Grow, Grow, Grow

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BACK STORY–
My wife gave birth in January 2017 to our daughter 55 minutes shy of 35-weeks of pregnancy.  Our daughter was born 4lbs 15oz…1 oz shy of 5lbs.  Why are these numbers so significant?  If a child is born at 35-weeks and 5lbs., and there are no other concerning issues, they avoid Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and are discharged to go home.  My daughter missed these markers and spent the first 7-days of her life continuing to grow and develop in the NICU.

The first six month’s of my daughter’s life consisted of a series of frequent doctor’s visits. Initially, because of her preemie status they were monthly and then became more standard as she grew older.  One thing I noticed from these visits was that the doctor paid close attention to her weight (growth). The doctor would report to us after weighing her, that she was “above average” for a preemie and that she was getting closer to the standard weight for a baby her age. This meant that her weight was steadily increasing a pound per month (in some instances slightly more). There had been consistent growth in her life.

At her latest visit, something happened. For the first time the doctor reported that she was below her weight goal. I was surprised. Just a week before, she had been weighed during a visit with a specialist and she was on target.  Now a week later, she had lost several ounces.  The doctor reassured us that our little girl was fine and that she was still doing very well.

Although the doctor words were reassuring, I still wondered what exactly could have caused her to loose weight?  She had not been sick.  Then I remembered that my wife had begun introducing her to some solid foods – a little rice cereal, bananas, carrots and potatoes.  All of these were good foods and should help a baby continue to grow, I thought to myself.  Then I recalled how difficult a time my wife was having getting her to eat.

Our little girl was not excited about these “solids”.  First of all they were not being given to her through a bottle like her milk. Second, if she wanted to try it, she had to take it from a spoon. Then there was the newness of texture in her mouth, which caused her to spit out most of her food. The solids were not going down as smoothly as the milk.  This situation reminded me of what Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 3:2 NIV, I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.”

As my daughter was given milk she continued to increase in weight, but for how long? When solids were introduced, she lost weight, because she was not used to the solids. They require work to consume, opening her mouth, working her jaws in a new way, getting control of her tongue all takes effort.  Yet, solid food is necessary for her to continue growing and developing.

As believers in Christ – at our rebirth (salvation: acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior), we are excited. We learn how much God loves us and how He has forgiven our sin.  We learn that the plans God has for our lives are good and healthy. We go to church, worship with like-minded people and we find ourselves growing in this environment. During this time, we are consuming what Paul refers to as “milk”.  However, life cannot be sustained on milk alone.  We must grow and mature in God’s love.  Extending the love God has shown us to others is the solid food.

In Part 2 of Grow, Grow, Grow…, we will explore what this growth looks like in the life of a maturing believer in Christ.

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God Is Not An Economist

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I’m an economist by training. You may have heard of the term, but may not know exactly what an economist does.  “An economist is an expert who studies the relationship between a society’s resources and its production or output. The societies studied may range from the smallest of local communities to an entire nation or even the global economy.” (Investopedia.com)

One of the funniest definitions of an economist I’ve ever come across was posted on a calendar in a place I worked. It said, “An economist is someone who tells you today, why what they said was going to happen yesterday…didn’t happen.”

Economist advise the public often times when to buy and sell. When things are looking good for the economy they tell us the time is now to buy.  However, as soon as there is a hint of trouble in the market, they tell us to run, sell, get out of the market.  You’ll be amazed at how frequently the market shifts (even several times a day).

There is a popular Latin saying economist use, ‘Ceteris paribus, a Latin phrase, that roughly means “holding other things constant.” The more common English translation reads “all other things being equal.”’ (Investopedia.com)

Let’s pause for a minute and think of that phrase, “all other things being equal (or constant).”  If you know anything, you know that nothing is constant in this life, but God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Malachi 3:6 says, “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.

This should encourage us! When we put our trust in Him and Him alone, we don’t have to worry about the challenging circumstances that come up in our lives. We don’t have to have all the answers or solutions to our problems.  We have a God we can run to in our time of need (and plenty).  He will rescue us when we call, “When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.” (Psalms 86:7, NIV)

When we put our trust in God, we will not be consumed by our circumstances. God promises that He will never leave us our forsake us.

Will you put your trust in Him today? His commitment to us never changes. God loves you and so do I! If you are ready to put your trust in Him today, recite this simple prayer with a sincere heart:

Dear God,
I come to you in the name of Jesus. I admit that I’m not right with you and that I want to be right with you. I ask that you forgive me of all of my sins. The Bible says, “If I confess with my mouth that “Jesus is Lord,”and believe in my heart the you raised Him from the dead, I will be Saved. I believe with my heart and confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and Savior of my life. Thank you Lord for saving me today.

WHAT’S NEXT?
Complete the brief form below if you said this prayer today.  I would like to send you an email. This email will share with you the next steps you should take on your journey in the faith.

 

God’s Got a Plan

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I woke up this morning, facing a new month, new day and a new beginning and I was filled with a sense of gratitude.  I started thanking God for my health and the well-being of my family.

There are so many things we take for granted in our lives.  I have been married for almost twenty years.  In those twenty years, my wife and I have been employed and have enjoyed a middle class lifestyle.

In June of 2016, my wife and I learned that she was expecting a baby.  After 13 years of trying, with four miscarriages during that time – we were ecstatic.  However, 14 weeks into her pregnancy, she began having complications. For the duration of her pregnancy, she was confined to the bed and spent 12-weeks in the hospital.  During this time, she got word that her position was phased out, which left her unemployed.

Similarly, in March of this year I got word that the non-profit Agency I worked for would be closing its Miami office due to budget restraints.  Today, we find ourselves in a place we’ve never been before. Unemployed, a beautiful new rainbow baby girl, a young teenage son who is bursting with potential and energy and a young adult daughter who is on the cusp of independence.

This season, however difficult it may be, has made everything that seemed impossible, possible!  When God allows one door to close, He always opens another one.  This is an exciting time in our lives! 

God put on my heart to plant a church.  My wife and I have been out in the community for the past year and a half sharing God’s message of love and hope. We’ve met people facing challenging situations – who have encouraged us to press on in our work.  We’ve had the opportunity to feed the hungry, create safe spaces for children to learn and play and opportunities for adults to grow and worship.

God has brought people by our side with gifts, talents, wisdom and insight to help us on this journey.  We are thankful for them! We believe that this is our time. This is our season to do what the Lord created us to be.  We have more than ENOUGH creativity, wisdom and strength to be successful in all God has called us to do.

I wanted to encourage you today.  If you are facing an unexpected difficulty that seems impossible to overcome, know that God has a plan to prosper you.  He created you with a purpose and there are no setbacks in his plan.  There are only setups to catapult you forward.  In this season, prepare by exercising your gifts, obeying His call to action and engaging Him through prayer and worship.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Pray for us as we embark on this new journey in our lives!

Know that I am praying for and believing in His promises with you!

Why is Good Friday good?

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I have always wondered why Good Friday is referred to as “good”.  Good Friday is the day Jesus was crucified, it was the day He died a horrible death; isn’t that a bad thing? To understand why it’s considered “good” you have to understand the reason why He came to the earth in the first place.

John 3:16 tells us the reason why Jesus came, it reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Jesus died because of God’s great love for us.  Being a recipient of God’s great love is good news! 

We must know that the cross was God’s plan of redemption for man. Good Friday was necessary in order for the victory of the resurrection to finish God’s plan of salvation for us. Just think, if Christ did not go to the cross, we would still be lost in sin with no hope. Being a recipient of salvation is good news!

The cross and the resurrection are the basis of our faith.  Jesus fulfilled what the prophet Isaiah spoke, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6 NIV)

I’m thankful for Good Friday! Jesus did what none of us could do ourselves.He reconciled us back to God. Today we can live knowing how greatly God loves us. Thank you Jesus!