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The Park

What a beautiful, out of the ordinary, winter day in the Midwest. Opportunity afforded me the blessing to take my grandson to the park for some exercise, fresh springtime air, and to be truthful keep him occupied and wear him out for the rest of the day. (It’s rough on this old body caring and especially playing with these youngins). And to let you know, he wore grandma out. He won.

But the real reason for this post is to tell you that God gives us opportunities to serve Him and tell the world about Him. As I was watching my grandson play, a nice young gentleman, there with his 2 year-old son, started up a conversation. I found out he was new in the area and he was wearing a big ole cross on his chest.

Going to pause here for a moment to rewind to Sunday at church. We, as a church, have been challenged to ask someone to church. Statistics show that a large percentage of people would attend church if they were asked to come. I also have been inspired by a fellow sister in the Lord to witness more. I have been praying asking the Lord to open my eyes, teach me, show me how to witness. He has also placed a very heavy, I mean very heavy, burden on my heart for those who are traveling the wide road to destruction. But back to my story. . .

New in the area, big cross on his chest. . . I say, “I see you are wearing a cross. Does it have any special significance to you?” He told me that when he died he would be with the One who died on the cross. Hallelujah!!! And since he was new in town I asked if he had found a church. He had. That’s great.

As I was driving home and thinking over what had happened and thanking God for opening my eyes to the opportunity I was reminded that I had also directed, invited, a woman and her family to my church when she was asking me if I knew of a church in the area. This was while I was at work. God makes opportunities for us. Those opportunities are there everyday, we just don’t see them because our focus is not on Christ.

Ask God to open your eyes to and heart for the lost of this world. Billions are headed to Hell. God has called us to share the Good News.

Continually seeking Him,

Sharon

 

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Fire

To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” — Isaiah 61:3

December 19, 2000. A day like any other day. Rising up getting ready for work, kids out the door to the sitter, drive to work. Well not exactly a day like any other because of extenuating circumstances I did have to make arrangements for my children to be picked up after their half day of school.

My oldest son, the extenuating circumstance, stayed home that day from school. Around noon he called me saying he had a headache. I told him to take some headache medication and call me back in a little bit if it didn’t go away.

No further phone call until 330 in the afternoon from my neighbor down the street. She happened to have my phone number from when she used to babysit my two little ones before they were even in school. This was very unusual for her to be calling me especially at work. The information she would share with me would catapult our family into a series of events that would change our lives forever.

Sharon, your house is on fire. There are fire trucks out in front of your house. My response was “Where is my son”? No one had seen him. . .

Of course I immediately headed home . I left a message at my husband’s job because he was not yet there to tell him that our house was on fire and I was headed home. He tells the story that when he got there he thought the guys were just playing a joke on him. They had to get really serious with him to convince him that that was the truth. (Understand, this was also before everyone owned cell phones).

The drive home which lasted about 30 minutes was the longest 30 minutes of my life. All the way home I just kept praying about my son and hoping that he was not in the house fire. I arrived in our cul-de-sac to find almost every neighbor out in front of the house. The one thing that I really focused on the most was the face of my son standing out there also. The Lord truly blessed me at that one moment. It was the best Christmas present I could receive, seeing the eyes and face of my son standing before me knowing he was not in the house.

Losing everything really puts into perspective what’s important in life. God showed me that day that material things are fleeting but the love of family and the help of friends and church family are far beyond any material treasure. A good insurance company is always a good thing too.

Let me point out some of the things that showed me that God was in complete control of all that happened. Remember, that my son called me at 12 o’clock. The clock on the stove stopped at 12:30. I truly believe that my son’s headache was probably from smoke inhalation. In my sons disobedient stage he left the house soon after he called me. The fire was not even reported until 3:00 PM when my neighbor came home and noticed the flames coming out of the roof. The fire had been smoldering for awhile (remember the clock stopped at 1230).

God bless my neighbor who called the fire department and tried to get in the house knowing that my children are usually home from school at that hour. Another God intervention. My children, the two youngest were at my Pastor’s house.

My husband arrived and so did our insurance agent with a check for 2000 dollars. They made arrangements for a hotel for us for that night and then arranged the hotel that we stayed at until the arrangements for our apartment were made.

Having lost everything our church family and some neighbors pulled together and gave us a Christmas we will never forget. I told my kids that Christmas presents were going to be a little slim but God saw it differently.

He took care of us, blessed us tremendously and we will never look at life the same. He taught us that tragedy may come but we are never alone in it. He is still in the midst of every detail. And I saw that the things of this earth cannot compare to having Jesus. He is worth it all.

Trust me when I say God turned our ashes into beauty.

Continually seeking Him,

Sharon

When God Moves

Have you been there? When you know something is coming but you’re not quite sure yet what it is? When you are on the brink of something great that God has been preparing you for? When the floodgates of opportunity open up for you? When you’ve been walking in the desert waiting, knowing that at any moment you are about to step into the promised land?

Well, I’ll have to tell you that my life has been a whirlwind of God’s movement since Thursday.

If you recall my devotional on Friday, August 22, you will know that God blessed my obedience with six beautiful ladies coming to my house and enjoying a time of fellowship and introduction to my best friend, Jesus Christ.

Nothing, I mean nothing happens by accident. In God’s perfect plan, He knows all that is going on. Another blessing from my wonderful Father came my way when a free admission ticket dropped into my lap for Women of Faith. I was looking forward to going on Saturday.

God also knew that I would be offered a chance to go to the Friday night program. This of course wasn’t offered to me until 45 minutes before I was to be picked up. Since this was Friday and I had worked all week to make my house presentable for Thursday night fellowship I had decided to take Friday as a “lazy “day. I did laundry, which means all my clothes were dirty, so I lounged around in my PJs all day. When I received the phone call I had not seen soap, water, shampoo or a hairbrush all day. Exactly — 45 minutes to get ready, and do I even have any clean and dry clothes to wear?

I debated whether I really wanted to go. I went ahead and started getting ready, asking God whether I should go or not. I was like the verse in James that says, “like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind”. When I was ready I still have not made a decision until I read a verse from my phone. “Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord God is holy”. (Psalm 99:9) I had my answer and off I went for a wonderful evening of worship.

Then comes Saturday. The conference was entitled “From Survival to Revival”. Let me begin by saying that two sessions were entitled Renew and Restore, which are two of the keywords in my mission statement. I am currently doing a Bible study and one week was on recharging, another topic of one of the sessions.  And then there was the final session on Revive. I believe I was there to be revived by God so I could be ready for the mission He is about to unfold through me.

Christine Caine, one of the speakers, spoke out of Joshua chapter 1 where God told Joshua to cross over into the promised land. The promise. Loud and clear I heard, through Christine, that God has prepared me and am I ready to cross over to what He has promised.

God gave to me a promised vision many years ago but He has been at work in me preparing me to cross over to that promise. Am I ready? Yes, although I am afraid, not of where or what God will do through me, but of my failure to lean on, trust in, surrender all to Him. I will move forward with my Lord because I know He loves me and He has promised to be with me always. So my weekend has been a whirlwind that has blessed, challenged and humbled this servant of the Most High God.

Was all this just coincidence? I don’t think so. I hope this testimony encourages you to be ready to be used by God. Sit at the Saviors feet and learn. Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Trust him with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. God has great plans for you and it is an exciting journey.

Continually seeking Him,

Sharon

 

Journeys End

Today ends a one year, six month, and 19 day journey of a lifetime. The Lord taught me so much about trust, dependence, who I am in Him, who He is and how much He takes care of His children. Let me share this adventure and hope you find encouragement, inspiration, and a deeper understanding of God at work in your life.

June 2012: I’m searching the net looking at airline fares. My desire was to go and see my parents. This was a usual ritual of mine every so often with hopes that I would see a fare that was reasonable. Didn’t happen often as I only saw my parents about every three years and most of those times they came to see me. But. . . this particular day I found an unbelievable, outstanding fare and immediately went to the Lord in prayer asking if this was possible and could I purchase these tickets for my husband and me. There was an underlying urgency with this request as my Dad was needing a two vessel bypass and a valve replacement. I wanted to spend some time with him in case this surgery would go bad. I bought the tickets.

I went to my boss at work and told her about my intentions to go see my parents in August. Unfortunately, I neglected to email her this information, even though we talked often of this trip in the office. (Understand I hold no blame on anyone. I believe it was the will of God as you will see soon).

First part of August my boss asked, “when is your trip again?” I reminded her it was set for August 29th. My boss, “I don’t have an email request from you.” I told her I thought I had but would send her one now.

That afternoon things turned interesting. As my boss passed by my desk to enter the office of her boss, I distinctly heard deep inside, “Sharon, you are on your way out of here.” I laughed to myself. After the meeting my boss passed by my desk, went to her office and emailed me a denial for my vacation along with an explanation that if I take the vacation I am signing my own resignation.

When I weigh family against work, family relationships and well being always come first. My Father could possibly be heaven bound soon and I believe God was leading me to go see my parents. I returned an email stating that she could then consider this my notice.

On August 25th I received a call from my mother telling me that my Dad was in ICU in a diabetic coma. God had affirmed that He was with me and I had made the right decision. My husband, daughter and I arrived at my Dad’s bedside on August 29th.

My Dad never did have the surgery. On September sixth my husband and daughter returned home while I stayed to minister to my parents. My Dad was diagnosed with congestive heart failure (CHF) and over the next six months he was in ICU three times, nursing homes three times and home twice. In February 2013 my Dad began to regain a quality of life. He returned to his ministries at church and became active again. All praise due to God, the great healer.

I stayed on after that because my Mom was having health issues that they needed assistance with. January 2014, my Dad is beginning to change. He starts sleeping more. A doctor appointment shows that his liver is not functioning well. Mid February an ultrasound shows tumors in his abdomen. He quickly goes from cane to walker to wheelchair to bedbound. A liver biopsy on February 12th shows cancer.

My Dad went home to be with the Lord in his sleep on March 20th at 7am.

What a journey. I have grown more dependent on Jesus Christ, trusted Him in tough trials, basked in His love, rested in His peace, walked with Him, talked with Him and I love Him more than I ever have before. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

I thank my husband and children for allowing me this time with my folks, for their sacrifice. I thank God for the privilege to follow Him into the unknown (finances cut in half, away from husband, not knowing when or if I would return home), the honor and privilege to serve Him by ministering to my parents, and most of all for His ever present walk with me.

My journey complete with my Dad. Overjoyed with the time I had with him. On with the next journey as Mom and I discover His plan for us.

Continually seeking Him,

Sharon

For Dad:  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. — 2 Timothy 4:6-8

Debt Testimony

I was warned. Young married couples tend to go into debt when first married because they need (want) so much. They want what Mom and Dad worked 25 years to get. My husband and I did pretty well in the beginning then we bought our first house. That was instant debt but so much more was added because we need new furniture, new appliances, new lamps, and the list goes on.

Before long we were up to our eyeballs, okay, over our heads in debt. We were struggling to make it from paycheck to paycheck. My husband and I were getting tired of being in debt so we decided to give our debt to the Lord. We were also convicted that we needed to pay our debt because we created it.  We started by repenting of using God’s provisions for selfish reasons, for mismanaging the things He had given us and promising to give Him control of our finances.

At the top of that list was tithing. We started with a little step of faith by tithing off of our net income for one year. We had to trust the Lord at His Word and so after that one year we started tithing off of our gross income. It never ceased to amaze me how month after month He met all our needs and we still had money left over. His word proved true. (Malachi 3:10)

My husband and I took a class at church, Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, and started to practice some of the principles in that program. We started to pay off credit cards and loans and our indebtedness declined. It was still a struggle but learning to lean on the Lord and trust Him was the benefit of our journey.

At one point in this journey my husband left his job but we continued to tithe, even the 2 weeks vacation he received when he left. That turned out to be a testimony to the person who collected the tithe in our Sunday School class. She wanted to give it back but we insisted that it was God’s money and He would take care of us,  which He did.

It took 5 long years to get us out of debt. God is wonderful. It was not easy and we suffered through it. We ended up losing our house to fire and I lost my job in the midst of this but through it God delivered us from debt. My husband and I have been debt free for 13 years and we do not own a credit card and have not for over 13 years. Without a credit card I have to trust God for my provisions. As yet He has not let us down.

When I look at the lessons learned from this experience the one that stands out the most is that an extreme debt has to be paid by suffering. Just as Jesus suffered to pay our debt. He paid my debt on Calvary and that is for eternity. My financial debt was paid by my suffering but God was there through it all. I learned that I can trust Him with my needs. He is all I need. Jesus is sufficient.

Continually seeking Him,

Sharon

 

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. — Malachi 3:10

Baptism Testimony

At the age of 12 my brother and I went to a church and took a course to learn how to be a Christian. We studied for a few weeks, not remembering how many weeks it took looking back that long ago, but we learned about Jesus and the sacrifice on the cross He made for us, about baptism and reading our Bible and praying. After the course we were baptized. I can tell you now that I did not personally know Jesus Christ at that time. I was going through the motions because that is what we were supposed to do to be a Christian.

The Lord found me and entered my heart at the age of 15 (please see my salvation testimony). This time I really knew Him and knew I was different because of my decision. I read my Bible every night because I desired to do so and I prayed every night before bed. Things were different. Well, life goes on and many things happen but Jesus was always with me. He never left me nor forsook me even though I wandered many a time.

In 1994 I was taking a course at church on how to witness. The second semester focused on baptism. As I studied I was convicted because I was baptized before I really knew Jesus. I had been a Christian for 19 years and the Lord was telling me to be baptized. At the first thought of being baptized after walking with the Lord for 19 years was frightening. What would people think? I could easily just move on and no one will know that I didn’t get baptized after the fact of salvation. But as I pondered the thought and prayed about it I knew it didn’t matter what others thought, it mattered what Jesus thought. He was the One who wanted me to follow through in obedience for His sake, for a testimony to Him.  It is a sign of obedience just as Jesus through His obedience to the Father was baptized.  Baptism doesn’t save, it is a sign to proclaim the transformation that happens when one accepts Jesus as their Savior and Lord. I knew what I had to do . . .

I approached my pastor and told him that I wanted to be baptized. He basically blew me off thinking I was joking with him or something. Of course in his defense I said this in passing on a busy Sunday morning. It took about 3 attempts of asking to be baptized that he finally looked me in the eye  and asked why I needed to be baptized. I told him as I have explained above. So, one Sunday morning I was baptized to the glory of God. I understood what baptism was about and grateful that He led me to follow Him in obedience and be baptized.

Conveniently, it was also pot-luck day, to this day I say it was a celebration of my baptism (LOL). I sat across from a fellow parishioner who said, “I didn’t know you weren’t saved”. Please know that baptism does not save you. It is an outwardly demonstration of an inward decision. Baptism is done as a witness to others of your decision to walk with Jesus. It is your first act of obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, your God. To God be the glory in all that we do.

Continually seeking Him,

Sharon

Jesus is Alive in Me

I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1975 in Mililani Hawaii. God had already begun a work in me in El Paso Texas.

I was an Army brat (meaning my Dad was career military) and went to church regularly with my Mom and brothers. One day my Mom said that my Dad was due to get orders to go somewhere and asked where I would like to go. Being a teenager I said, “Hawaii”, of course. I was informed that my Dad couldn’t go there because Hawaii didn’t have the type of job my Dad was trained to do. Well, I prayed asking if we could go and God answered that prayer. I believe when we pray according to God’s will He answers (1 John 5:14). He had a plan for me that required me being in Hawaii in 1975 – to accept Him as my eternal Savior.

We got involved in a church right away and they had a special series on the end times and it scared me. I didn’t want to be left behind and not know God. Yes, fear was used to lead me to salvation. God knows best what we will respond to. In the years since God has turned that fear into trust and respect. I admire Jesus’ obedience to the Father by giving His life to pay my debt for all the sin I had, have and will commit in my lifetime. By Jesus’ shed blood (believing that Jesus died for me) I have been made clean from sin and believing that God raised Him from the dead, death has no power over me. I am saved to enjoy eternity with the Almighty God who loves me. I find great comfort and peace in searching His word. Jesus is the greatest thing that ever happened to me and I live in peace, joy and comfort knowing He loves and cares for me.

If you haven’t gotten to know Jesus as your Savior and Lord, let me encourage you to seek Him. His word says in Deuteronomy 4:29 – “But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.”

I asked Jesus to be my Savior alone in my bedroom. I confessed that I was a sinner and asked Jesus to forgive me. That simple prayer changed my life. Has my life always been great without troubles? No, but it has been great because I have someone who walks with me everyday and through every situation life throws at me. He is my strength, my peace, my joy, my everything.

May the peace of God be yours as you seek His face.

Continually seeking Him,

Sharon