Mileage that Meets Needs

Find more inspiration and hopefully a few laughs on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

This Tuesday, I ran the longest I’ve ever run and will run until I complete my marathon in a few weeks. I’ve been training since May and while I’ve been met with a few setbacks, things have gone pretty well. My 18.5 mile run went surprisingly well and left me feeling confident and ready for my race.

I am running my first marathon with Team World Vision, an organization that my husband and I have supported for almost 13 years. I was made aware just this year that I could raise money for World Vision to provide clean water for people who otherwise don’t have access to it.

I also learned that 6 kilometers was the average distance that a person walked without access to clean water. That’s 3.5 miles of walking for dirty water to bath in, wash with and cook with.

I knew immediately that I had to be a part of this. I saw that I could run with a team in Madison, WI. When I went to sign up for the half marathon, a. Slight hesitation caused me to consider the full marathon. I had run a half before and just felt a pull to go a little further. I signed up for the full.

As I’ve been training, I’ve tried to stay focused less on my stats and paces and more on the reason I’m doing this. I want to help people who need help. I want to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Jesus said this “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew‬ ‭25:40‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

It’s important to remember those who can’t help themselves. It’s important to be apart of something bigger than ourselves. I’m excited to run my race at my pace and for the hundreds of people who will benefit from us coming together to help provide clean water.

If you’d like to donate, click here to learn more about World Vision.

BOOT CAMP: Wk 5 Worship

Check out this week’s podcast on Anchor!

In March 2006, I pulled up to a nice looking brick church. The parking lot was almost empty so I knew I was early. I just sat in the car for a while and watched people begin to arrive and go inside. They looked nice enough and some even smiled at me through the glass, as if they knew the hesitancy I felt about joining them. I finally went in but I sat in the last row so I could leave if I got uncomfortable. An older man came up and encouraged me to sit closer. After I ran out of excuses as to why I’d rather sit in the back, I gave in and moved to the 3rd or 4th row.

The lights went down and a young Hispanic guy with thick black hair came up and began to sing and play the keyboard. He could have been singing in another language as far as I was concerned. I hadn’t ever heard these songs and honestly, they didn’t make sense to me. “I am a friend of God?” But I thought God was mean! “I worship you because of who you are?” What does that even mean! Well, at least the keyboard player was hot! (It’s ok, he’s my husband now! I can say that!)

As I stood there, surrounded by people with their eyes closed and arms lifted up, my heart began to burn. Literally. It’s hard to put into words what I felt inside. When I think about it now, I’m reminded of the story in Luke when two men were walking on the road to Emmaus after Jesus had been crucified. Jesus appeared to them, but they didn’t know who he was. Jesus went on to walk with them, talk with them and even eat with them, but it wasn’t until he disappeared from their sight that they realized they had been with the Lord. One said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)

That’s what I felt. A burning, an urging. I was in the presence of God, and even though I didn’t understand what was happening, I knew enough to know that I needed him. I asked Jesus into my life, right during praise and worship. With tears flowing down my face, I sat down when the music ended, knowing something was different. I looked up to see the same older man who encouraged me to move closer begin to teach, realizing now that he was the pastor of the church! At the end of the service, he asked if anyone wanted a new life in Christ, and I basically ran to the front of the church!

This is why worship is so important to me personally. I met Jesus in worship. I hadn’t heard a sermon or powerful teaching. I met Jesus as my heart softened and worship filled the room. I’ve heard testimonies of people being healed during praise and worship. In the Old Testament, the army of Israel sent the worshippers out first before battle!

There are any ways to worship God, but I am talking specifically about praise and worship in regards to music. I sing on the praise team at my church and have been involved in leading worship for over 15 years. I would say I’m a bit more charismatic and demonstrative during worship, but when you come from where I came from, you’d understand.

Worship is an outward expression of an inward revelation. When we understand who God is and all that he has done and constantly does for us, our response would be nothing but gratitude. Setting the atmosphere is such a vital part of our weekly worship of God.

Worship cannot be something we do only on Sunday morning. I ran a half marathon in 2019 and am training for a marathon now. I remember during the half marathon seeing people limping and crying towards the end. You can tell they hadn’t trained and prepared properly. I can tell Sunday mornings who hasn’t trained as well!

I make it a point during the week to spend time worshipping God in my house. When I get to church Sunday morning, I’ve already meditated on how good he is. I’ve already thanked him for salvation and delivering me from my sin. I’ve already welcomed his presence into my day.

This week, focus on making praise and worship a part of your week. It’s better than focusing on problems and worrying! We can make the decision everyday to fill our mouths and homes with praise!

BOOT CAMP: Wk 4 Prayer

Check out this week’s podcast on https://anchor.fm/jasmine-lozano4/episodes/Boot-Camp-The-Importance-of-Prayer-e114hgr!

Have you ever gotten a friend request on social media from someone and you had no idea who they were? Maybe you share a few mutual friends or live in the same city, but you just have no idea how you know them? I have 787 friends on facebook to date. Of those 787 people who like my posts and pictures, I probably talk to less than 10 on a semi regular basis. Most of them don’t even have my phone number and if they called me, I wouldn’t answer because my phone has a spam setting for unknown numbers.

In the age we live in, the title of friend has definitely expanded to include people we would have called acquaintances in times past. The mom I talked to at the park for one hour 4 years ago is now my friend for life. The lady at the grocery store who gave me a coupon will see pictures of my kids when they graduate college in a decade. That’s actually kind of creepy; I’m going to go unfriend her now! The truth is, according to numerous polls and studies, most people have less than 5 close friends. 

It’s strange for many people to think of God as a friend, but He is the most trustworthy and faithful friend you will ever have. James 2:23 tells us that Abraham was called a friend of God. Could God say that about us? That our relationship is beyond that of an acquaintance but has depth and history. There is an amazing conversation between two friends, God and Abraham found in Genesis. 

In Genesis 18, Abraham and Sarah have just been visited by three visitors who shared the good news that she would be a mother in her old age. But God didn’t only have good news to share with them, but also a heads up. The visitors inform Abraham that God will soon destroy the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin. Why wouldn’t this be great news, you ask? Punishing the wicked and making room for the righteous sounds like a win-win! But the problem is that Abraham’s nephew, Lot, who came with him from Haran was living in Sodom. Naturally, Abraham becomes worried for his family. But because he has developed a relationship with God, he does something that we have the ability to do anytime: He asked God a few questions. He asks God if he would spare the city if he found 50 righteous people. When God agrees, Abraham continues to lower the number until it’s down to ten people.

Did you know it was okay to ask God questions? People have told me my entire life not to question God, but the most successful people in the Bible, asked God questions. Moses asked God how to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. David asked God if he should attack the army that plundered and carried away his family and the families of his soldiers. Gideon asked why had all of the bad things happened to Israel if God was with them. James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

I’ve always found it interesting that it was God’s decision to let Abraham in on his plans to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Could you imagine having that close of a relationship with God that He wants to let you know what he has in mind to do? God doesn’t have to consult with us before making any decision, but because of his relationship and covenant with Abraham, he didn’t want him left in the dark.

Faith is not a huge mystery that we have to stumble through, hoping to bump into God’s will and plan for our lives. God doesn’t want his children left in the dark. The Bible says that we have been taken out of the kingdom of darkness and placed into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). Our position in faith gives us access to come to him wherever we are and whenever we need answers. Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Our faith is strengthened and we develop our relationship with him by prioritizing our time spent talking with him.

BOOT CAMP: Wk 3 Finances

Check out this week’s podcast @ https://anchor.fm/jasmine-lozano4/episodes/Boot-Camp-The-Importance-of-Giving-and-Money-Management-evms05

I know, I know! No one wants to hear or talk about money. And I think that speaks volumes as to why so many people struggle with it. Money, giving, tithing, saving, investing, and debt has become an off limit subject for many people, both in and outside the four walls of the church.

For years, money issues have been listed as one of the top reasons married couples divorced for both Christians and non-Christians. The majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and wouldn’t be able to handle a $500 emergency without using credit. In the last 5 years, over 2.5 million people have filed bankruptcy.

But it’s not just individuals and families who are struggling financially. According to ChristianityToday.com, more churches close their doors every year because they are unable to pay their bills than for any other reason. 

I find it surprising that even though about 40% of Jesus’ parables dealt with money, the people of God struggle with finances in the same manner as the people of the world. I’m not pointing the finger. I only recently have been able to become debt free through God’s provision and grace.

When I became a Christian in 2006, my church offered both a new members class and a class for new Christians that introduced me to the principle of tithing. I’ll be honest; it sounded crazy at first. Giving 10% of “my” hard earned money to a church that seemed to be doing okay seemed counterintuitive. 

But something happened when I gave my life to Jesus. I decided I would believe what he said. If he said it was more blessed to give than receive, I believed it. If he said I should give and it would be given to me, I believed it. I was taught in these classes that tithing was more about a person’s heart than a person’s money. 

Jesus said that our heart was where our treasure was. In plain English, how and where you spend your money shows what matters to you most. For some people, recreation, vacation or entertainment is their priority. For some, it may be their children’s activities or personal hobbies. I spend money on all of these things, but not before I return to God what belongs to him already.

The Bible tells us in Deuteronomy 8:18 that it is God who gives us the ability to get wealth. It’s because of him we can wake up, physically move our limbs, and even have the particular set of skills we need to allow us to provide for our families. And yes, I’m aware I quoted Liam Neeson.

Once we understand that everything belongs to him, it becomes less difficult to actually trust him with all we have. Tithing is simply a measure to show God not only are we thankful for what he’s blessed us with, but that we trust him in handling it as well. 

When my family was getting out of debt, I was amazed at the supernatural increase we experienced and remembered something God promised in the book of Malachi. 

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” (Malachi 3:10-11 emphasis added)

I shouldn’t have been as surprised because God did exactly what he said he would do in His word. Because we had been faithful for years in tithing and giving, God was true to his word and poured out a blessing we couldn’t keep to ourselves. I’ll go into more detail in this week’s podcast with my special guest!

I encourage you to listen to my podcast this week as I dig deeper on the issue of finances. My guest and I will talk more about giving, saving, debt and other areas that God wants us to be successful in.