Because This Season Needs A Response

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This is the beginning of the season of Lent. Lent is the period of preparation for the celebration of the greatest gift of hope and life to all mankind. The death of Christ on Good Friday and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. It is a 40-day period marked by prayer, fasting and abstinence, and giving.

As a Foursquare Pastor, it is not usually our tradition to observe this season in a similar fashion as some our friends in others churches do. However, I love a season designed to fast, to seek God and to hear from Him.

This is a season is a time to seek God to set some things aside that might get in the way of that activity. I found a list, and then added to it some things of my own to consider giving up this Lent and beyond:

1. Fear: God is on my side. In Him I am more than a conqueror.  (Romans 8:31-39)

2. Envy: I am blessed. My value is not found in my possessions, but in my relationship with God.( Psalm 73)

3. Anger: If I live angry, everything and every one will fuel that anger. I will chose to replace those angry feelings with love and compassion towards others and situations I cannot control. (Ephesians 4:26-31, Colossians 3:8)

4. Bitterness and Resentment: The only person I am hurting by holding onto these is myself.(Hebrews 12:15)

5. Blame: I am not going to pass the buck. I will take responsibility for my actions. (Psalm 32:5)

6. Gossip and Negativity: I will put the speak kindly and well when it comes to other people. I will also minimize my contact with people who are negative and toxic and bring other people down. (Psalm 15:1-3)

7. Comparison:I have my own unique contribution to make and there is no one else like me. (Psalm 139:14)

8. A Mindset of Poverty: Believe with God that there is always more than enough and never a lack. (Philippians 4:19)

9. Doubt: Believe God has a plan for you that is beyond anything you could imagine. The future is brighter than you could ever realize. (Jeremiah 29:11)

10. Self-pity: God comforts us in our sorrow so that we can comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (1 John 4:18)

11. Retirement: As long as you are still breathing, you are here for a reason. You have a purpose to influence others for Christ. That does not come to an end until the day we die. (Psalm 92:14, Isaiah 46:4)

12. Excuses: A wise man once said, if you need an excuse, any excuse will do. Let’s decide to do what we have been putting off.  (Romans 2:1, Joshua 1:9)   

  Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD. Proverbs 31:24

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Because This Season Needs A Response

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This is the beginning of the season of Lent. Lent is the period of preparation for the celebration of the greatest gift of hope and life to all mankind. The death of Christ on Good Friday and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. It is a 40-day period marked by prayer, fasting and abstinence, and giving.

As a Foursquare Pastor, it is not usually our tradition to observe this season in a similar fashion as some our friends in others churches do. However, I love a season designed to fast, to seek God and to hear from Him.

This is a season is a time to seek God to set some things aside that might get in the way of that activity. I found a list, and then added to it some things of my own to consider giving up this Lent and beyond:

1. Fear: God is on my side. In Him I am more than a conqueror.  (Romans 8:31-39)

2. Envy: I am blessed. My value is not found in my possessions, but in my relationship with God.( Psalm 73)

3. Anger: If I live angry, everything and every one will fuel that anger. I will chose to replace those angry feelings with love and compassion towards others and situations I cannot control. (Ephesians 4:26-31, Colossians 3:8)

4. Bitterness and Resentment: The only person I am hurting by holding onto these is myself.(Hebrews 12:15)

5. Blame: I am not going to pass the buck. I will take responsibility for my actions. (Psalm 32:5)

6. Gossip and Negativity: I will put the speak kindly and well when it comes to other people. I will also minimize my contact with people who are negative and toxic and bring other people down. (Psalm 15:1-3)

7. Comparison:I have my own unique contribution to make and there is no one else like me. (Psalm 139:14)

8. A Mindset of Poverty: Believe with God that there is always more than enough and never a lack. (Philippians 4:19)

9. Doubt: Believe God has a plan for you that is beyond anything you could imagine. The future is brighter than you could ever realize. (Jeremiah 29:11)

10. Self-pity: God comforts us in our sorrow so that we can comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (1 John 4:18)

11. Retirement: As long as you are still breathing, you are here for a reason. You have a purpose to influence others for Christ. That does not come to an end until the day we die. (Psalm 92:14, Isaiah 46:4)

12. Excuses: A wise man once said, if you need an excuse, any excuse will do. Let’s decide to do what we have been putting off.  (Romans 2:1, Joshua 1:9)   

  Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD. Proverbs 31:24

Honor and Gratitude

Orange_Rose_PNG_ClipartMothers Day 2015, and I am keenly aware that it can be a very difficult day for so many, with who live with reminders of loss and pain. I spoke with someone today that said they would just sit and cry and others who have told me that they just wanted to be alone to process the pain of that day.

Mother’s Day started as a day of honor, at its inception was a desire to set apart a day to show special recognition. Honor – I like that. To honor someone means to give them high respect, as that shown for special merit; recognition or esteem.

I think it is always a wonderful thing to honor someone who has done so much. Sacrificed so much. Loved greatly. Cared for you at great cost. Someone who has been a place of safety, wisdom, and comfort.

As I write those sentences, the faces of incredible women who never had children, raced through my mind. I think of the impact these ladies have had on my life and the lives of everyone around them. These are significant women, caring women, teaching women, loving women.

We usually give flowers to women on Mother’s Day, and it always reminds me that a flower brings beauty and a wonderful fragrance into a room just by its presence. It doesn’t have to do anything, a flower, just by being present, impacts the room, and changes the environment simply by being there. That is what women can do in the lives of those around them, in any capacity.

So whether you have had children or not, or this day is wonderful or painful. It is a day to honor you and the legacy of life you bring just by your presence in our lives and the lasting impact you leave.

These words from the third chapter of the book of Ruth, verse 11, were spoken to a childless widow many years ago, and yet are still true of so many today.

“Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.” NASB

“And now, my daughter, fear not. I will do for you all you require, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of strength (worth, bravery, capability).” Amplified

So as we remember our Mother’s, let’s also honor those women around us. Those to whom this day is painful and difficult and remind them that their life is making an impact in profound ways in our lives, and we choose to honor them.

Carrying Each Other To Jesus

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There is a familiar story in the Bible of a man who is paralyzed and is only able to lay on a mat. (Luke 5:17-20) He has some amazing friends who know that if they can get him to Jesus, He can heal him. His friends face several obstacles; the man is unable to move, and there are so many people crowding around Jesus they can’t get to Him.

He is a man paralyzed in his situation, and his friends know that his only answer is to be in the presence of Jesus, so they do whatever it takes to get him there. The obstacles are overwhelming and impossible, but this is a determined, creative, group of devoted friends.

They figured out that the area where Jesus is in the house could be accessed by tearing up the roof. So they create an unrequested skylight for the owner and tear up the roof and lower him close to Jesus.

This story has always had significance to me. In my lifetime, I have found myself in circumstances occasionally that paralyze me and take me to the mat. The situation is overwhelming, and I have found myself paralyzed and in desperate need of faithful friends. Friends that know how to be persistent and will persevere to get me to Jesus.

Then sometimes, I am that friend, which someone can call upon to tear up the roof for them. I have fasted, prayed and been faithful in prayer when friends ask me to stand with them in situations that have  paralyzed them to the mat.

So, over my lifetime I have been both at differing times, the one on the mat and the one carrying the mat. For the friends who have carried my mat especially in this last year, I am incredibly grateful. You can know with assurance; that I will be there to tear up roofs and carry you to Jesus when you find yourself in a situation that paralyzes you.

That is what friends do for each other.34_jesus-forgives-sins-and-heals-a-man-stricken-with-palsy_1800x1200_300dpi_2

Mighty Waters

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    He drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
    but the Lord was my support.

October 15th, 2013, I faced one of the most difficult days of my life.

I had breast cancer surgery and faced so many potential scenarios and some of them were really terrifying. My family rallied around me, my friends came to the hospital and prayed for the entire three hour surgery. Friends and family prayed, sent gifts, and food, I could not have made it without each and every person.

This has been a roller coaster year, I am never sure what to say when I am asked how I am doing now, because on one hand I feel healthy, but I have unpleasant reminders that this is a battle, tests every few months, constant discussions with Doctors and visits to the cancer clinic.

The biggest part of this battle has been in my mind, standing strong in the midst of fear and not allowing what others speak over me to define me. I have been rescued out of mighty waters and I am truly so grateful. I have so many great life lessons through this past year.

So as the roller coaster continues, I am determined to face it with the strength and peace that only God can give me. I have a deep gratitude for everyone who has stood with me in this battle, you have been a gift!

I have included pictures from October 15, 2013..before and after the surgery.

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May 2-3, 2014 Twain Harte Elevated to Excellence Conference

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Christina Williams  Phone: 714-978-2300
Email: info@elevatedtoexcellence.com

POWERFUL WOMEN’S CONFERENCE SET TO RETURN TO TWAIN HARTE AFTER SIX YEARS!
Elevated to Excellence brings a message of grace, forgiveness and hope to the daily, “real world” concerns today’s women and young ladies experience.

Elevated to Excellence, an International Ministry whose mission is, “Speaking to the Value of Every Person”, will be presenting a Women’s Conference at Chapel in the Pines, 18580 Cherokee Drive Twain Harte, CA 95383 on Friday, May 2nd, 2014 at 7:00pm and Saturday, May 3rd, 9:00am-5:00pm.

Excellence: “To be of great worth or quality; something of incredible value.” It is God’s love that transforms us into the excellent women God created us to be and our teachers, who are drawn from diverse walks of life and church background, are dynamic women who believe this message of finding a person’s value and purpose in Christ. Previous conference attendees shared about their experiences:

“Blessed, refreshed, renewed…” “It is a safe environment to bare the soul and become vulnerable to receive healing and strength from God.” “I’ve been able to recognize the value of and calling on my life” and “This conference profoundly impacted my life.”

Conference ticket includes: Plenary sessions with international speakers, Christina Williams and Shirley (Kunau) Bridwell, specialized breakout sessions with Patti Helzer, Sandra Bond, Judi Petersen, Kathi Winter teaching on such relevant topics as, “Finding Peace in His Presence”, “Wholly Dependent”, “More Than A Makeover”, “I’m Not Crippled, I’m Destined”, “Releasing the Impossible” and a special youth track for young ladies, ages 13-17, including, “You Are Valuable”, “Let It Go” and a “hands on” art workshop designed to experience a release of inner creativity by outward expression. Powerful worship with Grady Williams, transformational teaching and materials, lunch, fellowship and gifts for all ladies in attendance!

Inclusive ticket price for both days is $49.00, however an “Early Bird” registration is available at the value rate of $39.00 and accepted through April 25th. All youth tickets are $25.00. (Ages 13-18) Consider a monetary gift donation of any amount to “Vicky’s Girls” memorial scholarship fund and be a blessing to ladies who otherwise would not attend!

Registration begins at 6:00pm on Friday, May 2nd, and conference begins at 7:00pm. Doors open at 8:30am Saturday and conference begins at 9:00am. Dress comfortably and be prepared to be blessed!

To register, or for more information regarding this event and Elevated to Excellence, please visit our website at: http://www.elevatedtoexcellence.com, email: info@elevatedtoexcellence.com or call Christina Williams at 714-978-2300

A Message From Cathy Coppola, Elevated to Excellence Administrator

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Dear Friends,

As Pastor Christina Williams is courageously walking though this road to her victory from cancer, the finances from doctor bills and other related medical expenses are increasing.

Would you consider praying and giving to an E2E fund to help with the costs of these expenses? I know that both Pastor Christina and Pastor Grady would greatly appreciate anything we can give toward this. They so appreciate your prayers and all your loving support. This is another way we can stand beside them and help carry the burden they are under.

They are mighty soldiers for the Lord and completely trust in Him. They are wonderful examples of faith in action as they faithfully move through this time, all along keeping their eyes on the One who has called them His own.

Please pray and ask the Lord if He would have you give to this fund. Thank you!

“The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.”  Proverbs 11:25

Blessings to you all!

Cathy Coppola

PS – You may make contributions by check payable to Elevated To Excellence and mailing to:

Christina Williams

907 S. Hilda Street

Anaheim, CA  92806

Please designate ‘Medical Fund’ on the front memo of your check. 

Or through our website http://www.elevatedtoexcellence.com click the donate button. Just designate the donation for medical expenses.

Thanks again!

 

He Trains My Hands For War

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I woke up one morning recently with this phrase on my mind, ‘He trains my hands for war’, and looked it up in the scriptures immediately.

I found this nugget in Psalm 144:1-2

Praise the Lord, who is my rock.He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle. He is my loving ally and my fortress, my tower of safety, my rescuer. He is my shield, and I take refuge in him.

To train means to direct the growth or to form by instruction, to discipline, to teach, so as to make fit, qualified, or proficient, to make prepared for a test of skill.

During the next few days, I remembered  all the ways God had been training my hands for this war with cancer. The testimony of how He had walked me out of a fear of death and truly had delivered me from my fears.

My commitment to eating healthy all my life, so that the Doctor in LA could say, “Well we don’t have to get you healthy to fight this, because you have already been doing that”.

Little things like last year, reconnecting with my college roommate and getting involved with Mannatech and starting to take Nutriverus and Ambrotose, that help your immune system and cells with real food technology.

To this past May, as I was praying about doing an extended fast this summer, felt I needed to prepare for it by getting off of all sugar and grains. So when I got the Cancer Diet from the Doctor in LA, it had very few modifications to my present diet.

I remembered all the articles I have read this past year and research I had done that all led to dietary and exercise changes.

So I have seen God’s mighty hand on my life all along to train my hands for this war. He knew this day would come and that I would need all the strength that only He could provide for this battle. I feel up to this challenge and no matter what the outcome, I know that the hand of a loving God has prepared me for this. We have called our recent Elevated to Excellence Conferences, ‘Victorious’, and I now get to live this out in a whole new way.

Today is a day I have been dreading for the past week, as I will find out the results of the tests and what the panel of Doctors are suggesting to progress in treatment. I feel like there should be a pre-battle pep talk by someone on a horse, (maybe with their face painted blue like in Braveheart), saying how we will stand strong this day and we will taste victory at the end of the battle. But since that guy has not shown up, I will listen to Psalm 18:35-39…

You have given me your shield of victory.
Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping. I chased my enemies and caught them; I did not stop until they were conquered. I struck them down so they could not get up; they fell beneath my feet.You have armed me with strength for the battle; you have subdued my enemies under my feet.

Standing on the battlefield,

and very, grateful for your prayers,

Christina

Path Of Peace

Jesus came to earth….showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peaceLuke 1:79

A few weeks ago I heard the words from a Doctor no one ever wants to hear, “I don’t have good news.”  After several tests including a Biopsy, we sat in his office as he read the pathology. The lump they found during a routine Mammogram was cancerous, Stage 1.  I sat listening to him, I am sure in a bit of shock, thinking this does not sound like me, he must have this mixed up. He was very kind trying to reassure me with points to be encouraged about, but in the end he couldn’t say what I really wanted to hear.

When he left the room, Grady and I prayed, “Lord whatever name he said over me,  Jesus’ name is above that name and we trust in the name of Jesus.”

We sat listening to all the instructions for upcoming weeks, Cancer Clinics, decisions and discussions. All things I really didn’t want to participate in and could not really be happening.

But then, when I had time to be alone and hear the voice of the One who has promised in Psalm 112:7-8, “They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.” The Scripture doesn’t say we won’t have bad news, it does say we don’t have to live in fear.

I realized that so much fear is attached to that name and disease – Cancer. My life has been a journey of being delivered from fear and now I face my biggest challenge and opportunity. Presented before me is a fresh and very present challenge to walk boldly trusting in the One who has delivered me from fear. The One who has  allowed me to minister in so many nations and in so many diverse situations, beyond anything I could have ever imagined, and will continue to give me those opportunities until the day He calls me home.

The Lord on every hand is guiding me through this and giving me assurance that my strength and peace come from Him. I read the following scripture the other day and it so resonated with me that I read it in as many differant versions as I could find. In the end, I love this from the New Living Translation

Philippians 1:28-29

“Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.

So I am choosing to look at this as a privilege of learning to trust in the Lord in a whole new way. To see Him glorified through my life as I hold on and walk in faith and peace.

I would be so very grateful if you will pray for me and my family, as we travel this new road together. Yet another opportunity to trust in the One who holds us in His Hands.

I will keep you informed as we get more information. For now, I thank you so much for being our friend. I am grateful.

Lots of Love,

Christina

 

Elevated to Excellence Team Is Going to Bulgaria

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bulgariacollageA team from Elevated to Excellence is planning to go to Starra Zagora, Bulgaria to minister to women at a Conference there. The E2E Team is will gone from April 1 – 13, 2013.

We will be helping with a National Women’s Conference, teaching, praying and serving the women attending. We will also be doing work in villages with the Gipsy’s in the surrounding areas.

For many years Bulgarians suffered under communism and now the change to capitalism has been a difficult one. Since 1989 Bulgaria’s economic difficulties have led over 1,000,000 Bulgarians, including many qualified professionals to leave the country. They are so grateful that we are willing to bring a team to minister to the people there, and do any training that we can.

We will be looking to gather some small gifts to bring to the women there. However, one of the main ways our team can use support is in prayer. Christina, is the only one of the team who has ever been on an international missions trip like this, so we are asking for prayer support for our team as well for the ministry in Bulgaria.

We also have financial needs for this trip, the total cost is $2,500 per person which includes airfares, accommodation, insurance and food. If you are able to make a gift towards this you can make a tax-deductible donation to Elevated to Excellence with Bulgaria team on the check or go online at http://www.elevatedtoexcellence.com click donate and put Bulgaria in the description.

Thank you so much for your support of Elevated to Excellence, we are so grateful for anything you could do towards this missions opportunity.

Bless you,
The Elevated to Excellence Team