Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Stepping Out in Faith

Anyone who has talked to someone in the band about us going full time has probably heard the phrase, “We’re out of the boat now.” We all left our jobs back in June 2015 so that we could always be available to go wherever God opens the door for us. We stepped out on faith that God would provide our needs to go where He needs us to be. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do at first, but the more we have relied on Him the more He has blessed us. We are living proof that God will do what He says and will take care of His children.

When we stepped out we learned just what it meant to fully rely on God and trust Him in all things. In doing that God used it as a way to weed out those who weren’t ready to really go into full time ministry like He did with Gideon and his army in Judges 7. God told Gideon that he had too many men in his army and that if they won then the people would be boastful and say that they won and they wouldn't give God any of the glory. So first He had Gideon tell the men that anyone who was afraid should leave and 22,000 men left. Then God said there were still too many men and He told Gideon how to test them. He had Gideon take the men to the river for a drink and God said that anyone who put their head into the river to drink like a dog would needed to be told to leave, but those who used their hand to cup the water and bring it to their face to drink while they kept watch was to stay. Gideon was left with just 300 men. Think about that for a second. He went from having over 22,000 men to 300. Through Gideon’s obedience God was able to use just 300 men to defeat the entire Midianite army and deliver the Israelites.

When we started the band we had 14 members between those in the band and the family members that traveled with us. We are now down to just 8. God knew the hearts of the people and knew who was ready to travel and who wasn’t ready. He slowly pulled people from the ministry and replaced others till we had just the right group to go out and do His work.

Sometimes it feels like every time we would start to doubt what God is doing and second guess ourselves God just does something so amazing as if to say, “Don’t you get it yet? I got it!” He did that to Gideon too. He asked God for 3 different signs of confirmation before believing the God wanted him to lead the army and every time God gave it to him. Every time we say, “God are you sure?” He shows us that we are exactly where He wants us right now. When our singer left just 2 weeks before we were supposed to leave for a month long tour God gave us a new singer the NEXT DAY. The need was filled before we could even try to do anything about it.

If God calls you to step out in faith you can believe that He will carry you the whole way through. He will mark and guide you steps the whole way through. One of my favorite phases is "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called." Meaning you don't need to have it all to do Gods work. If He calls you to do something He will give you all the tools you need to do the job.

If you would like to read more about Gideon and what God did through him you can read his story in Judges starting in chapter 6.

Closing question:
What areas in your life has God asked you to step out in faith? Did you listen? What blessings do you think you either received or missed out on?

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Chains Holding You Down

"Break the Chains" has become the calling card for Never Forsaken. Everywhere we go Jim gives a brief testimony about himself and the whole team about the chains that God has broken in the lives of each of the band members. Those things that weigh us down, hold us back and that the enemy likes to use against us when we're weak. Everyone has a story and has chains that hold them in place instead of being able to grow in Gods plan. God broke Jim's (ministry leader/lead guitarist) chains of alcoholism with no program or rehab. His wife Lois (bassist) was freed from regretting things that she had done in her past before she was saved. Doug (drummer) stopped holding grudges against people who had wronged him. Gage (tech crew) was freed from an addiction to heroin.  Cristabelle (lead vocalist) was released from fear. Bob (sound engineer) stopped being quick to anger.

Myself? I had to think hard about that. It wasn't that I didn't think God was moving in my life, but because I didn't feel like I had such clear cut answer like everyone else did. And since I wasn't on stage with the band actually dropping the chains and sharing, I stopped trying to think of one. No one really talked to me about it anyway, so no big deal right? Well then Jim started calling me out in the crowed and telling people they could talk to me about my chains. Now I had to think of something. A few shows went by and still nothing came to me for what to say. I started to worry every night that someone would ask me and I'd have nothing to say. I really had to dig in and spend some one-on-one with God to figure this one out.

Finally He showed me. God has broken my chains of taking my self worth from other people rather than Him. I had always relied on my family, friends and people around me for my self-esteem and to tell me who I was. I would change my personality to fit the people I was around so that I would be accepted and people would like me. I realized that the reason why it took so long for me to see that was because it was a gradual change. It didn't happen all at once, it took some time. I really couldn't even say how long it took or when the last bits of that chain fell. I just know that changing how I saw myself and how I felt about myself was not something that I could do on my own. That was all God.

For some people, God helped them bust through their chains like an ax on the chopping block, mine took some more time with a saw working its way through the metal. I thought for a while that because I couldn't identify my struggle right away that maybe I couldn't say that God broke any of my chains. That just wasn't the case. It just took some time for me to realize that God doesn't always have to come though like a wrecking ball. Sometimes our chains are wrapped so tight around who we think we are that He has to work a little slower so that we don't get hurt in the process.

We would love to know what chains God has broken in you life! Leave a comment for us with your praise reports!

Monday, February 1, 2016

The One Who Truly Loves Us By Cassandra Burgess


            Valentine's Day is almost here and you know what that means. It is the time that we really focus on those we love and have in your lives. There are so many different kinds of love we can feel for others. For instance love for our family, friends, a spouse, our children or even co-workers is acknowledged and sometimes celebrated. For me, when I worked at a preschool, I had love for a group of kids that weren’t mine. But above all, there is the love for our Father in Heaven and the love He has for us the surpasses any kind of love we could ever feel here on earth.
        Whether a person has been a Christian their whole life or just became a Christian recently, they usually know the scripture John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that who ever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”

In one verse, the great amount of God’s love for us is summed up. It doesn’t just say that God loves us more than anything in the world. It says that God loves us so much that He was willing to give up His own son to come down to this sinful world to die for us and give us a chance to live in Heaven with Him for eternity. Even though I am not a mom yet, I can’t even begin to imagine giving up my only child to die for a fallen world knowing that there would still be people who wouldn’t believe that it ever even happened.
        But isn’t that the wonderful thing about God? He sent Jesus for the whole world! He didn’t send Jesus just for those who already believed, but also for those who didn’t and still don’t believe. The bible says in Luke 5:31:

Jesus answered them [the Pharisees] saying, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

That was the whole reason for Him to come down to the earth, to call the lost to the Father who loves each and every one of us.
    Love is a choice. God sets this example for us by sending Jesus. It wasn’t that He felt like it, He chose it. He chose to love us enough to send Jesus to the cross to die for our sins. We have to choose every day who we will show love to. On those days that my husband is really getting on my nerves and I am having a hard time liking him, I have to choose to still love him in those times of frustration. I choose to show him the grace that God shows to me every time I mess up.
Love is also an action. It’s doing things for those you love, not just saying that you love them. It’s knowing how to show to a loved one that you care by doing something for them according to their own Love Language. For those who don’t know, there are 5 different love languages; words of affirmation, physical touch, receiving gifts, quality time and acts of service. Everyone has a love language and that is how that person shows and receives love with others. I have to say that knowing my husbands love language is something that I am so grateful for knowing from premarital counseling. We are almost polar opposites when it comes to how we show and receive love. If I didn’t know that going in, things would have been a lot harder in our first year. But in knowing how God wired him, I am able to show him love in a way that he will understand even though it isn’t how I would want him to show me love.
In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 the Bible tells us all that love is:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.

I wish I could actually give credit for this next part because it was not my idea, but something I saw online that was shared a few times and I’m not sure where it started. This father was talking with his young daughter about a boy she liked in school. He told her to take this scripture and put the boys name where the word love is and see if it fit the boy's personality. When she realized that most of it contradicted his actions she started to rethink her feelings. Her father then told her to do the same with her name and think about her actions toward others. To me, this is our Heavenly Father giving us a reminder of how we should treat those around us.
Lastly, God is love. He is filled with love for us overflowing into our lives to share with others. He is the perfect example of love and the one that we should always look to. He’s love for us is the reason that we are even still here and can live with Him forever.

If you would like to learn more about love languages and finding out which one you have, here is a link with more information and a quiz you could take. http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

Romans 5:8
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us

I John 4:9-12
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

John 15:12
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Psalm 36:5
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds

Psalm 26:3
For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.

Jeremiah 31:3
The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

Friday, January 15, 2016

New Year… New Me…! By Cassie Burgess

Isn’t that what we always say? “It’s a new year so it’s going to be a new me!” We always make new resolutions to improve on ourselves and make this year “the best one ever!” Let’s list the typical ones shall we.
I will…
  • Eat healthier
  • Go to the gym more
  • Lose weight
  • Organize my living space
  • Be an all around better person
    While all of these and other resolutions are just fine, how many of us really stick to them? I will be the first to admit that I have all of these high expectations of what I will do at the beginning of the year and then fail to keep up with them. I last a few weeks and then old habits creep back in and the excuses start. “Oh I’ll get to that tomorrow’” and when tomorrow comes there is something else in the way, more important or, let’s be honest, we just too tired that day to do anything after work.
Sometimes I feel as though people put too many unrealistic expectations on themselves with their resolutions wanting everything to change and be easy and done by February. Then, when it’s harder than they realized, they give up. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with putting expectations on ourselves, that’s how we make and reach goals and move forward in our lives. However, when our expectations are too high and almost unreachable we are just setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment.
That is not how we are supposed to live our lives. God will always put challenges in our paths and push us to cling onto Him more, but He will never put an expectation on our lives that we will never be able to reach. He wants to see us grow and improve on our lives according to His plan for us. I will admit, this is a hard lesson for me. I have been working on for a while with setting goals for myself that I can really achieve instead of just setting goal after goal that I will never reach.
So here is my challenge for everyone, and for myself. Instead of making a list of resolutions, start with one or two and when you reach one then set another. For me, I’m going to do a long term resolution for this year.  I’m going to try to dig into the Word more and read every day, and I’ll admit I’ve slipped already, but it’s a new habit that I am working on.

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you" Declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

On Your Mark… Get Set… Merry Christmas!!!

On Your Mark… Get Set… Merry Christmas!!!

By Kisha Marie

Have you ever been laughed at when you were trying your best and still you came up short? When I was young and strong I was an athlete. I loved sports. I ran track, played volleyball, kickball. I was a cheerleader and a synchronized leg kicker of my high school band’s dance line. I even tried my hand at football. (Don’t judge me! LOL) While I enjoyed competing, I never was the best at any one thing and that was okay with me. I just had to be better than I was the day before, the event before… and not come in last place if I could avoid it. However I learned that this was not always going to be the case. Regardless of how I started I knew that if I just persevered to the end I would finish strong because it mattered to me and my team.

One of the most embarrassing events of my life happened when I was a teenager. I was at a track meet for novice competitors. It was a place where the non-elite could celebrate success and coaches could push their rising stars to new heights. Unfortunately, there was a mistake and it was not made in my favor. As a sprinter I was entered into the 100 meter race. This was one of my favorite events. Either you kicked butt or you got your butt kicked. There was no gray area. Almost as soon as the race begins, it is over.

So there I was, poised to burn up the track, finally getting my chance to win a medal for an event that I loved. I had been working hard and preparing for this moment for weeks. The starting shot rang out and I pushed off. My legs were pumping. My arms were driving. The only problem was… I was waaaay too slow. Everyone around me was charging ahead. All I could see was the back of their jerseys. Right then and there I realized my worst fear had come to pass. I was being left in their dust.

It was like being in a dream. By the time I was halfway down the length of the football field my competitors were ALL approaching the finish line. The crowd went from cheering everyone on to snickering, laughing and pointing… at me! I couldn’t believe my eyes. How did this all go so wrong? I was in shock. Embarrassed. Humiliated. But… taking my pride out of the situation, I realized how funny this must have looked. I couldn’t help but to burst into laughter myself. But I kept running. Laughing and running all the way to the finish line.

As I persevered to the end I could see all of the other runners exit the track. All of the time keepers peeled away from the edge of the field except for one. I knew that he was there to keep track of me. All of my team members turned their backs and walked away shaking their heads and laughing except for one. Yet while he was doubled over I could still hear him yelling “Come on Kisha! Keep going!” in between his visible gasps for breath between laughs. Every coach for every team had also turned away except for one. My coach was still standing on the sidelines… waiting… with a smile on his face. He eventually apologized to me saying that he accidentally placed me in the fastest heat instead of the slowest. Even though I was set up against impossible odds, he was proud of me for never giving up.

When the opposing teams had fallen away and it seemed like no one was watching. I had 3 people who were at the finish line keeping watch over me. I could hear cheers in the stands coming from the people who had watched me struggle to hold my head up and keep my form together until the end. It is that moment that has stayed with me through the years.

The Holy Bible tells us that over 2,000 years ago the prophecy of a savior was fulfilled through the birth of Jesus the Christ. Upon his birth an angel appeared to the shepherds in a field declaring his arrival and the heavens opened up and rejoiced. His birth was recorded in history.

Luke 2:1-21 New International Version (NIV)
The Birth of Jesus

2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.”

We celebrate the birth of Jesus because it is the event mankind had been anticipating. It is the fulfillment of prophecy.

Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Isaiah 9:6: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Micah 5:2: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

God’s love for us is a message of hope. When God saw that man was struggling to live a life was pleasing to Him He sent us a savior to capture the victory for our team.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” - John 3:16.  

Throughout His time on earth Jesus walked through life experiencing everything we do as human beings. However, He was the living Word of God (John 1:14). He was the sacrifice that God accepted in place of our sin.

Yes. I was a member of a state champion varsity track team. Yes. When it was my turn to represent the team I performed under pressure and did my personal best. Sometimes I even managed to win a few races. But there were many who came before and after me who helped the team to finish strong. It doesn’t matter if the odds are stacked up against us in life and it looks like there is no way for us to finish this race. Jesus has already captured the victory for our team! It is our job to keep pressing toward the mark knowing that God is on our side. Run like God is watching. Don’t sit on the sidelines of your own life and watch it go by. The coach (God) put you in the game the day you were born. Use the gifts and talents you were given to run the best race of your life. Be selfless and give everything you can, not because it is the Christmas Season but because that is what we are called to do. (Hebrews 13:16, Luke 12:33)   After all, it matters that you use what was given to you to be true to God, honor the Lord, and follow the guiding of the Holy Spirit.

On Your Mark… Get Set… Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Shift In Focus / Give Thanks

The holiday season is upon us! You know what that means... long lines, grumpy faces, smiling children and a mix of family, friends and lots of parties and festivities. Bring on the happy. I love this time of year! However, this time of year also brings sadness for many. It can be a reminder of loved ones lost, loneliness and heartache. For this reason I have decided to shift my focus from normal routines to finding new ways to show gratitude to people I have not seen or spoken to in a long time before the Thanksgiving holiday arrives.

Over the next few weeks I will be sending thank yous and shout outs on Facebook and in the mail to as many people as I can while I am on the road. Taking the time to think of others will provide me with the opportunity to be a blessing to others and to focus on doing the will of the Father.

We must endeavor to honor God and giving thanks in the midst of all situations and circumstances in life.

How many of us have heard what is commonly referred to as the Lord’s Prayer? This is a prayer taken out of the book of Matthew when Jesus was distressed about his circumstance and what will be required of him in offering up his life as a sacrifice for us. He stops all other interactions and prays to his father in heaven. We can see here that he has shifted his focus from his difficult circumstances to focus on the will of God.

Matthew 6:9-13King James Version (KJV)

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Even though the holidays can be a tough time to get through, you can shift your focus onto the Father in heaven. Focusing on seeing God's will be done in your life and those around you will help you to approach your days with purpose and thanksgiving while you wait to see the will of God revealed.

We are instructed in to

1 Thessalonians 5:18King James Version (KJV)

18 In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

But what does it mean to give thanks "...in all things..."? It means to stay focused on God and what He has done and continues to do for us daily and seeking to fulfill the plan he has for our lives while we are going through every stage of life. Even when terrible things happen we can press through by thanking God for the smallest thing in our lives to the largest that are right. Don't get stuck on what is wrong. Look for and seek out what is right around you. Giving thanks will take you from a place of being defeated by life to a place of peace that only God can give. This happens when we follow his most basic of instructions.

I will begin my journey into the holiday season with joy and thanksgiving not because of the time of year. I will enter into this time of Thanksgiving seeking to share more gratitude and extending grace to others.

But first...

Lord, I am here at the table of your mercy hoping with all that I have that you hear my heart’s cry. I only want more of you, to do your will and for your to guide me. Don’t let me be distracted by my circumstance. Don’t let me be discouraged by the way things seem to be. I trust and believe my beginning is not my end. Lord make a way for me to stay faithful I pray. The desire of my heart is to see your glory manifested in my family, friends and all the earth. Thank you for being the God who first loved us in the midst of our sin and saw something worth saving. Thank you for sending us your holy word so that we may grow closer to you and learn how to be a blessing to others.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Layer Up… It’s Cold Out There by Kisha Marie

It’s that time of year again. Fall is here, a time of harvest. The leaves are beginning to change. The air is swift and crisp. The food we eat begins to take on new life introducing seasonal spices, fruit and vegetables that were not a part of the menu before. The menu becomes more hearty, filling our bellies with heavy food with robust flavors. For those of us who live in the cooler climates, we are starting to add layers to our clothing, seeking warmth as we progress through the day. But if you are like me, before you leave the house you stop and ask yourself this question… “Am I forgetting anything?”

It never fails, when I finally get ready to go I end up running back into the house 2 to 3 times to grab something I left on the way out. Just this morning I was reading an article on adult ADHD recognizing many things about myself and loved ones that gave me pause. Maybe this was the reason why I can never get out of the house when I intend or and often doing many things at once. It was until several hours later that I realized that I forgot to press send and share the article with my family. Go figure. SMH

Did you know that the word remember appears more than 200 times in the bible? This was news to me. God’s word often refers to memories as promises issued and kept by God. There are also promises written that we are waiting to see fulfilled.

Genesis 30:22  NKJV
Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.

Exodus 13:3  NKJV
[ The Feast of Unleavened Bread ] And Moses said to the people: “Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten.

Hebrews 13:3  NKJV
3 Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.

Hebrews 10:16-18  NKJV
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,”[a] 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”[b] 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

God has been laying it upon our hearts as believers to grow in faith, read our bibles and share with one another about the amazing things He is doing in our lives and the lives of those we know and love. Take a look at what it says in Ephesians 6:10-18 about putting on the whole armor of God. He is giving us the tools we need to be reminded of his love for us. He is giving us warnings about the dangers that may lie ahead in our path. He has even given us the tools to stand in the face of disappointment, frustration, and danger.

Now more than ever, Christians are coming under attack. It is once again becoming dangerous for those who believe Jesus and his death and resurrection being a pardon for our sins to proclaim this truth. We must remember, however, that we are not to shrink into the darkness and deny what we believe. We as believers are called to share the good news with others in a loving manner so that they may come to know God’s love for them. In John 9:5 and Philippians 2:15 we learn that if we follow the example of Jesus we walk in his light and become a light to others.

As we usher in the fall season and put on our layers of clothes for the season, let us remember to put on the whole armor of God. This is a great time to love and serve one another without grumbling or complaining as we do it. Give food and shelter to those among us who are in need. Doing so with a glad heart in serving to the glory of God. (1 Peter 4:8-10). Remember to prepare our hearts and minds to enter the world each day and not just our bodies. The bible reminds us in Matthew 4:4 that we cannot survive on bread alone. Matthew 4:4 NKJV But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” We must nourish our spiritual being with the word of God so that we may truly live. Remember to “...stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere” (Ephesians 6:18). Be a beacon of love, light and truth to those in darkness. Before you run out of the house, stop and ask yourself, “Am I forgetting anything?” Remember God. Put on your armor. Layer up. It’s cold out there.


You can find more instances of remembrance in the bible by going to www.biblegateway.com and typing in a search for the word “remember”. It is a great resource for anyone who wants to see what the bible says about many different topics.