• Thanksgiving

    Happy November! As we enter this season of Thanksgiving I am personally overwhelmed with gratitude. While living a life in ministry, I have experience the joys of abundance with people and the heartbreak of need. As this subject in spoken about, the first thing that probably comes to mind is money. Needs consist of much more than money. This can be the area that stands out most because it has such an outward effect. It is an area of need that stays on your mind because it presents itself all day, every day. Think for a moment about other things that a person’s life may lack. What about love from a spouse? What about a need for direction in parenting your child? Maybe your need is for true friendship.

    I can look at this subject and understand it deeper now that I have experienced need in so many areas. Did God stop taking care of me in these seasons? Was I doing something wrong and being punished? Absolutely not! People ask these questions when needs arise.

    Need is not the worst thing in the world. In fact, it was through my need that I grew closer in my relationship to the Lord. Paul says it best in Philippians 4:11-13.

    “11Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

    The prosperity gospel that says, “If you believe, you will be without need” doesn’t hold up. Paul clearly states that he learned to live with everything and nothing. Does God want you to be rich? Maybe? Does He want you to have needs? I think so. It is when we feel we don’t have needs that we become self sufficient. Self-sufficiency is the enemy. When a person stops looking to the Creator and starts looking at themselves it becomes dangerous. Our dependency on Christ is everything.

    I would not trade my time of desperate need for anything. During the season God taught me to lean on Him and trust Him when nothing made sense. Something in me was broken and rebuilt. A person’s perspective changes after walking through seasons of need. I remember a time when pulling up to a gas station would put a knot in my stomach. I would have to balance a checkbook to make sure I had enough to put $20 in. Although life seemed excruciating at the time it was a learning tool for me. Today as I pull in to fill my gas tank to FULL without anxiety, I say a prayer of Thanksgiving. A prayer of thankfulness for God providing for my needs and for lessons and perspectives I learned in my time of need.

    The key is to take your eyes off of your need and fix them on the provider. Jesus came to bring life and life abundantly. Abundant life is not a life of no needs but a life fulfilled. How can we truly appreciate what we have if we have never been without? This principle is true in all areas. Maybe you need friends today, maybe money or maybe you need peace in your home. The question is, How do we learn in these seasons of need? What actions do we take when life becomes overwhelming and true needs arise?

    Phil 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

    The peace of God will guard you when you can’t see a solution to your season of need. I am living this principle now. I couldn’t imagine how things in my life could turn around. Pray and watch the God of peace transform your situation. It can happen and it will happen if you allow God to do it. Be grateful and thankful in whatever season you are walking in today. I pray that you will be filled with peace today:)

    with love,

    Ashley

  • Duck Image

    Lessons From Mama Duck

    After just moving to another state, God blessed us with a home on a large neighborhood pond. Every morning and evening I have the privilege of sitting on my back porch, watching the ducks and geese. I have two little families of ducks. Mama duck is followed by 6 babies waddling behind. As I observe these sweet ducklings, I’m being taught lessons on parenting.

    Everywhere mama duck goes, baby ducks follow. How many moms are reading this totally understanding where I am going. As you try to drink your coffee or pay a bill, have a conversation or even go to the bathroom, little ducklings are following you around “Mom, Mama, Mom…Maaaamaaaa!” Our kids tend to yell for us with no regard of what we may be doing. If they need us, they need us. The thought doesn’t naturally cross their minds that we may be in the middle of something. They are always close and needy. The same is true with the ducks. She doesn’t take one step without them behind. I’ve never seen Mama duck shewing her babies away asking for a moment to just be alone. She knows this time is valuable. She knows this time is molding them for the rest of their lives.

    It’s amazing to see how closely the ducklings replicate everything mom is doing. If she jumps in the water, they are right behind. If she splashes around bathing herself, they do exactly the same. They watch her every move and replicate it exactly. I’ve never seen her do anything that the babies didn’t copy. The way she eats, the way she runs, the way she sticks her head under water while her tail feathers stick into the air. As cute as it is to watch, it was also convicting.

    Motherhood is one of the most weighty responsibilities a person can face. Motherhood, it’s no joke. It’s tough, it’s sacrificial and it can be so much pressure. We as moms should be very aware that our children are watching and replicating our behavior and everything we do. We are their God given example. As I talked with a friend I reminded her of how our children take on our attitude and reaction without even realizing it. If you receive bad news, how do you react? Do you cry out, “What are we going to do? Why? We can’t get ahead if we try!”. Or do they hear, “This is not great news but we know God has never let us down and won’t this time either”.  Our children are carbon copies of us. It is up to us to show them a life of faith and trust, not a life of worry and anxiety. When I heard, “Hey mom, they have really low gas prices”, I knew they had been listening and observing me. What 11 year old notices the price of gas?!! I had never discussed the issue with them but they observed from the backseat. You don’t have to have a speech with your kids for them to learn something. They are watching,  listening and learning as you live in front of them. If you are a Christ follower, allow them to see faith and trust in action. Don’t use statements like, “I don’t know what we are going to do”. Let them see you trust and obey. Allow them to see God taking your situation and making good things happen. Always give God the credit when He takes care of you. Don’t explain it away. Build your little ducklings. Do what Mama says, not what mama does doesn’t work. We learn by observation. As you walk through the next season, whatever that may be, visualize the little ducklings waddling behind copying your every move. It may encourage you to walk a little differently.

     

    1 Corinthians 11:1 And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.

     

    with love,

    Ashley

  • Wait…He’s Got You

    What a year!!!!! Learning the ways of God is so exciting, frustrating, stretching, building but most of all molding. Molding of my faith, my character, my thinking, MY LIFE. Last year I was in a place of questioning God’s timing of revealing something difficult. This year I’m waiting on Him to reveal something grand and exciting. No matter what you are waiting for, I’m sure you are waiting.

    In the midst of our waiting it is human to feel different emotions. Maybe you feel abandoned, neglected or just not heard by God. I had the opportunity to help someone in this time of waiting by sharing the timing of God in my life. In every moment a huge decision had to be made, I’ve had to wait. Every time I try to figure things out on my own and force answers. Psalm 46:10 tells us to “Be still and know that I am God”. Why can’t we sit back and let Him work things out? Oh yeah, we are scared He may not come through this time. Let me remind you, HE NEVER FAILS. He is working it out right now.

    We over come this fear by the word of our testimony (Rev 12:11). In 1996 I was at a cross roads. I felt a tug at my heart knowing the Lord wanted to do something special in my life and future. I had fear of making a wrong decision so I continued to pray about it, seek counsel and confuse myself. What I knew in my heart was clear but the steps that I should take were not. I knew God was calling me to ministry but I couldn’t imagine how I would get there. As I stood at the alter crying out for wisdom once again, the guest speaker came to me and said, “You are called to ministry.” I opened my eyes, looked around and realized she was talking to me. She gave me clear instruction and I knew it was from Heaven. She said, “stop looking to your right and to your left and fix your eyes on Jesus, then you will know the way.” I still tear up every time I think of the word He gave ME! I felt so honored that He would take the time to speak specifically to me. The story didn’t end there. It would happen time and time again through my life. Every time my faith is built and every time I am reminded of how God works things out for my good. I always have the thought, “well, what if I mess it up or miss it?”. We are not God’s show dogs that jump through hoops to get a treat. We are His heirs, His sons and daughters, His beloved. If you can identify yourself as God identifies you, you can trust and lay back in His will and know He has your steps ordered and is working all things together on your behalf. God’s character is a loving father that wants good for His children. He is not playing hide and seek, He is only working out the details for the perfect time to reveal the plan. He’s got you. He loves you and is well aware that you are waiting. Let’s not get weary in doing good as we wait. Let’s celebrate the season we are in because we know it is only preparation for the next. Do not fear! Trust Him today!

    with love,

    AShley

  • The Least

    I recently had the opportunity to serve at a homeless shelter. I had always given to shelters and shared a concern for them but had never actually gone in and sat with or served the people. It was an eye opening experience in many ways, from the ones being served to the ones serving. The people, mostly men, came from all different backgrounds. Some had been in prison, lost jobs and never got on their feet,  drug addicts… and the list goes on.  I was invited to share a pre-dinner devotion. I was very intimidated to share with just about all grown men starring at me. I felt, “Can they really relate to me? Do they need to hear what I have to say?”.  Please picture me 5’1, starring up at everyone, dressed for the day, hair fixed, makeup on, jewelry in place, Ha! The answer was YES. They needed to hear what I had to say because it was the message Jesus had given me to comfort. They needed comfort too. The same Jesus comforts us all no matter what social class we belong to. God’s Word breaks through all barriers.

    Luke 14:12 Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. 13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.14 Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”

    God will reward you for inviting those who COULD NOT REPAY YOU. Jesus’s ways seemed so backwards to people. Still today people want to know “What’s in it for me?”  Who invites the poor, crippled, lame and blind to a banquet? He turned our thinking upside down. It’s not up to us to try and figure out why the homeless and destitute are in the condition they are in. God will give you discernment. Believe me, I know there are people who make it their job to call the list of churches until someone pays their power bill or crooks who give a good sob story while stealing your purse (that actually happened to me) but there are those who genuinely have no hope to live. We have no idea what their lives have been like. Our calling is to reach the hurting with love. I hope you are not too clean to get your hands dirty. Jesus forgave prostitutes and healed leprosy. He loved the outcast. Try giving to someone without something in return. You will be blessed.

    with love,

    Ashley

  • a true love story

    A True Love Story

    I am filled with joy and gratitude to be able to write this post. Today marks new beginnings, a bright future and a new life. I can safely say that 2012 was the toughest year of my life.  Thankfully that is no longer my story. I’ve been given a hope and a vision like never before. I have never wanted our family’s lives to matter as much as I do now. I will forever share the message of Love Wins. Love is a powerful thing.

    I Cor 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

    I’d like to share a love story with you…

    It was 1997 when a young girl who had been saved a couple of years felt a tug on her heart to pursue ministry. She knew she was called but had no idea what to do next. She had never had a minister in her family or knew anyone who had gone to a ministry school. After a guest speaker prayed over her the calling was confirmed. The Lord spoke to her and said stop looking to the right and left and focus on me. I will make your path straight. After sharing the “news”, excitement was not the reaction she received. It was quite the opposite. People were concerned about her future and how she would get a job and support herself. The only ministry college she knew of was the one her pastor had gone to and it was 13 hours away. There was no way she could be away from everyone. She loved being with her family and was pretty dependent on them. After much deliberation, they gave in and allowed it. Knowing 2 people at the school, the bags were packed and the 13 hour trek began. She had no idea that this would be the foundation of her future. As she wiped the tears watching mom and dad drive away she was immediately surrounded by girls that took her in and showed her the ropes. She didn’t have time to be homesick. It would end up being some of the best memories of her life. God knew what he was doing.

    As God spoke to her, He was also speaking to the heart of a young man with a bright future ahead. He was living the American Dream playing baseball for his college. He was having the greatest year of his career and began being looked at by scouts. This was a dream come true. Finally, all of the hard work would pay off. He and his family would be set for life. There was one problem. He felt a tug on his heart that wouldn’t go away. As he sat in his room while all of his buddies partied, he grew closer and closer to the Lord, hungering for His word and to know his voice. He knew this was a calling from heaven. How could he tell his family and crush their dreams? How could he tell his coach? The pull and heaviness wouldn’t leave him and he knew what he must do to be obedient. He broke the news to parents and coaches. The reaction was also concern that he was “throwing his future away”. Ministry could wait. What better platform than a MLB player, right? He knew what was right and followed that path.

    In 1997 the two would meet in college. They almost immediately knew that their hearts were drawn to the same things and they couldn’t imagine their life without each other. God set up a divine appointment. One thing after another opened up for them. A romance had begun that led to a covenant. They immediately began their life of ministry together and had the privilege of touching many lives and having their lives touched by many. The enemy hated to see a commitment. Even more than that he hates those in the commitment making a difference for the kingdom of God. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Christ comes to give life more abundantly. In 2012 this couple hit a major road block. It would end up being an opportunity to throw in the towel and call it quits. Too much had been done and the hurt was too deep. They didn’t even remember their 14th anniversary. The enemy was close to having a victory. She was crushed and he was dead inside. He forgot a very important detail… they still loved down deep. Their love for each other and God carried them through and made them stronger.

    Today that girl and guy will share their 15th Wedding Anniversary. What God puts together, let no person separate. This bond and covenant was put together by God and will continue to reach the lost and hopeless with a story of grace and redemption. It is For Love, For Life. May this love story of my life touch yours. God’s path is not for the timid or faint at heart but for those who want to live a life worth living. Excited to see what God will do with the years ahead. I can’t wait!

    Happy Anniversary, Timmy. You are a gift from God.

    1Cor13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

    Love Wins, The End.

    with love,

    Ashley

  • The Wound

    As I walked out of the garage door, boxes stacked three high in my arms, my foot hit the driveway half on pavement, half on grass. Before even realizing it, boxes went flying and I fell knee first. Usually when I or someone else falls I get a pretty good laugh in because that kind of thing is funny to me. On this day, it was not funny. I was alone trying to get one more load moved from the old house to the new house. My first thought was “I HATE THIS!!!!” It just seemed to add to the confusion and pain I was already enduring. At first I didn’t even feel it. I was numb. After mumbling something about my annoyance , I felt the throb in my knee. When I looked down, my knee was pouring blood. I didn’t even care. I just rolled my eyes and said “Great!”. The pain became more and more intense. That week, the wound was so sensitive. If anything came near it, I would cover it to protect it. I couldn’t sleep without it hurting. I couldn’t go one moment of the day without being reminded of it  because it hurt. It was a gaping wound.  After a little doctoring the wound began to heal. It was gross and gooey and still hurt but the pain was not deep anymore. It finally scabbed over and became less sensitive. I was still reminded of it if something hit it or rubbed against it. After that stage the healing was complete but there was a scare. I will never forget that injury because I can look down and see the evidence of the fall on my knee. I rarely notice it and sometimes forget about it. When I see the scar, it doesn’t bring me pain anymore but I will never forget it.

    It is no coincidence that this happened when it did. God clearly compared the body healing to spiritual and emotional healing that day. When injury happens, how do I know what to expect? What’s ok for me to feel? What’s ok for me to think? How long should the process take?

    Let’s take a look at injuries in life. We all have them. The first reaction is shock. When I first fell, I didn’t feel the pain of it all. The same was true when I received my wound. I was in shock even though I felt I had been prepared in some ways and even had an idea. You tell yourself this can’t be happening.  Even preparation can’t prepare you for some news. I walked around numb for a few days just trying to figure things out. The second stage is the gushing blood coming from your wound. This is a time when all you can do is sob, pray and hurt so bad that you think you can’t endure any more pain. It’s like the truth of the matter comes completely to light for you to deal with. Nothing can stop it, you just have to bleed for a little while. After you stop the constant gushing of emotions the wound begins to heal. This part is not pretty. Have you ever skinned your knee then take the bandaid off and drainage comes off with it? It’s ugly and still painful but the wound has to be cared for. You can’t just move on and act like nothing happened. This process seems like it will never end. I was told that God will take you deeper in the pain so that deeper healing can be done. He will comfort you in these times. One day you feel like you have the hope of your future, the next day you can barely get out of bed. You are not going backwards, you are being healed deeper. Anything that reminds you of the injury hurts. A look, a word… ANYTHING! It’s ok to hurt and natural to try and protect yourself.

    The next stage is a deeper healing. The scab begins to form. The injury no longer consumes every thought, every conversation and every moment. The wound is still there and if the scab is hit directly, it will break the wound open again and begin to bleed for a while. This happened to me. I was so far along feeling so free and one thought prompted by one conversation sent a rush of pain and memories that I hadn’t dealt with in months. The healing was not complete. There were still things that had to be healed in me and molded God’s way. Although I felt the sting of this pain again, my recovery was so much faster.

    The final stage is the scar. You and everyone else can see that you have a scare but it isn’t the main thing you see. It’s only a reminder. You can talk about it with no pain, you can bump it on things and it doesn’t hurt. Your leg looks a little different and you will never forget it but the healing has taken place.

    I’ve had to learn to allow the stages to happen. God wants to heal us through our circumstances, not around them. Trials bring purification and faith. Injuries are going to happen. Give yourself time to heal and walk through it. Dodging it only makes you stay in the gross, gooey stage. Deal with it so healing can be completed. Scares are ok. People say that their tragedy didn’t define them but mine did. It changed my life and my perspective. I will never be the same and that is something I am thankful for. I know there are so many people looking for answers in the middle of their wound. Keep pressing forward and don’t waste your time questioning every step. Healing will come.

    Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God,stricken by him, and afflicted.But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

    We ARE HEALED!

  • Your Strength or His?

    Galatians 3:2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? 4 Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it? I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.

    You received the Holy Spirit as a gift. You received because you believed. We as Christian spin our wheels trying to do the right thing and be the right person when what we need to do is believe the right thing. You may say… Are you telling me all I have to do is believe??? Well, we act out of our beliefs. If you believe God is who he says he is and can do what he says he can do then you will begin to act like it. Faith is believing. I have asked myself a million times in my life, “What am I doing wrong?”. I was genuinely trying to act a certain way to get the desired reaction from God. “If He is pleased with this then this will happen.” He is not moved by our action, he is moved by our faith. You will live a life pleasing, holy and acceptable to the Lord if you have faith. I love the fact that it says, After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

    I have had the privilege to talk to many hurting women who have said… I never thought my life would go in this direction or I never thought this tragedy would happen to me. We cannot control the future and we have no idea of what lies ahead. Life comes and it doesn’t always set you up for perfection you hoped for. I am so challenged when I read, “Have you experienced all of this for nothing!?? Surely it was not in vain.” What a scripture! What happens to you is no accident. Are your steps not order by God as the Word says? I’m sure the Galatian church began to say “why me, why us, why are we being persecuted, aren’t we being good Christians???” Paul walks up to these people and gets in their face and basically said, What is wrong with you people! Stop trying to do Spiritual things out of human strength.

    My challenge to you today is, Believe what God says and stop trying to work spiritual things out with human strength. Pray instead of calling a friend, seek God in the Word instead of analyzing the details and allow Him to speak to your heart. In Mark 9, the disciples are healing the sick and casting out demons in the name of Jesus. There was one boy that was demon possessed and the disciples could not cast this demon out. The father explains this to Jesus and asks him to cast the demon out if he could.  “What do you mean, ‘If I can?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” This troubled the disciples and they asked why they were unable to do this. Jesus then said, “This can only be cast out by prayer”.  This scripture holds the answer to how we handle spiritual matters with spiritual weapons. Keys for us… belief in the Word and prayer. You will not only benefit with victory but also you will not wear yourself out fighting with your physical abilities. Your experiences or challenges have not been in vain. I see the miracle of mine and I am confident, you will too!

     

  • Call in the Wild…Why Wilderness Moments Matter

    Being led to a place of physical and mental pain does not sound fun but it may be necessary in preparing you for the future. Do soldiers walk out on a battlefield with no training? No! Painful training is passed before entering. I believe the same is true in life. Preparation is a must. I want to take a look with you at the Life of Jesus. Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are- yet he did not sin. We will never face an obstacle or temptation that Jesus has not already walked through. He understands our weaknesses.

    Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. 2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. 

    God knew what was about to take place. Jesus was being prepared for His purpose. I cannot imagine the intense hunger and thirst He must have experienced. I was 18 when I finally surrendered my life fully to the Lord. As a new follower, I was learning all I could to be pleasing to the Lord. After learning about prayer and fasting, I was pumped to jump in with both feet and do some major damage. My friends and I declared a fast! It was ON….until about 3pm and I couldn’t take the hunger pains anymore. After swinging in the next drive-thru, the fast had been broken. Oh the guilt I felt. Sigh! The Lord knew how immature and weak I was. My faith grew stronger and I eventually learned how to get through a fast but it is never easy when the physical body starts crying out.

    Not only did Jesus experience extreme hunger and thirst leading to physical exhaustion but also loneliness. 40 days in the middle of nowhere, I’m assuming would lead to incredible loneliness.  Did he feel forgotten, abandoned, maybe put in  the wrong place? Being alone for one full day is sometimes difficult. The thoughts you must deal with can be heavy. I’m sure you have said, “Um God, are you hearing me? Please don’t leave me alone.”  If you are in a wilderness, God has not made a mistake. He is a God of purpose, not wasting one second of your life, pain or joy.

    At the end of this ultimate weakness, the devil comes along to tempt him with food to meet his physical need and power to meet his mental and emotional need.Satan is waiting for an opportunity to take you down. Don’t be unaware of his schemes. I see this happen so often today in our spiritual walk. We all come to places of extreme exhaustion and weakness. Like a lion waiting to pounce on the injured or weak animal, satan is waiting to pounce on us. Seasons of weakness are inevitable in our life if we are pouring out as we should be. So what do we do? Jesus, the ultimate example, combated the temptation with the truth of the Word. We must know the word and speak the word over our feelings.  Be ready to say, “This is how I feel and this makes sense but God’s word says it will cause me harm” . Matthew 11:28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Go to HIM, Go to HIM!!!!

    If you are in a wilderness season now I would like to share some encouragement. In the New Living Translation vs. 11 says,”Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.” The next title is The Ministry of  Jesus Begins. The power of his ministry began after the hardest season he had faced at that point. Hold on through this difficult time and know that God has something big in store for you. Maybe you are being prepared for a ministry God is calling you to that must have this specific strength. If I’ve learned anything through my wilderness season, I’ve learned that God has THE plan. I trust Him and know that His ways are higher than mine. Even though not everything is understandable, it is all good because it is from a loving father. Find rest from your weariness today my friends and know it’s not a waste.

    with love,

    Ashley

     

  • Jesus My Comforter

    God’s Word has recently revealed something that will change my outlook of Jesus forever. Jesus became flesh to live among us, give us an example and ultimately die for our sin and become the only sacrifice for our forgiveness and freedom.

    It seems that every time Jesus walked into a situation, His reaction was compassion. Compassion for the hurting and compassion for the sinner.

    Durning my healing process the story of Lazarus was brought to my attention. Jesus was with His disciples and received word that Lazarus was sick. He immediately told them that it would not End in Death. When Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead for 4 days. Martha met Him with such faith. She ran to Him to tell him that he had already died. He asked her if she believed Lazarus could be raised from the dead. She thought He meant when we will all be raised with Christ to join together in Heaven. Jesus clarified that He meant now. Her response was, You are the Messiah and I believe what you say.

    I found it interesting that Mary stayed home. I’m thinking she was so grief striken that she didn’t want to get out of the house. I have been Mary! I can almost feel her pain. I know the feeling of having so much hurt it’s difficult to function. Mary didn’t run to find Jesus. Jesus came to her. He knew the degree of her pain. When she saw Him, she fell at His feet and said “If you would have been here, this wouldn’t have happened”. I relate to Mary so much. I have been in a situation that I trusted and believed Jesus and His power. I never doubted what He could have done. When it came down to it, He didn’t stop the situation as I had asked Him to and even believed He would. A form of death occured in my life.

    I know these women prayed for Lazarus to be healed and believed that he could be, but he died anyway. Jesus didn’t swoop in and stop the life altering death in my life or theirs. He allowed this pain. He allowed my pain and I’m sure you have had a pain of your own. It wasn’t lack of faith on Martha and Mary’s part. They loved and trusted Him. That is why Mary was so hurt. “Where were you Jesus?”

    As Jesus went to the tomb with Mary and the other mourning Jews, they began to weep. When He saw Mary weeping, he was moved with compassion and began to weep with her. The interesting part of the story is the fact that Jesus knew He would raise him from the dead and had even told his disciples this would happen two days earlier….So the question is, “Why did Jesus weep?” Jesus sees the people in pain, gets down into their hurt and hurts with them. Even though He knew the outcome, it was important that he show compassion to the hurting. His comfort is the very thing that heals our hurts. What an example!

    Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 

    Jesus didn’t have to weep. He could have said, “Stop crying Mary and watch this!” but he didn’t. Instead, he felt her pain and wept with her.

    2 Corinthians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

    This example will forever change my life and my perspective. Jesus knows the outcome. Ressurection is coming for my life, the old has passed away and the new creation has come. If you are facing a death of some kind, Jesus has not ignored your cry. He wants to comfort you, weep with you and heal you. Your ressurection will come. Believe as Martha did and come out of your place of mourning as Mary did. He is calling you and wants to comfort you. This is where healing flows, at His feet.

    with love,

    Ashley

  • hold up judge

    Hold Up…Are You a Judge??

    I am at a place in my life that it’s pivotal that I know the characteristics of Christ so that I may navigate through the waters His way. I must know what the Word says about every situation. Jesus came not only to be the one and only sacrifice for our sin but also to live as an example by experiencing every feeling, emotion or hardship we will face. He got into our pain out of compassion but also to give us an example of what we must do. I’m sure many of you reading this post at some point owned a WWJD bracelet. As corny as it may seem, we should actually keep that on the forefront of everything we do. He is the example. He knew what we would endure and experience in this life.

    I’d like to share with you on the subject of Grace and Judgement and what the Word says about it. I hope, at this point, we all know that our aired opinions mean nothing. It is the Word of God that we judge things by. Sorry facebook commenters that think they hold the keys of wisdom:) One particular morning the verse of the day happened to be John 3:16-17. Of course, I didn’t even have to glance at it because I have known it since I was a child. It was verse 17 that I had never paid too much attention to. “God sent His Son into the world NOT to judge the world, but to SAVE the world through him.” Hmmm, specifically not to judge? I think this is a pretty important key. If you also look at Matthew 7, it is clear on the what and why. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” It clearly says DO NOT JUDGE and if you do, you will be judged to the same degree.

    In our own personal situation we were shown the overwhelming response of grace and forgiveness. There have been the few who want to call down the judgement and wrath of God. I want to tell these people, STOP!! Not for my benefit but for yours. You are setting yourself up for pain. As much as we loved and appreciated the love and grace, it’s still easy to ask the question…”Why would they so freely be ready to forgive me instead of crucify me?” It was clear for me to see what was happening. We served as Lead Pastors of a church that held to the standard, “Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness”. I had never seen a man accept people like my husband did. I had never seen anyone see the best in people like he did. He never stated, “There’s no hope for that guy”. He only saw what they could be. It sometimes amazed me at his ability to show grace and see the best in people. He was planting seeds into his own life without even thinking about it. He is reaping what he sowed into people for 15 years. Are you thinking, “wow, he got off the hook”? Not at all! Other truths must hold true too. Romans 6:23 The wages of sin is death. Galatians 6;7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Hebrews 12:6 Also the Lord disciplines those He loves. Judgement must come for your sin but we should never think that we are to be the administers of the judgment. Let’s let the righteous Judge handle it. He doesn’t need our advice or help on the subject.

    God is a good father that knows what we need. He knows our hearts better than we do. I have had this blog for months. I know that there are people who need to read it because they feel they need to administer justice to those who hurt God. Let me release you today and tell you that God will be the Father. Put it into His hands and let Him judge and discipline. Freedom comes when you release the offender with confidence. Prepare for your own future. It’s not “if” it’s “when” you will need grace and forgiveness. No man is beyond falling. I hope you have planted grace and forgiveness in others because you too will need it and want it. If you have preached and pushed for the judgement of God, it is clear that this is what you will receive to the measure in which you gave it. Let’s think about it and leave the judging up to the judge and do what our example, Jesus Christ, did for us. I’m so thankful He came to save us!

    with love,

    Ashley