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