Hate & Love Come In All Forms ~

My husband came home last night and asked if I had heard of the riots that were going on in different states around the country.  I had intentionally decided to stay away from the news to focus on the tasks that were in front of me.  When he shared the synopsis, I turned on the tv to find an active shooter who had targeted, killed and wounded police officers, with a bomb in a parking garage in Dallas, TX.  My heart became heavy with a deep sadness. As I watched live as well as recorded video footage, I saw a multi-colored, peaceful protest frantically disbanded into a multi-colored police force protecting their city.  This situation was not about color or culture.  This was about good in a standoff with evil.

This morning I woke up to find out the latest reports through the news outlets, Periscope, and Facebook.  I was intrigued by all of the opinions and prayers I scrolled through on my IPhone.  One stood out to me among the rest.  It talked about the fear for the safety of a black family.  As I read the post, I related on a different level.  There was a fear for my family’s safety, but we are white.  I realized at that moment, that this wasn’t a battle against color.  Our country is fighting a battle against the dark forces of this fallen world.

You see, hate is able to come in all forms; within a police uniform, an american citizen, a teacher, a doctor, a mom with her child, a dad, a cleric, a government official, a neighbor, a family member, an employee, an employer, an organization, you get the picture.  I read about the black man being shot in front of his girlfriend and four year old by a white police officer.  What a horrific situation.  That poor mother and poor child.  The damage that was done to their eyes will forever be etched into their memories.  But I also read about the white officers who were trying to protect the innocent people who were protesting down the Dallas streets, doing what was right and good, being unrightfully targeted because of their color and killed.  The sniper didn’t know who they were, what their stories were, he just chose to be racist back.  I thought about their loved ones and how devastating and frightening that must have been for them to learn that the people they held so dear, who went to work everyday to protect their multi-cultural city, were killed in a senseless act of violence.  Both stories were unbelievable and unjust.

The focus of reconciliation and healing should be directed towards evil being brought to justice, instead of the color of our skin.  Hate is hate.  Love is love.  The bible says, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9.  It also says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

multi colored hands

Let us not judge people for what they look like on the outside.  Let us not judge people period.  Love comes in all forms too! What we need to do is love our enemies, love the unloveable, pray for justice and peace.  What would happen if we fought back with kindness.  What would happen if we replaced our fears with faith.  What would happen if we looked past our differences and embraced our similarities? Would these horrific stories fade away?  Would the news be filled with stories of hope, love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control?

I wonder…

Lara~

Kids Bible Journal Scripture Verses ~

I had a mom ask me what scripture verses I used for our homeschool Bible journals I put together this year.  So here is a list of them for this quarter.  I mistakenly said we had 40, but now that I am looking at the journal, we’ve written down 20 so far.    Hope this list will be encouraging and helpful.

Bible Journal Scripture Verses

1. Proverbs 22:6

2. 2 Corinthians 13:14

3. 1 John 4:19

4. 1 John 3:18

5. 1 John 3:3

6.  Proverbs 3:5

7.  Psalm 138:1

8. Isaiah 29:13

9. John 3:16

10. Psalm 146:6

11. 2 Peter 1:5-8

12. Ephesians 6:10-11

13. Psalm 46:10

14. Psalm 27:8

15. 1 Thessalonians 5:15

16. John 1:1

17. John 3:30

18. Psalm 23:1 (actually the whole chapter ; ) )

19. Galatians 5:22-23

20. Psalm 27:1

If you are excited about these scripture promises to give to your kids or to just hold dear to your own heart, then join my blog or send me your email address so I can put you on my email list.  I’m going to be working on something to offer you that I think you’ll really enjoy!!

Blessings,

Lara ~

http://www.laramarriott.com & Itunes

Finding Joy

Untitled design (1)

I have been asking this question at least once a day as my days commence into homeschooling, house cleaning, planning, working, and so on.  Yesterday, I knew I had to get some things done that really were not very fun.  I find that when I am doing the laundry, sweeping, dishes, picking up after the kids, cleaning dirty messes, mediating arguments, and working at my job, I begin to feel anger, frustration, anxiety, exhaustion, and defeat instead of happiness.

It seems that we are all living in a time where it is easy to be stressed out.  Stress for me at times, becomes a broken badge that I have a tendency to wear in hopes of receiving some kind of empathy and/or relief, whether it be at work, at school, in traffic, or at home. Happiness gets hidden away and I forget where I had placed it and so the stress cycle continues to press on, leading me down a darkened path.  Can you relate?

Is there a hope?  Will we be able to fight back stress and rediscover what makes us happy again?  I believe so.  The wise counsel of my husband whispered in my mind the other day, “Listen to music while you work.”  You see, he had discovered many years ago that I was much more efficient and happy when I turned on the stereo as I cleaned the house.  I didn’t make the correlation at first, but I have come to realize that his observations were correct.  Listening to music makes me so happy.  It helps brighten my day no matter what I am doing.  Music is one of the places happiness likes to reside for me in my life. What is it for you?  Where do you find your happiness?

Now, going to those places of happiness is a wonderful departure from stress.  However, our happiness doesn’t last long enough as we’d like it to because hard life situations and events continue to happen to everyone; everywhere.  So God comes in and offers us something even better than happiness.  What is it?  What could possibly be better than being happy?  Joy.  Joy, exceeds happiness and Joy only can come from a relationship with the Lord.   Joy embraces our souls no matter what goes on around us. This is what the Bible says about Joy:

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope, fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of any kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

Even though it is important to stop and spend sometime in our days to do things that make us happy, it is important to remember where our constant source of joy comes from.  I know I need to remember this and pursue being in God’s Presence everyday.  I try to blend the two by listening to worship music.

I want to encourage all of us to ask God to fill us with His constant Joy, instead of always running after short-lived happiness.  Maybe you too can find a way to blend both like I do with worship music.

Be blessed.  “May the God of hope, fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the Power of the Holy Spirit.”

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

Periscope Bible Q&A (part 2) –

I don’t know if you have heard of the new live streaming app called, “Periscope” yet, but I have been leading daily bible studies on it at 6:30am P/T, going through the “Jesus Calling” devotional. Well, because it broadcasts globally to anyone who wants to join in, I have had a few people ask some amazing questions about God, Jesus, and why I(we) believe in Jesus. During our study time, others can tweet responses, questions, and prayer requests that we all can read and reply too. I don’t usually have time to try and answer some of the questions, so I am using my blog as a tool to do so. Usually, my husband (who is a worship pastor and who is currently taking Theology in University) helps me answer the questions, but he hasn’t been able to, so I am going to try my best to answer them. Please, feel free to comment or add to these answers if you think I missed anything. =)

Questions: (for Amin)

What is the meaning of worship?
– The meaning of worship is to give honor, reverence, and adoration to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. It is a way to thank Him for all that He has done and has yet to do. It aligns our hearts with His.

What has God done for you?
– God has given me the assurance of knowing that He is with me by showing Himself to me in very specific and personal ways. He has helped me be more peaceful, than angry; more bold, than fearful; more faith-full, than uncertain. He has blessed me abundantly.

What is the reason when a kid is born with flaws?
– It is because of sin that we are flawed. In the beginning when God made creation He rested and looked at what He had made and called it “good.” All of creation was once perfect in His sight. However, humans were given the freedom to choose. Unfortunately, through the first man and woman, we chose our way, instead of following God’s way. Because of their choice, everything was cursed by sin. That is why there is suffering, heartache, unfairness, flaws, etc. But, there is hope! Jesus, is coming back again to make things right and to bring justice to the world. Through Him, we will be saved from the curse of sin. In heaven, everything will be restored and we will be able to walk with the Lord just like Adam and Eve did in the garden in the beginning. All we have to do is give our lives over to Him and believe Jesus is the Son of God.

Why do we have to live with flaws?
– A good read would be the book of Job. There are probably many different reasons why. Only God knows the specific reasons. Sometimes, they are used to teach us something. Sometimes, God can use them to draw us closer to Him. Sometimes, there is no logical reason. It says in the bible, it rains on the good and the bad. We live in an imperfect world. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.” Thankfully, through Jesus, there is hope.

So you believe in heaven and hell?
– Yes. Why? Because, the God who loves me and whom I love talks about heaven and hell in the bible. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt there is good and there is evil. They are always at war with each other all around us. That is obvious. So to think there is a heaven and a hell isn’t that difficult for me to believe.

Who will go to heaven?
– Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world so much, that He gave His one and only Son. That whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” So, those who believe in Jesus and ask Him into their hearts will go to heaven to be with Him forever.

So if I believe in Jesus I will go to heaven? Even when I do something wrong? So I will do whatever I want like killing and raping and believing in Jesus and so then I will go to heaven.
– Yes, If you believe in Jesus with a humbled, reverent heart, asking Him to come inside you and help you through your life, you will go to heaven and be saved. You will be covered with His grace. You will still mess up and make mistakes, but His Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth and will help to transform you so that you won’t have any desire to do something that is not aligned with His heart, like killing or raping.

Who defines the good thing and the bad thing?
– God is the standard. He is Love. He is all good. “There is no one (man or woman) who is good, not even one.” Psalm 14:2-3

So how can I contact God?
– By just talking with Him as if He was one of your friends. Even though we cannot see Him we can see the effects of what He is doing. He is Spirit. So when we call out to Him, He will be there. Psalm 139

The Bible is for 2015?
– Yes! The Bible is the inspired word of God. It has been applicable and relevant all throughout history for the Jews and now including the gentiles (all those who are not Jewish). God can and has used the bible to guide and direct our steps in many different ways. I was reading in Colossians the other day and the Apostle Paul told the church he was writing to, to share his letter with the other churches. The Bible was intended to be shared all over the world.

Other people with other beliefs will go to hell?
– There are many people who strive to be good people. God is Sovereign and knows each of our hearts. Jesus said He was the way, the truth, and the life. He was the only way to get to the Father. He became the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Remember, because of the choice we made back in the beginning to do our own thing, we were cursed to die as a result of our sinful choice. Well, Jesus took that punishment that we deserved upon himself when He came to this earth. He was the only one who could have done it because he was without sin. He was fully God and fully man. He died a criminal’s death to break the curse over us and give us the gift of freedom from that bondage and to allow us to freely live life to the fullest; the way God intended. We no longer have to strive to be good and to do good in order to be with God. Through the grace of Jesus, we get immediate access with the God of the Universe. No more striving in our own effort, just the acceptance of His abundant grace. This is good news! He is the only one who deserves all the glory, honor and praise.

How do you know that the Bible is not modified?
– Great question! (I wish my husband was available to help me out on this one) One of the ways we know that the bible was not modified is to look at the archeological evidence that is out there, for example, the Dead Sea Scrolls were written thousands of years ago and when those books in the bible that were preserved, were lined up with our current bible it showed the accuracy to be in the 90th percentile. That is very impressive!! We can also see how the bible has stood the test of time throughout the centuries. Now, there are translations that are known to have modified the text somewhat to make it more current in tone, such as, the Message Bible. I believe they call that one a Paraphrase Bible. But for the most part, the bible is the most unchanged sacred text in all of history.

What will happen in heaven?
– Philippians 3:20-21 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (NIV)”

Revelation 21:1-4 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away … I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God … And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (NIV)

So when there is no crying how can we define happiness?
– Happiness is defined as being in God’s Presence. There was no crying in the garden of Eden when the first man and woman walked the earth. Why? Because they got to be in fellowship with God daily.

Without war, what is the meaning of peace?
– The meaning of peace is what God intended for His creation in the beginning. He is a God of Peace. Jesus was called the “Prince of Peace.” War doesn’t bring about peace, it reminds us that we have a longing for peace and we can find that peace through Jesus.

Questions 5/19

Do you believe in the supernatural?
– Yes

What are your thoughts on the new revival and the great awakening?
– I have had a passion for years of another great revival happening where God’s people will wake up and get excited for His coming again and that many, many more people will come to know Jesus as their Savior.

Can signs and wonders happen for everyday, regular people
– Yes, I was healed as a child. I have family testimonies of amazing supernatural signs happening for them in their time of need. I have personally been rocked by God’s supernatural power. I am totally an everyday, regular person too! =)

Do you think anyone is really the “chosen ones”
– This is just my opinion. No matter what your take is on this, most of us will probably see each other in heaven. But, for me personally, I believe God saw all who were going to chose Him, yet He still gave us the choice to choose. Jesus died for all.

Muslims, Jews, etc all believe they are the chosen ones. Once you have that many who believe that it is not as special anymore
– The one thing that believing in Jesus has that none of the other religions believe is “grace.” You can’t earn your way to God. Because of the unconditional love that Jesus showed and because I have personally been transformed by His loving grace, my faith and relationship with Him is the most special possession I have.

Great, great questions!! I hope these answers helped. Hopefully, I will be able to find some of my pastor friends to help me out. =) These questions are helping me grow in my faith too! Looking forward to hearing more and learning from you all too.

Blessings,

Lara ~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

Periscope Bible Q&A ~

I have been leading “Jesus Calling” devotions during the week on a live streaming app called, “Periscope.” It has been amazing thus far. I never know who will join in and who will comment or ask questions. What a blessing it has been to be a part of a global bible study!

Well, today we had a lot of really great philosophical questions that I didn’t have time to answer (plus I knew my husband, who is going to school for this, would have a better way of replying than myself.) So I told him what the questions were and he answered them for us. So here are the answers to the questions shared during our time this morning on Periscope:

“The Jews during Jesus’ time were expecting their Messiah to come and set up His political kingdom, throwing out the foreign government which would have been Roman rule at the time. Before Rome, it was the Greeks under Alexander the Great (hence the New Testament in the Bible written in Greek). There was a brief time after the Greeks where Israel was self-governed after the exile, but it didn’t last long (Hasmonean period). The Romans then came and conquered them so at the time of Jesus it was the Roman Empire the Jews were working with and fighting against. They weren’t thinking in terms of an eternal plan, but a political one. Because Jesus came from the lowest tribe of Israel and from Nazareth (lowest town), and was known by the people of Nazareth, they couldn’t believe He was the one to set up their view of what the the kingdom was going to be like. Presently, they are still waiting for that day to happen and many will likely be duped when the anti-Christ comes (he is spoken of in the last book of the Bible; Revelation.)

The Jews were chosen by God by way of Abraham. God made more than one covenant to bless the nations through Abraham; the first is in Genesis 12. Genesis 15 talks about how God will bless his descendants in foreign lands. The seed of Abraham is the Jewish race. God chose to reveal Himself to this group of people and called them to live according to His law which was how He revealed His love and His heart. Culturally, the Israelites as they were to be known, were called to be contrary to the other people groups. Instead of worshipping several gods (polytheism) like the surrounding cultures, they were to worship Yahweh – one God and have no other idols. There are several more laws and commands that when looked at in relation to the surrounding cultures it is clear that Israel was called out to be different meaning a holy people (as a nation, not so much individually as people sin). Even their treatment of foreign slaves was better than what’s recorded in the Hammurabi code about 1800 years before Jesus; the first known example of written law.

Temple worship at the time was also different than how other cultures worshipped. There was a movement from outside the temple into the holy of holies done in ritual. In one of the sacrifices (Day of Atonement), a bull was sacrificed by the priest and two goats were presented; the sins of the people were placed on the goats. One goat was the atonement and was sacrificed as the Lord’s goat, the other was the scapegoat which was set free and carried the sins of Israel into the desert. When this detailed process is examined in the book of Hebrews, Jesus is both the priest and the sacrifice. So while you have a comment that “Jews were Jesus’ religion,” this isn’t quite correct. It is more that Yahweh taught the Jews how to worship Him with rituals and rules that would one day point to Jesus. So it is more appropriate to say “Jesus was the fulfillment of the religious practices given by Yahweh.”

In regards to race, race no longer matters… God first chose Israel, but then because they continued to reject Him, He opened up the door to heaven through Jesus to the Gentiles (Rom 1:1-6,16). The Jews were chosen to bring about Jesus; but now that Jesus has come it is not a matter of being Jew or Gentile, but by living by faith in Jesus as the Messiah. So Jews that accept this will be saved, just like Gentiles. And those that reject this, regardless of their race, will not be saved. Jews should “change” isn’t quite correct… they should “accept” that the Messiah has come, from the line of David, as prophesied in the Old Testament. They are still the “chosen” as they are genealogically connected to the covenant with Abraham… however, this doesn’t mean that they are saved. They still need to accept Jesus as Messiah.”

Whew! Thanks Brian! Great stuff! Hope that helps those of you on Periscope who asked those great questions today. Keep them coming. If I can’t answer them, then I will find someone who will. =) If you other readers would like to join me on Periscope, you can. All you have to do is download the Periscope App on your IPhone (they are working on having it available for androids) and find me, Lara Marriott or look for “Jesus Calling Devotions” live at 6:30am PT on the weekdays. Would love to connect with you there.

Until next time. God bless you ~

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

There Is Someone Who Knows ~

Today has been another random day for our family.  Do you ever have variables that just pop up out of no where throughout you day?  Well, they are frequent occurrences in my life.  Most of the time I am able to go with the flow, however by 4:00pm this mommy is pretty much done mentally and emotionally for the day.  Like today for example. lol!  Sometimes we can find ourselves down, frustrated, overwhelmed, overtired, and wanting a break.  Sometimes we feel alone and undervalued.  Sometimes we wonder if there is anyone who understands.

Little Josh and Hannah

While the kids and I were at the doctor’s getting a prescription this afternoon, there was a mom who was fighting (not literally) with her 3 year old son, trying to get him to behave so she could pick up her daughter’s medicine, but he wouldn’t have it.  I so wanted to save her from his fits and outbursts.  He kept saying, “I don’t like you!  I don’t like you!”  My heart broke for this mom.  Why?  Because I have been THAT mom before with unmanageable kids.  It is so embarrassing and degrading.  She tried her best, but eventually she had to take her kids out without achieving her goal, probably feeling like a failure and wondering how in the world she was going to find the time to get back over there to pick up her daughter’s medicine.  Being a mom is a very difficult job at times; so demanding, so draining, so all consuming.

Thankfully, there is a passage in the Bible that I remembered this evening that I wanted to share.  I wish I could share it with the mom at the doctors office.   I love this chapter in God’s Word because it reminds me I am not alone and that there is a God who loves me unconditionally and knows all about me.  I need to place His promise in my heart tonight and maybe you do to.  Hope this will be an encouragement to you as well.

Psalm 139

“O Lord, You have searched me and You know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all of my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord.  You hem me in – behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful sunset parkfor me, to lofty for me to attain.  Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Where can I flee from Your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, ‘surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, ‘ even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You.  For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.  When I awake, I am still with You!…Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is anything that offends You and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Now, when people or (kids) say to us, “I don’t like you! I don’t like you!”  we will remember that God loves us and knows us deeply.  What a wonderful promise!!  You know what is funny?  As I finish writing this blog,  my kids have come in arguing and whining about each other.  Oh and now there is our dog, Molly.  God knows.  God knows.  What we are going through might feel like it will never end, but God knows and He will get us through it by covering us with His unfailing love.

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

What Make A Great Worship Leader?

This is a very interesting article. What do you think of Josh Maze’s opinion?

http://joshmaze.com/home/posts/jimmy-fallon

For me, I feel a little uneasy about it, because this type of article has the potential of giving the allusion of being able to quantify what it takes to become a great worship leader. I have to say that I think Jimmy Fallon is amazing at what he does and there are many clips from The Tonight Show that are, quite frankly, hilarious! But, I’ve also seen, especially young worship leaders/artists, read something like this and then try to replicate it, avoiding the true value of what it means to be humble and completely aligned with the Lord’s direction while leading worship.

I am also to blame for this. In my teens and early 20s I experienced leaders in the church tell me to smile more on stage, engage with the audience, play the camera, be “authentic,” and those comments always gave me a sour feeling in my stomach. I would think to myself, ‘weren’t we still a bunch of messed up people seeking God to help us be better? Why can’t worship leaders and church leaders show that we too are having a bad day? However, the pressure to perform was great and the demands from the congregations clouded my thinking, making me feel I had to give them what they wanted in my own strength to be accepted and to point to Jesus which resulted in pride, judgement, comparisons, self-doubt, worry, and anxiety.

The bible says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. It also says, “Without ME (Jesus), you can do nothing.” John 15:5

As worship leaders in our churches, I have found through my experiences over the years the MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember is to have a personal, deep, relationship with the Lord through the Holy Spirit. We need to keep seeking Him in all we do throughout the week. He needs to become our go to person. Why? It is only then that we can be filled up and confidently take the stage as a leader through His Power, through His guidance, and through His love. The church WILL see a heart after God’s heart, They WILL experience authenticity. They WILL feel like they are the most loved people, only because God’s love will be shining through you(us) and pour over them. Bottom line, it has very little to do with what we are capable of doing and everything to do with what God can do through us. We are the Holy Spirit’s servants, doing HIS work, making HIM increase as we decrease.

There is nothing wrong with Josh Maze. I am actually thankful he posted his thoughts. Having an honest conversation and working through opinions is healthy and has the potential of making us stronger as people and in this case followers of Jesus.

So do you want to join in on the conversation? What do you think?

Lara ~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

New Devotional – Experiencing God ~

I have started reading from a “new” devotional called, “Experiencing God” by Henry T. Blackaby & Richard Blackaby.  Yesterday’s devotion was soooo good I just had to share it with you.  I’ll make a little plug for them by directing you to amazon if you’d like to get a copy for yourself.  Click here: http://www.amazon.com/Experiencing-God-Day-Devotional/dp/0805444785/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1414855750&sr=8-5&keywords=experiencing+god  NOTE!!–  Those of you who are part of the women at Centerpointe Church, DON’T purchase one!  Just attend our Harvest Gathering November 16th. 😉

Experiencing God – October 31st

A Defeated Enemy

“Christians are not called to defeat Satan.  God has already done that in Christ!  Nor is it our mandate to “bind” Satan.  Jesus has already set limits on the extent and duration of Satan’s freedom.  Satan, “our ancient foe,” was decisively and completely defeated by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and in His resurrection.  With regard to Satan, our assignment is to trust in the victory that Christ already achieved and daily resist him with the truth of his defeat, as Jesus did.

Satan is the father of lies and a master deceiver (John 8:44).  If he can convince you that God has not defeated him, then you will not experience Jesus’ victory.  You will find yourself fighting battles that Christ has already won!  You will fear Satan though he has already been utterly and humiliatingly defeated.  Your responsibility is to resist Satan, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).  When you resist him, you are acknowledging that Jesus has defeated him and given you victory over his influence.  God has provided you with spiritual armor that is more than sufficient to withstand any assault by Satan (Eph. 6:10-20).

Christians can become preoccupied with battling Satan.  This deceives them to invest their time and energy attempting to do something that Christ has already done for them.  If Satan can divert you to wage a warfare that has already ended in surrender, he will have eliminated your effectiveness where God wants you.  Fearing Satan is fearing a prisoner of war.  You have no need or calling to defeat Satan; you need only to apply Christ’s victory in every area of your life and to live the victorious Christian life.”

 

I hope that encourages you today as it did for me.  We are more than conquerors in Christ!!

 

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

Stars ~

Genesis 1:14

“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.’ And it was so. God made two great lights-the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.”

My kids and I are starting to read the Bible from beginning to end this week. Hannah said that when we finished reading the entire bible we should reward ourselves with an ice cream at Foster’s Freeze. Oh the innocence of children. As an adult I think the reward should be a brand new black camaro with red stripes down the middle and tinted windows. ; )

As I was reading this part about the stars God’s Spirit impressed upon me how those stars that we take for granted so much of the time were actually made just for us; as gifts. The stars were created before us, intentionally made for us to use. Gifts. When that thought hit me it completely changed the way I looked at the stars. There was going to be a meteor shower in the next two days and on that morning I woke up at around 4am. I new I probably had missed the event, but I went outside to look up just in case I could see a few meteors zip by. As I was gazing at the stars I saw order and purpose in their creation. I no longer saw them as horoscope animals and images or random acts in the night sky. I was seeing them with new eyes. You see back when Adam and Eve were alive, there was no light pollution caused by our mere attempt at light creation. They had an incredible light show every single night! They saw the Milky Way, constellations patterned for each of the seasons, and numerous amounts of stars and galaxies peeking their curiosity.

Nowadays we fill our lives with our own prideful light creations (I’m to blame as well), flat screen tvs or now curved ones, IPhones, IPads, Androids, Kindles, Computers, Stereos, cars, street lights, etc, taking away from one of the most incredible gifts in all of creation; the stars!!

Another thought I had was how God has never charged us admission to view His amazing sky! We can see it every single night. Plus, no matter where we are in the world all of us have the privilege of looking up and being awestrucked by God’s beautiful handiwork. I love that!! What an amazing God we have! He proves His love for us through His creation. It’s just will we take the time to actually stop and wonder?

Because of the new revelation I received, I am seeing the world around me in a whole new light. It’s actually an old light that I’ve been awakened to again. I hope by reading this post, you too will be awakened to God’s creation and how much He truly loves you!!

Here is Nasa’s website: http://www.nasa.gov Just for fun = )

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

To Love or Not to Love ~

This week had been a difficult one for me.  I was fighting to get time to myself throughout it.  It was a fight because everytime I did something for me I got push back from something or someone.  The lowest point was when our dog, Molly ate an entire raw hide bone in 20 mins!!!  We had to take her to the vet, have them give her medicine that made her throw up.  Thankfully the bone came out and she was saved.  I was searching for something to satisfy me through tv, food, sugar, caffeine, sleep; nothing was meeting my need.  Finally, I took the time I had been using up doing all of the stuff listed above, to sit quietly in the darkness of my room and talk to God; my friend.  I told Him everything I was going through.  I’m still learning how to hear from Him, but it seemed like He suggested that I stop chasing after things that don’t last; only clutter my mind and body, and spend time being quiet; reading His Word again.

So this morning, I left my phone off, I didn’t turn on the tv, I took my Bible and journal outside, and sat in our backyard.  I asked Him what I should read and was directed to 1 Corinthians 13.  I rolled my eyes because I had read and practically memorized that chapter.  What could I possibly get out of reading it again?  It must have been my thoughts directing the answer to my question. However, I decided to do it anyway.

1 Corinthians 13 “…Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails…”

I then wrote out which ones I was struggling with:

* Doesn’t envy others accomplishments (like on Facebook or Twitter)

* Doesn’t brag or boast about my successes (like on Facebook or Twitter)

* Doesn’t think highly of myself

* Doesn’t talk down to others (like my children and husband)

* Is not selfish (especially at home)

* Doesn’t get angry easily  (at home with the kids)

After, I read 1 Corinthians 14:1 “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.”

“Follow the way of love.”  That is where I was going wrong this week; I wasn’t following the way of love.  I was deferring to my own selfish desires.  Lastly, I read 1 Corinthians 13 again, but replaced the word “love” with the word “Jesus.”

“…Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind.  He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud.  He is not rude, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs.  Jesus does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Jesus never fails…”

The result to my week of frustration?  I need to follow Jesus!  In order for me to change my behavior and be truly satisfied, I need to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.  That is the only way I will be able to show this kind of love to others.  What a lesson.  Food for the soul.

Thank you Holy Spirit for directing me to this chapter in the bible.  I really needed to read it again.  And thank you for reminding me whose I am and who I need to follow.  I somehow forgot this week.

Here is a clip of a message from my friend, Krissy Nelson.  She talks about whose we are.  It is a wonderful reminder.

Love,

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

Blogging My Devotion Today ~

Instead of sitting down and writing down all of my thoughts in my journal, I feel compelled to open up about a few things on my blog.

You see I am full of all sorts of emotions right now. There is this worship conference called “Christian Musician Summit” http://www.christianmusiciansummit.com that my husband Brian and I have been attending since 2005. That was the year a friend of my parents gave me a journal that she had bought in Guatemala. She said every time she walked by that vendor, she would sense God nudging her to buy me that journal and bring it back. She pushed the thought aside over and over again, until she was very annoyed and finally bought the organic journal made of pressed flowers and handmade paper. As she gave it to me during church service, she said I think God is trying to tell you to write. I looked at her as if she was speaking in a different language. I had only written two songs, one for my grandmother’s memorial service and another one called “Embrace Me” to try and set me apart as a Christian artist. But, I really wasn’t a true songwriter I was more of a vocalist who had a passion to sing for Jesus.

I wasn’t going to forget about this gift from God, I needed to act on it somehow. So Brian and I heard about this conference coming up at Overlake Church in Redmond close by. It sounded great. Brian was excited to see Lincoln Brewster and Paul Baloche. I was intrigued to learn more about songwriting. We signed up and away we went.

There were about 2000 people who attended. I was thrilled to be surrounded by other worship leaders and songwriters and just God worshippers! It was amazing to be led in worship by Paul Baloche himself!! We had sung his songs so many times in our own worship services. Brian and I were completely renewed and refreshed and ready to get back to our church and share all that we had experienced and learned. Well, that year when we got back our enthusiasm wasn’t matched. They didn’t understand where we were coming from. It was hard to convince our team to do things differently, plus we didn’t have the resources CMS had during the conference. But we did try to make steps in the right direction and made some great improvements to our worship service and to our musicianship. By the next year we were ready for another renewal conference, and I was excited to share a song I had written for the songwriter’s bootcamp.

It is very embarrassing to admit I did this, but it is part of my journey so I don’t mind. I had been writing a bit now, and Brian and I worked on a song together (I can’t even remember the name)I think it was called, “Surrounded By Your Glory”. We sang it live, and I was excited to send in the live version to prove people connected with it. Because God had commissioned me to write I new this was probably going to be my big break. They would recognize the potential in me and someone in the industry would want to work with my talents. (oh brother). Well, a top worship leader, who was very well known, critiqued my song, inside I was super excited and ready to be mentored by him. lol However, he said the beginning was good, but he was tired of hearing another “praise” song. There were enough “praise” songs out there and my song was typical and not memorable. My balloon popped! What! I thought God had a plan. I thought He wanted me to write. Oh no no no no, this couldn’t have been happening. After that day, as I sifted my way through the crowds who gathered for the conference I saw myself, not as separated and honored, but as just another fish in the sea of worship artists/songwriters. I felt like mush. God couldn’t use me as a songwriter oh no. I guess I am just going to be a mom and wife and my friend was wrong about the journal. (sometimes these things have to happen to us in order to make us stronger or to test us)

The next year Brian and I had moved to Oregon to take a worship pastor job there, and I was writing a lot! I purchased Master Writer, a computer writers database, and I used that thing so much. By the time the next CMS conference rolled around, I had written over 100 songs. I got connected online with other Christian songwriters, God spoke again to me through a friend to continue writing, and another songwriter friend gave me a gift to have two of my songs produced and recorded in a studio. Wow, God really wants me to write? Why? I didn’t know, but that was super cool.

I decided to enter one of those songs in to have critiqued at the songwriter’s bootcamp. This time it was professionally done, people were connecting with it. I wanted to put my best foot forward. Deep down I was thinking maybe this was the time I would be recognized.

Another top, famous, worship leader listened to my song in front of about 15-20 people. After we listened to it. Either he or the other professional said, “Now, this is a great example of a great singer singing a mediocre song.” Ouch! Did I really hear that? They asked whose song that was, I sheepishly raised my hand. And after a pause they asked if that was me who sang it? I nodded my head yes. Then the back peddling began. This artist said the bookends were really good, but the meat of the song was weak. I was the last one before the break. As I was walking to the restroom, he came up and found me and asked if I was doing okay. I said yes, I was fine and thanked him for his great critique. I was still in shock. When I finally had some alone time, I got so hurt and angry with God. I was being hammered as a songwriter. Why was I putting myself in so much pain? Couldn’t I just be a singer and call it a day. Obviously, God was wrong about me. I could never write a great song.

Well, I really felt far from God, but even then, He met me during another breakout session. Something amazing happened, and He spoke through the presenter straight to me in the most personal way. If any of you are interested in hearing that story, write me. I’ll share it with you. I was completely broken and hit rock bottom, but I allowed my heart to pour everything out onto paper. Was I an amazing songwriter? No, but I really was a songwriter because it was in my blood to write. There was healing, deep healing that went on that year at CMS. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. Even though I wasn’t noticed by the professionals, God noticed everything and was walking me through it.

The next few years, we moved again to our current church. I met a songwriter bud from an online site at that church. He had no idea we were going to be their worship leaders. I finally gave the reigns up to God. My purpose had changed from striving to get noticed by the industry to learning how to serve and minister in my own sphere of influence. It was wonderful! I felt great fulfillment. I sang some of my songs for our church, and they embraced them. There was purpose for me here. Little by little, God grew me and healed me from the inside out. I started to understand who I was in His eyes. I felt very loved and accepted by him. Again, He spoke directly to me through some other events that took place. I knew God had a plan, but released it to Him because He hadn’t revealed what it was yet. I also had a fasting time with Him that reminded me what was most important finding peace in His Presence in all the seasons of my life and how to be disciplined in that. (I still fail, but try to pick myself up and dust myself off to try again).

This year, God provided the funding to have my first worship album released. What a journey this has been as a songwriter, during motherhood, early marriage, learning how to be a worship leader,etc… The journey hasn’t stopped. But it is not about the end game really. It’s not about being recognized anymore, even though I have had some of those reoccurring emotions bubble up since we’ve registered to go back to CMS, it is about the journey itself and being ready for anything as I follow Jesus. It is about His work and joining in on where He needs me.

I am excited to go to the 10 year anniversary of the Christian Musician Summit. It has been the catalyst of growth, of healing, of inspiration, of renewal, of so many things for me in my life’s journey. I am praying that I will get out of the way, that the fear of what others might think will fade, and I will be surrounded by God’s amazing Presence during that time. I pray I will learn more about songwriting, get inspired more and serve more while I’m there. I hope I can see my friends that I’ve made and last but definitely not least enjoy being with my wonderful husband as we experience this time together like when our journey of worship leading first began.

Here is what my journal “Jesus Calling” says for today “Try to stay conscious of Me as you go step by step through this day. My Presence with you is both a promise and a protection. My final statement just before I ascended into heaven was: Surely I am with you always. That promise was for all of My followers, without exception. The promise of My Presence is a powerful protection. As you journey through your life, there are numerous pitfalls along the way. Many voices clamor for your attention, enticing you to go their way. A few steps away from your true path are pits of self-pity and despair, plateaus of pride and self-will. If you take your eyes off Me and follow another’s way, you are in great danger. Even well-meaning friends can lead you astray if you let them usurp My place in your life. The way to stay on the path of Life is to keep your focus on Me. Awareness of My Presence is your best protection.”

Matthew 28:20 “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the righ thand of the throne of God.”

God bless ~

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

Jesus Calling Devotion ~

I haven’t been doing my devotions daily like I should have been. I justified it, telling God I had to get other things finished first before I could finally sit down with Him and give Him my utmost attention. He didn’t buy it. lol. I’ve been managing pretty well in my own strength, yes, still praying for help and direction, but through the nonstop of each day.

I finally woke up this morning at 5am because of back pain, went into the other room to sleep, and frustration started to well up inside of me. I started becoming frustrated with all sorts of things, why this and why that… I felt a nudge to go do my devotions, but I didn’t want to. I wanted sleep. I wanted my way. I cried out to God all that was frustrating me and you know what His Spirit said? “Be patient and wait. Read Jesus Calling.” (He said some other stuff that has to stay between Him and I) = ) I knew my soul needed to be helped, so I read yesterday’s and today’s. I don’t know why this happens sometimes, but there have been specific days when the devotion in this book has spoken directly to my situation. How does He do that!? Here is what I wrote down from today’s devotion:

Jesus Calling, “Trust Me enough to let things happen without striving to predict or control them. Relax and refresh yourself in the Light of My everlasting love. My love-light never dims (great lyric btw!), yet you are often unaware of My radiant Presence. When you project yourself into the future, rehearsing what you will do or say, you are seeking to be self-sufficient: to be adequate without My help. *This is a subtle sin-so common that it usually slips by unnoticed. The alternative is to live fully in the present, depending on Me each moment. Rather than fearing your inadequacy, rejoice in My abundant supply. Train your mind to seek My help continually, even when you feel competent to handle something by yourself….Learn to rely on Me in every situation. This discipline will enable you to enjoy life more and to face each day confidently.”

You see, now that I have an album out, the industry “virtual blue book” says to promote, get out there, book, make contacts, yada yada yada… But God is saying “Trust Me enough to let things happen without striving to predict or control them.” Kind of counter-intuitive. Yes, it is important to share this album with the people in my life, but when I start to dwell on the industry “blue book” I get pretty frustrated and anxious. I also start rating myself and my ministry against it. Notice the “ME and MY?”

God is the Great Orchestrator! He told me this morning to be patient and wait; basically trust. He also said (which I forgot to mention) that His ways are different than the world’s ways. God’s standards are different than the world’s standards. There have been many blessings already because of this worship album. God has been able to use it to minister to the needs of others and I have had the honor of hearing about some of them! For me, it isn’t so much about the “album” and about “my career” as it is about where God wants to use it for His glory. Which brings me to the question, “what is my purpose?” Remember that from my last post?

Well, I’ve discovered some key notes on the subject that I am working out. Here they are thus far:

Purpose:
1) To be God’s servant (wherever He needs me and for whatever reason)
2) To disciple others (encourage, build up, nurture, teach)
3) To be under God’s authority with reverential fear and
4) Follow Him (AHHHH the Title to my album!) So cool!

Scripture Verse: Deuteronomy 10:12 “And now, Israel, (God’s people), what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to Him, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul.”

I’m not totally ready to reveal my purpose statement yet, but those are four things I definitely want to include in it. = )

Just some random thoughts for today that I wanted to share. God bless you as you continue to discover more about God in your life.

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

Back To Journaling ~

I got out of the habit of journaling for about a month now.  I still read my Jesus Calling devotional and did my bible study in Jeremiah with my mom friends, but never felt like I had the time to journal.

Today, I started my day very anxious, stressed out and grumpy.  Not a very good combination.  I felt it was time to get back into sitting down with my bible and journal about my thoughts and about my devotions.  Inside there was a battle going on, ‘I can’t sit down for an hour and journal.  I have SO much to do today.  Brian is sick, it is all on my shoulders.  How am I going to get everything done?’  The best thing I did was vent my frustrations to God.  I have come to believe He likes honesty because I had peace afterwards to rest and be with Him.

I thought I would share what I journaled today…

‘I am getting back into journaling again.  My devotions are a life-line and I need God’s Presence to lighten the rest of my day.  Yesterday’s Jesus Calling was really good so I want to write some of it down. Jesus Calling – “This is a time in your life when you must learn to let go : of loved ones, of possessions, of control.  In order to let go of something that is precious to you, you need to rest in My Presence, where you are complete…As you relax more and more, your grasping hand gradually opens up, releasing your prized possession into My care.  You can feel secure, even in the midst of cataclysmic changes, through awareness of My continual Presence.  The One who never leaves you is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  As you release more and more things into My care, remember that I never let go of your hand.  Herein lies your security, which no one and no circumstances can take from you.”

(Today’s Jesus Calling) – “Let thankfulness temper all your thoughts.  A thankful mindset keeps you in touch with Me.  I hate it when My children grumble, casually despising My Sovereignty.  Thankfulness is a safe guard against this deadly sin.  Furthermore, a grateful attitude becomes a grid through which you perceive life…Cultivate a thankful heart, for this glorifies Me and fills you with Joy.”

1 Corinthians 10:10 “Nor discontentedly complain as some of them did…”  (a good reminder for me)

Hebrews 12:28 “Let us receive a kingdom that is firm and stable and cannot be shaken, offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship, with modesty and care and godly fear and awe.”

I am so glad God never leaves.  That He is walking me through today.

I have a few things going on right now that are scary, uncertain, unanswered.  And I found myself asking, ‘Why am I going through this again? Can You God, please let me know?  It doesn’t make sense.’  And after all of my whining and frustration and fear I came to realize I was following God’s direction.  I was doing what I felt God was asking me to do.  So I continue on not in my own strength, but in God’s strength.  The fear and uncertainty are beginning to fade and I finally feel like I can do this. = )

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

God’s Call ~

Jesus Calling devotional-“…A life of praise and thankfulness becomes a life filled with miracles…” I loved this line. It sounded musical to me. Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” – This verse hit home to me today. This is a season of constant busyness. Emotions and stresses rise in adults especially, because there is pressure to make the Christmas experience a meaningful one. It is hard to see other Christians bicker and stress out about little things. Everything has to be perfect for them to be close to Christ. I have been this way before and it made me feel awful inside. I want to encourage all of us who call Jesus as our Saviour, to remember this verse during Christmas. We are called to peace, not frustration. May we all relax, take a deep breath, and surrender our days to the Lord, giving thanks and praise to Him for everything even if it is different from what we were expecting this season. And let’s be committed to be peaceful in our hearts. God promises “miracles” when we follow His ways. The miracles are joy, peace, love, hope… How wonderful to be filled up with these characteristics during the Christmas season. What a testimony to the love of Christ. And we will be able to defuse anger, stress, resentment, frustration, worry, and hopelessness in others around us. What a beautiful thing. Let us give the gift of peace ~

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

Perspective Changes ~

Today I woke up at 6:30am feeling rested and excited to spend time with God before the kids came out at 7am. That thought took me aback because I had been struggling with God about getting up so early. It was mostly an act of obedience. Now I am looking forward to it. Very cool!

September 2nd, 2011′ – Journal Entry

Jesus Calling Devotional “When you depend on Me continually, your whole perspective changes…You begin each day with joyful expectation, watching to see what I will do…You accept weakness as a gift from Me…You keep your plans tentative, knowing that My plans are far superior…This is the intimate adventure I offer you.” inspired by 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Acts 17:28; Colosians 2:6-7; John 14:20

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Acts 17:28 “For in Him we live and move and have our being.”

Me – Thank you Father for helping me go back to sleep during the night by reminding me to trust You and not to worry. Thank you for waking me up at 6am again to come spend it with You. What would you like from me today? Help me be available to Your leading and Your purposes.

Holy Spirit – I want you to sing to Me

I closed my eyes, focusing on hearing from God and He spoke to me for 5 mins. How can I write it all down? He addressed my fears and told me to give them to Him. He told me to serve and love my friends and neighbors here; that it was more important for me to do that than to sing to millions. He told me He would take care of the future. He knew my hearts desires and not to worry about them, but trust Him. He told me, my family and I are never alone. There will be hard times but we will get through them with Him right beside us. It was so comforting to hear His voice. Lastly, He told me to enjoy the day and to serve others in His Name.

John 17:5 “and now Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world began.”

Holy Spirit – I am the beginning and the end. I know all things. You plan out your days too much Lara. Leave room to be in My Presence and for Me to use you. Trust in Me. You haven’t been trusting Me and so you have been frustrated. Your children are human too. Show them the grace I have shown to you. They love you. Don’t be selfish. Strip yourself from anything that brings you anxiety.

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

 

Good Morning, Lara ~

August 31st, 2011′ Journal Entry –

Holy Spirit – Good morning, Lara. Spend time with Me. (I had my calendar out first thing)

Jesus Calling, ” I am developing your ability to trust Me, to lean on Me, rather than on your understanding. Your natural preference is to plan out your day, knowing what will happen when. My preference is for you to depend on Me continually, trusting Me to guide you and strengthen you as needed. this is how you grow strong in your weakness.” inspired by James 4:13-15; Proverbs 3:5; Isaiah 40:28-31

James 4:13-15 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.”

Holy Spirit – I have shaped you and molded you in My image. Take one day at a time knowing I will guide you. Do not worry. Trust Me. Sing songs to Me; spiritual songs. They bless Me. Work on your craft, your piano; your writing; your singing. Lara, I am going to use you, but you need to be ready. You are not ready, but you’re close…’I am the Way, the Truth, the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ I love you. I want your full attention. Walk with Me and I will give you peace. Now go love your children and be kind to your husband. Do not worry; trust Me.

September 1st –

Me – I really don’t know what to say God, so I will listen.

John 8:12 “…I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Jesus Calling, “Seek Me with your whole being. I desire to be found by you, and I orchestrate the events of your life with that purpose in mind…My continual Presence with you is an absolute promise.” inspired by Deut 4:29; Hebrews 10:23; Psalm 145:20

Psalm 145:20 “The Lord watches over all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy.”

Deut 4:7 “You don’t have to swim oceans or ascend into heaven; you just have to understand, believe, and obey the word God has given.”

(I love that!) Plus, with Jesus, we are offered grace when we mess up or fall short, because we will fall short of doing this all the time. We are human. That is why it says in the bible that we are free. Why are we free? Because we have grace covering us. The heavy weight of the constant pressure of doing good and obeying is lifted off our shoulders. Jesus is walking with us daily to help us get through every and all situations we experience. Does this mean we can do anything we want and if we say sorry to God and get His forgiveness and grace we will be okay? No, not really. You see a heart that is humbled and that is grateful for Jesus’ sacrifice, wants to obey and wants to do good. It is an outpouring of gratitude for what God has done for us. He loved us even when we were still doing what we wanted; being selfish and striving for self gratification (sin). How did He do that? It is hard for me to feel love towards the people who have hurt me in my life sometimes. But God loved us still and gave us a chance to be with Him through Jesus’ blood on the cross. What an awesome selfless love. Jesus didn’t sin at all. He was the perfect sacrifice. He took on all of our sin when He died so that we can live without guilt.

Because of my “networking fast” I have realized how great His love is for me. I have learned how precious it is to spend time with God each morning. I don’t want to miss it. Now sometimes I get a wild hair and start whining, but it is me who misses out and I feel it for the rest of the day.

God loves you! I encourage you to let Him love you and show His love to you. When we give our lives to Him and believe in Jesus, we trade our selfishness, stressed out, guilty lives for a forgiven life; a do over. God begins to mold us as clay, shaping us into the people God intended us to be. He doesn’t ask us to strive to do this on our own; no. By walking in His Presence daily, We begin to shine like stars because of His work in and through us, not because of our goodness. When life starts to get difficult He offers us strength and the ability to get through it when we ask Him. I don’t know about you, but that is an awesome trade off. That is why I love following Jesus. I am humbled He would reach out to me. No day goes by when I do not feel loved for who I am. What a gift! And He offers it to you too! He doesn’t have any favorites. He loves. And those who receive His love, receive a wonderful blessing ~

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

God Answered ~

August 29th, 2011′ Journal Entry –

Last night I read somewhere that God wants us to give Him the quietness of each morning so we can be tuned in to His voice and His presence throughout the day. I have been waking up very tired lately. I prayed if God wanted me to do my devotions in the early morning before the family woke up then would He wake me up at the right time with energy. I fell asleep at 9:30pm and got up at 6:00am without feeling tired. Here I am now sitting on the kitchen chair with the sliding glass door open to let the cool, fresh air in. It is still a bit too dark to sit outside. I at least can feel the coolness of the morning. I hear the birds chirping and cawing to one another, and the traffic of workers already racing to their jobs. Thank you God for waking me up with energy.

Holy Spirit – You are My child in whom I love. You brighten up My day when I watch you play. Be yourself, Lara. Enjoy your day. Enjoy what I’ve given you. Enjoy, enjoy. For life is short.

Me – What else?

Holy Spirit – Read Jesus Calling

Jesus Calling Devotional – ” Demonstrate your trust in Me by sitting quietly in My presence. Put aside all that is waiting to be done, and refuse to worry about anything. This sacred time together strengthens you and prepares you to face whatever the day will bring. By waiting with Me before you begin the day’s activities, you proclaim the reality of My living presence. This act of faith-wait before working-is noted in the spirit world, where your demonstration of trust weakens principalities and powers of darkness. The most effective way to resist evil is to draw near to Me. When you need to take action, I will guide you clearly through My Spirit and My Word. The world is so complex and overstimulating that you can easily lose your sense of direction. Doing countless unnecessary activities will dissipate your energy. When you spend time with Me, I restore your sense of direction. As you look to Me for guidance, I enable you to do less but accomplish more.” inspired by Luke 12:22-26; Ephesians 6:12; Proverbs 16:3

Luke 12:22-26 “…since you (humans) can’t do this simple, little thing…” (which is adding one hour to your life. Simple? Little? That would be incredible if we could do that! Shows how small that is to God and implies He does much, much greater things.)

Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.”

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

The Relationship Grows ~

My relationship with God was beginning to grow more and more. I was longing to go to Him first with my worries and problems and thoughts. I was looking forward to starting my day with Him before everyone woke up.

August 26th, 2011′ Journal Entry –

Jesus Calling (devotional) – “Trust Me in the midst of a messy day. Your inner calm, your peace in My presence need not be shaken by what is going on around you. Though you live in this temporal world, your innermost being is rooted and grounded in eternity. When you start to feel stressed, detach yourself from the disturbances around you. Instead of desperately striving to maintain order and control in your little world, relax and remember that circumstances cannot touch My peace…Seek My face, and I will share My mind with you, opening your eyes to see things from My perspective. Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not be afraid. The peace I give is sufficient for you.” inspired by John 16:33; Psalm 105:4; John 14:27

Me – I can’t be perfect (I was very burdened by this. I wanted so much to be a good follower of Christ and be a good mom and wife and friend and housewife etc..)

Holy Spirit – No you can’t, but My grace is sufficient for you.

Me – My kids were my identity (They were now in school together for the first time)

Holy Spirit – Jesus is your identity

Me – I am sad God. Our kids are off in school. They are growing up so fast. I miss them. My identity is in Christ. What does that mean?

Holy Spirit – I will show you what it means. Walk with Me.

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

Life Training ~

August 23rd, 2011′ – Journal Entry

The kids went to school today. Brian and I went out for coffee. I had a couple of hours to myself. It is very weird to be without my kids. Jesus calling said, ” Entrust your loved ones to Me.” Boy, isn’t that the truth. I have to trust and let go of my grip on them and cling to God. I did a lot of clinging to God. I also have been a bit moody with my family. Hopefully by being in God’s presence I will be led by His Spirit to be loving.

I did a lot of talking to God, but not a whole lot of listening. I also went on the computer to check my email too much. I need to check it once in the morning and once at night.

August 24th –

Holy Spirit – I want you to worship Me.

Me – Jesus, I am scared to go back to networking and the social media.

I was reading a book called “Costly Grace.” It said, “In truth, it is a life in which Jesus is the only significance.”

Me – Spirit, continue to remind me that Jesus is my only significance and to not fear the rest, but put it all in Jesus’ hands

I am not afraid anymore.

August 25th –

Jesus Calling, “I am training you to be aware of Me at all times…Your assignment is to collaborate with Me in this training process…The quickest way to redirect your mind to Me is to whisper My name.” Inspired by Exodus 3:14; 1 Cor 3:16; Psalm 25:14-15

Me – Do You have anything to tell me today?

Holy Spirit – Let your light shine for all to see so everyone will know that I am God. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, Lara. I love you. Be obedient to My way and My will for your life and you will see great things.

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

What Other People Think ~

August 21st, 11′ Fasting Journal Entry –

Holy Spirit – Do not worry what other people think.

Jesus Calling, “Waith with Me for awhile. I have much to tell you. You are walking along a path I have chosen for you…experiencing My glorious presence and heralding that reality to others…Do not worry what other people think. The work I am doing in you is hidden at first…Stay on the path of Life with Me. Trust Me wholeheartedly, letting My Spirit fill you with Joy and Peace.” inspired by 1 Kings 8:23; Galatians 5:22-23

John 14:27 ” Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” King James Version of the Bible.

You see I was dealing with a situation where I needed to make a decision about something. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings so I was planning on doing something just to make them happy. Inside I was very anxious about it. That is when I heard God’s Spirit say, “Do not worry what other people think.” I find it fascinating that it repeated exactly that in my Jesus Calling devotional that day.

August 22nd –

Spirit – Get up (6:25am)

Me – but I am still tired. My back hurts and I just got comfortable on my pillows.

Spirit – I have things to tell you

Me – Does He really? Did I really hear His voice?

Spirit – Lara come

So here I am out in the garage waiting on the Lord. A bird is chirping outside.

(now I have to let you know that a friend of mind told me about her experience with a spiritual advisor. She suggested that I might look into finding one for myself since I had been going through this fast and discovering some great things about God. I told her my music ministry was on hold during this time as I seeked God’s will for my life. It was very good advise, but I wasn’t sure. So I asked God to reveal to me what He wanted me to do)

I was impressed to read John 14:16 ” I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.”

I didn’t know what else God wanted to say so instead of waiting for an answer I took my Jesus Calling devotional

Spirit – stop

I put it away…In the silence He said, “I am your Counselor. You do not need another counselor. Listen for My voice and I will lead you to what you need to do next.

Me – What do You want me to do next?

(now you have to trust me. He told me what He wanted me to do next, but it hasn’t happened yet, so I am going to keep this information private. Hope you are not mad with me lol.)

Spirit – You are special to Me. I take delight in you my precious child. I want to use you greatly for My glory. Now trust Me and only My leading. I love you Lara.

Jesus Calling, “Trust Me, and don’t be afraid. You live in the midst of fierce spiritual battles, and fear is one of Satan’s favorite weapons. When you start to feel afraid, affirm your trust in Me. Resist the devil in My name, and he will slink away from you. Refresh yourself in My Holy Presence. Speak or sing praises to Me, and My face will shine radiantly upon you. Remember that there is no condemnation for those who belong to Me. You have been judged not guilty for all eternity. Trust Me, and don’t be afraid; for I am your strength, song, and salvation.” inspired by James 4:7; Romans 8:1-2; Isaiah 12:2

John 14:25-31 “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes