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hold nothing back

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Today’s guest post is by a wonderful woman of God, Deena Smeltzer.pastors_edit2

Tony & I passed the pastor baton of Living Faith Church to Deena and her husband Steven in November 2012. They are doing an awesome job taking Living Faith to the next level and reaching into the community. You can check out the church at: Living Faith Church

I know Deena’s article will bless you!

Hold Nothing Back By: Deena Smeltzer

One of the most expensive perfumes in our world today is Les Larmes Sacrees de Thebes by Baccarat: selling at $6,800.00 an ounce.

perfumeThe Baccarat crystal pyramid bottle contains a perfume of which the main ingredients are frankincense and myrrh.

If I owned this perfume I most likely would use it very sparingly, and probably only on special occasions; I wouldn’t want to “waste” it. However, I’d like to think I would have no hesitation in pouring it on Jesus’ head should I have the opportunity.

I like to believe that I would pour it all out and hold nothing back, just as He did for me, but would I? Would you?

Ladies of Living Faith get together for what we call “Women of Substance”. Together we search God’s Word to see what it says to us regarding being determined, influential women. We know that substance is what we have, what we possess. It also means who we are and what we are made of. Recently we studied a woman who poured costly perfume on Jesus and a widow who gave two small coins; two seemingly very different accounts, and yet oh so relevant to one another.

In Matthew 26 the word precious describes the perfume, and it meant very valuable.  It says she poured it on His head; she didn’t just dribble a little bit, she poured it! You could say she held nothing back!

In Mark chapter 14 the oil was extremely expensive, costly. We learn even more about its value by the rest of what is said. It could be sold for three hundred pence: one of these Roman coins was equal to ten donkeys which was valued at one day’s labor.

This perfume was worth ten donkeys times three hundred! So this perfume she poured on Jesus was valued at approximately one year’s labor. The disciples considered it a waste. Yet the act of love she displayed was so valuable to Jesus that He said wherever the gospel is preached throughout the entire world she would be spoken of.

Jesus observed a woman giving an offering in Mark 12: 41-44. It says He observed how the people cast money into the treasury. A poor widow threw in two mites; studies say this valued at the fourth part of a donkey. We see here that the amount she put in was much less than the perfume was valued at, and yet Jesus said it was much more than all the rich people had put in combined. How could that be? Jesus said they cast in of their excess, or that which was left over; but the widow gave her entire life’s value, all that she had. We could say she held nothing back.

One woman had something of great monetary value, one did not. Yet we see that Jesus esteemed them both as priceless. What is it that we esteem as valuable and precious? What is it that we have that we can pour out for Jesus?

In Acts 3, Peter declares he didn’t have any silver or gold to give a lame man begging for money. Peter extended something to him that was much more valuable. Peter took him by the hand, lifted him up and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

Are we willing to give the most valuable possession we own, or the very last cent we have? Are we willing to step out of our comfort zone and extend our hand to someone that can’t stand on their own two feet? Jesus, in Matthew 28 told us to go and baptize, or we could say drench all people in the Name, the nature and character of God. Selfless giving, holding nothing back is exactly how we do just that.

Jesus purchased us with His own blood, He held nothing back. Being set apart as His possession is to be completely at His disposal. Are we willing to pour out our very essence for Jesus? All for Jesus, we freely give. All for Jesus, we freely live.

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and they lived happily ever after…

Tony and I have been married for twenty-seven years.  We’ve had great times, good times, so-so times, not so good times and times where we wondered if we should just call it quits. When you’ve been married for some time you go through some stuff and realize it’s normal. The key is learn to love at all times; realize that the enemy is very real and wants to destroy what God has put together; and don’t call it quits.

As women we get in our heads the fairy tale; the…”and they lived happily ever after”. images-1 But in reality marriage is work, hahaha!  Yes I said WORK! You are taking two very different lives, experiences, ways of growing up, and sometimes very different cultures and becoming one; as the Bible tells us. But most of all it takes putting God first in your life and marriage; a three-fold cord is not quickly broken (Ecc 4:12). Keeping God as center of your life and not self, is a lifetime of work!

Earlier this month I heard a message on the “Nine Be’s of Marriage”. Mark Gungor, author of “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage”, was a guest speaker at our church. Just a recommendation, get his book, listen to his messages, if you can go to his marriage seminar…. excellent, practical and hysterically funny! I just want to share with you Mark Gungor’s “Nine Be’s of Marriage”.

1.  Be Nice….  What is the nice thing to do?

Me: How simple is that? Where does it say we be nice to everyone else except our spouse? The Bible tells us to be kind to one another (Eph 4:32).

2.  Be Content… learn to be happy even in the midst of awful circumstances. Count it all joy (James 1:2). Learn the power of praise; learn to celebrate even when life sucks.

Me: Paul tells us that he was content no matter what state he was in (Phi 4:11-13); because we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

3.  Be Connected… get plugged in with others, don’t be an island. Find some godly friends as a couple that you can be honest, open and real with.

Me: This is how the devil tries to isolate you, causing you to think you’re the only one’s going through what you are going through.

4.  Be Prepared…life is hard, life is predictable and unpredictable, and life is not fair.

Me: A strong relationship with the Lord will keep you in tough times.

5.  Be Proactive…. you will reap what you sow; do the right things.

6.  Be Clear… emotional people don’t communicate clearly. Tell your spouse what you need from them. Ask your spouse what you want (you may have to do this more than once). Don’t insult when you speak to them.

7.  Be Doers of the Word… live out your Christianity at home.                                    Me: This is a biggy, especially if you have children; don’t be a hypocrite.

8.  Be Patient…marriage is a long-term project; if you’re at the end of your rope….TIE A KNOT!

Me: I love it…tie a knot…don’t call it quits…don’t give up, it’s a long-term project!

9.  Be Dead….your flesh, your selfishness; learn to let go and let God.

Me: Selfishness is the number one killer of any relationship.

I would like to add one more Be to the nine…

Be ForgivingEphesians 4:32: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you”.

I believe when you put these into practice; and do what the Word says about marriage, God can change any situation to “happily ever after”.

More resources:

“Nine Be’s of Marriage”- Mark Gungor:  podcast July 14, 2013

Mark Gungor You tube video: Ask More Than Once

 

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hey! wait a minute

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Spring finally came after our first winter in Nashville. I was driving with the windows down enjoying the beautiful day. While stopped at a traffic light I took a deep breath only to be greeted by the horrific smell of freshly cut grass. Yes, I said horrific!

Some people love the smell of fresh cut grass; for me it brings back the worst childhood memories. Suddenly I was back in the fifth grade sitting on the grass at school watching giant red welts take over my body, and itching for the rest of the day. Then sneezing uncontrollably all the way home with no Kleenex to wipe my nose, snot flying everywhere using my new pancho for a Kleenex. I was a vision of loveliness!

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Hey! Wait aaaa minute”; interrupting this trip down memory lane, I reminded myself the Lord healed me of allergies over eighteen years ago (sometimes it’s good to interrupt yourself). Immediately I started praising God for healing me.

So what happened? Something I smelt (the freshly cut grass) and saw (stuff floating in the air) triggered my memory back to the days of allergy attacks. I got caught off guard through my senses.

Thoughts come at you contrary to what the Word says. Maybe what you are seeing is so in your face you can’t see anything else, the circumstances may be screaming at you “you’re not going to make it”; no matter, it’s our job to bring those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:3-5), and to walk by faith (2 Cor 5:7) and not by what we see, hear, feel, smell or taste.

Memories or circumstances can trigger your senses and pull you out of the faith realm. Following your senses will only cause you to keep your eyes on the circumstances and not the promises of God. Which is exactly what the enemy wants, to keep the battle in the sense realm; victory will never come on that battlefield.

At that moment I had a choice, I could fall into the trap of my senses or I could continue to thank God for what He has already done for me. I chose right; I sneezed once and said, “I will have none of that devil, the Lord healed me and that is the end of it! I am not dwelling on this any longer”. I don’t care what the mold spore or pollen count is, I don’t care that I am seeing huge floating things in the air, and I don’t care that the news is saying this is the worst allergy season ever… I am healed and I will not be subject to what I see, smell, and hear.

Several weeks later I was driving down the Highway; up ahead was a storm coming towards me fast and furious. Within two minutes I was in the thick of it; rain coming down like a solid wall. I couldn’t see two feet in front of the car. I didn’t panic; I heard the Lord say, “keep your eyes fixed on your lane”. The Lord gave me a point of reference. About three minutes later I passed through it.

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The enemy will try to come at you with all he can; he tries to create fear through circumstances. He tries to get your eyes off of the Lord and His Word, which is our point of reference. He wants you to focus on the storm. But if you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, fixed on His promises, fixed on His Word you will come through the storm. Even if the storm seems to take forever to pass, your job is to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus the Author and Finisher of your faith (Heb 12:2 NASB). It will pass!

A few more scriptures:

2 Cor 4:18 NIV “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen”

Isaiah 43: 2 NASB “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you”.

Isaiah 59:19 “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him”.

I would love to hear your thoughts! 

wisdom, patience & nevertheless

tina002rrcToday’s post is by a good friend of mine Tina Marino. Tina has a HUGE heart for the homeless and founded The Encouragement Center; a ministry that helps feed those in need of North San Diego County, CA. You can check out her blog: Faith Mamma; where Tina encourages us to keep the faith.

I know this post will minister to you as Tina shares from her heart!

Wisdom, Patience & Nevertheless   By: Tina Marino

I am sure you know that no matter how long you’ve been walking with the Lord, no matter how much Word you have deposited in you, no matter how you “walk the talk and talk the walk”, no matter how much you’ve got this “faith thing” down, there comes a time when it just doesn’t seem to be working. Circumstances get you waylaid. Cares of this world come crashing down. The thing you are standing in faith for doesn’t come to pass. Things go from bad to worse, no matter your faith stand.  You are left questioning, “Why, God, why? Why isn’t it working?”

why God why

First off, I will say:  You are NOT alone! It happens to the best of us, even preachers and ministers of the Word.

The first thing you do is ask, “What did I do wrong?” or “I don’t understand it; I did all I knew to do. Why didn’t it work for me?” and “Why didn’t I get the victory that the Word promises me?”

There is no other way to say it: You didn’t know all you needed to know! Plain and simple. After over twenty-five years in the Lord and in His Word, I can truthfully say that the more I learn, the more I realize I need to learn. I just don’t know it all. Neither do you!

So, what do we do when we are at this point of seeming failure, of deferred hope that makes the heart sick? We need wisdom. Obviously, God is not wrong, so we are missing it somehow. We must ask for wisdom.

Proverb 4:7 NKJV

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.

Fortunately, God has made us a promise: If we ask for wisdom He will give us wisdom!

James 1:5 NLT

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

How do you ask for this wisdom? Well, first you must spend time with the Lord. It is in this precious time with Him that He will speak to your heart. He will reveal tidbits to you, little instructions along the way: talk to this person….give to that man….call this businessman….forgive your dad….give up that bad habit, etc. None of these actions seem really significant in and of themselves, but as you do as He leads, you will see that the way toward answered prayer becomes uncluttered.

Second, you must remember that faith and patience are twins. I know, I know, youpatience grid don’t want to hear about patience! I hate anything that has to do with being patient (waiting in lines and bad traffic just about do me in). While we are really good about standing in faith, we seem to forget that it is through faith AND patience that we inherit the promises of God. (Hebrews 6:12). We need to let patience have its perfect work. When faith begins to waver, our patience will come to our aid and undergird our faith, if we let it.

Third, we must develop what I call the “Nevertheless Stance”. Whatever God tells us to do, whether we understand it or not, whether we like it or not, whether it makes sense to us or not, we must pull a Nike and “Just Do It”. It didn’t make any sense to Peter when Jesus told him to throw the net in after he had fished all night in vain. But, he said, “Nevertheless, at Thy word I will do it.” (Luke 5:5) His reward was great. Get in the habit of saying, “I will do it because You say so, Lord.”

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I will leave you with this quote from Vance Havner, Christian minister, 1901-1986:

“If you lack wisdom, get on your knees!”

Wisdom is the principal thing.

Patience is the key.

Nevertheless is the position we must take.

Keep the faith!

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stand still~ part two

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Last week I left you with two statements:

~Standing is not passive but active  

~Standing is a position of rest and trust

These are absolutely true statements, yet the words rest and active seem to contradict one another. Is rest an activity? Well… if you live in the Costadini household it is!

Rest is a place of trust; we can rest knowing that the promises of God are true. Trusting in Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross, which has provided our every need. So we rest, we cease from striving, knowing that it was a gift and we can never earn it by our works.

Hebrews 4:11 says we are to “labor to enter into that rest”. It might be a fight getting there but when you are there, you rest, you trust, you have a peace.

believeWhen we get to that place where we’ve done all;                                              we are now simply required to stand.

What does standing still activity look like?

~Put on the armor of God– Never stand unarmed

Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the full armor of God. Why? So we can resist and stand our ground against the enemy.

~Count His faithfulness

Do you remember the Psalmist (Psalm 77) I wrote about last week, the one questioning the Lord? In verse 10 he comes to the conclusion he was lacking God’s help because of his grief. He quickly gets over it and says: “I shall remember the deeds of the Lord”; and for the rest of the psalm he meditates, he remembers God’s goodness, and the Lord working in the life of the Israelites.

Sarah did this as well; in Hebrews 11 the writer tells us that she “judged (counted, considered) Him faithful who had promised”. Sarah knew the faithfulness of God. While standing you must count His faithfulness. What has He done in your life?

~Rejoice

James tells us to count it all joy in the trial. The joy of the Lord gives you the strength to continue to stand. So start rejoicing!

PraiseHimSea.lg_~Praise & Thanksgiving

God inhabits the praises of His people; your praises release God’s glory, His power in your life. Thanksgiving is the attitude of gratitude. Be thankful for what He has done and is going to do in your life.

~Confess the Word

Hebrews tells us to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised IS Faithful”. Make the Word of God the final authority in your life. Keep speaking God’s Word; He is faithful to bring it to pass.

~Fix your eyes on Jesus

He is the author & finisher of your faith. Isaiah tells us that those who keep their minds stayed on the Lord will be kept in perfect peace. Be immoveable!

~Pray in the Spirit

Jude says: “build yourself up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit”

~Enforce Your Authoritystory

Jesus tells us in Luke “Behold I give you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions and over ALL the power of the enemy”. Be bold!

 

 

 

~Determine to live by the Word, faith and love

Faith in God’s Word will only work by love. Walking in love must be a way of life in order for you to resist the enemy.

When we stand well in the trial we are ensured rest, peace, strength, joy and ultimately victory.

Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord!

I would love to hear how you stand in a trial.

stand still~ part one

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Have you ever been in the place where you look back at all the promises God has given you, (not to mention the promises in His Word) and say my life is not what the Word says it should be? My dreams have not been realized, I am not living in victory or that abundant life the Lord promises us in John 10:10. I am in that place as I write, a place of reflection.

God never promised us a life of tiptoeing through the tulips; Jesus said “in the world you will have tribulation” and then He encouraged us by saying: “be of a good cheer I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). James tells us that the testing of our faith produces patience and we are to let patience have its perfect work. Why? So we will be complete lacking nothing.

Test and trials come to every believer no one is exempt from this. What we do in these trials will determine our growth, maturing in our faith. It’s OK to question what’s going on. It’s OK to ask the Lord “where are You?” “Why isn’t this coming to pass?“

questioning womanLook at what the Psalmist says in Psalm 77: “my spirit ponders: will the Lord reject forever? Will He ever be favorable again? Have His promises come to an end? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Sometimes you get in a place of questioning; AND IT’S OK. Just don’t stay in that place… that place can lead to despair and hopelessness. Ask the questions and move on. My experience has been that the Lord will either encourage me to continue standing or give me direction.

God’s direction may be that you have missed the mark somewhere; or you have bitterness or unforgiveness in your heart; maybe you’re not walking in love with others, or you have unrepented sin. Regular heart check ups are good to do. If all is OK, where do you look next?

Well what is your mouth saying? Is it in agreement with the Word or are you griping and complaining or speaking doubt and unbelief about your situation? This is an area where most of us miss it. We walk by what the circumstances are screaming at us and not by faith. When delays come, ultimately faiths confession will bring you the victory. So make sure your mouth is lining up with the Word of God.

You might be thinking OK Maria, I’ve done all that….now what? That brings me to two scriptures:

In Exodus 14:13 Moses and the children of Israel had their backs up against the Red

Beautiful Sky- taken today  in Franklin, TN

Beautiful Sky- taken today in Franklin, TN

Sea with the Egyptians coming at them fast and furious; Moses said to them “fear not, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord”.

Then Ephesians 6:13-14 tells us: “and having done all, to stand: stand therefore”. When we have done all humanly possible, we are simply required to stand.

I will leave you with two statements….

~Standing is not passive; but active

~Standing is a position of rest and trust

Next week I will continue this thought of “standing still” and give you an idea of what “standing still” entails.

I would love to hear your thoughts….

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directionally challenged

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A few weeks ago while driving home from an area I thought I knew; I found myself going in the completely opposite direction. Nashville has a unique Interstate system to say the least; and if you aren’t paying attention you can get lost in a heartbeat.

My thinking was, I got to my destination with help, I know the way back, I don’t need navigation, let’s just go. Well go I did, and 20 minutes out I realized I was headed for images-6Memphis, TN and miles from a place where I could correct my situation.

When I finally got back on the right route; the Lord spoke to me….”being directionally challenged cost you”.  Yes, Lord it did… it cost me precious time and resource (gasoline/money).

Where did I go wrong?

My first mistake: “I thought I knew”.  How many times we think we know God’s Word and His will for our lives and we end up miles off course. This is how Eve was deceived in the garden… she thought she knew God’s Word, the devil came in with a little twist and there they were on the outskirts of paradise. It cost them.

My second mistake: I didn’t bother to pull over and consult my navigation. It was right there…. waiting for me to ask directions. Which is something I don’t usually have a problem with… not sure what happened there.  Maybe I was embarrassed or still full of pride thinking I knew where to go; a few reasons why we fail to get help when needed; and it costs.

The solutions to my mistakes are obvious: know the specific directions and allow yourself to be helped. In other words: don’t think you know it all and don’t be so proud that you’re ashamed to get help.

When we have these attitudes it will cost us, not only in the spiritual realm but in the natural as well. What’s the solution? Know His Word; know His specific direction for your life, and ask for His help along the way, especially if you get off course.

In Psalm 119 we can read about the “Excellencies of the Word of God”. Yes, it is the longest chapter in the Bible, but really worth the read specifically in the Message Version.

The Psalm opens with: “You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right—you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set”.

Here’s a few more snippets:

Vs 9-16: “How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word”.  “Don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted”.

Vs 17-24: “I’m a stranger in these parts; give me clear directions”

images-3Vs 25-32: “Barricade the road that goes Nowhere; grace me with your clear revelation. I choose the true road to Somewhere, I post your road signs at every curve and corner”.

 Vs 33-40: “Guide me down the road of your commandments; I love traveling this freeway”!

Vs 97-104: “I never make detours from the route you laid out; you gave me such good directions”

Vs 105: “By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path”

Directionally challenged? Try the map of God’s Word. Get started by:

~Placing great value on the Word of God-it’s treasures will keep you on the right road

~Knowing God’s Word-it will guide you and show you the steps to take for every situation

~Walking in God’s Word-great reward comes with obedience to His Word; His Word gives life

Would love to hear your thoughts!

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the interest with pinterest

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There’s another social media craze called: Pinterest; as if our world needed another form of social media. Of course some of you reading this already know all about it. But I’m sure there are a few of you who have no idea what I am talking about. No worries, I was like that about a year or so ago. I first learned about Pinterest from my daughters, as with all of the other social media…. I needed their help with navigation.

In the beginning I resisted; I needed another time sucker like I needed a hole in my head. But the more I thought about the concept the more interesting it became. I want to share with you a few reasons why I think Pinterest is so cool.

~Pinterest is like a dream board

Every success guru, Christian or not suggests having a dream board in order to achieve success. The idea behind a dream board is to have it before your eyes. I fully believe that is a Biblical concept. You must see it with the “eyes of faith” before it becomes a reality in your life. The Lord told Habbakuk to write the vision and make it plain so he could run with it”. Proverbs 29:18 tells us: “where there is no vision the people perish”. The Lord encourages us to have a vision and to write it down so it is kept before our eyes.

This is exactly what Pinterest is: an online dream board, a place where you can dream. You can make different boards and fill them with endless possibilities. I have a home décor board, one for fashion, for places I want to go, one for home designs, one for outdoor living and several others.

~Pinterest is like scrapbooking with no mess

With Pinterest there is no mess, no cutting, no pasting; it’s cheaper because you don’t have to buy magazines. All you have to do is click on a picture you like to pin it to your board.

One day I stumbled across some scrapbooks I made when I was first married; my oldest daughter Ariana was intrigued by them. After showing her, my books filled with cut out pictures from magazines of fashion, jewelry, dream homes, home décor and garden ideas. She said: “Mom that’s what Pinterest is!” I suddenly understood the concept after seeing my antiquated form of Pinterest.

~Find & store useful information, craft ideas, and party ideas

My mother was the queen of junk drawers filled with craft how-to’s and party ideas. Now you can get rid of that junk drawer, by storing all those ideas in one place.

Pinterest is the “in place” for brides to find wedding ideas. What’s so cool is most of this stuff is DIY (do it yourself) which always cuts down on expenses.

My daughter Rachel found a great idea for making an earring display, her cost: under $10. IMG_1373

~Find & store recipes

I love to collect recipes; which poses two problems. First, I rarely make them because I am either too busy or watching my weight. Secondly, where do I store them? I have dozens of manila folders filled with ripped out recipes from magazines. Not to mention all the cookbooks I have purchased. “Where are they now?”…..in a box in storage.

With Pinterest you pin the recipes that look incredible and when you need them, there they are right on your computer, ipad or smart phone. I just set up my laptop in the kitchen to follow the instructions.

Here are two recipes I found on Pinterest and tried them….YUMMY!

Spaghettini with Spinach, Garlic & Lemon Pinned to Pinterest from: weekofmenues.blogspot.compasta with spinach

Chocolate Chip Cookie n’ Oreo Knock your Socks off Brownie Bars Pinned to Pinterest from: betchacanteatjustone.wordpress.com6555bc7504b8763e6c57d2832bc8953c

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son, don’t waste your life

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Proverbs 31: 4-7  “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. Give strong drink [as medicine] to him who is ready to pass away, and wine to him in bitter distress of heart. Let him drink and forget his poverty and [seriously] remember his want and misery no more”. (amplified version)

562567_507019792691922_659591404_nOur Proverbs 31 woman continues to instruct her son the king. I just want to inject a thought: as children of the Most High God, we are sons and daughters of the King; we are royalty. She is advising him that it is not for kings, or princes to drink strong drink.

Verse five tells us why: drinking causes you to forget, or be oblivious of the law. Why? Because it perverts, alters, changes or clouds your judgment towards those who are afflicted, in trouble, those in misery or depressed. The word “law” also means decree; which spiritually can be translated as divine purpose. So getting caught up in this lifestyle will cause you to be oblivious or unaware of your divine purpose.

I really like the Message version for verses 4 & 5: “Leader’s can’t afford to make fools of themselves, gulping wine and swilling beer. Lest hung over, they don’t know right from wrong and the people who depend on them are hurt”.

I just want to inject another thought: there are so many things that can anesthetize any one of us. There’s the obvious: alcohol, illegal and legal drugs. What about TV, internet, social media, gambling, internet gaming, over shopping, over eating, violent movies, pornography? It could be anything that dulls our senses to our calling and divine purpose, and helping those around us.

Bottom line we are to keep our heads about us, we should not get caught up in a lifestyle that dulls our mind or senses. The reason being: to always remember our divine purpose; helping those in need, those who are depending on us.

It’s like our beautiful Proverbs 31 Woman is saying; “son, don’t waste your life on getting drunk; God has something greater in store for you. God wants to do something powerful in and through you. If you drink you’ll lose sight of your divine purpose”.

What must we do?

  • Be the example

Don’t be hypocritical; don’t do what you are telling your children not to do. They will see through that in a heartbeat.

Proverbs 20:7 “The righteous man walks in his integrity; blessed (happy, fortunate, enviable) are his children after him”.

Integrity is the quality of being honest, having strong moral principles; and moral uprightness.

When you lead a life of integrity your children will be blessed and follow right after you. You’re right living will make an easier path for them. Do your kids a favor….live right!

They learn more from watching you than they do by the words of your mouth.

  • Train your children in the ways of the Lord

Proverbs 22:6: “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. Some kids may take a little detour, but the promise of the Lord is they will not depart from what they have been taught.

Teach them who they are in Christ and how to conduct themselves as such.

  • Speak into their life

Don’t be afraid to tell your kids about life. Better they learn from you and the Word of God, than from some buddy of theirs in the school bathroom.

Speak the Word of God and prophesy over them.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this post.

Scriptures to Study:                                                                                            Prov 17:21, Prov 17:25, Prov 19:18, Prov 19:26, Prov 20:1Prov 20:20, Prov 22:15, Prov 23:13, Prov 23:19-35, Prov 24:3-4, Prov 29:15, Prov 17-18Eph 6:1-4

Helpful Articles:                                                                               Ten Reasons Kids Leave the Church                                                          Three Huge Mistakes We Make Leading Kids                                                Building Your Child’s Self Esteem  Building Your Child’s Self Esteem Part 2

the power of confession

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Over the years in ministry I have made an observation in others as well as in my own life. Most Christians do not see their faith through to the end, especially if it’s taking months or even years to come to pass. In my own life, I at times have failed to confess the Word of God until what I was believing for, came to pass.

I was lazy with my faith confession. Who me???? a woman in ministry??? Noooo! YES!!! Just because a person is in ministry doesn’t mean things come automatically; all it means is we have to work out our faith for the ministry AND we have to work out our faith in our personal life.

In this new season I find myself in, I have had the time to spend confessing the Word of God over our life and our planted seed. I have been seeing amazing results.

Here are a few things I have observed:

In the beginning it seems useless….you thought I was going to say something spiritual here! I am saying it seems like nothing is ever going to happen! It feels like you are bird mimicking God’s Word. Thoughts go through your mind “this isn’t working”, “I’m bored”, “why am I doing this, I could be doing something else”.  I found that if you stick with it, for me it took about 30 days; you will notice some things will start to happen. So keep on keepin’ on!

Speaking God’s Word is like a fire and a hammer. “Is not my word like a fire?” says the Lord, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:29

When you speak God’s Word into your situation it is like a fire and a hammer; it’s flaming hot, fiery, it burns through enemy lines. The hammer pounds, drives, it breaks, scatters it dashes into pieces.  The rock here means a fortress or a stronghold; the word “pieces” means fragments. So God’s Word is like a hammer that pounds, drives, and scatters the stronghold or problem into fragments. But it takes repetition; just like a hammer hitting a nail repeatedly will drive it into the wood.

229683649716199922_njubtfV5_cHear yourself speak God’s Word this will cause His Word, to get into your spirit.  Read Romans 10: 8-17; two verses I want to point out: verse 10: “for with the heart one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made”. Verse 17: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”.

Confession is two-fold: you hear yourself speak God’s Word; it gets deposited in your spirit. The more you hear, the more you believe it in your heart; confession declares, confirms and seals the Word of God in your heart. This can only happen by repetition. Now you believe His Word, with no doubt in your heart, mix your mustard seed size faith with that and watch what happens.

Confession brings joy, excitement, praise and thanksgiving into your situation. I have been doing the same confessions everyday for four months; I am more excited about them today than I was four months ago. When something gets in your spirit you get excited, joy comes, praise and thanksgiving come; I start to get excited I jump up and down, dance around…. Charlie, our dog looks at me….”there she goes again”.

What am I doing? I’m “holding fast the confession of my hope” Heb 10:23. In this verse the words hold and fast are the same Greek word they mean to hold down, keep in memory, to possess, to retain; this is what happens in your spirit. You possess God’s Word it is now yours; you now have its reality in your spirit.  Nothing will make you waver from God’s Word.

Confession brings vision. There is a scripture in Psalm 118: 5 “Out of my distress I called upon the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free and in a large place”. I thank the Lord daily that He has set me free and in a large place. I then start to imagine what that “large place” looks like; this is vision. What does your large place look like? Start to speak it out; the Lord will show you things, He will help you to see with the eyes of faith; if you can see it in your spirit it will come to pass.

Another scripture I confess over myself and my family is Psalm 5:11-12.  “As with a shield you will surround him with goodwill, pleasure and favor.  I envision my family and I with a shield or a cloaking device of favor surrounding us; any time the enemy comes at us he bounces right off that shield of favor. Silly as it may sound, but it gives me a visual of walking in God’s favor.

I want to encourage you to speak God’s Word over your life, and into your circumstances. Speak God’s Word over your husband, your children. Even if you are in a good place you can always use favor and blessings. If you continually plant seed, you must continually water that seed with the Word so you will get a continual harvest.

Find scriptures and make your own confessions out of them. If you need some help getting started you can email me maria.costadini@comcast.net

dare to believe

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Today is a special day…. we have a guest post by my dear friend Amy Stoehr. I have known Amy for 16 years. Amy is the kind of friend that you can pour your heart out to and know that it goes no further; and what you have shared will not change her love for you or her opinion of you. She is a prayer warrior, an amazing wife and mother, a shepherd with a heart and love for people; and a true friend!

AmyAmy and her wonderful husband Matt have been the Senior Pastors of The River Family Church in Vista, CA, for 26 years.  Amy has a blog as well; she wrote a series on prayer that was awesome. You can check it out at Life Words by: Pastor Amy Stoehr.

Dare to Believe by: Amy Stoehr

Precious, beloved ones it’s a great day because Jesus is alive!

I love John 11:25. Remember when Martha and Mary were so distressed because their dear brother Lazarus had died? They were overwhelmed with grief, their strength depleted from sorrow. They were so disappointed in the circumstance and could only see the finality of death, even though the Lord of Life was standing right there with them!

Their minds were on the circumstance, not on Word of God, the One able to bring the dead to life again! Jesus said to them, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.  He who believes in Me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die Do you believe this?.” John 11:25

Jesus is the Resurrection! He is Alive! We must remember this every moment of our days. He lives in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Resurrection swallows up weakness, anxiety, sorrow, disappointment and even those things that are seemingly dead in our lives. Every temporary circumstance is subject to change because of the Resurrection!

Take a moment and ask God to reveal Himself to you as the Resurrection and the Life today. You will receive strength in Him.

What really strikes me about this verse today is the final four words. DO YOU BELIEVE THIS? And that is the question today. Do you really believe that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life for you and in you?

Martha’s response to Jesus reveals that she is hoping for a future Resurrection…. after Jesus tells her that her brother will rise again, she says that she knows he will rise on the last day, in the future.

Here is the truth for us…..Yes we have the hope of  the Resurrection in our future, but the Lord wants us to see Him as the Resurrection today, this moment! He wants us to believe that He is the Resurrection and the Life in our life now, in our circumstance now, in the stressful things…now, in our marriage now, in our family now, in our disappointments now, in His Church now, in our Nation now!

Meditate on this verse today and ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you as the Resurrection and Life this week. You will live life on a whole new level. He is the Resurrection and the Life……do you believe this??????

life in the fast lane

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I have a small confession to make; I love to drive fast! And yes I will admit, I have gotten many speeding tickets over the years.

Since my youth I have had a love of sports cars; especially European sports cars. I have had the pleasure of owning a few English and German cars. Loved them! There is nothing like sitting behind the wheel of a beautiful, powerful, work of art driving on an open road with the wind blowing through your hair. Convertibles are my preference.

So I thought todays post would be a bit different in sharing with you my love for sports cars. No this is not spiritual….. but it’s ok to enjoy beautiful things in life. The Lord gives us the desires of our heart when we delight ourselves in Him. Psalm 37:4

This is my most favorite…. my dad had one of these when I was growing up

 1965 Porsche 356

When I’m out and about and see a hot car I take pictures; spotted this black beauty in Orange County… sheer awesomeness!

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These next pictures are just like my first sports car; it was a bright orange 1973 MG Midget made in England. This car sat so low that when the streets were flooded after a rain, the alternator would get wet and the car would stall out. I got really good at pushing the car, jumping in and popping the clutch to start it up again! Ahhh, memories!

1973_mg_midget-pic-78488860881589611411972_mg_midget-pic-65241Well I wasn’t satisfied with my Midget so I set my sights on a beauty: 1968 TR (Triumph) 250. Another English made car. This one I had restored; new paint, chromed fenders, new wheels, new top, tons of engine work and topped it off with a personalized license plate…..

87   Did you see the license plate? “MRIAS TR”  How about that 80’s style hair do & rags??? Reminiscing of the drives I would take up or down the coast…. I can still feel the sun on my face and my hair getting messy.

Here are a few cars that are a desire of mine to drive: another English car; Aston Martin. Sean Connery made this one famous in the movie “Goldfinger”

1965 Aston Martin DB5

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Here is a classy Aston Martin: used again in 007 James Bond movies…. there’s excitement all over these cars!!  1963-1965 DB5 UK Special

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2006 Aston Martin DBS Used in James Bond “Casino Royale”

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Last but not least by any means…. another one of my favorites is the German made BMW. I have had several over the years; two from the BMW 3 series. For my first one I wanted the model with more power; my husband said: “you don’t need more power”… I behaved with that car. My next one I got “more power”…let’s say I made the CA DMV a little richer. My excuse: it drives so smooth I had no idea I was going so fast! Truth! These cars are sporty, tight and hug the curves like a dream.

Here is one that is off the charts; an incredible piece of machinery, I have driven this one only in my dreams…           2007 BMW M6

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Well now you know….. I have a love for sports cars!

What’s your favorite sports car?