Purpose


"God didn't send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what He has done, collecting a following for Him" (1 Corinthians 1:17)

I Can Be Found

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Formula to God

who is invited

There are many so-called formulas out there that can make us wealthy, successful, thinner, prettier, popular. Yet the one thing we seem to want most is the formula to God’s favor.

There seems to be a great need for a formula to God. If it weren’t so, Christians wouldn’t be writing blogs on “steps to growing closer to God,” or books on how to “activate the power of the Holy Spirit.” We are desperately seeking ways to find God or build a deeper relationship with him. But there’s a problem with all of that.

We could easily find thousands of those formulas by listening to Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Joseph Prince, or Dr. Charles Stanley. But have you ever followed those formulas only to come up empty handed; maybe even feeling a bit betrayed by God  and His Word?

A few years ago, when my husband and I were going through a very difficult financial situation, I would confide in people I considered to be godly advisors. Every time they suggested their formula, I would respond, “We did that…we did that…we did that.” We did it all. We spoke scriptures over our situation. We fasted. We leaned in deeper to God. We studied the Word. We gave our time. We tithed. We prayed. We cried out to God. We helped people. We loved others. We “did” a lot.

And when we—Christians—find ourselves lost in our circumstances, it’s easy to look to Christian leaders who claim to have all the answers and solutions to our everyday problems. But how many people who follow those formulas actually find the answers? Sure, we hear a story here and there, but if those formulas worked for everyone, then we wouldn’t need the constant sermons on what to “do” to earn God’s favor and blessings.

I could quote about a hundred scriptures right here, right now, that seem like formulas to earning God’s love. Preachers love those scriptures, and Christians devour them in hopes of finding “life abundantly.”

However, it’s those very formulas that end up creating tainted Christians. The ones who—like me—end up saying, “We did that…we did that…we did that! We did it all! We are good people who give love freely, who give our money to those in need, who sacrifice our time and resources for others, who pray and fast, who cry out to God. We ARE those Christians. Yet we don’t see the blessings in our own lives. Why?”

Many would claim we have sin in our life, or that we just aren’t spending enough “quality” time with God. Others would insist it’s because we no longer tithe—because we can’t afford to, but we do “give” our money to various charities and people in need. I don’t get up early enough, or I don’t spend hours reading the Bible. I don’t know who I am in Christ. I don’t know God. I have no faith. I don’t believe. I don’t know my own authority. Oh, I could go on and on with all the things I do wrong that’s keeping me from God. But the truth is…I’m much like Job. I don’t know why God has chosen me to suffer the way I have/am. I don’t know why God seems so distant and silent all the time. I just…don’t know.

I’ve tried all the formulas. I’ve spoken God’s Word over my life and over my circumstances. Nothing changes. I’m not saying that we should stop doing that, but I’m just saying, it’s not a formula for absolute success. If God has a plan for us in poverty, then nothing—and I mean, NOTHING—will change God’s plan. If this is the life God has intended for me, I can’t change that with special formulas or scriptures. I just have to learn how to accept it…to be content with the life I’ve been given, good or bad.

“Be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).

If the formulas worked for you, CONGRATULATIONS! But please—PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE—don’t insist that it can work for others, too, because it may not. It just might not work for someone else, and then all you’ve done is piled more pain and suffering on someone who is already hurting. And worse yet, we may end up making that person feel resentful and bitter towards God. I know I felt that way—and still do sometimes. I hear what people have done and try it myself with no success, and then I begin to doubt God’s love for me. I automatically think God is favoring them over me and I feel worthless and unloved. And it really turns into an ugly scene between me and God that is often very hard for me to escape.

There are no formulas to God. There is only a plan and purpose to every minute detail of our lives. Your life may be blessed beyond anything anyone could ever imagine, but someone else’s life—like mine—may never experience those kinds of blessings in their entire lifetime. And I guess the reality of that situation is that it’s between them and God, and no formula in the world will ever change it.

NOTE TO SELF: There are no formulas to God, so stop looking for one. God’s grace is sufficient.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Be the Blessing

share what you have

Recently my husband suffered a mini stroke without knowing it, and on his way driving home, he then had several seizures, which led to a series of accidents—fortunately no one else was involved or hurt. After a week’s stay in the hospital, he was out of work indefinitely until the neurologist could figure out if this was a rare occasion, or a newly developed seizure disorder. My husband had to file for short term disability through his job, but unfortunately, the insurance company didn’t process his application when they switched over to a new computer system. That left us nearly six whole weeks without any income whatsoever!

I had posted about our situation on facebook and tons of people offered up heartfelt prayers for us. While I really appreciated those sentiments, it didn’t change our circumstances. Why?

When we pray for others are we overlooking our role as God’s servants?

We are called to be a blessing to others. Paul said to the Philippians, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (2:4).

Today, Christians have secluded themselves from that line of thinking. In fact, we are all too often seeking our own selfish interests and forgetting that there is a whole world of hurting people out there. Yes, many of us sponsor a child in some far off land, and some of us tithe our 10% faithfully, but we then tend to overlook the people in our own lives, or our neighbors, or acquaintances we have on facebook. We think, “I’ve already given to ‘so and so’…”

During those first few weeks with Jared out of work, only one single person offered real, tangible help; the kind of help that put food on our table and helped us pay a few of our smaller bills. One person. One. But everyone was “praying” for us. They were praying for a breakthrough. For financial blessing. For our bills to somehow get paid. For food to miraculously be put on our table. All the while many who prayed forgot who had the power to help: them! We didn’t witness any miracles. We didn’t see our bills get paid, in fact, we’re now months behind and will possibly be losing our home.

God said, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to [Me] (the Lord), and [I] will repay him for his deed” (Proverbs 19:17).  And He also tells us, “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).  And yet again, “Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land’” (Deuteronomy 15:11).

God blesses others through us. He uses us to answer prayers! So if we are lifting up prayers “Oh please help them with…” and we make no effort to be a blessing to them in return, the prayer goes unanswered. If no one is heeding the call, blessings are a thing of the past.

And you may be saying to yourself, “Well, I’m in need too, I can’t give to anyone else in need.” Well, I beg to differ with you.

I just mentioned how far in debt we are now because of those three months my husband was off through disability, but yet recently a very dear friend of mine had no money for groceries, so I gave her food from our freezer and then went to the store and spent the last $50 we had to give her things the food shelter couldn’t give her. And because she doesn’t have a car, I’ve offered to take her to her appointments. I don’t do this because I want or need something in return, nor do I do it in hopes God or the world will see it, but because I know it’s the right thing to do, even if it means it’s a sacrifice for me. I can no longer wait for the financial blessings in my life, in order to be a financial blessing for others.

Let me put it this way: Imagine if a “friend” of yours on facebook mentioned that she had no food for her family and she was truly struggling to make ends meet. What helps her most, saying you’ll pray for her, or offering her the help she needs? Sure we should pray, but shouldn’t we help, too? Who’s to say that even if you—and everyone else who may have read her post—only had $10 to offer what would happen if everyone on her friend’s list gave her $10? Imagine what a BLESSING that would be for her!! But what if someone had more to give, and someone only had a few dollars to offer? It’s still a blessing where God receives the ultimate glory! But too many people are missing out on showing God’s mercy and love.

“Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors Him”(Proverbs 14:31).

Are you insulting your Maker, or are you honoring Him?

YOU need to be the blessing. You can’t rely on others to do what God has called YOU to do. You can’t pray for others without searching within your own heart to see what God is asking YOU to do for them.

Today: Be the blessing!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Come On Over

Feel free to continue on my journey at my personal blog page. I will be sharing devotionals, scriptures, revelations, recipes, Project Life updates, craft projects, and my adventures in homeschooling Tavin.

http://tristinedenise.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

So What to Say What


My last blog was posted back in March. As many of you know who had been following me, I felt a prompting from the Lord asking me to “step away from the blog.” So I obeyed. Now I’m feeling led back to it, to open my heart again to share His heart with you.

There are many things going on in my life. Some of you know the ministry my husband and I are collaborating on as you’ve been following along on my facebook page. We’re still working on developing a more professional website for that, but in the meantime, I’m going to get used to writing again. (If you’re interested in hearing a sample of what we’ve been working on, you’ll find a download link at the bottom of this blog.)

Back in July, I decided to join an online bible study group, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God. I joined mainly because after giving up my writing, I became confused and frustrated. I wondered if I had actually heard God or if I had been deviously deceived.

Last week was the first week of the study and I felt compelled to get back to blogging with the blog hop the study offered, but instead I resisted the calling and kept quiet. This week…not so much!

Before I tell you how my “So What!” moment became a, “SAY WHAT!?” moment, let me give you a very brief background of what God had me do.

Our neighborhood is getting progressively worse. The home my mom had transferred over to us in her will was not upheld by the bank, so we have been paying into this house for over four years for nothing! After the bank told us that we would basically have to get a “new” loan for the house, we decided that we’d much rather get a loan for a home we love, in a neighborhood that’s safe.

Needless to say, we have run into countless obstacles trying to get a loan after we found the home we absolutely fell in love with. I felt God nudge me to make an offer to the owner for a land contract or a rent-to-own option, since it’s been sitting empty on the market for over two years! The owner took his sweet time responding, but in the meantime, God kept telling me to do very specific things.

Last Saturday He had us drive around the neighborhood and in the alley behind the home as we prayed. Then on Sunday, God had us do something terribly embarrassing: As a family, we went back to the house, joined hands, and walked around the home seven times praying specific scriptures. This was NOT a “name it and claim it” activity. We were simply seeking God’s perfect will, believing we were led to do this. (We honestly believe this house is meant for us!)

During our week long waiting period, God kept reminding me about Moses vs. Pharaoh, which was not an immediate positive response. It took a great deal of time…and ENERGY by God for Pharaoh to let “His people go.”

On Monday I received the bad news: the owner wasn’t interested in our offers and said that he’d rather have a “clean sale.” While I was instantly heartbroken, I felt God tell me that this was not the end of the story and not to give up hope. But I didn’t want to keep hoping. I’m not very good at it, and my track record has proven that hope doesn’t fit in my life story.

So after watching Wednesday’s (Sept. 14) study video, I was virtually slapped across the face as Nicki talked about, “so what vs. say what.” And then it dawned on me…

SO WHAT if we didn’t get the house! Yes, we are extremely disappointed and heartbroken, but we honored God with all our heart, mind and strength! I sought Him and put all my faith in Him. I believed God asked me to do all that we did. And that’s how it became a…

SAY WHAT moment:
  • I listened
  • I obeyed
  • I trusted
The outcome shouldn’t have surprised me. I had a feeling—or should I admit, God told me—this would happen. God again reminded me of Pharaoh and how He hardened his heart and brought about the  plagues to “move” Pharaoh to finally release the Israelites. It was during that time that God was able to “show”, or prove, to Israel that He was a God in control, a God of miracles, and a God of His Word. A God who wanted to make Himself known to a generation who had forgotten Him.

Israel was disappointed and felt that Moses and “his God” were only making matters worse for them, but the final outcome was absolute freedom and victory! It took time, and it took countless loving opportunities by God to reveal Himself to His people again. Through it all, God received the glory and honor He deserved.

I am disappointed, but I will not become discouraged.

I am sad, but not broken.

I refuse to let this make me feel hopeless.

And if in the end we still don’t get that house, so what! I know that I honored God with my whole heart, mind and strength.
“When they witnessed [God’s] incredible power…they trusted in Him” (Exodus 14:31).
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
 

Ministry Sampler

A little teaser on the ministry Jared and I are working on. God speaks. I write. Jared composes. It’s God’s Word to music.

“Listen” to Creation: click here!

Copyright © 2013 by Jared & Tristine Fleming
All rights reserved. No part of this composition may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including  recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher. For permission requests, please use the “Contact” form on this blog.

Friday, March 1, 2013

My Last Blog Post

I was a bit of a wild child in high school. I spent my last year of junior high and my first year of high school partying, and rarely saw a day inside a classroom.

When I decided I better get my high school diploma and attend classes, I was forced to take a creative writing course as part of the general education curriculum. I revolted against the class in the beginning, huffing and puffing, being sarcastic and rude. But a funny thing happened a few weeks into the class: I started listening and doing the work. I was actually having fun writing.

My teacher approached me one day after class and suggested that I try to publish my poetry. I literally laughed in his face. Upon graduation, he set up a private meeting in his classroom after school one day. He sat me down and presented me with a brochure for a writing program at Columbia College in Chicago. Again, I laughed in his face. However, he was serious. He was determined to convince me that I was…a writer.

Throughout my life that story stuck with me. I eventually did attend UW Parkside and Columbia College Chicago as a Writing major. Every teacher I had was incredibly impressed with my writing and often suggested that I pursue it with gusto.

Over the last two decades, I have proven myself to be…a writer. Freelancing, writing for national companies, publishing a novel, writing for music magazines, ghost writing for Christian ministries. And yet, here I am. Spinning my wheels some thirty-odd years later, no closer to being a writer than I was the day my teacher sat me down in that empty classroom. I remember what I told him that day, “That’s for other people. Not people like me.” And I was right.

I have been writing this blog for over two years now, and while I’ve done everything I know how to get my name out there, hooking up with affiliates, signing contracts with blogging businesses, joining every social network imaginable, nothing has happened. The fruit is not there. I have spent the last thirteen years sending submissions for novels, devotionals, articles, you name it…and I have nothing to show for it.

I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m doing what I’m feeling led to do by the Holy Spirit. For the past year something has not been right for me with this blog. I tried changing the format over and over and over in hopes of increasing readership, seeing people get saved, or opening the eyes of those who are so blind by their own ideas of what Truth means. While there are a select few who have remained utterly faithful to this blog, the numbers don’t lie. As blogs about cooking and Mormonism and crafting see benefits beyond my imagination, my site is not making it. It’s not even coming remotely close.

I won’t lie. I’ve felt resentful at times. I’ve felt betrayed by God often, wondering why He gave me this gift if He won’t bless it and use it and allow me to earn income from it. But I need to get past that hurt and face the reality of my situation. There is no fruit here. This tree is dead. Withered up. Shriveled to pieces.

What this all means for me and my future, I don’t know, because since that fateful day in my creative writing class I have always considered myself…a writer. Maybe God never intended me to be a writer. I don’t know. But I keep hearing God tell me, “Be still. Know that I Am God. Wait.” So I’m doing just that. I need to be still and wait. For the first time in my entire life I am surrendering EVERYTHING I thought I knew about myself, and all that I thought I was to God, and trusting Him fully. It’s all I can do now.

This is Tristine Fleming signing off…

Don’t forget: Jesus DOES love you! Every single one of you!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Crown in Exchange for Ashes



God has sent me to give them a beautiful crown in exchange for ashes,
To anoint them with gladness instead of sorrow,
to wrap them in victory, joy, and praise instead of depression and sadness.
People will call them magnificent, like great towering trees
standing for what is right.
They stand to the glory of the Eternal
who planted them.


Isaiah 61:3 (The Voice)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Misfitting

Please join me today over at Sharon King Dudley's ministry page. I have shared a hard lesson about dealing with rejection and the ways of our world today. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

February 15: For Love is of God

LOVE NOTE FROM GOD: Beloved, love one another, for love is of Me; and everyone who loves is born of Me and knows Me. (1 John 4:7)

soft hearts

My Beloved,

I know it’s not always easy to love others, especially those who make you believe there’s not much about them to even like a little. But see, you all have flaws and quirks. Sometimes—on those bad days of yours—someone may find it hard to love you, too. Keep in mind, though, that love comes from Me. It originated in my creation of you. It stems from my desire to take care of you, flaws and all. I never gave up on you and never stopped loving you just because you had a bad day, a bad week, or even several bad years. No, I loved you even more through it all.

Those who are hurting the most seem to be the ones you reject the most. Those who are scarred and desperately trying to find answers. They need Me, and you are their link to Me. Through your love for them, you lead them to the cross of My Son, who took all their pain and suffering so they may know life to the fullest. But if you don’t love them, even at their worst, how can they believe that I love them, too? I love them, so please love them too.

Show the world My love by loving them, even on their worst days, just as I love you on yours.

Love,

God

Thursday, February 14, 2013

February 14: The Bride of Christ

LOVE NOTE FROM GOD: “Because I delight in you and your land will be like a wedding celebration. For as a young man marries his virgin bride, so your builder marries you, and as a bridegroom is happy in his bride, so am I happy with you.” (Isaiah 62:4b-5)

be mine balloons

My Beloved,

Will you be Mine for eternity? Will you be faithful and true? I vow to be yours, and I promise, as a bridegroom to his bride, that I will never leave you nor forsake you, that my faithfulness is as sure as the sun will rise! Let’s celebrate our love today! Let’s rejoice as our hearts become one! Today is the day to say, “Yes, My Love, I will be yours! Always and forever, I will be Yours. My love I vow to you, in good times and bad.” And when you do, I promise to make you new and whole again, to restore all that has been lost or taken, to cover you in grace and mercy, to make you clean and white as snow. Celebrate My love for you today…and everyday from this moment on.

Be Mine,

God

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

February 13: Our Protective Father

LOVE NOTE FROM GOD: “When I saw the trouble you were in I heard your cries for help. I remembered My covenant with you, and immense with love, I took you by the hand. I poured out My mercy on you…” (Psalm 106:45-46a)

crying girl

My Beloved,

Don’t ever fear that I don’t hear your cries. They pound and echo in my heart, and I cannot resist My aching desire to comfort you and make things right. I Am a protective Father who never forgets that you are Mine, always and forever. My hand is always outstretched, ready to hold you and guide you with mercy and grace. I see how the enemy attacks, and while he may appear strong, he is weak and beaten. My love for you is fierce and relentless, and will always win over any evil that tries to come against you. Just believe that I see and I hear, and that my covenant with you cannot be broken; but more importantly remember that the battle is not yours, but Mine, and I have already overcome the world!

Will you be Mine?

Love,

God