He Restores My Soul

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.  He restores my soul.  
  – Psalm 23:1-3

Bobby’s brother, Mark, has a mint 55 Chevy.  It is a beautiful car.  But it didn’t always look beautiful.  It was pretty much a piece of junk at one point. It had been beautiful when it was new, but years of wear and tear had torn it down and reduced it to something of very little value. In fact, the car had been changed from its original purpose and was used as a stock car, getting battered and dinged until none of the beauty of the original car was left.  But Mark had a dream to restore it.  He brought it home, put it in his garage and piece by piece he brought it back to its original condition. It was not a quick process, it actually took him seventeen years to restore that car.  But he didn’t give up and when he was finished, he had something of worth; he had turned it from junk to a beautiful piece of machinery.

Through years of living life, we can getting pretty messed up inside.  Life has a way of battering and bruising us, chewing us up and then spitting us out by the wayside; no remnant of our original spirits can be found.  It can be a dismal place to be in.  We feel like we belong in the junkyard.

One of Webster’s definitions for restore is: to bring back to a state of health, soundness, or vigor.  In Psalm 23, King David tells us that God restores our soul. Our soul consists of our mind, our will and our emotions, pretty much what keeps us running.  God takes our battered lives and bit by bit, piece by piece, he restores our spirit.  He brings us back to a state of health, of soundness, of vigor. It doesn’t happen overnight … it’s a process.  But God never gives up on us. He turns our junk filled lives into a thing of beauty;  a life that can be used for him. 

The 55 Chevy couldn’t restore itself.  It needed someone to help bring it back to its original state.  We can’t restore ourselves either … we need God.  So … the question might be, if your soul needs some restoration … are you trying to do it by yourself, or are you allowing God to work in you?

Father, thank you for the taking my battered and bruised soul and bringing peace, healing and health back into my life.  Thank you Jesus for the peace that you bring along with that restoration.  Thank you for never giving up on me.  I pray that those who are hurting, who are battered and bruised inside, will allow you to restore their souls.  To bring healing to the hurt of their hearts. 

I love you Jesus!
  In your name I pray,
  Amen

God’s Blessings Upon You!

Love,
Joyce

The Choices You Make Today …
Will Affect Your Tomorrow!
http://www.alifedecision.org

Awakening Fast – January 10 – 30, 2011

As a church body, we are starting a fast on Monday, January 10, 2011 until Sunday, January 30, 2011.  The Daniel Fast is the suggested fast, but everyone is free to do as The Lord leads. 

Suggested Food List

The Daniel Fast is a very healthy way to eat and is full  of nutritious and healthy foods.  However, if you have special dietary needs, you should consult your health professional before you start this fast.  You can then modify the fast to meet your specific health needs.

Please make sure to READ THE LABEL when purchasing packaged, canned or bottled foods. They should be sugar-free and chemical-free. Keep this in mind as you review this list of acceptable foods.

Foods to include in your diet during the Daniel Fast.

All fruits. These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned. Fruits include but are not limited to apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, figs, grapefruit, grapes, guava, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemons, limes, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, prunes, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, tangelos, tangerines, watermelon. 

All vegetables. These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned. Vegetables include but are not limited to artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chili peppers, collard greens, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, ginger root, kale, leeks,lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, onions, parsley, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, scallions, spinach, sprouts, squashes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, yams, zucchini, veggie burgers are an option if you are  not allergic to soy.

All whole grains, including but not limited to whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, oats, barley, grits, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat tortillas, rice cakes and popcorn.

All nuts and seeds, including but not limited to sunflower seeds, cashews, peanuts, sesame. Also nut butters including peanut butter.

All legumes. These can be canned or dried. Legumes include but are not limited to dried beans, pinto beans, split peas, lentils, black eyed peas, kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans, white beans.

All quality oils including but not limited to olive, canola, grape seed, peanut, and sesame.

Beverages: spring water, distilled water or other pure waters.

Other: tofu, soy products, vinegar, seasonings, salt, herbs and spices.

Foods to avoid on the Daniel Fast

  • All meat and animal products including but not limited to beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and fish.
  • All dairy products including but not limited to milk, cheese, cream, butter, and eggs.
  • All sweeteners including but not limited to sugar, raw sugar, honey, syrups, molasses, and cane juice.
  • All leavened bread including Ezekiel Bread (it contains yeast and honey) and baked goods.
  • All refined and processed food products including but not limited to artificial flavorings, food additives, chemicals, white rice, white flour, and foods that contain artificial preservatives.
  • All deep fried foods including but not limited to potato chips, French fries, corn chips.
  • All solid fats including shortening, margarine, lard and foods high in fat.
  • Beverages including but not limited to coffee, tea, herbal teas, carbonated beverages, energy drinks, and alcohol.

Remember, READ THE LABELS!  You will want to be especially aware of chemicals, dairy products and sweeteners.

You may not want to do a food fast.  Or you may not want to fast the entire 21 days.  You may want to fast electronic devices; television, computers, email, facebook, iphone, twitter.  Or you may want to fast something else.  The  focus is not what  or how you fast, but that you are seeking God.  

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

Our prayer is that you find God during this time …

Living Stone – December 2010

Kristie & John  Sills  – December  2010 – Tree of Life Living Stone

Kristie and John Sills have made The Tree of Life their home church while they are in Naples for several years now. With a home in Massachusetts, they have gone back and forth between the two, but are hoping to make Naples their permanent residence in the future.   Kristie and John have a heart to give.  They joined the Finance Committee last year and have been a big part of helping secure the finances here at The Tree. 

They help count the money on Sunday mornings  and John has been working on putting together the budget for the church for 2011.  Anything  that is needed, John and Kristie are quick to jump in and help and because of  their heart to serve Jesus, we honor them as our Living Stone for December!

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
   I Peter 2:4,5

 

 

 

 

The Babe In The Manger

We sing the song every Christmas, ‘Away in a manger no crib for his bed …’, but have you ever really given thought to that statement? Can you imagine giving birth to a baby, in a stable and then putting him in a manger to sleep? And we are not talking a top of the line horse stable here. Most likely it was more like a cave, that the animals found shelter in. And here was this very young, probably very scared young girl about to give birth to the Son of God. WOW … can you just image?

I love Mary’s faith. I pray for a faith as strong as Mary’s, but would I really be willing to endure what she endured? Here she was young, probably about 12 or 13 years old, when an angel appeared to her and told her she would be pregnant with a child, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary was already engaged to a fellow, Joseph, at this time and when the families found out she was pregnant, Joseph could cancel their marriage and even worse, Mary could be stoned or ostracized from her family. But I love her response that day to the angel, “May it be with me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)

Now that is faith.

It took some faith to go tell Joseph, “Oh, um, by the way, I’m pregnant.” They weren’t living together, Joseph knew the baby wasn’t his, and he wasn’t happy. But before Joseph could call the wedding off, that same angel came to him and told him what was going on. And Joseph had faith, and he married Mary.

And then, right when the baby was to be born, they had to go to Bethlehem to pay taxes. Boy, talk about bad timing. Can you image having to travel any distance on a donkey when it’s close to your due date? And I’m sure that the donkey ride helped spur on Mary’s labor, because once they got to Bethlehem, Mary is ready to have that baby. But they find out there is no place to stay … the inns are all full. Boy, it just keeps going from bad to worse for poor Mary. But we don’t hear her complaining.

I have to confess, my little Chase came too quickly for anesthesia during his labor and I had to birth him the old fashioned, natural way and it hurts! It wasn’t what I had planned, but sometimes life throws a monkey wrench into our plan. I had never wanted to be in that club, that ‘I had a baby naturally club.’

I image by this point in time, Mary was wondering if this was all such a great idea. Sure, it was all fine and well when the angel first told her, but now when push comes to shove, literally, I’m sure she was wondering what she had gotten herself into. There she is, poor little thing; tired and hungry and now going into labor and no place to even lay down. If anyone had a reason to be grumpy, she did. But we don’t see that, we see that strong, quiet confidence that comes only from God, from a faith that can’t be squelched by the natural cares or concerns of the world. We see that faith in Mary, the mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as she gave birth to her son.
     – The Story of the Birth of Jesus: Luke 1 – 2

Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head

The stars in the bright sky
Looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

The cattle are lowing
The poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes

I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my side,
‘Til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray

Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to heaven
To live with Thee there

Father, I love the faith of Mary. Oh Lord, what she must have endured to bring you into the world, yet she was Your humble servant, living out her faith in action and in spirit. Father help me to walk the walk … not talk the talk.

I Love You Jesus
In Your Name I Pray!
Amen

God’s Blessings Upon You!

Love,
Joyce

Million Copy Give-Away.
Will You Help?
http://www.alifedecision.org

Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass…
   it’s about learning to dance in the rain!

Harry Chapin Food Give-Away

On December 23, 2010, The Tree of Life Church partnered with Harry Chapin Food Pantry and Kids Against Hunger to give away fresh produce and meat to the community.   With over 30,000 pounds of food given away, 426 families were served, with over 2000 people being blessed with food for Christmas.  It was a great time of showing the love of Jesus by meeting a vital need.

Kindness Counts

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about kindness. It seems like there is not a lot of it out there in the world. Yesterday I was sitting at a red light and it changed and before I could even get started, the girl in the car behind me was honking at me and gesturing at me with her hands and really throwing a fit. I could not for the life of me figure out what I had done? I had not been daydreaming, I was paying attention, but obviously I was not moving fast enough for her and she was letting me know about it. I kept thinking how miserable she must be, to act like that.

I am trying to teach the boys to be kind, not only to each other, which is a real stretch at this point in their lives, but to others. Carson was telling me about a new boy in his class who started crying because he was shy. That was foreign to Carson, I don’t think he’s ever cried a day in his life at school, even when he was a baby in pre-school. He’s always loved being in school. But this little boy was new to the school, didn’t know anyone and was obviously feeling sad. I encouraged Carson to be kind to him, to be his friend.

Chase was telling me the other day about a little girl in his class who the other kids tease, because she is quite tall. I encouraged him to be kind to the girl, since he is a little on the small side, he understands that size isn’t important, it’s what’s inside that matters. He told me he likes it when she’s on his soccer team, because she can run fast!

Paul encourages us in Ephesians to be kind and compassionate to each other. In Galatians he tells us that kindness is one of the fruits of the spirit. The author of Proverbs tells us that a kindhearted woman (and I’m sure a man fits the description as well) gains respect. There are example after example of the kindness that Jesus showed to others, during his time on earth.

I know an act of kindness can make my day … let’s make someone’s day today!

Father, thank You for instilling this into my heart. It’s so easy to go along with the world. To be rude back to someone when they are rude to me. But Lord, I don’t want to be like the world. I want to be like You! Help me to be kind and compassionate, regardless of my own circumstances.

I love You Jesus!
In Your Name I pray,
Amen

God Bless You!
Joyce

Million Copy Give-Away.
Will You Help?
http://www.alifedecision.org

Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass…
   it’s about learning to dance in the rain!