Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"I was cold and you kept me warm..."

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

"For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'" - Jesus as recorded in Matthew 25:35-36


Photo courtesy of Temple and Cindy Cash

Photo courtesy of Temple and Cindy Cash
Generosity oozes out of every fiber of Cindy's being as the compassion of God radiates her countenance. Glimpses of Jesus' face seem to appear - He radiates through her in a similar way as He did through Mother Teresa.

Amazed as I watch her while we carry an intentional conversation - conversation that gently provokes the stream of gratitude to fall from her beautiful eyes down her sculpted face.  Lips full as they quiver, her gentle voice shaking; overwhelmed with joy, she is able to finally say, "It was after the September homeless outreach. All of a sudden the sleeping bag concept came to my mind; the homeless needed Christmas presents and I'm going to start praying for it.  A few weeks later I started passing out slips of paper telling people, "Pray with me, pray with me, I don't know where the money is coming from, but please pray with me." So they prayed and a few weeks later the church family came to me and said, "Cindy, you've got it all." She continued, "Two hundred new sleeping bags, socks, hats and gloves and now because of other donations within our local church family we're able to give more."

"Wow!" was all I could say, and in that moment I had to know more. 
I had to know more about this 'God compassion' that compelled her to wake up every day and so I asked, "Cindy, what are you envisioning on Saturday?" Seemingly iridescent tears of gratitude, likened to gems, continued to stream down her face; her voice becoming smaller; choking back tears she interrupted the silence and said, "To keep them from being cold; to have a Christmas present; to have something to open on Christmas, even though it's a few days before, but actually having a Christmas present because I know many of these people haven't had a present for many, many years. To be warm, those sleeping bags will keep them warm."

This says so much doesn't it? Hoarding perspective of "wants" diminish in the face of true "needs". In my mind as I am reminded of our conversation, these words of Cindy's only Christmas wish list, "To keep them warm...to keep them warm" echoes Jesus's words,

"For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'"

TRIUMPHANTLY reminded of God's VICTORIOUS love, which REVEALS YET AGAIN, HIS MATCHLESS, ENDLESS, ETERNAL LOVE IS about - 'THEM'.
Selfless, unconditional love that has no concern of self, only for others.

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Mentioning a few donors from this post:
REACH Church, 10400 Anderson Mill, Austin, Texas
Crown Donuts, 10400 Anderson Mill, Austin, Texas
Shipley Donuts, 10401 Anderson Mill, Austin, Texas 
Generous people throughout the community who assist every month with toiletries (i.e. hygiene kits including: razors, soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.)

Shout outs of gratitude to the following companies:
Academy in Cedar Park for the great deal with the sleeping bags, with FREE shipping cost and delivered directly to the Cash family's driveway. 
Were given a good deal from ebay and Dollar Tree
Walmart helped with blankets
La Tapatia Taqueria, discounted burritos to hand out every month to those who are living in homeless conditions

Monday, December 15, 2014

Purpose

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Stevens Criswell

Matthew 22:37-40

Tattooed on my heart were these words, "Teresa, titles and positions are seasonal - but purpose is eternal."

Sabotaging truth, obliterating lies caused me to take notice of the mindset of this world system. From 'raving' accolades, 'proper' recognition, 'honorable' status, 'coveted' titles and 'desirable' positions of authority. Is there anything wrong with those things?  No - yet when the focus of the accolades and titles become our identity, that is when the results of this focus becomes dangerous.  What happens when the season ends of those things? Sadly, what we thought was 'identity' quickly disappears and leaves the door wide open for depression to come in with lies to entangle and ensnare us causing us to shipwreck when it could have been prevented all along.

But how can it be prevented? 

Quite simply, being in awe of God by intentionally noticing things that were always there - those things we simply forgot to take notice. Look up at the sky, or intentionally hear the sounds of nature's proclamations and even think of the different people that surround us right now - no matter if they rub us the wrong way or encourage us - just take notice of how intricately beautiful they have been created. In this intentional, purposeful recognition - it's incredible - the seeking with insatiable hunger and thirst to know Who God is even more.  There will never be an end to this unfolding awe of realizing Who God is...in this endless, vast desire for Him is when royal identity of who we truly are is revealed by the Spirit of God through His living Word - the Supernatural guidebook for living - revealing who He says we are which in turn shows us that nothing in this life is to be compartmentalized but to effortlessly flow. 

Surprisingly, this life is not about being the greatest husband and wife, or this super "bread winner" or "super" mom.  This life is not about being the best business person or entrepreneur, or even attaining to have a resume like King David or the Proverbs 31 woman.  There is this simple realization that many have missed along the way - including myself - but now I see differently, through eyes that have been covered with the Divine Blood of Jesus - this realization to receive the identity of God's purpose over us - it's about being His son and daughter - and in this God's matchless grace abounds to flow through us in our marriage, parenting, leadership and friendships - we become the best because His best is flowing through us, empowering us.

The identity of His acceptance and royal adoption trumps rejection on every level; compelling us to soar above title and positions; no longer striving but now thriving in and with purpose.

For example, when God showed me my purpose statement as He utilized vessels to assist me in recognizing it, this supernaturally wrecked my life forever in the most incredible way. So here it is...my purpose statement.." My purpose is to encourage others and reveal the love of God."  It's simple.  This is my navigational tool in every aspect of my life. So when someone is rude - my first reaction is to go "Teresa violent on them with a few choice words" but then God's purpose for me awakens me by the Holy Spirit's power, reminding me yet again to "encourage others and reveal the love of God".  When the spirit influencing a person to move me out of purpose - purpose reminds me of what I'm called to live no matter what.

When life seems to be unraveling or when victory is being experienced - my purpose remains.   However when life attempts to get the best of me and I lay down my purpose and step over God's promises to take on my measly rights - I will almost immediately recognize so clearly what will happen instead - the results will be the opposite of my purpose and that will be, "discouraging others and NOT revealing the love of God". 

Meanwhile, yet even in that, I am awakened by purpose that is surrounded with God's grace to empower me to make it right next time.  No matter my title or position or lack thereof - no matter the challenges and change - purpose is unchanging - and the same is with God. God is true to Who He is - in the midst of changing seasons - in the midst of our tantrums and praises - He is not moved by our manipulating prayers or our "right on" moments - He is IMMOVABLE AND STEADFAST as He is motivated by Who He is and that is pure, holy, relentless, violent love.

I have come to this conclusion: the trying moments of life are the litmus tests to triumphantly and victoriously remind me of why I'm here on this earth. Purpose is not about me, it is just to flow through me. As purpose flows it is that constant encouragement of being mindful of those who need to be encouraged and it's about WHO they need to see, and that's God - and although it may not be about me, He sees me and loves me and with that holy love I've received, I must see it as an honor to share it with all those I come into contact with, and in that - guess what comes easy?  His love, His forgiveness, His mercy and His loyalty.  Our lives will begin to reveal how we are no longer just loyal to those who are loyal to us - but being loyal to ALL - deserved and especially on those who I would "say" aren't deserving. 

Finally, our purpose statements cause us to not give up on God, life, ourselves or others as it will echo Matthew 22:37-40...love God with everything and in that "love exchange" from Him we can properly love ourselves and others which will result in never giving up! Go in His grace and watch in awe as your weakness is perfected by His strength. When we partner with Him, we are empowered by His grace to do more than we could have ever imagined without Him (Ephesians 3:20)!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Edited - Prayer that changes EVERYTHING?

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by The Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell

I apologize as I realized there were a few grammatical mishaps on my part.  I could blame the auto correct on my mobile device, but I won't...thank you so much for understanding. :)

"Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven. If you refuse to forgive them, they are not forgiven."
- John 20:23, NLT -

Do you want to pray a prayer that will change EVERYTHING in your life?

The prayer I speak of could be considered ugly, yet it revealed and continues to reveal the face of God's beauty.

I'm not talking about the prayer known as "The Lord's Prayer" - although that is part of it. Nor am I referring to the prayer during the grueling moments before His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. Perhaps the greatest prayer declared by Jesus while tortuously hanging upon that splintered cross on Calvary was the following prayer, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

This prayer we refer to as Jesus' words were meant to be echoed by us not just admired.  I wonder - is this the prayer that moved heaven to shake the earth and hell? Is this the prayer that caused the violent rip of the veil that once separated God from man?

I sit here - paused by Kingdom Love that moves to forgive like that! My spirit shakes within me -
to be moved by Him instead of being moved by those who are opposed to Him!!!

I believe this just might be the prayer that changes EVERYTHING - it changes EVERYTHING - because it changes us to be more like Him and less like us.