Jesus Satisfies

Jesus Satisfies

I use this as the background of my phone as a reminder. I’ve linked this picture to the full sized image if you want to do the same.

No matter how happy your life is, there is going to be a time when you are stressed out and feel like you can’t do anything. There is going to be a time when you feel insecure or inadequate. There is going to be a time when you lose something you thought you couldn’t live without. This is a fact of life.

This is something that’s hit particularly close to home lately. Personally, I have been more stressed out in the past week than I have been in my entire life (and I’m writing this a week before it goes up, so maybe it’s passed by now). I’ve been struggling with inadequacy as a friend, a student, a worker, a boyfriend, a leader and as a Christian. And I’ve been losing sleep: something I can’t live without.

But I’ve been studying Romans 12 with some friends of mine recently. More specifically verses 9-21. And lately we’ve been asking “Why does God say we should do this? Why do we, as Christians, do this?” And our answer usually just comes back to two words.

 

Jesus satisfies.

 

This has become such an important thing for me to remember. When I feel like I’m on the bottom and am incapable of doing anything for anyone, Jesus satisfies. When I feel like I really really need something and am unable to give it to myself and no one else is willing or wanting to help me, Jesus satisfies. When I’m at my lowest and darkest point or I’m at highest and proudest point, Jesus satisfies.

So I’ve learned now to have a new mindset when it comes to struggles and trials. “I have to go without this for now,” or, “I may have lost this forever.” And when these moments happen, I have to ask myself: “Is Jesus enough to satisfy me when this other thing is gone?” And if our answer isn’t “yes” 100% of the time, that may be something we need to work on in our relationship with Him. The fact is, He does satisfy. He satisfies our every need. We can do anything as long as we understand that He satisfies. That’s why my background on my phone gives me a constant reminder. No matter what situation I’m in, I can trust that Jesus satisfies.

 

Let it Go

Here’s a fact that goes beyond just the scope of Christianity: we will never be able to do anything perfectly.

Yes, unfortunately, from the time in Genesis when sin entered the world, perfection has become an impossibility for humans. This means perfection in remaining sinless as well as perfection in…well…anything else.

The hardest thing for me to learn lately is that I set massive expectations for myself that I’ll never meet. Don’t get me wrong, we should expect a lot out of ourselves, but I was trying to be the perfect worship leader, the perfect boyfriend and the perfect Christian.

And that was terrible. I’d beat myself every time I screwed up a set list, every time I had a not-so-fun date with my girlfriend, every time I sinned. And that’s no way to live, and that’s not how God has called us to live.

“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 3:10-14)

There. I know that’s a lot to take in. But I can break it down for you. We all are going to fail. We will never be perfect. But we have to live a life “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” We can’t beat ourselves over our lack of perfection in the past. All that does is prevents us from becoming more and more like Christ in the future. And this doesn’t just apply to mirroring the image of Christ, but to any particular skill in life. We’re going to fail sometimes. The point is to try more and more to become more and more perfect. We may never get there, but we’ll certainly be in a better place than we are now.

Never give up…Get up!

We all face failure in our lives at times; whether they are recurring fears, lost opportunities, possibly even moral failures.  One of mine is that I get nervous when speaking to groups when I feel like I’m being evaluated.  Then my breath gets short and my voice starts cracking.  I’m just not myself when that happens and I feel terrible afterwards.  It’s not like it happens all the time either.  In those situations I feel like Peter, when he walked on water and then began to sink when he got his eyes off Jesus.  I can hear Jesus saying…”Oh you of little faith”.

At those times…some of us start believing the enemy (satan).  He tells us that we’re worthless failures or that God does not care about us or even love us.  We tend to feel defeated and ready to give up and let the enemy win.  Though giving up and giving in to the lies of the enemy seems like the easy thing to do sometimes, is that what God wants us to do?

It’s hard to get up…especially when we try to do it on our own strength.  The good news is that we don’t have to do it on our own strength…we have a helper and that is Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  God does not want us to do anything on our might.  He does want us to take the initial step of faith, repent and then get up, however, He does not want us to do it on our own strength.  He wants us to give him our failures, fears and burdens and move forward.  Also, He does not want us to live in the past.  Many of us relive our failure a thousand times over and over in our thoughts.  We need to stop that.  The Bible says that we should take every thought captive into the obedience of Jesus Christ.  That means that He wants us to consciously cast away thoughts that do not come from Him.  We can’t prevent every thought from entering our minds, however, we have to make a decision on what to do with those thoughts.  Do we meditate on that bad thought or do we take that thought captive…do we bind it to a scripture and dismiss it?  Which route we chose is up to us.  Let’s choose right.

God wants us to get up when we experience failure or defeat.  Never ever is God saying to give in to defeat.  He is our biggest advocate who encourages us to get up because He is an overcomer and has already overcome this world. 

The Bible says…

 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Hebrews 4:14-16

 “Though a righteous man falls seven times, He rises again.” Proverbs 24:16.   

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10

Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you; He will never allow the [consistently] righteous to be moved (made to slip, fall, or fail). Psalm 55:22

God wants us to get up.  The key to success is not the act of falling down but that act of getting back up.

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

I wish that I could overcome some of my struggles in an instant, however, it’s more of a slow process most of the time.  Nevertheless, God wants us to be overcomers and He gave us all the tools to do that.  You might think that you will never overcome this illness, addition, fear, etc. in this life, but that is not what God says.  The Grace that saved us from sins consequences also provides us with the power to be overcomers and to live holy, righteous, successful lives.  It’s the lack of faith that is truly holding us back.  Jesus talked to his disciples many times about their lack of faith.  If we had the faith of just a mustard seed we could move mountains.  We could pray for the sick and they would be healed.

How do we get more faith?  We get it by spending more time in the word, in prayer and in thought with Jesus.  We get it by trusting Him when these situations come up and by surrendering our fears, our doubts, our past, our failure continually to him and giving him thanks for the victories.  We get it by little victories along the way when we step out in faith and trust God.  We get it by getting up one more time.  Let’s write down all that God blessed us with and read those blessings once a day for the next 30 days.  We need to train our minds toward God and rebuke the enemy who want us to live defeated lives.  Let’s start living a victorious life starting NOW!

Don’t give up on God because He has not given up on you.  THIS IS IMPORTANT!!!  You might feel that your sin is too big for God ever be able to forgive you.  That is a lie of the enemy.  God is not proud of our sins, however, He is always ready to receive us back if we repent and ask Him into our hearts.  You might say…I have sinned 500 times…I have done really bad things.  Repent, ask God to forgive you, and ask Jesus into your life…He is waiting.

Father, increase our faith so we may live the life you meant for us to live.  Amen!

Do you see what I see?

One Christmas Eve back in the mid-90′s I headed out to Kensington Avenue with my good friend, Shirley. She had called me a few days earlier to invite me on a very special mission. So, I said yes, as I was always ready for a bit of intrigue.

Packed in her trunk were about twenty gift bags filled with toiletries like shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc. Shirley had prepared each bag with loving care and a silent, yet thoughtful, prayer went up as every one was completely filled.

Kensington Avenue is located in one of the ugliest areas of North Philadelphia known as the “Badlands”. I used to live and work just five minutes from the strip. After dark, and after most of the shops along this street (covered by the Elevated Train track overhead) were closed, out of the shadows crept the prostitutes who were ready to begin their workday. Dressed in dingy, skimpy clothing, with tired and vacant eyes and slouching shoulders, each girl began her silent sales pitch.

As we began our journey down this dimly lit avenue, bundled up and tucked safely in Shirley’s car, I could recall the words she spoke to me over the phone. It went something like this: “These girls just need to be touched with God’s love. Who else is going to do it? We’re His hands, Summer. I just want to make sure they know that God knows who and where they are, and that He loves them.” How could I resist?

One by one, as we inched along the street, we gave the bags away with a few words of hope. I wish I could say that they all responded with immense gratitude and that many decided to walk away from their lifestyle. But, no miracle happened that night. None that I could see anyway.

But, the memory of that evening is branded in my mind. And I thank Shirley for the invitation.

In 2002, I helped start a ministry to prostitutes along the railroad tracks in Zone One of Guatemala City. I’m no longer with that ministry, but my husband and I have maintained a relationship with one of the ex-hookers I’d met there. Her name is Sheny, and she’s HIV positive. She’s got three kids and we help them throughout the year with food, clothes, school supplies, etc. Sheny’s got a job, but only earns the equivalent of $200 a month, which barely provides for the rent, food and medication she needs to keep from dying too soon.

She’s got quite the story, Sheny does. Her life history makes mine seem like a fairy tail – and I didn’t have it easy.

I’m not tooting my own horn or patting myself on the back by sharing this with you. The truth is, it’s a sacrifice for me to give of my money, time and energy. Oftentimes, I’d rather stay inside my cozy home and enjoy being with my husband and son. But, I’m always haunted by the fact that there are millions of people hurting in this world.
So I give.

I wish I could give more. I wish I could do more.

We have gifts nicely wrapped under the tree for Sheny and her kids this year. Nothing fancy, really. Just blankets and some toiletries. But, we’re happy to give, because we know that through giving God’s love is communicated.

Shirely’s still living in Philly, giving of herself constantly.

How will you spend your Christmas? Will you give to someone in need? Who do you know that’s hurting?

It’s a challenge.

Don’t do it to make yourself feel good or to ease your conscience. Give because you know someone needs it. Open up your heart and life and pour out kindness and gentleness and mercy.

Don’t think you have anything to give? Everyone has something.

Our budget was extremely tight this year, what with the newborn baby and all. But, It’s worth it to love someone else, no matter what the cost. So we’ll be in debt for a couple of months. So what.

Give.
Help.
Love.

Merry Christmas!
Summer

(Originally written December, 2007)

Life’s Resume

While thinking deeply, and on multiple levels from planes of intellectualism to spiritualism, I found profound thoughts buried there within my heart. This truth is evidenced best and most wholly by my life’s resume, which is a resume that represents more than one aspect of a person’s life. It is a resume that actually represents every aspect of one’s life.
I realized that the qualifications that seem the most impressive to peers, employers, and people in high places, mean very little to the Most High God. For instance, I am sure that God truly does care about every aspect of our lives, including our education and work history; however I believe He cares more about how we act on and articulate every innate, expressive and unique ability, talent and skill that He has given to us. So often the gifts that God so graciously bestows upon us are misused, abused and taken for granted. Because of this fact, I have a rather distressing admission to make!
Sadly, I must openly and embarrassedly admit my severe failure in this life. I am blessed with so many talents and skills, yet I allow most of these to lie dormant within me. All too often, I have ignored my abilities instead of yielding great fruits from them. I have also, many times in this life misused my talents for all the wrong reasons. I have wanted to gain attention, riches, and even power. I am guilty of this and much more. I am sometimes so displaced by this world that I have failed to my job as a human being. I have let God down many, many times, by not promoting Him and His greatness above my own desires. Miserably, via greed and selfishness I have fallen far short of God’s Glory. I have not always sought first to edify the kingdom of God in everything that I do. I have declined to proclaim God’s goodness and faithfulness when and where it matters most-everywhere.
What I realized today and wish to share with you is that we cannot beef up our Life’s resume before God. God knows everything about us and there is no way to fudge it, pad it, tell little white lies or make up euphemisms about ourselves in order to make our lives more appealing to God. All we can hope to do is prepare ourselves rightfully for the day of our great and final interview, by allowing God to be the center of all we do. We must strive past the usual criteria and onward toward true greatness. To do this we must first realize that it will not matter how much money we have earned. It will be pointless to brag about our careers, and our great knowledge. For compared to God’s Greatness it will be nothing more than fools’ gold.
We each have the ability to do more than simply realize our own dreams and goals. True, honest to goodness success in this life is achieved by realizing God’s dreams and goals for us. Instead of searching for ways to uplift ourselves and make ourselves great among men, we must allow God to be uplifted before all men, through us! We must ask God to utilize and promote our talents according to His will. We must permit God access to every part of us including and especially our finances. We must be willing to give up anything and everything for Him, even our hearts’ desires and the dreams we have for ourselves. When we do this it will becomes obvious that we can each do far more by touching others and becoming great inspirations, motivators, and the deliverers of the truth. Every person has within them the raw and instinctive capability to physically, spiritually and emotionally reach others, and actually help transform lives, soften hard hearts, and move literal mountains!
The day of our greatest interview that shall determine our ultimate position for all of eternity approaches closer with each day. Where will you choose now to spend all of eternity? What will God place you in authority of based upon your life’s resume. It is particularly comforting to know that God searches our hearts and minds and knows all that they contain. This means if we turn everything over to Him we cannot fail.
Matthew 25:23 (Amplified Bible)
23His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, [a]admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the [b]blessedness) which your master enjoys.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
Pam Shekailo

Failure IS an Option

“The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it: so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it.”  –Elbert Hubbard, American writer

Failure is not always a bad or a negative experience.  Some people use failure as an excuse to stop striving for what they really want or need.  The Bible says in Proverbs 24:16,  “for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again…” According to Charles C. Manz, in his book, The Power of Failure: 27 Ways to Turn Life’s Setbacks into Success, “Sometimes failure is failure, at least in the short run.  If we can learn to accept failure as a necessary part of life and then take from it the valuable lessons it offers, we can transcend it.  Sometimes it’s best to not try to deny or redefine failure but to effectively cope and cooperate with it for future success.”

We may experience setbacks in life, but if we continue to rise again, the very next time may be the push we need to make it to our reward.  As Donnie McClurkin says in his popular gospel song, “We fall down, but we get up…”  The only way to accomplish what God is calling you to do is to have faith that God will be with you through it all.  “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)  As long as we are obedient, God will even supply the faith, “… think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:3)

“Most people search high and wide for the key to success. If they only knew, the key to their dreams lies within.”  – George Washington Carver. American inventor

From Failure To Success – A Story Of Letting Go

Failure is something we all face in our lives.  I’ve sure had my share.  I remember in the mid 1990s, I had worked myself all the way from a sales person to Marketing Director to COO of a thriving company – only to discover that I really did not like that position.  So I did something radical.  I decided to quit this very secure job and start my own advertising based business.  It was an original idea in an industry I was very familiar with – a business magazine mailed to local business owners around my community.  A great idea plus my hard work ethic – I was sure would work.

Both my wife and I put everything we had, financially and emotionally into this idea.  It was very exciting to see how fast we acquired our first (and last) 30 clients!  Within a couple months we had a real magazine!  Clients were getting fantastic results.  There was only one small problem…though clients were excited about the return they were getting (one even said it was “the only advertising that ever worked”), some still had financial problems and couldn’t continue on a consistent basis.  Bottom line – we eventually ran out of money.  Then, on top of having to close down the magazine, we even had to hawk our 8 year old cars just to pay postage for the last mailing!!

I was devastated…my dream had died.  I remember how depressed I was.  I gave it my all and it was not enough.  I had no job, no money, and worst of all – a seriously damaged sense of confidence.

Maybe, that’s were you are now.

I had only questions…no answers.  I asked God the usual questions …why?  Why me?  How could you allow me to be so humiliated?  Why did you let this happen?

It took another 2 months for me to hit the real bottom when I had to raid our earthquake kid preparedness kit for quarters…we were that broke.  Until then, I was still holding on to a few shreds of pride.  I didn’t want to let them go, believing that somewhere within myself I could “make it happen.”  Once that last fingernail on the cliff ripped and I totally let go, something amazing happened.  Some of our friends from church prayed for me and I got to the point where I said…”Lord, you are my provider…You are my lord…in You I trust.  Whatever you want to do with me is fine.”  It wasn’t like I didn’t pray before…I did…a lot.  But there is a big difference when you finally completely let go and repent of all anger, unforgiveness, resentment, pride, etc.

A week later, totally out of the blue and not because of anything I did, I received a call from a stranger offering me the best job I’d ever had.  An old friend who I hadn’t talked with in ears referred me.  It was nothing short of a miracle…just the way it happened…it was eerie.

Looking back, I realized that I just had gotten ahead of God…like I do sometime.  Lesson – it’s wise to seek his counsel and wait on the Lord!

I hope my story has given you hope and some direction.  It’s never wrong to seek God, before and or after failure.  He is always ready to respond.  Frankly, I don’t know how people cope without God…I guess that’s why people do drugs, take pills or drink alcohol.  There is no doubt in my mind that God is the better choice…he brings true and lasting healing and recovery from failure to success.