Words have power. Written words provide proof. You can read them, and reread them whenever you want. They can speak life to someone who needs encouragement. They can speak death to someone who is being deceived. The choice lies within you. How is it that you want people to remember you? Encourager...that is the gift that God has laid on my heart. To use my written, spoken, and/or sung words to lift people up. To be one link in their road to healing, restoration, joy. I have been without those things, and I claim them to be mine again. If you want me to seek God on a prayer for a specific situation...that is why I am here. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to pray God's Word of Life over you.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

relevant church is born!

Last weekend my pastor spoke what could be some of the most important words spoken over our church. “Today, is the birth of relevant church!”  WAHOOOOO!!!! (Excited much? More summer '08 106 Yes we are!) A while back (before we even started attending this church) they had decided to change the name. For the last few months I have heard it referred to by the old (Columbus Community Evangelical Church) and the new. Last week though…something changed. You see, God is moving among the people in this little town in PA and He is taking us along for the ride of a lifetime! =D

Sometimes I feel as though we, the church, feel disconnected from Scripture. Not necessarily from the the truth of the Bible…but from the application. We struggle on how we apply our knowledge, both old and new, to our every day. That is my goal. That is the purpose of why I write. I want you to understand that we serve THE GOD. The only God that is living and active. The only God that is…relevant. What a perfect word to name His church!

Relevant. Let’s go over some things that are still relevant today. Let’s look for ways that God proves Himself to still be alive and engaged in our lives.


Early spring '11 022 Prayer. Never have I understood how relevant prayer truly is, until I experienced, first hand, the past year of my life. God has healed me at the prayers of myself, family, friends and church body. God has given me what I cried out for, knowing that I would not recognize it at first. Or even that sometimes I would ask Him “WHY?!” forgetting that it was at my request. *Vanesa thumps head here* God has taken me through the best of times and the worst of times…and helped me to see His plan was always greater. God has helped me counsel the hurting and broken because of what He had already given me victory over. God has helped me to speak life even when death was running rampant. My prayers of compassion and sometimes desperation reached to the heart of God. I will never be the same as I was a little over a year ago. And my pastor’s challenge to grow 2% closer each week for this year…will change me just as much or (as I am praying)…more!

Pastor Les said that the prayer ministries and prayer warriors of ‘the’ church, are the most vital. Prayer is the start of everything else. It is our most intimate time alone with our Father. We can tell Him all. No holding back. Anger. Hurt. Shame. Brokenness. Reality. He wants us to be genuine. And when we are…He will cover over each of those with truth. Simple truth. The darkness of anger will lift. The shattered hurt will begin to heal. The shame will turn to humble growth. The transparent brokenness will allow His power to become evident in your circumstance. And your reality…it will suddenly make sense. No matter what the mountain is that lies before us…blocking our view of victory…we will take each step up to the top with a renewed purpose and passion. And all of this starts with a simple prayer. Talking to God is not difficult. It is a conversation in which you are real and so is HE!


Worship. relevant worship…has a nice ring to it don’t you think? ;) Our worship IS to be relevant. We will always appreciate the things of old. We still love the  2012 Fall Photo Shoot 270past…but we refuse to stay stuck in it. We want to always be engaged in what is to come. What is current. Think about it. God is writing new songs each day. He is reaching out to us with new words of life that we can sing to Him. He has not run out of ideas. He never will. The songs they sing in Heaven are relevant. I can’t even begin to imagine how amazing they are. And when they reach the hearts of someone here on earth…that is to be celebrated. Not just on Sunday…but always. Sing to your King anywhere and everywhere! Show Him how much you adore Him because He is absolutely CRAZY about you my friend!!

Let me set up a scenario for you. It happens often to me…and I am sure it happens to SOMEONE out there too! You are driving down the road and you hear a song. It doesn’t have to be the first time you’ve ever heard the song…but maybe it is first time you really listened to it. You are silent. You just sit and listen with fresh ears. The words speak directly to you…way down deep. If you are like me, you silently weep as they minister to you in a very specific way. You know that God wrote that song. You understand that He had you in mind for this exact moment of when you would need and accept it. You sit humbled. Thankful. Inspired. And feeling genuinely loved and adored by your God that is alive and engaged in your day. That…is relevant worship. It will happen more and more. Look for it. Be open to it. Bask in it’s glory and goodness when you feel it wash over you in waves of power. *A chill just ran through my body because these words are going to open up someone’s eyes today. Right now the enemy’s blinders are being peeled away in someone’s life…and the God of all Creation will be seen and praised. His power WILL be life-changing and forever evident.


Faith. Our faith must be relevant in our everyday. The stories of the power of God that we read in the Bible absolutely still serve a powerful purpose. For the mother who’s womb is barren…the story of Sarah gives hope. For the man who feels too weak to fight for what is right…the story of Gideon encourages strength in the name of Jesus. For the thief, the drunk, the liar who feels like he/she is too far gone…the story of the Cross proves that grace is available to all. We are still to learn from these Bible stories. We are still to apply their foundational truths to our daily walk. Just because they are ‘old’ doesn’t mean they are outdated. The Word of God is absolutely relevant. I dare you to try it out. Double dog dare you. Talk to God. Tell Him what you are struggling with. Ask Him to show you His relevancy in His Word. It might be a verse in a devotional that you pick up. It might be a verse on Facebook. It might be a seemingly ‘random’ passage in your Bible. Figure out what it is that God is teaching you…and be sure to praise Him for it. Talk about it. Lead by example and show your friends how He can be relevant in their lives as well.

Here is a thought provoking challenge question from Pastor Les to you…people out there in the world of cyber. ;) “If you were mentioned in the Bible…what would it say about you? Would they even know you were saved according to how you lived your life? Not according to how you act or ‘appear’ on Sunday…but how the rest of the days of the week that end in the word ‘day’ are. Would your name be recorded because of all you did for the Kingdom?”

It is never too late. Today is a new day. Start a new chapter in which you are sold out. Committed. Passionate. Let your faith be evident…not for the cause of being remembered…but for the sake of someone’s eternity. True love as the Father intended it cares more about souls brought to the reality of the Cross, than all of the wealth in the world. World changers. We need world changers who are Christ-driven to rise up.

Speaking of “it’s never too late”…take a moment to listen to a song by a Christian group named Jesus Culture. The song is called Come Away and I feel like it’s message is absolutely relevant to where we are headed. Click here to be inspired and challenged to worship as if you are standing in the Presence of the Almighty. You are. Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." It’s not too late!


Please understand I do not expect you, the reader, to just accept my list as complete. My hope is that you spend time searching for your own relevant applications. I would LOVE to hear how God is showing Himself to be relevant in your life! I know that He is. I believe it with all that I am. If you are not seeing Him…please let me know and I will pray for His revelation to become boldly evident to you. relevant church is praying for those of you out there that are reading this right now. Let us know the fruits of our prayers and/or how we can pray more specifically! After all, we are called to be Christ’s hands and feet!

I leave you with Colossians 1:3-6. “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints- the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.”

Watch out…relevant church is on the map! ;) relevant church is now alive. It has a heart beat. A heart that beats like it’s Heavenly Father. Curious? You should be!! Come and see what God is doing in a little community in Pennsylvania…that will someday soon have a huge impact on a world that is lost and broken. We believe that God is all together relevant and we are saying… “Why not use us?!”

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Bud In Waiting

Ever feel like this? A bud. In the shadow of something more beautiful. *sigh* Always in waiting.
2012 Tulip 5K-Aiden 173
Waiting to be like those that you see already reaching out. Waiting for your time to be used for a greater purpose. Waiting to be noticed. Waiting to be ‘old enough’. Waiting for this phase of life to pass that so that you can feel fulfilled. Waiting to finish school. Waiting for your kids to grow. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting!

What is happening while we are waiting? What ministries are starving because they are ours to step into? What ‘phase’ are we just rushing to get through and missing out on? Does our God seem like One who would waste our time with day after day of things that served absolutely no purpose? Does he even care about our age in regards to what He has planned for us?

Today. Tonight. Whatever time it is where you are. I want you to stop waiting. Not in a place of discontent…but rather in a place of peace. Look for ways to be used by God for a greater purpose. Pray for them. Be aware of how God speaks to you. Listen intently to His voice. He notices you. He thinks you are the perfect age to be a light in the darkness. He is using this phase you are in, to mold you for what is to come. He has people for you to reach out to exactly where you are. He wants you to love and delight in watching children grow as they look to you to be an example.

It is time to bloom!
2012 Tulip 5K-Aiden 166 No more waiting for ‘some day’. No more hiding. Bloom. Because you are more beautiful when you act like your Father. The more you resemble His character…the more fragrant you become. The more you rely on Him for endurance and strength, the more opportunities He will open up for you to do even greater works in Jesus Name!!

Reach out in your community. Do whatever it is that God asks of you. Make a phone call. Visit a friend from the past who could use some uplifting. Send a card with a personal note to the person that God is laying on your heart. (Don’t worry…I am talking to myself here too. I feel the tug of Christ. I know who God is asking me to reach out to this week. This has been a tugging that has gone on for weeks. I’ve been ‘waiting’. For what…I’m not sure. But if I am asking YOU to reach out…you had better believe that I am planning to do it as well!)

I am guilty of the waiting game. As soon as God pointed it out to me tonight, I knew that I had fallen right into the trap of the enemy.

“Wait until your kids are all in school to proceed with your dream to publish a book.”

“Wait until you are older to try to teach 'actual' adults.”

“Wait until you have money.”

“Wait until your house is finished.”

“Wait until you have been at your church at least 6 months before you trust in friendships.”

“Wait until…”

Nonsense. The enemy is always trying to hold me/us back. And when he gets caught in his stanky-scheme…oh how happy it makes me. satan and I both know that when I am on to him, God is about to help me overcome! Ahaha! God does not make mistakes. He need not wait if the time has come.

What have you been waiting for? Who have you been waiting on? The time is now. This world is reaching out to the unlovable. They are accepting the sinful. What is your position church? The time of waiting is over. These people are hungry! Let’s introduce them to the Bread of Life. They are thirsty. Let’s take them to a place where Christ’s Living Water flows freely. Never will they hunger or thirst again because our God provides for His children.

Valentine’s Day is almost here!! Let that be your excuse to show love and compassion to those who you know or see that are broken-hearted. They won’t even know what hit them! ;) Let the joy of the Lord be evident. Let the spark that is set off by your words…set fire for a whole new kind of revelation. Christ. Reveal Him and watch Him spread! Get excited because love is in the air! Angels are working. The Holy Spirit is leading. And Christ will make Himself real to someone that you reach out to this week. Oooo…I just got chills when I typed that. =) GO BLOOM!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Relevant Reflections-Are You Sludge-Like?

I woke up one morning feeling that the day had come that God wanted me to write this post. Knowing that, the enemy started messing with me. Ugh, so early. It was too early to be messed with. I was not in the mood. Haha! I didn’t even realize the enemy was doing it at first and that is the most frustrating part!

It was about 8am when I first woke up. (That NEVER happens! I remember that there was no school that day…and my kids actually slept in! *Cue the angelic music here!*) I laid in bed for another 15 minutes and then woke up annoyed that I wasted that much time of silence to write! I had allowed myself to be distracted.

Once I finally pulled myself up and put my feet on the cold floor I decided it was time to make coffee. (I love to write with a steaming cup of flavored coffee next to me.) Distracted.

I loaded the wood stove full so that my house would warm  up now that I was out of my comfy, cozy bed. Distracted, necessary, but distracted.

I put in The Lion King for my now very awake children. Distracted.

I wiped off all of my counter tops. Distracted again!

Are you seeing the sly scheme? I was doing everything but what I knew I had been called to do. When I started to clean out my dog’s food dish…it finally occurred to me that I was being distracted from God’s purpose for my morning. UGH! I can’t stand that little punk! No more distractions!

By this time it was 9am…and I was getting stubborn! The enemy really should know better than to mess with this girl and her writing. Oh how he tries to keep me silent…but what he so often forgets is that my Daddy is bigger than him! :p Haha!

Soooo, onto sludge. I am starting with the mental picture of sludge today. I want you to think of something that is sludge-like. Ugh…even just to say type that word makes me feel gross. No matter the tone you try to say it in…it is not at all attractive. As Pastor Les spoke a few Sundays about stagnant water, I was picturing sludge. If it weren’t the middle of winter here in Pennsylvania, I would hike up our hill and take a picture of a large stagnant puddle of water that is just inside of our corner of the woods. (You know I would! My husband knows I would too! Most of the time he smiles and rolls his eyes at what I just simply ‘have to capture’ ‘ for effect’! Haha!) This puddle…is not a pretty sight. To make things worse…it is right in the middle of our trail. I am told that people used to ride horses and four-wheelers on our path through the woods because it is a nice, wide path. And this stinkin’ (both literally and for effect) puddle, takes up the whole path for about 10 feet. Annoying? Yes-sir-ee!

I don’t trust my children to not test me on the “Don’t splash in that puddle2012 Fall Photo Shoot 406 or you will regret it!” instruction that I have given them. And when if that day comes, I will do what every scrap-book minded mother would do, take a picture. Before I rescue (as long as the possibility of actually being hurt is out of the question) I will capture what filth can come from something that USED to be clean.

Think about it. Water. It is one of God’s most perfect and utilized creations. It is from Him, for our daily use in life. It is used to keep us healthy. To cleanse us. To cook our food. To grow our food. Dad's New 'Office' 189 Etc…

Water always starts out clear. (Unless you live in a little country house like mine…then ‘pale rust’ is the shade I would call it! Haha!) How does something that started out to crystal clear and perfect, turn into something so disgusting and unrecognizable? How does water become so sludge-like? How does it fall from the sky transparent and perfect for nourishment…and eventually turn into something that everyone avoids? How does a simple mud puddle turn to complete blackness with the most awful stench!?

It is quite simple acutally. It takes abosulutely no effort at all to go from fresh...to stagnant. Therein lies the problem...
Water falls down pure and perfect and then just sits. Motionless. Void of life. It’s usefulness being wasted. It’s rancid smell obvious to those who are near. No one will walk close for fear of coming away with the same stench. Any new droplets of water that fall into the stagnant puddle…immediately become black and carry the same vomit-inducing odor. Have I painted a clear mental picture for you? Movement is vital!

Have you ever known a person who has slowly become stagnant? Someone who doesn’t seem to be fulfilling much of their life's purpose. They don’t even seem to try. They are the ‘glass half empty’ type. You leave a conversation with them and feel more depressed about your own circumstance. Can I ask a hard question...are they Christians? Sadly…sometimes (gulp) too often we can answer that with a Yes. =/

I pray that that is NOT the type of person and/or Christian we are. When God gives us a gift, a purpose, a job, I pray that we actively search for ways to be used. I pray that WE (the church) don’t just let them sit. I pray that we are not void of words that give life. I pray that people do not fear spending time with us because they will leave feeling worse than when they came!

Let’s speak only what we would say if we were standing at the Throne of Grace. Let’s imagine that Jesus plays an active part in each conversation that My Nature Pics 017 -b&w-2 we have. He does! Think about it. Really!! You know that check you feel in your spirit when you are about to say something that you shouldn’t? That is Jesus. You know that Scripture reference that pops into your head when you need it? Jesus. You know that sudden thought of compassion and prayer for a complete stranger? Jesus. You know that word of encouragement that you give or receive as ‘random’? Jesus! Those that I’ve listed are just some of the examples of our Father in Heaven being relevant, living and active.
How amazing it is to see God orchestrate each detail of our day. Look for Him in your today! No matter what day it is…or how long it has been since I wrote this post…tell me about how God was relevant in your day. I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! I want to be encouraged and excited with you. I want to rejoice. I want to sing praises for you. I want to thank God for how He showed Himself forever faithful. Leave me a comment in 3…2…1…