5 Things Every Church Should Do (Part 4)

Vanessa was born into a broken world on November 3rd, 1989.

She was loved, but she didn’t love herself.

When she was 2, her father died in a motorcycle accident in Southern California.

Her mother was 21 years old with 2 small children, no job, no education and life became chaotic.

Sadness, anger and regret filled their lives, though no one ever talked about it.

Vanessa learned at a very early age to stuff deep hurts and play the part of a happy kid.

She played a lot of make believe, numbing herself to the reality of sadness, loneliness, pain and guilt.

Her other coping skills were eating too much and hurting herself.

Vanessa and her family went to church occasionally but her perception of God was that “He had a lot of rules that, if broken, would send me straight to Hell. The whole thing just wasn’t appealing.”

Her mother met a man and the family moved to Colorado and Vanessa felt like she was starting a new life with a new dad.

Everything seemed perfect until at the age of 10, she was molested by a 40-something-year-old neighbor, but she never told anyone about it, not realizing that anything out of the ordinary happened.

Vanessa’s mom got engaged, Vanessa’s mom got cancer, Vanessa’s mom’s new fiancé could not face the storm and he left.

Once again, Vanessa faced abandonment.

While her mom was getting medical treatment, Vanessa and her sister would stay up all night and began to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana.

They moved back to California and the partying intensified.

When she entered high school her life was spinning out of control though on the surface you would not know.

She was in honor classes with high grades, involved in water polo, swimming, school plays, dance class, journalism, a statistician for wrestling and assisting with school rallies.

Yet getting wasted, smoking weed and stealing prescription drugs became an everyday occurrence.

Vanessa began to sell marijuana and was arrested and had to do community service.

Her sophomore year she got pregnant and had a miscarriage, yet, this was not her bottom.

She began to get into heavier things and then she discovered the drug of her choice, meth.

While still putting on a pretty good show on the outside, her mom caught her doing meth and she revealed that her dad had completely lost himself in the meth pipe.

The night he died, her mom caught him smoking and kicked him out of the house and that is when he crashed his motorcycle.

Vanessa felt lied to and ran away and did not finish the last 2 months of school.

Her mother reported her missing, thus violating her parole, and she was arrested and spent 2 ½ months in jail and sober.

When she got out, she got accepted to college and had great intentions of being a good student but quickly got involved with alcohol and weed.

“My disease was much stronger than my ambition.”

Vanessa jumped around from one high to another and ended up in Las Vegas where her dad’s friend Ryan lived.

She moved in with Ryan and “I found my usual low-life crowd and began selling weed, coke and x. I was then introduced to the pimp and prostitution game.”

“They appeared to have it all; little did I know they were just great actresses. I got myself a pimp, who was also a drug dealer.”

“That day, I sold my soul.”

Things went from bad to violent to worse and Vanessa eventually left her pimp but she kept selling drugs and was re-introduced to meth.

6 months later, smoking meth daily, she lost everything, cut off her long beautiful hair and went into seclusion.

He mom called the morgue often to find out if she was alive.

“The toxins of the drugs were seeping out of my pores. I would pick at my skin all over my body. My once flawless complexion was constantly covered in sores. I spent my 21st birthday getting high in a closet.”

On the night of November 17th, 2010, someone turned Vanessa in on a $10,000 bounty.

It saved her life.

She got lost in the system, a blessing in disguise, and for 21 days she reflected on her life and her choices.

“I looked into the foggy jail mirror and saw a grimy creature I didn’t recognize. God told me in a faint, gentle whisper, ‘This is not what I want for you. This is not who you are.’”

That night she wrote a poem titled, “Surrender”, begging God to deliver her from this insanity.

Under house arrest she immersed herself into recovery and followed the rules like her life depended on it. And it did.

“One day, as I was contemplating what the God of my understanding was to me, Jesus appeared. I have always been a cloud watcher. There He was wearing the crown of thorns, like an image I’d had on a postcard as a child. He was smiling at me and I could see that He was so proud. I had more hope that evening than any other moment of my entire life!”

Vanessa learned that the root of disease lies in obsession, compulsion, self-centeredness and lack of faith.

She moved to California and arrived in Placerville with a new ankle monitor.

Her mom mentioned that her church offered several recovery groups.

Vanessa thought, “Oh great! They are going to shove religion down my throat.”

A recovery meeting called “Celebrate Recovery” was meeting that night and so they came to the church and Vanessa experienced something she had not experienced before.

“That first night at Celebrate Recovery, I felt warmth and a hope I didn’t recognize. Everyone was so welcoming and loving. I began to attend church services and I started volunteering. I soon realized that Green Valley Community Church was not a religious church about judgment or being better than, but it was a Jesus church about relationships and acceptance.”

”One thing I knew, I had finally found home.”

“I learned that God is a father to the fatherless. He offers grace and forgiveness and peace. I began to like myself.”

”I got off house arrest, I got to flip a sign at Easter reading ‘Road to Hell” as my old life and “Road to Recovery” as my new life.”

Vanessa is an inspiration and a miracle and now helps young people recover from their hurts, hang-ups and habits.

Celebrate Recovery and my church’s commitment to help those dealing with hurts, hang-ups and habits has once again drawn us very close to the heart of God.

Jesus stated that he clearly came to “Heal the broken-hearted and set captives free.”

When people say that God doesn’t do miracles anymore, then they have never been a part of Celebrate Recovery.

Our Celebrate Recovery program was started by a couple who was rejected by another church when they wanted to start the program.

The church told them that they weren’t sure they wanted people with serious issues and addictions coming into their church.

Their sad loss was our gain.

Celebrate started small and as the leadership grew, so did the program.

7 years later, hundreds have overcome, healed, found God and been baptized.

When you go to a Celebrate Recovery service, ours is on Thursday nights, what you experience is what real church should be.

Each service includes true celebration, safe relationships, honest assessment, humbling confession and gut wrenching transparency and a sense of freedom and purpose that is contagious.

It is about as pure of a church as you will find!

We have now started “The Landing” which is Celebrate Recovery for teenage and college students.

It is a safe landing place for students to come and heal, build healthy relationships and start good habits.

Every church should help people overcome.

The 4th thing every church should and must do is be fully committed to “Celebrate Recovery.”

 

Vanessa’s life scripture is from the book of Lamentations where the prophet Jeremiah says, “I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great Your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.”

For more information about “Celebrate Recovery” go to… http://www.celebraterecovery.com/

Or respond on this post
Or email me and we can talk burkeyk@gvcconline.net

5 Things Every Church Should Do (Part 3)

Every church should have funeral and grieving ministries that love and care for families during some of their darkest times.

Tom looks a lot like Santa Claus, plays the acoustic guitar a lot like James Taylor, and teaches children a lot like no one else.

A group of us from my church took a trip to West Africa and we were able to witness Tom’s amazing skills teaching local and global children about how special they were and how they were loved by God.

When we would walk through small villages, Tom would lead the way playing his guitar.

Children would appear out of nowhere, yelling, “Papa Noel! Papa Noel!” and before you knew it, the children were singing brand new songs, following their new found friend.

To say that Tom has a gift is an understatement.

To say that Tom was made by God to teach and invest in children is an obvious statement.

To say that Papa Noel’s joy and smile comes easy is about not knowing about the hole in his heart.

Five years ago, Tom lost his soul mate, the love of his life, his wife, a phenomenal teacher in her own right.

He lost her to cancer, a long, heroic fight that they fought together, and when she succumbed to the dreaded disease, Tom found himself exhausted, alone and wondering if life would ever make sense again.

He would tell you that there has never been a greater marriage.

And he would tell you that there has never been a greater pain.

To this day, every once in a while, I can see that look in Tom’s eyes, the twinkle in those baby blues is a little subdued, and I will put my arm as far around Papa Noel as I can.

I will ask him, “How are you today my friend?” and he will say, “It is a sad day. But I will be ok. My heart just hurts. And the sky is a little gray. But God is good.”

Every church should have funeral and grieving ministries.

This is what my church’s funeral and grieving ministries look like:

The family and friends who have experienced loss will sit with staff and volunteers to plan the service with the church offering everything they need such as live music, pictures, DVD production, food planning and post grief share options.

When the service happens, all the family has to do is celebrate a life and grieve a loss.

They do not have to worry about any of the details, so they can be there in the moment with the freedom to mourn.

After the service, the family and friends move to our café where food is provided as people share a meal and tell more stories and the healing of sad hearts begins.

We have seen miracles happen in that café where family members who have not spoken in years for many reasons are reconnected and reconciled.

After the service is over, we offer a grief share class 52 weeks a year, where healthy grieving is learned and a new community of friendships are forged.

90% of our funerals are for people who are not connected to a church.

We charge nothing.

Oh, and by the way…every church should do this!

It is one of the most difficult and blessed things we do.

But let me warn you, Grace is messy!

And let me warn you, when a church begins to do this, it will never be the same…and you will never want to go back!

I remember meeting with some leaders from a church that wanted to start doing funerals.

They seemed eager to learn until we told them we do not charge.

You could see them add up the costs.

I told them, “It is called faith to do the right thing when you are not sure how it will work out.”

We also told them that some funerals get a little messy and raw.

We did a funeral several years ago for a family that lost a 43 year old father.

This family was a little rough around the edges and for the first time seeking God during this crises.

During the reception, with about 100 people eating, the family asked us if we could put in a DVD of some pictures they didn’t show during the service.

The DVD started with pictures of birthday parties, fishing trips and camping when all of a sudden a stripper at a bachelor party appeared on screen and we froze. (We now have a new policy: “Do not show pictures we haven’t looked at yet!”)

One of our young men volunteering in the kitchen, was sweeping, looked up, saw the picture, looked back down and kept sweeping. (Good job young man.)

Before we could do anything about it, the picture was gone and pictures of birthday parties, family gatherings and hunting trips appeared again.

Another one of our volunteers, in her seventies, saw the picture, and said, “Well, this is why we do what we do.”

I love her! She gets it.

I do not have time to tell you all the healing that has happened through our funeral and grieving ministries, but it is one of the most important things we do!

Last year we held 55 funerals.
This year we are on the same pace.

Every funeral brings heartbreak and healing. Hurt and hope. Loss and redemption.

It is a ministry very close to the heart of God.

I started this post by telling you about my friend Tom(Papa Noelle). The first time I met Papa Noelle was at his wife’s funeral at my church and now Tom is part of our church helping others heal.

I am a much, much better person because I know him.

Every church should have funeral and grieving ministries that love and care for families during some of their darkest times.

Check out tomorrow as I share part 4 of “5 Things Every Church Should Do.”

5 Things Every Church Should Do (Part 2)

The second thing every church should and must do is to lead the way in caring for the homeless.

And I am not talking about occasionally doing something nice for people who do not have shelter.

I am not talking about dabbling in niceness with a yearly thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Though, that is a good start.

I am not talking about doing flybys where the homeless live.

I am not talking about waiting to see what the local government is going to do for those who are homeless and then complain that they are not doing enough.

I AM talking about fully engaging in discovering what the true needs are for those without shelter.

I AM talking about building long term relationships with people who for many diverse reasons have found themselves in this difficult situation.

I AM talking about the church leading the way, by example, in investing in people who God has mandated us to take care of, by providing food, clothing, shelter, life skill classes and more.

I AM talking about the church inviting the homeless into their church services, treating them like the very brother and sisters they are.

God instructed the church in Isaiah 58 to:

”Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.”

Then God gives us amazing promises and blessings to us if we do those things:

“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal.”

”Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.”

“Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.”

“Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.”

“Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.”

Pretty cool promises and blessings if we get involved in the things God is passionate about.

Over the years God has blessed the church I go to, not because we are more holy than others, and not because we are smarter or better than anyone else.

I think God has blessed my church because it tries to take the words from Isaiah 58 seriously.

Every Saturday morning there is a service held in our Café, where a lesson is given, a free breakfast is served, groceries and fresh vegetables from our organic garden are given and clothes are offered to those who are in need.

On average, each Saturday morning, around 250 breakfasts are served, 150 bags of groceries are taken and around 1500 articles of clothing are given away.

This happens while relationships are being built and volunteer pastoral partners pray with families who are going through difficult times.

Focusing on others needs also allows our faith to grow and our priorities to change.

On one weekend, during the middle of winter, our clothing director told me that they needed men’s shoes to give to men who were spending a lot of time out in the elements with inadequate protection for their feet.

I announced at our 4 weekend services that we needed men’s shoes and not the stinky, worn out shoes that we eventually get rid of. I told them we need nice shoes that will bring warmth and dignity for our guests.

It was one of the most memorable weekends I have been a part of.

Men, as they were leaving the services, were taking off their shoes, their nice shoes, many worth over $100, and leaving them in our lobby and walking out to their cars in the pouring rain.

Over 200 pairs of shoes were left that day. One man told me that as he drove home in his wet socks it helped him have greater compassion for those who live out in cold, wet conditions.

He told me it challenged him to simplify his life and to be more thankful for how blessed he was.

One family, after one of the services, drove to a local sporting goods store and bought a couple dozen pairs of tennis shoes and brought them back quietly and left not wanting to get the credit.

Not all the people attending our Saturday morning breakfast are homeless, but these resources help people prioritize their finances keeping them in their homes.

But for those who are homeless, it allows them to eat a warm meal, hear a hope-filled message and begin to build healthy relationships.

It helps them make connections to resources, people and classes that will help them get back on their feet and find shelter.

Steve and Kelly Stockwell and Tom and Janice Carney are leading the way in how the church should respond to the plight of the homeless.

They have helped put a face to the reality of homelessness and have helped us understand the complexity, challenges and even the prejudices and wrong stereotyping that those without shelter face.

This last year during the winter season, several churches in our area created a rotating shelter, where those who wanted shelter could stay at the designated church for the evening.

Our church hosted our guests on Thursday and Friday nights. What a blessing it was for us. I think it was a blessing for them also.

Thursday nights worked well because we have Celebrate Recovery on those nights, so those who struggle with hurts, habits and hang-ups could show up to the service, learn, grow, heal and overcome, and then stay on campus and have a warm, dry place to sleep.

Friday nights worked well because our guests would spend the night and then wake up to our Saturday morning service, which we call “Common Ground” where they would receive that warm breakfast, groceries, clothing, prayer and love.

One man, this last winter, had found himself homeless because of addictions. He was a self-proclaimed agnostic, and then he began to watch how churches were opening their doors to him and praying for him, and he was blown away.

By spring, attending Celebrate Recovery he became a follower of Jesus and is now making amends with those he had burned bridges with.

One of my concerns about having a central shelter in a community is that many times it gives the local church an out.

I have talked to people in other communities who run shelters and they have trouble getting churches to get involved.

And if they do, they have a few people come to the shelter, but they do not have the homeless come to the church.

I think the power of community, healing and hope will happen when the church begins to open its doors and services to those that have been marginalized and forgotten.

This is just my opinion right now, but I don’t think we need to spend millions on a shelter when in every community, shelter and hundreds of thousands of square feet have already been built.

It is called the local church.

How many square feet in local churches sit there empty 90% of the time?

Don’t get me going on this one, but we don’t need more shelters, we need to open the doors of the shelters we already have.

It is time for the church to truly be the hands, feet and shelter that God has asked us to be.

It is time to reintroduce the meaning of “sanctuary.”

We have enough square feet.
We have enough shelter.
We have enough resources.

But do we have enough faith and guts to invite these precious people into the places we worship?

It is time the church leads the way.
It will be messy.
It will be blessed.
It is where we meet Jesus.

“Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.”

The second thing every church should and must do is to lead the way in caring for the homeless.

Check out tomorrow as I will write about the third thing every church should do.

5 Things Every Church Should Do (Part 1)

The first thing every church should and must do is work with Compassion International.

I am coming off a weekend where Compassion International, once again, has impacted our church in such a way as to make us more compassionate, more generous, more unified and much closer to the heart of God.

What church leaders wouldn’t want that to happen to their church?

When we pray the prayer Jesus taught us, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”, Compassion assists in helping that prayer come true.

The definition of “compassion” is “to feel deeply about something that needs to get fixed, and then being willing to do something about it.”

Many times we feel deeply about something in our world, but that is not compassion. It is only when we are willing to do something to change it, do our lives begin to define compassion.

Compassion International not only brings to us the awareness of the difficulties children experience living in extreme poverty, but they provide practical, effective avenues in participating in taking away those difficulties.

Child sponsorship connects a child to a sponsor who will write letters and pray for him or her, but more importantly it will connect the child to a local church that assists the child in a holistic way.

From making sure they get and stay and thrive in school, to food and nutritional needs, to helping with medical issues, to providing life-saving antiviral drugs that fight the HIV virus, to insecticide treated mosquito nets that prevent malaria, to safe water filters, to building a safe community full of healthy relationships.

On top of all of those amazing things, the child is introduced to a relationship with Jesus and a local church who oversees the local compassion program, who offers them salvation, eternal life and a relationship that will shape how they view the world for the rest of their lives.

Families at the church I go to have sponsored over 1200 children from all over the world. It has affected us deeply. Think about it. We are one church. And as I always say, “We are not a rich church, but we are a generous church.”

One church has impacted the lives of 1200 children, plus their families.

We have sponsored a Child Survival Program in Haiti where pregnant mothers get medical attention and new born children are given the medical care they need to develop into young healthy children who can be sponsored.

The Child Survival Program is run through the local Compassion sponsor church.

Just this last weekend, the families at my church purchased nearly 900 safe water filters at $55 a filter. That’s about $50 thousand in one weekend! They will give 900 families safe water for life.

Once again, these water filters will be distributed through the local Compassion church where pastors and church leaders will give the filters to families and begin to build on-going relationships with them.

What is great is that the local church in that country, not my church, but the local church will get all the credit for helping children, mothers and families, and ultimately when the local church serves its community, God gets the credit and that is the whole point.

And that is the genius and gift of Compassion International.

It has helped my church live out the true definition of “compassion”, it has made us more generous with our time, talents and treasures, it has unified us and better aligned our hearts towards God’s heart whose passion and deep love for the poor we are called to emulate.

My family sponsors 6 children, 3 from Africa, 2 from Mexico and 1 from Haiti. It is the best investment we have ever made!

They say there are 138 million Americans who call themselves followers of Jesus.

Compassion has a little over 1 million children sponsored.

Imagine how the world would change if every American who calls themselves a follower of Jesus sponsored just 1 child.

That would mean 138 million children around the world getting medical, educational, social, relational and spiritual care!

Those 138 million children will grow up and change our world!

Imagine every church in America growing in compassion, generosity, their lives uniting and their hearts beating in closer sync with God’s.

That, my friends, sounds like Jesus’ prayer coming true, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven!”

Every church should and must work with Compassion International.

If you want to know how you can work with Compassion you can email me, burkeyk@gvcconline.net or go to their web page http://www.compassion.com

You might want to forward this to your pastor and church leaders.

Check out tomorrow as I will write about the second thing every church should do.
It’s a pretty big challenge, but it leads to even bigger blessings.

A poem and challenge to the local church

Distractions everywhere, doubters abound
Change the world? That reasoning is not sound
My face slaps reality, visions take back seat
My watch ticks fast, challenging great feats

I’m told be practical, I’m told to chill
I’m talked off my soapbox, told to stand still
Busy with mundane, busy with tasks
Children are dieing, our backs to the facts

Conversing about the day, waiting for weekend
2 days to do nothing, yet many die before weeks end
It seems strange to talk about my shallow fun
While food’s missing in ground scorched by sun

Religion in the big lights, inaugurating the next star
How do we entertain them, we have to raise the bar
While churches woo the converted, the all-ready convinced
There is a world giving up, believing God is “past tense”

We will win with arguments, we will win with laws
We will win with theology, we will win pointing flaws
Debating with bumper stickers, politicians bold and cunning
The TV preacher says we’ll get rich if we give him money

We proclaim salvation, we say we believe
Then why do we pick sides, asking others to leave
Good overcomes evil, love wins over creeds
Our hearts need transforming, touching those who bleed

Grace is messy, we all need the same
Cathedrals too clean, finding others to blame
It’s time to get dirty, it’s time for heart break
No more empty words, and a faith that’s fake

Time to serve the poor, it’s God’s investment plan
Time to open our doors to the homeless man
Time to live with less, so that children are blessed
Time to give our all, so that the world will know the rest

There Are Voices In My Head

There is a Turkish proverb that says, “If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.”

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

Everyday there are voices screaming in our heads and the question is, “Which ones will we listen to?”

One person said it like this, “I have voices in my head, but they’re all speaking Spanish, and I have NO idea what they’re saying.”

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

The psalmist wrote, “I will listen to you, Lord God, because you promise peace.”
Proverbs states that, “A smart person will listen to God and increase wisdom.”
It goes on to say that, “Whoever listens to God’s voice has security and has no reason to be afraid.”
It continues, “Listen to me and you will find happiness.”
Jeremiah wrote, “Call to God and listen to him and he will tell you things you don’t know anything about.”

It seems like a no-brainer to listen to God’s voice with those promises, but the problem is, there are other voices competing in our heads every day.

The truth is we will hear the voice of what we love and focus on the most.

At home, my T.V. can be on, with no one really paying attention until George Clooney’s voice comes on and my wife stops dead in her tracks and runs toward the screen.
There can be a lot of noise in the house, but if hunky George comes on the T.V. she will somehow hear his voice and stop everything else she is doing.

Why does my wife hear Georges voice above every one else?

Because we hear the voice of who and what we love and focus on the most.

I hate George Clooney.

What voices do you listen to?
What voices do you trust?
What voices are the loudest to you?

One of the loudest voices in our head is the VOICE OF OUR CULTURE.

The voices of our culture tell us to worry, hoard, don’t forgive and climb over people to get to the top

They tell us who is important, beautiful and successful.

Our culture shouts out very clearly who is valuable.

These voices lead to the death of dreams, joy, hope, relationships and many times the death of our spirit.

Proverbs tells us that “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

Another voice that competes in our head is the VOICE FROM OUR PAST.

Phrases like, “You have blown it”, “You have burned too many bridges”, “You had your chance”, “Why would it be any different now”, and “You will always be this way”, scream at us all day long.

Another voice that is debilitating is the VOICE OF OTHERS.

It is amazing how hard it is to forget words like, “You are fat.” “You are stupid.” “You are ugly.” “I wish I would of never had you. “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”

Besides the voices of our culture, past and others fighting for supremacy in our head, there is another voice at work full time and it is the VOICE OF THE ACCUSER.

Jesus said, “…he is a liar and the father of lies.”

The accuser will use whatever voice he can to lie to you.

He will use the voices of the culture to lower your self-esteem and cause discontentment.
He will use the voices of your past to make you lose hope for the future.
He will use the voice of others to keep you from dreaming big.
And he will use his voice to condemn, judge and tell you are unforgivable and it is too late.

I was just recently talking to a 19 year old young lady, who had been abandoned by her father, was involved in substance abuse and had compromised her values through many broken relationships.
She was listening to the voices in her head that were telling her that she was worthless, ugly and that God was done with her.
She felt it was too late and she had made too many mistakes.
She felt scared, alone and very fragile.
She was hurting so bad.

I talked to her about changing the voices she listened to in her head.

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF VALUE that says “You are not an accident and you are wonderfully and fearfully made.”

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF SATISFACTION that says, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.”

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF WISDOM that says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice saying, “This is the road! Now follow it.”

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF HEALING that says, “I have come to heal the brokenhearted and set captives free.”

And then I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF INVITATION that says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”

I asked her, “Will you hear God’s voice?”
And then I said, “What is really amazing is that God will hear your voice…”
I read her Psalm 116:1, “I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.”

She decided that day to begin to change the voices she listened to.
Today, God is changing, healing and bringing joy and purpose to this beautiful young ladies life.

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

Will you take a few moments and listen to God’s voice speak to you through scripture:

For those who are tired, God says,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

For those who have been abandoned, God says,
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

For those living with shame, God says,
“…as far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your transgressions from you.” Psalm 103:12 (NIV)

For those searching for significance, God says,
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

For those seeking salvation, God says,
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.” John 11:25 (NLT)

For those needing wisdom for the future, God says,
“Call to me, and I will answer you; I will tell you wonderful and marvelous things that you know nothing about.” Jeremiah 33:3 (GNT)

For those figuring out what success is, God says,
“If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it.” Matthew 10:39 (CEV)

For those tempted to take short-cuts in life, God says,
“People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.” Proverbs 10:9 (NLT)

For those needing financial wisdom, God says,
“Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.” Proverbs 11:24 (NLT)

For those who are buying into the cultural phrase that if it feels good do it, God says,
“Save yourself for your wife and don’t have sex with other women.” Proverbs 5:17 (CEV)

For men looking for ways to be a better husband, God says,
“Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.” Ephesians 5:25 (GNT)

For those sorting out their priorities in life, God says,
“Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NCV)

For those who are looking for good investments, God says,
“Caring for the poor is lending to the Lord, and you will be well repaid.” Proverbs 19:17 (CEV)

For those who are looking to be blessed, God says,
“Be generous and share your food with the poor. You will be blessed for it.” Proverbs 22:9 (GNT)

For those who are feeling weak, God says
“My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NCV)

For those who are wanting to be productive, God says,
“If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NIV)

For those who are discouraged, God says,
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

For those who need refreshing, God says,
“The Lord’s love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning;”
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NCV)

For those who want to be great, God says,
“If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others.” Matthew 20:26 (CEV)

For those who love to worship, God says,
“I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the
Lord. Remove the chains of injustice. Free those who are abused! Share your food with everyone who is hungry;
share your home with the poor and homeless. Give clothes to those in need; don’t turn away your relatives.” Isaiah 58:6-7 (CEV)

For those who want to meet Jesus, God says,
“Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.” Matthew 25:40 (CEV)

For those who need God to narrow it down to what is most important, God says,
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ All the law and the writings of the prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:37-40 (NCV)

And to all of those who have lost someone close to them and need the hope of heaven, God says,
“Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:3-4 (NLT)

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.