) sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick'” (John 11:3, NIV). Verses later it says after He went and saw the place where Lazarus was buried, “Jesus wept.” Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” – John 11:35-36, NIV

When was the last time you felt God’s love?

Experienced it perhaps?

Was it because you did something? Because you were famous? Maybe you even wrote a book like me. According to the Bible, you don’t need to do anything. God already loves us and died for us.

Thank God today for His glorious resurrection, and that even when He was faced with the single most horrifying event in His life–He still took time to let love speak.

“When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go'” (John 11:43-44, NIV).

Heaven awaits for those who’s names are found in the Book of Life. In the end it’s not about if love wins or not.

Will Jesus speak your name?

“And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15, NLT).

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29 Things

Everyone who knows me, knows how excited I get about my birthday, and that I celebrate my birthday month! So on the last day, I wanted to share with you 29 things I’ve learned in my short lifetime in the hopes that you’d be inspired and most of all encouraged!

1. Your spiritual birthday matters more than your earthly ones. ~ I proudly accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of my life and became born again on my 5th birthday, June 24, 1987.

2. It’s never too early to get a Bible concordance. ~ When I was 7, I balled my eyes out when I saw how horrible the conditions were for orphans in Romania. I yearned to help the orphans, and my parents bought me my first Bible concordance so I could give them same hope and faith I had. Why? Because God is the only one who can guarantee 100% spiritual adoption!

3. It’s okay to grow up under a rock. ~ I was home schooled, sheltered, and grew up in a Christian home with two loving parents in full time ministry…need I continue?

4. Living without cable TV is not the end of the world. ~ I didn’t have a TV until I was 9 years old, nor did I have cable  until I was 15. During those years I learned how to read, write, play piano, and many-many-many more things! I do not regret the years without it, although I know I’d find it more difficult to go without now…

5. Be creative. Pick up a hobby and practice until it becomes perfect. Even if it takes years to master the piano, or water coloring, or writing–someday it will be worth it and you might even be able to make a career out of it. It’s okay to do what you love!

6. Pray. One of the most beloved gifts I received from God as a child was my cat, Lemon. My dad was never going to buy me a cat, so I had to wait on God’s timing. The day my life fell a part Lemon showed up on my door step. NEVER STOP PRAYING!

7. Hug others; Pets are allowed too. Life is too short; It can be challenging, difficult, and begin in brokenness. God has placed others around you for a reason. Value someone today through the power of touch and show someone you care!

8. It’s okay to cry. I was the shy kid growing up. When our family moved to CA from NE, I didn’t have any friends. I spent my afternoons crying and feeling alone. Adolescence was painful, but nothing compared to the suffering that was to come during the ages of 14-24. God’s used every season of isolation to bring me closer to Him and give me new life. Not once, not twice, but many times!

9. Find freedom in Christ and you’ll find everything else. ~ My parents did a good job of helping me find freedom in Christ at a young age. They had me go through Neil T. Anderson’s “Seven Steps to Freedom in Christ” which helped me overcome anxiety many times. My favorite verse to pray over my anxious thoughts is, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT).

10. Being broken doesn’t mean you’re actually–broken. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt less than, believed I didn’t measure up, and didn’t feel a part of the cool crowd because of my health limitations. Years later I realized this was a bunch of crap. I am my own worst enemy!

11. Take Sunday naps. Whether you’re a kid at heart or you hate taking naps–naps are important. One thing I’ve learned in all my life is if you don’t take care of your own health, no one else will. It’s important to rest–after all–that was the first thing Jesus did with His creation.

12. Memorize Scripture. I grew up in a Baptist Church and loved going to Awanas. I learned Scripture like nobody’s business, and was always the first to win at Bible sword drill. (Give me a verse and I’ll prove it to you!) Seriously though, the verses I learned as a little girl have carried with me throughout my adulthood. I don’t know where I’d be without my foundation and knowledge of the Word.

13. Have a daily quiet time. No adult has made a bigger impact on me than my mom. Every day she starts her mornings with God in prayer and reading the Word. Growing up, she would ask me, “have you spent time with God today?” If the answer was no, I’d have to go back in my room until I had spent time with God. At first I resented her, but the more I saw her in action and admired her character–I realized I wanted what she had. Now, I model my life after her mission to impact my generation and connect them to Jesus daily.

14. It’s okay to be afraid of boys. I was always taught that a guy should be the one to make the first move. If I could boil down all the words of encouragement from my upcoming book on dating and relationships–it would be this: purity matters. I always hated the fact that popular girls got boyfriends and I didn’t. I have seen over the years that it was God’s hand to keep me pure.

15. Invest in relationships. I cannot say how grateful I am for friends and mentors who have stood by me and encouraged me through bad times and good. Without them I wouldn’t have priceless memories, uncontrollable laughter, and lots and lots of pictures!

16. You are what you eat. I have struggled with food my entire life. I gained 100 pounds from taking prednisone for my eczema (rash). It took me a few years and a couple thousand miles later to bike off the weight. I still struggle with controlling my anxiety and how much food I eat. Food is a daily reminder that keeps me humble!

17. Family matters. Every night I eat dinner with my family as long as I’m living at home or don’t have other plans. My mom cooks and my dad cleans. I cannot tell you how many problems have been worked out over the dinner table, and how blessed I am to be a part of such an amazing family.

18. Be ministry minded. My parents have been in ministry as long as I can remember. Their legacy has left more than just an impression on me, but a rich spiritual inheritance that drives me to my knees to leave the same for my kids!

19. Be kind to strangers. Love is action and Jesus told us to give to those in need who can’t give back to us. By giving to others we’re actually giving to God, Himself and this pleases Him (Matthew 25:31-46, NLT).

20. Your money belongs to God. My family wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for people who gave to missions fund or personally supported us over the years. Now that I’m raising personal support I value the gift of money more than ever. We are called to be stewards of the resources He has already given to us whether that’s tithing to your local church, a missionary, or ministry.

21. Set and obtain goals. Whether small or large, setting goals is important. It took me five years to achieve the things I set out to do and never thought I’d accomplish. Without those goals starring me in the face (hanging on my wall, actually) I never would have made it. My life map verse is Proverbs 4:25-27 that says, “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.”

22. Find your promise. When I was in the hospital, my mom read a verse over me from Hosea 6:1-3. It made me want to read the Bible for myself and find my own promise in Scripture. I didn’t want my parents faith anymore, I wanted my own. Eleven months and twenty six days later, I found it in 1 Peter 5:10, NLT. “In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.”

23. Nothing good happens after 9 PM. I never want to think that I’m strong enough to stand up underneath temptation. We’re supposed to run away from temptation and stand up to trials and NOT the other way around!

24. Unbelief is a killer. God healed me when I thought I was a dead woman. Other times He made me lie down in green pastures and walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I had to learn how to trust in Him and not lean on my own understanding. Every time I doubt God I hinder Him from working in my life. (Note to self: don’t doubt!)

25. Do what you love and keep doing it. You have to start somewhere. (Long before anyone will ever see, notice, or appreciate YOU!) I started my first website on geocities in 1995 and blogging in 2004 on blogspot years before personal websites or blogs were cool.

26. Live passionately. I love what God has done in my life and I’m never going to stop shouting it. Even on my worst days when my health is killing me, I know God is still faithful.

27. Love others. Because God said so and because people are the currency of heaven (I can’t remember who said this).

28. Forgive, and forgiven often. People hurt people–all the time. You won’t end up with many friends if you can’t forgive others. Moreover, if you don’t forgive your Christian brothers and sisters, God won’t forgive you (Matthew 18:35)!

29. Live one day at a time. “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV). It wasn’t until struggling with health issues that I realized I couldn’t live in my own strength. I needed His grace daily. Yes, I make goals and I DREAM BIG, but I no longer take life for granted. I give God the day and live for Him as best as I can–TODAY!

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The Anatomy of a Lie

I’d like to explain to you the anatomy of a lie through the eyes of Elijah.

“I am the only prophet of the Lord who is left, but Baal has 450 prophets” (1 Kings 18:22, NLT).

It’s interesting in Scripture how God opens our blind eyes and allows us to see His Spirit of Truth. Here in 1 Kings 18 we find that Elijah has just begun to confront wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel (yuck). Most of us recognize Elijah as the hero of the story because he called fire down from heaven…

“At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, ‘O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.’ Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, ‘The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!'” (1 Kings 18:36-39, NLT).

Don’t you wish you could do that in your life sometimes?

Take that horrible bosses.

Take that chronic health issues.

Take that infertility, poverty and world-wide wars.

However pure your desires may be–this guy Elijah was in tune with God. His servant.

Elijah, The Hero

1 Kings 18 goes on to say that Elijah’s big feat was far from over. The major drought in the land was about to come to an end. Elijah was praying for rain and he didn’t stop until God brought it.

“So Ahab went to eat and drink. But [there’s a big but again] Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees. Then he said to his servant, ‘Go and look out toward the sea.’ The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, ‘I didn’t see anything.’ Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, ‘I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.’ Then Elijah shouted, ‘Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you! And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel. Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel.” (1 Kings 18:42-45, NLT).

Why am I giving you all this text?

To show you the anatomy of a lie presented so powerfully in Scripture.

Never has there been a man so powerful and so in tune with God. But he fell hard. We are like Elijah. And like Peter who “walked on water” only to look at his fear and drown in the wind and the waves. We too look at our circumstances and…believe a lie.

Elijah’s Threat

“When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: ‘May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.’ Elijah was afraid and fled for his life” (Elijah 19:1-3a, NLT).

Really, Elijah? Really?

Elijah is scared of one woman who was running her mouth and it makes him–scared to death?

He just called fire down from heaven to kill 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. He should have known his God was bigger and more powerful to save and protect his life.

Elijah Believed a Lie

“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” (1 Kings 19:4, NLT).

I posted the other day on Twitter & Facebook that forgiveness is a choice and so is love. What other choices do we base our feelings on sometimes? I got answers from fear all the way to anger. If love isn’t a choice then so is believing a lie.

Every day believe and act on choices.

Some good.

Some bad.

It takes the power of His Spirit to discern the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but. Did you catch the but? There it is again!

[Read last week’s post, “I like Big Buts” my spiritual epiphany through Acts 1]

Elijah’s Lie Exposed

Elijah replied, ‘I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.’ ‘Go out and stand before me on the mountain,’ the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?'” (1 Kings 19:10-13, NLT).

Even when being confronted by the Lord Almighty, I Am Who I Am, Elijah believes the lie–again (see v 14).

Instead of answering Elijah’s fear the Lord says, “Go back the same way you came…Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!” (1 Kings 19:15, 18, NLT).

Elijah’s Truth

In a freight or flight moment, Elijah choose to flee. Run away. And God found Him and owned His fears in a powerful display in the wilderness. God told Elijah to go back and return home. God would protect his life and not only his life but the life of SEVEN THOUSAND OTHERS.

What was that lie? Yeah…that’s right. SHUT IT!

What grossly disproportionate lie are you believing?

Our Truth

As we read from Elijah’s life, here are the Biblical steps to moving forward in freedom in Christ.

1. Confess the lie – 1 John 1:9 says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

2. Destroy the lie – 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”

3. Accept the truth – John 4:24 says, “For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

4. Walk in freedom – 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

5. Repeat often and as necessary as the lie persists! Even if it takes days, months, or…years to believe!

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