Being Prepared

by Jane Zachman Vaughn

Worry. Is that something that takes up your thinking-space these days? We could worry about all sorts of things: life just seems to get out of our control – all by itself. worryI believe I have found a secret about worry. It is useless!! My time wasted. Besides, Jesus teaches us not to be “anxious” about our food, shelter, or clothing (Mt.7:25ff) – well, actually we are to be anxious about nothing (Phil.4:6).

But what about our economy? These surely are uncertain times. Could there be another “crash” – a depression or recession? Of course there could – and economists and prophets alike are warning this nation that such a thing is probably on our next horizon.

Is that not something we should worry about? Well… will our worrying fix what needs fixing? Change what needs to be changed? Not really. What then? Francis Schaeffer asked: “How shall we then live?” Great question! Herein is the secret: Jesus speaking: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt.6:33).

Priorities. I understand that to mean that I am to concern myself with what is important to God – and allow Him to remain concerned about my details (some of which I can’t really control anyway!) One thing for us to do, then, is being ready – or prepared – ahead of time (1Pet.3:13).

The parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25 (5 Wise, 5 Foolish) teaches us about being prepared. But before we look at that Scripture, let’s note that another place (in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians) is important as it comes alongside this parable – Ephesians 5:15-17.

In Ephesians 4, Paul begins to lay out quite a number of imperatives – commands for believers – that form the practical application of how we are to walk out our faith in Christ (add Phil.2:12b). The whole longer passage in Ephesians is worthy of noting, but let’s go to 5:15. “See then that you walk circumspectly (carefully), not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise….” Fools – Wise – Redeem the time.

So, what to do to prepare in these days? Stockpile food and water? Store up survival equipment? The Church has done that before. And to no avail, I might add. But – are you preparing spiritually for the tougher days that just may lie ahead? How? Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God. Yes. Redeem the time. Yes, and yes again.

The 10 virgins in the parable – half were wise, half were foolish. This is not contrasting the “saved” with the “unsaved.” It’s not about getting into Heaven. All 10 went out to meet the Bridegroom. All anticipated His coming. They all had lamps with oil… but the foolish five had not figured on Him tarrying – delaying. These five had no reserves from which to draw. They were not prepared – to last – or “endure to the end.” They had enough oil for “today.” And then, when they depleted their supply, they had to scurry to go find more oil… so they did that. And it took time.

This is not the door to salvation – they were not shut out of eternity. This parable is about having extra oil – stored in your vessel. More than you think you need – for now. More than enough oil to sustain light over a length of time. “Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph.5:18) – filled to overflowing – so that you cannot contain the peace He brings – the “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Phil.4:7). More than enough extra oil so that you can last a long time. A long time – of waiting: “They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength” (Isa.40:31); “Do not grow weary in well-doing” (2Thes.3:1).

Are you waiting on God – to do something – for you? With you? To answer your biggest prayer? Do you “feel” like you are losing hope of His provision? Redeem the time. Make the most of what time you have – now. Fill up your internal reserves – while there is time.

This Hebrew word “wait” means more than standing there tapping your toes. And it means more than “serving” the Lord during the waiting times. The word /qavah/ inherently holds the concept of waiting hopefully. We wait in expectant hope that God will provide – because we KNOW He is faithful to His Word. “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him” (Lam.3:25).

Many of us who came through the Charismatic Renewal of the ‘60s and ‘70’s believed – truly believed – that Jesus was going to return in the next few years. I never thought my eldest son would see his teen years – or drive my car – or marry. He’s 46 – and I’m a grandmother! J I am still waiting for His soon-coming! But I have never given up the hope that He will fulfill every promise.

Our preparation is not in stockpiling goods – or even extra money in a savings account (although that is always WISE!) We redeem the time – we get ready now for harder times that just may come sooner than later. We prepare by pressing in to know God and He reveals everything we need to know about Him in His Word. All the secrets of living this life successfully are there – hidden for us to mine out the treasures. When we bury the treasures of His Word in our hearts, they are there so that the Holy Spirit can, indeed, bring them back to our remembrance at the very moment we need to tap into the reserve.

Jane Zachman Vaughn, Women  of the Word partner, sister, and friend suddenly left us for heaven on September 9, 2016 at the age of 72. jane-vaughn-picI was in Franklin, NC for a WOW One Day event on September 10 and did not hear until early on Sunday September 11. She was first and foremost a disciple of Jesus. She also taught God’s Word with excellence. She was a loving wife, mother and grandmother as well as a faithful friend. 

Her going home is a loss to us, but such a gain for her. I had just spoken with her the week before and knew she was praying for that event and also the WOW Israel ministry trip. Jane was a prayer warrior and I know she is now with the great cloud of witnesses cheering us all on. Her last financial gift to WOW had just arrived before I left for NC to support the believers in Israel. What a testimony! 

Jane was a personal mentor to me when I first began working with Women of the Word. She taught me so much about planning events. She taught me a lot about the practical side but she always put the spiritual aspect first! We prayed together many times then and over the years after. There are so many things I recall about her – all good and I know pleasing to the Lord. Well done my dearest friend! I love you!  ~ Betsy Roy

 

 

 

Emotional Eating

by Fathima P Torres

Emotional eating is turning to food for comfort, stress relief, or as a reward rather than to satisfy hunger. emotional-eatingEmotional eating is so powerful that many times people confuse this with physical hunger. Many experts on the topic list the following facts to differentiate emotional eating from physical hunger.

Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. It hits you in an instant and feels overwhelming and urgent. Physical hunger, on the other hand, comes on more gradually. The urge to eat doesn’t feel as dire or demands instant satisfaction (unless you haven’t eaten for a very long time).

Emotional hunger craves specific comfort foods. When you’re physically hungry, almost anything sounds good—including healthy stuff like vegetables. But emotional hunger craves fatty foods or sugary snacks that provide an instant rush. You feel like you need cheesecake or pizza, and nothing else will do.

Emotional hunger often leads to mindless eating. Before you know it, you’ve eaten a whole bag of chips or an entire pint of ice cream without really paying attention or fully enjoying it. When you’re eating in response to physical hunger, you’re typically more aware of what you’re doing.

Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied once you’re full. You keep wanting more and more, often eating until you’re uncomfortably stuffed. Physical hunger, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be stuffed. You feel satisfied when your stomach is full.

Emotional hunger isn’t located in the stomach. Rather than a growling belly or a pang in your stomach, you feel your hunger as a craving you can’t get out of your head. You’re focused on specific textures, tastes, and smells.

Emotional hunger often leads to regret, guilt, or shame. When you eat to satisfy physical hunger, you’re unlikely to feel guilty or ashamed because you’re simply giving your body what it needs. If you feel guilty after you eat, it’s likely because you know deep down that you’re not eating for nutritional reasons.

I have been an emotional eater for almost half of my lifetime. For the last 24 years, I have found refuge in food when I have felt my worst, this is worst because I am a chocolate and or bread lover. I was 98 pounds when I got married at the age of 20, many of you know how my marriage ended so I am not going to dwell on that but in the turburbalance of that experience I became an emotional eater and by age 30 I was 250 pounds!!! I have done all the diets programs you can imagine and more!

When I was appointed to work for the government of the Dominican Republic, I went with my children, my “mudanza” and my 250 pounds as part of my luggage. The vanity of the position, being on TV practically on a monthly basis talking about the issues affecting the region I was responsible for and society in general got me into the “vanity mode” of losing the weight and in less than a year I went to 148 pounds. To be honest with you, I did not realize the lost of weight until after the fact. It has always been the case that my stress level disappears when I’m back home. Having become more physically active along with eating more naturally got me to the 148.

As I reconciled myself with the Lord (when I divorced my ex-husband, I divorced God as well) and I turned myself into reading more His word and fellowshipping more with Him, I was reminded of what John 6:35 says “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

As my emotional health was being stabilized, I realized that regardless of how much physical food I consumed, if I am not spiritually fed, I will always be hungry and I believe that is why there are so many people in this country suffering of emotional eating disorders. We are looking to feed with food what ONLY the Lord can feed with His presence, His love, His care, His forgiveness, His acceptance, and His compassion to carry us through the challenges and obstacles that life brings with it.

At this point in my life, my eating habits have changed, 2 years ago after completing the Daniel Fasting for the first time, I started a journey that has led me to become a vegan (that has been a personal choice, the Daniel Fasting doesn’t require that you become a vegan after the 21 days); as I meditate on this journey of 2 years, I smile when I see that the Lord also helped me shift my eating habits by embracing my journey during the Daniel Fasting in a way that I never expected. He is so, so good to me, to us.

At the beginning of this message, I shared with you the definition of emotional eating as turning to food for comfort, stress relief, or as a reward rather than to satisfy hunger. How about if you consider making a conscience decision of looking for comfort and stress relief in the Lord? Let Him satisfy the needs of your soul and emotions. Let Him be the one that carry on your emotional and mental stress. Search for Him, talk to Him (pray) and get to know Him more, fellowship with Him; take the time to be silent with Him (let Him talk to you) and search for His commands and promises (read His word, the Bible).

Do you want to continue being an emotional eater? Then, do so for God. God bless you, be well.

Fathima P Torres is the Director of Wear Your Crown Ministries, headquartered in New York, NY, which hosts events, retreats and bible studies. Click on her name above to find her on Facebook.

Faith Comes by Hearing Challenge

by Betsy Roy

What comes first in your life? If you a Christian woman you probably will answer “God, family, work…..”. Next question – What is your first thought when you wake up and what is the first thing you do in morning? Is it reach for the cell phone and check your messages? check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter? I’m guilty! As I searched online for images of women lying in bed reaching for a cell phone I found a lot of them.  I didn’t find even one image of a woman lying in bed reaching for a Bible.

Now I’m not saying that looking at your cell phone first or checking Facebook is sin. But, it is a matter of priority and what is entering your mind FIRST thing in the morning. Our actions are a reflection of what is on our heart. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment is he began by quoting Deuteronomy 6: 4 & 5. The first word is “hear” (shema in Hebrew). The word “shema” means more than the auditory hearing of sound. It means to listen and obey. In other words to do what you are hearing. James 2 teaches us that faith apart from works is dead. So we see that hearing, faith and doing are all connected. What we listen to does affect our faith and therefore also our actions.

The Bible teaches us in Romans 10:17 that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God”.  So faith increases as we hear (listen and obey) the Word of God. Screen shot 2016-07-11 at 12.59.49 PMI am challenging myself to not only read more of God’s Word, but also to “hear” it (listen to it and obey it). Will you take up the challenge?  Instead of turning on the radio in your car to listen to music (even Christian music) or talk, why not listen to God’s Word FIRST? Here’s a great website to do just that – “Faith comes by Hearing” – where you can listen to the Bible in various forms, including dramatized, and in many languages. Yep, they’ve got an “app” too!

There just is something about hearing God’s Word in audio form. You can also read the Bible OUT LOUD! When your inner ear hears what your mouth is saying it builds faith! Give it a try today! And let’s spend more time in the Bible than we do on social media. Our face needs to be in THE Book more than on Facebook. God’s Word has transformed my life and it will transform yours too as you listen and obey.  A personal favorite is Psalm 119. Verse 11 says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” 

“I prayed for Faith, and thought that some day Faith would come down and strike me like lightning. But Faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, ‘Now Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God’. I had closed my Bible, and prayed for Faith. I now opened my Bible, and began to study, and Faith has been growing ever since. ” ~D.L. Moody

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, a Christian Women’s Conference Ministry. She lives near Springfield, MA with her husband Jim. They have 3 daughters and 3 grand-children.

 

 

 

 

Praying for America!

by Barbara Benton

Below is a prayer adapted from various prayer sources by Barbara Benton, a WOW speaker.  Please read it out loud and join with us in agreement for it’s fulfillment. We also encourage you to become actively involved in prayer events in your area such as Franklin Graham’s Decision America Tour.  Invite others to join you. Consider making a commitment to pray daily for America. We need it!

Father, I pray according to 1 Timothy 2:1-3 which says, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.”

I pray, in the Name of the Lord Jesus, for our president, the vice president, US flagall the cabinet and the chief justice and associate justices of the Supreme Court to receive the wisdom of God, to act in obedience to that wisdom and for the power of God to flow in their lives. I pray for the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to find Your peace and direction, and for these men and women to act and lead according to Your Word. A house divided against itself cannot stand, therefore, I pray for them to be unified in righteousness for the sake of the nation.

I pray for Your protection to cover all our law enforcement officers and the men and women of the military. I ask for godly counsel and wisdom for judges across this land. In the Name of Jesus, I pray that You and Your kingdom of righteousness be manifested in the hearts of all those who are in authority in any way.

Father, Your Word says to pray for the peace of Jerusalem because those who love Jerusalem shall prosper. Lord Jesus, because You love Jerusalem and wept over it, I love it also. I pray for Jerusalem to receive the peace of God, which brings wholeness—nothing missing, nothing broken. I pray that no leader of our nation will make any decision that will harm Jerusalem in any way. And in the Name of Jesus, I pray that You reveal Your perfect will to all the leaders of Israel. I ask You, Lord, to reveal Yourself to each person. Thank You, Father, for hearing my prayers that are in accordance to Your will. I receive the answers, in Jesus’ Name. Amen

BBRed

You may connect with Barbara Benton here. Barbara will be speaking at the Fall 2016 Women of the Word Conference entitled “Overcome”.  Come join us!

Loving Myself: Wisdom from Mama June

by June Evans

I have, through the years of my Christian life, learned to love God and people.

love-yourself

I am commanded to do so by God. I have to admit it is easier to love God than to love people. But I have done both with a measure of success. However, the scripture which tells me to love God and people also tells me to love myself. I found that loving God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength and loving people had a lot to do with how I loved myself. In my self are emotions, tempers, fleshly faults which no Christian should love.

So love of self is not a toleration of things which God expects me to crucify. Loving self is learning to identify and appreciate the woman God made me to be and doing what God made me to do.

One of my struggles has been to esteem the woman God made me to be. I used to compare myself with other women. Not a good idea for I always fell short in the comparison, disliking my body, my hair, my height, my clothing, my southern accent, etc. You name it, and I did not like it and would tell you so. I found myself locked in a dark closet of inferiority, dissatisfaction, and complaints. I did not love myself. In fact, I did not even like myself. I wanted to be some other “self.” I was not sure who that “self” was.

I am reminded of the story of Dr Frankenstein creating his monster. When I try to make myself who I am not, I have a “Frankenstein monster” in the closet.

One day I heard a sermon about the uniqueness of each one of us, and it dawned on me that I was “one of a kind.” I have been made and formed by the hand of God. Much thought was given by God to me, June Evans.

God needed me to be who He had created me to be. When I began to love myself many of the issues I struggled with went away. I no longer had to measure up to standards I could never achieve. Inferiority left when I ceased to compare myself with others. I did not have to compete to be the best, the greatest, etc. I just had to be myself and do what God had created me to do.

I am June Evans, one of a kind, and made that way by the most high God, called and equipped to do His purposes in the earth.

Loving self is not a narcissistic love. It is not a self love which is unhealthy and ungodly. Loving self is being “comfortable in my own skin” kind of love. Loving self is appreciating the thought and effort God has put into me. Loving self is doing what God has made me to do.

We women can be trapped in dark closets of inferiority, self hatred, dissatisfaction, comparisons, etc. My best advice is to give it up. Learn to appreciate your uniqueness, your calling, and the self that only you are to be. “Your own skin” is a lot more comfortable than being locked up in a dark closet with a Frankenstein monster.

“I will praise thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are thy works. and that my soul knoweth quite well.” Psalm 139: 14

June Evans is Pastoral Advisor and keynote speaker for Women of the Word, a Christian womens conference ministry. She travels around the US teaching biblical principles in understandable and humorous ways, using life stories as examples. June is gifted in speaking to women across generations, cultures and denominations.  

Healing of Memories

by Pamela Standing

PastedGraphic-1 used with permission Dean Jackson, Author of “Verses From Somewhere”

Sarah (name changed) is a lighthearted person, always smiling and making people around her feel at ease in her presence. She had come to the healing room, bringing everyone she could find because the Lord had touched her in a mighty way. She wanted everyone to experience the Loving Touch that transformed her life.

When it was her turn for prayer, she didn’t expect much because she had been healed already. The session began full of smiles and laughter. Then the question …
“Do you have a painful memory tormenting you?”
It was as if someone had flipped a switch. Instantaneously, tears began to flow, her forehead became deeply furrowed in agony, and she bent over as if punched in the gut.

Yes.

It was long ago.

A sexual assault had left deep scars.

Sarah had already chosen to forgive her assailant, but the memory remained. Hidden in the closet deep in her inner most being, locked away for none to see, praying it would never see the light of day, it remained … tormenting her.

Painful memories are an issue presented in the healing rooms time and time again. How can one go back and change the events in the past? One cannot. Yet Jesus said He came “to set the captives free.”(Luke 4:18) How can one be set free from events He cannot even change?

In Jeremiah 23:23-24 the Lord speaks through the prophet saying …
“Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord,
“And not a God far off?
“Can a man hide himself in hiding places
So I do not see him?” declares the Lord.
“Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.

And King David proclaimed in Psalms 139:7-10
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.

The Lord knows no time or place where He is not present.

By His Word we know He was present during the assault on Sarah. Instructing Sarah to close her eyes and go back to relive the painful memory , we prayed, “Father, you said in Your Word You were there. Please reveal to Sarah where You were. Make Your Presence known to her.”

We were not sure what Sarah experienced; whether she saw Him, felt His presence, heard His voice, or even just smelled Him. What we do know is that she stood up straight, the furrows in her brow disappeared and were replaced with a countenance of peace. The tears continued to flow but now were accompanied with a smile of joy and rejoicing. The captive was set free! The sting was removed, the memory was forever changed. The Presence of the Lord transformed it.

The Healing Room has seen many such sessions described above. Most of the experiences stem from childhood, tormenting men and women for decades. Experiences covering a host of situations from assaults, berating verbal abuse, trauma, to being the guilty offending party. Jesus Christ came to set all the captives free.

If you are struggling with memories that are too painful to bring to full consciousness, ask the Lord to show you where He was during that event. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you.

He was there. He wants to set you free.

Pamela Standing is the administrative assistant at Women of the Word, a Christian women conferences ministry. She is also Associate Director of the Springfield, MA Healing Room, part of the International Association of Healing Rooms.

Passion, Purpose, and Career

by Alexandra Tresch

I think as women, we can feel pressured into following what we think we should be doing with our lives versus pursuing passion placed in our hearts. 7a2dd36d9be5df2f14766c37f48ea8dcI often hear women talk about feeling selfish, or guilty, for wanting to follow their passions. I have heard comments of feeling torn between living a life of “God-ordained purpose” versus “self-centered desire”.

Psalm 37:4 says “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” You have to know that God wants to give you not just the bare necessities, but the desires of your heart. It’s not superficial, only HE knows the tiniest desires of our hearts.

What is your Passion?

We dream our dreams… but then life happens. Or maybe you were told your dreams were unrealistic? Somewhere along the way between childhood and womanhood, you were taught to be “realistic”. You were probably drilled into seeing growing up as showing up at eight o’clock, do a job you probably dislike and go home at five o’clock. You may have been told that you have to grow up and get married, have children by a certain age, and that being a stay-at-home-mom doesn’t pay the bills.

Maybe you thought you heard God speaking to you, felt a calling to a certain type of life and a special kind of work. So, what happened? Often times in our desire to be “responsible, practical and realistic adults” too many of us lost touch with our God-given gifts. We felt defeated and gave up the pursuit of turning our dreams into enjoyable and fulfilling work.

It doesn’t need to be that way! All of us, no matter how old we are or what kind of work we’re doing, can learn to bring that authentic passion to our work.

What is your Purpose?

If I asked you what your best quality is, would that make you nervous or uncomfortable? I once read a quote “women generally underestimate their abilities… success, it turns out, correlates just as closely with confidence as it does with competence.” I encourage you to wholeheartedly discover what your best qualities and God-given abilities are. Be confident with the talents you have been blessed with.

Meaningful, purposeful and profitable work really is a possibility! It begins with discovering what you do best and then considering how you can use your talents daily. The moment you realize this, you’ve taken a critical step towards reawakening your dreams and passions. Complacency will become unacceptable and the idea of putting your Calling on the shelf becomes intolerable. We have the opportunity to use our working hours engaging in work that will elevate us to our highest Calling and transform the world around us.

Have faith and pray for God to open your eyes to opportunities that await you. Whether you decide to step out into something new or revamp your current career, you’ll find you can’t go back to the old way of working. We can find ways to express our hopes and dreams in our daily work.

What is your Career?

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33).

Even when you’ve nailed your Calling, you will have bills to pay.
Given the amount of time we spend working, failure to find meaningful work can make each day feel miserable. But can we really do what we’re best at and do well financially? I once heard the saying “God wants us to be obsessively preoccupied with the needs of others.” Too many people shun the idea of making money as evil. They are taught that God’s work can only be done by giving something away, or living minimally. Thoughts like this lead people into depression and can deprive them of releasing their own greatest talents for fear of what people may think. Having money in itself is not shameful, it is up to us to put it toward good use. Prospering for the sake of giving to others can be a powerful tool, it essentially becomes an issue of the heart.

My husband and I started our business with a desire to “bless and be a blessing”. What is currently our business initially started as a hobby with no thoughts on developing a business model. Our hobby expanded into a business once we realized it was our way to bless others. There are many in the world that need help and hope, and while we can’t help everyone, we can help someone. Every day we pray for grace and guidance as we use our business as a ministry tool.

Maybe you are thinking you can never start a business? Struggling with the desire to be a stay-at-home-mom? Think working from home is out of your grasp? Feel like you are stuck in a dead-end career? Whether you are in the home, out in the field or in an office, be faithful and use your talents where God plants you. There is no reason why you can’t start a business, be a stay-at-home-mom, work from home, or be a leader in your career. I personally hold college degrees in Exercise and Sports Science and Nutrition, 15 years experience in customer service and sales, and 8 years of public speaking. God let me go through different seasons and positions in my life to help strengthen and develop the talents and abilities He had given me. These abilities have become an important part of what I do now and how I contribute to our business. You can read a little more about my story on the WOW blog post “Do You Have The Courage To Dream?”

What about you: What is your Passion and Purpose? How can you incorporate them into your life and Career? Asking yourself this can help bring you clarity not only for your next steps, but for your long-term vision and Calling. Now, go on and reignite those passions and let your mind run wild. Embrace your Calling, and find—or create—work that is meaningful, purposeful and profitable for God’s glory!

A little bit about Alexandra: Alexandra Tresch is an animal lover, health enthusiast and CEO of Fragrant Elegance Soy Candle Company. She is passionate about educating others on how to expand their God given dreams and visions into their businesses. In her free time, she enjoys breakfast with her husband, and snuggling with her pet bird. She also enjoys attending Christian Womens Conferences like Women of the Word. Alexandra can be contacted a www.fragrantelegance.com

Do You Have The Courage To Dream?

by Alexandra Tresch

Think back to when you were a child. Do you remember your childhood dreams? All 5-year-olds know how to dream, just ask one!

126f02624c3cb224d68ce12c9363ca57You know the typical fantasies: dreams of becoming a firefighter, princess, doctor, superhero, astronaut, ship captain, artist or rock star. I wanted to be a veterinarian.
I have always loved animals and wanted to help them, so when I was a child I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian. All throughout school I maintained stellar grades, knew the scholarships I was going to apply for, and knew what college and grad school I was going to graduate from. I had my whole life planned out and was on track. My plan and dream was going well and on course…until my Sophomore year of highschool. It was at this time that I enrolled in a Career Placement Program, and was thrilled to be paired up with a local animal hospital. It was also at this time that I realized there were specific duties and responsibilities required of veterinarians that I wouldn’t be able to handle on a regular basis. I felt as though my heart and soul were crushed. Can you relate?

It takes courage to dream, as there is always the possibility of disappointment. Fear, uncertainty and failure can all be difficult and crippling. Maybe you will be told that your dreams are silly, that you aren’t smart enough, or that you’ll never make it. There’s a chance that a whole life planned out can come crashing down before you.

It takes courage to dream, as the danger in not dreaming is we run the risk of not fulfilling our potential. Those with courage continue to dream. It takes courage because the danger in not dreaming is we run the risk of not fulfilling our potential. I want you to let that sink in for a moment.

Often times, we dream dreams that we think are reachable and attainable. We tend to lean towards what we know and see. We can get comfortable and settle for mediocrity, or give up on our dreams all together. As a Daughter of The Almighty, you need to know that you were not created for mediocrity. You were not created to be average. You were not created to settle or give up. You were created for extraordinary things. You were created to be courageous and fearless. You were created to stand out. We have to have courage to dream and step out in faith, knowing that God will see us “through” it.

It takes courage to dream, as God’s dreams for us are beyond our understanding. 

Did I eventually get over my disappointment of not going to vet med school? I sure did! As I got older, I realized that I dreamt ofAlexandra Tresch becoming a veterinarian because it made the most logical sense. I loved animals and wanted to help them, and that’s what veterinarians do. The critical part I missed was that my dream wasn’t to be a veterinarian: love, compassion and servitude was what I was called to do. I had set myself on the path to become a veterinarian because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do.

Since then, my family has rescued and adopted birds and parrots, and are large advocates of pet adoption. I have also volunteered at animal rescues and rehabs. I have had heart- fulfilling experiences of being face-to-face and caring for an injured red-tailed hawk, bottle fed baby opossums, held and spoon fed an orphaned porcupine, and the list goes on. I also met my amazing husband, started a business, and we use our business to reach out and help those in need. These are experiences I never would have had if I had chosen to be defeated. I may have dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, but God took my heart and ambition and gave me so much more. He has a different dream for me.

God’s dreams for us are beyond our understanding, greater than anything we could ever dream for ourselves! Don’t miss the blessing God has for you around the corner- or right outside your comfort zone. When God gives you a dream, He often makes it SO big there is no chance you can accomplish it—on your own. You aren’t meant to walk alone. I encourage you to dream big and never stop dreaming. I want you to dream so big only God can fulfill it, and be open to God’s dream for you.

A little bit about Alexandra: Alexandra Tresch is an animal lover, health enthusiast and CEO of Fragrant Elegance Soy Candle Company. She is passionate about educating others on how to expand their God given dreams and visions into their businesses. In her free time, she enjoys breakfast with her husband, and snuggling with her pet bird. She also enjoys attending Christian Womens Conferences like Women of the Word. She can be contacted at ATresch@FragrantElegance.com or at www.FragrantElegance.com 

 

An Appeal to Heaven

by Dr. Lynn Lucas

Genesis 22 starts with “after these things, God tested Abraham.” So what are “these things” referred to in verse 1? In Genesis 21:33 Abraham plants what the King James version declares is a “grove of trees in the wilderness,” and declares he has come to know that God is the Everlasting God. In the original language Everlasting God actually should be translated “God is the Self Existent Life Giver,” Who Was Before Time, and IS After Time, Who therefore Walks with You Through Time. God was declaring to Abraham that as the Everlasting God, He will never say that something will happen unless it will happen. This revelation empowered Abraham’s faith so that he could pass the test when God told him to sacrifice Isaac. He could say with confidence to those servants with him “the lad and I will go yonder and worship and will return to you” (v.5). He expected to return with Isaac because God had made the covenant that depended on the birth and life of Isaac. Hebrews 11:19 says that Abraham expected God to raise up Isaac from the ashes AND RETURN HIM TO ABRAHAM.

We, therefore, should realize that the God who walks with us through time is the One Who already knows how things will end. He makes promises and gives us words based on the things He sees as completed. Jonah’s conversation with God in Jonah 4:1-3 is a practical example of this truth. Paraphrasing Jonah’s words to God, Jonah said, “I told you that you would cause me to be a success, and there would be a great revival here. That is why I went to Tarshish. They are our enemy, and I did not want them saved.” Jonah knew he would be a success before he started out because God had given him the job and hadn’t warnd him, as He had other prophets, that the mission would not succeed.

 A practical example from our country’s history occurred during the Revolutionary War when General Washington looked at his situation and said, “We are outmanned, outgunned, and out-supplied, and our country can never be independent and become what it was founded to be unless we win this war, so our only hope is an APPEAL TO HEAVEN.” He then commissioned his top aide to create an “Appeal to Heaven” flag, imagesa very simple flag with a tall evergreen tree on an all-white background highlighting the words “Appeal to Heaven.” That flag few over every American fort, every American ship and every American troop who marched into war as a reminder that as we Appeal to Heaven, God will change the outcome. God has promised and what He has promised and planned, comes to pass in and through our lives.

Since we know that the foundation of our country was based on biblical principles, we should not find it strange that the story of Abraham explains the design of Washington’s “Appeal to Heaven” flag. The Hebrew language clarifies the reference in Genesis telling us that Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at the well of the sevenfold oath. The tamarisk is one of the few trees that can thrive in an arid place. There are two types of tamarisk trees: one growing 10 to 15 feet tall, the other 20 to 30 feet. The Bible also indicates that he did not plant a grove, but a single tree. The tamarisk is an evergreen tree that produces a small white flower. People called this flower manna, long before God provided manna in the wilderness. Abraham marked the seven clauses of the covenant God made with him, some fulfilled and some not, by planting an evergreen tree, which would draw people in an arid place to a well of refreshing water. He planted it as a reminder to generations to come that the God Who Was Before Time is the God Who is After Time; therefore, He is the God Who Walks with Us Through Time. As we admit that we are outmanned, outgunned, and out-resourced, God intervenes and miracles happen when we make our Appeal to Heaven.

Click here to hear an audio discussion on this topic. 

img_lucasDr. Lynn Lucas holds doctorates in Theology and Ministry. She is the Senior Pastor of Fountainhead Congregation on Long Island. Her congregation has witnessed the miraculous as they have stepped out in faith to do what God has commissioned them to do in reaching the hurting and lost. Dr. Lucas is a regular speaker at Women of the Word, a Christian womens conference ministry.

 

 

Having a failure doesn’t make you a failure!

by Barbara Wells Benton

There are few weeks that go by without someone confessing to me how they have royally messed up, how they have failed. failure

Many times these people feel condemned.   Fear grips them that the Church and God will mark them off the list, calling them disqualified.

Having a failure doesn’t make YOU a failure!

The book of James has a powerful scripture: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”  – James 5:16

James understood the need for the Church (not the building) to be a place where people who failed could come, confess, be prayed for and be healed.   Why don’t we see very much of that today?    I believe it’s because we are not always authentic in the Church.  It’s easy to yell at the top of our lungs, or post on Facebook how evil people are when they commit sexual sin, or when our country openly embraces things contrary to scripture.  Open computer – get fingers ready to tell the whole world how they are going to hell.

Don’t stop reading out of anger … keep reading.

Over these forty-seven years I have walked with God, I have failed many times:

  • During one period in my life, I stopped preaching/teaching several months because I was offended by folks in church.  That is failure.
  • During one period in my life, while married to my wonderful, godly husband, I pulled away from God, stopped listening to any worship music, and only listened to country music.  The point is not the country music; the point is why I was listening.  I was letting my heart walk away from God, while my body sat on a pew.   On the outside, I was the “holy” wife of a wonderful pastor.   On the inside I was playing games with the devil.  That is failure.
  • I have gone through periods when I was jealous of other ministries, and I let it overtake my thought life to the point of disliking the success of others.  That is failure.
  • I have carried grudges and unforgiveness for long periods.  That is failure.
  • As a leader, I have been infuriated with people who did not do things the way I wanted them done, and they got a taste of my venom.  I had to control everything! That is failure.
  • While rolling my eyes at the “terrible” sins of  others, I allowed myself to binge eat, better known as gluttony in the Bible. That is failure.

So, what do you think of Barbara Benton now?  (Rhetorical, so please don’t answer.)

Thank God I am not the woman above any more.  I have learned to receive the grace of God that says to me, “Having a failure doesn’t make me a failure.”   Because of that grace, I am simply not that woman above.  She has been changed by His grace.

One of the things that has helped me most in overcoming the mindset of failure, is that I found trusted people with whom I could talk.  I could talk openly and honestly, without fear of condemnation.  I could talk with people who weren’t ready to throw me out of the Body of Christ or out of ministry; people who genuinely prayed with me, kept in touch with me, and wanted to see me totally healed.  Thank God for healing!  Thank God for the power to overcome!

What about you?  Can God trust with the failures of other?  Can we be authentic enough to say, I’ve not walked this thing perfectly?

We desperately need authentic Christianity – the kind that says, “I have failed, but God has forgiven me and given me the strength to rise up and continue walking.”

This is one of the most vulnerable blogs I have ever written.  I, like others, still wrestle with the fear of what will others think or say about me. What impact will this have on my ministry?   Will people no longer invite me to conferences and churches?

It is essential that we have welcoming arms for those who have failed.  Oh I know, some will read this and think I’m just opening the doors to all kinds of people.  Well, yes I am.  That is what the Church is called to do.  We are called to be a place of forgiveness, restoration, love, exhortation and patience.

I am so thankful that God said to me, “Having a failure, doesn’t make YOU a failure.”

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!

img_bentonBarbara Wells Benton is a favorite speaker at Women of the Word, a Christian womens conference ministry. She teaches from real life experience and is a testimony of the life-changing power of God to turn “mourning into dancing”. She lives in Birmingham, AL with her husband, has three sons, and five grandchildren.