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Thursday, March 31, 2011


What's the meaning of endurance?  According to the wordnetweb, it is "the power to withstand hardship or stress".

Ever started a workout and felt like, "Oh my gosh, I can't do this!"  Or thought to yourself, " much longer?!"  I have thought and felt both these things.  And yet, I always "muscle through it".  Why?  Because I know that the end is 1-2 hours away.

Life is a lot like working out.  There are moments when I get started on my day, and feel so tired and think, "Oh my gosh, I can't do this!"  Or in stormy seasons I often ask the question, "Lord, how much longer?"

If I'm able to see the end when I'm working out, why is it I cannot always see the end of difficult seasons in life? 

I guess the easy answer would be that as I stated earlier, I know that an hour or two from when I start working out, I'll be finished.  While when facing a life trail, I don't know when the end will come.

Jeremiah 29:11 has become one of my theme scriptures for 2011.  "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'." (NIV)

Unlike exercising, in life sometimes we have to go through things that require endurance.  But we can rest assured that God does not get a kick out of seeing His children suffer.  He has also promised that He won't give us any more than we can bear.  We need only call on His name and He will give us rest and strength to endure the remainder of the storm. 

Psalm 33:4 also states, "For the word of the Lord is right, and all his works are done in truth." (KJV)  We can rest assured that God keeps His promises. 

As we're battling our storms, we can also find comfort in knowing that just like the weather seasons never stay the same, our seasons in life never stay the same either. 

If you're dealing with something that seems to be wearing you down, I encourage you to surrender your thoughts, heart and feelings to God today.  Ask Him to take it because you feel like you can no longer bear it.  Or ask Him to give you the strength to endure the remainder of the stormy season.  Trust in Him and His plan for you.  He'll see you through.  After all, His grace is sufficient for us and His power is perfected in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 9, NIV)

I also encourage you to meditate on Isaiah 40:28-31, which reminds us that there's only so much we can do in our own power.  But when we wait on God, He'll renew our strength. 


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Breaking Point

What do you do when you feel like you're about to reach your breaking point?  What do you do when you feel like you've already reached it?

In the world, there are tons of things to do once we get to that point, or when we feel like we're fast approaching that point.  We can take a walk.  We can count to 10, we can do breathing exercises.  We can do yoga, or write, or vent to someone, or exercise and let off some steam, or...

What do we as Christians do?  Pray, trust in God, pray, meditate on God's word...

Which works better?  When we follow the philosophies of the world to renew our strength?  Or when we follow the word of God to renew our strength?  Does it help for Christians to follow the worldly ways when we've reached our breaking point?  Is there a balance we need to find in order for it to work out?  Or do we just need to follow the word of God and trust that soon things will turn around and our strength will truly be renewed?

Isaiah 40:31 even talks about this. It states, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

So that means that when I as a Christian feel like I've reached my breaking point, I  need only to wait upon God and He'll renew my strength?  I'll have the strength to spread my wings and fly like an eagle.   Have you ever seen an eagle fly?  Have you ever seen an eagle?  Pretty powerful creature.  I'll run and not get tired, and I'll walk and not faint.  Why?  Cause I'm not relying upon my strength.  I'm relying upon God's strength...

What happens to those that don't know God?  What happens to them when they reach this breaking point?  How are they able to recover? Does God step in and renew their strength when they cry out to the "universe"?  Or does He sit by and do nothing waiting for them to ask for His help?

And when we Christians reach our breaking point, does it only take asking God for help in order for Him to renew our strength?  Is there something more we need to do in order to be renewed?  How long does it take before we are renewed in Him? 

I wonder...


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Meditating to focus

One of my promises to myself this year was to start drawing closer to God through my prayers, listening, praise and worship and meditations. 

In January, I spent most of the month seeking first God's kingdom and His righteousness.  (Matthew 6:33) I've made some decisions on what I can do throughout this year to work on my relationship with God.
Yesterday, I came up with something that got me all excited.  As I continued my activity earlier this morning, I decided it was blog worthy.

One of our promises for the year is to run a 5k, 10k and Half Marathon.  As much as I enjoy exercising (sort of), the results of exercising...I have a hard time getting started.  Running is especially hard for me.  I feel like while I run, all I do is focus on reasons why I should stop.

I started "training" this past week, along with my P90X workout.  It has been a hard week starting back...but I digress.  The first day I was able to complete my run.  Yes, I was tired.  Yes, it hurt.  Yes, I wanted to quit; but I kept going.  Day 2 (yesterday) of my run, I got about .4 miles out and stopped.  I was winded and my body was all achy and didn't want to cooperate.  I stood there thinking to myself, "Man...I don't think I can do this.  I don't even think I want to do this..."  I probably stood there for a minute debating whether I should just walk to my destination or continue running.

Finally, a thought occurred to me.  I've never really liked running.  I started doing it more regularly when I joined a boot camp a few years ago.  After that, it just became a habit for me to incorporate it into my workouts.  When we moved to LA, something that really helped me was Slacker Radio and Pandora on my phone.  I could put in my headphones and listen to worship music while I ran.  Running became my time with God.  Doing this, I found myself wanting to run more and more just to spend more time with God.

I now have no functioning headphones, so I am not able to do that right now.  I thought about this yesterday as I stood on the bridge trying to decide if I wanted to complete my run.  Then I realized, I had something better, scripture.  So I said to myself, "Self, why don't you meditate on God's word while you run?!  That way, you'll start focusing on Him and stop focusing on the pain and discomfort of running."

So that's what I did.  I meditated on Psalm 23 and Isaiah 40:31

Psalm 23 "The lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Isaiah 40:31 was especially helpful since I was running. "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

So I incorporated this activity into my run and I felt so good.  Not only was I working out my body, but I was also working out my spirit.  It felt so great, that I just wanted to keep on running.  Of course, I reached my destination, so I was able to stop running.  But that's when the idea came to me.

I realized that it would be a good idea for me to start using my running time to memorize scriptures and meditate on them.  I got so excited about it, I almost started screaming and jumping for joy.  I held it, though.  What a great way to keep my promises to myself!
growing more in my relationship with God.  

This idea is a fantastic idea for a few reasons:

1) As I said earlier, I will keep my 2011 promises by growing in my relationship with God

2)  AND, in running the 5k, 10k and Half Marathon.  I figure if I incorporate this activity into my running, I'll be encouraged to run more.

3) It will help me to memorize more scripture.

4) It will help me to learn how to meditate on God's word better.

5) It will take my focus off the pain and discomfort I feel when I run; and help me stay focused on God.

Reason 5 speaks volumes to me.  Running is not the only area in my life that has pain and discomfort.  If I use my running time to meditate on God's word and learn how to better take my focus off the pain and discomfort in that situation, I figure I'll be well practiced to apply this to the other areas and situations in my life where and when I experience all that pain and discomfort.  Coming to this conclusion was like a HUGE revelation ( or AHA! moment) for me.  I think that's why I got so excited that I wanted to jump up and down and yell.

Today, I ran for about 2 miles.  I was able to meditate on Phil 4:6-7 "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  and put Phil 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice." into a song while running.  It was another successful run.  And now I've got those new scriptures memorized.  PTL!

We'll see how this goes.  I'm hoping it'll all work out.  I'm believing it will.  Mas luego!


Friday, February 4, 2011


Have you ever been told that you're not allowed to talk about something? 

Yesterday I had an interview with an agency.  It went alright, I suppose.  In answer to some of my questions during one of the interviews, I referred to God.  I actually referred to God twice during the interview, so the person said to me, "Since you've mentioned God twice, I want to ask if you have a problem not talking about Him at work?"

The explanation: not because it was a religious thing, but a legal thing.

I was silent for what felt like a minute as I processed what he asked of me.  I could have just said, "Sure not a problem."  But for some reason I just sat there trying to process what he'd said.  I actually chuckled when he asked me that question.  He was like, "I'm a spiritual person myself.   If that works for you, that's great.  And the reason that I mention it isn't about a religious thing, it's a legal issue...."

My thoughts?  "How can I not talk about God?  He's become such a huge part of who I am..."  "You're telling me I can't talk about God in this agency?  I worked for a mail order company that sold 'all natural male enhancement products', and I still talked about God to customers whenever I saw opportunities...."  "I can't talk about God here?  That's really stupid."  "I don't know how I feel about that, I'd probably have to pray about it and see what God wants me to do." (Haha)

My words?  Although I had several thoughts, the only thing that came out of my mouth was, "That's fine."  At my response, he looked at me and said, "You don't look too happy about that."  I said, "Not really, but unfortunately it's the world we live in."  Ugh!  I could not believe I said that.  I mean, I may be in this world, but I'm not of this world (John 17:16).  How could I sell out like that? 

I was told that if I worked there and it came up that I'd been "prosthelytizing" kids or staff, they'd be dealing with a legal issue.  I was told that if God was how I dealt with things, that was fine, but that I'd have to keep the process internalized and not vocalize

My only thoughts on that were, "I'm sure if I were talking to the kids there about Jesus, they wouldn't use the word, 'prosthelytizing' to explain what I'm doing..." 

I mean, I'm not saying all I do now is go up to people and say, "Hello.  My name is Patricia.  Do you know Jesus? I know Him and you should know Him too!"  But if the opportunity presents itself, why am I not allowed to bring God up?

Later sharing this occurrence with Marcus, he reminded me that God is God and He can be glorified in any way.  We don't just have to talk about Him for God to be glorified.  Man, why didn't I just say that rather than get rattled and say what I said?  It's so true.  God is God.  His word says to "Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10. 

I guess I just felt like I sold out because this week in church we went through Acts 3 and 4.  In Acts 3, Peter and John heal a crippled man.  This man had been crippled for about 40 years and he sat at the temple door begging for money. When Peter and John came along, he asked them for money.  Peter told him that he didn't have any money, but what he had was worth more than silver and gold.  Then something amazing happened, "Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." Acts 3:6.  They healed the man and found an opportunity to share the gospel.

In Acts chapter 4, Peter and John are arrested for this act and for sharing the gospel.  Finally when they were confronted by the religious leaders responsible for their arrest, they spoke to them boldly in response to them.  Stumped about what to do, the leaders realized they couldn't hold Peter and John in jail, but upon release ordered them not to talk about Jesus anymore. 

"And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all [men] glorified God for that which was done." Acts 4:18-21.

They ordered them not to talk about Jesus.  Peter and John said no.  They still had to let them go, because they couldn't deny the miracle of the man's healing.  They couldn't deny what all the people had seen.  These people tried stopping God with their laws, but they didn't win.  They lost and in the end God was glorified and they were left there (men of intelligence) looking like fools. 

People can try to stop God, in all sorts of ways.  They can try hard...very hard.  But they won't win.  God always wins.  So I won't open my mouth about God if I get that job.  If God wants to do something through me there, His WILL will be done!  My prayer is that God would give me the boldness to go into His world and not be afraid to continue speaking about Him.  My prayer is that I'd be as bold as Peter and John were in Acts 3 and 4 when the time comes. 

I mean, if God is for me, who can be against me? (Romans 8:31)  I have no reason to fear...


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Feeling a little dirty...

Have you ever felt so lazy that even a shower seems like too much work for you?  I mean to the point where you really don't care about the filth you have on you from the day before?  Perhaps you're just too comfortable sitting in your PJ's to get up and get in the shower and wash off the remains from the day before.  Or maybe it's just really cold in your house and the thought of taking off those warm clothes or getting from under your warm blanket and stepping into the cold air of a shower gives you the chills.

That's how I was feeling this morning.  As a matter of fact, that's how I feel a lot of mornings.  Rest assured, I take showers every day.  But there are moments when I just don't feel like it.  I'm far too comfortable in the current position that I'm in, and I'm just not willing to give up that comfort at the moment to hop in the shower.  Or it's just really cold in our house, and the thought of having to deal with the cold air--before and after the shower--just does not seem very appealing to me.  I choose to stay warm, I choose to stay comfortable.  Eventually though, I have to get up and wash the dirt off from the day before.  If I did not, I'd just continue to get dirtier and dirtier and people would start to notice.

As I was having this random thought earlier today, God spoke to my heart.  I always find it amazing how God can take any situation and use it to better explain Himself to us.  He showed me that it's a lot like sin, and living a sin filled life.

To a point, we all have dirt on us, even when we shower.  Dirt gets on our skin and it just stays there throughout the day.  When we shower over night or the next morning, we're able to remove that dirt by washing it away.  If we never shower, that dirt stays on our skin, and more dirt is added to us daily.  In the beginning, no one really notices.  You don't even notice and it's your body.  So you could say that it's somewhat acceptable.  Eventually, though, if you continue not to shower, the dirt begins to show up.  You start to smell.  You, along with other people start to notice it. 

Before I knew Jesus, I was knee deep in sin.  Much like going without a shower for a day, it started off passable.  I couldn't really tell.  No one else could tell either.  Each day I continued in this sin letting it fester all over my body.  It seemed like the more I allowed the sin to stay on me, the more other sins began attaching themselves to my body.  Once you have enough on you, it's easier for more to attach itself to you.  Too much dirt on you can cause disease.  And who wants disease all over their body?  Most people with diseases want to be cleansed of them immediately.

 If we don't shower for a few days, we're still able to hide the dirt.  We're still able to cover up the stink.  But eventually, it all comes out.  It can come out to the point that people either start gossiping about us, or people come to us with genuine concern for what we're doing.  You know what I mean:  A wife cheats on her husband.  She continues to do so, and it eventually comes out.  You become a social drinker or drug user.  You continue telling yourself you've got it all under control.  Then somewhere down the line, you wake up and discover the drugs or alcohol has control of you.  It is inevitable, the sins in your life can and will get out of control to the point that people begin noticing them.  You'll start to notice them. 

There is, however, a way out...

In Psalm 51:2-3 the psalmist asks God, "Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me."  Verse 7 goes on to say, "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean, wash me, and I will be whiter than snow."

Our sins are like dirt.  They are filthy.  We all have sin in our lives, some of us just choose to ask for forgiveness for them and to be cleansed of them.  When we ask to be cleansed of them, God promises to do so.  In Jeremiah 33 He says, "I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me." (Jeremiah 33:8, NIV).

In this chapter, he was talking about the people of Judah and Israel.  But this is a promise that He's made for all of us today.  He's already given us this promise, it's up to us to stop being lazy and comfortable with our dirt and ask for Him to cleanse us of it. 

The best part about it, is God doesn't care how dirty we are.  All He cares about is that we acknowledge Him, and ask for His forgiveness for our sins.  When we do this, we can rest assured He is faithful and will cleanse us of them.  1 John 1:8-9  (NIV) states, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 

And once we do this...once we decide that we're no longer comfortable sitting in our sin...once we make the decision to stop be lazy and festering in our sin...once we come to Him and let Him take it from us, we can be confident to know that He's wiped our slates clean and removed that sin that once made us so dirty and smelly far from us.  Psalm 103:12 states that "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions (our sins) from us."  This is how much He loves us...


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Happy New Year!

Well it's finally 2011.  When I was a kid, I think I expected everything to be similar to The Jetson's once this time came around.  If you'd told me we'd still be driving our cars rather than flying them, I'd have called you a liar. 

As I start to get settled in to this new year, I--like others--have so many expectations and hopes.  I expect that I as a person will grow and be better this year than I was in 2010.  I hope that this year brings even greater blessings to my life and my families' lives.

Many people create New Year's resolutions because they want to be better in the new year than they were in the past.  What would make you better?  Losing 20 or 30 pounds?  Having more friends?  Having more money or more material items?

Physical health is one of the things I value most in my life.  I'm thankful for my health and my physical strength and ability.  I am also very thankful for the few but true friendships that I have been blessed with.  I'd definitely love to get more money in 2011 than I got in 2010.  And there's nothing wrong with material things.  I too like stuff.  

But what about Jesus?  Would you be willing to get to know Him in 2011?  If you already know Him, would you be willing to ask Him for more of Him in your life this year? 

What if I told you, that having a relationship with Jesus would make you better?  What if I told you that having a relationship with Jesus would give you more of what you're truly searching for?  Would you still rather have more friends, money, stuff or lose more weight this year than get to know Him?

Imagine that you have all the money, material items, and friends in the world and you are a "perfect size".  What would life be like for you?  Would you be content?  Or would you want more?  What if you had all this, but you didn't have Jesus?  How would life be for you?

I can speak from personal experience that I once had all the "friends" I thought I needed.  I had tons of money, and I had tons of material things.  I think I had pretty much everything an average person would want in life.  The one thing missing was Jesus.  I remember going shopping and buying and buying and buying until I thought I was satisfied.  When I got home with all my stuff, I'd always feel this enormous sense of emptiness. 

I remember going out with friends and eating and drinking to my heart's content.  The first bite and drink are always delicious.  But once it's gone, it's gone.  You can only eat so much food, and you can only drink so much drink.  No matter how full my stomach was, I still had an emptiness inside of me.

I remember thinking I had tons and tons of friends.  I remember losing most of them when I could have used them the most. 

I remember the day that I gave my  life to Jesus.  I remember that empty feeling being filled like never before.  I remember feeling a sense of peace wash over me like a cool, calm shower.  It is a  moment that I will never forget as long as I live. 

2 Corinthians 4:18 states, "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."

In the context of chapter 4, the verse is speaking about personal affliction.  It's a reminder not to look at those things (the different struggles) which afflict us, but remember to look at what's ahead if we continue to trust in Jesus.  For me, something about this verse, touches the subject that I speak of...

Think about it.  The Webster's Dictionary definition of affliction is to cause persistent pain or distress, great suffering.  The battle of losing weight and/or gaining weight can cause great suffering, friendships can, loss or gain of money can cause that, and so can other material items.  Why?  Because these are all temporal things.

But setting our sights on the things that are eternal: Jesus, Heaven, His love for us, etc. comes with no affliction.  It does, however, come with peace that surpasses all human understanding (Philippians 4:7), agape love, unlimited joy, and freedom from sin. 

One of my promises for 2011 is to make more time for God.  My hope is that I am able to strengthen my prayer life this year; and in so doing, deepen my relationship with God. 

My prayer in this new year is that more people will let go of their fleshly desires (for more money, materials, and "cool friends"), and explore the hunger in their hearts for Jesus.  Not that there's anything wrong with that stuff.  I do hope, though, that they would choose to have more of Him above all the things of this world that fade, break, and get old.  Rest assured that Jesus never fades, gets old or breaks...He is the same yesterday, today and forever! (Hebrews 13:8)

Wishing everyone abundant blessings, peace and agape love in 2011!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Day 30

Day 30 of the Prayer of Jabez challenge is finally  here.  It's also a new year!  Happy New Year!  Marcus and I decided that we would like to reread the Prayer of Jabez book.  Our copy is in storage, so I'm just going to check it out from the library.

We are also going to do a fast starting next week.  I am really nervous about that, but I continue to pray for strength for it. 

I'm always excited about the end of something.  The feeling of getting through it is always a wonderful feeling.  I'm thankful for the peace that God has given me.  It has come from knowing what I have control over and what I do not have control over and accepting it. 

It has also come from knowing that God is not my enemy.  Therefore, if I have to wait on something it isn't because He's trying to punish me or because He's being mean.  There's a reason for it.

Isaiah 40:31 states, "But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint."

So when we wait on God, it may seem like we're being lazy.  It may seem like we're being stupid.  It may seem like we're just afraid to take action, but we're none of the above.  We are putting our trust in Him, and waiting for His very best. 

In the final week of 2010, I came to realize that although I have trusted God, I have trusted Him to do as I expect Him to do.  I have trusted Him to do what I think needs to be done.