Walking by Faith Alone

Posts Tagged ‘religion

Eagle Power…

with one comment

I love the movie Nacho Libre. While there isn’t technically any literary worthiness to it, there is a message. Jack Black plays the part of Nacho, a Monk, discouraged with his life and longing for some form of recognition that his job has meaning. He is the cook for the other Monks and the orphans in a small town in Mexico. When a beautiful Nun enters the scene as a new teacher for the orphans, things begin to change. In secret, Nacho becomes a tag team wrestler and with the proceeds of his fights, buys fresh ingredients to prepare better meals for the children. To gain more power and become the best wrestler in the world, Nacho climbs a cliff to a known eagle’s nest, drinks the yolk of the eagle’s eggs, so that he may gain eagle power.

Discouragement happens to us all at some point in our lives – to some more than others. It is a loss of hope. A feeling that surrender and defeat are the only answers. Discouragement highlights the word ‘quit’ when we want desperately to fight and stay the course. It chips away at our future and makes us believe we are weak, incapable, too old, too young, no-good, hang-it-up people.

Can you imagine the discouragement Noah must have felt waiting for the rain and listening to the jeers and name calling from his neighbors? Or Daniel as they lowered him into the lion’s den? Being swallowed by a whale and living in the belly had to have left Jonah a bit out of sorts…Esther facing the King…Moses dealing with the Isrealites…Jesus as He prayed in the garden and His disciples slept. It leaves me to wonder, what separates “the men from the boys” or the “women from the girls”?

Steps to Combat Discouragement:

  • Tell yourself ‘Who’ is on your side. God is a God of encouragement and hope, not doubt and fear. His words are uplifting, not negative. God never says, “You can’t do it! I’m going to find someone else.” On the contrary, God says, “Despite your weakness, WE will do it and do it well!” Isaiah 40:29, “He gives strength to the weary,and increases the power of the weak.”
  • Relieve yourself of the weight. Carrying burdens, harboring anxiety, filling our worry tanks glorifies Satan. He is the instigator of all doubt and fear as he whispers in our ear, “What ever gave you the idea things would work out! You are going under!” Psalm 55:22, “Cast your cares (burdens) on the Lord and He will sustain you. He will never let the righteous be shaken.”
  • Tell yourself not to fear. Psalm 56:11, “…though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear.” God spends a great deal of time in the Old and New Testament telling us not to fear. Not to worry. Not to let anxiety rule us. Why then do we?
  • Allow God to renew your strength. Pray for encouragement and that God will surround you with His people who will lift you up and give you a renewed sense of hope. Isaiah 40:31, “…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” Don’t withdraw. Don’t stop praying. Don’t buy into the potential destruction. Praise God that He will renew and restore you!
  • Summon your Eagle Powers. You don’t have to drink eagle egg yolk like our friend Nacho. God renews our strength like the eagles. Isaiah 40:31, “You will soar on wings like eagles. You will run and not grow weary. You will walk and not be faint.”

Discouragement can have a hold on us that destroys and weakens our ability to function. The bigger the plan God has for your life, the tougher Satan will be on thwarting that plan. Just when we think we are almost there, something interrupts our progress and hurls us back a few feet. Stand up. Brush yourself off and face the challenge before you. Because God will win  that means you will win too.

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

July 11, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Vampires among us…

leave a comment »

In Eastern European folklore, vampires were known to arise from the dead and disturb the living until they were either impaled or burned – a gruesome definition at best, but are they still among us? Are they lurking around the corners, hiding in bushes, living in Seattle (as the popular Twilight series suggests), waiting to pounce on unsuspecting victims?

I think not but a deviation of such does walk among us. Those energy suckers, negative proclaimers, angry, grumpy individuals with whom we work, walk the streets, sit in the stands with at ball games, or drive on the freeways beside. Those people who want nothing more than to take the chirp out of our song. They may be the person who wakes beside us in the morning or joins us at the breakfast table.  Have you ever noticed how one ill-minded, mad-at-the-world, feet stomping individual can ruin the entire day just by opening his or her mouth? With self-evaluation, on some days, it may just be the person who glares back at us in our mirrors.

We all need to be loved and respected. There is an innate desire within each of us to feel valued and appreciated by those around us. And if only we could choose who loved us,  valued us and respected us, the world could glow with positive expression,  but that’s not the way it works. Even those we care for the most can, like a vampire, drain our enthusiasm and weaken our zest for life. We, ourselves, may be the vampires in the lives of those around us.  I have come to realize through the trials of my own life that it is an impossible – no matter what you do – no getting around it –  task to make other people love us.  Often time the harder we try, the more damage we do to our heart because the rejection stirs our inner-self to wonder, “what about me is not lovable or valuable to you?”

We all want to hear, as Billy Joel sang, “Don’t go changing to try and  please meI could not love you, any better. I love you just the way you are..” The reality weighs heavy, we cannot control the hearts of others, but we can control our own.

I grew up with 3 siblings, 2 sisters and a brother. One day we loved each other, the next we were plotting enemy frontline strategies to take one another out. Sibling rivalry can be brutal but also a natural part of development. It is how we learn to negotiate, compromise, humble ourselves, and surrender. God, as our Father, understands that we, as brothers and sisters, will disagree. From those disagreements and conflicts, we will learn to live together. The key is “how” we handle them that matters most to God.

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22, “Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.”

People can be self-absorb, inconsiderate, unloving, degrading. It is arguable, but many think such behavior is learned – on the contrary. Those emotions have been with us since the day we were born. I never taught my toddlers to say, “MINE!” But I spent a great deal of time singing the “We Share” song. I didn’t teach my children to hit or bite or pinch. But I spent a great deal of time monitoring the “Time Out” corner as punishment for such behavior.

As adults we need to understand God’s instruction in our dealings with others. The enemy of our souls wants nothing more than to penetrate our relationships with others and divide the Kingdom of God.

John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

The next time a vampire creeps up behind you, ask God to deal with them. Praise Him that He created those around you. Marvel in His handy work. Give others the grace God gives to us daily. God is the Healer – the Restorer. As Peter writes in 1 Peter 3: 8-9, we must learn to treat others with compassion by keeping our own hearts tender, and not allow ourselves to “return evil for evil.”

When I deal with vampires, I simply communicate a prayer to God stating, “I know that you have a purpose for that person just as you have for me. What it is, I can’t imagine, but nevertheless, help me to love them as I know You love me. ”



Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

June 18, 2012 at 1:33 pm

To Caroline…

with one comment

I’m so excited today! Know why? Today is May 5th the running of the Kentucky Derby. I love the Derby – always have. When I was your age, I was going to be a horse trainer; run a barn; live in Kentucky; and yes – win the Derby. : )

Dreams fill our lives from when we are 2 and 3, from wanting to be policemen or firemen or teachers or astronauts to even in our older days dreaming of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, beautiful gardens, or a vacation home on a remote island. Life is full of them. And they are all good and important in the eyes of God.

One of my favorite Bible verses was written by Paul through God’s inspiration. It comes from 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, ” 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. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

Today you are being confirmed into the church, your training ground for the big race. In your lifetime you will hear that a person doesn’t have to go to church to go to Heaven. And that is true. But as you know with cheerleading, you cannot be a part of the squad unless you train, practice, work hard, keep your body free of alcohol and drugs, keep your grades up, and attend practice. You are dedicated to your sport because you want to be a part of the winning team. There are many cheerleaders out there – yes there are. There are many teams. There are people who wish to be a part and people who want you to succeed and those who want you to fail. It is part of the game.

Paul is telling us through God to take our walk with Christ like a race, only we are running for “the crown.” There are people who attend church but then Monday morning treat people or act in ways that is not worthy of a person on God’s team. They are seeking prizes that do not last. Be the one who trains to win the race Caroline. Be the one who trains as Christ longs for us to train, as active members of our churches, readers of the scriptures, prayer warriors, but most importantly people who love other people.

One of the Pharisees tested Jesus with a question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (Matthew 22:36 NIV).  Jesus replied, ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40 NIV).

And that’s how you win the race…

I am proud of who you are and who you are becoming. Do not lose sight of where you are running and who you are running beside. Be strong and bold for God. Have faith in Him. Most importantly know that as you become a part of the Body of Christ (the Church), you are representing Him in everything that you do.

Much love to you today. Never forget that you are the apple of God’s eye and a daughter of the King of kings.

As I watch the Kentucky Derby, I am going to think about you. I am going to envision the race you are running in your life for Christ. And when the winning horse crosses the finish line, I will rejoice and be glad because I know in your race, you will win for Christ.

God Bless you and keep you. May His Son shine across your face. May He forever hold you in the palm of His hand.


Aunt Nora

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

May 5, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Impeccable timing…

with one comment

Sometimes in life, problems, struggles, trials rear their ugly head and we find ourselves in circumstances with no easy solution. I, myself, opened my eyes this morning to the reminder that such is in my life right now. Those mountains we just can’t find a way to climb; the valleys we just can’t figure out how to cross; the pain that just will not go away. If you are facing giants right now, as I am, we’re in good company. Many have before us and many will after us, it’s all in the process.

Esther is a young woman in the Bible who gives me great courage on many occasions of my life. Her story is one of intrigue. She is made the Queen of King Xerxes after the king finds displeasure in his wife Vashti. Esther is a Jew, living with her Uncle Mordecai, in a land where the Jewish people are not favored. Under the direction of her Uncle, Esther withholds the information to the King that she is a Jew.

Haman is a man hungry for power. He has worked his way through the ranks to earn the favor of the king and his hard work and diligence has landed him second in command under King Xerxes. The scary part about Haman is he hates Jews and with the elevation of his rank, he declares that the Jews are to be put to death – a decree unknown to King Xerxes. Mordecai gets word to Esther she must go to the king. She must use her royal position to save her people. The request is dangerous, for a queen cannot go before the king without an invitation. Disobedience is death.

Esther 4:15, “Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: Go gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

On day three, she goes to the king and he happily receives her. She invites the king and Haman to lunch. During lunch the king asks her, “What do you want? For you can have half my kingdom if requested.”

Esther 5:7: “Esther replied, ‘My petition and my request is this: If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.”

While this titillating detail leaves us on the edge of our seats, I wonder why? Why the delay? Did she get cold feet? Did God speak to her heart, “Wait Esther!”? Did she sense something none of us can interpret from the reading? I don’t know. But in the middle of the climax…in the midst of the tension and anticipation…the racing pulse…the nearness to solution, God throws in a DELAY.

The answer is there but the timing is not right. God is never late and I can say with certainty, He is never early. Like a Southern lady, He knows just the right time to enter and the perfect moment to leave. Imagine though the Jewish people, fasting, praying, no food, no water, their lives hanging in the balance and Esther has requested another meal? You mean we have to wait another day?

Sometimes, we disrespectfully grab the lapel of God, and pull Him off His thrown, and with anger we shout, “God! Why are you doing this to ME!” As if we have a right, tiny specks of dust, flowers fading in the wind, little beings with NO clue as to the battles of spirituality that rage around us for our soul. Each one of us is desired by God to live in His kingdom for eternity. On the flip side, we are pawns, playing pieces, tokens for Satan to draw into the gates of Hell – we are victory pieces to throw in God’s face by the demon, the archenemy of good. And we question God’s motives, His intent, His solutions?

During the night King Xerxes is striken with insomnia and requests the royal reader to read the Book of Chronicles – accounts of the kingdom. Probably the ideal material to lull a king into dreamland, I would think. In listening to the Chronicles, Xerxes learns of an incident five years ago in which a man name Mordecai helped the king. Xerxes asks what was done for Mordecai and learns that Mordecai was never rewarded.

DELAY…Mordecai uncovered a plot to have the king assassinated by two men of Xerxes’ court. Don’t you know, Mordecai felt a bit put out that he was never rewarded? If he is like most of us, he has probably felt God did not give him validity for doing what was right; God did not give him recognition. “I give and give to that church and this is what I get from you God? I ALWAYS do what’s right and she does what’s WRONG but you recognize her God? I go on mission trips and this is my thank you! What about that time God that I stood up for you and how have you repaid me – are you going to let my enemy win!” Entitlement we scream as we stomp our feet and beat our fists upon the wall. “Who do you think you are?” we shout to God, the Creator of the Universe, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. What are you doing?

The next day, King Xerxes honors Mordecai in the streets, an honor 5 years overdue. Dinner is served by Queen Esther and her petition is brought before the king. When he learns that Haman has sentenced his wife and her people to death, is planning to hang Mordecai, the man who saved his life, Xerxes orders Haman immediately to be executed. God’s perfect timing.

I don’t know what larger than life issues you are facing right now but listen for the wisdom of God in your circumstances. As you walk, believe He is positioning your foot at just the right angle to lead you in the direction He deems right. Sometimes the solution seems so impossible, so out there, we allow abandonment to weigh on our spirits. People discourage us with their ranting and raving, “It will never work! I told you, you should have done this or that. You are doomed!” Remember Christ felt it too, just before He submitted to death questioning Why God had forsaken Him. God’s timing is impeccable. He hasn’t forgotten you. He isn’t surprised. He isn’t throwing His arms up in the air, wondering, “Oh no! What is going to happen to Nora!” He’s got this. What He needs us to do, is believe in Him for the right answer.

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

April 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm