Thursday, November 19, 2015

God's Peace can overcome your fears

JOHN 16:33
These things I have spoke to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (NKJV)

I have recently been asking God, what to do with all the emotions I am experiencing regarding these horrible acts of violence that are all over the news. In so many parts of the world there is wickedness and violence and my heart is grieved for all of the people affected. Sometimes it just feels like it’s too much. Then I was prompted to remember this scripture in John, when Jesus was talking. Even though it’s hard, we have to remember that nothing surprises God and I find great comfort in our Saviors words.  So I am going to grab onto His peace and try to be of good cheer. 

This is a song from Casting Crowns and the lyrics were shared by a friend the other day and have made a deep impact in my thoughts, so I thought I would share this song with you.

“ so when you’re on your knees and the answers seem so far away
you are not alone, stop holding on and just be held
 your worlds not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held.”

---Amber Stewart

Monday, August 17, 2015

You can't Catfish the Creator

Hello Friends it's Amber Stewart! 
The word I have for you today is about being the best YOU, only YOU can be.
There is a reality TV show on MTV called “Catfish”. I find this show interesting for 2 reasons. 1.) The show participants are emotionally connected to and reliant on people they have yet to meet face to face and 2.) The “Catfish” is lying to the other person and leading them on for selfish reasons. Most frequently the "Catfish" is using someone else’s pictures while withholding information from the other person because of fear. 

The astonishing fact is that the show is doing quite well with no shortage of stories to feature.  However, as I write this I realize that everyone is being a catfish in their life in one way or another. Most of us are not on TV for the world to se and judge.  The show follows the story of how the participants met, their story along the way and ends ultimately with the participants being fed up demanding to know the truth.
The heartbreaking truth is that after finding out that everything was built on a lie, the relationship promptly ends, no matter how they felt or how much time has passed. It is not real anymore, now it’s all fake (backwards thinking right?). It will not build to a greater potential because the foundation was faulty.

Well there is good news! The relationship you can build with God is real and not built on a faulty foundation.  There is no fear when growing closer to your Creator.  God is love. He loves you. God wants to spend time with you.  He wants you to spend time with Him. We can’t see Him face to face but the relationship that we spend time building with Him is the most important relationship we will EVER have.  By faith, we believe He is there. By Faith, we believe He is hearing and answering prayers. We don’t need to confirm that He is who is says He is by looking at His appearance. We were made in His image and His likeness.  We are formed into life by His breath.  He is an all knowing God. He doesn’t change and He knows and sees all.  You can’t outsmart God or hide from Him. Are you trying to "catfish" God? Are you a "catfish" to others? Portraying something that is not true?

Are you living beyond your means? Do you present your self with fashion and items that cost more than you can afford to pay in cash so you are charging it to your credit card just so you can look that way? Do you drive a car that you have to sacrifice other things to pay for? 

Do you tell people the truth when confronted or do you lie to make yourself look better? Do you lie by omission, by not telling people truths about you, that you are keeping to yourself? Do your co workers  and friends know you are a Christian? Can they tell just by watching you live ? or is that your best kept secret so you can blend in with the flow of everyone else? 

Guess what? YOU WERE NOT MADE TO BE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, YOU  WERE THE ONLY ONE MADE TO BE YOU!  You were made to stand out and shine. 

I am certainly not perfect and I’m not judging you. I am just here to say, don’t be afraid to be the real you. If you don’t know who that is then my suggestion is to ask the one who made you. Ask God to make Himself known to you and discover his plan for your life. Grow closer to him by reading the Manual (the scriptures) and pray. Grow closer to HIM and discover your identity in Christ. What's next you ask, go out,  live life and SHINE. We were meant to do life together!

The lesson I learned by watching the show Catfish is that my daily intention is to show my real and authentic self to all those I encounter. No lies, no secrets, no fear, no misleading, no living beyond my means to fit in and no need to follow the Jones’. To be the BEST me I can be. My goal is to shine not so that others see me but so that others through me see HIM.

Monday, June 8, 2015

My story is not my dictionary

By definition, a dictionary is a reference source in print or electronic form containing words arranged along with information about their forms, pronunciations, functions, etymologies and meanings. People use a dictionary to provide a true meaning of a word. On Saturday October 24, 1976 at 12:19am, I entered into the world at the end of my mom’s 26th week of pregnancy weighing 2 lbs. 2 oz. The first few months of my life were not times of joy or glee, and it was a polar opposite of the joy I experienced during the birth of my own two children. Today, I bear a scar on the right side of my head, and another 3-inch incision scar on the right side of my abdomen. Both of these scars are a reminder of my fight for life back in 1976 and proof that my life started as a fight, a fight that ended with me being victorious and living strong decades later.  

Life is not just a series of destinations and results. Life is a journey where chapters of a story are written. The scars of trials and defeat don't define you any more than the scars obtained from the battle of a premature birth in 1976 define me. We tend to view a person in their current sate and think that they have always been in this state. But how wrong can we be? As one who's worked in the finance arena, I've seen thousands of credit reports with a corresponding credit score. The mortgage crisis that began in 2007 is proof of a score or a part of the story that does not define a person. I cannot tell you the number of homes I witnessed go through foreclosures, despite the homeowners having great credit scores. This is proof that a piece of the story is not a definition of a person, or their intent.  

The Bible confirms in the book of Joshua Chapter 4:

Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”  

This scripture outlines two things: the children of Israel going through the journey, and the children of Israel preparing to share the story with others. "When your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”

One facet of walking your journey is getting past the focus on oneself. Self-pity is an act of selfishness. And as I write this statement, it’s like a personal wake up call. Jesus tells the demoniac in Mark Chapter 5, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”  Why was it that Jesus did not permit the man to embark on the mission of outreach with Him and the other disciples? The answer is that part of the man’s story was for the benefit of others. The problem with living your story is that it can be painful at times, and the pain experienced can scar you to the point of fear and trepidation. The writer John Maxwell said, "Once a person tastes success and realizes that their efforts have significance, this is something that they never forget and never want to give up.” The same holds true with their failures – it's something that they never forget and never want to experience again. 

Speaking from experience, we must do away with the scar tissue of life. I experienced a tear of my patella tendon some years ago and had to work through the pain of that experience through rehabilitation to avoid the development of scar tissue. When looking at that instance of injury, the development of scar tissue could halt my ability to recover. The same issue holds true for many of us in relationships, job layoffs, failed business ventures, or whatever struggle appears. Part of your story is rehabilitating yourself into knowing that your struggle is temporary. 

Think about the biblical referenced journey of Job– the Bible chronicles his struggle which lasted 9 months. At the end of this, Job trusted God and did not allow the trials to determine his future. We see in scripture that Job was restored and had much more than he had before. Make the decision to define yourself through how the word of God sees you. The word of God sees you as a victorious overcomer poised for positive results. Your responsibility is to act on these promises.  

Now tell me, what's your story?  

Monday, March 16, 2015

You're worth it, give freely but don't be cheap.

Rolls Royce was founded on March 15, 1906. Within 109 years of business, Rolls Royce has adopted a policy of not doing any form of advertising as a brand. The luxury car company has instead focused on knowing the importance of worth and maintaining a strong reputation.

Worth, by definition, is: the specified value of something. Though this seems somewhat elementary, many people fail at understanding their true worth.

As a "car guy," it's easy for me to look at worth in vehicles. The best selling vehicle in 2014 was the Ford F-150 pickup truck. In 2014, Ford sold 880,128 of these trucks at an average price of $29,998. Compare that with Rolls Royce who sold a total of 4,063 cars at an approximate average price of $330,000.

Now don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with the Ford F-150 (hey, I drive one!) but there is no way that I can visit a local Rolls Royce dealer and purchase a brand new Rolls Royce (any model for that matter) for $29,988.

Why? Because Rolls Royce knows their worth. And so does Ford. Neither one of these automakers will allow you the joy of purchasing a vehicle for less than the agreed upon price.


When speaking of worth, The Bible says, "Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. (Proverbs 31:10)." If there was no differentiation between rubies and lead, why reference worth with something valuable? Jesus paid the ultimate price for all of us, and as a result, we're worth more than we realize. However, countless people make the mistake of experiencing life below their worth. Know that you are worth something and were provided life at an invaluable price.

Here are a few examples of how to live according to your worth: 

1.   Value Your Emotions: Do not allow the actions of others to impact your emotional state. God gave us emotions, but He did not give us emotions for those emotions to be manipulated. You cannot control others, but you can control how you react to others. 

2.   Value Your Time: Time is your only unreplenishable commodity and we often don't pay attention to how we spend it. The only thing that God has given you that even He cannot give more of is time. Many of us are spending time in situations and with people who are contrary to our worth. Father God is a God of stewardship and he wants us to be conscious of how we spend our most precious resource – time.  Spend your time with people that make you feel like you're worth it. 

3.   Value Your Character: Ensure that you are not letting circumstances dictate your character. Father God desires that we maintain a sense of integrity in all that we do and no situation should influence that.

4.   Value Your Influencers: Many of us respect and esteem others based on a certain social, economic or professional status. The direction of Father God is for us to align ourselves with influencers who embody the vision and plan that God has established for us. Take a look at those who influence you and ensure that you are being influenced for the right reasons.

5.   Value Your Faith: Value your relationship with Father God. Many of us place value in all other relationships, but our spiritual relationship tends to take a back seat. Father God desires a relationship. Genesis 3:8 says, "And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” This very statement implies that God enjoys being around people. Value your faith as you value everything else. 
Make the decision to know your worth and conduct your life as one who is worth it.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Be a steward in all things, car maintenance saves.

Many frequently petition God asking for new thing without first counting the cost of said things.  The scripture confirms "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it?" Luke 14:28.  I frequently hear people pray to God for a new car without first counting the cost of maintenance and care.  Biblical stewardship is not just having the money to acquire things it is also having the wherewithal to properly take care of those things once you get them.  

One of the largest purchases made by families outside of a home is an automobile.  True financial responsibility requires proactive action in every area of ones life.  One area were there is routine lack of action is automotive maintenance and repairs.  Automotive ownership including maintenance, repair and fuel costs account for approximately 22% of total take home income.  This amount coupled with all of the other household expenses leave limited funds remaining for unexpected repairs and expenses. 

AAA surveyed 1009 adult drivers and determined that 25% of those individuals were unable to pay for a major car repair ($2000) and 12% of those surveyed would be unable to pay for a semi-major repair costing ($1000).  When considering the average cost of a monthly car payment in 2014 was $450, having an unexpected car repair could cause one to make a tough choice of completing an auto repair or remitting  an automotive payment.  Approximately 40% of all vehicle repossessions are a result of the car owner having to make the choice of vehicle repair or car payment.  Many automotive repairs can be avoided through proactive, routine maintenance. 

The following services when performed according to manufacture recommendations can serve as savers of heartache, time and money. 

    • Oil changes. 
    •  Fluid flush and change 
    •  Tire rotation 
    •  Air filter service 
    •  Routine transmission service 
    •  Engine tune up.

Of course vehicle service does not serve as a replacement for saving and financial security but these activities help by keeping cash in your pocket instead of in the pockets of the auto repair shop.