Calling Home

A few days ago, this overwhelming feeling of being alone just hits me.

I wasn’t alone at all. In fact, I could’ve turned to the left and seen my aunt sitting soundly in her recliner, playing one of her regular fruit smashing games on her phone. And if I would have stood up and walked 10 or twelve steps to my right and around a corner, there my aunt’s long time friend would be watching the news like every other day.

I wasn’t alone at all, so why did it feel like I was?

The reason hit me sometime last night while I was reading my daily devotional. It was one about calling on the Lord constantly, whether you’re in trouble or not, and BOOM, right there in front of my eyes was the answer. 

I just stopped reading. Realization dawned on me like a solid slap to the face. I wasn’t really feeling alone at all. I was missing someone. And when I say missing someone, I actually mean someone that I’ve never met in the flesh.

I was missing Jesus.

This may sound completely insane to some, but to me it isn’t. Missing Jesus feels almost like being alone and homesick at the same time. In a way, it’s like my soul recognizes where it belongs and it knows who it belongs to will constantly be with me and never leave my side, but, at the same time, may seem very far away and out of reach.

I wonder, as I type this, how many of you out there have felt some form of this. How many have sit and ached with a certain kind of emptiness that no worldly possession or person could ever come close to filling? How many have encountered a sense a loss, or felt a huge hole in their lives. A hole that was made only to be filled by the One who made us, by the One who gave His life as a ransom for ours.

I also wonder how many of you experience this feeling and have never met our Savior?

For me, I find that the best way to visit Him when this feeling overcame me was by prayer. Well, not so much as a prayer as it was me simply talking to Him. Sure, I didn’t actually hear any words reply back, but I felt His presence. The hole slowly disappeared.

This only solidified my realization of why I felt the way I was feeling. I think He gave me that feeling to encourage me to come to Him more than what I do. So often we put other things before a simple talk. Whether it be work, going out with friends, social media, family problems, stress, or you’re just too tired to pick up the spiritual telephone and dial home, we are neglecting to feed the soul.

We, as Christians, are supposed to pray daily. In fact, in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 it says simply: “pray continually”.

It sounds easy, but I myself know it can be quite difficult to do. We are human and we forget. Or we get busy with one of the numerous things mentioned above. But we should never be so busy that we cannot have a conversation with our Maker. And we shouldn’t rely solely on devotionals, or reading chapters from our Bibles.
 
Neither alone can substitute a talk with our Father.

With this said my challenge for the day for all Christians, or even those of you who have never met Him, is to take a step back from whatever you’re doing right this moment and just talk to God. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate prayer or a two hour long layout of why you haven’t been speaking to Him like you used to. He already knows everything we have thought, think about, and will think on in the future. He doesn’t want to hear our excuses; He just wants to hear our voice.

So, talk. Tell Him about your day, about your dreams, your best friend, a memory of a loved one He called home. If you run out of things to talk about, then just pray for your enemies, your family, and your friends. Pray for the world, our leaders, for Him to strengthen your relationships with each other and especially Him. Talk to Him even if you haven’t experienced that feeling that I have. Talk to Him even if it’s for the first time.

Do it because He loves you.

Blessings,
Tiffany Lefler

Be the Light

But.

If there’s one word that irritates me, it’s the word ‘but’.

I want to donate to charity, but I can’t seem to part with anything.

Sure, I really want to go to church this Sunday, but I have to work and I’ll be too tired.

Yes, I know it’s a sin, but I can’t help it.

I’m sure the list could go on and on and on, but I think you’ve grasped where I’m going with this.

So many people today rely on that word like a lifeline. Humans tend to frequently visit excuses. We want to do all these things that God asks of us, yet it seems like we’re too preoccupied with other happenings to comply with even the smallest of tasks. Our worldly lives seem to take center stage, while we place God somewhere in the nose bleed section.

Notice I say we.

I am as guilty of doing this as any of you are. There are times when I know I should be doing my part in the church, but instead I seem to focus on mundane things like a new episode of my favorite show or a status update on social media that has everyone buzzing. Sometimes, I’m embarrassed by my actions. Here I am claiming to be on a journey with Jesus, yet I can’t find more than a few minutes a day to incorporate Him.

I’m a but person (no pun intended).

I’m that person who is too tired to get up Sunday morning after working a late shift the night before. I’m the one who looks through my things but somehow finds a reason to keep every single possession I come across. And sin, it still plays a part in my life no matter how hard I try to fight it. Or, perhaps, that’s just another excuse. Maybe I could fight harder, but I’m too tired to.

Excuses seem to be my forte sometimes. Actually, forte wouldn’t be an accurate word. A more fitting description? Chains. Excuses are more chains strapped to us by the devil himself. We cannot continue to let him hold us so.

How do we break free of these chains? It seems nearly impossible, but it isn’t. Thinking it’s impossible is only another excuse being whispered into our daily lives.

So, where do we start? How about with Mathew 5:16.

It says:

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Let your light shine.

Let your light shine, so that we can glorify our Father in heaven.

A perfect place to start.

So, beginning today, let us all kick our excuses to the curb and do what Jesus asks us to do: let our light shine by bathing in His presence.

Instead of going to our TV’s when we come home, let’s go to our Bibles. Let’s post scriptures on social media instead of seeking gossip. Spread His Word to those who may have never heard it before. Share what we have, don’t be hoarders. After all, we came into this world with nothing and so shall we leave with nothing.

Go to church, even if you only had a few hours of sleep last night and you’re exhausted. Volunteer when no one else will. Smile at strangers. Be kind. Pray for the lost and for the grieving and struggling. Do small things with great love.

Be the light. Don’t seek excuses, leave them behind you. Leave them with all the other chains the devil has tried to place on you. Allow Jesus to free you.

Let us all start 2017 bathed in the light from the Son, who gave His life so that we could live for Him.

-Tiffany

 

“Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

–Romans 13:11-14

 

Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”

–Ephesians 5:7-14

 

 

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

–Mathew 5:13-16

Start it Right

January 1st, 2017

It’s officially a new year! Rejoice, we’re still alive and well all thanks to our Lord!

In light of a new beginning, I’d like to share a page from my devotional: God Calling by A.J. Russell, Editor.

 

Between The Years

Our Lord and our God. We joy in Thee. Without Thy Help we could not face the year before us.

 

I stand between the years. The Light of My Presence is flung across the year to come- the radiance of the Sun of the Righteousness. Backward, over the past year, is My Shadow thrown, hiding trouble and sorrow and disappointment.

Dwell not on the past- only on the present. Only use the past as the trees use My Sunlight to absorb it, to make from it in after days the warming fir-rays. So store only the blessings from Me, the Light of the World. Encourage yourselves by the thought of these.

Bury every  fear of the future, of poverty for those dear to you, of suffering, of loss. Bury all thoughts of unkindness and bitterness, all your dislikes, your resentments, your sense of failure, your disappointment in others and in yourself, your gloom, your despondency, and let us leave them all, buried, and go forward to a new and risen life.

Remember that you must not see as the world sees. I hold the year in My Hands- in trust for you. But I shall guide you one day at a time.

Leave the rest with Me. You must not anticipate the gift by fears or thoughts of the days ahead.

And for each day I shall supply the wisdom and the strength.

 

Blessings to you all! May God work for you and through you in this year to come!

-Tiffany

 

 

Just Be Held

Everyone has experienced some form of suffering.

Whether it be losing a loved one, a sick family member, in debt, lost your job, or you’re just plain lost and have no idea where to begin again. Suffering comes in many shapes and forms.

I’ve been in nearly every situation I listed above, and every single one of them is miserable. I would cry, set and worry, over think until I sometimes felt Ill. Of course I knew doing these things wouldn’t solve my problems or make anything better, but my mind didn’t listen to sensible musings. I did everything wrong.

One particular instance takes center stage in my mind.

At the beginning of last year, I purchased a used car. I was in desperate need of transportation for work and only had a minuscule budget to work with. So, I went to a little car lot owned by a preacher and picked out what seemed to be a nice car. The test drive went smooth, everything seeming to function in good working quality. Finally, I thought I’d found a break.

And for awhile I did.

Until things went south.

Everything under the sun went wrong. Ball joints, tie rods, battery, compressors, belts, lights, tires, wheel bearings, motor mounts… the list grew and grew, and so did the cost. Not only was I having to make a car payment, I was also making two extra payments on loans that I had to take out in order to fix everything that was going wrong. The bills kept piling up, and up, and up until there seemed to be a mountain of them towering over me. I felt, in a sense, like I was being consumed by debt.

Of course I was praying about my situation. But, it seemed that God wasn’t answering me. Why? Why was He ignoring me in a time that I needed Him so? He said pray for relief and for our burdens to be taken from us, yet it felt as if He had abandoned me in my time of despair. Had I done something wrong that I didn’t remember, or was this a lesson only He knew I needed?

I realized, as of recently, that it was indeed the latter.

A song by one of my favorite bands, Casting Crowns, came on one day on my way to work. Though I had heard the song before, the words hit home like they never had before. God was finally speaking to me, and I needed to hear what He was saying.

 

And when you’re tired of fighting

Chained by your control

There’s freedom in surrender

Lay it down and let it go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away

You’re not alone, stop holding on, and just be held

Your worlds not falling apart, it’s falling into place

I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held

Just be held

 

These lyrics made me see the lesson.

Sure, I was praying to God, but was I really trusting Him ? Had I really given Him my struggles and accepted the fact that He could and would handle everything? When I thought about it, I realized that I hadn’t really done that. I was merely begging for my requests to be met while not truly believing He would make my troubles come to pass.

You see, I had been praying. I had been praying for help, and peace, and strength to endure. But, in my frantic prayers, I had forgotten an important verse spoken by Jesus Himself:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Come to me, He says. I wasn’t coming to Him at all. I had just thrown my requests at His listening ear and kept on worrying to no avail. How ashamed that made me. I should have believed without a single doubt that He would deliver me from such trials. I should have said, “Lord, I trust Your will. Though I don’t see You with me, I know You are here and You know more than I do. For Your thoughts are far above my thoughts.”

But I didn’t.

Instead, I whined and worried and did everything I could think of to help my situation, when really, all I should have been doing was trusting God to do what He’s promised us all He would do.

Take our burdens away.

I decided that I wouldn’t have such a shallow faith any longer. From then on I would fully and completely trust the Lord with my struggles, knowing that He would, in due time, answer me according to His perfect will. No longer than I started doing just as He asked, did my situation appear to change. It didn’t happen instantaneously of course, but I did see the changes start.

I got a raise at my job, in another month both of my loans will be gone, and I am now the proud owner of a new Chevy Spark. Yes! No more car parts! I cannot possibly begin to explain the relief this gives me. Of course, if I’d have just let go and let God do what God does best, I probably would never have known these struggles.

So, friends, whatever your situation, whatever your trails are in this moment, I pray you take the time to truly come to Jesus and allow Him to take your burdens. The tunnel may seem dark and endless now, but there is a brilliant light at the end if we keep the faith and seek Him. Despite our prideful nature, we cannot face all things on our own. Let go of stubbornness and weak faith, and renew yourself in His loving presence.

Sometimes the hardest thing we can let ourselves do is to just be still and let Him hold us. Let Him hold you, friends. I know for a fact that He wants nothing more than to do just that!

-Tiffany

 

 

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.” –Isaiah 41:13

 

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” -1 Peter 5:6-7

 

“We should try our best to pour our all the burdens in our spirit by prayer until all of them have left us.” –Watchman Nee

 

A Time of Singleness

When will I find ‘The One?’

This is a question I’d bet almost every girl has asked themselves at least once in their life. Of course, I could be wrong, but I’d also bet that I’m not.

I’ll be the first one to raise my hand and admit it without pause. In fact, I’ve asked myself this question many more times than just a solitary one. Sometimes I feel ashamed. A lot of times a sense of selfishness washes over me. Finding a significant other is indeed an important step in life, but should it be put above all other things?

For me, some days it feels like my mind is saying that it should be. It’s like this need to go out into the world and find that elusive ‘One’ just takes over every thought in my mind. It’s unhealthy, really. I have plenty of other things that are more important than daydreaming, tremendously so. I should be reading my Bible more, working on my relationship with God, developing a more intimate prayer time, helping out in the community, with my family, with improving myself. After all, how can I be searching for someone to incorporate into my life before I’m fully prepared to share it with another? What use would I bring to a man if I, myself, still have personal aspirations that only I can fulfill on my own?

I think, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment, being single can actually be quite the blessing. In fact, I think it might even be intended to be as such. Even as I type this, my mind’s screaming –‘no it isn’t! Are you crazy!?’ – but I know that what I’m saying is true. Perhaps God has ordained a season of singleness for people that he knows need it, that he knows will do the most with such a time.

Then again, maybe He wants us to fully and wholeheartedly seek Him and His will in our lives before we seek intimate companionship with another person. Isn’t that one of our main goals while residing here on earth: seek to know Him more and more, so that we may spend all of eternity by His side in paradise? Maybe He wants us to fall in love with Him, before we go searching for our knight in shining armor.

One of my favorite authors, Leslie Ludy, speaks about the subject of Christian singleness so perfectly.

“Until Jesus Christ is the obsession of your heart, you’ll always be looking to mere men to meet your needs that only He can fill. Only when you make Jesus Christ your first love, will you be ready for a love story that reflects His glory.”

Her books are so in depth in their meanings and teaching of sacred and pure singleness. She’s a breath of fresh air in a world polluted by high standards, peer pressure, and premarital relations. She and her husband, Eric, have created a fine example of what God asks us countless times to do: wait on His timing. If you haven’t read their co-written book, When God Writes Your Love Story, you should definitely take the time. It’s well worth the read for younger and older men and women.

I know Singleness can be especially hard at this time of year. With Christmas parties and family-get-togethers where everyone seems to be in a relationship but you… yeah, those are tough. Not to mention when that one distant relative can’t help but to bring everyone’s attention to your single state. And then here comes New Year and that famed ‘New Year’s Kiss’… The agony!  How embarrassing!

It can sometimes feel like a curse.

But is it?

The more time I’m alone, the more time I see that I am in the wrong to be embarrassed. Because, in our search, we also forget an important single role model above all others: Jesus Christ.

How many of us have ever read a verse in the Bible where Jesus complained about His singleness? I know I haven’t found one. Because He didn’t. He’s the prime example we have in this instance (and every other). Jesus didn’t focus on finding a wife, He focused on growing a relationship with His father, helping the less fortunate, preaching the Gospel, and preparing to rid us all of our sins through His death on the Cross.

No, I’m not saying that we should never marry, I’m just saying that singleness, no matter how long the season, is a time we can spend learning our Father, doing good works, and preaching the Gospel.

There’s no need to rush and marry just to say you’re married. Go slow, take your time and see the world through different eyes. See the world through the eyes of the one who created it. It’s okay to do it alone.

So, don’t be ashamed of your singleness. Don’t pity yourself and eat that tub of ice-cream and cry about being by yourself (guilty here). At the right time, God will send you the right person if you trust Him. So, while you wait, work on your character. Work on your relationship with God. Volunteer in your community. Pray for God to teach you in this time of sacred singleness. Be happy, be a blessing to others. And don’t forget to smile, because even if you feel alone, you aren’t. God will never leave you.

Merry Christmas!

– Tiffany

 

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”  -1 Corinthians 7:32-35

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” –Mathew 6:33

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” –Psalm 37:4

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” –Hebrews 13:5

Anger: the Foothold

How many of you have been angry today?

It’s okay to be honest with yourself. Once? Two or three times? Maybe… more? If you have, I hope you continue to read this.

I’ve been angry before, who hasn’t? In fact, I’ve been more than my fair share of angry. I’ve been so angry that words came out of my mouth before my mind had time to process what they were, what kind of pain they would inflict or damage they would cause. In other words, in my anger I was selfish. My goal in such heated moments was one: win the fight at all costs. Why? Because anger told me that I was always in the right.

I did a lot of that fighting when I was younger. When anger knocked, I opened the door without the slightest idea of what would be waiting on the other side. An annoying person aggravated me, anger came. A friend ditched me? Yeah, you could bet I was boiling. A family member told me I’d never amount to anything… man, those words really had me fired up. There are deeper things, but I’m not ready to share those. It seemed like there was an infinite list that hit my buttons.

So, in a nutshell, everything made me mad. Everything would make me want to fight. I wanted to be angry, but then, at the same time, I didn’t. A part of me knew there was more to life than just the on-edge one I was living, I just couldn’t seem to find it and not a soul seemed to want to help me. The fight, the anger, the outbursts were cries, but I was lost in a world that didn’t even notice I was there.

Then something happened.

When I was eleven, a group called The Power Team (men that body-build for Christ) visited a local theater in my town. At the time, I lived with my mother. No one was much on the church scene in my house. Of course I had heard about God and Jesus, about Heaven and Hell, but that’s as far as that went. When my mother suggested the idea of going, it surprised me.

We went. The theater was packed. People with their families, people alone, church vans and even those obnoxious kids I knew from school. We all walked into the theater, and it wasn’t long after we slipped into our seats that the show began.

For the next hour or so these muscled men ripped phone books in half, smashed bats, lifted logs that must have quadrupled their weights, bent frying pans, busted cans with their bare hands, balloons with nothing but the air in their lungs… I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the image. The best part? The hulk like men did these things all while sharing The Gospel. 

The Gospel. That’s where I grew interested.While the crowd roared like they were the most amazing people they had ever seen – some even running to try and catch the pieces of splintered wood and balloon remains as they hit the bottom of the stage – my ears tuned in, my eyes never left the stage. It was like for the first time, someone was finally talking to me and what I was going through. I felt, in a way, like the Grinch on the day his heart grew all those sizes. Somehow, someone had heard my heart crying out in the world and they decided to answer my silent plea to have more than the life I’d been living.

When they called for people to come to the stage, to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, I went without thought. Jesus had been the one to hear me, and he had answered! I would answer Him right back. I wasn’t alone either. It felt as if the whole auditorium had made their way to the small stage as well, no one caring if they bumped into another or stepped on a foot in the midst – something that would have made me angry before – but it didn’t. I was too enraptured by the speaker, to consumed with all the things he was saying.

Saying those words, that well known sinners prayer, was as simple as breathing. Finally, finally, things started to change. They told us to drop our hurts and worries and burdens and whatever else we were dealing with at the Cross, and to leave them. Jesus didn’t want us to carry them any longer, He wanted to exchange them for freedom. For our freedom.

For me it meant the anger.

I walked out of that theater changed, free indeed. I could then see with a clear mind what anger had been doing to those around me and to myself. It was suffocating me. It was holding me back. It was drowning me. And I was letting it. But no longer would I let it chain me. No longer would I be the victim to a deadly killer.

Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us: “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Do not let the devil have a foothold. Anger is a foothold, and a mighty big one. Anger is also a sin people of today tend to overlook. Over the years since the day I accepted Jesus, I have seen that foothold in work. It’s torn my family apart, ruined marriages, and even caused lives to be lost in the fray. It’s a silent killer that not many people talk about. I left it behind, sure, but that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t try and break in every once in awhile.

But, friends, we must evict anger and not allow it back. If we let anger inside, even the slightest fragment, it will grow until it can no longer be contained. It will grow until it has nowhere else to go but into another.

When anger shows, meet it with patience. Meet it with prayer, with love. Do not let it destroy your life. Do not let the devil acquire that stronghold. And if you have anger, take it to the Cross. Give Jesus that anger and don’t pick it back up. While you’re there at the bottom of the Cross, forgive yourself and accept His forgiveness. If you haven’t accepted Him, I pray that you do. No matter your mistakes, your past, your pains, hurts, struggles, He is there and He has been waiting for you since before you were ever born.

“For all have fallen short of the glory of God.” –Romans 3:23

Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” –Isaiah 1:18

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear,slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”  –James 1:19-20

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” –Ephesians 4:31

 

-Tiffany

Heights In The Night

Heights in the night are electrifying

When glancing from the edge

Suddenly I feel like flying

Jumping from the ledge

I spread my wings and fall

Like a bullet towards the ground

On the air I call

A plee yet a voiceless sound

My body makes the motions

A natural instinct inside

The mind knows the notion

My heart along for the ride

Eyes scan the distance

Taking in the sights

Feathers water resistant

Unperishable on rainy nights

And when the sun comes, captures the dark to soon

I’ll perch up high with wings spread wide waiting on the moon