God’s Not Finished with You Yet!…

Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sometimes in life, we experience brokenness that impacts us so greatly, we feel as if we are finished. The life we once dreamed about is gone, and now our life is never going to come close to all we desired. It may be a result of a physical struggle, an emotional battle or a change in your life that you never saw coming, and now you find yourself discouraged and struggling to make sense of where you are right now.

I experienced a life-changing brokenness when I least expected it. I was happily married to a handsome man who was my first love, first hand hold and my beloved husband. We had three little baby boys together, and I felt like I was living out my dream of being a wife and a mother. Then one day, I kissed my husband goodbye and told him I loved him as he was leaving for work, only to receive a phone call several hours later that my healthy, 30-year-old husband suddenly died as his heart went out of rhythm. I remember so clearly sitting there in that hospital hallway, trying my best to grasp the magnitude of the devastating news that had been given to me. But in a way that was beyond my own strength, I found myself saying, “The Lord gives and takes away, He is so good.” I instantly became a widow at the age of 25, with three precious boys under the age of three, walking a road I could have never imagined. My dreams and my reality shifted in a moment, taking the breath out of me. I found myself asking God to give me the strength to make it minute by minute, even when I couldn’t see the road He had in front of me. As I waited, I held on with everything I had to the hope that God was greater than my grief.

In the months following my husband’s death, I often found myself in the middle of night trying to soothe my newborn baby, as I claimed the hope from God’s word over my family – but it wasn’t easy by any means. I still remember the way my tears of brokenness and grief would fall on his sweet little cheeks. Honestly, there were moments when I felt finished, that life as the happy full of life woman I used to be was gone forever. How could I dream again, when the person who was in those dreams was gone? I remember crying out to God one night saying, God what do you have for me? How can I still have life ahead of me after this? Jesus whispered in my heart, “Hold on, there is joy ahead. I am not finished with you yet.” As I began to press into the truth of God’s word and His mighty promises of Hope, He began to heal my broken heart through His precious presence, and showed me even though I didn’t understand it, He was using this pain for His purpose, if I would just hold on.

I watched as God started to do what He promised. He kept writing my story – not putting me to the side saying you are finished, but saying “You are part of a story that is bigger than yourself and I will bring it to pass, just keep obeying me.” He cared so much for me and precious little fatherless boys, and He kept writing our story with an overwhelming amount of grace. He heard our cries for Him and He truly became enough for us. It was not Jesus plus something, but just Jesus. He brought us through the places of being so worn out from grief to a place of life and hope. He began to do a good work in me.

I started a new chapter in my life, one filled with healing. I began to see in very real ways that God was not done with my family yet, and I continued to hold on to that truth. I decided that I could either stay treading in the waters of tragedy, or I could start swimming for the shore of triumph. And it was in that time that I stopped searching for the WHY and started looking for the WHAT that God had for me here. The “WHAT do you want me to do with this?” question became me plea to God to use this story that I never asked for to bring Him glory, because it was too painful to be wasted. It was during that shift in perspective that God began opening doors to encourage others who felt like God was done with them, and that their stories were over because of the pain they were drowning in.

As I was reaching out to one family in particular, another widower with two small children was encouraging the same family with the truth of God’s word. God started to show me His plan, and He began writing a new chapter in my life. Here was another person who could have been consumed by their circumstances, but was choosing life even when faced with the tragedy of death. God began to write a love story that was precious and filled with much joy – an answer to prayers I hadn’t even prayed, but a physical example of God being a great Author, and one who writes the best stories if only we surrender to Him. It may not be a story we imagined, but it will be one that shows He is always at work, even when we don’t see or feel it.

Two families marked by pain, 5 children, all with one parent in heaven and one on earth. Their stories didn’t stop at pain, but instead were joined together when sorrow and joy collided. As a result, the Brooker Bunch was formed. We still have chapters in our lives marked with sorrow and hardship, but we also have them penned in grace and mercy. God didn’t give up on us when we’re at our lowest. He had a purpose for our lives and we had to trust when we couldn’t see.

If you are reading this right now, you are living and breathing. That means that God has a purpose for YOU, and your story is still being written. God is not done with you. Your life is not over, and God sees and cares about all you are facing – even the hidden things. Your story is not complete, so don’t give up when it’s only half written. I remember so many times, my boys would ask me why they couldn’t go to heaven right then. I would look them in their bright blue eyes and tell them, “Jesus isn’t finished with you yet.” God’s word tells us to run this race with endurance and to keep our eyes and hope fixed on Jesus the whole way. The same is true of you and me. God is not through with YOU. He has a plan and it is good. Keep taking the next breath and believing in His truth that gives life to your weary heart. Keep holding onto hope even when it hurts. Keep trusting that He is at work behind the scenes in your life, even when you can’t see or feel it. His stories are always good – even when they are not always easy or comfortable. He is the good God, and the best story writer. You will see His goodness in the land of the living, because He is the life-giver. God’s not done with you yet.

Today’s inspiring story was written by Brittany Price Brooker and is shared from the following website: https://www.liveoriginal.com/blog/2017/gods-not-done-with-you-yet

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The 8 Keys to Know You Are Making the Right Decision

It all depends on me and I Depend on God Unknown

Do we or do we not? That is the question we often ask ourselves…

In life and ministry, we are continually faced with making decisions. We wonder whether anyone notices the agony we go through trying to do it right.

Sometimes the stakes are small; sometimes they are gargantuan. In all cases, no one wants to make a wrong decision.

So how do you know if you are hitting the mark or not? In my years of life and ministry, I’ve identified eight keys to knowing whether or not people are making the right decision.

1. Pray

For some this sounds like the trite response any Christian will give when they don’t know what to do. I’d challenge that. How about making this the first thing you do REGARDLESS of whether you know what to do or not?

You might be surprised at what could happen when you pray first. By the way, Jesus was a pretty good model, when time after time “…Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16).

While you know this to be an important practice, do you do it as frequently as you should when making decisions?

2. Seek Counsel

You are not an island. You do not live in a bubble. There are people around you, those God has given you, who stand ready to provide counsel on the small and big issues in your life and ministry. Take advantage of that.

And I might note, seeking counsel does not mean you are incompetent. Even if it feels like a hit to your pride when making decisions in areas where you should know what to do.

It’s just plain wisdom to talk with others before making decisions. The Bible says it clearly, “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success” (Proverbs 15:22).

3. Live Righteously

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33). This is a phenomenal verse that strikes at the heart of our decision-making… and it’s a good reminder even for pastors!

When you are making a decision, make sure you have been living righteously because when you have done so, “…he will give you everything you need.”

Your lifestyle and the blessing of God are directly tied. Live righteously in the present and you will receive what you need (a good decision) as you continue in the future.

4. Weigh Alternatives

When considering the pros and cons of all your options, be sure to lay them side-by-side. Even do the old-school sheet of paper with a line down the middle — pros on the left and cons on the right.

You’ll be surprised what this simple process will do to help you clearly see the right direction you need to make. Always count the cost before moving forward with decisions.

I have found sometimes the excitement of a particular decision seems like it’s the way to go, but then when you begin weighing out both sides you actually can find that you may need to go a different direction. Weighing alternatives is HUGE!

5. Evaluate Best- and Worse-Case Scenarios

As part of your exercise of weighing all the options, you need to pay close attention to the best-case and worst-case scenarios. There really are bad things that can happen, and there really are good things that can happen. Play both scenarios out to their logical conclusion so you can be fully prepared.

Sometimes when you discover what the worse-case scenario could be, you immediately know the decision you are embarking on is not right. Evaluating the risk versus reward will help you know if the decision you are making is right.

6. Listen to your feelings

Now, this can be tricky because your feelings can be deceptive. At the same time, knowing what your gut feeling is on a particular decision is important. Do you have an excitement about the potential decision? Or are you scared to death of a decision?

Often an enthusiasm towards your situation helps confirm a decision is right. On the contrary, if you’re so scared of pulling the trigger, it may mean that it’s not the right call to make. The best place to be is where you have a healthy fear because it helps you rely on God.

7. Make the Decision

Sometimes you will have enough information to make an informed decision, but that doesn’t always seem to be the case.

In the final analysis, you may have to make the decision with less-than-ideal circumstances or with incomplete information. That is the price of leadership. That is the faith journey. If it were easy, you wouldn’t have to do it, someone else could.

8. Be Firm

Stick to your guns. You might be wrong, but never be in doubt. Oftentimes it’s the “buyer’s remorse” feeling that kicks in.

Of course, if after you make the call you see the need to adjust it, then so be it. Nobody makes the perfect decision every time and that’s okay. However, unless you’ve found you need to adjust your decision, walk with confidence that you have made the right call.

In almost all cases, when you have done these eight things you can be confident you made the right call.

These keys for decision-making will help as you lead and invest in the great church you serve. They will give confidence when uncertainty surrounds your decision because you know you have processed the decision properly and as God would want you to.

Today’s article has been shared from the following website: https://leaders.church/eight-keys-right-decision/

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You Are a Child of God

Remember who you are. Don’t comprimise for anyone, for any reason. You are a child of the Almighty God. Live That Truth. Lysa TerkeurstWhen I was a young boy, we had a man in our ward whose face had been disfigured by a terrible disease. The man’s appearance frightened me and other children in the ward. Then, one day when I was five or six years old, he stood up in fast and testimony meeting and bore his testimony. I don’t remember what he said, but into my young heart came a powerful feeling of warmth and love.

After that experience, my fear of the man left. I didn’t realize it then, but the Spirit had touched my heart and helped me to see more than the man’s physical appearance. Through those feelings, I learned that he was a beloved child of Heavenly Father and that I didn’t need to be afraid of him.

Later, I had an experience that helped me understand that I too am a child of God. When I was in Primary, disturbing things were happening in the world. I remember being frightened sometimes when I listened to the news. I wondered what the future would be like.

One Sunday in Junior Sunday School, our leaders announced that we were going to learn a new hymn called “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go” (Hymns,no. 270). The music director taught us the words to the hymn using pictures of mountains, stormy seas, and other scenes mentioned in the words: “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord, over mountain or plain or sea; I’ll say what you want me to say, dear Lord; I’ll be what you want me to be.”

As the words of the hymn ran through my mind, the feeling of warmth and love that I had felt before came into my heart again. I knew for the first time that Heavenly Father knew who I was and that I was important to Him. I knew that my life had a purpose and that everything would be all right.

I am one of 11 children. As I grew up, my parents taught us the principles of the gospel in our home. We worked hard milking cows, feeding chickens, moving sprinkler pipe, and taking care of animals. Summers were spent planting, weeding, harvesting, and preserving fruits and vegetables. We were active in church, school, and sports. There was never enough time to get everything done. But our parents always insisted on us waking up early each morning for family scripture study and prayers before we went our separate ways. Through the years, I felt that feeling of warmth and love reminding me who I was and that everything would be all right.

I testify that each of us is a beloved child of Heavenly Father. He loves us with all of His heart. Take time to read about Him, pray to Him, and attend church to worship Him. I know that He will give you that feeling of warmth and love in your heart. Then you can know that you are a child of God, your life has a purpose, and everything will be all right.

Today’s story is shared from an interview with Paul B. Pieper. It is shared from the following website: https://www.lds.org/friend/2008/01/you-are-a-child-of-god?lang=eng

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The Power of Forgiveness…

He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass George Herbert

Zak Ebrahim was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1983 to an American mother and an Egyptian father, El Sayyid Nosair. When Zak was seven, his father assassinated Meir Kahane, the militant ultra-Orthodox, anti-Arab rabbi who founded the Jewish Defense League. While in prison, Nosair was found guilty in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing trial which killed six people and injured over 1,000 others. He was later convicted as one of the conspirators. Zak’s memoir The Terrorist’s Son charts his own personal journey from hatred to healing.

I remember my early childhood as a happy one although around the age of seven my father exposed me to a side of Islam  that few people  get to see.  In every religion, in every population,  you’ll find a small percentage of people  who hold such fervently beliefs  that they feel they must use any means necessary  to make others live as they do.

A few months prior to his arrest, my father sat me down and explained that  for the past few weekends, he and some friends  had been going to a shooting range on Long Island  for target practice. He told me I’d be going with him the next morning.  We arrived at Calverton Shooting Range,  and when I hit the target my uncle turned to the other men,  and in Arabic said, “Ibn abuh.” [Like father, like son].  Later I realized that they thought they saw in me the same destruction  my father was capable of.  These men were eventually convicted  of placing a van filled with 1,500 pounds of explosives  into the sub-level parking lot of the World Trade Center’s North Tower. These were the men I looked up to, whom I called ammu, which means uncle.

By the time I turned 19  I had already moved 20 times in my life  and that instability meant I found it hard to make friends. I kept my identity a secret  to avoid being targeted,  but even so, being the quiet, chubby new kid in class  was more than enough to get me repeatedly bullied. So for the most part, I spent my time at home.

Growing up around bigotry meant  I’d been raised to judge people  according to their race or religion. One of the first things  that challenged this way of thinking was during the 2000 presidential elections when I was taking part  in the National Youth Convention (a non-partisan organization) in Philadelphia.  Having been the victim of bullying for most of my life I chose to be part of a group that focused on youth violence. The members of our group came from many different walks of life and I soon discovered that one of the kids I’d befriended  was Jewish. I must admit I felt a sense of pride  in having been able to overcome a barrier  that for most of my life I had been led to believe  was insurmountable.

Another major turning point came when I found a summer job in  an amusement park. Most of my life I’d been taught  that homosexuality was a sin and by extension, therefore,  that all gay people were a negative influence.  When I ended up working with some of the gay performers  at a show there,  I soon discovered that many were the kindest,  least judgmental people I had ever met.  Having been bullied as a kid  created an immediate sense of empathy in me  toward the suffering of others.

Then there was, The Daily Show.  On a nightly basis, Jon Stewart forced me  to be intellectually honest with myself about my own bigotry  and helped me to realize that people’s race,  religion or sexual orientation  had nothing to do with the quality of their character.  Inspiration can often come from an unexpected place, and a Jewish comedian did more  to positively influence my worldview  than my own extremist father.

One day, I had a conversation with my mother  about how my worldview was starting to change  and she said something to me that I will hold dear to my heart  for as long as I live.  She looked at me with the weary eyes  of someone who had experienced  enough dogmatism to last a lifetime and said, ”I’m tired of hating people.”  In that instant, I realized how much negative energy  it takes to hold hatred inside of you.

Zak Ebrahim is not my real name.  I changed it when my family decided  to end our connection with my father  and start a new life.  But I speak out in the hope that perhaps someone someday  who is compelled to use violence  may hear my story and realize that there is a better way,  that although I was subjected  to a violent and intolerant ideology, I did not become fanaticized.  No matter how much the levels of violence you have experienced it doesn’t have to define your character because in all of us is the ability to change our paths.

Today’s story was written by Zak Ebrahim and is shared from the following website: http://theforgivenessproject.com/stories/zak-ebrahim-usa/

 

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God is There For You

God will meet you where you are in order to take you where He wants you to go Tony Evans

God, Jesus and Me

Sally jumped up as soon as she saw the Surgeon come out of the operating room. She said: “How is my little boy? Is he going to be O.K.? When can I see him?”

The Surgeon said, “I’m sorry, we did all we could.” Sally said, “Why do little children get cancer? Doesn’t GOD care any more? GOD, where were you when my son needed you?”

The Surgeon said, “One of the nurses will be out in a few minutes to let you spend time with your son’s remains before it’s transported to the university.” Sally asked that the nurse stay with her while she said good-bye to her son.

Sally ran her fingers through his thick red curly hair. The nurse said, “Would you like a lock of his hair?” Sally nodded yes. The nurse cut a lock of his hair and put it in a plastic bag and handed it to Sally. Sally said, “It was Jimmy’s idea to give his body to the university for study. He said it might help somebody else,” and that is what he wanted.

I said no at first, but Jimmy said, “Mom I won’t be using it after I die. Maybe it will help some other little boy to be able to spend one more day with his mother.” Sally said, “My Jimmy had a heart of gold, always thinking of someone else and always wanting to help others if he could.”

Sally walked out of the Children’s Hospital for the last time now after spending most of the last 6 months there. She sat the bag with Jimmy’s things in it on the seat beside her in the car. The drive home was hard and it was even harder to go into an empty house. She took the bag to Jimmy’s room and started placing the model cars and things back in his room exactly where he always kept them. She laid down across his bed and cried herself to sleep holding his pillow.

Sally woke up about midnight, and laying beside her on the bed was a letter folded up. She opened the letter and it said:

Dear Mom,

I know your going to miss me, but don’t think that I will ever forget you or stop loving you because I’m not around to say I LOVE YOU. I’ll think of you every day mom, and I’ll love you even more each day. Some day we will see each other again.

If you want to adopt a little boy so you won’t be so lonely, he can have my room and my old stuff to play with. If you decide to get a girl instead, she probably wouldn’t like the same things as us boys do, so you will have to buy her dolls and stuff girls like.

Don’t be sad when you think about me. This is really a great place. Grandma and Grandpa met me as soon as I got here and showed me around some, but it will take a long time to see everything here. The angels are so friendly and I love to watch them fly.

Jesus doesn’t look like any of the pictures I saw of Him, but I knew it was Him as soon as I saw Him. He took me to see GOD! And guess what mom? I got to sit on GOD’S knee and talk to Him like I was somebody important. I told GOD that I wanted to write you a letter and tell you good-bye and everything, but I knew that wasn’t allowed.

God handed me some paper and His own personal pen to write you this letter with. I think Gabriel is the name of the angel that is going to drop this letter off to you.

God said for me to give you the answer to one of the questions you asked Him about — where was He when I needed him? God said, “The same place He was when Jesus was on the cross. He was right there, as He always is with all His children.”

Oh, by the way Mom, nobody else can see what is written on this paper but you. To everyone else, it looks like a blank piece of paper.

I have to give God His pen back now. He has some more names to write in the Book Of Life. Tonight I get to sit at the table with Jesus for Supper. I’m sure the food will be great.

I almost forgot to let you know — Now I don’t hurt anymore and the cancer is all gone. I’m glad because I couldn’t stand that pain anymore. And God couldn’t stand to see me suffer the pain either, so He sent The Angel of Mercy to get me. The Angel said I was Special Delivery!

Signed with love from:
God, Jesus and Me

– Author Unknown –

Today’s story is shared from the following website: http://godslittleacre.net/inspirationalstories/god_jesus_and_me.html

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