Find Your Own Promise

“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood. For your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth” (Isaiah 54:4-5, NLT).

Every once in a while I come across a passage of Scripture that makes my hair stand up. Gives me the chills.

Sometimes I start weeping.

Sometimes I giggle until I am laughing uncontrollably.

Either way.

I just found my own promise, and I can’t wait to show you how to find your own promise!

I love how Scripture is used for the benefit of all things (2 Timothy 3:16), and it is the only offensive against the enemy of this world (Ephesians 6:17).

Recently, I shot this is the video for my upcoming book, “Not Another Dating Book.”

I returned to an old office building I used to work at during the most difficult years of my singleness. I remembered past mistakes. But then I remembered my promise, Psalm 37:1. “Don’t worry about the wicked, or envy those who do wrong.”

That meant no more worrying about Elevator boy or Miguel.

If you’re wondering who those guys are, watch this video I gave at Brick House, the young adult ministry of The Potter’s House in Dallas, TX.

The important thing to remember is…I kept reading the Bible until I found my verse. The verse that promised to help me overcome.

I wonder what it is for you.

Are you single? Are you in a relationship? Do you need a job? Do you hate your job? Do you have health issues? Is your marriage in shambles? Do you have a healthy marriage? Are you wondering how you’re going to raise your child–single or…?

So many BIG questions and an even BIGGER book.

My challenge to you this week? Find your own promise.

What makes you sing? (Did you know that God sings over you and comforts you with His love?)

What makes you cry? (Did you know that God records all your tears in a bottle?)

What makes you feel strong? (Did you know the joy of the Lord is your strength?)

Find your own promise today by reading the Bible and putting it into practice.

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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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Silence Speaks

“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? – Malachi 3:1-2a, NLT

In my own version of the Bible–Renee 3:16 says “when” and “how long” I must wait. But in the days of Malachi, they didn’t have anything to go off.

And all we see is a single white blank page in our Bibles. Silence speaks.

But all too often, it’s thousands upon thousands of days and single blank pages filled with our tears and fears. Full of “What if’s” and all our musings on hope, anxious waiting, and God’s promise to fulfill.

We must not give up.

In the silence God still speaks.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord. And it is good for people to submit at an early age to the yoke of his discipline: Let them sit alone in silence beneath the Lord’s demands. Let them lie face down in the dust, for there may be hope at last. – Lam. 3:24-29, NLT

“When a soul is under a deep sense of sin, the more it can be alone, the better. That sense of sin will be increased by the loneliness; and when it becomes intolerable, it is highly probable that, in that loneliness, the way of its removal will be discovered in this age, we all live too much in company; and in a great city like this, we are busy from morning to night, and we do not get the opportunities for quiet reflection which our forefathers were wont to take. I am afraid, therefore, that our religion is likely to become very superficial and flimsy for the want of solitary, earnest thought. Men, nowadays, usually go in flocks; someone leads the way, and the rest follow him like sheep that rush through a gap in the hedge. It would be better for us if we deliberated more, if we used our own judgment, if we drew near to God in our own personality, and were resolved that, whatever others might do, we would seek to be personally guided by the Lord himself.” — Spurgeon

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The List

I don’t care if you’re single, in a relationship, or already married…if you’re breathing you’ve made “the list” of what you want in your partner.

Taken from my book “Not Another Dating Book” that releases Valentine’s…

“When I was a kid I made a list of all the qualities I was looking for in a mate. I didn’t get much farther than tall, dark hair, blue eyes. When I got older, I added other words to the list. Leader. Communicator. Compassionate. Encouraging. I kept building it out, describing my perfect man. Wants children. Virgin. Well-read. Likes to cook. Doesn’t smoke. Doesn’t swear. Comes from a Christian family. Good hygiene. Pays his bills on time. Has a heart for ministry. None of those qualities are bad, of course, but over time I started to understand that by holding every man to my impossibly high standard, I was putting God into a box…”

Yesterday, I got to officially name my Fan Page for “Not Another Dating Book” on Facebook and it hit me. When I was writing the portion in my book about “The Boyfriend” I remember the feeling that God was showing me if I don’t obey and make a new list, He’ll withdraw His Holy Spirit from me and I won’t have anymore words on how to write my book. So I sat down on my floor with a bunch of post it notes and began writing furiously!

I’m so glad I listened because I met my boyfriend a few weeks later.

I’ve heard miracle stories before, but never me. I’ve been single pretty much my whole life.

That’s why I wrote the book.

I’ve been single for so stinking long I wanted to write an accurate depiction of what real Christian 20-somethings go through. No more of this “kissing dating goodbye.”

Heck, all of my friends–including myself kissed dating goodbye years ago and now what?

I wanted to share my list and be completely transparent. I only make one requirement: PLEASE DO NOT LAUGH! It’s quite long, it has categories and some may sound utterly ridiculous to you. But this is me!

If you want to share yours or write one and email it to me please do!

Renee’s List

Relationships/Friendships

1. My best friend
2. Tenderness
3. Independent
4. Non-emotional
5. Not a drain/co-dependent
6. Calming
7. Non-smoker/Social Drinker
8. Good with large groups of people
9. Christian parents
10. Likes to cuddle
11. Communication
12. Not easily pushed around, but can be playful with me
13. Needs or appreciates alone time
14. Wants a family someday
15. Understands I process by isolating or hiding myself, and doesn’t let me stay angry

Looks/Physical

16. Photogenic
17. Calf muscles
18. Whether tall or shorter than me-> He. Must. Be. Strong.
19. Clean shaven/short hair
20. Dark brown hair/light eyes
21. Healthy
22. Physical touch is his love language
23. Hugger
24. Big arms
25. Strong jaw bone (don’t laugh)
26. Nice hair
27. Virgin

Church/Ministry

28. Shepherding
29. Ministry Partner
30. Called
31. Spiritual leader
32. Holy Spirit led
33. Daily Quiet time
34. Community is important
35. Loves God/others
36. Suffered
37. Conflict doesn’t bother him
38. Not intimidated by me (very important)
39. Teacher
40. Speaker
41. Prays with me
42. Anointed

Hobbies/Free Time

43. Well read
44. Enjoys social media/media/tv/internet/movies (doesn’t have to like them all)
45. Likes going fast in cars (hehe this is very important to me)
46. Needs guy time
47. Acts of service is a love language
48. Takes time out to spend intimate time with me
49. Doesn’t have to do everything with or for me!
50. Prayer warrior

Finances/Money

51. Provider
52. Pays bills on time
53. Responsible with debt/money
54. Saves for the future
55. Values money

Work/Career

56. Leadership
57. Stable
58. Has goals
59. Hard worker
60. Doesn’t whine or complain
61. Drive
62. Does not need to be #1
63. Values work hard/play hard

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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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34 Pre Engagement Questions

(c) Desiree Shuey Photography

Before Marc and I (Renee Fisher) started pre engagement counseling, he came up with a list of 34 pre engagement questions because we had a lot of questions, and some of you have asked me what exactly is that?

Basically we want to go through counseling before wedding planning gets in the way!

I wanted to share 34 questions that Marc came up with after studying the writings of Count Zinzendorf (1700-1760). What I love most about them is how they continually point back to Scripture.

Feel free to use the 34 pre engagement questions to strengthen your relationship whether you are single, engaged, or married.

1. What does this marriage cost you? What do you have to give up? How do you feel about giving that up?

2. What are the boundaries on time? How should time be spent? What if we disagree?

3. Do your mate’s needs always come first?

4. What will sustain you when your mate screws up? Does your theology matter in dealing with conflict?

5. Do you feel your mate is committed to you? How? Do you know your mate is committed to you? How important is it to know they are committed to you? How does this line up with feeling God is committed to you?

6. What things hinder your relationship right now or have?

7. What do you want out of marriage?

8. Do you believe your communion directly affects the health of your marriage? What is your communion with Christ like? What are you doing daily to deepen it?

9. Does having suffering in marriage matter? Does it matter if your marriage has little trial and affliction?

10. Does it matter what others think of your marriage?

11. Do you see your spouse as a separate entity? Why? Is that Biblical? How does it affect your marriage?

12. What does it mean to be yielded to one another?

13. Why has God provided you with a spouse? Does that change anything for you? How so?

14. Does it matter to you how marriage relates to Christ and His Bride?

15. What does it mean to become one flesh? How is this influencing you? Are you still independent? Have you had to give up anything? Does a husband and wife with parallel yet independent ministries matter? What does submission mean?

16. Do you truly believe Christianity is possible?

17. What things will most taint your sex life?

18. What is the importance of openness with your mate? Are there anything’s you cannot discuss? If there were, would you accept that? How does nakedness in sex relate to any of this?

19. Looking the face of two people in love, what tells you they are in love?

20. What does being married to Christ entail for you? In what ways are you falling short of this? How do you expect your spouse to help you in this? What if they don’t or can’t?

21. Can you progress in your union with Christ while your mate does not?

22. Does a successful marriage or satisfying marriage top your list of desires in your marriage? What do you want your marriage to ultimately be?

23. Does your spouses salvation at all depend on you? Define the Christian lifestyle you want your spouse to see in you?

24. What things do you believe sex are intended to teach us in marriage?

25. What does it mean for the husband to be the head of the house?

26) How does being able to reconcile in a marriage affect ministry?

27. What distracts you from cleaving to your mate?

28. How are you investing in the life of your mate?

29. How does Christian community affect marriage? What if it is wishy-washy, bland and fake? What if it is real? Can you distinguish between the two? Are you willing to change to accommodate in this area?

30. Can you say your mate sees the God of eternity in you? How so?

31. Is “kinky” (inappropriate or impure) sex in marriage permissible? Why or why not?

32. What if you feel called to something but your mate does not?

33. What will bring the greatest joy to your marriage?

34. Does compatibility matter? What does it mean to be compatible? Is your response in line with Scripture?

We purposefully wanted to ask all our questions BEFORE we got engaged.

Plus, after you get engaged–all you think about is planning a wedding.

We heard how potentially stressful wedding planning could be. Instead of discussing important matters over designing invite cards at my parents house–we decided to intentionally talk about them in private before things got crazy.

My advice to you is don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. After all, it’s a pretty important decision–the rest of your life!

To learn more about pre engagement questions, dating, and heartbreak please check out my two latest books:

 

Fisher COVER - Loves Me NotLoves Me Not (eBook, 2013) is written specifically for relationship breakups & heartbreak.

Loves Me Not is a book that not only I wish I had when I was single, but it’s a book that I wish every single person would read.” – Brenda Rogers, author of Fall For Him: 25 Challenges From a Recovering Single

“This ebook is one of the many ways that Renee has encouraged young adults in their walk with Christ as they deal with the dating world. I love her authenticity and transparency and totally relate to her personal stories shared in this ebook.” – Sarah Francis Martin, author of Stress Point

“Renee Fisher addresses how to heal from breakups and broken relationships God’s way. I admire Renee for how open and honest she is about the heartbreak she’s experienced. Renee is an overcomer, and shares the lessons that God has taught her in a gracious, concise, and applicable manner. I highly recommend Loves Me Not.” – Tracy Steel, Author of Images of His Beauty


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Not Another Dating Book (Harvest House, 2012) is a devotional guide on relationships for young adults.

“Solid advice for anyone trying to navigate the complicated (but wonderful) world of relationships” – Brett McCracken, Author of Hipster Christianity

“If you’re single and not interested in another dating book, you need to read this book. It’s real, it’s relevant, it’s fresh, and it speaks the truth to a deceived generation.” – Pete Wilson, author of Plan B

“If you are confused by what to think about dating, about singleness, about waiting…then Renee will provide you with straight-talking, grace-giving wisdom. Rather than pointing you just towards a future spouse, Renee points you to the only place of true life–a daily, growing relationship with God.” – Nicole Unice, author of She’s Got Issues

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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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Are you a people pleaser?

“When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!'” – Exodus 14:5, NIV

Sometimes the reason why we please others is because we owe someone a service. Maybe it’s a boss at your job, a spouse, or your kids. You’ve made promises and even though it’s become a difficult situation–you’re comfortable and that’s just the way it is.

How do you tell someone who has a slave mentality they need to fear God, not man?

In other words…

Are you a people pleaser?

It says in Exodus 14:8 that, “The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly (NIV).”

Did you catch that?

The Lord’s hand was on the opposition. The Israelites (or us) didn’t realize (yet), the Lord was setting them up for an even bigger miracle.

No pressure, right?

It’s not like the Israelites (or us) were already feeling hemmed in. Trapped.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’” – Exodus 14:1-3, NIV

Don’t you hate it when you don’t understand what the Lord is trying to tell you? Sure, Lord. I’ll go (fill in the blank) to do (fill in the blank) with (fill in the blank).

That’s a lot of blanks!

Regardless of where you are now: between jobs, unable to afford rent, roommate-less, friend-less, or broken up, God is still there! He no longer wants you to be of “service” to the enemy. AND HE’S TIRED OF YOU SERVING TWO MASTERS.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell. It’s just that it took me many years to get this far.

God knows your heart. He knows that you can’t (shouldn’t, sorry) serve two masters. “Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:24, NIV).

Do you currently hate where you’re at?

The good news is, even though the Lord is allowing fierce opposition in your life–it says in Exodus 14:18 that even your enemies will see the glory of God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah. Whoa.

“The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen” (Exodus 14:18, NIV).

Sometimes God takes us through the hard way just to show us His glory. It’s not just about you in particular, but those around you too.

So, check yourself.

Today is the day to choose self respect. Throw off your prison garb and refuse to put on slave clothes any longer. You are free. You are not trapped, and God is planning your way of escape as we speak.

“Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. – (Exodus 14:12-15, NIV)

And if those verses weren’t enough here are a few more to jump start your day!

“I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.” – Psalm 139:11-12, NLT

“Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.” – Psalm 112:4, NLT

“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” – Psalm 30:5, NLT

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” – Psalm 34:8, 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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