Friday, August 15, 2014

490 Is NOT a Magic Number

If you think 490 is some kind of magic number because Jesus told Peter that we should forgive someone 490 times if that person keeps offending us over and again, you may well be missing the point. Why did Jesus tell Peter that we should forgive someone 70 times 7? Some would say it is because 7 is considered the number of perfection and completion.

Is it time to forgive again?
Others might say Jesus picked the number 490 because it is such an unattainable number that He makes the point we simply need to keep forgiving over and over. Still others might say the number is so high because we will undeniably lose count if we try to keep track of how many times we might need to forgive someone.

But what if 490 isn't a magic number at all? What if it really doesn't have any overall significance? What if it might be any number at all? Isn't the point that God COMMANDS us to forgive when we are wronged? And isn't the point that we need to keep forgiving over and over no matter how many times we are wronged? If you are struggling with someone because that same person keeps hurting you, and you feel like you've just about had enough of needing to forgive that person, think about this.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

INVITATION: Peace, Grace, and Hope - Forever

When was the last time you were filled with peace, flooded with grace, and overwhelmed by hope? Ever? If it was the kind of peace, grace, and hope that comes from the world and from circumstances, then surely it was fleeting. After all, life can be a roller coaster. One minute you are peaceful, the next minute everything crashes and your peace flies out the window. Same with grace and hope, right? When peace, grace, and hope are contingent on your everyday life and circumstances, fasten your seat belt and be prepared. As soon as you're as high as you can climb, boom. You find yourself flat on your face without an ounce of peace in sight. But there is a peace, a grace, and a hope that are eternal, and there is a way to know them all, not just temporarily, but for now and eternity.



photo courtesy of antranias via pixabay.com
The price to know this peace, grace, and hope, doesn't come cheap. How could it? Who wouldn't give just about anything to know a kind of peace, grace, and hope that goes on forever? But you need not be concerned with the price, for the price has been paid. In fact, there is not a thing in the world that you can do to earn this peace, grace, and hope. How can you earn what has already been paid for? But there is in fact a requirement to receive this eternal peace, grace, and hope. And the requirement is this. Repent and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Your spiritual new birth, your new beginning that comes with repentance and faith placed in Christ is the ticket to a peace, grace, and hope that is unimaginable. No more roller coaster. For this peace, grace, and hope are not contingent on your everyday life. They are contingent on the life of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

WANTED: MONTHLY SPONSORS!

Paralyzed doggie Mr. Simeon is sad to report that his loving and generous MONTHLY SPONSOR said she could no longer sponsor him. So Mr. Simeon has joined forces with his beloved paralyzed doggie Miss Mercy so that they can both ask you if you would consider becoming a MONTHLY SPONSOR of either or both of them. A MONTHLY SPONSOR can pick ANY amount to donate monthly via automatic check sent from your bank, via automatic withdrawal from your debit or credit card, or by check sent in the mail. MONTHLY SPONSORS are also wanted to help support Walk by Faith Ministry as a whole as I pursue my life's calling and ministry's mission to share the Gospel while ministering the Lord's love to a world in need. 

Paralyzed dogs Mr. Simeon (left) and Miss Mercy (right)
Please CLICK HERE to sign up or e-mail me at love@walkbyfaithministry.com or call me at 843-338-2219 for more information. Thank you & God bless you!!!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

DONATIONS Needed for Three Handicapped Dogs

Three handicapped dogs, paralyzed big handsome hound Mr. Simeon, severely disabled senior tiny dog Little Miss Miracles, and two-footed Winnie all need financial help to go see the doggie doctor for different medical issues! Mr. Simeon has a problem with his leg associated with his wheelchair, Little Miss Miracles has a skin issue, a tumor near her throat, and needs updated blood work to see where she stands with the lyme disease and anemia she had. Winnie has a very swollen ear that could possibly use surgery. (Please see photo further down to see Little Miss Miracles, as photo just below is of Miss Mercy, Mr. Simeon, and Winnie.)

As director of Walk by Faith Ministry, my ministry's mission is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ while ministering the Lord's love to a world in need. I do a combination of preaching, teaching God's Word, writing, streets & beach ministry and evangelism, one-on-one ministry, and providing sanctuary style care to 16 mostly special needs & senior rescued dogs. I live on a bare bones budget, and the ministry operates on a bare bones budget as I dedicate my life 24-7 to the Lord's calling on my life. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for helping me to fulfill my life's mission. God bless you!
Paralyzed dog Mr. Simeon with disabled senior Little Miss Miracles

Saturday, August 9, 2014

God is NOT an Angry God - Is He?

I think my mouth must have dropped all the way down to the sand as I stood on the beach listening to a woman tell me that a pastor had taught her that God is all about grace and that the word "wrath" is misunderstood. After all, she explained as she had learned, God is not a wrathful God; He doesn't get angry. Besides, she told me, we're under the New Covenant now. Let me give you a word of warning.

If you believe for a single second that God is not wrathful, that He will  not take vengeance on those who sin against Him and do not repent and place their faith in Christ and become followers of Him ever working out their salvation with "fear and trembling", and that eternity in hell does not await those who do not receive God's mercy through Christ's death on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and resurrection, you are believing the biggest lie in the universe. God did not leave His wrath behind in the Old Testament. And if you study the Old Testament carefully, you will see His mercy abundantly clearly in the Old Testament - as He offers it again and again to those who repent and return to Him.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The 6-Letter Word that Changes Everything

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

If you speed through your life as quickly as I do sometimes, particularly if you sometimes find yourself speeding through Bible verses, perhaps you have overlooked the six-letter word that changes everything when it comes to understanding and applying a well-known Bible verse. How often have you tossed around the words, "your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost," like I and so many others have, with your point being that God wants us to take care of our bodies because they belong to Him? If you're looking for the six-letter word that changes everything in that part of the Bible verse, let me offer you a word of encouragement. Look past those well known words and check out the rest of the verse. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

War Rubble, Chocolate Rations, and True Gratitude

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17 KJV

One of my mom’s favorite stories of growing up in a Jewish family in London, England, during the World War II Blitz is two-fold. First, she and the other kids played in the rubble that remained after the bombs were dropped. Second, the soldiers periodically gave their chocolate rations to the children to enjoy. It’s hard to believe the children found joy in the rubble of war and from popping tiny pieces of chocolate into their mouths, but they did. They were grateful.

My mom raised me to be grateful, constantly pointing out to me that I had absolutely no idea how fortunate I was compared with so many others in the world. She grew up in a war. I grew up in luxury. She tried to teach me to be grateful. I failed miserably. By the time I was a young adult, I was spoiled and had a strong sense of being entitled to whatever I wanted or felt I needed. My dad told me there was a difference between wanting and needing something, but to me it was all the same.

How Humble Is Your Heart?

How humble is your heart? I can't answer that question for you. And you may not be able to answer it either. But I know who most assuredly can. God can. Because God knows your heart like nobody else does. And notice how I do not ask how humble are your actions. My question is about your heart. Because as the Lord showed me recently with some incredibly strong conviction about a particular area of my life, my heart needed an overhaul as it so often does when its interior is revealed in the light and love of the Lord. See, a humble heart is not the same thing as humble actions.

I can do stuff in my life that looks, and even feels, humble in the eyes of the world. But in the eyes of the Lord, who sees my heart, I can be filled with pride. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees numerous times in the Bible for getting so caught up in actions that looked good to the world while their hearts in fact were full of pride and arrogance.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Blessings, Blessings, Blessings

I was utterly shocked one day to find myself saying aloud that I was one blessed woman. Given the numerous challenges and circumstances I faced for decades, coupled with my ongoing struggle with sin, not to mention a history of being altogether too negative, I was astounded to realize that I had come to see myself as blessed. 

But the biggest surprise of all was not that I had come to see myself as blessed. It was that I had finally realized that my greatest blessings are not physical and tangible. They cannot be touched and tasted. For my biggest blessings are spiritual, and they begin with the greatest one of all. The Lord. And my greatest blessing, the Lord, is the source of all the beautiful, spiritual blessings I have discovered. 

When you count your blessings, which one is at the top of the list? If the Lord is not your number one blessing, it is time to re-arrange your blessings list. Begin with Him. For He is the greatest blessing of all. And unlike all the things and people in life that come and go, the Lord is forever. When you make the Lord your number one love, and your number one priority, and come to see Him as your number one blessing, you will begin to discover all the beautiful, spiritual blessings that come from Him. 

When Anger Strikes

Anger struck. I wasn't just mad. I was really mad. Really, really mad. Downright angry. So angry, in fact, I did a great job of pulling out all the nasty weeds in the blistering heat as sweat poured down my face and soaked the front of my shirt. The person had done it again. Not for the first. Maybe not for the last. I should have known better. I am the one who opened the door - again. I should have known it was coming. Not just the person's selfish actions. But my anger. But there I was all over again, right back in the same place I had tried so hard to leave behind. But this time around, I did know better - in the most important way, in fact. When anger struck, I knew what to do.

photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures via Pixabay.com
I went to the Lord. I refused to react. I chose not to respond. The devil, roaring like a lion seeking to devour me, wanted a foothold. Even a toehold would have sufficed. And all he had to do was get me to react. All he had to do was get me to pick up the phone, or sit down at the computer, and lash out at the person with whom I was angry. But at last I understand my battle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). The devil is behind the person's actions. And if I realized if I submit to God and resist the devil, and draw near to God so He draws near to me (James 4:7-8), I can walk away with a victory in the Lord instead of a defeat just like the devil so desperately desires.

Monday, August 4, 2014

It's Time to Return

If I had not come and spoken to them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. John 15:22 KJV

A man I know has flipped flopped for years between digging deep into the Bible for seasons and then tossing it out of his mind and life for other seasons, his life in those seasons indicative of whether he was in a season of immersing Himself in the Bible or not. I could never understand why he would turn away from the Bible at times when his life was so rich and vibrant and fulfilling when he was studying God's Word. His answer was plain and clear.

"The Bible cuts me up," the man told me. In other words, he was getting convicted of his sin when he studied God's Word. So in the seasons he was holding onto his sin for dear life, he stayed away from the Bible to stay away from God's conviction. The trouble was that without God's conviction, and without God's mercy and God's strength to walk in God's ways, the man was utterly miserable.

When the Homeless Do the Helping

If you think the homeless are helpless, you might be surprised to learn that it is not uncommon for the homeless to do the helping.

"I helped two people recently," a homeless woman shared with me not long ago. Up against numerous health challenges, and despite an incredibly rough past, so much so that she needed my help to get her free hot lunch over to a park bench where she sat as she neared her next hospital visit later that day, the homeless woman shared with me about her belief in the Lord and told me joyfully how sharing her hard-to-hear testimony had touched two lives recently. And she related happily about her Bible studies and hope to get involved in ministry.

A big-hearted pastor drives straight from preaching at his church on Sundays
to preach in the park to the homeless, others in extreme need, volunteers, and passersby.
When he is not preaching, he is usually found picking up trash when lunch is served. 
Another homeless man at an outreach I attend helps weekly with the physical setup for the food, clothing, and toiletries distribution, while another not-too-long-ago homeless man helps with security. Another homeless man told me recently he was praying for me. Another formerly homeless man preaches. Still other homeless men and women minister to me by asking how I am, listening to me share about my own life, and sharing hugs and friendship and love and kindness - sometimes more than I receive in my usual day to day life. Even in the midst of their hardships, the homeless and others in extreme need are sometimes the helpers despite the common belief that they are a segment of the population that is only on the receiving end of God's provision as it is distributed by those who serve in one capacity or another. But then, we are ALL on the receiving end of God's goodness, aren't we? Anything good, and necessary, that we have comes from Him in the first place.

Sinner in the Hands of a Merciful God

It happened again. Someone told me I'm special. And I denied it. Then the person disagreed. I prepared for battle. It happens periodically. What? That someone looks at my life and the work that I do and thinks I'm special. And that I immediately disagree. I even go back and forth with people. "Yes you are," they say. "No, I'm not," I reply. Why? Because I'm not. And when someone tells me I'm special, I have the perfect opportunity to tell the person the truth.

"I give ALL glory to God," I tell people. Why? Because every single good thing in my life, and every single positive thing that I do, is because of God. My testimony is proof enough that without God I am nothing. And with Him, anything is possible. Amazing, beautiful, wonderful, things can happen when I lay aside my own will and surrender to His as I walk with Him day by day. Because of me? No. Because of Him.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

DON'T BELIEVE YOUR PASTOR.......

Don't believe your pastor. Please don't worry, I'm not done. In fact, I'm just getting started. And if you think I'm about to put down your pastor, you're wrong. After all, I don't even know him. But I am about to give you a warning. Not just any warning, but a very serious one. And let me say this. This is not my warning. This is a warning from the Lord. And in case you don't believe me, I can promise you that you won't find just one warning in God's Word. You will find plenty. So don't believe your pastor - UNLESS.

That's right. No matter how loving, kind, experienced, nice, giving, serving, educated, trained, respected, gentle or even stern, tough or easy going, well versed, authoritative or even meek, wonderful, reputable, renowned, worldly famous or simply local and unknown, friendly, warm, diligent, hard working, or anything at all your pastor is or is not, DO NOT believe your pastor UNLESS. Unless what?

photo courtesy of public domain pictures via pixabay.com
If your pastor is not preaching and teaching the plain, unadulterated, genuine, Word of God, the Bible, DO NOT believe your pastor. Along with countless warnings in the New Testament about false teaching and false prophets, about false gods and deception, deceiving spirits and wolves in sheep's clothing, the Old Testament is in its own right incredibly, and powerfully, chock full of false prophets, false gods, and infinitely strong warnings from the Lord against both acting in any of these roles AND against believing any of these false teachings.

The Most Important of All

What is the most important thing in your life? Good question? No, it's not. The most important question shouldn't be what is the most important thing in your life, but who is the most important person in your life. And if you cannot definitively, undoubtedly, by your mouth and in your heart and according to your thoughts and actions and lifestyle, say and demonstrate that the Lord God almighty is number one in your life, then you are missing the most important of all.

If you are familiar with the 10 Commandments, and I confess that only recently did I take a deeper plunge into them as I had admittedly, and ashamedly, taken them for granted for far too very long, the very first commandment is plain and clear when it comes to priorities: "You shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3 ESV)." But if the truth be told, and you take a close and honest look at your life, is the Lord absolutely without a shadow of a doubt number one in your life?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My 18-Year-Old Cheerleader

Cheerleaders are often known for their beauty right? They are often renowned for being warm and bubbly, right? And full of encouragement to help the players on a team work hard to achieve victory, right? They often have broad, shining smiles, and they usually work hard to stay in excellent shape, right? Well, little did I know when I stood side by side recently with an 18-year-old girl I met on the beach as we posed for a photograph alongside paralyzed dogs Miss Mercy and Mr. Simeon in their wheelchairs that God had sent me yet another one of His cheerleaders to cheer me along as I work hard to pursue my life's calling to share the Gospel while ministering the Lord's love to a world in need. As far as I was concerned, she was just another young person on the beach enjoying the hot July sunshine who was enthralled with the uniqueness of two paralyzed dogs cruising down the beach in their wheelchairs as people so often are when they see them. But God knew that like with so many of my seemingly random meetings with people - particularly people vacationing from out of town - that this wasn't just a random meeting.

God blessed me with an 18-year-old cheerleader recently
who shines with the light of  Christ.
Here we are pictured with paralyzed dogs Miss Mercy and Mr. Simeon in their wheelchairs
where we met on Hilton Head Island's Folly Field beach.
Little did I know as the young woman and I crossed paths for just minutes on the beach as I did my usual up and down the beach stroll with the dogs with my heart wide open to opportunities for the Lord to use the dogs to introduce me to people in need of hearing the Gospel, receiving a prayer, hearing a scripture or two or a word of encouragement, that God had plans already in place unbeknownst to either myself or the young woman to place her on His cheer-leading team for me. But it didn't take me long once she reached out to me via the Internet shortly after our meeting why God would choose her to be on His team - and why He would send her to me. I am always humbled when I go out into the world with a heart to love and serve those in need to see how God sends His kids to do the same with me. Off I go with the desire to be a blessing to others, and He sends others to bless me. Like an 18-year-old cheerleader. Just like a cheerleader on the side of a football field - beauty and all. 

The Ultimate Strip Tease

The year I met two professional strippers while on a family vacation and proceeded to spend the night in their rental rather than my family's had nothing to do with the ultimate strip tease, but then nor did the Halloweens I dressed up as prostitute, the countless times I went off to the bars dressed like a whore and acted like I didn't even know what the word moral meant, or the numerous times I became involved with men I never should have been involved with. None of this, now a piece of my sordid past from which I have repented and joyfully received God's forgiveness for, even comes close to the ultimate strip tease.

When I met a homeless man recently who had been robbed of the few possessions he owned, I commiserated with him as he shared with me how every proof of his identity was now gone. Not just his money had been stolen, not only his backpack that served as his traveling dresser since he no longer had a home, but his birth certificate, driver's license, and any and every proof of identity had been mercilessly taken from him. He had been stripped of all his possessions but for the clothes on his back. Though I have never been homeless, thankfully, and though I have never had my birth certificate stolen, I know all about the ultimate strip tease from my own not so long ago past. I know what it is like to be stripped of what I looked to as proof of my identity only to come to discover what my true identity is. And the ultimate strip tease has nothing at all to do with how people ordinarily think of the words "strip tease", but instead has everything to do with a strip tease that can prove in the end to be utterly life debilitating or entirely life changing - the stripping of what one clings to as one's identity.

PRAYER REQUEST from LARA

Hello Everyone, 

I would be exceedingly grateful if you are led if you would please PRAY for provision as I move ahead in fulfilling Walk by Faith Ministry's mission to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ while ministering the Lord's love to a world in need. 

With no staff or volunteers, and operating on a bare-bones personal budget and a bare-bones ministry budget, I do a combination of preaching/teaching the Gospel & God's Word, writing & publishing, streets and beach ministry, one-on-one discipleship, and providing sanctuary style care to 16 mostly special needs and senior rescued dogs. I am also deeply immersed in my biblical studies as preparation for the evangelism to which I am called. 

photo courtesy of Geralt via pixabay.com
Though Walk by Faith Ministry is a 501c3 non-profit charity organization, I do not do any traditional fundraising and do my best to trust the Lord to provide.

For the sake of transparency and so you understand Walk by Faith Ministry's need as well as mine at this time, the ministry is operating on an average $12,000 yearly budget while I am living on an approximate $9000 annual monetary income. 

At a time in which countless organizations and individuals are asking for money, I feel led instead to ask for this. 

Please PRAY, and I trust the Lord will provide as I continue forth in His calling on my life. 

May He get every ounce of glory, and may His name be exalted above all else! 


Monday, July 14, 2014

The Privilege to Serve

I spent much of my life being served and expecting to be served. I figured I would reap as much as I could from this world. I had a heart full of compassion, but compassion doesn't go very far with the self-centered lifestyle I led. I had a heart full of a bunch of human love, but human love doesn't last very long nor get very far either in the face of life's trials not to mention my sins running rampant. I did my best to do what the world taught me. Me, me, me. Isn't that what the world teaches? Today, I have less materially than I ever had. I don't have all the people and stuff I so desperately wanted. Nor am I living the dreams I had for myself. But then, it is a wonder I am alive at all. For I spent years of my life wanting to end it. When I lived my life for myself, I was miserable and messed up.

What a privilege it is to gather with churches, ministries, and others
at the weekly People Helping People outreach in Savannah, GA,
where preaching, prayer, and ministry,
along with food, clothes, and toiletries are available
for the homeless and others in need........
Now, I live my life for the Lord. And though there is so incredibly much I have lost as well as not gotten, I have the very best of all. I have a personal relationship with God through my faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. And with the Lord living inside my heart now, I have lost my desire for so much of what I desired in this world. But one desire I do have above all else - to love the Lord with all my heart and my neighbor as myself. Not with my love, but with His.

No longer do I desire for the world to serve me. Now I desire to love and serve the Lord - and to serve my fellow man. I have little materially anymore to give to people wanting stuff. But now as I seek to love, and to serve, I have the greatest gift in the universe to give to someone in need. The Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord and the Word.

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Mark 10:45 NASB

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Is Loneliness Eating Your Lunch?

I could be lonely. I should be lonely. I would be lonely. But I couldn't be lonely even if I tried. Yet I have every reason in the world to be lonely. I am a total people person, and yet I have no family, husband, fiance, boyfriend, co-workers, regular social activities, or what could even be remotely considered a social life. I have a background of abuse, abandonment, rejection, unwanted divorce, and a zillion other reasons to be depressed - and lonely. Lonely, lonely, lonely. Lonely? I can't even remember the last time I felt lonely. But how can this possibly be? I meet every qualification for loneliness, don't I?

photo courtesy of Patty Jansen via pixabay.com
Please understand I have a decades-long history of loneliness. I was lonely in my family growing up. I was lonely in crowds. I was lonely in relationships. I was lonely in two marriages before my husbands left. I was lonely in workplaces. I was lonely wherever I went. I was lonely whatever I was doing. I always felt distant. I always felt alone. Loneliness was glued to my side. Loneliness was in my marrow. Loneliness ruled in my heart. I looked for anything and everything - and most importantly anyone - that would take away my loneliness. But loneliness would not leave me. Loneliness didn't want to leave me alone. How ironic.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Are You Holy?

If you think it is irreverent of me to ask you if you are holy, you might think differently after I explain. Perhaps you wonder how I can possibly ask if you are holy considering the Lord is the only perfectly holy, perfectly righteous, perfectly just one in the universe. Doesn't it seem irreverent to even conceive of the notion that you and I could be holy? Let me explain.

God calls us to be holy as He is holy. This means we are to aspire to holiness. We are to aim in the direction of holiness. Once we are born again spiritually by confessing Jesus as Lord and believing God raised Him from the dead, we begin the process of becoming holy. We are newborn babes spiritually, and now we begin the process of growing up. We were created in God's image, and now we grow up in His image. God is holy, and we are supposed to become holy.

Looking Down on the Homeless. . .

The next time you think about looking down on the homeless, try this. Look up to the Lord. And when you look up to the Lord, you will undoubtedly see the homeless in a different light. His light. Why? Because when you look up to the Lord, you will see yourself in the right perspective. When you look up to the Lord who is everything, you will realize that you are nothing without Him. So who are you to raise your nose at the homeless or at anyone else for that matter? Instead of raising your nose with pride and walking the other way, lower yourself in humility and fold your hands in prayer. Ask God if this is the person He wants you to help. Or is it that person over there? Or those people in that far away country? Your wife? Your children? Your next door neighbor? Or anyone else you may have looked down upon? Stop looking down. Look up. To Him. Seek His forgiveness if you find any pride inside your heart. Ask Him to help you to be humble. You will find your life very different when you choose to look up, not down.

photo courtesy of werner22brigitte via pixabay.com
If you think I am looking down in writing this, please know I am actually looking up from where I have fallen. Because I have spent far too much of my life pridefully looking down on the world instead of up at the Lord. Even as a follower of Jesus Christ, I have fallen so very far short. My heart has been bursting at the seams with wickedness - with pride, judgment, arrogance, condemnation, criticism, with fear, with a host of obscenities. I have to repent, over and again, confessing my sins to the Lord and seeking His forgiveness whenever He shows me the wrong I have allowed in my heart. Pride ends in destruction, and I should know. I have lost so much, so many, because I have so often looked down upon the world instead of all the way up to the Lord. I pray often now the Lord would help me to be humble. My life is very different when I choose to look up, not down - just like yours will be if you have to make the same change as I.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Lifeguard Who Had to be Rescued

Don't leave the beach yet. I heard the words clearly. Had God spoken the words into my heart? I was more than ready to leave the beach. Paralyzed dogs Mr. Simeon and Miss Mercy in their wheelchairs were hot and panting. Soon we would need to leave the beach anyway because dogs aren't allowed on the beach after 10 am. We had finished our weekly beach ministry adventure wherein I walk the dogs up and down the beach to see if God might use the dogs to introduce me to people in need of hearing the Gospel, receiving prayer, being encouraged, or learning something from the Bible. As far as I was concerned, it was time to go. But had God spoken?

photo courtesy of morguefile.com
I stood still upon the sand, the dogs on either side of me, waiting to see if in fact the Lord had spoken. If He had told me to stay, surely there was a reason. But what could it be? I looked all around me, and didn't think much of it when the lifeguard called over from where she was perched high atop her lifeguard stand. As much as I love how often God uses the dogs to bring me to people who could use ministering to in some way, I am well versed too in simply holding polite conversation with people who want to know all about the very special wheelchair dogs. That, of course, was what I presumed the lifeguard and I would chat about. The dogs. Then I would steer the dogs to the car and off we would go.

Paralyzed dogs Mr. Simeon and Miss Mercy - and Mommie
The dogs and I wheeled and walked our way over to the lifeguard stand where I tilted my head upward so I could talk to the lifeguard. It didn't take more than minutes of idle chatter about the dogs before I understood why God had told me not to leave the beach yet. The lifeguard and I were not intended to meet to talk about dogs. God had brought us together to talk about Him. And in minutes, we were both choked up with tears as she looked down from her lifeguard stand and I looked up from where I stood on the sand, the dogs beside me, as we realized what exactly God had done.

Vengeance Anyone?

Do you know what stands out to me the most about David's story in the Bible? It's not that he was a man after God's heart, which most assuredly inspires me. It's not that he ultimately repented and was forgiven for his sin of staying home from war to have an illicit affair and arrange for the killing of his lover's husband, though I most certainly am inspired by his repentance and God's mercy on him. What stands out above all else in David's story is something entirely else.

David was persecuted beyond measure by King Saul, and then had incredible opportunities to take vengeance on his arch enemy. Over and again, David was virtually killed by King Saul. He was under such persecution, and his life at such great risk, of King Saul that David could not live any semblance of a normal, peaceful life. He was constantly on the run. He constantly had to seek desperate measures to so much as survive. And after all the torment and torture and cruelty David endured because of King Saul, he was given several opportunities to seek not just any old kind of revenge - but to literally kill King Saul in revenge and to protect his own life.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

SO WHAT If You Are Praying....!!!

I hear it ALL the time. And I mean ALL the time. People tell me they have a good relationship with the Lord because they pray. Then they wonder why their lives are a mess. They wonder why nothing seems to be working. They wonder why God's not answering. And they wonder why, to top it all off, America is in dire straits. But they keep praying. And praying some more. Did you know that one missing ingredient in a recipe can throw the whole recipe off? Did you know that two missing ingredients can make things even worse? And did you know that a third missing ingredient can make the whole outcome of the recipe entirely unrecognizable? Just in case you're one of the countless people in America praying, let me give you a word of warning.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people refer to a scripture in the Old Testament that leads them to believe that if we pray, our lives will change. And if we pray, America will change. All we have to do is get God to answer. Well if they, or you, are anything like I was, you might be overlooking three key ingredients in the scripture. And those missing ingredients, I believe, are exactly why so many of us are in the messes that we are in. And that is why, I believe, our nation is in the dire straits that it is in.

Do You LOVE the Old Testament Like I Do?

I love the Old Testament. I don't just love the Old Testament. I LOVE the Old Testament. I mean I really, really LOVE the Old Testament. Yes, I used to be intimidated by it. Yes, I used to be bored by it. Yes, I used to want to turn my back on it. Yes, I wanted to think God would never have done the things that He did. But the Bible teaches that the human mind cannot understand the things of God. And it teaches that the Holy Spirit will teach God's Word to believers in Jesus Christ. And the Bible says that believers in Jesus Christ have His mind. In other words, His Holy Spirit will help us to understand what the human mind simply cannot. And so it is that the Holy Spirit has given me the eyes to see the astounding beauty of the Old Testament and given me the ears to hear the Truth. By God's grace, I see the Old Testament in a whole new light. In God's light. And this is what I see.

The endless love of God. Breathtaking grace. Mercy unfathomable. Patience beyond human understanding. Loyalty. Steadfastness. Long suffering. Compassion. Tenderness. Righteousness. Justness. Consistency. Persistence. Endurance. Perseverance. Hope. Peace. Creativity behind anything any human can conceive of. Safety. Refuge. Shelter. Guidance. Wisdom. Oh, I could go on forever. But I don't have to. Because God does. He is forever. And the more I study the Old Testament, the more I see the despicable, wicked, sins of mankind, the more I see the indescribable love and mercy of God who could have given up on humanity right from the moment Eve took the apple and shared it with Adam and they were kicked out of the Garden of Eve because of their sin.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

MONTHLY SPONSORSHIP

I would be truly blessed if you might consider becoming a MONTHLY SPONSOR to help me to fulfill Walk by Faith Ministry's mission to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ while ministering the Lord's love to a world in need.


I do a combination of preaching the Gospel, teaching God's Word, writing and publishing Christian books and tracts and inspirational writing online, streets ministry, one-on-one discipleship, and providing sanctuary-style care for 16 mostly special needs and senior rescued dogs. 

I do not have a staff or any regular volunteers, the ministry operates on a bare bones budget, and I live on a bare bones personal budget as I commit myself 24-7 to the Lord's work. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Which Way Are You Falling? Backwards or Forward?

The pastor pushed hard on my forehead as he prayed for me. He pushed as he prayed, and he prayed as he pushed. And I pushed my forehead with all my might right back against him. He wanted me to fall over backwards like the people that lay strewn around the altar of the church. He wanted me to fall under "the power of God". I wish I could say all these years later that my stubborn refusal to fall backwards was because I knew that falling backwards under "the power of God" is one of the devil's countless ways of deceiving God's people through false teaching, but the truth is that I couldn't stand the idea of a man trying to push me. So I pushed right back. The truth is that I fell backwards at plenty of other churches - as long as the pastors weren't pushing me. But I didn't just fall over backwards in churches. I had fallen utterly, and dangerously, and potentially deadly, for what the Bible warns about time after time after time. False teachers. False prophets. False teaching. False religion. False gods.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Is Your Life UNDER CONSTRUCTION?

Have you ever felt like your life is UNDER CONSTRUCTION? Better yet, do you ever feel like your life is always UNDER CONSTRUCTION? Do you ever wish you just had it all together and could simply get past this feeling of constantly being UNDER CONSTRUCTION? Do you feel this desperate desire to remove the blatantly bold print UNDER CONSTRUCTION sign that seems permanently super glued to your t-shirt? Well, I've got news for you. If you're a follower of Jesus Christ, your life SHOULD be constantly UNDER CONSTRUCTION.

photo courtesy of nemo via pixabay.com
But why? Because God created us in His image. When we are saved by grace through faith by confessing Jesus as Lord and believing God raised Him from the dead after He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins so we can have a personal relationship with God and be promised everlasting life, guess what happens. We BEGIN the PROCESS of BEING conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

Is It Time to Move? To Make a Change?

If God has called you to make a move hundreds of miles away or just down the street, to a new church or into a new relationship, to a new job or a next phase in your life, let me give you a word of warning about the challenges you may face both as you prepare for the move and once you arrive at your new destination. How you look at the challenges you face and your attitude about them may well determine whether your new venture is a total success or flat out failure.

photo courtesy of nemo via pixabay.com
When Moses sent a bunch of men into the Promised Land to check out (or spy out) the destination where God had called him to lead the children of Israel after delivering them out of bondage in Egypt, all but Joshua and Caleb came back with an "evil report" of what they had seen. Notice that they ALL saw the wonderful blessings awaiting them. And they ALL saw the challenges facing them - specifically the giants in the land that would threaten their very ability to occupy and enjoy the new land promised them.

Homeless Man Searching for God

One of my homeless friends is such an inspiration to me. He doesn't inspire me because He is a follower of Jesus Christ. He inspires me because of what he is doing because he is not one. He is searching and learning. If you have ever heard a preacher make claims on how many people at a given service made "decisions for Christ," you might want to consider what so inspires me about my homeless friend. Instead of impulsively, emotionally, jumping into something he does not understand or yet believe, he wants to make sure he truly believes.

Red's Story

In my recent redo of Walk by Faith Ministry's website, I felt strongly led to create a page dedicated exclusively to telling the amazing true story through which God birthed the ministry. Red's Story, the incredible testimony of a HOMELESS DOG, a HOMELESS MAN, a BROKEN WOMAN, an AWESOME GOD, and a WORLD IN NEED, follows. Alternatively, you can click on the page RED'S STORY to read RED'S STORY and to see it on video..........

Walk by Faith Ministry was birthed through the amazing testimony of a HOMELESS DOG, A HOMELESS MAN, A BROKEN WOMAN, an AWESOME GOD, and a WORLD IN NEED.

Please find below the written version of Red's Story.



RED'S STORY

"Lay hands on that dog and pray," the Lord spoke into my heart as I stared at the one dog in the entire South Carolina animal shelter I had been forbidden by the shelter manager to take from the shelter so he wouldn't be euthanized. 

He was a sack of bones. His head hung low to the ground. He was downtrodden. Run down. Defeated. Homeless. Broken. He was virtually hairless. He was covered in sarcoptic mange. Red mange. His skin was red and was greasy. He had an eye infection, ear infection, heartworm, and pneumonia. A shelter worker had found him on the road with a tree branch over him about to break from all the buzzards perched on it. The buzzards were either about to eat some road kill he had found or may have been about to eat him. This was the dog God told me to pray for. But why should I pray? The shelter manager had already given me her orders. 

"The German Shepherd has to be euthanized," the manager had told me over the telephone before I had arrived at the shelter that day. "We know you have a big heart, Lara," she had told me. "But you can't take him. He is too sick and old. He is suffering. You can take any dog out of the shelter, but not that one. You are forbidden." 

Red, shortly after his arrival in my life....
Now there I stood looking at the one dog in the shelter I was forbidden to take with God telling me to pray for this dog that would soon be given a lethal injection and stuffed in a freezer jam packed with canine carcasses amid a national epidemic of pet overpopulation, overcrowded shelters, and resulting euthanizations.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Why Won't God Answer Me?

Day after day, I go to God and ask Him to tell me what He wants me to do in a certain situation that weighs heavily on my mind. It doesn't just weigh heavily on my mind. It weighs heavily on my heart. And it weighs, and weighs. It gets heavier, it seems. So I keep going back to Him. I ask Him the same question all over again. And still I can't understand why He just won't answer me. Then it dawns on me. He has been answering me all along.

"Wait and trust me," He told me the first time. 

Then He told me again. "Wait and trust me." 

Another day passed. "Wait and trust me." 

And again. "Wait and trust me."

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Are You Dying Daily?

Are you dying daily? Sounds like a pretty wild question, doesn't it? The question may be perfectly wild, but I am perfectly serious when I ask it. And just to add some serious legitimacy to my question, let me introduce you to what Jesus Christ Savior of the world and the apostle Paul who wrote much of the New Testament had to say about dying daily.

photo courtesy of geralt via pixabay.com
Jesus said that if you want to follow Him, you have to deny yourself and take up your cross. What does this mean? You have to stop living your life according to your own ways, according to the world's ways, and according to Satan's ways. You need to leave behind your old life. You need to study the Bible, develop an intimate relationship with the Lord, and learn to live your life according to His ways. Guess what has to die.

Do you know when your flesh screams, "Gimme, gimme, gimme"? Or when it cries, "Me, me, me"? Or when the addictions are begging you to feed them? Or when you feel utterly driven to do something you know is illegal, wrong, hurtful, immoral, and totally ungodly? Or when the extra-marital affair is whispering in your ear to leave your spouse in the dust? You get the picture, don't you? Why does all that have to die? So Jesus can live in and through you.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Is Your Church a God?

I spoke to someone recently who simply gushed at the mouth about his love for the church he attends, and I thought afterward of a church I once attended for a short while that sold shirts with the words "I love my church" in big, bold words stuck on the front. I have never worn a t-shirt like that, but rest assured I used to be so in love with various churches I attended that I virtually took people hostage to get them there.

As I dive deep into the Old Testament these days, I am reminded for the umpteenth time that God commands us to have no other gods before Him. Can church become a god? It did for me. I loved the people of God and the pastors and the buildings where we gathered more than I loved him.

The Disabled Man with the Message

His speech was a little garbled from the disability that had stuck him in the motorized wheelchair the man drove through the park, but his message could not have been more clear. I had a little trouble understanding his words at first, but the joy that lit up his slightly distorted face said it all. I do not recall if I asked how the man was, or if he simply decided to tell me. What he said should have been astonishing to me as he sat contentedly in his wheelchair, but deep in my heart I understood completely.

"I am blessed," he told me. "Because of Jesus. I have everything I need."

photo courtesy of openclips via pixabay.com
I have complained more in my lifetime than I thought it possible for a human to complain, and only now in my mid-forties have I finally come to understand just how blessed I am. But like the man in the wheelchair, I have learned that the love and peace and joy and hope and satisfaction deep inside my heart have nothing to do with circumstances. They have everything to do with Jesus Christ.

When the Thorn Won't Stop Jabbing You

The thorn God has allowed in my side for decades now has been jabbing me so hard recently that I have been moving ever close to the point of calling it quits when it comes to the work that I am called to do. But God has reminded me exactly why He has allowed that thorn in my life, and His purpose for the thorn is NOT to stop loving and serving Him. The purpose of the thorn is to help me to be humble, to allow God's strength to be made perfect in my weakness, and so the power of Christ might be seen through my life.

photo courtesy of cohdra via morguefile.com















So how am I supposed to carry on when the thorn keeps jabbing at me? By remembering that God's grace is sufficient for me, by continuing to be a hearer and a doer of His Word, and by choosing to be thankful that God would allow me this thorn instead of resisting it. No amount of resistance or complaining or fighting against the thorn has ever brought me any relief. There is only one place I have ever found the true peace I desire, and that peace is not found in thorns nor in roses. That peace is in Christ.

If you are tired of being jabbed by the thorn God has allowed in your life, and if you are even thinking of calling it quits, I implore you to study these scriptures and allow God to strengthen you in your weakness and to allow the power of Christ to rest upon you. 

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NASB

Friday, June 20, 2014

My Beautiful Heart

People tell me I have a beautiful heart. They should only know. The Bible says the heart is deceitfully wicked. God knows. The beautiful heart people see in me is the heart God gave me. I had a broken heart. God gave me a new one. 

photo courtesy of pixabay.com
When I don’t take good care of my new heart, it can end up broken all over again. The Bible teaches me to guard my heart so it doesn’t get filled up with wickedness again. When I find I have not guarded my heart and I see all that old junk back in there again, I get rid of it. 

Ready for a New Beginning?

No matter how much you might wish you could do over your life so you wouldn’t have such tough circumstances, and so many challenges, or make so many mistakes, the truth is you can’t. Not physically anyway. You can’t be born again physically, can you? You don’t get the do over you might want.
But you can get a fresh start, be forgiven for your past, have an amazing personal relationship with God, and have everlasting life by being born again spiritually. You must be born again to have these awesome promises. But how?

All humans are born into sin and are separated from God because they can’t be in His presence since He is perfect and holy. All humans are under a curse and headed for eternity in hell. But God sent His only begotten sin Jesus to the cross to bear God’s wrath and pay for the world’s sins.

If you are truly sorry for your sins, confess Jesus as Lord, and believe God raised Him from the dead, you will be born again spiritually. This is your new beginning. By reading the Bible and applying it to your life, you become a follower of Jesus and work on your personal relationship you now can have with God.

Talk about a new start – with an eternal promise!

Jesus answered, “…unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Cantankerous Crazy Old Man with a Message

Stooped over. Slow. Annoying. Loud. Probably uneducated. The accent of all accents. Brooklyn, New York, accent. Crazy, or that's how he came across anyway. And cantankerous. And I've never used the word cantankerous in my life. It's probably the first time I've ever spelled it. But I can't think of a better word to describe the muttering-under-his breath, complaining, complaining, complaining, shuffling along old guy who used to deliver the mail years ago where I worked at a financial newspaper in the Wall Street area.

photo courtesy of pixabay
Up and down the little aisles of reporters and editors he would go, day after day, same spiel after same spiel, it was always the same. Aside from his muttering, he would cry out for all to hear a seemingly meaningless message that I doubt a single person gave an ounce of credence to as we pecked away at our computer keyboards readying the daily national financial newspaper where we all worked to help people around the nation stay on top of money matters.