Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tenacious Love


Four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn't bring 
him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a whole through the roof above 
his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. 
Mark 2:3-4


Tenacious: persistent, determined, tireless, patient, 
steadfast, unwavering, unswerving, unshakable, unyielding


I was listening to a podcast on our way to Guatemala a couple weeks ago of a ministry in Africa that has been working to reach a specific people group that have never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus. The testimony of everything it took to reach this specific people group was incredible. Over and over again they talked about the tenacious love that drove their commitment to reaching this people group with the gospel. As I listened to this podcast my heart became convicted. How often can we say we love tenaciously? It would be easy to blame our culture for our good intention surface type love, yet we each have the choice to boldly love. Most of us just choose the easy way out. If I was to be honest and evaluate my love I would find it to be produced out of selfish intent. Most of the time we love when it's convenient for us. We love when we benefit from the outcome. We love when it makes us feel good about ourselves. We love when we think we have to. Our team got to experience what tenacious love looks like during our week in Guatemala. On one of our home visit days we got in the car and began our hour drive to one of the church plants outside of PoptĂșn. It may not have been considered a "mountain", but to our Florida team the drive was through more than just a hill! Up and down and around we followed the pastor in his truck while our team was in the van. We were almost to our destination when the pastor's truck got stuck on one of the hills. Our van tried to pull the truck up the hill without any luck. Our team and the locals tried to push it up the hill and it still wasn't going to happen. Finally a local truck filled with people came and pulled both vehicles up the path. At this point in our week we were tired. We already had laid the cement slab and distributed all the wheelchairs. I would be lying if at one point I didn't think about how easy it would be to just turn around and visit some of the families we had already passed by. In all reality it would have been super easy to say, "let's turn around." Little did I know that at the top of this hill was a pastor who desperately needed some encouragement. His church building was a small room maybe about 15x20 feet. The walls were infested with termites. The pastor lost his bean crop this year because of a severe drought which was his only means to feed his family. In their home they all sleep in the same room. All seven of them divided up into three beds at night. Their mattresses were maybe an inch thick and laid across thin pieces of twine. Yet, this pastor, his wife, and their five children have faithfully served this church for the last four years. They love Jesus. They want nothing more than to serve Him. This family has a tenacious love for their neighbors. The kind of love that is only produced through having a passion for Jesus. If you were honest with yourself, how would you evaluate your love? We each have a different story, yet there are still people all around us that need to experience the tenacious love of Jesus. Our story for His glory. There are people all over the world striving to reach the ends of the earth out of love for the lost. It's not easy. There are always hurdles. Yet, God is faithful and His grace is more than enough! I pray this week that you would push through the hurdles to love those around you. Let your love be the overflow from your passion for Jesus. May you reach those around you with the same tenacious love as Jesus gave you!



Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Mental Health Day

For to set the mind on the flesh is death,
but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
Romans 8:6




Have you ever heard of someone taking a "mental health day?" For the longest time I thought that sounded like a good name for a day simply to get out of work. For some it might be, but for many taking a day or several days to refresh the mind may be vital. Our minds are powerful. They control our thoughts, actions, feelings, and our words. Yet, making sure our minds stay healthy are usually last on the list. When our bodies are sick we make sure we take time to let them heal. When our minds are exhausted and overwhelmed most of the time we think "it's all in our head" until we break. There are many circumstances in life that can cause our minds to get tired. Some may struggle with anxiety or fear. Others may struggle with depression or grief. Some people struggle with keeping their priorities in line. Then there are others that simply lose focus when their prayers aren't getting answered when and how they want them. There are a million different reasons why our minds get weary and tired. We can try to fix the issues by taking time off, de-stressing, and reprioritizing, but if we don't approach the root of the problem the cycle may never end. The root of most of our mental exhaustion is a spiritual issue. Romans 8:5-6 says, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” No matter how long you have been walking with the Lord you've probably experienced a season in which you could not get a hold of your mind. A death in your family, the loss of a job, or simply too much stress can occur in our lives unexpectedly. Though our flesh may fail at times we can be encouraged in knowing that God has given us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. Through Him we are able to surrender our thoughts, our exhaustion, and our pain and let Him work within our soul to align our thoughts with His will. When we renew our minds to focus on the Spirit we experience life and peace. If you are in a season of struggling to fix your mind on the things of the Spirit take extra time to spend with Jesus this week. If you need that mental health day take it! If your mind is unhealthy it will overflow into all the other areas of your life. Only Jesus can give you rest. Don't waste another day trying to fix the issue on your own. I pray that through every situation your mind would overflow with joy and peace as you surrender your thoughts to the Lord this week.

When You Can't Earn Grace

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis
of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
Romans 11:6



Whether you are a perfectionist or not there are just some times in life that seem impossible to catch up. It doesn't matter how long your to-do list is, every time you cross off an item another one appears. The perfectionist's list can leave a sense of accomplishment when everything is in it's rightful place. Yet, during those times you can't catch up the lists can leave an overwhelming sense of discouragement. This discouragement can occur in our walk with the Lord just as easily as it can in the chaos of our daily lives. In your Christian walk you have probably heard the phrase, "be a good steward," over and over again. While being a good steward is extremely important in our Christian walk there are many of us that struggle with finding the balance of stewardship and grace. Stewardship can often be viewed in the same way our to-do lists are. We have a list of things that God has given us and we hold tight to taking care and using these blessings the way we think He wants us to. So, what happens when we fail? What happens when we don't make perfect choices? What happens when we don't know what we're doing yet, make the best decision we know how even if it's wrong? Much like failing to complete the to-do list, failing to be perfect and make perfect decisions can often lead to discouragement and even fear. We can try and try to do things perfectly yet we will always fall short because we are human. Often I think we view being a good steward as being able to earn God's grace. It's easy to get wrapped up in thinking God expects us to be perfect. Our lists turn from motivation to condemnation when the items can't get crossed off. But, God has never expected us to be perfect for Him. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows when we're awake and when we're asleep. He knows everything about us and He loves us the same. God's grace is not just for when we're perfect. We can strive to be the perfect son or daughter yet, we will never be able to earn His grace. God has given His grace abundantly as a free gift to us. No strings attached. And there is nothing you can do to deserve it or earn it. If you have been striving to be perfect or striving to do everything "right" in your relationship with the Lord, I pray that the Father's love will break down this mindset and fill you with the truth and freedom of His grace. God's love and grace is not based on who you are or what you do. It's based on who He is. Rest this week in knowing that you are loved simply because you're His!

Friday, May 13, 2016

When Grace Looks Different


But, God shows his love for us in that
while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8




Have you ever felt like the grace in your life disappeared? Maybe you're in a season where you just have no idea what God is doing in your life. We all go through days where nothing makes sense when we look at the circumstances around us. When things don't make sense it's easy to feel like we're "doing it wrong". Our minds quickly go into a "fix it" mode where we feel the need to work or do something to feel God's grace again. Yet, could it be our view of God's grace is what needs the fixing? The grace of God is not something that disappears. Just because we don't like what we see or how we feel doesn't mean God's grace is gone. Just because we don't understand what's going on doesn't mean God's grace is gone. Just because we aren't seeing our prayers answered the way we want doesn't mean God's grace is gone. Sometimes we view grace as getting what we want when we want it, yet that is not grace at all. Grace is the free unmerited favor of God. Grace is salvation. Grace is the Holy Spirit. Grace is the constant unchanging love of God. Grace is having a relationship with the Father through Jesus. Grace doesn't mean your life will be perfect. Grace doesn't mean your life will look like you expected. But, it does mean that God will work everything together for your good! (Romans 8:28) God's grace is nothing you can earn. Jesus paid the cost for us. So when the days come where grace seems far away remind yourself of what God's grace truly is. God is faithful. His love for you is unrelenting. Rest in knowing that His grace is enough for you today. No matter what is going on around you stand firm in the truth of His grace. This week we pray you're able to recognize God's abundant favor.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Unpredictable?

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed
by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and
approve what God's perfect will is- His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
Romans 12:2



Have you ever gone through a season where life just feels unpredictable? Have you spent days wondering why God allows certain things to happen, while your prayers go unanswered? Maybe nothing in life is necessarily wrong, but each day simply seems uncertain. Life is full of unpredictable situations. It is easy during these seasons to confuse our feelings of uncertainty with God's truth. When we don't understand the events of each day we can quickly change our view of God's character as one that is unpredictable. Yet, the truth is that God is unchanging. Although we don't always know the outcome of our daily situations we know that God is predictable. He is ever-present, always on time, filled with love, overflowing with mercy and grace, and His faithfulness endures forever. So how do we separate our feelings from the truth of who God is during unpredictable situations? Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Our lives are constantly filled with negativity that impacts the way we feel and the way we think. We must be intentional in guarding our hearts so that we are filled with God's truth. During seasons of uncertainty press into Jesus. Spend time in His word. Remind yourself of who He is and who you are in Him. Do not let yourself be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2) There will always be days where doubt seems like the only answer, yet when your heart is guarded and aligned with God's truth your life will abundantly overflow with peace that surpasses every situation. This week we pray that you guard your mind and heart so that abundant life flows from you through every season of life. God is faithful and His love for you endures forever.

Monday, April 4, 2016

When God says, "GO".

And he said to them, "Go into all the world
and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation."
Mark 15:15



As we wrap up the time of year that we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, life quickly goes back to normal. So often we get wrapped up in the holiday festivities rejoicing on Sunday and back to complaining on Monday. We leave church on Easter Sunday living as if the resurrection of Jesus is the end of the story. Yet, there is so much more to the story! Mark 16 tells us about Jesus rising from the dead and how he appeared to Mary Magdalene and the disciples. But, it is at the end of Mark 16 where the story changes. In Mark 16:14-20, Jesus gave his disciples authority and told them to go to the ends of the earth proclaiming the gospel to all creation. At the moment it was no longer enough for the disciples to simply follow Jesus around. It was now their time to do everything that they saw Jesus do. Verses 17-18 says, "And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover." It was through the death and resurrection of Jesus that the disciples were given the power of the Holy Spirit to live out the great commission. Can you imagine what would have happened if the disciples that walked with Jesus would have chosen to be disobedient to the command to go? The great commission was not just a command for the first disciples. It is a command for all followers of Jesus to fulfill every day. Whether your calling is to the nations, to your city, or simply to those at your work you have been commanded to go and spread the gospel. The resurrection of Jesus was just the beginning. Our prayer for you this week is that you would faithfully go, generously give, and consistently pray. May your obedience to go bear fruit as you spread the gospel, expect miracles, and grow in your relationship with the Father. Let your story bring Him glory this week!

Friday, March 25, 2016

PoptĂșn, Guatemala

We are heading back to Poptun, Guatemala in May to spread the 
gospel, partner with Bethel Ministries International and the local 
church, and meet physical needs by being the hands and feet of Jesus!



Our team has begun to raise funds to make this possible! We can't do it without you. 
Our first financial deadline is quickly approaching. If you feel led to give towards 
this trip you can do so through the donate tab above or by mailing a check made 
out to Light of the World Ministries to PO BOX 330734 Atlantic Beach, FL 32233




We are also collecting the following items to take with us on this trip. 

Donations can be dropped off at outreaches or you can schedule a 
drop off/pick up time by email us at info@lightoftheworldjax.org

 -Hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, baby wipes, soap, brushes, shampoo, etc)

-School Supplies (notebooks, pens, pencils, folders, pencil boxes, etc)
-Small Toys (stuffed animals, coloring books and crayons, soccer balls, ball pumps, etc)
-Gently used kid's clothing and shoes (black school shoes, boys and girls clothes)

Projects we still need financial support for are:
50 new wheelchairs - $6,250.00
House build - $270
Food Distribution for 10 families - $500
90 Bibles - $225

Every penny helps and goes directly to meeting these physical needs of the Guatemalans we will be ministering to! If your family or business would like to sponsor a specific project please let us know.