Walking by Faith Alone

Archive for December 2011

The Resolution List…

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A new year…fresh start…finally, the time to be the person I’ve always wanted to be, ridding myself of the past.  Time to do the things I’ve always wanted to do. Act the way I’ve always wanted to act.

We all do it, whether consciously or unconsciously. We make our lists of resolutions at the turn of the year to reach our ultimate goals and declare with vigor, this is the year I finally get it right!

Magnolia trees adorn my parents home in Dublin, Georgia. My brother Lindsey and I spent many hours climbing the trunks and hiding amongst the enormous leaves. Recently I returned home for Christmas and spent time just wandering around the place I grew up. One particular tree which we could reach the top in less than minutes now stands regally, thick in trunk, with branches that spread beyond my imagination. Smiling, I noticed an unnatural twist on one side and remembered swinging from the young, limber branches in an arched like fashion, landing feet first (most of the time) on the other side of the yard. We enjoyed hours of  summer fun supplied by the young tree; now, some 40 years later, it dominates the yard.

This morning in my prayers, I thought of the damaged trunk which my brother and I caused to the Magnolia tree. It reminded me of myself and endless conversations I have had with God. For several years I’ve prayed for God to take away pains of my past, things I do not want to have happened in my life. Ironically, I’m often teased by my family that life to me is “unicorn and rainbows.” Even in my prayers, I ask God to change the past. Remove what happened and make it straight again.  The tree came to mind. The unnatural twist in its trunk makes it uniquely beautiful – even more majestic than the other Magnolias as it stands sturdy, strong, and resistant despite the bend.

 His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses. Sometimes healing comes not by removing what has occurred but by taking the damage and turning it into something rare and special. In Ecclesiastes 7:12, “Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked?” I purposely did not capitalize the h in “he” because there are incidences in our lives that are caused by God for a very specific reason and others caused by Satan to defeat us. Either way, God is orchestrating the events of life, the good, the bad, the very things that we feel will destroy us, for a purpose far greater than we can imagine. When evil hurls a damaging blow, God uses it to make us majestically beautiful.

As you make your list remember a few simple tips:

1. Your ending is far more important than your beginning. Sometimes we spend too much effort looking at our past and trying to change it. Rear view mirrors are for glances. What’s ahead of you is far more important to God than what’s behind you. Plan accordingly.

2. Use your bends and twists. You are a survivor and what has happened in your life can be used as a source of strength. When obstacles come your way, when bad things happen, realize where you’ve been and who brought you through it.

3. You do have a choice. Each of us chooses every day whether to live in anger and despair over all the unfairness of life or to choose joy. The blessings in your life are just as significant as the difficulties. Give them each the proper weight.

4. Make Faith your first decision. Sometimes having faith is the last result. Make it your first. Believe first that God will handle the situation for your benefit instead of waiting until you have no other route to decide God can help.

5. Decide this is the year… you fill in the blanks.

Those who truly understand the value of knowing God will exchange all that they have to follow Him. Make this your year.


Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

December 30, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I’ll be home for Christmas…

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The words rang from my lips as harmoniously as the song, although its been 23 years. “Mom, can we come home for Christmas this year?”

I grew up in a small town called Dublin, Georgia, just off I16 south of Macon. Dublin has grown so much since I lived here, it is hard to say “small” and be honest. My parents own a two-story brick house built in the early 1900s. It wasn’t my first home but I spent the majority of my childhood here. Everything about this house is “home-made” from the needlepoint ornaments that adorn the tree to the 100-year-old mantel clock which chimes throughout the night, this is a place for dreams.

As I stood in the shower waiting for the icy well water to turn warm, I thought of Christmases past. Twenty teenagers roasting marshmallows over a fire my Dad built; horses in the field; my brother shooting squirrels; my sister in curlers; my grandmother sewing; my Dad singing; and my Mom holding us all together.

Last week I heard a sermon by Pastor Mike Franklin of The Torch. If you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak, he is phenomenal. His sermons penetrate your heart so that the entire week his message is heard. He talked about Christmas being the “beginning.” We often see the season as “the end” of the year – a closing of sorts.

Life is a series of starts and restarts – beginnings and endings. The last Christmas I spent in Dublin was the first Christmas for my daughter Collier. Her Dad and I had been married 3 years and he was studying medicine at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. This Christmas is my first “unmarried” in a long time, and I came home.

Even God started over. As funny as it sounds, its true. I imagine the difficulty of throwing an arch angel and 1/3 of his followers out of heaven; of removing Adam and Eve from the garden; of destroying His creation in the flood, but He started again. So many of us find ourselves in situations of loss and despair. We think we failed or someone failed us. We don’t see how anything could ever be the same. Could we possibly start again?

When God came to earth in the form of man, to walk among us as prophesied, He came to start again. To give a world hope. He came to give us eternity with Him. He came to bring us home.

Whatever situation life finds you today, you can start again. Loss is a part of living. Gratitude is as well. The only way to finish a book is to move to the next chapter. Too many of us want to continue to reread the same chapter or go back to the beginning. The message of Christmas is about rebirth, starting a new, fresh and eager to serve Him. It’s about finding a way in a trouble world. You are not stuck in your circumstances. And Christmas is the reason you can “begin again.”

I wish you all a New Beginning this Christmas – a fresh start to get it right.

“Do not be afraid; for behold I bring you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, Christ the Lord.”

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

December 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Mr. Fix-It Man…

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We call my Dad “Mr. Fix-It Man.” From television repair, to automobiles, broken fences and Barbie DreamHouse elevators, if there is a problem, my Dad is the solution. Like a superhero with a cape, he comes onto the scene of brokenness, works his magic – a little WD40 here, a nail or two there – and we are all smiles. I remember a time when my parents were struggling financially and they needed the car repaired. Truth be known, they needed a newer car, the old one just kept breaking down. My sister and I heard them talking at the table to which she replied, “Daddy, just make a new one.” He laughed; but my sister and I did not change our expressions. In our minds, Mr. Fix-It Man could do it.

Matthew 8:5-13 tells of a Centurion who came to Jesus in Capernaum. Centurion’s were probably the “Special Ops” of the Roman Military, very skilled fighters of the time who moved up the ranks. A centurion would have 15 to 20 years experience in the Roman Army. The Centurion requested Jesus heal his servant who was at his home paralyzed and suffering terribly.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I will go and heal him.'” (7)

But the Centurion replied, “Just say the word, and my servant will be healed.”

He explained his belief by giving the example that he himself was a man of rank. He told people what to do throughout the day, and it was done. How much more authority Jesus had!  He knew that if Jesus just spoke the word, it would happen.

The enemy of our soul does not have the power to stop God’s plans but he can hinder them and he uses us to do the ‘hindering.’ One of my favorite stories in the Bible is of Daniel, who was praying diligently for God’s help; God’s answer. Daniel was fasting for over three weeks, and as in human nature, he was probably feeling weak and anxious for God’s answer.  Daniel 10:12 – 14 “Then he continued, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future for the vision concerns a time yet to come.'”

From these two scriptures much can be learned. The Centurion speaks directly to Jesus of his faith in His ability to solve a problem. He didn’t even need Jesus to come and lay His hands on the issue, he knew God would solve it simply by a spoken word. Daniel on the other hand is praying diligently and waiting on an answer. His faith is evident in his unwavering perseverance through fasting and prayer. It is faith at both extremes and speaks volumes for those of us standing in the wings, waiting on God to help us.

Someone once told me, “When God closes a door, He will always open another…but it is hell in the hallways.”

When the legions of angels fell from God’s grace, they became demons on the earth answering to Satan. It all sounds scary and it should. The angel who was sent to give Daniel the answer was wrestling with one of these demons. The angel could not overcome the demon, so the Arch Angel Michael came to help. The angel continued on the path to Daniel.

Sometimes we are waiting, waiting, waiting. Doubt enters our minds. Worry fills our hearts and weighs heavy on our bodies. We start to believe we are forgotten and unloved. Two points for Satan’s team. Those thoughts come from the enemy of our soul and serve to hinder God’s plan for our lives. If Satan can have his evil spirits interfere with our faith, then he can accomplish what he intends: to cause doubt, chaos, false belief, accusation, hurt, and dissention.

I remember a time when I could not get to Hart, who was working at a barn in Gainesville. A wreck had occurred which backed traffic up for miles. As I sat and watched the sun setting in the distance, my stomach became knotted. Her boss had left early that day and Hart was alone, in the dark, the cold, with no cell phone. (She had let her brother borrow it for the day.) As a Mom,  my mind wandered to places of danger and despair but I refused and stayed focused on God’s protective hand. I asked Him that His protection would be so complete, she would not even have an ounce of worry. When I finally got to her, after apologizing profusely for being late, I asked her if she was ok. She smiled that sweet smile that only my Hart can give and replied, “I knew you were coming. Or I knew you were sending someone else. I just sat in the tack room and played with the cat.”

We have a part in this too. It is our faith which honors God. The Angel explains to Daniel from the first day he set his mind on God… Many of us have problems which we have not even gone to God in prayer to ask for help. We just stand in the middle of the road spinning around begging. Bring your problems to God and then humbly give them to Him. Daniel didn’t put together a business plan with outlined solutions for God. He gave God control. Often we turn our problems over to God but when something additional happens we freak-out, fall on the floor, roll around and bang our fists. Is He “Mr. Fix-It Man,” or not? Either you trust His plan or not.

God is orchestrating events and situations for His purposes in your life. He does have a plan. He is in control. He needs you to turn it over to Him and be His biggest cheerleader. He may put you to work. He may require you to pull up your boot straps and sweat a bit. Know that no matter where you are. No matter what you’ve done. God is for you and He will not forsake you – simply believe.

When Satan’s evil doers put doubt in my mind, I say aloud, “Ahhhhh, just for that I’m going to work harder for God. You’ve done it now.”

And I usually write another blog. : )

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

December 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm

The Recipe for Giving…

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It’s the season of giving, helping in soup kitchens, adopting families, making Christmas yummies, visiting Santa, and so much more. One of the greatest attributes of Americans is our love of giving and not just during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. We have always been a country that gives and for that I am proud. Giving puts us at our best and rejuvenates humanity.

But there are things that we need to give which are not tangible.

1. Understanding. Yesterday I was waiting to check out at Target. Two ladies in front of me had 2 buggies full of toys to donate to the Toys for Tots drive. In front of them was a sweet older gentleman with batteries in his hand. In front of him, a middle-aged woman who for whatever reason was having an issue with her debit/credit card. Embarrassed, the woman was trying to remove items to get to the point where the transaction would go through. I felt the tension mounting in the 2 ladies in front of me who prior to the issue had been full of Christmas cheer, telling me all that they were doing in this season of giving. “Honestly, this is ridiculous. Can you deal with her later? We’ve got to get this to the school before 3:00,” one of them said to the cashier. And the two started. There wasn’t time. People need to manage their money better. You’re holding up the line, etc.

The cashier picked up an item that might help lower the cost to which the woman with tears in her eyes explained, “No. That’s for my son. I have to mail it today to Afghanistan.” The gentleman behind with the batteries simple walked forward, scanned his card, and whispered, “Merry Christmas.”

The woman, overwhelmed by his kindness, quietly thanked him. “My pleasure,” he said. When she left, he turned to the women behind him with the buggy of toys, “There’d be no toys to give and no purpose to give them if not for the sacrifice of that woman and her son. I hope you make your deadline.”

If we act out when others need our support, what good are we? What is the point of giving if we can’t behave in line at Target? The greatest gift we can give is understanding.  George Washington Carver stated, “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these. ”

2. For – Giving. It is the season for giving – yes – but also forgiving. Bitterness dwells in the hearts of so many of us and once rooted sprouts and spreads to every part of our being.  Often we remark, “I can’t forgive them. They’ve just done too much damage.” You are right. They have. And continue to do so until you let it go and move on. I received a letter via email recently from a woman who had done something against me years ago. I remember thinking when I started reading the email, “Who is this?” As I read the words, the feelings of hurt and pain came back to me. I did remember what she had done but Praise God I had forgiven her long ago to the point that initially I didn’t even remember who she was.

Forgiveness is not for the person who harmed us. It is for us – to prevent clogging of the arteries around the heart, and I don’t mean plaque.

3. Smile. In the movie, PS I Love You, it is quoted, “Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.” Smiles do so much for humanity. They are non-threatening ways to communicate with others. They demonstrate acceptance, compassion, and understanding. As you shop, work, go to school functions, parties and church, take the time to smile at people. One smile can change a person’s day. One smile can give hope to someone. Whenever I think of Jesus, I imagine His softness. I know He smiled and one day when I get to see Him, I intend to give Him the biggest smile back.

I work part-time for a small loan company. There is a particular lady who comes in every month to make her payment. Our manager tries diligently to make her smile. Even a little wrinkle around the corners of her mouth would satisfy him. He tells her a joke sometimes. Offers her candy. Every month when she walks out the door he remarks, “Next month, I’m gonna do it!”

Smile even if it is the last thing you want to do.

As you are out and about doing good, giving of your time and money for others, take a moment to remember ‘WHO’ you represent. Is your behavior what He would want? Make sure you represent Him well.

Even in the Mall, piled high with shopping bags, tired feet, and whining kids… God expects our best.


Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

December 8, 2011 at 1:08 pm

The Faith List…

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For eleven years, I worked internationally in adoption and humanitarian aid predominantly in Russia and Guatemala. It is strange but as I am typing this blog to you,  the flow of miracles, one after another, fill my head to the point that I want to fall on my knees and praise and worship Him. No other time in my life have I seen so strongly the hand of God on lives. No other time in my life have I experienced the depth of evil and the existence of Satan and his angels.

Hebrews Chapter 11 is inspiring because it demonstrates those before us who through and by faith conquered evil. “By faith, Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.”

“By faith, Abraham, even though he was past age – and Sarah herself was barren – was enabled to become a father because he considered Him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.”

Anyone who has ever had an experience with adoption knows it is not the easy way out. I’ll take labor any day. Give me 42 hours of it in comparison to what these families go through in order to adopt, but by faith, they do. The first adoption I ever did took 4 months. No issues. Smooth sailing. Parents and child happy. I remember thinking, “Wow! This is definitely what God wants me to do. Look how good I am at it!” Ha! And I jumped in, clothes and all, and no part of adoption was ever easy again. But God’s hand never left me.

The story of successes are written on my heart because I know first hand the battles won through God. Whenever I am anxious or afraid, I shout them out, “By faith we found Maria and pulled her from the grips of those who wanted to harm her. She lives in Kansas now…by faith we convinced the passport office…by faith the money appeared…by faith we found the birth mother…by faith the document was signed…by faith the doctor agreed with us…by faith the Embassy worker left the file opened…by faith the orphanage director…” What Satan intended to use to destroy, God turned for good.

It is my faith list.  What is yours?

When my kids get together, I hear all kinds of stories. Do you remember when we did this? A burst of laughter fills the den. Their Dad and I just look at each other and wonder, where were we during this time? It is human nature to reminisce, to remind, to relive, to share. With God it is no different and the power it unleashes on a spiritual realm is indescribable. Speak of His miracles in your life.  Make your faith list.

There was a time in my life when the despair of all that was going on seemed over whelming. I felt as if I lived in a snow storm and each step I took left me exhausted. But a friend reminded me, “You may be going through a lot…but you’ve already been through a lot and you’ve come too far to stop now. The fog will lift. The path of the righteous gets brighter and brighter.”

Florence May Chadwick was a phenomenal young swimmer. She is accredited for breaking American Gertrude Ederle’s world record in 1950 by swimming the English Channel in 13 hours and 20+ minutes. But her greatest accomplishment occurred two years later when she attempted to swim from Catalina Island to the California coastline a distance of 26 miles. Small boats watched for sharks and were there to help her if she needed it. A thick fog developed around her after 15 hours of swimming to which she called out to her Mom on one of the boats and told her she didn’t think she could continue. After another hour, exhausted and unable to see past the dense fog, she asked to be pulled into the boat. She had stopped swimming less than a mile from the shoreline.

Chadwick tried again two months later. Miraculously the same fog appeared – even thicker this time. But Florence did not stop swimming. She kept an image of the shoreline in her head with each stroke she took.

Your shoreline is just ahead. When doubt enters your mind, shout out your faith list, those times when God has pulled you through. Fog appears in everyone’s life. Times when we cannot see our hand in front of us. Times when the answer is nowhere to be found. As in all things, the fog will lift, and the Creator of the Universe will shine in glory beside you.

The path of the righteous gets brighter and brighter.

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

December 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm

How beautiful are our scars to Him…

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 Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker is a must for the Christmas Season. It is the perfect Daddy/daughter date or family outing. The Gainesville Ballet Company in Gainesville, Georgia just finished its production of the classic tale of the little girl Clara’s Christmas adventures in a mystical dreamland. Because my daughter is a dancer, I spend a great deal of time backstage with the other Moms doing the things Moms do.

I noticed a particular seasoned dancer who had just come from stage, her chest breathing rapidly in and out, perspiration on her forehead, laughing with her dance partner. How effortlessly he had lifted her and returned her to the stage to balance on the point of one foot. It reminded me of the music box dancer I had as a child.

As I continued to watch her, she  unwrapped the ribbons around her ankles and removed the pretty pink pointe shoes that adorned her feet. To the outside world, ballerinas are delicate with long thin arms and small features. They walk differently than most people, with a posed, straight-backed gait. Oh to be a ballerina – thin, graceful, lighter than air, beautiful…and then I saw her feet – calloused and red, swollen with almost a gnarled appearance.

“Do your feet hurt?” I asked intrusively.

Instinctively her hand fell, gripping the diameter of her foot, “Not really…anymore.” She smiled, “They look like they hurt, don’t they?”

Embarrassed, I didn’t know how to respond.

“It’s all part of it. The calluses actually help. I’d never get a pedicure.”

I remember when my son Bo was little, he and his buddy Bobby were eating lunch at the kitchen table talking about scars. Bobby told of his scars, each with an elaborate story, and Bo pointed out his to which both responded, “Cool!”

We all have them – wounds, scars, calluses from life’s battles. Some are visible to the outside world and some hidden beneath pretty pink ballet shoes. It is what we do with them that makes the difference. I’ve heard it said, “What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.” In the right context, I believe that statement could be true.

Just by their very nature, scars tell the story of wounds which healed. The mark itself represents a time in our lives when something happened and we survived. On my finger I have a scar I got crabbing on St. Simons Island with Tracy Lou Lamb. Just below my knee, an accident playing war in a Magnolia tree with my brother. On the side of my neck from a surgery to remove suspicious lymph nodes and across the bottom of my belly, four c-sections to bring four of my six beautiful children into the world.

John 20:24, “Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.'”

Maybe he felt an impostor was trying to take the credit of the man he loved or could not bear the pain of it not being Him, for whatever reason, Thomas demanded verification and the one defining proof was the imprints of the horrific events which caused Jesus’ death.

But more than physical reminders of past wounds, many of us carry the pain of broken promises, rejection, loss, betrayal, and sin. We live day after day with battle marks on our heart and soul which forever change the way we view the world. Hidden behind pretty pink shoes, we dance and move as if the calluses of our past have no bearing on who we are.  They are however the very essence of who we are.

Matthew Henry, a great theologian wrote, “As the blood of his saints, and their deaths, are precious in the sight of the Lord, so are their tears, not one of them shall fall to the ground. ‘I have seen thy tears…’ He will remember them…God will not forget the sorrows of His people. The tears of God’s people are bottled up and sealed among God’s treasures…God will comfort His people according to the time wherein He has afflicted them, and give to those to reap in joy who sowed in tears. What was sown a tear will come up a pearl.”

Your struggles, the trials endured, the hurt inflicted can be the very catalyst to bring change in a world filled with anger, hurt, and grief. To God you are beautiful because you have endured. No need for a pedicure. The scars that mark your heart are precious to Him. Use them to be stronger, not just to survive. Use them to help others. To teach others. Turn what the enemy of your soul wanted to use to destroy into an avenue to defeat him. Turn it into a vessel for good.

1 Corinthians 1:4, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

December 5, 2011 at 1:59 pm

The Back-up Plan…

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 I purchased a house this morning…I guess I should say, “a tropical dwelling,” in Playa La Barqueta Chiriqui, Panama. Fully furnished 3 bedrooms, 2 baths with an open floor plan. A spacious terrace overlooking a private beach and garden. There is an office, internet, flowering vines growing wildly covering an arbor just outside the window. A perfect setting to continue my writing career. Less than a mile down the beach is a fish market, where fresh products are brought in daily. The blue skies, endless stretches of sandy white…it was at this very moment that my daughter Collier’s overweight pug jumped on my bed, whining to go out. The alarm clock on my bedside table blared its 5:30am reminder and my eyes opened to the treadmill in front of me. Today is 5 miles. The temperature outside my Northeast Georgia home is 31 degrees and I can’t find my other tennis shoe.

We all have them. Dreams of a better, different life. No stress. Doing what we long to do. No issues. No heartaches. Somewhere in the mid-forties I think many people look at their lives and realize all the plans and thoughts from the 20s age group are not working out. At times it can be disheartening. We ask ourselves, “Is this what God intended for my life?” For some of us the answer is yes and for others the answer is no. So how do we get from where we are to where we want to be?

One of my favorite vacations was to Yellowstone National Park. The kids were young and fascinated with science and nature. Our guide was an extremely intelligent nuclear physicist who seemed to know a little bit about everything. He told me about the Lodgepole Pine Trees that grew through out the forest. 70 feet in stature, these trees produce two types of cones (male and female). One spreads its seed on a regular basis but the other, only in extreme temperatures. The hardness of its outershell cannot be cracked open by animal teeth or hammers, only in temperatures of 113 to 140 degrees. “The back-up plan,” he called it with a wink. After a fire, the cones burst open and the seeds rain down to replant for the future. I actually took one home as a reminder.

In our lives bad things happen – unexpected events – obstacles in our agendas – tragedies. Whether it is an illness, job loss, divorce, death of family member, or a stupid decision on our part or someone else’s, we all have times when the jolt of what is before us is nothing like we dreamed it would be. But God has a back-up plan. Sometimes it isn’t easily seen and other times it rains down just like the seeds of the Lodgepole Pine.

So what do we do to get where we need to be?

1. Determine what’s in your junk drawer. We all have them. That one drawer in the house where we cram things that we don’t know what to do with. The one place we look for those odd items of our lives. Your heart is no different and there is some junk in it. Psalm 139:23, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts.” God knows what’s in your junk drawer. Pray diligently that He show you what’s there and what you need to throw-out, never to return.

2. Who is in your life? My grandmother always said if you are with someone that you wouldn’t want to be with when the skies part and Jesus comes back, you need to reevaluate your friendships. People influence our actions. If the person you are spending time with is not someone you want to stand beside on judgement day, cut them loose.  Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

3. Know what prize you are seeking. Some of us spend endless amounts of time looking for something better only to realize we had what we wanted the entire time. 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” What exactly is the prize you wish to obtain? Money? A new car? Big House? or time with your kids? Your family together and intact? A life pleasing to God? What and why are you running this race and what prize do you want at the end of it all?

4. Never give up the passions of your heart. They are there for a reason. Determine if they are God’s passions for you or placed there by worldly desires. If they are of God, never quit. If you don’t give up, God certainly won’t. Ephesians 1:9, “And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” Understanding God’s word will help you to identify the plans and passions He has for your life.

5. Put away your stick. We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all disappointed those we love. We are sinners – hypocrits, gossipers, judgers – we have our own agendas and we want what we want. True repentance comes in the request for forgiveness, not just to God, but to those you have harmed. The key is however, “Go and sin no more.” Don’t play games with God. I assure you, you will not win. Stop beating yourself up. Stop feeling sorry for the way things are in your life. Talk to God. Straighten it out with those around you and move on. The greatest tragedy of any life is a person who does not realize the intense love God has for him/her and the mercy and grace that follows someone who truly repents of sins. Remember, it is a daily act. There isn’t a person alive who can say at the end of the day, “I didn’t sin today!” Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace in time of need. ”

God has a back-up plan for your life.

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

December 4, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Jesus wept…

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John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”

It is simple in sentence structure – subject/ verb – no adjectives, prepositional phrases, or direct object. Descriptively, the reader can visualize Jesus, His shoulders moving, His body bent over,  hands covering His face, and the sound of one in deep regret, resonating throughout the house. The word cried  would not be strong enough. Wept depicts sorrow – a deep, painful emotional display of complete and utter sadness.

Even though it is declared the shortest verse in the Bible, I believe those two words have more sustenance than any other. On the one hand it shows  Jesus’ deep love for Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary.  “Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!'” (36).  It also could be interpreted as frustration. Jesus had been very busy and knew Lazarus was sick. Mary reminded Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (32). Probably those who witnessed His sorrow decided He felt discouraged because He had let Mary and Martha down. Interestingly though, earlier in the week, Jesus had told His disciples (11) “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up.”

So why the tears?

If Jesus knew (and He did) that He was going to Lazarus’ grave to resurrect Him, why was He emotionally distraught? In John 11:16, “So then He told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

This verse, “Jesus wept,” more than any other in the Bible, shows the deep connection between God, you, and me. Jesus knew He was going to save the day. He knew that Mary and Martha were going to dance and sing. He knew Lazarus was going to enjoy many more days of life. The disciples and other people of the village would be able to witness an incredible testimony of God’s power and abilities. I don’t know about you, but if I knew I was the solution to everyone’s immediate problem, I would walk in the door like Captain America with my hands on my hips and declare, “I’m here to save the day! Let me through people!”

We aren’t just God’s divinely designed creation. He didn’t make us and move on. God is connected so deeply with our souls that when we hurt – He hurts; when we laugh – He laughs; and when we weep – He weeps.

I remember as a teenager coming home after a tough day at school. Some girls had been mean to me and I didn’t want to go back to school. My grandmother listened intently to all that I had to say and somewhere in the middle of my explanation tears rolled down her cheeks. She was FOR me and the mere fact that she shared my sadness equipped me with boldness.

The reason Jesus wept that day was because He felt the sorrow of those He loved and because of the all consuming love He had for them, He grieved with them. Even though He had the answer, He experienced their pain.

The reality of the verse is as simple as the verse itself. Everything we do, say, do not do, do not say, effects our Heavenly Father. When we sin, how deep His emotions must be! When tragedy falls upon our lives, He feels every tear. And even though He knows the outcome of our situation, He walks through it with us anyway.

God is FOR you…wherever you find yourself…in tragedy; in sin; in joy; in sorrow…from beginning to end and thereafter.

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

December 3, 2011 at 12:40 pm