HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Thanksgiving is almost here! The time we set a side to thank God for the many ways He has blessed us. The time we remember that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” James 1:17. The time “we praise God from whom all blessings flow…”

But aren’t these blessings poured out on us everyday and not just one day of the year? So why do we only celebrate this great truth just once a year? I honestly don’t know. I do know I take God and His goodness for granted and am rarely in awe of how much He loves and cares for me. So while I’m sure I’ll still take these inspiring things for granted again in the future, TODAY I will try to purposefully have an attitude of gratitude that carriers over to the next day, and the next day and so on by finding something new each day for which to be thankful.

Here at Access-Life, Inc., Leanne and I are so thankful for each of you who have prayed, served and/or given to the ministry over the years. TEN YEARS IN FACT! This is a long time and while the journey may seem steep at times, we truly are thankful for Jesus who has saved us, strengthens us and helps us accomplish all He asks. It is is also so encouraging to have the help and support of all of you raising the ministry higher to go onward and upward – all in Jesus name.

AGAIN THANK YOU AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING.  :)

Roaring River of Life

You know I love that Christian camp song ” I got a river of life flowing out of me”. It goes on to say “it makes the lame to walk and the blind to see. Opens captive’s doors and sets prisoners free. I got a river of life flowing out of me”! So what is this amazing miraculous river in our lives? It’s Jesus and all the joy, peace, life and other promises He brings to us. :)

This in itself is an eternal well spring  for each of us as Christians but what is even better is when the fun parts of the song start squirting “gush, gush, gush” as this river overflows to those around us spreading God love in a “wet water ride” fashion.

You know God’s blessings are gracious benefits to our lives and can bring joy in some very fun ways. So today and everyday let’s let God’s river roar through our lives spreading His joy to others with a smile on our face and bringing a smile to their’s, too :)

2019 ETN Expo Update – 10th Anniversary Celebration

What an amazing 10th anniversary Expo celebration God gave us on Saturday! From the wonderful sunshine, great lunch by Shady Grove Methodist church [I had a tomato sandwich and a hot dog :) ] and awesome activities like the zip line, rockwall, animals, fishing, kayaking, dunk tank and more to the nearly 1,000 attendees, over 600 folks who received boat rides and over 2,200 bottles of water given out thanks to the Macedonia Missionary Baptist church, it was a HUGE GOD BLESSED SUCCESS.

It took a lot of hard work by a lot of people to set-up, execute and tear-down everything on Friday and Saturday but we know it was worth it as the smiles of joy on so many faces was a great reward. We were truly inspired seeing the Body of Christ come together and not only serve the community of East Tennessee but minister specifically to the individuals and families living with disabilities within the larger area community. God’s unexplainable economy of blessing and being blessed was the product of all those who prayed, gave, shared and served and it made a BIG DIFFERENCE in the lives of many in need of being touched by God in a special way that day.

There were local 13 churches, 11 area organizations and 12 regional businesses that came together for the outreach on top of all the wonderful volunteers that served, sweated and smiled that day. From First Methodist Dandridge and Jefferson City providing logistical and leadership support, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office providing free traffic support, Grant’s Chapel hosting our meetings and managing registration and New Freedom Missionary Baptist church bringing out 48 volunteers to First Baptist Dandridge and Lighthouse church collecting snacks, the Rutledge Fire Department providing water for the dunk tank, the Sunshine Shine Ambassadors dance performance and Tennova manning the first aide booth, it took the whole community to make the outreach happen. AND we want to put in a special call out to those who helped with set-up and tear-down. God knows who you are and you do too so THANK YOU for the extra help.

We have upload some special photos to the ETN Expo page on our website at http://www.access-life.org/etnexpo in case you’d like to see more smiles and things on social media are all tagged #ETNEXPO2019 and #accesslifeexpo so feel free to upload, download and share things there, too.

IT WAS TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING AND WHAT A MEMORY GOD GAVE US ALL THIS YEAR. :)

Growing Toward the Light

I like painting. I know I’m no Michael Angelo or Rembrant but I truly enjoy being creative and expressing myself through art. Most times I start a picture with an idea or simple plan of what I want to paint and pray that God will work through the creative process to not only help me put together a picture that glorifies and honors him but that helps me better connect to Him as He shows me glimpses of His love and light. This often happens immediately when I decide a picture is finished but sometimes the heavenly impressions and thoughts don’t surface for quite some time.

That is what God has been doing through this simple painting of a tree that I crafted about a year ago. I was always drawn to how the tree featured was not only basking in the light of the setting son but how it was almost smiling and leaning toward the source of these life giving rays. However, it was not until recently that God gave me the image comparison to us as humans being like the tree and God the life giving light that we so need and long for deep inside our hearts.

The Bible often uses trees as a metaphor for us as human and in fact one of my favorite examples of this is in the very 1st Psalm verses 1 thru 3: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.”

The Bible is also clear that God is not only love: “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16 but that He is also only light: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5.

However, beyond these parallels I began to see through this picture two important keys to life if we are to grow our lives towards the light.

First we must keep our heads up towards heaven and our eyes firmly fixes on the light which is Jesus. I love how in this picture the tree has a heavenward tilt looking up to the sun and the sun is shining down with a smile of love and blessing. I liken this to the first three verses of Colossians 3: “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” This sentiment is also echoed in the soothing hymn “Turn your Eyes Upon Jesus” which proclaim the truth that as you “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace”.

Secondly, we must lean on and even into the light if we are to grow above the negative, harmful, unwholesome and unholy STUFF of the world and walk in the light of Jesus’ love. Just as the tree in the picture above is leaning towards the nourishing rays of light, real trees in nature do the same thing. They most often grow high and tall to get above the canopy and closer to the light but they will if needed grow at an angle or even curved just to reach a clear opening to receive the sunlight it needs to survive and even flourish. I love how the hymn [can you tell I love hymns :) ] “Leaning on Jesus” directs us to lean on Jesus and we’ll be “safe and secure from all alarms”. Romans 12:9 puts it more directly this way: “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.”

All in all, I’ve found that when I strive to keep my mind set on the things above and rest on Jesus, my load is lighter, I experience more of His joy and His holiness is more evident. Then the sweet fragrance that is Christ can be an aroma that not only fills my life but draws others into the light of His love.

 

Do you feel called to be a leader?

Hopefully, those reading know we all have gifts, callings and work that God wants us to do and as the body of Christ no one person’s skills, talents and jobs are more important than anyone else’s. And we are all needed in order for the body of Christ to work properly and at it’s best. This includes followers and leaders both. :)

However, if you feel called by God to be a leader here are the basics of what He’s asking you to do: Go through, go through the gates, Clear the way for the people; Build up, build up the highway, Remove the stones, lift up a standard over the peoples. Isaiah 62:10.

First as a Believer having gone through the gate of Jesus, you must make it a priority to follow God and obey His commands to the best of your ability. By doing this you will not only be showing people the way but clearing the way for them to follow. If you can make good choices it will inspire others that they can do it. too.

Secondly, you must influence your environment in such a way that a road is raised up above all the yuck of the world that the people can walk on daily making it easier for them to follow Jesus. This task also includes removing tripping hazards and things that could cause people to stubble or even fall. You are to not only build up a highway but make it smooth and safe for traveling.

Lastly, you must maintain this way of walking in the light of Jesus’ love for people by setting a godly standard of following God’s commands, laws and statues. This will insure the work done continues to endure and produce fruit providing peace, hope and joy for those traveling on the way.

While this is all done for the benefit of the people you lead thru service, the strength, encouragement, comfort and joy among other things are all provided by God who continuously surrounds, protects, leads, guides and goes before you clearing and cleaning your path. If we let Him, God will do for us what He did for Joshua and the Israelites: But be assured today that the LORD your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. Deuteronomy 9:3.

So if you feel called by God to be a leader? GREAT. We need more godly leaders who will pray fervently first, obey God above the world and then see the following: I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars. Isaiah 45:2.

And if you feel called by God to be a follower. GREAT. We need more godly followers that will prayerfully think for themselves [as Believers we are all filled and guided by the Holy Spirit and should yield to His leading first] and then set out to follow God and accomplish whatever task He sets before you. :)