Saying Yes to God

Listen to this blog post on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7-10

We’ve declared this a Year of Yes for God. We’ve identified the distractions and how to overcome them. So how do we actually say yes? Thankfully the answers are found in the book of James.

Yield – We have to yield to God. This is the first directive we’re given in James 4. Yielding is another way to say submit. Submission is the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person. I’ve heard it described as coming under the mission of another. To be sub/under another’s mission. 

When we drive, there are yield signs. Yield doesn’t mean to slow down. The yield sign is telling us that there is something else already happening. There are cars already moving at high speeds and if you are entering, you need to join in with what’s already happening.

When we submit to God, we are agreeing to join in with what he has going on. We agree to do what he wants us to do. Micah 6:8 is one place in the word that tells us what God requires of us. God requires that we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

When you walk with someone you get to know them. One of my closest friends I have is because we ran together. We started to train for a race together and during that time, we got to know each other on a deeper level. 

Enter His Presence– James encourages us to come near to God. When we come near to God, we enter his presence.God’s presence is not some mystical place or weird room with candles and soft music.God’s presence is wherever you prepare for it. His presence can be at your dining room table as you read your devotional. His presence can be in your car while you praise on your way to work.

When we come near to God, we are showing him that not only do we trust him, but he can trust us. 

Sacrifice– And here comes the hard part. Look at James 4:9 “Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.” None of that stuff is fun! But honestly, saying yes to God often requires sacrifice.

Saying yes to something requires saying no to something else. Saying yes to attending worship service consistently requires saying no to staying up all night on Saturday. Saying yes to making time to read your Bible requires saying no to binge watching your favorite show. Saying yes to managing your finances requires saying no to overspending and accumulating debt.

Saying yes is not always easy either, but saying yes to God, whatever he asks is always most beneficial. God has asked me to do a lot of things outside of my comfort zone, but every time I’ve said yes, I’ve never regretted it.

Whether God has asked you to start a ministry, focus on getting out of debt, serve as a foster parent, or minister to single mothers, I can assure you that your yes will not be in vain.

Liberty in the Law

“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭19:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

No one wants to hear this but it’s true. There is freedom in laws. When my kids follow my “laws” they are free to do what they want. Room cleaned? School done? They’re free to watch tv or call a friend.

God’s laws, commandments, statutes and precepts, were given so we could be free from struggle. We can be free from unnecessary pain, debt, even disease. I give my kids rules because I know what’s best for them. And our Heavenly Father is the same.

Stop Pacifying the Pain; Fix the Problem

Check out this blog on my podcast: Seeking God, Loving Others https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/jasmine-lozano-seeking-god-loving-others/id1562418663?i=1000534243735

At about 9 weeks from my first marathon, I am knee deep in training. How appropriate that I’ve begun to have some discomfort in my right knee. I was having a great training cycle and even though the miles were increasing, I was looking forward to the challenge. Then after running about 20 miles in a 4 day period, my knee signaled to me that something was wrong. I put ice on, massaged it, elevated it, did all of the things I could think to do to treat an injury until after some research, I found that I wasn’t actually treating my injury. I was treating the symptoms.

I will spare you the scientific, medical terminology and explanations and give you a run down. There is a connective tissue in the leg that runs from the hip to the knee called the Iliotibial Band, or IT Band for us common folk. Basically, this tissue is what we use to make our leg do the motions for running or cycling. So it’s kind of important. 

I found that pain on the outside of the knee (exactly where I was having it) was a symptom of IT Band Syndrome, or ITBS for short. I know, it sounds super scary! ITBS happens when the muscles surrounding the IT Band are not strong enough to support the activity you are trying to do. Basically, it happens when you do too much too fast and your body isn’t prepared. 

The only way to truly recover from this injury is to strengthen the muscles that support the IT Band. You can ice, medicate, stretch, even rest, but you will only be treating the symptoms and never addressing the real issue.

This “healing” approach is not unique to just this running injury. Year after year, many people do everything they can to pacify pain, rather than fix the problem. 

  • We think we don’t make enough money (symptom) when really, we never learned how to manage money (problem).
  • We think losing weight is just too hard (symptom) when we haven’t addressed our unhealthy relationship with food (problem).
  • We think we’re too busy to put time into spiritual growth (symptom) when truthfully, God is not a priority for us (problem).

When we go through life just trying to stay on top of the symptoms, we never experience the true healing that God offers. In the 11th chapter of 2nd Samuel, King David encountered some major issues when he attempted to only treat the symptoms of the affair he had with Bathsheba.

This is an abridged summary (Please refer to an actual Bible with an officially recognized translation)

David was supposed to be at war with the troops but stayed home and saw a lady taking a bath on her roof. He asks who she is and is told she is the wife of one of his soldiers, Uriah. He has her come over and gets her pregnant. Then he starts freaking out (treating the symptoms). 

But he has a plan! He can ice it; he can find something to cover up what’s really going on. He has Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, brought home from battle so he will sleep with his wife and think the baby is his. 

But when Uriah comes home, he refuses to rest in comfort while his fellow countrymen are on the battlefield, and sleeps at the city gate. But David has more home remedies for this setback.

He gets Uriah drunk and tries again to have him go home to sleep with his wife, but when this fails, he moves to more extreme measures. He arranges to have Uriah put at the front of the battle so he is more likely to be killed.

Once his plan is “successful”, he thinks he’s remedied his problem. He thinks he’s taken care of the problem that is plaguing him. But he has only treated the symptoms. 

The prophet Nathan comes to David and pretty much checks him. He lets David know that God is not pleased and because of his sin, the sword will never leave his household (constant drama) and his unborn child will die. 

When David hears this, he finally takes the ice off, locks up the ibuprofen, and finds the root of his problems.

“Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”” (2 Samuel 13:13) 

David’s problem wasn’t Bathsheba, the affair, the unplanned pregnancy or even the murder. David’s problem was that he sinned against God. He had drifted away from what he was known for his whole life: allowing God to be his strength. He spent so much time trying to treat the symptoms of his sin, rather than going to the only cure for it.

Like recovering from an injury, it’s important to assess what is really going on in our lives when we experience discomfort or pain. Have we strengthened our faith muscle to be able to rely on the power of God when things get tough? Have we paused to be sure we’re not overextending ourselves?

My husband taught a message this week and one of the points was to “Pay Attention to the Tension”. Tension or pain isn’t meant to take us out. They are signals that something is not right. They are an opportunity for us to course correct and get back on track. 

While I recover from this small injury, I’m being mindful to not just treat the symptoms but to strengthen the area that needs to be built up. Otherwise, this will be an unnecessary, ongoing problem. Decide today to stop treating your symptoms and fix the problem.

Before You Get Up, Lay Down

Before I make my coffee, before I plan my day, before I check my phone, even before I get out of bed, I talk to God.

Before I get up, I lay down. Not literally. But I lay down my day before the Lord. I ask him to have his will in my life and to guide my day. I ask him to make me more like him. I ask him to strengthen me for whatever lies ahead. I ask for diligence and patience and kindness. I ask for favor.

It only takes a minute or so, but this minute helps me to ground myself and focus for the day. It helps me to recognize where my strength comes from. You don’t have to wake up at 4:30 am, light candles and spend hours on a calming morning routine. You can if you want! But I find giving God these first few minutes every day sets my day off in the right direction.

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭121:1-2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Free Indeed

It was a Monday morning, June 19, 1865. Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived on the island of Galveston, Texas with a proclamation: All enslaved people were now emancipated and free to leave the tyranny of slavery.

It is estimated that at this time, there were over 250,000 enslaved Black Americans living in Texas. This day, known as Juneteenth, has been celebrated for over 150 years, in remembrance of the end of slavery in Texas.

As a Black American, I have always found this day to be bitter sweet. For centuries, blacks were violated, treated as property, separated from their families, and forced to work and live in uninhabitable conditions. The end of slavery is definetly an occasion to celebrate. But what saddens me is that this news of emancipation came 2 years, 5 months, and 18 days after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect on January 1, 1863. 

For almost two and a half years, blacks in Texas continued in the lifestyle of slavery simply because they had no idea they had been freed. They experienced two and a half years of physical and mental mistreatment; two and a half years of families being separated; two and a half years of unlivable, unsanitary conditions. So if you see me looking a bit distraught at a Juneteenth barbeque, this is why.

I’d like to say I can’t imagine living in slavery while I was actually free, but I don’t have to imagine it; I lived it. For years, I lived in slavery. I wasn’t being beaten and forced to work without pay, but I was being held bondage by chains I didn’t even know I had. I was in bondage to my sinful nature. I was being held by chains of defeat and destruction, but the worst part was that I knew I could have freedom. I knew about the freedom that was available through Jesus but I was choosing to stay enslaved.

I don’t have any statistical data or research for this next point, but I stand by it. When a person is not experiencing freedom when it has been made available to them, I believe it’s for one of two reasons: They are not aware of their freedom or they have chosen to remain in bondage.

Unlike me, the over 250,000 enslaved blacks in Texas had no idea that the invisible chains their “owners” used to keep them in bondage had been broken with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. They had no clue they were free.

Today as we celebrate Juneteenth, I’m reminded of not only of the freedom of my ancestors but also of the freedom I have in Christ. The chains that once bound me have been broken.

Staying Consistent in Conflict

“Successful people do consistently what others do occasionally.” -Craig Groeschel

There are more quotes about consistency than I could throw a stick at but this is one of my favorites. Whether we want to write a book, lose a few pounds, or get our house in order, consistency is the key. We don’t have to overhaul everything about ourselves to become the person we want to be; we just need to consistently do the actions that will get us there.

The problem is many of us fall off the wagon the moment a wrench is thrown into our plans. Most of us would agree that the past year has definitely frustrated the plans for many of us. I found that some of my good habits suffered severely while others continued out of necessity. But once I set myself realistic goals and grew to be disciplined in accomplishing them, I began to see my life start coming back together.

King Hezekiah was one of the many kings chronicled in the book of Kings who had a major setback almost throw his life into chaos. He had served God faithfully by destroying articles of idol worship that led the Israelites astray and he faithfully kept the commands of the Lord. He sought the Lord when he was in trouble and did things by the book. The Bible even said there was no king like him in Judah, neither before or after. Talk about a great resume!

Everything looked to be going Hezekiah’s way until one day he got sick. Some people don’t miss a beat when they get sick. I am not one of those people. When I get sick, I can’t walk or talk and I milk every ounce of help I can get out of my family. 

Hezekiah must have been doing pretty badly because the prophet Isaiah shows up and tells him to get his life organized because he was going to die from his illness. I wonder if this news surprised Hezekiah. When we think of prophets, we often think they must be coming with a good word from God. I’m sure he expected to hear a “Get up and walk” or “You’ve been made whole.” But that was not the word God had for him.

After serving God faithfully and even helping the Israelites to return to serving God faithfully, you would think things would work out well for him. There’s a strange misunderstanding that as Christians, we will never go through a hardship or trial once we accept the Lord Jesus as our savior. That somehow, magically, all misfortune will avoid our lives to allow us to live blessed and highly favored. While I do believe we have a once unattainable favor and grace in our lives when we get saved, I don’t believe we are placed inside of a Christian bubble wrap that keeps all bad things away from us. That’s just life. People get sick. People get hurt. People die. Christians included. 

But the difference is, as children of God, we have access to someone who has the ability to change our situations. And Hezekiah knew this. Hezekiah went back to a habit that he practiced consistently his entire life. He prayed. The Bible says that when the prophet Isaiah left, Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and reminded God of all he had done to walk right before him. Look at his prayer:

“Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.” (‭‭2 Kings‬ ‭20:2-3). For those who think that our tears don’t move God, I have to disagree. Who, as a parent, sees their child crying out in pain and turns a blind eye? God, as our heavenly Father and creator, cares about the things that concern us. That’s why we’re encouraged to cast our cares upon him, because he cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7). ‬ 

Hezekiah had always gone to the Lord in times of distress. In times of threats, he went to God. In times of battle, he went to God. So this conflict had no different strategy. He went to God. It seems so simple, right? I’m not trying to oversimplify anything you might be going through, but I want to encourage you to stay consistent in seeking God. 

If you haven’t been consistent in your time with God, today is a good day to start. Sometimes we treat our spiritual health like our physical health. “Wow! Is that scale accurate? Do I need my eyes checked or are those late night snacks catching up to me!? I’m going to start working out this Monday. I’m going to run 3 miles and drink a gallon of water and eat only salads for lunch! But Monday is the 17th so maybe I’ll wait until the 1st of next month so I can get everything together.” 

We put things off, waiting for an ideal time to start. We want to wait until everything is perfect, the weather is perfect, the budget is perfect before we start making changes. But we can begin to be consistent now. Right now! Take out your Bible and read one verse. I’ll wait!

Okay. Now do the same thing tomorrow. Take out your Bible and read one verse. Do the same thing until reading a verse everyday becomes consistent. Then add another verse and let it become consistent. Perfection and consistency are not roommates. In fact, perfectionism is the upstairs neighbor that plays his music too loud and walks too hard to be living on the 3rd floor! 

Discipline yourself to remain consistent even in conflict. When the storm has passed, you will be much further along than if you had waited for clear skies before even starting.

BOOT CAMP: Wk 2 Bible Study

Check out this week’s podcast @ https://anchor.fm/jasmine-lozano4/episodes/Boot-Camp-The-Importance-of-Bible-Study-evkn6i

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”Hebrews‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In November 2019, my family visited Newport State Park in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. It was one of the most magnificent experiences I have ever had. The park is located on the very tip of the Wisconsin Peninsula.

Because this park is designated as a dark sky location, artificial light is heavily discouraged. They ask that if you must use a flashlight, be sure it’s pointed to the ground. There aren’t even any lights on the bathrooms or in the bathrooms, which made it pretty difficult taking my 6 year old to use the unlit bathroom in 28° weather!

Because the weather was so cold at night, we would go back to the car for a few minutes to warm up, but encountered a major problem. Every time we’d turn on the car, my dim lights would still remain on. We knew there had to be a way to turn these off, but we just didn’t know how.

I’ve always been paranoid about keeping the owner’s manual in the car and with the help of it (and google) we found the way to keep the lights off when we started the car.

The owner’s manual for your car helps you to figure out the details of your car that you don’t know. Most of us know how to put the car in drive and we can figure out how to turn the windshield wipers, but there are some areas of our car that we have no knowledge of.

The same is true in life. For many people, there are areas where they are simply not knowledgeable. Maybe you grew up in a home where finances were never discussed so as an adult you struggled trying to make ends meet, get out of debt, or save money. 

Maybe you grew up eating fast food every meal, and now that you’re in your 30s or 40s, you’re finding out that type of diet is not sustainable. Whatever the case may be, we are privy to a wealth of information. Looking up how to solve almost any problem it’s just a few fingertips away. But there are some problems that go deeper than just a Google search. 

For me, there is no other book that can help me understand my money, help me to flourish in my relationships, help me to raise my kids, help me to change my diet, and a host of other problems that plague many of us. That book is the Bible; the word of God. 

2 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 

That means every word of the Bible was inspired by God. There is a point to every book, chapter and verse, even the long, boring ones that seem to go on forever! (I’m sorry if you’re offended I called some of the Bible boring, but if you disagree, you’re lying. Come on, Leviticus!?) But they are there for a reason. 

We’ve been given the word of God as a tool to hear the voice of God and familiarize ourselves with his promises and yes, even his consequences. While we have been redeemed from the curse of the law (Galatians 3), there are still consequences to disobeying the word of God, just as there are benefits to obeying it.  

Isaiah 40:8 says “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” 

We see nature changing all of the time in front of our eyes. We also see culture, trends and opinions change just as frequently. While everything around us is unstable and subject to change, the Bible is the one constant we can rest our faith on.

I challenge you to make reading your Bible everyday a priority this week. Decide beforehand how long you will read, where you will do your reading and what book you will read. Don’t leave your spiritual development up to chance. Be intentional about pursuing God’s word and see the difference it will make in your day.

Let’s chat: What are some obstacles you face when trying to be consistent in your Bible reading?

BOOT CAMP: Week 1 Fellowship

Check out this week’s podcast on Fellowship! https://anchor.fm/jasmine-lozano4/episodes/Boot-Camp-The-Importance-of-Fellowship-eujl2r

You need to go to church. Period. No nice introduction or anecdote, no statistics or kind encouragement. If you are physically able, you need to take your body to church.

As I’m writing this post, I am aware that many churches have been closed for a period of time due to the coronavirus pandemic. During this time, many believers have had to worship around their TVs, computers and phones.

Technology really came through! Many churches were forced to rethink their approach to reaching the masses and as a result, many were able to reach more people than ever before.

My husband and I love watching other services online. We like to see what other churches are doing, what their stages look like, what they’re teaching, the songs they’re singing. 

But as much as I enjoy watching different services online, there is nothing like being in the physical house of the Lord. While I’m grateful that we were still able to worship virtually during the time it was necessary, we were never meant to walk this Christian journey alone. 

Paul had Silas. Mary had Martha. Peter had James and John. And we need connection. It is so important to be surrounded by people who can help encourage you and strengthen you when you need it. 

Jackie Hill-Perry said it best. “God himself has never been alone. He has Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We are never less like God than when we isolate ourselves.”

The Bible is full of examples of believers gathering for worship and encourages us to stay connected. Hebrews 10:25 ESV says, “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

When I first became a believer, I lived at the church! Youth chaperon needed? Sign me up! Sunday night classes? I was there. I wanted to learn everything I could about faith and how to live this new life. I needed to find people who had experience. I needed to find people to grow with who were new to faith like I was. The bottom line, I needed to find connection.

I also needed accountability and encouragement. I was amazed that after a bad day, I could turn to a sister in Christ rather than a substance. I learned very quickly why the believers in the New Testament were always together and breaking bread.

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Acts 2:42 ESV

When the Holy Spirit first came to the new Christians, the Bible says they were together and on one accord. While they were not necessarily meeting in what we would define as a church building, they were together; they were the church. 

My faith was strengthened every time I heard an encouraging message Sunday morning; it was strengthened everytime I went to a Sunday night Bible study; it was strengthened every Wednesday night when I heard testimonies of God’s provision and protection. 

Physically going to church and developing relationships with people in all levels of faith helped me to continue to grow and develop my own.

I often hear people give countless excuses as to why they couldn’t make it to church. My volleyball coach used to say, “Excuses are like belly buttons. Everyone has them and they’re all full of lint.” I’ve been told there is a harsher analogy for this, but this blog is rated PG! But he was right. 

We can tell ourselves and others countless reasons as to why it is so difficult to get to the church, but most times the hard truth is this: If you didn’t make it to church, it’s because you didn’t want to go.

I know. It sounds tough. Where is the grace? I’ll lighten up a bit.Thankfully, we are not made righteous by what we do or by what we don’t do, otherwise, we’d be saved by works and not faith. Our righteousness (right standing) is received by the simple act of salvation, our relationship as children of God.

I think about my own children. Neither are old enough for a cell phone so I’ll ask my son if he will text me when he gets one. He said, “Oh, you know it! I’ll blow you up!” He recently got his own ipad and has proven he was not lying. I wake up to about 10 texts on average every morning!

My daughter, on the other hand, is not much of a chatter. When I ask her the same question, my heart sinks a bit. “Maybe,” she’ll say casually without even a smirk to let me know she’s joking. I really hope she is!

But this is how many Christians approach corporate fellowship with God. Maybe they will go to church this week. Maybe they will give. Maybe they will join the Bible study. Despite the relationship with him as his children, many people have put off making a commitment to church attendance and involvement, leaving it up to how they feel when they wake up Sunday morning. Read this passage from Psalm 92:

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing. -Psalm 92:12-15

So what is the opposite of being fresh and flourishing? Spoiled and withering. What a contrast. Am I saying your life is going to completely crumble and fall apart if you don’t go to church? No. I know non-Christians and Christians alike who don’t regularly attend church and they seem to be doing okay.

But as a believer, God did not call us to just do okay. He called us to a better life. John 10:10 tells us he came to give us a life that is more and better than we ever dreamed of. 

While personal discipleship is important for growth in faith, corporate discipleship helps to expound on that growth. When I became a believer, I made a decision that I would be at church every Sunday. Period. My Sunday morning attendance was not based on what external factors may have happened the night before or morning of. I was going to be at church. I was going to meet with my father.

Just as we commit to our jobs, appointments and even sports teams, God’s children must commit and prioritize their decision to follow him. Not out of obligation or requirement, but out of love and honor. 

Do you face challenges when it comes to prioritizing weekly church attendance? Let’s chat in the comments!

BASIC TRAINING

Listen to the podcast episode for this blog post: Welcome to my Podcast! https://anchor.fm/jasmine-lozano4/episodes/Welcome-to-my-Podcast-euiitg

Christians are often called the army of God. We sing songs as kids about being in the Lord’s army; we are told in scripture to fight spiritual battles with spiritual weapons (Ephesians 6:10); we read about God strengthening his followers’ hands for battle (Psalm 144:1).

The Bible is filled with language and imagery about battle and war. There are few groups that form the bond and unity like the military. While one of my least favorite genres of movies is war movies, I have seen my fair share of them (often not of my own volition). 

Consider the United States military. There are different branches and ranks. Soldiers are equipped to perform different tasks based on their abilities. There are snipers and skilled weapons specialists, but there are also clerical and medical experts. There are soldiers who disarm bombs and soldiers who prepare meals that are the bomb (I’m from the 90’s, sorry!).

But there is one thing every member of the military has in common; THEY ALL COMPLETE BASIC TRAINING.

Basic Training or boot camp is designed to prepare military recruits for service.  Depending on the branch of the military, recruits are put through months of training tailored to that branch to give them the basic skills they will need to be able to perform effectively.

The different branches vary in what is required physically to complete Basic Training. The Navy has a requirement that recruits must be able to tread water for 5 minutes. But all branches require a timed run ranging from 1.5 to 3 miles. 

Whether a soldier is swabbing the deck (I got that from a movie, though it may have been a pirate movie) or filing a report, they all need to be able to run. They all need to be able to endure long distances.

As the church, it seems we have discounted the importance of Basic Training for the believer. Once someone finds their faith and is planted in church, it is crucial to train new recruits in what’s required and expected in the army of the Lord.

Could you imagine joining the Army and immediately being put on a plane to a combat zone, given a gun and dropped off? You would be totally unprepared. 

But unfortunately, the church does this to many new believers as they sign up to join the Army of God. They come to church and are bombarded with cliches and theologies when they can’t even find the book of Matthew yet.

If we want to be effective in sharing the gospel with hurting people, we have to be trained in the basics of our faith.

When I was saved 15 years ago, I was very privileged to be at a church that invested in Chrstian education. I was able to take classes about prayer, serving, and evangelism that helped build the foundation I needed to be able to serve the Lord and run well.

This is an area of faith I am so passionate about. Teaching believers the basics of faith. How to pray; how to study the Bible; why we give and serve. For many people, the benefits of the Christian life stop at the point of salvation. They can trust Jesus to save them from hell, but are not taught how he can sustain them on earth.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a Boot Camp series on basic training for Christian living. God has such a great life planned for his children and we learn about it through his Word, fellowship and prayer. 

My prayer is that you will not jog casually through your faith journey, but run well with endurance. I hope you can join me in the comments for some good discussion!

Don’t Forget the Main Ingredient

Last night, my husband and I were sitting on the couch, finishing our evening coffee we have every night together when he gets home from work.

It wasn’t a busy day, but the kids and I had run some errands in the afternoon, so I didn’t really make plans for dinner. I figured I’d make tacos because we all love them and they’re fairly easy, but I didn’t have any ground beef.

As I neared the end of my coffee, I told him I didn’t have a plan for dinner so we were going to pick up food. I told him that I was going to make tacos, but didn’t have any meat.

“Isn’t that the main ingredient you need to make tacos!” he laughed, almost spitting out his coffee. WE both laughed and then ordered a pizza.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been preparing a message for my women’s event at church. Today as I gathered what I needed for my message, I sat back to make sure I had everything. Notes, check. Bible, check. Clothes ready, check.

I felt ready to go. Then I remembered I was forgetting the main ingredient. I paused and dropped down to my knees.

Lord, will you be with me tonight? Will you fill my mouth with your words? Will you meet us as we gather and meet the needs of your women?”

What started as a quick, almost forgotten prayer, turned into hours of prayer and praise and worship. I almost forgot the main ingredient that would ensure that no matter who did or didn’t show up for the service, God would be there.

Have you ever made something and forgot an ingredient or used the wrong ingredient? Missing an ingredient can ruin an entire meal. Leaving out prayer and worship can ruin even weeks worth of preparation and planning.

No amount of preparation or planning can replace the presence of God. Make room for him and invite him into everything you do.