How to climb over your mountains.

By Joan M. Blake author.

Does anyone have mountains they need to climb? I was praying early this morning when I visualized myself standing at the bottom of a large mountain and realized that I had a choice to make: either stand there or find a way to climb up that mountain. Since I will never climb an actual mountain, my visualization was metaphorically related to a mountain of life- issues that I face.

Let us discuss the preparation involved in climbing a real mountain, and see how those tools can help us deal with our mountains of real life-issues. Aiming to climb a mountain calls for getting the needed training to enhance strength and perseverance. Looking at a youtube Alpine training video, I learned that training includes weighted step up, weighted sit ups and side bends to help your legs, lungs and core.

Weighted step up improves your symmetry and balance, fixes muscle size imbalances and strength imbalances. Weighted sit up improves and strengthen your core muscles. The Dumbbell side bends work the muscles of the trunk, particularly the deep spine muscles, help contribute to a stronger core, reduce the risk of back pain and improve functional movements such as a serving a tennis ball or carrying a heavy object on one side of the body. It is recommended that the three workouts be combined and practiced three times per week, a month or two from your climb.

How can we translate the tools used in preparing for mountain climbing to the tasks of dealing with a mountain of life-issues that we face? In order to prepare, we need to step up to the challenges that we face by putting some things in place and establishing a routine of practicing. If you are facing financial problems, seek out a financial expert to help you plan, balance your budget, or pay off your debt. Put the tools that you have learned into practice. To obtain a new job, you must prepare yourself for an interview. If you are changing careers, you must prepare for that new career by going through a course of study. If you are having relationship issues, get help to deal with the issues at hand. If you are dealing with overweight, begin to plan healthier meals, do more walking, weight and strength training to put your body in balance.

While I have worked on exercising and eating healthy foods, I have found a few areas that I need to work on. I have to put aside more time to write in my journal daily. With respect to my books, I can no longer stay dormant, but I must put together, a marketing plan so that my books could get in the hands of more readers. In the case of Christian Resource Network, a non-profit organization that I founded, and which had been dormant, I need to plan ahead and establish programs to help people in need. Regardless of our issues, we need to move forward with inner strength. We can no longer worry about being at the bottom of our mountains, because according to Edmund Hilary, it is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.

Why We Should Celebrate Life and Live with Hope

I want to thank all of you for attending Christian Resource Network, Inc. 2018 Open House, and pray that God will help us as we journey forward. The title of my message is Why we Should Celebrate Life and Live with Hope.”

Oprah Winfrey once said “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” What does that mean for all of us? It means that in the midst of life-storms, life’s troubles, life-issues, life-struggles or what you chose to call them, all of us should celebrate life.

Today, I am going to look at why we should celebrate life, how we should celebrate life with others and how we should celebrate life in the midst of struggles and disappointments. I will tell a story about a Russian girl who celebrated life even in the midst of her disabilities and I will give examples from my own life-journey.

  1. Why we should celebrate life

 We should celebrate life, because I believe, God has put us on this earth for a purpose. In Jeremiah 29:11 God says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” We see here that God’s plan for us is to give us hope and a future. Celebrating life does  that, it gives us hope and a future.

2. How we should celebrate life with others?

We should celebrate life by loving God and loving our neighbor. In Mark 12:30-31, God says we should ” Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”  If we do not understand our purposes for celebrating life, we see from this scripture, that we are to honor God and live in communion with Him. Why? God is who keeps us. He loves us unconditionally. It is by grace that we have been saved, not of our own doing; it is by the grace of God who sent his son to take away the sin of the world. God has fashioned us to be his own. He has sealed us with eternal life through grace. We should love our neighbor as ourselves.

The story of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37 is an example of loving your neighbor. The Samaritan, who saw a man lying at the sidewalk after being beaten by robbers, had compassion on the man and carried the man on his donkey to an inn and paid the innkeeper to care for the man. How many of us in this room will do that today? We should celebrate life by also loving ourselves-I believe all of us in this room know how to care for and love ourselves.

3. We should celebrate life even when we go through overwhelming problems or disappointments.

a. Example of the Russian girl:

Jessica was born to teenage parents who were not sure what to do with her as she was born with severe disabilities- no legs, so they left her in a hospital. An American family adopted her and helped Jessica to celebrate life even with severe disabilities, by swimming for the special Olympics where she won twelve trophies in three Paralympic games. Jessica’s story became so newsworthy that it led to her desire to find her biological parents and siblings and when she did find them, she welcomed them with joy, not with anger. This is how Jessica viewed her disability: “I think that real disability is a negative attitude towards life. Despite the fact that I have no legs below the knees, I do not consider myself disabled.”  Jessica celebrated life and lived with hope.

b. Example from my own life:

Life seems to cave in on me daily, as I care for my special-needs daughter, but yet, when I felt like giving up, I could not and would not. I realize that hope keeps bubbling up inside me when I think of the goodness of God and all that He has done for me. God has kept me strong and in good health, so I can press on to the high mark in Christ Jesus. I am not my own, I have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Because I am not my own, I can go through immense problems, because nothing can separate me from God’s love. (Rom 8:38-39). When I am going through these troubles, the Almighty God is not only holding my hand through them, but is guiding me through them, and He is loving me through them. There is nothing too hard for Him in your situation and in mine.

The question that you are asking yourself is why am I here at this luncheon? I came to tell you how happy you have made me feel in the past few years, I wanted to thank you for supporting me in numerous ways: with your prayers and with your love.  We are all here to celebrate life together and to tell of the great things that God has shown us, to tell of how God has helped us and how God has healed us. My hope is that this celebration will leave an indelible mark on all of us.

God is ushering Christian Resource Network, Inc. into unknown territories and I will need prayers and your moral support in every way possible. But God, who is mighty, knows what He wants and He uses us, His ambassadors on the earth, as His vessels to expand His kingdom. I hope that this is simply the beginning of our celebration of life together and hope that we can continue to celebrate the gift of life and help others to celebrate their lives by opening doors for them to realize their potential.

I want to end by stating a quote by Osho, Creativity: Unleashing the Forces Within: “Be the celebrators, celebrate! Already there is too much—the flowers have bloomed, the birds are singing, the sun is there in the sky—celebrate it! You are breathing and you are alive and you have consciousness, celebrate it!” May God bless you

 

Disappointments Lead to Incredible Opportunities

Do you remember how disappointed you felt earlier or even later in life?  You felt sad or depressed, because you didn’t make the mark or reach your expectation. When you were younger, you faced competition, for example: in sports, in a spelling Bee, in a musical talent show and you wanted to win but you didn’t. As a high school student, you competed for the post popular girl or boy and felt disappointed when you didn’t get what you wanted.  As you became older, you realize that the same system exists even today; there is competition which leads to achievement or disappointment.

Let me discuss some of these. Today, you experience competition as a small or large business owner, as an applicant for a job— to become a senior pastor of a church, to become a school teacher, to become a computer engineer, to become a police officer or whatever you wish to become.  To obtain a job, you went through the interviewing process until you became the top applicant and achieved the job of your dreams only to be disappointed years later. This same disappointment played out in your marriage and after five years or less, your marriage ended up in divorce.

In this world of competition and disappointments, we must come to the realization that our issues have a way of balancing themselves. We must believe in the good in ourselves, that all things work together for the good of humankind (Rom 8:28), and that disappointments lead to incredible opportunities. My own life attests to these facts.

I landed a job many years ago during the same time that my daughter needed care and, therefore, I resigned from the job shortly after.  I could have complained or bathed in disappointment, but instead, I chose to attend Seminary at night and was elated to be among a student body and faculty who were supportive. During my trials, I graduated from Seminary and found new life—getting involved in women’s issues.

My new life led me to creating and writing in The Christian Connection Newsletter alongside community leaders. Eight years later, in 2008, I continued writing and sharing my story with others. I also found time to assist my daughter in profound ways.  Maybe your situation is like mine; you had to leave your job to care for your son or daughter. Maybe, you are disappointed with your marriage, with your job or with your friendships. Do not lose heart, for you have hope (Rom 5:2). God loves you the same, whether you experience disappointments. He has never left you or forsaken you; He has been with you throughout the entire process and will see you through (Psalm 139:7-10), but you must trust Him to do it. Do not lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), for in doing so, you depend on your feelings rather than your faith and belief in God.

Trusting and believing in God’s provisions for your life is key to overcoming your life-issues, for He is your Master (Mark 12:32), and He has a master-plan for your life. Because all things work together for good (Rom 8:28), I want to encourage you to look at disappointments in new ways, for they often lead to incredible opportunities.

By Joan M. Blake (Author)

 

Review Your Life and Make Changes

Have you ever taken an inventory of your life? Without checking in on your own life and being aware of what is happening to you, you can’t make changes. This past weekend, I became aware of the issues I faced and decided that I needed to make changes. I don’t know what issues you are faced with, but today, I will discuss some common issues that we all face, including unforgiveness, guilt and fear, why we need to make changes to our lives, and how to go about making those changes.

Let me begin by discussing u-nforgiveness which is one of the most common issues facing families today. An example of how unforgiveness comes about is when a family member or friend may have said something about you or done something to you that left you unforgiving. You held on to that emotion for years refusing to let it go and it turned into bitterness, hatred, anger, loneliness, possibly jealousy and those emotions became a hedge between your friendship with your family member or friend. You felt prideful and refused to settle your differences with that individual, so you ignore the individual in family gatherings and the situation got worse. I remember times when I dealt with unforgiveness over little things.

A second major issue is feeling guilty. This guilt may have come about because you were unforgiving to someone, did not speak to that individual, and now, you feel guilty about your action. Guilt may have also come about because you felt that you were the cause of your parents’ divorce or separation and you carried that guilt for years and now it has affected your own relationships. My guilt started when my mother and father would ask me which of them, I loved more; I could not answer that question so I was put in a position for years to please others even when I would choke with displeasure. My most recent guilt feeling was attended a function because I didn’t want to hurt the person’s feelings.

A third issue that most people experience is fear which I believe is the root cause of so many life- issues. Fear cripples so many people. I believe un-forgiveness, bitterness, anger, guilt procrastination are prolonged because of fear. People do not want to face others and apologize for having been unforgiving, bitter or guilty. They are afraid of how others will perceive them. People express fears in many ways,  including fear of dying, fear of getting sick, fear of being in financial bondage, fear of flying and fear of driving over bridges. For years I suffered with fear of heights which led to fear of driving over bridges and highways.

Why do we need to make changes to the emotions that we face? The answer to this is clear–we must make changes if we want to move forward and realize success in our lives. People do not know or care if you or I suffer with unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, guilt or fears. We hurt ourselves, our families and friends, when we experience these emotions.

How do we go about making these changes? We must confront our emotions. Choose to love rather than be unforgiving to others. Colossians 3:13 13 states that we are to: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the LORD forgave you.” Be the first one to step up and make amends. The quality of your relationships will improve. Chose freedom rather than being locked up in the prison of your guilt.

One writer stated that.“The feelings of guilt takes away self-confidence, reduces self-esteem welcomes fear, confusion, disappointment, depression and other areas.” Face your fears and gain calmness and confidence. William Jennings Bryan stated that “The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you.

What to do when your life issues are keeping you down.

I am not a Counselor, but I have mentored quite a few people and I am a person who has had my share of life issues. The question is: “What to do when life issues are keeping you down?”

Let us picture a person who feels down. He/she may feel fearful of the outcome of his/her life. Fear may turn into anxiety and worry, which may tend to turn into depression. When you feel depressed you are submitting to a feeling that may hinder you in many ways. Some people may feel that they can’t go on, so they may decide to stay in bed and do nothing. Depression can lead to over-eating or under eating and can then affect other areas of your life (which are outside the scope of this article).

Before embarking on a feeling which leads to so many issues, think about ways that you can help yourself and others. Here are a some:

1. Pray through the issues. When you pray, you are asking God for strength and you are submitting the issues to him. Didn’t God say to” ‘Come to me all you who are weary and are heavy laden and I will give you rest?’ “(Matt11:28)

2. Read and study God’s word for His words are life {Phil 2:16).

3. Know that you are God’s child and He will never leave or forsake you (Joshua 1:5).

 

4. Do not concentrate on the issues to the point where they take complete control over your life; concentrate on God and keep your faith alive (Heb11:1).

 

5.  Involve yourself in Charity work so you can help others. Freely you have received, freely you should give (Matt 10:8) .

 

6. Take good care of yourself, eat healthy and exercise regularly. Doing so will help your mind and body.

 

7. Maintain good relationships and have a prayer partner with whom you can pray.

 

We Have Victory Through Jesus Christ.

 

We know the story of how the Lord, Jesus, for whom John referred to as the Word (1 John 1:1), came down from heaven as the Son of Man and lived among us, identified with our pain, died, and rose again the third day (1 Cor 15:4) and brought hope (1 Tim 1:1) to a dying world. By His death, Jesus spared us from the wrath of sin (Acts 15:11), and by His resurrection, we have abundant life (John 11:25). He Who descended, also ascended to heaven, and is now seated at the right hand of God, the Father, interceding for us all (Romans 8:34).

This is the same Jesus who said, “I will not leave or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5) and that He would go away and send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to be our guide (John 14:16). Apostle Paul reminded us that “all things work together for our good (Rom 8:28).” In other words, regardless of the intensity of our struggles, we must take them to Jesus who has made a promise that He will not forsake us; He will fight our battles (2 Chron 32:8) and cause the situation to work out for our good.  While we are surrounded by a tumultuous world, we must not lose heart, for we have victory through Jesus Christ, our resurrected Lord and Savior.

Would a parent forsake his/her child?

This year 2018, has started out very busy for me, with a lot of doctor’s appointments for my daughter and myself. I felt that I was consumed with going to the doctors, but thanks to God, we are doing well.

Life continues to be hectic, but I refuse to give up, because my family and I belong to God. He knows the end from the beginning and He knows your destiny as well as mine, so I take comfort in knowing and believing that.  God is no respecter of persons; what He has done for you, He will do for me. We are important to God and his love for us is infinite.

I want to encourage you if you are experiencing the storms of life as I am, not to give up, but to hold on to God’s unchanging hands, for what you are experiencing is just a test and you will come out as good gold. God will not leave or forsake you or me, (Joshua 1:5) for we are His children. Would a parent forsake his/her child? In today’s world we are bombarded with evil and so the question to ask ourselves is: “Should a parent forsake his/her child?

 

 

Trust God When You Cannot Trace Him

This is a familiar phrase that my prayer partner would remind me of, as she prayed for me. This means that we should not try to figure out what God is doing in our lives but instead, we should trust God during the process.

We should trust God because God is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2). He is the Alpha and the Omega (Rev 22:13), the Beginning and the End and knows what each person’s purpose is. God is who opens doors that no man can shut (Rev 3:8). He has numbered the hairs on your head ( Matt 10:30) and knows everything about you and me. Where can you and I go from God’s spirit (Psa 139:7), the Psalmist asks, for nothing is hidden from him. If you and I sin, He knows about it; He knows about our rebellious acts and helps to rid us of these sins.

God allows us to go through challenging times to humble us, to change some aspect of our lives and to bring us to himself. When you are being tested, trust God; don’t try to trace Him or understand where He is going with your lives. Trusting God is the Key to living a life of faith.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Message

THE GIFT OF LOVE-JESUS’ BIRTH

Hello everyone and welcome to another Christmas celebration where family and friends come together not only to share gifts, but to show love for one another. On this day, we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s gift to us.

GOD’S REDEMPTIVE PLAN           

The all-knowing and mighty God (Psalm 139:1-4; Isaiah 9:6) allowed his Son, Jesus Christ, the miracle of love, to be born of Mary, a peasant girl who gave birth to him in a manger (Luke 2:4-7). Jesus came into this world to live among people like you and me and to identify with our pain and grief. God’s plan was to redeem the world from sin and death by sacrificing his only Son, Jesus, who died on the cross and was resurrected on the third day; and is now seated on the right hand of the Father, forever making intercession for us (Romans 8:34).

HOW TO OBTAIN THE GIFTS OF SALVATION AND ETERNAL LIFE

When you confess and repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, God forgives you of your current and past sins; you are restored to a rightful relationship with Him through his Son Jesus Christ, regardless of the nature of your sin; and you receive the gift of salvation and eternal life (1 John 1:9).

MY PRAYER FOR YOU

Let me pray for you. Father, I come to you on behalf of this man, this woman, this boy or girl and I ask you to look down with your heart of compassion and help them as they go through the trials of life. Take them out of the miry clay and put their feet on solid ground dear Father in the name of Jesus. Renew their hearts so they can live again, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

  YOUR PRAYERTO RECEIVE THE GIFTS OF SALVATION AND ETERNAL LIFE

Lord, God of the Universe,

Creator of Everything

I come to you in Desperation,

Desiring to have an intimate relationship with You

And to Invite Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior.

I confess and repent of my sins

And ask for your forgiveness.

I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior,

The One Who died on the Cross and rose again,

Paying the penalty for my sins,

So I could have salvation and eternal life.

I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

(Prayer taken from Prayer and Meditation Finding Comfort, Hope and Purpose in the Midst of Your Storm, By Joan M. Blake Copyright 2017)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Things are Possible to Those who Believe

In the weeks to come, I am going to keep you posted on what is taking place with our daughter Jo-an. I am thrilled to see how far she has come. God gives me the strength to care for her and the faith to expect great things. With Him, all things are possible (Matt 19:26).

Yesterday, my assistant Ali and I took Jo-an for her voice lesson. Remember the angel that I met at Staples? Well, she is amazing at what she does.  Vic plays the piano, plays  other instruments and teaches voice lessons. It was wonderful to hear  Jo-an sing “Amazing Grace.”

This song reminds me that it is by God’s grace that you and I are saved, through faith(Eph 2:8-10). God knew that we needed a Savior, His Son Jesus, to die on the cross to pay our sin debt in full. Grace is a gift from God; it is God’s unconditional love for us-His unmerited favor given to us not because we are deserving of it or because of works we have done.We have been justified by faith and have peace with God and now, we have access to God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1-2).

Since we have this access, why are we living below our blessings? Have you been praying for healing for your loved one like I have, or been praying to receive something from the Lord? Apply your faith. Keep believing; keep expecting. The Bible says: Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you (Matt7:7). Remember, all things are possible to those who believe (Mark 9:23).