Friday, October 7, 2016

Breathing Thankfulness

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

In this time of year, with Thanksgiving just around the proverbial bend, leaves falling from the trees, days shortening, and much cooler nights, we tend to be torn. Our desire is to be thankful, yet we complain about the cold, darkness, and falling leaves. What if we change our ways? What if we take Paul's advice and make the choice to always be joyful, always pray, always give thanks? What would happen?

From personal experience I can tell you that a person can choose joy. There will be moments of sorrow, but those moments don't have to last forever, nor do they get the choice to drag you down. We can choose. Hold on a moment - for those of you who are thinking "Yeah, what does she know?!" I've been there. I've suffered seasons of depression so bad that suicide looked the only way out. I've been in seasons of abandonment, depression, loss, grief... However, these things DO NOT define me. Nor do the negative things in your life define you.

In this verse is a key that unlocks the door to joy - thankfulness. When we are thankful to the Lord for the things in our life: good, bad, and ugly, He begins to do a work within us that words cannot describe. Remember, there is nothing that you will go through that God does not know about and there is nothing you will walk through that Jesus doesn't understand. If you have surrendered your whole self to Jesus and accepted Him as your Lord and Saviour, you have the Holy Spirit within you and He will guide you. Do not believe the thoughts or voices that tell you 'you are alone' or 'nobody cares' or any other negative lie.

Jesus came to this earth - leaving the perfection of heaven behind - to be our example. He grew up, suffered and died at the hands of other people. In this world things can be tough, but when Jesus is on our side, we are victorious even if it doesn't feel that way. You are not alone and you are loved more than you will ever know. Remember, Jesus' story doesn't end at the grave. He rose from the grave defeating death and hell. He is now seated at the right hand of the Father and is interceding for each and every person who calls on His name. You are not alone. You are not forsaken. Choose Jesus and choose joy.

I want to encourage you this Thanksgiving and each and every day forward to choose joy by choosing thankfulness. When you're happy, thank Jesus for something. When you're angry, thank Jesus for something.When you get down, thank Jesus for something. Look around, it isn't hard to find things to be thankful for. Make thankfulness a habit. What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Change

Wow! Time has flown by since I last posted. God has been moving and doors of ministry have opened for me that are amazing. Some of you may know of my call into ordained ministry. I have been studying since 2012 in preparation for ordination and it is a process. To date all of my class work is done and I have begun my internship at Yarmouth Wesleyan Church in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

What a joy to be in the centre of Jesus' calling on my life. To have a place to learn and grow in preparation for the next step is amazing. For the Lord to go ahead, and prepare the way has been awesome. The team He has put together and brought me in to work and do life with is tremendous.

Being a person who likes structure and schedule, I am learning that just when you think things are laid out nicely - a curve ball comes. No, I'm not complaining, just stating it like it is. Life is messy. There will be curve balls. It's what you do with them that matters.

I'm learning in the midst of my internship that curve balls are a natural part of life and ministry. The most important thing is that you keep moving forward. If we look at Jesus' life, He was constantly being bombarded with curve balls, but He kept pressing on. He gets it. He knows what we face day-to-day.

Amazing, isn't it? The fact that there is nothing that we will ever go through that He doesn't understand or hasn't experienced. What a God! What a servant! What a Lord and Saviour!

If you are going through a season right now that feels like a curve ball - take heart. Remember that Jesus understands and that you are not alone. Psalm 46:10 is my go to Scripture that always helps when things feel out of control - 'Be still and know that I am God'. When we know that He is in control, we then pick up, dust off, and keep on keepin on.

Keep Jesus your focus. Joy to you on your journey!

Natalie

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Holy Week Thoughts

Here we are in March of 2016...how did the time move so quickly. We are in the days leading up to the remembrance and celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ. Wednesday is the quiet day in our Scriptures. A day of reflection and anticipation for me. As I have pondered and meditated the meaning of these sacred days, I have once again entered into an awe-filled state. It amazes me that this human race that is so sinful, is so desperately loved by the One who created us. The traumatic events in Brussels yesterday is just another reminder of how lost many in our world are. My heart breaks for those who have lost loved ones in these tragic times. May God heal their broken hearts.

My heart also breaks for those who are on the other side of this situation. They are lost, yet believe they are enlightened. What they are dying for, they embrace and believe in strongly enough that they are willing to give their lives for the cause. Even so, Jesus died for them. Jesus came to this earth a babe, nestled in the womb of a virgin teenage girl, was born, grew, taught, trained disciples, shared His message; healed the sick, lame, blind, deaf and dumb. He didn't stop there, oh no. He then surrendered His rights, His comfort, and His freedom - all for His love of humanity. His grace-filled, boundless, limitless love drove Him to cry out in agony - pain of the sins of the world were placed on Him as He was nailed to that cross so many years ago on Calvary.

As He bore the burdens of us all, He had an important word of hope to all - "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do," (Luke 23:34 NKJV). Jesus' story didn't finish on the cross or in the grave because He arose defeating death. Today, He is alive and is interceding on our behalf. He loves us so much and has made a way that all people - no matter your background, culture, gender, age, social standing - to have a personal relationship with Him. God the Father is waiting for each of us to accept His Son as their Savior. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice - He died once for all. He loves you. He will forgive every sin when we repent of it. He has paid the price to restore you to the relationship He created you for. Are you ready to accept His gift of grace and celebrate this Easter as a new creation?

Praying for you,
Natalie

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Who Is Lord in Your Life?

Is God Lord of your life? How do you know?
 
"And Elijah came to all the people, and said, 'How long will you falter between two opinions?
 If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.'
 But the people answered him not a word." 1 Kings 18:21 NKJV
 
As I read this passage of Scripture, I began to ponder what God being Lord of my life truly means. Is He the One I go to when I have exciting news to share? worries that seem too big? financial burdens that seem insurmountable? a spouse or child who frustrate me? a job that is too difficult? Do I take these burdens quietly to the Lord or do I find someone to share them with and complain?
 
Is He my first choice when I am struggling or do I:
eat?
cry?
call a friend?
go shopping?
escape in a book?
run?
...
 
When God is truly Lord of our lives, we go to Him first, seeking His counsel and direction. Trust me, I am not pointing the finger at anyone. As I meditated on these thoughts, I was brought to a place of deep repentance and forgiveness. Choosing God first is what I aspire to. Though I am imperfect, He's working on me and guides me into deeper truth each time I seek Him. Trusting Him with those things that are tough draws us nearer to His heart. Admitting to our failures and seeking healing and restoration is a humbling and growing experience: one I wouldn't trade for anything.
 
My challenge to you is to pray and seek the Lord's direction. Ask Him how you're doing and open your heart and mind to hear the truth. Only then can we truly be humble enough to be repentant and seek restoration and healing. Growth is never easy, but it is worth it.
 
Blessings to you on your journey into intimate relationship with Christ, Natalie.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

New Snow - New Life

"Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow,"
Psalm 51:7 NKJV
This morning as I crawled out of bed and looked out the window, my eyes were blessed with the beauty of a new fallen snow. Now, please don't misunderstand me. I do not like snow, but something inside me rose up and took in the beauty of my world covered with a fresh blanket of new-fallen snow. I pulled on some clothes, boots, gloves, coat, and hat; grabbed the shovel and opened the door. Much to my surprise the snow was packed against the bottom of the door so I found myself shoveling before my feet exited the house.
As I was shoveling, I enjoyed close communion with my Lord and prayed for and about many things. During this time, I couldn't help but notice how clean everything looked. As I moved the snow away, the dirt began to show and my heart was drawn to a powerful truth of our lives in Jesus.
When we come to Jesus, He cleans us. He washes us by His blood that He shed at Calvary for our sins and He makes us clean: "whiter than snow". Just as the new fallen snow covers the dirt and mess of this world, Jesus blood cleanses us from our sin and makes us new creations. However, it is not long before we go back to our human ways and commit sin: large or small. A negative thought, a judgment towards someone, overeating, lust, jealousy: you name it. These things are all sin in our lives and push away the cleanliness that Jesus offers us by His blood.
The question in all of this is: what will we do about the dirty sin in our lives? Will we continue in it or will we repent and seek restoration with Jesus and seek to be cleansed once again? Without repentance there is no salvation. Without repentance there is no restoration. You get to choose. Jesus is calling and waiting for you to make a decision. When you do He is good to bring you back to a healthy and thriving relationship with Him. Choose Him today.
Blessings, Natalie

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Bye Bye Negativity

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting,"
 (Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV).
 
 
We are beginning a new year. A chance to begin again. For some of us that is a great thing, some of us may be a bit apprehensive at the thought of another year. Wherever we find ourselves, excited or anxious, here we are.
 
 
Life can be tough. Thoughts swirl around in our heads like the makings of a smoothie. Round and round the pieces fly, breaking into bits, yet some stubborn ones refuse to break up and blend in. What can we do with those stubborn bits? We don't have to live bound by thoughts that tear us up, regrets that seem to always find their way to the top don't have priority unless we allow them to. However, in the midst of those looming regrets, failures, and (may I just say it) stupidity on our part or someone else's we aren't forsaken.
 
We have a Savior who has already paid the price for our failings. Jesus loves us and longs for us to come to Him with those woes that keep us hesitant about the future. Do you know who holds the future? God does. Not your boss, not your spouse, not your failures, not the voice screaming inside you that tells you that you're not good enough, strong enough, smart enough, skinny enough, or anything else it may say.
 
If you are struggling with any negative views of yourself: STOP right now. Surrender to the Lord. Jesus is waiting. Pray the Scripture at the top of this post and wait for His answer. He will search you and guide you. 2016 has the potential to be an amazing year - will you give it to Him and allow Him to "lead you in the way everlasting"? 
 
Praying for you, Natalie

Monday, December 28, 2015

Who Is Jesus?

It has been a long time since I have posted. It has been a very busy year for me. I have finished all of my courses for ministerial preparation and I will soon move into the hands-on supervised ministry part. Though I have learned much, there is so much more to learn. I look forward to this upcoming chapter of my life as I follow God's will for me.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of breaking God's word in our church and sharing the message while our pastors are away taking the youth to Follow2015 in Indianapolis. As we are coming quickly to the close of 2015 and look ahead to 2016, I would like to share the message that God laid on my heart to share yesterday. So, Who Is Jesus?

Before I give you the paraphrased version of the message I delivered yesterday, I want to encourage you to open God's Word and read John 1:1-14. Take time to read it carefully and see what it says about who Jesus is.

1. Jesus Is Light - In five verses, John uses the word light seven times. Most of these refer to Jesus as the Light, but each time, the word light is used in opposition to the darkness. If you didn't read from the RSV, that translation translates verse five a bit differently "...but darkness has not overcome it," (John 1:5). The darkness has not overcome the Light - nothing can or will overcome Jesus. He is the true Light of the world (John 1:9). Jesus freely offers light to all, yet not everyone will accept it. Sadly, much of the world rejects His Light because the love of sin blinds humanity to the Light of God. But there is hope because God will always have followers until the day of Jesus' return. Are you one of them?

2. Jesus Is Life - Verse twelve tells us we become children of God by accepting the gift of a new birth, not because we are human, but because we receive and accept the gift given. We must do our part. Remember though, it's not about what we do, but about what He's done. The father/child relationship flows not from being created, but from believing Him. When we accept Jesus in our lives, we have the promise of salvation and will spend eternity in His presence. If you haven't given your life to Him, what is stopping you?

3. Jesus Is Lord - Verse 14 tells us that the "Word became flesh and dwelt among us." Jesus left the perfection of heaven and chose to take up residence in a teenager's womb so He could be born like the rest of us. He lived on this earth and faced temptations - the same as we do daily - and overcame them all. He didn't just appear to be a man. Jesus was a man. The cradle was not the beginning nor was the cross the end. Jesus defeated death and Hell and is alive today. His life on earth was simply a blip in time for Him. He was alive before the cradle and lives today and forever. As you look toward 2016, can you look back over 2015 and say with confidence that Jesus is Lord over your life? Has Christmas been about Him, or something else? Will you choose now to allow Jesus to be Lord over your life today and every day for the rest of your life? If not, why not? If so, pray and tell Him. Seek His guidance and direction. Look to 2016 with expectancy and hope for He is Lord.

May the peace, love, and joy of Christ dwell in you richly as you submit to His Lordship over your life. Blessings to you and yours for 2016. In Jesus' joy, Natalie

Breathing Thankfulness

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" 1 Thess...