Category Archives: Devotional

Tips for Reconciling Relationships

Relationships can be wonderful, and they can be a challenge. We all deal with relational issues from time to time. Today we want to look at what makes things spiral out of control and how we go about reconciling relationships.

Family and friends make life fun. Relationships bring joy and productivity, but there is some fine print. There are some hidden fees and a lot of – how shall we say it? – poop. Listen to what Solomon said in all his wisdom:

Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests. Proverbs 14:4 NIV

There are great benefits to relationships, but even in healthy relationships things can get messy.  What causes relationships to go sideways?

Unrealistic expectations – Sometimes people enter into relationships with the hope of finding a savior – someone to meet their every need. Unrealistic expectations snuff the life out of a relationship. Jesus is the only one who can save.

Drift – If we take our relationships for granted, we get carried away by the current and we drift apart. Drift is the opposite of savior syndrome. Sometimes relationships are destroyed not by what we do, but what we don’t do.

Unforgiveness – We are all flawed individuals. We all make mistakes. Unforgiveness keeps us stuck in the pain of our imperfection. Without forgiveness we never move forward.

 

Healing broken relationships is what Christianity is all about. Reconciliation is the byproduct of love and love is the highest value in the kingdom of God. The Bible offers us a clear pathway for reconciling relationships.

 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. Matthew 18:15 NIV

Go – It’s not always easy to go. It’s scary. It’s risky. You may have to press through some fear, but love goes. Love takes the risk of moving toward reconciliation.

In private – It’s not easy to keep conflict between the two of you. Be aware of polluting other people’s minds with the temporary toxicity of your conflict. Please don’t post your relational conflict on social media. Go in private.

Seek to reconcile – When you go in private, with a heart that seeks to reconcile the relationship, you have a much better chance at restoring and reestablishing your relationships. All relationships have difficult moments. There is too much at stake to just walk away.

 

The Mirror That Matters

Twenty years ago when I was a young mom, I had no idea I would have the honor of standing on stage this Mother’s Day with my beautiful daughter, Danielle, and my lovely daughter-in-luv, Katy! Dreams do come true!

We shared with our church family about their unmatched VALUE to their Creator. In stark contrast, the culture tries to tell us who we are, what we should look like, act like, weigh, and even that we need to have certain things to live a significant life. It encourages us to conform to a particular mirror image. But the problem is, culture is elusive, it’s always changing. If we try to find our identity there, it will always lead to frustration as we compete with others and compare ourselves to everything around us.

Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold, but let God re-mold your mind from within. We need to let God change us from the inside out! Romans 12:2 Phillips

The culture we live in often gives us the wrong mirror images to look at, but as Danielle shared, “There is a perfect mirror – God’s word – that gives us accurate and wonderful images to believe!” As a mom, it was breathtaking to hear my daughter share with thousands of people how we need to allow God’s thoughts alone shape us. “His word makes up our mind for us. It tells us who we are.  All we have to do is read what he says about us to discover our true identity.” She shared how life can sometimes look and feel like a disaster, that it is messy and hard. But God has a way of turning even the messiest disasters into something beautiful.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:44

Only God’s word will consistently tell us how beautiful, valuable, and accepted we are, regardless of the stage of life we are in. We are so very loved by God, but life has a way of making us feel devalued! She shared how when she was a little girl, her older brother Caleb asked to trade her $20 bills for his $1 bills. She gladly did it thinking it was a fun ‘trading game.’ What a stinker he was. “The fact is, when we understand our true worth, we won’t exchange our value for something less!” As Danielle concluded, she encouraged, “You are never too young or old, you’ve never made too bad of a decision, and it’s certainly never too late to start believing the truth of God’s word! When you look to His word to define your value, you will begin to see much less disaster and much more beautiful!”

Wow! I could not be more proud of my girl! She is brilliant and as authentic as they come!

Then there’s Katy. What an incredible communicator and gift to our personal and church family! She encouraged us to stop comparing ourselves with others because we are each uniquely created.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10

She shared what a huge weight there is in being uniquely created. Unique means the only one of it’s kind! There is only one YOU. So we need to get better at celebrating who God made us to be, and then championing all the other people around us to be the unique person God created them to be! She bragged on how growing up her mom always praised the special personality and character traits each of her daughters had, so they always knew their individual value and worth. She said, “As we embrace our uniqueness, it empowers us to fulfill the purposes for which God designed us. Don’t ever forget that the world around you needs you to be the best YOU, you can be! ” Concluding her message, she left us with a brilliant thought she and her BFF adopted. They decided their friendship would always have a no compete clause; and that the only time they would look at each other’s mirror would be to lift and lend strength, because real queens fix each other’s crowns.

Let that be said of us all, that we embrace the unique person God made us and cheer on everyone else around us!

Father, help us to never let anything or anyone – this culture, the enemy’s lies, or even the unhealthy thoughts we sometimes have about ourselves – stop us from becoming the unique, beautiful reflection of Jesus in our world! Give us eyes to see ourselves the way you see us, so that every part of our lives, even the things we think aren’t so great, become the very things that propel us into our destiny!

God Wants to Use You

Everybody loves Love! In fact, when it comes to what is important to God, I think love is at the top of his list. There are over 550 scriptures about love in the bible, one of the most famous comes from 1 Corinthians 13:14 – These three will last forever – faith, hope, and love and the greatest of these is LOVE.

John 3:16 says “God so LOVED the world that he gave his only son…” God is all about LOVE and God IS LOVE. Over the last 30 years as Rob and I have been Pastoring Shoreline Church in Austin Texas we have had an overarching theme and vision for our church family – ‘Unveiling God’s LOVE!’

LOVE is the win for Shoreline Church!

In 2 Kings 4 we read about a women who has lost her husband and had no money to take care of her 2 sons. She reached out to Elisha, a miracle working prophet looking for help. But when Elisha replied he said “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil” Elisha then instructed her to go around to all of her neighbors houses and ask for their empty jars, then go inside your house and pour oil into all of the jars. Elisha asked “what do you have”…

GOD WANTS TO USE YOU!

Often times we just want God to do a quick miracle and make it better – we want instant miracles, but God wants us to be involved in the process of a miracle. When we walk in HIS love we are playing a part in being a miracle to this world. In Ephesians 3:20 it says “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, ACCORDING to his power that is at work in US.” God’s plan involves us. With the widow it involved her gathering some jars. God wants to use you!

WHAT DO YOU HAVE?

Elisha asked her a question… what do you have? What can you give God to work with? Her answer was “I have nothing at all.” God wants to use our lives to bless and help and LOVE others but often the first thought we have is: “I don’t have anything, I can’t be used by God.” We think – Surely God – if you want something done you will use the pastor, or that established organization or all of the other, more qualified people… but then the woman says “Well, I do have this little bit of oil.” She was saying “well I do have this tiny bit of something, but it is so small, I didn’t think it was even worth mentioning.” HELLO!! Never underestimate what God can do with the tiniest little bit.

If we will take a little closer look at what we have – even if we think it’s worth nothing – we’ll see that there is always something we can give God to work with. What do you have? What is already in your hands? What has God already given you? It might be so small you are overlooking it. But I guarantee, you have something God can use!

USE WHAT YOU HAVE.

Jesus tells the story of the men with the talents, two of the men used their talents and made a profit and one buried his talent – the master came back and gave more to the ones who had used their talents but the one who buried it ended up with nothing. In Matthew 25:29 it says, “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. ” The worst thing we can do is sit around and do nothing with what we have.

God can use you in a big way. Bring him what you have and let him use it. You can be a miracle to those around you by showing the LOVE of God.

Don’t be afraid to LOVE big.

The prophet told the woman “Ask for all the empty jars you can find… don’t just gather a few.” God is a big God – he loves to do big things! Jesus did big miracle after big miracle, He opened blind eyes, raised the dead, multiplied the wine and food so there was an abundance left over! He LOVED in the biggest way… those who were the worst of sinners: prostitutes, despised tax collectors, and even those who persecuted, mocked and crucified him. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do!”

HE LOVED BIG. Ask Jesus to help you LOVE BIG!

In the rest of the story it says that she began filling the jars and as each one was full she would fill another jar, and another until there was not a jar left. And that is when the oil ran out. This is a pure miracle! I think it is worth noting that as many jars as she had gathered, that is how much oil she had. I bet if she had more jars, more jars would have been filled. The oil was multiplied according to how many jars she had. This is significant when we think about LOVE.

Maybe – as many people as we are willing to LOVE – God will use us to love!

We want to be known as a church that loves big. God wants to use you and all you need to do is use what you have.

8 Steps to Overcoming Discouragement

Discouragement is part of the human experience. The Bible is full of real people who battled discouragement – Job, Elijah, David, Jeremiah and Peter just to name a few. It’s good to know we are not alone.

We all face discouragement. The enemy wields it to diminish us and rob us of the abundant life Jesus came to bring. But we don’t have to let discouragement keep us down.

Here are 8 steps to overcoming discouragement:

Be Honest – It doesn’t do you any good to pretend you don’t feel what you feel. And you can’t take action against negative feelings until you first admit that you have them. Admitting to yourself that you feel discouraged is the first step to overcoming.

Go to God – The Bible tells us exactly what to do with discouraging circumstances and the anxiety that often accompanies them.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

Let Others In – The Bible is clear about the importance of relationships. Everything Jesus did, he did in the context of relationships. When it comes to overcoming bad habits the only statistical common denominator is relationships.

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 NLT

Pay Attention to Your Thought Life – We all attempt to make sense of the things that happen in our lives. We try to figure out why they happen and what it all means. It’s important that we pay attention the the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, the stories we tell ourselves about God and the stories we tell ourselves about our circumstances.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT

Take Care of Your Body – When you’re facing discouraging circumstances be extra vigilant about your body. Eat the right stuff. Exercise. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Value yourself by taking care of your body especially when you don’t feel like it.

Harness the Power of Vision and Goal Setting – Vision will help you get up when all you want to to is stay in bed. So set a goal and then do it. It could be as simple as going for a walk around the block, weeding the garden or spending time with Jesus. There is something energizing about achieving even the smallest goal.

Keep an Eternal Perspective – The apostle Paul faced some really difficult circumstances and yet he was not crushed by them. He learned to fix his eyes on eternity.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV

Fight Feelings with Feelings – The best way to fight a feeling is with a feeling. The greatest antidote for the feeling of discouragement is gratitude. We may not be able to be grateful FOR the circumstances we are facing, but we can be grateful IN the circumstances. The next time you feel discouraged start making a list of all thing things you are grateful for. You’ll be amazed at the power of gratitude to lift you above discouragement.

How to Cultivate a Vision Guided Life

One of the greatest influences in life is the power of vision. With vision you can reach amazing heights. Without it, you will drift aimlessly.

Scriptures tells us the importance of living with vision.

Where there is no vision, the people perish Proverbs 29:18 KVJ

Some people get comfortable. They know if they get a vision it will require them to change. Some people are in survival mode. They are so busy they don’t take time to evaluate their journey to see if they’re on the right track. Some people have tried and failed so they give up ever trying again.

Here is the reality – everyone ends up somewhere but some people end up somewhere on purpose.  We want to help you cultivate a vision-guided life.

Make an Accurate Assessment of your Situation.  Nehemiah set out to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. His first step was to tell the honest truth. (Nehemiah 2:11-18)  Without the facts you really have no idea what decisions need to be made. So be brave and take inventory of your life. It will you guide you to what steps to take.

Catch the Vision. A vision is a picture of a preferable future that produces passion. What makes your heart beat faster? What makes you say, I was born for this! God will often use your core values, gifts, talents and life experiences to reveal and confirm his vision for your life

Be an Encourager. If you are going to accomplish great things in your life, you’ll have to have the help of many others. It turns out that when we help other people achieve their dreams, God brings people into our lives to help us achieve ours. All of that happens in an atmosphere of encouragement.

Stay the Course. Anything worthwhile is going to be difficult. If you want to make changes in your life, it will be hard. One of the reasons people fail is they give up to soon. Sometimes the best thing you can do is stand your ground and stay the course.

Vision will keep you from drifting, it will help you design and build the life of your dreams.

Shine Conference Sparks Freedom

It was a couple weeks before the 2004 Shine Women’s Conference and I was busy working on my excuses.

  • I’m a little behind on a project at work and I’m not sure I can ask off.
  • I can’t find a babysitter.
  • My house is a complete disaster.
  • I need to wash my hair.

Do any of those sound familiar? Are you working on your own excuses?

One afternoon I was thinking about the conference again. I realized one of the reasons I didn’t want to go was that I didn’t feel very shiny. Things had happened in my life that left me feeling small and insignificant like a dull, dried up clump of dirt.

I picked up the Shine brochure and deliberately read every word.  I got out my Bible and looked up each scripture and then I found this one:

For you cause my lamp to be lighted and to shine; the Lord my God illumines my darkness. Psalm 18:28

Click here to read this year’s Shine brochure.

God melted my heart with that scripture.  I realized I didn’t have to make myself shiny before I went to Shine. I desperately needed light in my personal darkness.  I went to the conference willing to receive.

Every aspect of the conference spoke to me. It was amazing. I will never forget the slide Christine Caine, one of our speakers, showed of a big black dot in the center of a white screen.  I had been trying for years to ignore the ugly dot in my life. I pretended I didn’t care and it wasn’t a big deal and it didn’t really hurt me. And then I found myself trying frantically to control everything in my life, to keep people at a distance so that no one could ever hurt me again.  When I saw that dot – I knew it was time to own up to the issue in my life!

Before each session, there were skits with four princesses. In the first skit, one of the princesses collapsed, fell to the stage and slept through the rest of the scene. She did that in every session. It was hilarious. We all realized Sleeping Beauty was narcoleptic. I remember watching her and seeing how I had wilted. I’d allowed fear and shame to keep me from dealing with my life. So many times I keeled over when challenges arose in my relationships. I knew if it wasn’t for my children and my job, I would have been spending a lot more time in bed. When saw Sleeping Beauty laying there, I saw me and I knew it was time to wake up!

Holly Wagner was our other speaker that year. She shared Proverbs 31:15, “She rises while it is yet night.” Ha! I could hardly get out of bed in the morning, much less get up while it was still night. But Holly mentioned that it wasn’t just about waking up super early. It was about rising up in the midst of the dark times in our lives. That’s exactly what I needed to do. I needed to rise up!

Courage was planted in my heart to own up, to wake up and to rise up!

I met with two friends in between sessions and told them what was going on in my life. They cried with me, prayed with me and guided me to life-changing resources.

For a long time I had been depending on God to sustain me, to help me make it through another day. At Shine, hope came alive to believe that my circumstances could change – that I could begin to live a life free of pain and shame.

Can you believe all of that happened in one weekend? Well, it did! Looking back, I see Shine conference as the catalyst for my FREEDOM.

I wonder sometimes, how much longer I would have stayed stuck in the struggle if I had not attended that conference. How many more years of my life would I have wasted in darkness?

Shine brought light and life to my home and my family. Our world was never the same. I pray my story will spark hope in your heart and that you will make plans to attend our up-coming Shine conference.

Stop the excuses and sign up right here, right now!

I have seen firsthand how God can and will use this conference to bring new levels of freedom to his daughters. That freedom is for you, so come expecting. I’ll see you there!

Written by Lynn Marie Cherry originally posted on Pastor Laura’s Blog

All Things in Common

I love that I am a part of what God put in place to bring hope and healing to our world, his Church.

We read in Acts 2:42-47 that the first century church was growing and quickly becoming what Jesus intended it to be, a movement of people who were like-minded, had the same attitude and purpose, and were living the adventure of a lifetime. Verse 44 says that “they had all things in common.” In other words, they could all relate to one another, no one felt alone or excluded, they all probably had similar challenges, issues and testimonies.

As different as I can imagine they all were, they were still the same.

They all wanted to learn, they valued relationships, they saw miracles take place, they were generous and they were grateful. They also met in the temple and in homes. I believe their unity and passion moved the hand of God and many were being saved.

We are all still different but we all have the same needs, and that is relationships. Everyone has a need to connect with others and have great friends. We all have the need to be loved and to love others.

The two most important relationships we all need are with God and others. Jesus told the religious rulers in Matthew 22, that the greatest commandment was to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself.” He was saying that we all would need these two relationships and we should value them, develop them, celebrate them and never take them for granted. We all need these two relationships in our lives in order to be fulfilled and live the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.

We here at Shoreline, know the importance of these two relationships and are committed to help you establish them in your life. You will often hear about a God that loved you so much that He gave his son Jesus as a sacrifice for you and you will also hear about how you can get connected and make great friends in small groups or serving teams.

Shoreline is a church of relationships because we all need them, we have that in common and it would be our joy to help you get connected.

Click here to join a Small Group for our upcoming study – Balance

Click here to register to volunteer with one of our serving teams.

3 Keys to Right Believing

In a world where tension continues to increase in light of terrorist attacks, ambush killings and widening racial divides, we are reminded of the foundation of the kingdom of God – righteousness, justice and love. These are the keys to right believing – establishing your faith on solid ground.

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.” Psalm 89:14

Key #1 – Righteousness

We have all been offered the best “deal” ever. Give God our sin and he gives us his righteousness. We have righteousness, not based on our performance, but because of a gift from God out of an abundance of grace. Because of what Jesus did for us, we have right standing with God. That means YOU are right with God.

Key #2 – Justice

The biblical definition of “justice” is to restore the world the way God wants it to be. God makes us right with Him in order that we, with His help, can make what’s wrong with the world right. We are called to bring heaven to earth – “on earth as it is in heaven.” Where there is despair, we bring hope. Where there is no vision, we bring vision and clarity as Holy Spirit-guided believers.

Key #3 – Love

The best response to tragedy and violence is love. Where there is hate, we bring love. We are called to spread love. Love gives prayers empathy. Love expresses comfort and solidarity. Our only hope is found in love and the beauty of grace.

When we believe right, we can love right. To love means that you say “I want to understand.” Love seeks to understand where people are at. Love recognizes people’s dignity. As our country needs healing and reconciliation, we know one thing for sure: Love wins.

4 Tips for Healthy Eating

Experts agree on a few things we can do to eat healthier. Here are four tips you can put into practice this week:

1. Eat Real Food – Eat or drink what grows on the planet – seed and herb bearing fruits and juices, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, sprouted whole grains, healthy oils like olive and coconut oil.

Then God said,“Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.” Genesis 1:29

Eat more foods fresh, live and raw.  Eat animals that walk, fly or swim. Your body is like a bank account. The more good/real food you put in, the stronger and healthier you’ll be.

2. Drink lots of water –  Your body made of 65-75% water. We recommend that you drink half of your body weight in ounces as a daily minimum.  Add more water if you live in a dry climate, workout, or travel. And when the summer heat rises in Texas – add more water!

3. Don’t Eat Junk Food – If you want to have a healthy body, the easiest way is to cut out the junk! Here’s the problem: we take all this beautifully created real food and we mess with it. We bleach it, process it, preserve it, and inject it with additives, antibiotics, hormones, chemicals and pesticides, then fry it to a crisp and call it food. But it’s not – it’s JUNK!

Our bodies don’t even recognize it as food. All this added stuff is poisoning our liver, gall bladder, spleen and colon and clogging our arteries, giving us all sorts of diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Research shows that there is an undeniable connection between the chemicals in our food supply and the increase in these diseases.

4. Use Moderation – Our biggest problem concerning food in America is overeating. We need to use the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us called self-control! Moderation helps us avoid overeating and addiction.

Let your moderation be known to all men… Philippians 4:5

Slow down. When you eat slowly it gives your body the ability to know when you’re full. You don’t have to deprive yourself. Give yourself a splurge meal or day. Eat smaller amounts. A little tastes the same as a lot!

Want the bottom line on healthy eating?  Cut the junk and eat real food in moderation.

Targeting Our Nation’s 3 Biggest Needs In Prayer

Spend any amount of time watching the news or scrolling through the newsfeed on social media and you’ll see our nation has great needs. As we celebrate our independence this July, let us use our freedom to do what matters most. Let us pray.

Let us pray for our Nation – for the upcoming election, for peace and for unity.

 If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

Let us pray for our Neighbors near and far – for Shoreline, for small groups across our city and for salvation.

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 NIV

Let us pray for the Next Generation – for an awakening, for wisdom and for outreach that will fuel their sense of purpose.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:9-10 NIV

  • Pray often.
  • Pray consistently.
  • Pray from the heart.
  • Pray with specifics.
  • Pray with confidence.

Prayer may feel insignificant, but it is much more powerful than you could ever imagined. Prayer is how you release the power of God to change our world!

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16 NIV