Pray, Pray, Pray to Brighten Your Day

You know, prayer is one of the most under utilized resources we as Christians have here on earth. It is not only the way we communicate and fellowship with God but it is how we engage Him in bringing more of Heaven to earth each day through our prayers of petition.

Prayer fills us with the peace, love and joy needed to make it through each day and our requests bring about miracles both small and large. God alone is the miracle maker who does more than we could ever hope and imagine on a daily basis and we get to often be a part of things through our prayers.

Prayer is an open line of communication to heaven and a direct pipeline bringing down heaven’s blessings to earth. It is a two way street though offering up praises and heartfelt words and listening to words of encouragement and guidance.  Prayer is the most powerful gift we have as Believers. Yet we often go days between conversations and replies to the nudging of the Holy Spirit.

When we do take time to prayer, we are more hopeful, more confident and even happier as we walk through our day holding the hand of our Savior, Jesus. It’ll not only brighten your day but light up the world around you, too. So if you need a lift today, pray. I know you will be glad you did. :)

Wholesome Thinking

I wanted to share a great devotion by Seeds of the Kingdom I read [text is below] on wholesome thinking.

I know all of us here agree that we need to be wholesome in our thoughts in order to honor God but what I find challenging is keeping my definition of what is wholesome centered in what God says in the Bible given the bombardment of things contrary to what God says is good from schools, businesses, theme parks, tv, the media, culture and society.

There are so many subtle and not so suble graphics, images, words, mascotts, characters, lifestyle choices and just plane yucky stuff sugar coated, dressed up and twisted to sound and look ok all under the umbrella of tolerence, entertainment, compromise, sensetivity, open mindedness and moderation that it is hard to know what’s what these days.

However, as Christians we are called to be separate and set a part and not mixed-up in all the yuck. In fact, we are called to be the salt of the earth protecting people, the culture and scociety from decaying just as salt protects meat from going rotten. The great news is that Jesus has given us all we need to stand for Him, evangelize the lost and bring our cultures in line with how God wants us to live and I believe is starts with prayer and is lived out through wholesome thinking as outlined below.

Scripture: “Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.”
2 Peter 3:1, NIV

Recently I was praying with a group of friends and skimming through my Bible at the same time looking for inspiration. Suddenly my eyes lighted on our verse for today – a verse I had never noticed before, even though I must have read it many times!

In this verse Peter was telling his readers the somewhat unusual reason why he had written his letters, not to urge them forward to some great act of spiritual commitment, or to correct their sinful actions, or to teach them some important new truths – even though all of these are implicit in different parts of his letters – but to stimulate them to wholesome thinking.

Peter knew what he wanted to do – he was concerned above all that God’s people should understand a principle that would stand them in good stead for the rest of their days. Practical advice on a particular issue is often important and valuable – but if you can teach people a principle to live by you have given them advice that will hold true for hundreds of occasions.

Everything we do in life – whether it be good or bad – always begins with a thought. Then as we think about it, we decide to do it and finally we involve our body in the action that began as a thought. Now, if our thinking is always wholesome, then it’s obvious that the actions that follow will also be wholesome. But if in our minds we dwell on the ungodly, the unwholesome, the crude, the selfish and the greedy, to quote but a few possibilities, then our consequential actions will also be a reflection of what we’ve been thinking. What a contrast between the two sets of actions!

Peter’s advice holds good for us now. No wonder Paul encouraged us to take every thought captive, for if we control our thinking then our ways will truly be guided by the Lord into the ways of righteousness and the ways of blessing.

Prayer: Help me Lord to always think about godly things and to stop myself thinking about the ungodly so that my actions will be in line with whatever is pure and holy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Final Rays of Sonshine: Helen McClaren

Well, it’s been a good year of highlighting some of the ministry’s bright and shining hearts with our monthly Rays of Sonshne BLOG posts and today is our final highlighting post that features yet another very special volunteer: Helen McClaren.

Helen began serving with Access-Life at our first Expo in East Tennessee back in 2010. Since that time she has become a key member of the area outreach planning team spearheading the food service and volunteer recruiting at her church each year. She has also become an Area Outpost leader not only attending local ministry activities but seeing that her church hosts the annual Access-Life Spring Fling. To top off all of these accomplishments, Helen join the ministry’s board of directors this year. A real blessing for our leadership team. :)

Despite all her hard work and accomplishing so much for the ministry, Helen is a behind the scenes, low key kind of leader. She leads with actions and can definitely speak up about her passions of serving others, especially those with disabilities in Jesus’ name. But, Helen, does all this with a gracious smile and serving with a “however needed” kind of attitude. What a great reminder for us all about what God can accomplish as we work diligently for Him with the heart of a servant. That is what impresses us most about Helen and why she is December’s Ray of Sonshine.

Sweetest Name I Know

One of my favorite songs is the classic, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus Sweetest Name I Know”. It goes on to say that “It fills my every longing and keeps me singing as I go”. Aren’t these words so true? What an amazing blessing Jesus gives to us: meeting our every need and giving us His joy to put a song in our heart.

Jesus alone can save. Amen. And only Jesus can satisfy and give abundant life. He alone is our source of happiness and hope. He alone is what we need to fill our lives with goodness, love and light. He is alone is what we thirst for in the highs and lows of life. And He alone is our sustainer when we are on top of mountains or in valleys so deep.

I’ve learned that keeping my focus on Jesus who is seated above at the right hand of God as it says in Colossians 3:2 is the only way for me to rise above the waves of life and experience the wonderful true of this encouraging song. It helps me think the best and believe the best as I stand on the promises He has given. Now that another great song [“Standing on the Promises”] but we’ll make that another post later. LOL :)

In any case, here is some word art that I pray will encourage and bless you as you seek to enjoy Jesus and all He gives.

Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas

What a glorious celebration is Christmas. Such a blessed season of Emmanuel, when God came to be with us in human form. It is a time to enjoy God’s presence in a fresh way through His forgiveness, grace and mercy, through His protection, provision and power and through His shelter, upholding and tender care. The time is now and everyday of the year to walk in these comforting truths. God is with us always and like a shepherd leading us beside still waters and green pastures.

It is our hope and prayer at Access-Life that you not only know these truths but are experiencing them each day of this Christmas season. Despite the hustle and bustle of this time of year and the noise that may be louder than we all care to hear, God is whispering in an ever soft but unstoppable and penetrating way: “I am here”. So, please take a moment and enjoy that reality this Christmas and all year round for that matter as God is always closer than we think, hope and realize. :)

Merry Christmas and may God bless you richly in this great season of joy!

Jingling and Mingling From Texas to Tennessee and Florida

Well, the Christmas season is upon us and whether or not there is snow in your local forecast, it’s still the most wonderful time of the year! Now, this exciting truth is not because of shopping sales and bonanzas or even beautiful trees and decorations. This time of year is so special because it is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior and King. This is what brings the joy of Christmas to life and why we give gifts, put up lights, sing songs and carols and tend to smile everywhere we go. :)

The great joy from Christmas is also very contagious and so this year we at Access-Life wanted to spread a little “merry, merry, merry Christmas” to our ministry friends and volunteers through a new local Outpost activity called a Jingle and Mingle. Actually, the folks in our East Tennessee Outpost started doing these Christmas celebrations several years ago but this year we thought it would be nice to extend the party to North Texas and West Palm Beach, too.

As a result, through some great area leaders, we hosted three Jingle and Mingles recently that featured a seasonal ice breaker game with prizes, a holiday snowflake craft, festive food and Christmas carols with the nativity story. God brought out 108 attendees in North Texas, 75 people in West Palm Beach and 70 folks in East Tennessee to celebrate Jesus birthday and be refreshed by His presence this holiday season.

We were so thankful for these great turn outs and seeing people Jingling and Mingling for Jesus from TX to TN and FL and hope you enjoy the picture collage from all three areas below. :)

Rays of Sonshine: Ed and Wendy Nordine

Wow, what a busy month it has been with Thanksgiving and the pre-Christmas rush! However, even in the hurry of the season, I want to pause and reflect on the faithful behind the scenes service of two dear friends: Ed and Wendy Nordine.

These two folks have been involved with disability ministry since before we even arrived in Florida as Wendy volunteered for years as the Joni and Friends Wheels for the World Florida Collections Coordinator. This is actually how we met as Leanne and I both served on staff with Joni and Friends here in Florida from 2007 to 2010.

When Access-Life started in 2010, Ed and Wendy were some of the first to jump “on board”. The did so almost literally joining the ministry’s board of directors that same year. Since then they have been leaders on the West Palm Beach Expo team, traveled to help at the Jacksonville, Central Florida, North Texas and East Tennessee Expos and even rounding out their full participation by collecting mobility items for our annual Belize outreach.

From their support in praying, giving and serving, Ed and Wendy are such blessings in all they faithfully do for Access-Life which is why they are this month’s (November) Rays of Sunshine. :)