Friday, January 30, 2015

True Freedom is Spent on Others by Cheryl Laurenza

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
Galatians 5:13-15

True Freedom is Spent on Others

Been thinking about this recently, what does it mean to be truly "free"? Being from Massachusetts originally, and now living back in New Hampshire after a long stay in the Southeast, it comes to mind often. This is the land of Patriots (not the football team, though go Pats!"), Minutemen, Paul Revere, Concord and Lexington, and many battles for Independence.  In Christ, the battle has been won, yet we must walk in the position he purchased for us, not for our own benefits, though there are many, but to bring the greatest of gifts to others.  These brave souls back more than 300 years ago didn't just fight for their own benefit, as many never realized them, but their blood paid the price for what we now enjoy. We have to be mindful and watchful so as not to lose so great a heritage that others paid the highest price for. How much more shall we also give our lives for others in the context of what God has done for them?

I've spent a good portion of my life working with the brokenness of others, seeking and collaborating with them, God and others for their release from the bondage of many things, and I believe we are called to this, and yet it is not the highest goal. Dr. Larry Crabb often writes on this as "First and Second Things." As I look forward I want to continue the work he has for me as far as being a counselor, yet I want to be more focused on their need, your need to accept Christ's amazing gift that cost his life, not on the lesser things that we all chase after thinking that this will be what finally makes me .....I am not saying your present struggles don't matter, beloved they do matter to me, to God, yet he desires your heart to seek him only, for us to serve him to bring others, to have that type of camaraderie within the ranks that this will be a sign to others, our love for one another, and pointing to him.

Walk in the freedom and the strength of our patriots and move out and take ground, and defend that which we have inherited!!! It's not just about us


Cheryl Laurenza, LCMHC, LPC, NCC
The Refuge Counseling Center, LLC
155 Main Street
Salem, NH 03079

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Run Your Race by @emilylaney

"Photo credit: Thomas Rousling (creative commons)
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2.

I was reflecting on The Church 4 Chicks mission this evening “Living on purpose…without the pressure.” That’s such a delicate balance to maintain. It’s so easy to live a purpose filled life, but to allow ourselves to give into pressure from others, pressure that does not come from God. I find that happening in my life all too often. I strive to live intentionally and purposefully, but sometimes instead of looking towards God’s approval, I look to the approval of others.

I love the scripture in Hebrews. It paints such a beautiful picture of our purpose on this earth. I picture myself running a race. I attempt to enjoy running and have completed a few 5ks and 10ks in recent years. When I run (ahem, jog) a race, I can’t focus on anything or anyone but my own path. If I look to the left or to the right too much, I will inevitably run into a curb, fire hydrant, another person, pothole… you get the drift. It’s only by focusing on what’s ahead of me, pressing towards the finish line that I can complete the race. 

For a runner like me, it’s not about winning, it’s about finishing well.

I also find that if I pay attention to the people running around me, I get discouraged. I’m not a very fast runner, so if I compare myself to others then my pace doesn’t seem nearly as impressive. But I went from not being able to run a mile to being able to complete 3 and 6 mile distances, so I have accomplished something in my running. 

The more I practice and the more I run, the better I get. I still have to stop every once in awhile to walk a bit (I mean have any of you run the Peachtree Road Race? Cardiac hill is not for running), but I reach the finish line.

Are you beginning to see the parallels? We each have a race to run. It’s not your husband’s race or your coworker’s race or your mom’s race, it’s your race. It’s between you and the Lord.. And you’ll finish well. If you look to the right or to the left, you will be distracted by what your friend, your co-worker or your neighbor is doing. Seeds of comparison about their race verses your race will creep in, and you just might run into a fire hydrant or trip over a pothole!  And there will be those proverbial potholes and fire hydrants on your race route, there will be barriers then enemy throws in front of you, but if you fix your eyes on Jesus, you will finish your race.

God has “prepared good works in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10, paraphrased), but we have to run the race, and fix our eyes on Jesus. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely worth it.

Run your race, sister! We’re all cheering you on!

Emily Laney is a social worker, educator, and justice seeker.  She has worked with vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad and loves to help startup nonprofits reach their goals.  She is a Passion City Church door holder and leads a team of abolitionists at Not for Sale Georgia. She loves her husband Brent and their rescue pup Biscuit. Sunsets and Sushi make her happy.

You can connect with Emily on twitter @emilylaney or on her blog

Monday, January 26, 2015

And Then You Say It! Part 2 By Debra Courtney

“The word that saves is right here, as near as the tongue in your mouth…It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us…That’s it. you’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you… and then you say it, right out loud…” Romans 10:8-10” MSG

That is why it is so important to say what God has said. We do this not so others can hear us, but so our soul will receive instruction what to believe and agree with instead of the situations in our life, symptoms in our body and fear-based thinking and talking we hear from others around us. How do we give glory to God? By honoring the words He has spoken and demonstrating our trust in Him. Our first step of acting on our faith in His Word is to agree with and say the thing He has said.

Keeping Jesus’ words means more than just doing what He said. It also means living as He lived. He lived never saying or doing anything He did not first hear the Father say or see the Father do. As His disciples, our words should be in complete agreement with what the Father has spoken concerning us.

When we speak His words in faith, they have the same power to change our circumstances as when He spoke Creation into being.

Jesus’ ministry to us today includes His position as High Priest of our confession (Hebrews 3:1). To confess means to “say the same thing.” When we say only what God has said, His words have the same power spoken in faith out of our lips as they did when He originally spoke them. Jesus, as our High Priest, makes sure those words the Father has spoken come to pass in our lives. That is why we are instructed in Hebrews to “let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him].”  4:14 AMP. Also, “So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for he Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word.” 10:23. AMP.

And Then You Say It
Jesus Is My Lord
Philippians 2:9-11 “I confess the complete lordship of Jesus Christ. Jesus is Lord over all and He has given me authority. As I confess Him, His Word and His Name, and resist Satan in His Name, Satan must bow his knee.”

I Do Not Have a Care
1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 37:23-24 “I cast all my care on Jesus because He cares for me. He upholds me as He guides my steps.”

I Do Not Want
Psalm 23:1; Philippians 4:19 “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. For my God supplies all of my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

I Am Free from Sin, Sickness, Sorrow, Grief and Fear
            Isaiah 53:3-5; Matthew 8:17; 1 Peter 2:24 “Every sin, sickness, disease, sorrow and grief was laid on Jesus so that I could be free from them. Therefore, today I am forgiven, healed, and healthy and well. I live in divine health.”

Jesus Is Made unto Me Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification and Redemption
            1 Corinthians 1:30; Colossians 2:10 "I confess that Jesus is my wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Only in Him am I entirely complete.”

Debra’s life goal is to inspire and motivate women globally to become all they have been created and designed to be by using the guiding principles of their Creator’s word in gaining wisdom, understanding their designed-given personality identities & create their purpose!

Friday, January 23, 2015

God in Darkness by Lori Kennedy

“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Genesis 1:2 (NIV)

It’s so funny how once a concept has been introduced, it seems that all roads point to me “getting it”.  I think most Christians have been told that God is with you at all times – including the bad times and yes we know that.  However, sometimes we just sometimes need a reminder.  The truth is that God is always with us – even in our darkness.  God was in the darkness before He ever created light.  

Sometimes when I struggle, I begin to believe the lie that God has forsaken me.  I’m not alone in this.  Many Psalms portray this very concept.  We must be reminded of the truth.  The truth is that God meets you in your darkness and pain.  God is indeed there with you. It’s only as you take the focus off of yourself and look toward the light, that you are able to see the purpose in whatever has been allowed in your life.  God's goal is for something beautiful to emerge form any loss in your life.  God doesn’t ordain sin in your life or upon you, but He does promise to use it for good.  God wastes nothing.  Your pain is not in vain.  (Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 5:3-5)

As long as you are alive on this earth, the story of your life is still being written.  The tapestry it weaves is being intertwined with others; many of whom you may never even realize or know.  Laurie Short says in her book, Finding Faith in the Dark, "When we give up on our story before God has finished writing it, we miss out on what our story has to give us. Sadder still, we miss out on what our story can become." 

It’s so hard to understand darkness and pain and fully realize the purpose of it.  However, it was Job's inability to see the vastness in which his responses mattered in the larger picture that makes his story so powerful.  You may never know (on this side of heaven) how your responses in the midst of darkness may matter to the greater picture which is God's story woven through your life.  But be sure that when you respond with grace, mercy, and hope, you are weaving into someone else’s life.

On the other side of darkness comes healing.  Although healing can be difficult, we must remember that healing is for us.  Healing doesn’t discount what has happened or give someone a get out of jail free card; healing allows us to live in freedom!  Healing permits us to move through what has happened and use it for a greater purpose; a purpose beyond ourselves.  Healing helps write the story of our life that becomes yet one thread in a beautiful tapestry woven by God. 
rstand in my flesh) in order to send it to others in His name....I have power through that same Spirit to love those with His love that I may not really like in my own flesh....I think I'm going to practice using that Spirit of love today because I think you have to practice anything you want to get better at.

Christian vocalist and speaker Lori Kennedy believes in sharing the gifts and talents in which Christ has blessed her.  Authenticity, transparency, and vulnerability are imperative to touching hearts for the Lord.  As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse from those in authority over her outside of her family of origin, Lori has had to overcome much to fulfill the destiny that God created just for her! 
You can find out more about Lori and her ministry, Alpha Omega Ministries, at her website