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Doctine Talk – Idolatry

(weekly I write a five minute “doctrine talk” based on the doctrine in the passage of scripture we are studying in “People of the Promised Land 1 – Bible Study Fellowship” )

Joshua gave clear and repeated instructions to Israel to worship and serve God only.

God spoke these words though Moses in the ten commandments.  He started with “you shall have no other gods before me” and continued with “you shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them…”(exodus 20:3-5)

The doctrine this week is Idolatry.  I will primarily be pulling from Joshua 23 if you want to follow along.

The definition of idolatry is “worshipping anything or anyone in the place of God.”  I’m thinking, I am good here.  I don’t bow down to any statues and you won’t find any carved images in my house.  But as we all know, there is more to it, much more.  So does our God have an ego.  Just a crazy, jealous God who wants us to worship Him alone so that we can’t have anything else in this life?  Answer:  NO.

In Joshua’s “farewell to the Leaders” Joshua chapter 23.  He summons all the leaders of Israel together and gives them a little pep talk.  He reminds them, you know all the success you’ve had, all the battles you’ve won, the land you have taken? “It was the Lord your God who fought for you” Joshua 23:3.  He also said in verses 9-11 the Lord would continue to fight for them “just as He promised, therefore be very careful to love the Lord your God.”

This is a reminder for us for me:  Tina, you know the provision God has made for you after James died, you lost an entire income but never struggled financially.  That daughter He loaned to you, should be a mess being raised by a single mom according to the worlds standards but no.  He has been faithful.    Now your turn…take a minute, think/hear God remind you…where have you seen Him provide/protect/rescue you?

Moving on in chapter 23, Joshua then spells out the warning…look in Joshua 23:12-13 ”but if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you.  Instead they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you.”

Idolatry happens when things/people/relationships become a substitute for God or become the object of our pursuits, worship, adoration and longings instead of or secondary to God.

God’s jealousy is not motivated by insecurity, anxiety, frustration, self-centeredness, pride, or spite, as is often the case with man’s jealousy.  God’s desire for total surrender and worship of Him is for our benefit because idols do not deliver on their promises.  We pursue idols with the false belief that if we only have them we will be satisfied.  Yet we never enjoy lasting satisfaction from attaining them.  (as every married woman can say..amen)

What is the root of idolatry?  Some would say covetousness I tend to think its pursuit of happiness.  Think about it, how often do you justify your time with what would please you or make you happy?  How concerned with the “present” are you over the future? Or eternity?  When Avery and I get stuck in our “womanly whine”, you know the one…but, I deserve, but, I just want to have fun, but, he’s cute (and not God’s best), I I I.  That’s idolatry.  Of myself, my need, my emotions, and I respond in ways that focus on me rather than God and His desires.  My greatest idol is me.  What’s yours?

I can’t end without some good news.  Cause that’s just who I am, the half full girl rather than the half empty.  The good news?  Is the GOOD NEWS.  Jesus gets it!  He gets me!  That’s why God sent Him for me!  Because left to myself, without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit I would continue on the path of Me-ism.  And no one likes a selfish, self centered, self consumed person, I wouldn’t even like me if that was me.

I will leave you with this verse that has been ministering to me in many ways: 2 Peter 1:3.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Doctrine Talk on Prayer

(weekly I write a five minute “doctrine talk” based on the doctrine in the passage of scripture we are studying in “People of the Promised Land 1 – Bible Study Fellowship” )

Joshua 10:1-14

The five kings of the Amorites joined forces with the plan to attack Gibeon.  The Gibeonites whined to Joshua to protect them.  So Joshua responded with his entire army, including his best fighting men.  The Lord gave them the go-ahead saying vs.8 “Don’t be afraid, you got this!” God causes confusion and vs 11 “hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.”  That day… vs 12 “Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel” (basically) “sun stand still, we need more time to wipe them out”.  Vs 13b-14 “The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.  There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a man.  Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!”

God answered Joshua’s prayer by causing the sun to stand still.

What is prayer?

It is talking with our Triune God.  We pray to God the Father, through Jesus – on the basis of His atonement we can come, and in the Holy Spirit.

Using Paul as an example of prayer involving each person of the Trinity:

We pray to God the Father: his prayer for the Ephesians 3:14 “For this reason I kneel before the Father” Through Jesus:  Paul says in Romans 1:8 in his letter to the church in Rome “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you…” In the Spirit:  Eph. 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

How do we pray? We recognize it is possible to commune with this holy God because Jesus removed our sin, which prevented fellowship with Him.

Why do we pray? As the response to the invitation to intimacy with Him.  When I don’t believe this is true I can become something I schedule as a duty or good luck ritual.

Two truths about prayer to consider….

God hears and answers all the prayers of every believer

 God changes us when we pray

No greater time than my worst times did I see how this last point was made evident in my life.  (story of when James left, how I dealt with the 7 years of “praying him home” from adultery and abandonment and how God was really changing my heart to unconditionally love him, see His abundant grace and actually pray James HOME to heaven.)

Doctrine:  Fulfillment of Prophecy

(weekly I write a five minute “doctrine talk” based on the doctrine in the passage of scripture we are studying in “People of the Promised Land 1 – Bible Study Fellowship”)

Hannah’s prayer after dedicating Samuel included prophecy, and God prophesied what would happen to the house of Eli.

The doctrine for 1 Samuel 1-3 is Fulfillment of Prophecy

Hannah prays, first out of her deep anguish in 1 Samuel 1:11 “In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.  And she made a vow, saying ‘Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servants misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” Then in her prayer of praise in 1 Samuel 2:9-10 “”it is nor by strength that one prevails; those who opposed the Lord will be broken.  The Most High will thunder from heaven; the Lord will judge the ends of the earth.  “He will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.” In her prayers we see prophecy.  I found a definition of prophecy that I like:  a message inspired by God, a divine revelation.  Has God ever given you a message, a divine revelation, a prophecy?

I love this picture of Hannah and her devotion, love and vulnerability in prayer to God.  He honors her and through the prayers you see prophetic truth.  This was for her then just as it is for us today.  I wonder if she knew what God was revealing to her as she prayed and poured her heart out to God both in need and praise?

It reminded me of a time in my life, perhaps by me telling my story you may remember a time for yourself.  But first let’s remember a few things about prophecy.  First, only God knows the future therefore forecast of a future event must come from God and not from mere man, (Isaiah 46:10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.). Secondly, prophecy is not from man but can be spoken through man and today through the Holy Spirit.  2 Peter 2:21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

How does God speak to you?  Through the Word and His Holy Spirit.  Here’s my story.  Avery was just 5 years old, starting Kindergarten where I was starting my teaching career.  My husband, James just became a fireman and something wasn’t “right” in our marriage.  Long, painful story short, he was having an affair.  I will never forget the morning after the truth came out and he left us.  Like Hannah  I too could say in 1 Samuel 1:15 “I am a woman who is deeply troubled…I was pouring my soul to the Lord.” As a mourned the loss of my family.  In my deep anguish, weeping bitterly as Hannah, I asked the Lord to give me one verse.  Just one truth because I felt like I was drowning in sorrow.  I opened my Bible and my eyes fell on this verse:

Isaiah 56:1 This is what the LORD says: “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.”  Throughout the next 7 years I would repeat this verse in my heart, focusing on the first part.  “Maintain justice and do what is right”.  I would ask, “Lord, what is right?, do I divorce him?, can I kill him?, do I love him, do I take him home? When he wanted to return.  Do I accept this child? When she got pregnant. Or encourage her to abort like she was suggesting?

Fulfilled prophecy reveals God’s sovereignty.

Do you believe God is sovereign?  That He not only knows the future but He is in control of it?  That He works everything out according to His purposes?

I am not sure I could’ve answered with a resounding yes to those questions back then because it wasn’t until the prophecy was fulfilled that I believed.

It was the second part of Isaiah 56:1 that was prophetic “for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness would soon be revealed”.  7 years later, God did restore our family.  James fully repented to God and us, we renewed our wedding vows and had an amazing testimony of God’s power and forgiveness.  Then just over a year of that restoration God took him home.  Did you see the prophecy fulfilled?  It was all about salvation of James’ soul and God’s righteousness in power to restore.

So what’s your story?  Where have you seen God’s faithfulness?  Where have you heard God speak and then fulfill what He has said?

Fulfilled prophecy proves God can see the future, reveals His sovereignty and demonstrates His faithfulness.

Where will I go?

Have you ever received news so shocking that the life you knew would never again be the same?   Or perhaps you were given information or your thinking was challenged to the point of senselessness? You thought what you knew was true only to find out it wasn’t and you struggled with the reality of how to manage that information? Whether it was at a point where you merely scratched your head with misunderstanding or the information was so shocking it made your brain spasm, I think it is safe to say we all can relate. In John Chapter 6, the disciples were at that point. Jesus just finished explaining how in order to follow Him they would have to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Huh? Exactly. Everything they thought they knew about Jesus now is not making sense and they are singing the song “should I stay or should I go?” I too was challenged in a similar situation. I remember upon finding out that James was having an affair, I would return to work and I was challenged with the question, “Tina, what are you going to do? Where will you go?” His question, the concerned friend of mine, was legitimate. I had just had my entire world rocked. The life I thought I knew would never be the same again. Ten years of marriage and a five-year-old daughter, I find out that James is having an affair and he leaves us. My answer to his question? “I am going to Jesus, where else would I go?” I think his question for me was more of a practical one. He was wondering if I would divorce him, move out, or leave to live with other family members. However, his question was over shadowed by the Holy Spirit asking me, “Will you follow me regardless of how this looks and what expectations you had of me?” Similar to the question I believe Jesus was asking his disciples after they were challenged with a truth they didn’t understand. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked them in John 6:67. To which Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God,” (John 6:68-69).

When life doesn’t make sense, the pain is overwhelming and seems purposeless where do you run? I don’t want to minimize your struggle nor the disciples’. I can’t imagine for the disciples how after seeing the miracles, watching Him be God, leaving everything they owned and knew to follow Him, how difficult it was to be challenged. The Bible said that many left. It’s not easy to stand when you are confused, hurt or betrayed. Quite honestly I think it’s impossible to do it alone in our own strength. Aren’t you grateful you don’t have to stand alone as the Psalmist reminds us? When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory (Psalm 73:21-24).

But for me, I guess I needed another faith builder. Even after 8 years and a restored marriage I was challenged again with a truth regarding James that would forever change my future. James was gone. Not just left but never to return home, at least not this home on earth. James was dead. Gone to heaven. I stood in the hospital as the doctor told me that they “did everything they could” but the extent of his injuries from the motorcycle crash were just to extensive. Months passed and my heart continued to ache, I just wanted to go home, to heaven. While the Bible teaches to have an eternal perspective, I again heard the Holy Spirit’s voice gently challenge me with the question, “Do you want to come to heaven because James is here or because I am here?” Eventually my answer became the same as the Psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you, (Psalm 73:25). I want Jesus.

Where will I go? When I don’t understand, when I am challenged with life not how I expected it to be, when everyone else walks away…will I stand? Will I run to Jesus? Is He enough for me on earth and in heaven? Today, by His grace I sing with the Psalmist, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26). I pray it becomes your song as well if it hasn’t already.


Believe And You Will Receive

…there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.  “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.” Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.    John 4:46-53

“Why doesn’t God answer my prayer?”  The question that I asked time and time again for years!  All I wanted was to have my family back together.  Was that too much to ask?  I was willing to do whatever it took.  I asked for forgiveness from God and from James, I was willing to forgive James for the affair and even for having a child with another woman.  Why couldn’t God just bring him home so Avery could have a daddy and I could get a break!?  It was so draining not knowing if or when I would see him, if divorce papers were on it’s way, if the bills would get paid, so many ifs.  I can remember the physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion as if it was yesterday.  Perhaps that is how the official that encountered Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of John felt as well.  Maybe that is why he left his home and his dying son to find Jesus.  Was he tired of searching for the right doctor, treatment or medication to heal his son?  Did he pray time and time again for years to end the suffering as I had?  Perhaps his son would appear to get better, he would have a glimmer of hope believing that it may all be behind them and they could go on to a healthy life as I did at times in my journey with James, only to be disappointed and my heart to broken yet again with his abandonment of us.  Regardless, this man and I came to a similar response, although he seemed to have come to it faster than I did.  What seemed like an instantaneous response for the man conversely took me several years.   He had simply asked Jesus to heal his son and Jesus replied “Go, and your son will live.”  the next part of the verse reads “the man took Jesus at his word and departed.”   If the Bible was recording how it went down with me it may have read something like this: “She begged God for years to bring her husband home with a repentant heart.  But it was seven years before she saw an answer to her prayers.”  The official in the book of John and I had similar revelations and reactions in obedience, problem was it took me seven years and it took him only half a verse!  Jesus’ message was the same to the both of us, believe before you see.  He wanted to grow our faith and not allow it to be built on seeing signs and miracles rather be a genuine faith.  The promise of Matthew 21:20 was true for both of us, “if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”  God simply was asking for us to believe that He could and would answer our prayers.  That is where I get stuck.  I know that God can, I often lack the faith that God will.  It took me several years to erase the lie that despite all my prayers, James “would never change.”   As the official headed back home to see his son, he was met by his servants with the good news that his son was going to live.  When he inquired at what time he got better he discovered it was the exact time he was in conversation with Jesus.  

What is it in your life that you struggle to believe that God can and will do for you? I am challenged yet again in my own life to believe that the prayers I pray God will answer.  Perhaps He is waiting for me to believe first then answer my prayer?  So I will cry out with another father of a son in need of a healing in Mark 9:24,  I do believe, help my unbelief!

Speckled Again

Speckle Stories are testimonies of God in my life. I tell them to my students hoping they will see God too. It started about 15 years ago with my middle school physical education class. These girls were very special and we shared more than PE together, we shared life. Most are now graduated from college and married but when I see them they inevitably say, “Coach, tell us a speckle story.” They are as excited to hear how God shows up in my life, as I am to tell them. As time progresses and I grow deeper in my relationship with God, these Speckle Stories have become more than stories of how I see God in my life they are more of discovering how God sees me. Last year about this time I wrote a blog entitled “El Roi, the God who sees”. I was struggling through my sixth year of widowhood wondering if God had forgotten me at the time of writing. There are times when I feel alone, knowing He is with me but wondering if He really sees me. Recently I have been struggling with my ministry in teaching Home Economics. My co-worker sends me this email. I will let you read her words:


“A speckle story….I was at my daughter’s gymnastics classes after work on Friday…I sat down pulled out my papers and my laptop and began grading papers. A lady I have never met or seen sat down across from me and asked are you a teacher. I began to laugh and said yes. She asked what school do you teach at? I responded with CCA. She said oh wow! We talked for a little bit and then she said…I took a tour there. She said do you want to know the part I was most impressed with besides the beautiful campus and facilities… I said what was that… She said I think I was in the Home Ec classroom…. I said oh yeah with a smile, the garden is pretty impressive isn’t it! She said yes, but that wasn’t it…it was the boys learning to sew on the sewing machines! She said I saw strong athletic looking boys sitting in front of a sewing machine. That was pretty impressive. Wow! A speckle story! A Speckle story is just that…a speckle of Gods grace, love, & mercies that He allows us to see or be a part of!  For me, God was just reminding me the importance of this class and the impact it has on our students, families, and it’s reach outside of the campus.  Hopefully this is an encouragement to you Tina to remain strong!”

It did encourage me, more than I can say! God sees me.

He knows my heart better than I know my own. Because within that same week as I was standing at the curb of the school crossing the students as I do on most mornings, I parent dropped off their child but afterwards returned. She said “I came back because I sensed you are not yourself today. Are you ok?” I told her it was just probably because of the holiday season and explained how I was a widow. We talked for a bit and I found out that she too was a widow. She went on to tell me that she had lost her son last year as well. He died on a motorcycle! If that wasn’t enough, the little girl she brings to school every morning is her granddaughter, the daughter of her deceased son and her name is Avery. This little Avery lost her dad on a motorcycle just like my Avery. God sees me! He knew my heart was sad that morning and wanted me to know I was not alone. Daily I would talk and pray with this women as she brought her granddaughter to school and she ended up inviting us to her home for Thanksgiving Dinner. Avery and I brought my famous chocolate chip cookies, the ones I would bake for the firemen and we had a wonderful time. As we stood at the table to pray with the 20 or so guests including little Avery I looked down at my plate and next to it was a cookie. Everyone had decorated cookies next to their plates, some were shaped like turkeys, others fall leaves, but mine was a fire truck. Yes, God sees me. Speckled again.


Quality Reading

The benefits of reading are obvious. Reading improves vocabulary, writing skills, imagination, knowledge, as well as decreases stress by promoting relaxation. It’s free entertainment, and it is an opportunity to be creative and focus the mind so you can fall asleep at night. But for me it’s all about the quality of reading rather than the quantity. I have several books on my shelf where you will find the bookmark marking the page about half way to the end of the book. I will admit I often do not finish a book because of boredom or simple lack of interest. But then there are those books where if you flipped through it quickly you would find “dog eared” corners, various colors of highlighted segments and even hand written notes in the margin. Now that is what I consider quality reading! I do not find the motivation to often read for pleasure but rather to read for purpose, although in that purpose I find much pleasure. I love to grab a hold of a book where I must stop to make a note and ponder the thought. Recently, I finished a book of this kind; it would be classified “quality” with the cover worn, the binding broken and the pages stained by multi-colored pens. “The Faith Factor” by F. Chapin Marsh is a book that I could read again and again, digesting the truth suggested in it all the while stretching my faith and imagination of my Great Creator God. In reading this book in the third chapter I was challenged to evaluate my faith. Do I have “little faith” saying, “God can do it but will He?” Or do I have the “great faith” that asks and is assured that God will do it? Or am I challenged to a resting faith, which Marsh describes as “perfect faith?” Knowing the “voices of faith” so I can be victorious is in chapter five. Marsh explains these three voices as “God’s voice, my own voice, and the devil’s voice.” God’s voice is always gentle, wise and loving; my voice is always yelling “Me, Mine, I”; and the devil’s voice is speaking words of despair, doubt, depression, defeat and death (Marsh, 1982, p. 57-58). In chapter seven, I discovered how to identify the three “enemies of faith” in fear; unbelief that shouts, “You are not worthy” and indecision, which paralyzes us to think that God does not have anything good for us. In the following chapters and conclusion of the book Marsh continues to offer hope that can only be found in Jesus. He ends with three outcomes of faith in chapter nine, “our hope fulfilled in God; our faith is increased by God through His Word; and our life becomes a testimony or living Gospel for God’s glory,” (Marsh, 1982, p. 111). Through quality reading I have been challenged in my thinking and writing and find it beneficial in more ways than what even the research would indicate.

Link to The Faith Factor by F. Chapin Marsh on Amazon:

Finding Forgiveness

Most have seen a least one news report of a grieving mother whose child’s life was recklessly or purposefully taken and her response is, “I forgive them.” Is that possible? What would be the one thing? The one act you could not forgive? I was challenged recently reading the book Outrageous Grace properly titled for Grace Fabian. I learned of a wife, mother, Bible translator and servant of Jesus Christ that lived a life of obedience and forgiveness, even when God’s plan was different from her own.

Taught the bible from a very young age, Grace built the foundation for the love and desire for God’s Word in her life. She met and married, Edmund Fabian in 1967 at a linguistic school and they headed to Papua New Guinea as missionaries to translate the Bible for the Nabak people. In the process of their work, Edmund was murdered while translating 1 Corinthians 13, the very chapter of the Bible that describes love, by a local Nabak. After his brutal murder, Grace and their children continued the translation of the New Testament and in 1998 completed it and in six-weeks hiked to all fifty-three Nabak villages to distribute the Bible in the native Nabak language. Their example of forgiveness was perhaps the greatest “bible” the Nabak people would ever read. 

In reading Outrageous Grace, I was reminded of the loss of my own husband. Although his death not near as brutal, my husband was killed by a drunk driver, a “murder” of sorts and received no penalty for the accident. Like Milinjnaje, the man who killed Grace’s husband, he was set free as well.  I, like Grace, being widowed at such a young age was not my plan.  I was reminded that we all as believers have been given the power and grace of God to forgive as we have been forgiven. Because we have been forgiven of much we too can forgive others (Luke 7:47). Grace Fabian’s story teaches me to trust God and continue to be obedient, in turn He will give me the strength and grace to forgive and complete the work He has started all for His perfect purpose.


Testimony of Truth and Lies

(My handout from “Redeeming your thought life”, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, November 1, 2015)

Maintain justice and do what is right for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed. Isaiah 56:1

What is right? Ask the Lord!

Lie: “His sin is the worst! Its impossible to forgive a sin like that and still be married. That’s your “way out” of the marriage.”

Lie: “It’s your fault. You didn’t take care of his physical needs therefore he had to go somewhere else.”

Lie: “You will always be alone. You are not worthy of a husband. Told you God didn’t love you.”

Lie: “He will never change. God will not restore this marriage. He is too far gone.”

Lie: “He’s dead. That was all a waste of time. 7 years in the toilet. What do you have to show for it now?”


Guiding Scripture:


Lies you hear:


Truth you know:



“Finally Home” by Tina Reeder

My Calvary Chapel University Story

Boating is a common recreational activity in the State of Florida.  With over 30,000 lakes and waterways in the state most have enjoyed a day fishing, waterskiing or cruising the ocean or lakes but do you wear a PFD (personal flotation device)?  The Florida State law is that children must wear one and each vessel must carry a coast guard approved life jacket for each person on board but I must say, I don’t wear one.  Mostly because they are uncomfortable, bulky and honestly would give me bad tan lines.  So what does my fun facts about lifejackets have to do with my personal CCU story you ask?  You guessed it!  CCU was my life jacket.  My story starts in January 2014 when I was curious enough to take my first course “Keeper of the Home” in the Biblical Leadership – Women’s Ministry program.  I took it because I had been teaching home economics at Calvary Christian Academy, this being my now 16th year, I like any teacher wanted to sharpen her knowledge so that I had more to pour into my students.  I had tried other graduate programs in the past but found them too expensive, too complicated, unrelated, or just too hard to manage the workload verses my life load.  There was something very different about my involvement in CCU however that went well beyond the intellectual, right to the heart, it became my life jacket that God had placed on me in January before the “ship hit the sand bar.”  See, when I am on a boat having a great time, I am not thinking about the possible dangers therefore I am not concerned about my boat capsizing.  In April of the same year I started CCU tragedy hit our CCFL family, the waves overcame me and I was left breathless, our church would never be the same, our captain was taken out.  With the recent removal of our pastor, I man who had been my “captain” for almost 20 years and whom God used to lead me to Christ, my world was shaken.  This coming 5 years after the death of my husband I was in shock, another loss, another hurricane.  How does CCU compare to a life jacket you ask?  God had tossed it on me to keep me a float during the turbulent waters, it was my course work at CCU that gave me the opportunity to stay consistent in the Word and be challenged academically in my study.  As our pulpit here was shaken, CCU remain firm and the consistently of study and the pouring in of the Word continued through that time.  I grew deeper into His Truth, applying this truth in my ministry and seeing fruit.  My faith was increased and stabilized.  Now coming out of that season with my planned graduation this December, I am grateful for a ministry that pours into me therefore I can more effectively pour out to others.  It is a mistake to believe that those whom serve in ministry have no need for ministry themselves.  CCU has been that vehicle, that life jacket to keep me a float but more importantly to strengthen me to grab others and just keep on swimming.

Is God calling you to further your education?  Check out:

Mercy and Sacrifice

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. 

Hosea 6:6

In reading Hosea this morning, I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to meditate on this verse more intently. It looked familiar, “desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Indeed, it shows up twice in the Old Testament and three times in the New Testament. The word in the Hebrew (found in Psalm 40:6 and Hosea 6:6) for “sacrifice” is zebach, which describes the Old Testament animal sacrifice for sin. In Matthew 9:13 and 12:7, and Hebrews 10:5, the Greek translation is thysia, which refers to victim, Jesus was a “victim”, a sacrifice for my sins.

God was reminding me that Jesus is my sacrifice. Therefore no matter what I do, what I offer to Him is of no value compared to the sacrifice that was already offered for me at Calvary. I try to “sacrifice” and please God all the time. I read your Word, pray, witness, serve, tithe, stay physically pure, surely that’s enough for you Lord? God replies through His Spirit through these verses, “Tina, it’s not enough, it will never be enough because “enough” is done.”  God took care of everything at the cross when He sacrificed His pure, perfect, sinless, Son for me. Nothing can compare so stop trying!   Side note, when I read His Word, pray or serve Him, it should come from a heart of gratitude and a desire to love Him as He has loved me not of expectation in trying to “earn” forgiveness or righteousness.

The other half of that truth is that He desires mercy. The word eleos in the Greek means to show “kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them.” Showing kindness and good will toward others is what God wants me to do but most importantly offer to help them by telling them of the greatest gift, salvation in Jesus Christ.

Especially during this Christmas season, as we celebrate the birth of this Perfect Sacrifice, we should not focus on “doing good” to achieve righteousness because that has already been accomplished through Christ crucified. Instead let us focus on mercy and show the same kindness and love we have received to the “miserable and afflicted” so they too may receive what I have, mercy though salvation in Jesus Christ.


Psalm 40:6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire— but my ears you have opened— burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.

Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Matthew 12:7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.

Hebrews 10:5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;



His ways

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8

It’s been almost a year since the publication of Finally Home and I wonder if God is done with it yet. I carry one with me everywhere I go, it’s in my gym bag, my purse, and the glove box of my car. Many times I find myself in conversation with someone I just met and before I know it I find myself saying, “Wait, I have something for you.” The handing of the book to this person is usually coupled with tear filled eyes, and a facial expression that shows gratitude and blessing. A gift. One I pray they accept with eternal purpose.

I was on my way to work the other morning, same routine, same route. As I slowed to stop at a red light on the exit ramp from the highway, I found myself behind a red Toyota Prius. Truth be told, sometimes I like to make up stories of people in cars. I like to guess if a guy or girl is driving the car, and make up a life story based on the color, model or stickers I notice on the bumper. I know, it may seem strange but I like to entertain myself at traffic lights. This particular morning, looking at the red hybrid and the license plate frame, I was able to start my story. This was a guy that commuted a long distance on I95, the license plate frame advertised a car dealer in Martin County. Then I noticed the Maltese cross sticker. Clean-shaven guy, approximately 50 years old, Firefighter! I got his whole story in a matter of a two-minute stop at a traffic light. He drives from Martin County to his station in Fort Lauderdale! The next traffic light we were along side each other. I thought, “my book, in my glove box, but do I have enough time?’ I considered grabbing it and handing it to him through the window but didn’t think I had enough time before the light turned green, so I prayed. “Lord, do you want me to give him a book? Can I tell him you love him?” He seemed too familiar. I wanted to say to him, “My husband was a firefighter in Martin County.  Do you live in Martin County?  He would commute the same distance you do. One day he was killed on his way to work, the job he loved probably just as much as you do.  God had me notice you this morning and give you this.  He loves you very much.”  Would God give me the opportunity to say it? The light turned green and I continued behind him. He was heading to the fire station right across from my work. I knew it! So, I followed him all the while excited that I get to tell a fireman that God loves him.

I turn behind him to the street right before the station and another truck gets between us, apparently another fireman. As I follow them both to the station he pulls up to a gate, inserts a passkey, and the gate opens. I realize I am not going to be able to get to him. He and the truck enter the gate and I am left on the outside. I met his eyes as he pulled through the gate; I turned around and pulled away. Defeated and disappointed, I said aloud to God, “I thought you were going to let me tell him You love him?”  To which I heard the Lord say, “My ways are not your ways.” “Ok, God. Can you tell him another way? Please make sure he knows You love him today, please,” I replied with a lump in my throat. “I want them all to know, please tell them all just like you told James.”





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