Personal Commission

This article ties on with my previous article, “I Am More than a Conqueror”. If you want to get the most out of this subject, I strongly suggest reading them in order.

If you’re a child of the King, where do you live? If you want to make a big impact for your kingdom, you go into the city, right? Remember the last Queen of France, Marie Antoinette? She was so oblivious that when the citizens complained that they had no bread, she exclaimed, “Let them eat cake!” As children of the King of Kings, we are called to go out and bring news of His Kingdom to those who haven’t seen or heard of it.

He commissions us out to do unique tasks especially created for us to do. God has commissioned you to something while you are here on earth. Are you doing what God has commissioned you, or are you commissioning yourself? Sure, you may want to be a pastor, but what if God doesn’t want you to do that? Sometimes we see things that we want to do and we do it without asking God what He wants us to do.

If He hasn’t equipped you to be a leader, then don’t step up for a leadership position. You may need training before you step up for a leadership position. Effective leaders are those who are humble.

(Side note) If you feel God calling you to be a leader, you may go through a stage of humbling. I know I have! I have known for a while that I’m naturally a leader. However, a couple years ago when I wanted to step up to leadership positions, there was always something blocking the way. I was frustrated. However, I am so glad God showed me that I needed to mature and be trained before I stepped up for a leadership position! Now, I can be a more effective leader because He has brought me to a place of humbling and He has taught me who I’m really living for: Him. Therefore, don’t be discouraged if you don’t have leadership opportunities right now. God is preparing you for the future so you will be able to step up.

We all have our places especially made for us. He is calling you to have BIGGER dreams. You will see your dreams fulfilled if you will have faith. Hebrews 11 is full of the heroes of faith. They stepped out in faith and did great things for God’s Kingdom. He has reserved a place just for you and no once can take that place unless you refuse to take it. Then God will send someone else.

Here’s an activity I’d like you to participate in. Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Now, I’m going to ask you a question: What do you think Jesus’ mission was while He was here on earth? We know He came to save us, but what do you view His personal mission was here on earth?

Did you write it down? If you’re a bit confused, let me explain what my answer was: to heal the hurting and defeat the devil. Whatever your answer is, most likely it is the passion God has placed upon your heart. Maybe this is what God wants you to do with your life. I have always had a passion to help the hurting. I also have a passion to kick the devil’s butt. [I apologize for those of you who aren’t allowed to say the word butt. ;)] Think about what you answered. Pray about it. See where God may be leading you with your passions and desires.

(By the way, a girl at AFLBS asked this question during devotions, so do not credit this question to me. She said someone asked her this question, so I don’t know who to credit it to. Let’s just credit it all back to God!)

Matthew 28:18-20 explains the Great Commission, “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

This is the commission for all believers. We are to have a passion for the lost. Jesus wants to take us a step further than our comfort zone. He wants to push us further than what we have dreamed of for our lives because He knows what we are truly capable of. He loves the lost. Do we? Do we love them enough to desire to go out and desire to help the lost get found? Are we allowing Jesus to show us what He has commissioned us to do? Or are we too scared that He will push us too far outside of our comfort zone?

I Am More than a Conqueror

Romans 8:37 says “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” This verse seemed to pop out at me as I read it last week. I have always been perplexed by it. Don’t we all desire to be conquerors? It isn’t a bad thing to be a conqueror! However, we are MORE than conquerors! If it is a fantastic thing to be a conqueror, think of how amazing it is to be more than one!


So, what is more than a conqueror? I asked this question a while back. God revealed the answer to me this summer but He re-emphasized it last week. We are children of God: children of the King of Kings. Don’t stop short of just being a conqueror; know that you are a child of the most high God.


When we think of a conqueror, we think of praise and adoration. Perhaps the King showers them with gifts. However, a child of the King is brought in. Not only are they praised, but they are also loved. A conqueror has to work to earn approval from the king; a child of the king already has it. A child of the king is part of the family no matter what he does.


Romans 8:14-17, “because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.”


How are we living? Are we living as children of God or merely conquerors? Or are we living as slaves? We don’t have to earn approval from God. As His children, we already have it! Christianity is about the DONE, not about the DO.


John 15:15 says, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” When a servant asks the king what He’s doing or where He is going, do you think the king goes into detail? No. Most likely he says, “Why do you have to know? You’re only my servant. You do as I say.” However, if it is a friend of the king, he will reply with more detail. Jesus calls us friends! Do you consider yourself as merely a slave? You are a friend of God! He wants you to know Him.


Don’t try so hard to earn your Father’s approval. He loves you just as you are. Nothing you do can make Him love you any more or any less. He loves you just as much as He loved Mother Teresa. He loves the murderers and thieves just as much as He loves you. We cannot begin to understand His love for us because it is infinite, unconditional, and unexplainable.


One day God gave me a vision. I was about three years old and I was playing on the beach in a white dress. I was twirling around and dancing. I turned around to say, “Daddy, watch me!” As I turned around in the vision, it was Jesus standing there. He said, “I am watching you.” How wonderful it is to know He cares! I always felt like my biological dad didn’t care what I was doing (unless it was something that deserved punishment). Jesus let me know that He cared for me all along. Children need affirmation. Jesus gives that. He showed that to me in the vision. Are you listening to the voice of Jesus? He is speaking to you. He speaks words of love. Even if He rebukes, it is all done in love.


Don’t underestimate yourself. You are a child of a powerful God. Don’t put yourself down. You don’t have to work for His love. You are more than a conqueror. You are more than a slave. You are His child. You are His friend.

Prodigal Father

        I’m planning on doing a series on the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-31). I love this parable. It’s full of meaning, promise, and forgiveness! There’s so much to this story than meets the eye. I hope you’re blessed by my study and work. I’ve been blessed and I’ve just started digging deeper. I attended a church here in Washington, Pennsylvania. I believe it’s called Covenant Life Fellowship Church. I don’t know the pastor’s name, but much of my discoveries and articles will include insights I received from the sermon in church Sunday! Just giving credit where credit is due.

       One of the definitions of prodigal is “lavishly abundant; giving or yielding profusely.” In the Parable of the Lost Son, the prodigal son was lavishly abundant with his spending. He spent his inheritance on worldly things. To pain the picture a bit more clearly, I’m going to define lavish and abundant in case anyone is unclear about the definitions. (Yes, I know a lot of you know the definitions but just in case. Besides, when I’m doing a word study or research, I look up 1293812093810298310 words after I look up one just to be 100% clear on the subject. By the way, that was just a rough estimation.–^ ;))

       Lavish means “Using or giving in great amounts; to expend or give in great amounts or without limit.” Example: The prodigal son was lavish of his money. He spent most of it.

       Abundant means “Present in great quantity; more than adequate; oversufficient; well suplied, abounding; richly supplied.” Example: The prodigal son had an abundant amount of money. Putting the two words together: The prodigal son had an abundant amount of money and he chose to be lavish of his money. Hope you’re all clear on the two words, now!

      Have you ever considered that the term “prodigal” can be used in a positive way? Have you ever considered calling Jesus, “the prodigal Father”? No, it doesn’t compare Him to the prodigal son. It means he is “lavishly abundant” with His grace. He gives it profusely! (By the way, profusely means “spending or giving freelin and in larege amount, often to excess; made or done freely and abundantly”.)

      When you stop and consider His mercy, it’s completely overwhelming! He grants us forgivness and mercy unconditionally. It’s neverending! We always have the oppurtunity to turn back to Him. We’re not “too far off the path” or “to far down the hole”. Chris Tomlin sings, “Our God is a God who saves” in his song, Let God Arise. Don’t give up. Don’t drown in shame because you think you can’t be saved. It’s never too late to turn back around. (Well, you have to turn around while you’re still alive… I’m not justifying leaving His path because you can always turn back. You have to make the most of your time. There may not be a tomorrow. My point is to show you His mercy. You’re not past the point of saving.”

       Remember when the disciples were in the boat during a storm and Jesus was asleep? The frantically begged Him to do something. What did Jesus say? “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40) He completely calmed the storm with three words. This may seem completely irrelevant but I do have a point!

        When we choose to walk back to His path, we may encounter pits trying to turn us around. We’ll become completely engulfed in shame and we may refuse to accept His mercy. Just as Jesus said to the disciples, He says to you, “Do you still have no faith?” Have faith that He gives His mercy to you. He died for every single one of your sins before you were born, before you even knew what sins you would commit. He forgives you.

       His forgiveness is a gift. You can choose to leave it unwrapped, on the shelf, and collecting dust or you can unwrap and receive His gift. You can’t do anything to earn it. You’d have to be perfect just as Christ was. That’s impossible. Receive His grace, mercy, and forgivness. He loves you.

       I encourage you to read Psalms 136. The phrase “His love endures forever” is repeated twenty-six times. (The NIV, however, says “His love endures forever.” Love shows mercy. I encourage you to look this chapter up in several versions. I like the New Kings James Version. I find it more accurate.)

       Luke 1:50 says, “His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation.”

       “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” (Romans 9:16)

       “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incopmarable riches of his grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7)

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for Your mercy! I didn’t do anything to deserve You or Your forgiveness, yet You give it anyway. I’m sorry for wandering off Your path. I see now that Your path grants more freedom. You hurt when I walk away. I’m sorry. I love you and I’m so thankful for Your love and mercy. It’s new everyday.

Praise Your Merciful and Forgiving Name,

FREE to Choose (The Prodigal Son)

       Well, today is July 4th. Anything significant about this date? Well, I hope you answer yes! July 4, 1776, very brave men chose to take a step towards freedom. They chose to risk their lives for a hope of a better future for generations to come. They proclaimed freedom from England.
       Our past relationship with England is a great example of a band and unrealistic idea of love. England wanted to force us to “love” them. They wanted us to remain 100% loyal to them. What happened when we decided not to “love” them anymore? They went to war with us! Simply because we chose not to “follow” or be under their rule anymore. They wouldn’t have rebellious happening. Forget free will. We had an obligation to follow them.
      God gives us free will to determine whether or not we want to follow Him. He gives us freedom. God is most definitely not like the King of England was. He extends free will to us and love regardless of whether we choose to love Him or not. God allows us to walk away from Him. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-31), it is obvious that the father’s ehart was brokent because of his son’s rebellion. This is proven by the joyful reunion. If he were stoic about his son’s departure and absence, he wouldn’t have RUN to meet him. (Luke 15:20)
       Many think this parable is about an unbeliever who has never been saved. However, many points in the story cause me to believe it is about a returning Christian who has wandered from the Faith. We are allowed to break fellowship with God. He won’t force us to stay with Him. Many times people blame God for their “stepping off of the path”. Just as the father in the parable, God doesn’t stop us. He allows us to choose who we want to be with and what we want to do.
       If we were all foced to love Him, we’d be rovots, mindlessly expressing our love for Him. God doesn’t want that. Do YOU want that? If you love someone, you want them to love you because they chose to, not because they were forced to. When you love someone, you extend freedom to them. God wants us to serve and love Him freely, because we wanted to.
       In the parable, the son left his father’s presence and favor. Did it change the relationship? Yes. Did it change the fact that he was still his son’s father? No. The father hurt to see his son go but gave him the freedom to choose. He was his father regardless of his son’s choices. Their relationship was (of course) hurt but knowing that no matter what the son chose to do, his father was still his father changes perspective and might have even helped him to turn around easier. If his father had told him, “Well… you can leave but I won’t be your father anymore,” I’m sure it would have been more difficult to return.
        When we love someone greatly, our pain is multliplied when we are hurt by them. The pastor at Covenant Life Fellowship made a great comment this Sunday, “The greater the capacity to love, the greater the capacity to hurt.” What is God’s love like? It’s perfect and far greater than any human can imagine. Consequently, His pain is also greater. It grieves His heart to watch us walk away. He wants you. He desires you. When you run back to Him, He will run to you.
       He loves you more than you can ever realize. We can’t grasp His love. It’s perfect and we can’t grasp perfect. It’s unconditional and neverending. It’s freely given. He gives us the choice: “Do you want to love me? If so, I’m right here. If not, I’m still here. I love you.”
       We take our freedom for granted. We aren’t truly appreciative of the freedom we have that brave men were willing to sacrifice their lives for. “It’s always been like this and always will,” we think. However, it hasn’t always been like this. Times are changing. Our freedom can be taken away from us. Are you ready for that? Even if freedom on earth changes, know that freedom with God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Loved by the King

              Okay, so I already have my testimony on here but this is one I found that I wrote in 2009 and I really like what it says!

              Who am I? Do you wonder that about yourself sometimes? Recently, I have found a peace in my heart that I have not known before. I have placed my efforts on speaking and thinking good about myself, rather than bad. Negative thoughts can destroy a person’s relationship with people and, ultimately, God.

              Have you ever stopped and thought that when we speak badly about ourselves, we are actually insulting God? He created each of us individually and special. Would you stop and criticize a piece of art in front of the artist? It took me a while to realize that not only am I bringing myself down when I criticize myself, but I am also bringing God down.

              We are also bringing God down when we dwell on our mistakes. He gave His life for our sins. He gave up His throne. We have been washed clean and yet we act as if we are still unclean. Wasn’t His death enough for us? Isaiah 53:3-5 says, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”

             God knows we cannot be perfect. He offers His Son to us, who is perfect, to erase our imperfection. Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God offers us eternal life for free, no matter where we have been or what we have done. This verse does not say that there are exceptions to the gift. It is everyone’s gift. Our only part in this gift is receiving it.

             Ephesians chapter one is an incredible chapter. It reminds us who we are. Ephesians 1: 4-8 says, “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will– to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” (Emphasis mine.) God knew who we would be before creation. He chose to create us, fully knowing the mistakes we would make.

           When our mind is consumed with negative thoughts about ourselves, we find that our life is extremely miserable. Our mind is truly a battlefield. We battle negative thoughts every day. We are so afraid of what others think about us, but we don’t realize that we think worse of ourselves than anyone else does. I have started feeling better about myself and have noticed a change in my heart towards others. When we think horrible thoughts about ourselves we automatically think that everyone else thinks that about us too. We distance ourselves from people, thinking they dislike us for our imperfections.

          My childhood was full of abuse. I thought that my behavior was the reason I was being beaten. I did not realize that there was something wrong with my parents, not me.

          I grew up having a guilty conscience, thinking everything was my fault. I was not very happy. I was living in agreement with Satan, who was, and still is, feeding me lies about myself.

          One of the biggest steps I had to take towards healing was to stop tormenting myself. I am God’s precious child. I am loved and redeemed. I have been saved through His sacrifice. I understand that no man alive can ever be perfect. God accepts us with our imperfections.

          I encourage you to write your own creed of who you are. Here’s an example:

                                                                         My Creed

          I am loved by God. I am not perfect, but I am accepted anyway. It does not matter what I do, but it is who I am in Christ. I am precious in God’s eyes. I am free from the bondage of sin. I am His unique creation. I am pleasing to Him. I have been saved from sin through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. When He was tormented, He persevered because He loves me. I am redeemed. I am pure. I am God’s child. I am God’s child, child of a King, THE King.  

          When I look in the mirror, automatically bad thoughts about myself start popping up. However, I can replace these thoughts with godly thoughts. I can say out loud, “God created me unique. He loves me no matter what I’ve done, where I’ve been, or what I look like. I am acceptable and pleasing to Him because of His Son.” I know it may seem silly to say it out loud at first, but you would be amazed how much it helps.

          We cannot understand His perfect, unconditional love, but we can accept it. While we are speaking words of hatred toward ourselves, God is speaking words of love. Nothing we do will ever make Him love us anymore, or any less.

Love Languages

              I’m not completely done analyzing the love languages, but I wanted to put these up now. I’m not completely educated in these love languages, but I wanted to express what I know and think right now. I’ve been analyzing these for a while. However, that doesn’t mean I’m entirely correct on everything. Feel free to comment if you disagree.

Physical touch

              For those who have been abused- they may not like hugs or when someone touches them. You assume their love language is most definitely not physical touch. However, when you take a deeper look into the reasons they react the way they do, you may have second thoughts. Why is it that some come out of abuse loving hugs, touch, etc. while others come out seeming to hate it? When your love language is physical touch, every time someone makes physical contact with you, that touch means commitment. It’s saying, “I love you.” One girl asked me why, if her love language was physical touch, did she seem to hate hugs so much. I, knowing exactly how she felt, responded with something that struck her with amazement. If you have ever been hurt physically or emotionally, you stop to trust people. Therefore, when you stop trusting people, you don’t want to commit or give your love to them right away. If physical touch represents commitment, then you don’t want physical touch. If you’ve been hurt countless times by those you loved unconditionally, your trust factor breaks down. With that, comes your inability to follow through with commitment. Those who fall in this category seem to be passionate people. They analyze, therefore analyzing every received physical touch as commitment to love.

              These people love giving hugs to show their love or appreciation. If someone doesn’t want to accept it, they may be hurt. Sometimes we have to do things we aren’t comfortable with to show love to those we truly do care for. We are all unique and express love in different ways.

Quality time

              It is extremely important to understand those whose love language is quality time. These people hate being ignored. They feel especially loved when you spend time with them, one-on-one. When you focus on them, they feel loved. Therefore, when you ignore them (on purpose or accidentally) they get hurt easily. You have to make sure that you are including them in things. Otherwise, they will feel unloved. This may seem ridiculous and you may think they need to toughen up. However, as I stated before, God has given us each our own love languages. This is what makes us each different.

              These people love spending time with the ones they feel close to. They feel left out when friends don’t invite them somewhere. When making a list of people to invite to a particular event, they may feel overwhelmed because of the desire to have all of the people they care most for there at the event.

Words of Affirmation

              These people also seem to be easily offended. They feel especially loved when you shower them with compliments. You don’t have to necessarily tell them how gorgeous they are or how nice they look that day. Sure, that makes their day, but that’s not all they appreciate. When you take them aside and let them know how much they are appreciated and that their work is being noticed, then they feel loved and wanted. They may not seem to take teasing to heart, but it carries with them throughout the day. They wonder if what they said is true. “Am I really a ditz?” Therefore, we need to watch our tongue so we don’t bring them down.

Acts of Service

              When you do something, without being told, for someone whose love language is acts of service, they feel loved. For example, if you wash their dishes after noticing they need to be done, to them, it expresses your love or appreciation for them. They deeply appreciate random acts of kindness. They show their love for others by performing “random acts of kindness” for their friends and family.

              Unfortunately, there is a down side to this love language as well. When they need help, they think people should be aware of their need for help. If you don’t notice or choose not to help, they think you don’t love them. It seems bizarre, but very true. For example, imagine your mother goes grocery shopping. She comes home, exhausted and with the car loaded with groceries. If she’s struggling to open the door because her hands are full and you’re just standing there, she may get mad. Not because she necessarily thinks you’re worthless and unsympathetic, but because to her, when you help her out with small things like opening the door or carrying her groceries, it expresses your love and appreciation for her.


              From first glance, you may think this person is materialistic. However, the gifts they appreciate do not have to necessarily be something they can “use”. Maybe it’s just something random and silly to let them know that you’re thinking about them. They feel loved when they receive tangible gifts. They express their love for you by giving you random gifts. They put deep thought into the gifts they give you. When you don’t appreciate a gift they give you, they may feel unloved or unappreciated.

              If everyone is given a gift but them, they’re not selfish and greedy because they pout. It’s because they don’t feel loved. If you ask them what they want for Christmas and they don’t receive it, they’re not necessarily selfish because they’re hurt. They feel like you didn’t put the time and thought into them. If you get them the wrong color in something (a color they don’t like), they’re not sensitive because they’re hurt by that. They take that as you not knowing them well enough or not caring enough to put thought into it.

               Everyone has a love language. Some are harder to discern; some you pick up on right away. (One thing to keep in mind is that when I say they express their love through these things, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re in love with you. It may just mean they highly appreciate you and your friendship.) By digging in deeper to the cause and effect of actions with each love language, we can come to understand each other better. It may save a friendship; it may build a friendship. So next time you’re in any of the above situations, think about it before you accuse them of being a sensitive, heartless, ungrateful person. While some people truly do struggle with these mentioned, there are some instances where it is simply because they don’t feel loved or cared for. Next time, we should contemplate our actions and words before we go through with them.

Peripheral Vision

           So, a lot of you know I went to Ecuador for spring break in April. Ecuador…so much to say about such a small (yet awesome) country. Did I experience culture shock? Well, I adapt to my surroundings pretty well (thus, my current residence in Minnesota) because I’ve moved around so much. However, it was quite an experience and I still learned more in the two weeks I was there. I learned more about the culture than rice and bananas.

           In America, we think we’re big shots. We think we have to convert everyone to our customs. “This is the way to live,” we think. However, we can’t go to a country with this mindset. Just because we eat with forks, knives, and spoons, it doesn’t mean eating with chopsticks is wrong and ungodly. The only thing we need to bring to another country is Jesus and the gospel. Customs and religion doesn’t get us into heaven. Only Jesus can save us. Only Jesus can save them.

           Another thing I learned was how the people worshipped God. In America, we care so much about what people think. When we sing, we have to “sing well” in order to sing out. I sing like a dying duck sometimes and when I make mistakes, I wonder if someone heard. In Ecuador, I noticed no one cared how they sang. I remember telling Andres, my host “brother”, that he sang horrible (just as a joke). He didn’t react like most of my friends would, in embarrassment. They don’t care what people think as much as we tend to. They worshipped God because they loved Him. They didn’t worry about putting on a show for other people because it wasn’t for them and they knew it. Their love for Christ was made evident as they held nothing back in their worship.

           Their love of family was also amazing. Family came first. They ate breakfast, lunch, and supper together. On Sundays, my family eats with their mother’s side of the family. Every Sunday. That amazed me because most families only see each other on holidays, if that. What if we respected our parents like they do? What if we included our siblings in our lives? Would life here change?

           Time is extremely valued here in America. If you’re a minute late for a bible study, you’re stared at. In Ecuador, relationships with people are more highly valued. It’s not such a big deal if you’re late for an event. What if we stopped caring so much about time and valued relationships above it? I’m not saying we should all be late for school or work tomorrow (even though I’m late for class pretty much everyday…) but we need to stop being on constant edge because “I have so much to do”. God didn’t intend for us to be so busy all the time. Shouldn’t we value people and relationships first and make the most of our this life Christ has given us?

           Ecuadorians love their country. Sure, they complain about the government occasionally, but their passion for life and their country is made evident. What if we loved our country and each other as they do? We don’t have to like everything about our government. We don’t have to like our president. Nonetheless, we are called to respect him. When we fight the battles within ourselves, within our country, then we will be equipped to fight the battles outside.

           Random fact: Ecuadorians don’t like to be called Mexicans. It’s not that they hate Mexicans. They are Ecuadorian. Ecuador is an entirely different country than Mexico. We aren’t English just because we look English. Also, Spain Spanish is different than Mexican or Ecuadorian Spanish. As an Ecuadorian told me, “Spain Spanish is to our Spanish as England English is to American English.” Ecuadorian Spanish is also a bit different than Mexican Spanish because they’re close to Brazil, where Portuguese is spoken.

           The hospitality in Ecuador was amazing. I’m from Texas so I constantly hear the term, “Southern hospitality”. However, in Ecuador, I was still surprised. My host mom kept saying, “Two weeks isn’t a very long time to learn about Ecuador. You need to come back.” My host dad said, “Come back anytime! Even if you’re married, bring your husband.” They didn’t even know me and yet they were so quick to offer their hospitality to me.

           I bought gifts for my host family. I didn’t know how old the kids would be or if they were going to be girls or boys. Among the gifts were spider-man socks. Andres was the only son and he was 20 years old. It was the only gift I bought for him. However, he appreciated them. It made my day when he wore them the morning I left. They value gifts given more than Americans seem to. They don’t take their possessions for advantage. Most families work hard to keep food on the table. While we had fun comparing Ecuadorian prices to American prices, we have to realize that they don’t make quite as much as we make here in America.

           All in all, the main thing I learned in Ecuador was that Christ doesn’t just dwell within us in America, but He dwells within everyone around the world who accepts Him as their Lord and Savior. God is everywhere. There’s a world much bigger than America. We need to open our eyes to see the hurting, the lost, those who need Christ. Tomorrow everything could change and our country could belong to someone else. Life isn’t all roses. We need to face up to reality. Life isn’t perfect and never will be. We can change our outlook on life and our attitudes. There’s a world outside of our peripheral vision.

           Go out of your comfort zone. Always do the thing your scared of. Trust Him and let Him lead you to unexpected places. You may be surprised at how you can impact the world through Him and for Him. You may be surprised at how much you can be changed by something you wanted to change. Don’t live life thinking you’re way is right and everyone else should follow. Follow Christ and let them follow Christ.

Struggles Make Us Stronger

              Many people refuse to believe in a God who would create such a suffering world. It was not in God’s original plan for us to suffer! He desires the best for us. He wanted us to have the best, therefore He created the best. However, we sinned against Him, bringing the consequences of sin on our own heads.

              God is all good. Therefore, how can anything bad come from Him? We are living through the consequences of our own sins. When your parents punish you for something you’ve done, is it correct to turn around and blame them for the consequences? You can let God use traumatic events to strengthen you. However, know that nothing bad comes from Him.

             Sometimes our eyes need to be opened. Satan wanted to tempt Job to prove to God that Job was only a servant of Christ because of the many blessings God had bestowed upon him. God allowed Satan to put Job to a test. 2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” We can allow our struggles to be used for His glory.

             2 Corinthians 12:7 explains why Paul was given the thorn in his flesh. “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” He was given this “thorn” in his flesh in order to serve as a reminder that he was merely a man. This “struggle” (or whatever it was) was used to glorify Christ. NASB translates it as, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in my flesh…to keep me from exalting myself!” CEV says, “…so that I would not feel too proud.”

             I’ve heard countless people ask, “Well why is there so much pain and suffering in the world then? Is God just sitting back and watching it happen?” Have we not seen countless miracles in our day? We can’t honestly say that God “sits back, letting this all happen”. He is watching over us! When we decided to eat of the tree, the world became corrupt. (I say we, because anyone of us most likely would have done the same thing when placed in the situation.) This was our fault, not God’s. His world was perfect, and we destroyed it because of our vain attempts to become like Him! The world started its aging process then and even now continues to age. World catastrophes are a result of our sin. Some catastrophes are even foretold in the Bible, but I won’t get into that right now.

             Another question that some may ask is, “Well…why did God allow us to choose to eat from that tree, anyway?” God gave us free will to decide if we would eat of the tree. “Why did God give us free will?” With free will to sin came the free will to love. If we had not been given free will, we would all be mindless robots, loving Him just because it’s “programmed in us” to do so. God desires our heart. He doesn’t want us to go “through the motions”. We have free will to decide if we want Him not. No one wants anything stuffed down their throat. He is the true gentleman; He knocks and does not enter unless we invite Him.

             Genesis 50:20 is a popular verse, visited by me many times: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” This verse does not imply that God intended their harm for good. However, God used the circumstances that Joseph was placed under to save many lives. He didn’t enjoy seeing him suffer. It is not God’s will that any of us perish. He desires that all be saved. He doesn’t choose who He wants to go to Hell. He doesn’t sit in Heaven, planning the next bad day that you’re going to have. Rather, He’s up there, helping us through the day as we continue to go about our daily existence on this earth that has been corrupted by our own fault, not His.

             Imagine you build a beautiful house (Barbie size, of course, haha). Next, you create a village for the house to reside in. Your final touch is complete after you make the dolls to go in the village. Now, one of the dolls decides, “I’m going to rob the bank.” Before this, no one else knew anything but how to live pleasantly. They weren’t expecting anything bad. They couldn’t even imagine anything bad happening. However, the day “Steve” robs the bank, their eyes are opened to what crime really is. The scales on their eyes fall as they come to ponder all of the sins that they themselves can commit. The whole town begins to become corrupt as you watch, sadly. You intervene, trying your best to make things better. It’s not your fault. You created with good intentions. Your creation simply decided to go against your will and ultimately, your plan. Was it not like this in the Creation?

             It’s not God’s will for us to be hurt but because of the consequences of our sins, this world has been corrupted and we face the consequences of it. If we don’t go through any trials in this life, our faith wouldn’t be quite as strong, would it?

Colossians 2:19

            I was completing a worksheet the other day on the book of Colossians and found a question mark by this verse: “He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.” (Colossians 2:19) I’m guessing I didn’t quite understand this verse. When you think of this in the strictest sense, of course it won’t make sense.

            However, is Christ not the head of the Body? We cannot rightly say we are the head. We do not control the rest of the body. What does it mean for Christ to be the head of the Body?

            When we think of the head, what immediately comes to our mind? Well, the brain comes to my mind. The brain controls much more than we sometimes give it credit for. The brain tells our arm to move it when we accidently touch the stove. It protects us from harm. It saves some of our memories; it protects us from some of our memories. Even when we hate to admit it, the brain is extremely vital to our existence. We can’t go on without it.

            Have you ever seen a chicken with its head cut off? It runs around, aimlessly, not really going anywhere: just running. The church would truly be like this without Jesus at the head. He knows what He’s doing. We have to trust Him. He saved us from the ultimate death: eternal death. Without Him, we are lost, alone, afraid, and we run aimlessly. He is our reason for survival.

            We are supported by Him. As we continue to grow in Him, He strengthens us to become wiser and stronger in our faith. He uses us to accomplish His great deeds. Just as the brain tells the fingers to move when playing the piano, Jesus is the one who truly supports us as we go out into the world, a light for Him.

            There have been great churches and great men and women who have forgotten where God’s place is. They put themselves on the throne and they place God aside. How long does this usually last? It usually doesn’t last very long. Just as we cannot survive without our head, the Church cannot survive without Him as the head. He is our life and our salvation.

Glory to God!

Amen and Amen

He Is Our Love

              How many of us have given our hearts away? I’m not asking how many of us have been in relationships, that’s a completely different question. Giving your heart away is something that can take place without being in a relationship. How many of us have had our hearts broken? Again, I’m not asking how many of us have been through a break up. I’ve never even had a boyfriend and I’ve had my heart broken before.

            When we give our hearts away so easily, it is easily broken. One night, I don’t even remember when this was, I was thinking about how easy it is for us to just give our hearts away. This may seem stupid, but I actually thought, “Heart, please stay in here. I don’t want you to break anymore.” I was tired of giving my heart away only for it to be broken right away.

            I wrote my parents who adopted me a poem when I was 13. I can’t remember what it said but it basically said, “My heart was broken into little pieces. You provided the yarn to sew it back together” I assure you it, of course, sounded a little more poetic. This metaphor stuck with me throughout the years as I thought about how fragile our heart is.

            If we can go our whole life not giving our heart to anyone but the one person we know will not break it, just think how our heart would look. It would be whole, with no scars or stitches. However, since we live in a sinful world, we’re going to give our hearts to fairy tales. We think everything is perfect. “Oh…he’s so perfect!” we may think…and then he breaks your heart and all of a sudden he’s the worst guy on the face of the earth.

            There is one who will never break our hearts. Jesus. Give Him your heart. Let Him hold it. You can rest assured that He won’t break it. Let Him watch over your heart. When we give Him our heart, He treasures it more than anyone on earth will ever treasure a diamond. He’ll hold your heart, mend its broken pieces and breathe a love into it that you may not have ever known existed. He will give you a hope that there is true love. There is hope. He is our love. He is our hope.

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