Saturday, May 30, 2009

May 30 & 31, 2009 "Praise God On Purpose"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love, He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our sins. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our trasgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more."
~ Psalm 103:8-16 ~ Amplified Version

Today, the first Saturday I 'planned' on sleeping in; of course this did not happen as I woke up this morning with my smooth fox terrier pawing on my head at 6:22. I turned over as I groaned pushing him away for a moment. After a series of irritating 'nasally' whines I slowly got out of bed.

As I slowly walked down the stairs, he quickly led me to the back door, I was quite grumpy to say the least.

As my dog relieved himself, I waited impatiently as I was headed right back to bed. I let my dog in and went back upstairs with my dog excitedly following me. I said with an irritated tone, "Jack! Night, night!" As I laid my head on that pillow, all I know is that I was asleep within a matter of seconds.

My heavy sleep was interrupted again, by none other than my dog 'pawing' my head, along with his infamous whine. This time I was beyond irritated, there was no praise to God even wanting to flow forth. I got up again, now it was 8:20 am. As he led me to the backdoor I let him out. Suddenly, all I could hear is my dog on a Saturday morning barking the most irritable sounding bark. I knew that my neighbor was in the backyard trying to ignore the most irritating whiny bark that my dog so famously has.

I'm frantically looking for my sunglasses to hide the 'beautiful' bloodshot, tired eyes before I was about to grab my dog from the backyard. As I'm looking for my sunglasses I hear my neighbor say, "Jack be quiet!" Of course, I'm even more irritated with my dog and embarassed. Needless to say I couldn't find my sunglasses so I ran out to the backyard and thank God my neighbor's back was facing me as I yelled at my dog, pulled the leash in, picked him up and brought him into the house.

I tell you this story because my whole attitude was definitely in need of great adjustment. I remember saying, "Lord, I'm sorry for my attitude and for not allowing the first thing on my lips to be praises to You of how awesome You are." This is when I felt like never before this forgiveness that so lavishly covered me and saturated me. I just felt this love as though I could hear God say, "Teresa, I never expect you to be perfect. I remind Myself the fraility of man. I love your heart to want to make Me first."

As I felt this forgiveness, I could hear the KLOVE radio station that we usually have playing in our home 24 hours a day with praise music was not coming in clearly. At this point, I truly believe I was led to turn it to the Message XM radio station on our television. This is when I heard the following words sung by Avalon.

I pray that you are blessed by these words. This is my heart's cry and this is what I want to say to myself, to others and ultimately to my God. I know when you hear the words, you will feel the same.

'Everything To Me'
Songwriters: Cates, Chad; Smith, Sue
Sung By: Avalon

"I grew up in sunday school
I memorized the Golden rule
And how Jesus came to set the sinner free
I know the story inside out
I can tell you all about
The path that led Him up to Calvary
But ask me why He loves me
And I don't know what to say
But I'll never be the same
Because he changed my life when He became...

Everything to me
He's more than a story
more than words on a page of history
He's the air that I breathe
The water I thirst for
And the ground beneath my feet
He's everything, everything to me

We're living in uncertain times
And more and more I find that I'm aware
Of just how fragile life can be
I want to tell the world I found
A love that turned my life around
They need to know that they can taste and see
Now everyday I'm praying Just to give my heart away
I want to live for Jesus
So that someone else might see that He is...

Everything to me
He's more than a story
more than words on a page of history
He's the air that I breathe
The water I thirst for
And the ground beneath my feet
He's everything

And looking back over my life at the end
I'll go to meet you saying you've been...

You're everything to me
You're more than a story
More than words on a page of history
You're everything to me
You're more than a story
More than words on a page of history
You're the air that I breath
The water I thirst for
And the ground beneath my feet
You're everything to me
Lord, you're everything to me"

Friday, May 29, 2009

May 29, 2009 "Treasures"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it."
~ Matthew 13:44 & 45 ~

With joy I went through my purse to find my journal that my dear friend, Jennifer bought for me. I had to write down the words that I was hearing flow forth out of my mom's mouth.

As we were fellowshipping together yesterday morning she was somewhat frustrated with not knowing how to use her iphone, as she was needing a username and password that she had no idea she even had. She looked at her phone and said, "This phone has so much potential, if I only knew how to use it."

This comment sparked something so thought provoking.

I said, "Mom, wow! What you just said, about this phone." It brought me to that moment that we live our lives not knowing our potential however, the Master and Creator, Almighty God does know the potential that He placed within us.

My mom proceeded to say, "We possess a life treasure as we live our lives. There are so many treasures to be revealed, just like the Word of God."

I looked at her in amazement, I thought to myself, "Wow! She is my mom."

As I continued to listen marveling at the gems that were so freely pouring out of her mouth she said something else that hit my heart as though she were digging for a treasure chest within me.

She said, "We have abundant treasures to glean from on a daily basis. It is there for us to take, not to just admire, but to take as ours and valued. We are not to just stare at it or have it be as a 'decorative' piece within our homes. Treasure isn't treasure appreciated until you have sought it out and seized it to make it your own."

When I heard these powerful words, it truly 'reminded' me to see the value of the Word of God. True stories that God saw many men and women through. It was so amazing to know and to be 'reminded' through my mom by the Holy Spirit how we have the 'Marvelous Manual' to live an abundant life through Jesus Christ no matter the adversity.

Many of us know that He is not 'just' an option of a way. HE is the ONLY WAY! The demons flee at the name of Jesus. You might say, "Well, I believe in God." Unfortunately, so do the demons. They even believe in God and they tremble (James 2:19). They have 'treasures' that are the counterfeit, yet seem so real. God provided the authentic treasure and that is powerful. There is no other name that has power like the name of Jesus. Now that is cool treasure that is made available to us, because of Christ's obedience unto death (Philippians 2:6-11).

I must remind myself of what my mom so richly said again, "We have abundant treasures from the Lord to glean from on a daily basis. It is there for us to take, not just to admire, but to take as ours and valued. We are not to just stare at it or have it be as a 'decorative' piece within our homes. Treasure isn't treasure appreciated until you have sought it out and seized it to make it your own."

May we take those great treasures of the Lord and may we value that treasure. May we seek it out moment by moment and seize it to make it our own and use it the way He would have us use it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May 28, 2009 "Atmosphere"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
~ Philippians 4:13

The gym was packed. I arrived during 'peak' time. I could hear the 'buzz' in the atmosphere; many people sweating profusely as they pushed themselves to another level of fitness.

I walked over to the cardio area scoping out which elliptical machine was open. I found just one as I hurriedly walked towards it with my ipod clipped to my shirt and earphones in my ears. I could feel the rush, it was intense, my adrenaline was pumping. The two people on either side of me at this point were working out to see results; not just working out as though they were going through the motions.

I powered up my ipod, pushed play and was pumped. You'll laugh but I was getting pumped to a 'High School Musical' song (As a side note I love those movies).

I could feel the motivation rise up within me to work out really hard unknowingly because of the people that I was working out next to. Come to think of it; I was working out harder and faster than I had ever before. This went on for more than 15 minutes. It was intense. I didn't think my legs could move that fast, I felt like a 'pro'. At this point in my workout, I was already sweating profusely. Yes, I sweat, I do not perspire or 'glow' like other women, I sweat like a man and there is truly a feeling of accomplishment when I sweat.

My cardiovascular workout was timed for 40 minutes with a 5 minute cool down. Well, in the midst of the first 15 minutes which were intense, I noticed I started to slow down and feel heavy at about 20 minutes into the workout. As I looked on both sides, I realized the two people that were originally next to me were now gone and now there were two other people that worked out beside me. They were working out at a much slower pace. I noticed surprisingly how I allowed their workout to unknowingly effect mine.

The atmosphere in which I worked out in had changed. Then, I thought, 'This is a great lesson I'm about to learn, right Lord?" I could feel a beautiful Wink from the Lord at this point. Then I was led to ask myself? "Why do I depend on others or for that 'feeling' to be motivated?" "Why did my attitude change about my workout when the workout of the other people around me changed?"

When I got to this realization, I started to say, "Teresa, you are not going to allow their attitudes to bring you down! Come on! You can do this through Christ, you be the one to change the atmosphere, don't depend on others."

This scenario is a great 'reminder' of who we surround ourselves with. Obviously in the world you cannot help who you are around, especially in the work place. However, in our relationships who are we surrounding ourselves with? Do you notice the atmosphere change when negativity or a 'critical spirit' comes on the scene?

When this happens what are we to do? The world would say, "Run and don't look back". It's a 'knee jerk' reaction to do that as well. However, what are we called to do? Well, first of all I believe that we have to believe that with God all things are possible and that we can do these things through Christ Jesus who gives us the strength.

I realized today as I worked out and experienced two different atmospheres and attitudes within minutes of each other that we also have a responsiblity to either be brought up or down or we allow the Holy Spirit to bring in the change of the atmosphere as we allow Him to utilize us as His vessels. Not going through the motions (as that powerful song, "The Motions" sung by Matthew West) with religiousity but truly exercising our faith in God as we commune and have a relationship with Him.

Am I as a child of God, an heir through Jesus Christ revealing the atmosphere of His presence? Or am I as a child of God, an heir through Jesus Christ revealing that I'll just take what I can so that I can say, "I did what?"

I desire to be like those people who were around me today that unknowingly motivated me to workout the best I had ever worked out. I want people that are around me to feel Jesus' freedom that is upon me. I desire that they truly feel like they could fly through any adversity.

May 27, 2009 "Love My Enemies?"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"But love your enemies and be kind and do good [doing favors so that someone derives benefit from them] and lend, expecting and hoping for nothing in return but considering nothing as lost and despairing of no one; and then your recompense (your reward) will be great (rich, strong, intense, and abundant), and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind and charitable and good to the ungrateful and the selfish and wicked. So be merciful (sympathetic, tender, responsive, and compassionate) even as your Father is [all these]."
~ Luke 6:35 ~ Amplified Version

"Hi, How are you today?"

Her response to this question was in a condescending tone, "The day has only begun, it's kinda early to tell, don't ya think?"

I was caught off guard by this smug answer. She was an attractive woman probably in her 60's, nicely groomed and dressed; a fresh face framed with soft light brown hair with a hint of red. Of course her outer appearance did not quite match her response. To say the least, I was caught off guard and then this is what came to my mind so clearly, "Because she's hurting her expectancy is based on hurt. She is blinded by allowing it to rule her life."

Forcing a smile on my face in this awkward moment I said, "Well, at least we are blessed by this very moment to be alive." She acted as though she did not hear me and for about 2 minutes which seemed much longer, she started to hum a song as though I were no longer standing there. I don't think I had ever experienced an awkward situation like this before. It was not earth shattering, but it was definitely bazaar and thought provoking.

Needless to say, many thoughts came swarming into my head. She interrupted the awkward humming with my grocery total. I hurriedly opened my wallet, as I nervously fumbled through my coins and paper money. As I retrieved the money out of my wallet I nicely said, "Here you go". She took the money out of my hands, turned to the register and pressed the numbers on the register. The drawer opened, she counted my change and placed it in my open hand and then proceeded to help me with some of the bags that were still on the 'Lazy Susan' counter.

Before I walked away I told her to have a great day. Surprisingly, she also told me to have a "Great day". As I walked out to the parking lot, there was another older lady by the baskets who also worked at the store. We made eye contact and I said, "Have a great day" She nodded slightly, and then looked away.

I walked outside about to pout as I said, "Lord, the man at the deli counter wasn't nice to me, the lady at the register wasn't nice and now the lady by the baskets, what is going on?" The question turned quickly to gratefulness as I said to God, "Thank you for the strength to be kind even when they didn't necessarily deserve it." As I walked to my car and opened the back gate of my SUV, I placed the groceries in the back. I was consumed by the 'sandpaper people' I had encountered this morning. These awkward moments today had me do some inward inventory of my own heart to ensure that I don't rub someone the wrong way with a bad attitude whether it is intentional or unintentional.

As I placed the key into the ignition and drove away, compassion started to overwhelm me as I really believe I heard in my spirit, "The harvest is plenty of hurting people who need MY love." As I heard this it was so clear that the harvest is ripe with hurt, pain and anger and they need to be harvested and received into the hands of the laborers of God that show forth His love no matter how we are treated. It is truly a reminder again of Micah 6:8, "...What does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to walk humbly with our God."

It was truly revealed today that many times I have this mentality that if I am nice to someone that they will automatically be nice back. However, we know this is not always the case, but it is still hard to swallow at times, isn't it?

These silly real life scenarios truly revealed to me today that no matter what I think I deserve in return I must react the way God has called me to do so; for His glory. It is another way of worshiping Him. The result will help from being disappointed by what I think should have happened and let God's love be revealed through me. Will it be difficult? Yes, but it is more difficult to get through the condemnation and guilt from the enemy and from my own soul after I may have said or done something that at the moment seemed like the gratifying thing to do.

I must remember that the harvest is plenty of hurting people. I ask myself, "Am I as a laborer of God's kingdom going to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy and walk humbly with my God?" The resources of what God has called us to is abundant. This world has abundance of hurt and pain; let's pour out the abundance of what God has so freely and graciously given to us no matter how much we have screwed up. He loves to use the broken vessels; because only He can get the glory when He makes that broken vessel whole and more beautiful that we could ever imagine.

God is in the business of giving HIS peace and joy when there are storms of every sort around us and trying to surround us. His presence is truly to surround us in every way beyond our imagination. His presence is more than abundant. What will I choose to surround myself with? I pray I choose Him moment by moment. I may never know what could rise up in the hurting and that is Hope in God through Jesus Christ as we reveal Him.

Who do I reveal today? Do I reveal my pain or do I reveal His glory in the midst of my pain?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009, "Remaining Sensitive As We Focus On Him"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed."
~ Proverbs 16:3 ~ Amplified Version

Driving out to the campsite we drove around slowly to find the 'perfect' location for pitching our tent. The purpose of our drive was to stake out the campground. We then planned on going home to retrieve our camping supplies. As we drove around we spotted the land. Tim prayed over that land that God would guard it so that when we came back a couple of hours later the camping location would still be available. Sure enough when we arrived after retrieving our camping supplies the camping site was still available just for us.

We thanked the Lord, parked in our spot and unloaded our 'Jimmy' with all of our camping supplies from lanterns, to cooking utensils, sleeping bags, pillows, foam mattresses, cots, etc.

After unloading the Jimmy we then looked for the 'perfect' location to pitch our tent. We found the area, cleared out any rocks and sticks so that when we pitched the tent, we would not accidentally tear the bottom of the tent or lay down uncomfortably on a rock.

Laying out the tent, we placed the poles through the flaps of the tent, propped the tent up, then placed the cover over the tent. As we finished putting the tent together we then placed the stakes through the metal hooks. However, to our surprise we found that when my husband tried to hammer the stakes into the ground he was hitting solid Austin Stone beneath the shallow surface.

Although we were not anticipating for any storms we thought out loud how unstable our tent would be if the tent were tried by a storm; we would not be surprised to find that the tent would most likely not make it through such a storm, because the ground did not allow the stakes to go through as deep as it needed to.

As I thought about the Austin Stone beneath the shallow surface, it brought me to an interesting thought. There are many times that we can plot, prepare and plan our lives around and within certain criterias that we have set for ourselves. As we see progression we continue on without a thought of concern regarding our heart towards the Lord. However, many times we are caught off guard by the unexpected circumstances. We become quickly moved from that plotted plan of preparation as we are not anchored deep into the surface of the ground by the Word of God.

As we plot, prepare and plan our lives may it be under the guidance of the Holy Spirit through His Word. For He knows what is best for us and what is best for those He wants us to help along the way.

The question I ask myself, "Is my heart hardened by past failures, faults and hurts from my own doing along with others? Or is the ground of my heart rich, soft, and fertile because of His Unfailing Word that needs to be within me moment by moment? Is He able to work through me to help others for His glory?

I pray that my heart remains sensitive and not hardened, no matter what happens. For there is someone waiting for my hearts willingness to obey. Even if at first I am not willing; it is amazing how as I walk in obedience, my heart changes and I become grateful to God that I had an opportunity to glorify Him.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009, Memorial Day

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell
Image courtesy of Google Search

Grasped hands holding on, hoping this moment will not end. Yet reality interrupts as their hands slowly let go and slide apart.

With all her might she holds back the overwhelming emotions that are overtaking her at this very moment. She tries with everything in her to capture this moment; praying it will be forever seared in her heart and mind. Her husband dressed in uniform as he represents his country but also his family. He slowly walks away as his body faces forward, yet he has to turn back one last time to capture this moment with his beautiful wife as he watches her tears softly roll down her rosy cheeks.

Suddenly, the door flings open as their children cry running after him, wanting to touch him just one more time. He swiftly turns back around, bends down with his strong arms open wide receiving each child as his shoulders shake uncontrollably. It seems as though as it's the loudest silent cry as his whole body uncontrollably shakes while he holds them, explosive love that cannot be contained for his family. No matter how strong he is, he intentionally will not allow pride to stop him from the tears that reveal he will miss his beautiful wife and children. The bitter moment of feeling his heart become heavy. He needs supernatural strength to walk away and say, "Yes" to his country as they need supernatural strength to keep going.

I interrupt this thought to truly honor those who have served in the military known as our mighty 'veterans', the men and women who currently serve and those who soon will. I want to make sure that every person that wears a military uniform and the families that send them off, are honored this beautiful Memorial Day.

We honor the lives that were not lived in vain nor did they die in vain. The vast wealth of life of the families who serve our country, "Wow!" To even think about it is humbling. As I type these words it reveals my freedom that our warriors of liberty and freedom allowed. Thank you for your sacrifice to you and your beautiful families. The amazing part is many of you do not look at it as a sacrifice but as an honor and a privilege. I thank God for all of you.

I thank you and God bless you as you truly are warriors of liberty and freedom - your families are also warriors. Gratefulness does not come close to describe how most of the country is grateful to God for your lives. I am grateful to God for each of you. I pray God who was revealed by Christ's life on this earth and is now revealed by the Holy Spirit; I pray his grace and peace be upon each of you. I pray His amazing protection over every one of you in the Mighty Name of Jesus (Psalm 91).

Praying the previous scenario I described will continue on with our military men and women coming home, placing their bags on the ground, inhaling the welcoming fragrance of home as they finally embrace their families once again.

Thank you Lord Jesus for your Ultimate sacrifice, and most of all your victorious, glorious resurrection in which we have eternal hope, WHEN we say, "Yes" to your freedom and receive You as Lord and Savior.

"The Lord bless you and watch, guard and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favor) to you; the Lord lift His [approving] countenance upon you and give you peace."
~ Numbers 6:24-26~ Amplified Version

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday through Sunday, May 22 through May 24, 2009

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed...lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, 'I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake not let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]'"
~ Hebrews 13:5 ~ Amplified Version

"No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you."
~ Joshua 1:5 ~ Amplified Version

Reading these scripture verses, God's promises of not leaving us is more than amazing.

I know so many times we reflect on how circumstances, things or people have left us and we automatically look at God as though He were to do the same thing. Unknowingly we believe that God is the author of that, which is a lie.

At this present time, we are hurting for a person who is very dear and close to us who has truly believed that God has abandoned him. He has lost everything in his life; except his life. He now believes that he must do it all on his own. He has believed the lie and whispers of the enemy as the truth. O how sad and dangerous.

God's promise to us is that HE will NEVER leave us nor forsake us...God did NOT promise that people would not leave us whether it be to divorce, betrayal, death, financial loss, etc. God's promise was that HE would not leave us. He did not promise that money would not come and go, jobs would not come and go...His promise was that HE would not leave us nor forsake us.

I know it is so hard when we function and operate in the natural realm as we tangibly are reminded by what is going on around us which is so difficult; especially without God.

We must remember that God does not choose to be on our is us who choose whether or not we will be on God's side. He does not choose a side...He is the only WAY...we have options to choose other ways, He will not decide for us. He is the path of righteousness, what path will we choose?

The same goes when we believe He has abandoned us...He has not, however, if we believe that He has we will choose the path of destruction be relying on self...hence the phrase, self-destruction.

May we know and remember that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing! Absolutely Nothing! When the giants shout at you and say that His love is separated from SHOUT BACK IN PRAISE TO GOD ALMIGHTY THAT HE IS STILL THERE WHEN NO ONE ELSE IS!

It is so difficult when you are in the midst of it, we know. We must not give up Hope in whom that Hope belongs and that is our ALMIGHTY GOD, THE LION OF JUDAH, THE ROSE OF SHARON, THE LILY OF THE VALLEY, THE KING OF KINGS AND THE LORD OF LORDS!

Let us remind ourselves of How Mighty of a God we serve.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009, "Removing ourselves"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I trust..."
~ Psalm 91 ~

Tired as I had just come home from working out, yet anticipating to see my parents, I heard the knock at the door. As I unlocked and opened the door there stood my awesome dad. As I invited him inside my dog who is a smooth fox terrier darted out the door. The dog paused for a moment as he heard my husband and I yelling for him, screaming out, "Jaaaacccck! Jaaaacccck!"

I was tired yet as I chased Jack suddenly a burst of energy went right through me. Running after him I realized that he would stop and mark his territory on almost ever tree along his way. He would then turn around, see me advancing towards him and then would turn around and run even further.

Just thinking about my dog's actions truly irritates me. That little guy knows better than to run off; he would intentionally stop, turn his head and see me running and panting after him and then as soon as I would come close, he darted off again. Jack went around the block onto another street, of course at this point I was afraid he would get run over by a car as fast as he was going, as he had no intentions of 'looking both ways' when crossing the street.

Panting as I felt my lungs were going to burst out of my chest, people were staring at me and not helping me as they knew and witnessed that I was trying to catch my dog. It was as though they were witnessing something quite normal; a person frantically chasing their dog through the neighborhood because she has nothing better to do.

Thank God that dogs have a 'bm' because that is exactly what he did. I never thought there would be the day where I was thankful that my dog had a 'bm'. However, this time I was. At this point, I lunged at him as people were seeing me literally fly through the air towards him with my arms extended out and I knew it was now or never, as it felt like slow motion, my hands grasped Jack by the back of the neck interrupting his 'bm' and finally whisking him off the ground. As I walked back out of breath and telling Jack what a naughty thing he had done, my husband appeared around the corner as he drove around looking for Jack and I.

This real life scenario leads me to a thought. I know I use to think differently towards God's protection. I truly thought and believed that He took His hand off of us when we sinned. I realize through the past few years that it is us who remove ourselves from His protection.

Just like with our dog Jack. He was safe within our home, which is where he abides. However, when he ran from his home, and if something were to happen to him on his great adventure, it was because he ran from the place where He was safe and into a place where there is no telling what could or would have happened.

I need to ask myself, "Am I running from God or are am I running after and to Him?" That is truly the question that I must ask moment by moment.

I want to run after Him. I want to abide in His shelter under His protection in whom I can only trust.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday, May 17, 2009, "I give it to You, I don't..."

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"Casting the whole of our care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully."
~ I Peter 5:7 ~ Amplified Version

"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 ~ Amplified Version

"When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it roams through waterless places in search [of a place] of rest (release, refreshment, ease): and finding none it says, I will go back to my house from which I came. And when it arrives, it finds the place swept and put in order and furnished and decorated. And it goes and brings other spirits, seven (of them), more evil than itself, and they enter in, settle down, and dwell there; and the last state of the person is worse than the first."~ Luke 11:24-26 ~ Amplified Version

"I give it to You, I don't give it to You, I give it to You, I don't give it to You, I give it to You, I don't give it to You..."

I do this many times when I am suppose to 'cast' over that burden to the Lord. It is overwhelming to trust, to give up control, isn't it? Especially if you are a mom; control is a major factor in how we try to function our households. We have an attitude that reveals our knowing that our families would not be able to function properly without our great assistance. To some extent it is a 'truism', especially for you amazing single mom's out there.

My point to this? When we are called to cast our burdens on the Lord there are innumerable reasons why. God wants us to relinquish the power of control over our lives and give it to Him.

I am baffled by my own attitude at times as I actually think I have a much better idea and plan than God does. Of course, my thoughts are of the 'here and now', versus the plan of God, which is about the future and eternal outcome. He is more than mindful of the many lives involved that will unknowingly be effected, by our plans and decisions. He knows when we try to handle those burdens on our own, we will go under...eventually...and that can effect and has effected our marriages, our families, our children, our relationships, etc.

Pastor Kim Behrman said something yesterday at bible study that was so led by the Holy Spirit. The truth became 'alive' in my spirit. She said, "When casting your burden on the Lord, don't stop there and walk away." She continued to say, "Stay until He faithfully replaces those burdens with His joy, gladness and peace."

We are not to empty ourselves and then walk away (Luke 11:24-26). Do we know this? Many of us do, however, isn't it great to be so lovingly reminded that we do need to have God replace that heavy burden with His burden that is light? We must allow Him to overwhelm us with everything He desires with all His infinite heart of love upon us.

He wants us to expect with great expectation that when we cast our burdens, our anxieties, our pressures upon Him that we know that our 'Daddy' is going to give us something so beautiful that reveals Him, that declares His glory through our life in and through the midst of it.

Why? I believe that when we are going THROUGH those burdens that MUST go to HIM, people will ask in amazement, "How are you going through this with such peace and joy?" And we can say boasting in HIM, "I'm glad you asked, it is because of Jesus Christ." We will then at that point be able to declare His glory with our actions and the declaration of our testimony speaking of His power in our life.

Remember, He cares for you. He doesn't just say it, He has and still reveals that care over each of us, IF we allow Him. I pray it will not be about the 'IF' but about the 'WHEN'.

I want to say continuously, "I give it you God and expect you to replace it with Your abundant resources that are beyond my wildest, most beautiful imagination."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Saturday & Sunday, May 16 & 17, 2009, "Healer"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"...For I am the Lord that healeth thee."
~ Exodus 15:26

I was blown away by the fight Farrah Fawcett (Famous Hollywood Actoress), perseveres through as she battles cancer. When I say she is battling cancer, she battles it with a smile on her face, giving hugs and kisses to those that surround her and that beautiful trademark smile that says 'Farrah' all over it.

She produced a documentary, 'Farrah's Story' on her battle with cancer as she had endured treatments so extreme it made me wince in pain for her. The positive tenacity that she lives by is nothing short of amazing. She shed many tears of pain, and hearing the bad news of cancer returning when she only expected to hear good news that it was gone.

To see a glimpse of her struggle and to see a glimpse of her great pain and suffering, she was still able to be grateful to God that she was still alive. Her life as I watched in amazement, I was blessed who she surrounded herself with. She did not surround herself with the naysayers. No matter what the outcome, she and her friends constantly spoke 'life' over her grim situation.

Throughout the documentary she would read an entry from her journal. Her writings were unbelievably insightful and inspirational.

I want to leave you with this quote from her journal entry and I pray that it edifies you in some way:

"The devil makes you sick, God can heal you. I believe in Him, His power and His infinite wisdom. I know I must do my work also but I cannot do it without His help. But I must never forget how blessed I have been He has given me gifts and happiness beyond any of my simple expectations. My expectation now and my deepest desire is"
~ Farrah Fawcett ~

May we remember how blessed we are, as we breathe another breath of life today. May our greatest desire be to live for Him.

Friday, May 15, 2009, "Going Through"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"We are assured and know that all things work together for good to and for those who love God and are called according to His design and purpose. If God be for us, who can be against us? Who can truly be our enemy, if Almighty God is on our side?"
~ Romans 8:28, 31 ~

There are many people going through difficult times these days. The difficulties in life are so different, no matter the degree, it is very scary.

As we are going through, notice the key words...'going through'. We know the option can not be to 'stay' there, however as my friend Ellen who I briefly communicated with yesterday via text, she said, "it's hard not knowing which way to go." She made a comment, "I've got to learn to 'let go' and just 'let God'."

My sweet friend Ellen, she looks at many things in a positive light. Her husband's daughter, Lauren had juvenile diabetes. This beautiful, vivacious young girl was like a daughter to Ellen. A couple of years ago this sweet girl died suddenly. This was a very dark time in their lives. This young girl was so full of life. I didn't know her personally, but I heard so many beautiful things about her.

They are still going through some major difficulty, I don't know the degrees, nor will I assume. However, I pray as I know many of you will pray for God's mighty restoration to annihilate their family, their relationship, and their faith in God.

Wow! At this point in my writing this, my girlfriend just returned my call. She is feeling overwhelmed with the circumstances in her life. Praise you Father that you want to encourage her and others today with your OVERWHELMING PRESENCE!

This is a sweet note for Ellen and for others, that I believe is from the heart of God,
I just want you to know that God is for you and not against you. These things that have taken place in your life are not of God. However, He will be glorified in the end as "ALL things work together for good to and for those who love God and are called according to His design and purpose." (Romans 8:28). I pray ministering laborers into your lives to minister encouragment and God's aid to you even in the physical realm. Have you heard that He gives and takes away? I believe that He takes away your mourning and gives you joy! I believe that He takes your ashes and gives you beauty! I believe that He takes that cloak of heaviness that you once wore and He gives you His garment of PRAISE! The key to His giving to you, is that you have to let go of that thing and give it to Him as He replaces it. Praise Him for Who He is and watch your atmosphere change. Your situation may not change immediately, but everything around you will become demagnified as He is magnified!

'Let go' of that old thing and 'let God' give you His New thing!

Be overwhlemed by Who He Is!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009, "Encouraging Thoughts Into Actions"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

" who [are His servants and by your prayers] put the Lord in remembrance [of His promises]..."
~ Isaiah 62 ~ Amplified Version

An encouraging passing thought is just encouraging passing thought.

"As a passing thought; so is an intention that never comes to fruition." ~ Teresa Criswell

What does a passing thought filled with encouragement accomplish? Nothing. The same goes if you multiply zero by any number, it is still zero.

I want to have an encouraging thought meant for someone to hear and let them hear it. Are there times when you need an encouraging word?

I want to take that a few steps further and think on the encouraging passing thoughts I have towards God that are great. Why not encourage Him? I want God to know that I am grateful, not just for what He has done for me and what He continues to do, but for Who He is.

Another act of worship, who would have thought? Encouraging God? It says in the Word that He wants us to call to remembrance His promises. I realized a few years ago in my quiet time that as we call to remembrance His promises unto Him, it is not because God is forgetful. He wants to be reminded because when we are in the state of reminding, it is something that is on the forefront of our minds. That reminding Him, reminds us of Who He is and what He has promised us as we walk in obedience unto Him. That call to remembrance is for our benefit and for His pleasure and His glory.

I want to place my encouraging thoughts into action; especially unto the Source of Encouragement.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009, "Running From Bad News"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"Since we have such [glorious] hope (such joyful and confident expectation), we speak very freely and openly and fearlessly."
~ II Corinthians 3:12 ~

For those of us who go to church, why do we go? Is it to say that I go to church? Is it another opportunity to dress up? Is it the opportunity to see my friends? To teach? To please God?

What is the agenda? There is a hidden agenda many times, isn't there?

Do we know what is going on in the world around us in our own country? I know, we hear and are reminded of the horrific and negative things that go on around us from many sources, such as the media. I act like a scared little chicken running from things that God may want to use me in. I have heard myself say, "I'm so tired of listening to the news, it's always bad news." Today, I got slapped with reality 'in love' when I saw in the forefront of my mind, "Of course it's bad news, look who runs the world? To get the good news out you've got to know the importance and value of the good news to provide hope in the midst of the bad."

Sometimes we as Christians run from the bad news into a church building to hear another wonderful, heroic story wrapped up a little differently, to make ourselves feel better. That story is to provide hope and a building block of faith to know that we can place our trust in God, no matter what and pass it on to someone else.

We know we are called to give hope to the hopeless, we also know and have heard that we are equipped, but why have many of us convinced ourselves that there is not much we can do?

I know for myself, I have been convinced that until I get my own life straight, or see the finances coming in, I just might not be able to help in areas that I would like to...well if this is the case, every man for himself then, because none of us will have our lives completely perfected. I truly was reminded today that I can only go by God's power through the Spirit of God by what Jesus already did on my behalf.

Don't feel like I have the resources to help another person or family, because I don't have the money to do so? I was reminded today that a word of encouragement, inviting them to dinner or even a lending ear is all that needs to be given sometimes, as hope rises up between the encourager and the discouraged and God miraculously gives divine ideas for a solution to walk in.
Church is not about going to a building on Sunday. Is it important? Yes. But what is the church? We get it so confused with a building where we meet together and hear a sermon. Where invisible walls come up and divide by denominations and man's idea of theology, which is the study of the nature of God. That's hilarous all in itself. God doesn't want us to just get knowledge of His nature. He wants us to worship Him and love Him as He reveals His Majestic Nature through His Word upon us and through us. He wants us to do that on a daily basis. Church is to come together and fill each other with encouragement that we received throughout the week that the Holy Spirit equipped us with to shower upon others.

The true church is not concerned about their own lives, as Christ Jesus, the true church is concerned for the lives of others.

I want to be a part in sharing the good news in a world filled with bad news. Where can I start? In my family, where I go shopping, where I may go out to eat. I have noticed that a 'smiling Hello' can do wonders. It does for me.

How am I going to start that today? By looking at Him, taking my eyes off of me. We have a destiny that needs to be lived out, and that destiny is always about others for His glory.

For instance if your work place, school, or the store you frequent is a constant barragement of negativity, then go into it with the joy of the Lord, for there is strength in that! Sometimes we go into a place where it's filled with negativity and we use the excuse, "O, that offends the Holy Spirit." No, that offends you. Or how about this excuse, I'm guilty of this one? "That was the worst customer service ever, I'm never going back." I ask myself, who does that help? What if the Holy Spirit wants to utilize me to bring forth who HE is in that place? I'm not saying there are times where you must not put yourself in that situation anymore, but we need to evaluate our intentions.

However, at the same time I need to 'weigh' why I want to run. Is it because it is too difficult? Or is it because I am suppose to run. I believe that I will know as I allow God to highlight those areas in my life.

By nature, I am a 'runner' from anything difficult, especially confrontation. However, I am learning and being reminded daily the world cannot afford me to run, when I am called and equipped to stand in love; His Love.

God bless us as we know when to run and when to stand as we bring hope to the once hopeless.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009, "You can be angry without sinning?"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

""When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]."
~ Ephesians 4:26 & 27 ~

"An act of worship?" I asked the Lord. Just the question itself was frustrating. "Lord, how is it humanly possible to be angry and not sin?" Ready to pull out my hair as the Korean and Lebanese heritage started to seep out...I was beyond frustrated and mad.

Let me tell you I was being defiant towards God; as I was beyond angry with a situation that may be taking place. Venting my frustration to my husband, with intense fellowship, I said, "I'm happy the way things are, I don't want this in my life right now, and of course a few 'not good choice' words slipped out, which frustrated me even moreso. At that point, I said some things I did not mean under my breath, stomped up the stairs and then came back down as I heard in my spirit, "Do you really want to end it this way?" I said to myself, "Of course, not, but he doesn't understand how I feel."

It was as though the Holy Spirit spun me around as I calmly went down the stairs and said, "Honey, I'm sorry, I don't want this to escalate anymore than it already has." Then he said, "Ok, first of all, you need take the emotion out of it." Of course smoke started coming out of my ears as the emotions and the flesh started to stir and rise up again, as I heard this. I thought to myself, "Helllllooooo, I'm an emotional creature and you're telling me to take emotion out of it?????...ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!" My flesh at this point wanted to scream, "Ok, and while I'm at it, let me pull my uterus out along with the emotions...ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!" (No, I didn't go there, but I was tempted). LOL!

I know this seems a bit comical looking on this scene, but I was truly angry. Yet I was convicted after the 'intense fellowship' with my husband to see that I was to go to God with that anger, not my husband. I realized with clarity of mind as the Lord spoke to me through this scripture in Ephesians that He wanted me to go to Him with that burden of frustration, this would have been an act of worship.

Please know that in this act of worship, I'm not getting angry with or at God. I am placing that anger at His feet as I say with my actions, "Lord, I know you can handle this and if I have to endure this, then you will grace me through it as I look to You for strength." This is so difficult to do though, isn't it? However, from this scenario I see a deeper more clearer meaning to this truth, "When angry, do not sin".

Our emotions are part of how God made and created us. However, I am learning daily that my emotions are not to control me. When anger rose up in me last night, that was ok, however, it is where I place that anger that will determine whether it is a sin or not.

When I go with that emotion to God over that person or situation, I am giving it to the God who is the Solution and provides the solution. As I give it to Him and I offer it to Him, it is now an act of worship, versus the very act of sin.

I pray that today, as another challenge may come my way and emotions rise up, that I will rise up in worship to God as I cast that real emotion before the Lord.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009, "Forgiveness"

Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written By: Teresa Criswell

"And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop."
~ Mark 11:25 ~ Amplified Version

The thoughts of how her friend spoke to her rehearsed in her mind like a broken record. The more she 'nurtured' the pain, the more her face revealed pain and anger; unknowingly she fed bitterness.

Surrounded with beauty of her children and the love of her husband she would rather not give place to because her mind was so consumed with how she felt she was wronged. Legitimately, she had a 'right' to be angry, however, that right infringed on her joy from the Lord. It infringed on enjoying her beautiful blessings. Her life itself.

The thing that does amaze me is have you ever noticed when we don't hold a grudge against someone that perception changes? The way you receive things are different. However, when you do hold a grudge or unforgiveness against someone, maybe due to betrayal, your perception truly changes. You tend to look at everything through the 'eyes' of betrayal, grudges, and unforgiveness. Leariness comes instead of compassion.

I believe that one of the many reasons why Jesus said, "When you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, drop it, let it go..." because He knows that when we stand with unforgiveness, we are unable to communicate in prayer with His perception, but now it's through our wronged perception that we 'try' to pray.

Praying is truly 'echoing' back what the Word of God says over a person or situation. Praying should not be 'echoing' back what has already happened, that's called re-hashing things, meditating on what has already happened only makes it worse.

As I write this, I am truly convicted by the Holy Spirit as I am reminded what I am called to do whether I feel like it or not. I am not here for my own purpose, I am here for His. In that purpose there is constant growth, constant learning, constant reminding and constant changing before The God who never changes. Praise God He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He remains the same as everything else is contstantly changing. He is the only One we can trust to never change.

This has truly convicted me today of what He has required of me. To do justly, to love kindness and mercy, and walk humbly before my God as I forgive others not holding grudges.

Let's not confuse forgiving sin. We don't have that ability, however, we do have the ability to forgive the person. Sometimes it means praying for them and loving them that way. Forgiveness does not mean you have to 'hang' with that person; but forgiveness is a tool that God bestows upon us so freely, that we must bestow on others.

Forgiveness does not belong to me, it was provided for me to go through me onto someone else.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Saturday & Sunday, May 9 & 10, 2009, "Mother's Day"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied); and her husband boasts of and praises her [saying], "Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], but you excel them all."
~ Proverbs 31:28 ~

This is to honor every woman who is a mother. Especially the one's who have endured miscarriages. Just know that just because you may not have carried that precious child in your arms, your womb carried what your arms could not embrace. The precious child heard your heartbeat of love on their behalf. They knew as their mother you wanted more for them than you ever wanted for yourself. I honor you today especially, as God embraces you with His comfort, grace and unfailing love.

If you are expecting to meet your little one soon, Happy Mother's Day, as you will be elated. Will it change your life? Yes! In the best way ever. After you have your baby, you will have memories of your baby being in those memories, even though they weren't really there. Why? Because once you meet your child, you will be unable to imagine life without that little person. It is amazing, yet true. Watch and see!

If you have little one's at home and as they annihilate you with great love on Mother's Day, may you know that they rise up and call you blessed as they know they get to call you, "Mom"!

If you have teenager's at home and they annihilate you with great love on Mother's Day, may you know that they rise up and call you blessed as you are assisting them through this monumental time in their life. If you have teenagers that seem to not care or don't care, just know that one day they will rise up and call you blessed that you were there for them in that difficult time of their life. They will look back and say, "I know how blessed I am to have her as my mother."

If you have young adults that you rarely see; maybe in college or they are in a far off land, even serving our country may you know that they rise up and call you blessed as they have you as their mom who prays to God on their behalf.

If you have children that are now married and have their own families that they are now raising, may you know that they do rise up and call you blessed as you are their mother. They know, "my mom is just a phone call away", if they need your counsel. Now they have children that call your daughter who is their mother blessed.

If you have lost a child at any stage of their life whether it was from the womb, infant, toddler, child, teenager, young adult or as an adult, may you know you are comforted by Almighty God. As you look to Him for your strength, as we all rise up together and call HIM Blessed as there is NO ONE ELSE LIKE OUR GOD.

We are truly blessed on Mother's Day. May we look at our children as our gifts, not in what they do but from Whom we received them from. Any gift is wonderful, but our children are our greatest gifts from God. To be able to receive a name called, "MOM" on this earth is nothing short of amazing, even when we think our children may have worn out that name, it is the greatest name to be called as we are crowned with that beautiful name, 'Mom'.

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009, "Do You Know Your Worth?"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"But [even] the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not be struck with fear or seized with alarm; you are of greater worth than many [flocks] of sparrows."
~ Luke 12:7 ~

This is an early Mother's Day Writing that the Lord imparted into me as I drifted off to sleep last night.

I dedicate this writing to my mom and my daughter...I pray you are blessed as I was:

My Mother's Question To Me
By: Teresa Criswell

"Do you know your worth?"
"For you are beautiful to me and you are priceless."
As a child my thoughts answered back,
"I believe you mom."

My mother's question to me as a teenager,
"Do you know your worth?"
"You are beautiful to me and no matter what they say, you are priceless."
With a fake smile I pretended to agree, yet my thoughts answered back,
"That's not what they have said based on what I look like, I don't believe you."

My mother's question to me as a young adult,
"Do you know your worth?"
"You are beautiful to me and no matter what they say, you are priceless."
With tears in my eyes as a young adult, my thoughts answered back,
"No, I don't believe that, for the world around me has told me,
that my value equals what I become, what I do and what I give out."

My mother's question to me as a wife and mother,
"Do you know your worth now?"
As a wife and mother, my thoughts answer back,
"Yes, for I know my position as a wife and mother are priceless."

I ponder with great responsibility, I must know my value
So that my husband can 'conquer' as he is encouraged by my words and actions.
I must know my value for my daughter as she watches me and listens to see if I allow the world, and my circumstances to determine my value, which in turn will tell her how she is valued.
Or do I allow my Father God to remind me of my value through Him?

My question to you that my mother would ask,
"Do you know your value?"
If the answer is no, remember the Cross of Calvary
That Jesus willingly died upon for you and for me.

When your Father God asks,
"Do you know your value?"
What will your answer be?
Answer back with your life,
"Yes Lord, for I am not measured by what I do
but what You Victoriously did for me."

Be blessed as others see the value upon your head is priceless, so that you may reveal their value.

For He has called you 'priceless' through His actions.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009, "Worry to Trust"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?"
~ Matthew 6:25-27 ~

This morning, I stood in awe at the kitchen sink looking out the window. I could not help but be taken away by all the green trees before me. My attention was enthralled by a small creature; a tiny bird who flew in and perched on the fence. It looked as though he were cleaning itself, then another bird flew in to join him. The tiny bird that I was captivated by soon flew off onto a branch on a nearby cedar tree, then flew down to the ground picking up something and then flying to another tree perching itself on a tiny little branch.

As I was captivated by the small bird this morning it not only revealed the glory of God in looking at the detail of this creature; from every tiny little feather, to the wings and the small little feet, I was also reminded of Jesus encouragement to the people.

Jesus was telling the people not to worry. Not only did He tell them not to worry, but He took it a step further for them to think of the details that God sees. I believe He was showing them and me personally those things that I may see as insignificant, God sees them with great significance.

He said to them, "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?"

My husband and I have a saying that I believe God truly imparted into Tim several years ago based on the last part of what Jesus spoke about worrying. We say to each other, "By worrying, will that make us any more money?"

Several years ago, I was flustered and was more than stressed of the 'reminders' of our house going into foreclosure, the calls from the bill collectors was ongoing. We were doing everything in our own power to save the house. Tim was laid off from the position that he had in which our finances went from six digits a year to less than $20,000 a year. We were not prepared financially and because of that, we were devastated.

I remember as though it were yesterday, I kept hearing in my spirit, "The joy of the Lord is your strength Teresa, it isn't the material things of this world that will bring you My joy. The material things are only 'circumstancial happiness'." It was as though it were a 'broken' record, I kept hearing it over and over again. As my husband was more than worried being the head of the household, feeling like a failure, which he was not at all.

As we were in this 'miry clay' of worry and stress, we were outside on the deck, thinking of ways of how we could save the house. However, something happened and my husband said, "Teresa, I'm done with worrying." I was caught off guard, being that my husband can be led by worry, because of his love for his family. He said to me very sternly yet with joy, "Teresa, by worrying, will that make us any more money?" We started laughing out of the depths of our belly, the answer was, "Of course not."

Did the problem go away as the joy of the Lord overtook us? No the problem didn't go away, but the way we looked at the problem did. Our focus was on God, and we knew He would bring us through. We made many financial mistakes before the great 'job ax' came down on us. I'm not saying that God won't do miracles through situations like ours. However, we went through a process, and with that process our hearts were renewed and continue to renew by the mercy and love of God. His grace continues to bring us through this huge financial storm. He remains faithful to show us how much He values us. He doesn't value us based on what we make a year, that is something we did to ourselves. He values us because we are His and He wants us to be brought back to Him. Unfortunately, He will not force or manipulate us to do so.

So I say to you, "By worrying, will that make you any more money?" These leary economic times are 'scary', this is why we must Trust in the Lord with all our hearts. Not just part of our heart, but with ALL our hearts. Pray for God to provide solutions and I believe He will in and through ways you could never imagine.

I pray that you know your value, no matter your circumstance at this moment. Remember, this is not your end result, it's another level for God to show Himself no matter what the enemy tries to do. It may even be training ground to teach us to be more responsible with what you have been blessed with.

We must be so careful not to look at God's grace as a justification to sin, but look at God's grace to deliver you from sin. This is something He is teaching me daily. It is so difficult, but the rewards are beautiful, because more than anything His grace shown on us reveals His glory.

Be kept and guarded by Him. No wonder He said not to put our trust in things that will rust and will be eaten by moths, because He is the God of eternity. As we go through things he doesn't see us remaining there, but He sees us resurrecting...IF we allow Him to bring us through by His Holy Spirit.

Let His Spirit, His Holy Breath refresh you with new life today and new perspective.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009, "May They Be Overwhelmed By His Love"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"...for God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us...But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us."
~ Romana 5:5,8 ~ (Amplified Version)

My husband brought back to my memory yesterday as we were talking about the extraordinary love of Christ upon the adulterous woman. He reminded me of the gentleman that came to our church on Easter Sunday. He had made a statement that really allowed us to see God revealed by Jesus Christ how He not only possesses love; but HE IS LOVE! The guest speaker who came to our church said the following (paraphrased):

"The three most difficult things to do in life, are not of physical difficulty. Like lifting a car, running for hundreds and thousands of miles or even climbing Mount Everest.

Starting with the third most difficult thing to do in the world is loving those that have hurt you and even caused great pain and heartache.

The second most difficult thing to do in the world is accepting and loving someone whom most have rejected and even hated.

The number one most difficult thing to do in the world is loving someone that does not love you in return and even hates you."

As I think on this amazing love, again I am reminded of the One who has done both...Jesus the Son of God. It brings me to realize that God does not ask us to do anything that He hasn't already done, by His Spirit. We do not possess this love by our own power or our own might, it's only by the Spirit of God.

May we overwhelm them by His love.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009, "Hope Through Persecution"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"...Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the Mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you..."
~ I Peter 5 (Amplified Version) ~

Reading the letter from Peter to the churches in Asia Minor, it is captivating to understand that he was encouraging those beautiful people throughout the northern part of that particular region where there was great suffering and persecution. Peter encouraged them by the Spirit of God to look to God for their hope as they were going through persecutions and sufferings.

Trying to wrap my mind around something such as persecution is daunting and horrifying. Yet these people did so for the cause of Christ. They suffered in ways that I can not imagine.

As I ponder these men and women that loved Christ no matter what the cost, they had an encourager reminding them to focus on their Hope in Christ Jesus. They had to have a hope that was placed directly on God. In I Peter 5, he exhorts the leaders to be a certain way towards their 'flock' and tells them what not to be as well. He also exhorts the ones who are younger and of 'lesser rank' to be subject to the elders with respect, clothing themselves with humility, being FREE of pride.

He then leads them to the three step process as discussed in the bible study led by Pastor Kim as shared yesterday morning in our devotional. He charges them to humble themselves. It didn't say to ask God to keep them humble, it's something that we are called to do ourselves. Being mindful moment by moment of Who God Is, and through that 'reminding' we realize no matter how adequate or inadequate we feel, that focus comes off of us and onto Him. It demagnifies who we think we are and magnifies how awesome HE is and who HE is!

As Peter encouraged the people throughout that region where there was great persecution he knew and experienced God's protection. However, I'm sure Peter also knew that when they removed themselves from that 'covering of protection' due to pride how essential it was to be in humbleness. When we are in pride we are in the territory of the enemy. The thing to be concerned for, is most of the time pride isn't what we assume it is many times, which results in unknowingly living in it.

I'm finding in my life that how I keep myself in check if I'm in pride or humbleness is to find out where my eyes are. Are they focused on me and even wondering "what will they think of me"? Or are my eyes focused on Him?

When we 'think' and even 'know' that we aren't good enough or even qualified to do what God has called us to do; believe it or not this is pride. I need to remember that God will not use me because of me, me, me, me, me. He does not want 'me' to rely on me. I want and must be in constant remembrance that God does not ever call me to ever serve Him out of my own strength and might. The great reminder to this is the following scripture; "For He knows our frame, He [earnestly] remembers and imprints [on His heart] that we are dust..." ~Psalm 103:14-16 (Amplified Version).

He is calling us to TRULY and ONLY rely on HIM as a 'people' to do what He has called us to! The greatest gift of obedience to God is to remain humble and watch what happens in the process of transformation through humbleness... He will be glorified. Our lives will be honored and privileged to declare His glory, not our own.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Monday, May 4, 2009, "Process"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"Therefore humble yourselves under the nighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you. Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieities, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. Be well balanced, be vigilant and cautious at all times: for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour."
~ I Peter 5:6-8 ~

As discussed in our bible study yesterday regarding pride and humbleness, Pastor Kim helped me to understand some basic truths.

As stated in I Peter 5:6-8 there is what she would call a 'Three Step Process' as we humble ourselves before the Lord.

First, we must humble ourselves, knowing that God in due time will exalt us for His glory. Then, after we humble ourselves, we are truly able to cast our burdens on Him because we know He cares for us. After we cast those burdens, anxieties, worries and concerns; we are then able to be watchful and cautious of the enemies tactics as he is seeking whom he may devour.

Another way to look at it:
If we don't humble ourselves, then we will not cast our burdens, anxieties, worries, concerns on Him, because we 'think' we have a better way. And being that we 'think' we have a 'better' way is when we will be devoured by the enemy, because we were not vigilantly watchful, at ALL times.

So if we are called to be well balanced, sober of mind, being vigilant and cautious at ALL times; that means there is a moment by moment reckoning to remain in humbleness unto the Lord.

As we humble ourselves before God through Jesus, we are able to cast those concerns onto Him, and see the enemy and his tactics coming before he is able to 'pounce' on us.

Tomorrow as the Holy Spirit leads we will resume this devotional. It has helped me tremendously this busy morning. Heeeheeeheeee!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday and Sunday, May 2 & 3, 2009, "Forever Changed"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified."
~ Isaiah 61:3 ~

From yesterday's devotional, I ponder the woman that encountered Jesus as she received her pardon from the sentence of death by stoning. I would like to wonder what became of her?

The touch of His gentle, strong hands, by The Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. Was she grateful beyond her wildest imaginations?

I imagine that as He held her close to his chest she was forever changed. Wiping the dirt from her tear stained cheeks as she uncontrollably wept. Experiencing His unbelievable, indescribable mercy, He looked at her with those piercing eyes of love placing his hands gently under her chin as He lifted her downward head that for most of her life had only een the ground as she walked in shame. I would love to imagine that He said, "I am the lifter of your head, you go and love others the way I have displayed My love towards you."

With the cloak of Christ that was wrapped around her; hiding her frail, naked body, I believe from that day on she had a different walk. She saw the path before her. It was all new to her. It was as though she saw for the first time. The market filled with vivacious colors of the fruit and vegetables on display the sky beautifully revealing the majestic, glory of God.

I imagine this scene the day after her encounter with Jesus:

Morning came, she awoke yet no one was beside her this time. There was no man sleeping by her side to fulfill the void within her heart.

She was awake, this time with a smile of gratefulness. Inhaling and exhaling on purpose, no longer holding her breath in shame. She rises up from her bed imagining she would have a new garment to wear. As she turns she notices something. She places her hand on her mouth in shock as she sees a beautiful white dress carefully draped over the stone chair. She was stunned, for the only garment that she ever worn was a heavy black, sadly worn dress. A dress that reminded her of her life of mourning. Yet today her garment was different.

She ran to the stone chair and hurriedly placed the new dress on herself. She giggled. She was taken back by the sound of her giggle. Wow, to hear laughter ringing in her ears was a refreshingly yet foreign, delightful sound that came from her own voice.

Her heart leads her mind to the thoughts of yesterday. She thinks about this amazing man. A man like no other she had ever encountered. Her Jesus, who forever changed her life in history. She thought to herself, "No one had lifted my head like that before. I know what that word means now, the Word called Love. That's Him, He is love!"

She dared with boldness to open that door to the world outside her house. She was ok, no matter what they would say or do, she experienced His love this is all that mattered to her anymore.

As she stepped foot into the world outside her house, she noticed the beautiful creation around her. She remembers almost seeing things in a gray tone before her encounter with Him. But today she sees everything in 'technicolor'. The colors are so beautiful and breathtaking.

As she walks by the people in her village, she hears them snicker and whisper with sarcasm and jealousy, "That's her, she's the one who deserved to die and that Jesus who calls Himself the Son of God, let her live. Look how she walks now. I can't believe she can lift her head so high. She is a whore, yet she acts like she is a virgin. I wonder who got her that dress?" As they laugh making fun of her.

I believe at that moment, she looked at them with eyes of love even in that moment. Like the Man she encountered, she smiled at them with compassion. They were shocked and insulted realizing that shame had no chance.

I would have to think that there were others who would look from side to side to see if anyone was watching as they ran to her in fear, yet they had to know as they asked her in desperation, "Why are you different?" And her getting the opportunity to share as she might have said, "I had an encounter with my Lord, He freed me from my death sentence..."

As she shared her encounter with Him, those that knew of her, wanted what she had. They had to have it, no matter what the cost.

This leads me to ask, "Lord, do they know that I have encountered You? Have I continued to lift my head, when You lifted it the first day I met you? Do I still walk in shame? Or do I walk in Your freedom that You so lovingly provided? I want to be grateful as I display your love Lord, not just by my actions but also by my words of love. Help me Father God, let me walk in daily rememberance the day I encountered you.

Will the world run to Jesus by running to me as I display the freedom I have in Him? Or will they run from Jesus by running from me as I display my shame in who I am, not revealing my encounter with Him?

I desire to be like her after her encounter with Jesus.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009, "Cast the First Stone"

Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell

"So when they continued asking him, He lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."
~ John 8:7 ~

This is the scene played out in my mind:

The door swings open by FORCE as they are caught in the very act of adultery. She screams in horror as she not only knows her demise of death at this very moment but they are dragging her outside like an animal being led to the slaughter. As she screams she does everything in her power to hide her frail naked body. She kicks and screams, weeping with little dignity she had.

As they drag her, she tries to defend herself as the men pull her by the hair, and beat her, cursing her. The lowest blow of disgust upon a human being as they spit on her. I can just hear the 'stone' blood thirsty voices shouting at her, "You no good, waste of trash, you are a dead woman!" They throw her around like a rag doll, not caring that she might be someone's daughter, someone's sister, even someone's mother.

As they scream and taunt her, they throw her at the feet of Jesus. Their judgement setting forth her death sentence. They say with their noses in the air, as though they had never sinned before (John 8:4-11), "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?" They wanted to use this moment against Him, however Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, "All right, stone her. BUT let those who have never sinned throw the first stone!" He stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When her accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to her, "Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?" "No, Lord," she said. And Jesus said, "Neither do I. Go and sin no more."

I love this story. To realize there was a crowd gathered around Him at the Temple as He taught. They eagerly feasted on every word He spoke. And then suddenly this riotous scene interrupts the scene of Him teaching as the crowd watches mercy unfold like they had never seen before.

The Pharisees and Sadducees violently brought this woman to Him as He was teaching, she had an audience of many spectators. I am intoxicated by Jesus' comment. "You who have not sinned cast the first stone." Yet, the only person who would have been able to cast the stone would have been Jesus. He was the only One who had no sin, who could have exercised His right to cast it. Yet, He did not. Instead He chose to mercifully take her hand, dust the dirt off her tear stained cheeks. I would imagine He took the cloak off Himself and wrapped it around her, then embraced her as he held her head close to his chest, comforting her.

Something she had never experienced before, a warm embrace with no intentions of wanting her body in return, she received a pure embrace from God in the form of a man. She experienced unfailing love from someone who could have rightfully stoned her, yet He chose to stand up for her, not stone her. He didn't embrace what she had done; the sin of adultery. However, He embraced her.

I want, need and must do the same. I want to embrace the hurting, even though they may be called the 'throw aways' of society or labeled as 'skum' even by the world. I must do as Jesus did. He is such a wonderful example of loving the person, BUT not condoning the sin. For He is righteous and just.

Lord, I don't want to be the voice of condemnation when I was shown mercy and compassion. I want and know I must be the voice of love embracing the hurting, who long to know what it is like to be held for a moment finding out that nothing will be asked in return, resulting in change for the better.

This life must be about paying it forward to someone else, the love that was shed upon me must be revealed over others because of my Source of Love, Jesus Christ.