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Month: August 2015

SOLD OUT – Foreward by Scot Pollok

SOLD OUT – Foreward by Scot Pollok

FINAL Cover -Sold Out v4 copyA sigh of relief. Humbleness fills me. Today… SOLD OUT Live for Jesus is available for pre-order through Amazon! And, God receives the glory – for it’s all about Him and not about me. Below is the SOLD OUT Foreward by Scot Pollok, Faith Bible Church lead pastor in The Woodlands, TX. “Thank you, Scot, for taking the time to share your thoughts, wisdom, and heart with us.”

Without wanting to be a dark cloud or a killjoy, the unexpected truth is that these words could have been easily written at the time of the Apostle Paul. They would have been as accurate then as now.

Perhaps this is why books like the one you hold in your hand from Carla McDougal are so important. Sold Out is anchored in one of the greatest written statements we have from Paul. He wrote it to the infant church in the backwoods town of Philippi. He penned it in prison. The joy he expressed in this central statement and those that come before it speak to an unusual joy.

My dear friends, Paul says in my paraphrase, we are bonded together as a family because of Jesus. And I want you to know that just because I’m in prison, the power of the Gospel has not been shackled. I shared Jesus Christ with lots of the prison guards. They have believed and in turn shared it with others. The motives are diverse but I rejoice because Jesus is being shared no matter what. Yes, I am so very happy because no matter if I live or die, Jesus Christ is being celebrated and trusted.

Then it hits. In Paul’s own words, “for to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21. He says this is why I live. To spur others to trust and celebrate Jesus is my whole life! If I physically perish in this joyful adventure, it is only a good thing because I’ll be with Him perfectly.

The power of this statement has inspired countless men and women on to maturity, to mission, to martyrdom. It has been an anchor for the church throughout two millennia of shifting sands and seasons. It remains worthy of careful study, seasoned meditation and intentional practice.

What Carla McDougal does in this very accessible journey is to employ a thoughtful trajectory at a very lofty goal: to make Paul’s statement a livable reality today. With helpful tools in each section designed to contextualize application and inspire habits of personal engagement with God’s Word, Sold Out works like a tuning kit for your heart. Carla is not only one of the most joyful and spirited intercessors and teachers in our church family, she has worked very hard to encourage you with her latest labor of love. I sincerely pray it blesses you richly.

––Scot Pollok, Lead Pastor at Faith Bible Church, The Woodlands, TX

Once again, tears emerge as I read through this SOLD OUT Foreward by Scot Pollok. Pre-order your copy today through Amazon. And, once SOLD OUT releases (ebook – Sept. 1, 2015, and paperback – Sept. 7, 2015) please consider writing a review on Amazon.

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

FLIGHT OF FREEDOM – Robyn Whitaker

FLIGHT OF FREEDOM – Robyn Whitaker

Today’s Guest Blog is from Robyn Whitaker, founder of Inhale Ministries. Be blessed as you read her story of the Flight of Freedom

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I’m sitting at the window watching butterflies flutter amongst my Lantana. This bush, with its bright aromatic flower clusters, grows like a weed. And to my great delight, lures butterflies to my yard with its sweet nectar – so breathtaking to watch these silent beauties float gently upon the wind. To think, not long ago they were wormlike spending their days eating, growing and shedding their tight skin. Then one day quickly called to change.

Twenty-four years ago my own heart was called forth to change. I must say, I was a bit surprised. You see, left unaided during numerous childhood abuses, I believed the lies seared into my little girl heart. I didn’t need anyone. I thought I’d handled the pain with strong well-honed survival skills. Besides, no one wanted to hear those kinds of stories. So, I did as the church seemed to ask at the time and my perpetrators required – “forgive and forget it.” In reality, I had shoved all that pain deep down and the wounds began to ooze and beg for care. God knew it was time to begin my own transformation.

It has been quite the journey. One I am still traveling. I have discovered several truths along the way: transformation is a lifelong process best done in a community of fellow travelers; the body of Christ is intended to be a safe place for healing wounds. God delights in mending shattered souls, healing doesn’t come by ignoring the abuse, minimizing its complexities, downplaying its devastating impact, or putting on a tough façade while pulling up your boot straps to shut out the pain. And really, above all, we must know the “it” of what we are forgiving before we can offer such kindness. I do not believe in cheap forgiveness. It certainly wasn’t so for my Savior.

Inhale Ministries believes that everyone has a story. Everyone has a wound that needs to be healed. Without appropriate care, the deepest wounds of the heart continue to negatively impact ones’ present day reality and hope for the future. Wounds that are cared for in a safe environment have the hope of transformation through an encounter with Jesus. It is our hope to offer safe intentional spaces where stories of pain can be spoken with kindness and honor. We desire to foster redemption and healing resulting in whole- hearted living.

So, back to those butterflies…

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A few weeks ago the fourth generation of Monarchs ate their fill of milkweed, crawled to the top of my nester and seemed to painfully form a chrysalis. Within this sacred space, the old parts of the caterpillar underwent a remarkable transformation to become the beautiful parts that make up the butterfly that will emerge.   It takes time. Ten days later I witnessed the struggle for freedom. At last it slid from its refuge of change. It was glorious!

I am captivated by the transformation process – dying to the old life, the struggle to emerge a new creature and the stunning Flight of Freedom. A hopeful place for the soul to live, love and breathe!

1962114_10203329838711360_810092537_oRobyn Whitaker, founder of Inhale Ministries, a ministry which offers intentional spaces where stories of joy and pain can be spoken with kindness and honor. Robyn writes for Momology Magazine. She and her husband live in the Houston area.

Thank you, Robyn, for allowing your story to be used for God’s glory!

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

BACK IN SESSION – PRAY

BACK IN SESSION – PRAY

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My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep. they will speak to you. – Proverbs 6:20-22

Excitement’s in the air. Anticipation rises. It’s that time of year. School is Back in Session.

Who can forget their child going to “big school” for the first time? I remember that bitter-sweet day. I always knew the time would arrive, but nothing prepared me for the moment. Fear slowly replaced trust in God. As a result, my thought life spiraled out of control. Suddenly, God’s gentle and quiet voice spoke loudly to my heart…

Your child is first MY child. I ask you, as his mama, to be his Prayer Warrior. I call you to first love Me with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Teach My Word diligently to your child, and talk about Me when you sit in your house when you walk by the way when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

From this point on my focused changed. I asked the Lord to replace every worry or fear with a prayer. I asked the Holy Spirit to remind me to be my child’s prayer warrior and let him know how I am praying for him throughout the day. Peace and confidence in the Lord prevailed. Not because of anything I did, but all because of Jesus!

Like a bird in flight the elementary school years soared by. In a flash, junior high arrived and seemed to merge into high school. Then in a blink of an eye my children were off to college.

Where did the years go? Thoughts rush in… Did we teach them enough? What should we have done differently?

Taking these thoughts captive, God reminded me of what He taught me when my children were younger and away from home… to be their Prayer Warrior. Praying for them brings comfort, peace, and trust in the Lord. Year-after-year I find my prayers evolve, yet remain the same…

  • Elementary School – Will he make a friend? Will he eat all his lunch, or just the cookies and chips? “God, help him to love You with all his heart.”
  • Junior/Senior High – Will he make the right friends? Is he paying attention to the teacher? “God, help him love You with all his soul.”
  • College – Will he make some forever friends? Is he making the good life decisions? “God, help him to love You with all his strength.”
  • Adult – Will he allow Your Light to shine in him in the workplace? Will he put you in the center of his life and marriage? “God, help him love You with all his mind.”

Throughout the years, God taught me to pray for my children on a daily basis. He opened my eyes to a vital fact – as our children face life tests, moms face their our own set of challenges. Below are a few life lessons I’ve learned along the way…

  • To pray over my children no matter where they are in life.
  • Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit prompting when I pray for my children.
  • Continually pray for each child to love Jesus with all his heart, soul, mind and strength.
  • Finally, to let them know I am praying for them each day. This is one of the most inspiring and encouraging ways to spur them to develop an intimate relationship with Jesus.

PRAYER CHALLENGE

Take advantage of this new Back in Session season. Do you need a fresh start? Where are you in your relationship with God? In my Bible study, Reflecting Him – Living for Jesus and Loving It, I encourage you to find Jesus in your everyday activities. He is there for us twenty-four hours a day, and He wants to hear our everyday prayers. Call out to Him on behalf of your children. You may be the only one praying for them!

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

IN HIS HANDS

IN HIS HANDS

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Do you feel as if your prayers don’t make it past the ceiling? Does it seem like someone hit the mute button when it comes to your prayer life? Are you wondering why God isn’t answering your prayers?

Sometimes, in the silence, God is doing His greatest work.

Maybe you are at this point, “I give up! I’ve prayed for years for this prayer to be answered, but nothing… not a peep, not a word, not a sign, not an answer. I don’t think God hears me when I pray!”

When these thoughts seep in, take them captive and place them in the hands of God. We often fasten expectations to our prayers, like how and when we think they need to be answered. When these expectations go unmet, the feelings of disappointment and doubt begin to creep into our minds. Again, with a loud shout I say… take those thoughts captive and place them in the hands of Jesus!

As we pray, God wants us to give Him full access to do His will. For example, in a theater production, do they set up a scene behind the curtain or with the curtain wide open? Usually, the curtain is closed or the lights are off. As the curtain opens, the audience jumps right into the scene. Most of the time, we don’t even notice the backstage efforts of the crew. This is like God in action. He is always working behind the scenes, so when the curtain opens we enjoy the production.

Read this excerpt from my Bible study, Reflecting Him: Living for Jesus and Loving It, Week 7, Day 2…

In my early adult years, one of my pastors asked me to serve on a committee at church. With excitement and enthusiasm, I said, “Yes.” When I walked into the first meeting, I didn’t know a soul. After about thirty minutes, I realized one person dominated the conversation, and the more she talked, the more frustrated I became. Thoughts ran through my mind such as, There is no way I will serve on a team with this person!

A few days later, without praying, I should add, I decided to withdraw my name from the committee. A sweet Christian friend quietly challenged me to ask the Lord to help me see that person through His eyes. I resolved to pray, but with little expectation of changing my mind.

After a few more meetings, I realized my previous annoyances subsided. Amazingly, God started changing my heart, and I could then view my differences with her as a blessing. I grew to love her because of God’s gift of love! You see, the more I tried to control the situation, the more annoyed I became with the committee, and the more frustrated I became with our purpose for serving the Lord. I wanted things to change immediately, but God needed to teach me about waiting on Him. Once I relinquished control over the situation and started praying, God changed me!4

PRAYER CHALLENGE

Looking at today’s photograph, what comes to your mind? Now, read Psalm 40:1 with all of Psalm 5. What do you learn from these verses? Ask God to help you leave your requests in His hands. Trust that He hears your prayers. Believe that He is at work accomplishing His will. If Jesus can leave His circumstances in HIs hands, so can we!

I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. —Psalm 40:1

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

PLACE OF REFUGE

PLACE OF REFUGE

Somehow a bird ended up in our house. During our renovation process, we opened the doors to let the paint fumes escape. Before long, I was prancing through the house chasing a bird from room-to-room. He was desperately seeking a Place of Refuge.

Imagine this moment…

IMG_1856I’m running around the living room singing in a high-pitched voice, “Come on, little birdie, fly out the window. You can do it! Find your place of freedom.” In a flash, the bird flutters over close to the window and then vanishes under my prayer chair.

Grabbing a flashlight, I look under the chair––NO BIRD.

Moving the chair to the right––NO BIRD.

Without thinking, I screamed, “Oh no, the bird is up INSIDE my prayer chair!”

The little feathery creature found a small opening underneath and made its way to safety in the innermost part of my prayer chair.

Suddenly, God opened my eyes to a spiritual truth…

In life, when the unexpected happens and we feel trapped inside the walls of confusion, God offers Himself as our place of refuge. A place of comfort in the storms of life. He is already waiting and ready to commune with us through prayer 24/7.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me. For my soul trusts in You. And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge until these calamities have passed by. ––Psalm 51:7

By the way, after leaving the room, when all was quiet, the bird did find the window.

LIFE CHALLENGE

Are you seeking a place of refuge? Seek Jesus. He is waiting for you to run into His arms. Rest in Him. His love is everlasting. His grace is overflowing. His mercy never ends. Live sold out for Jesus.

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal, Founder of Reflective Life Ministries


COMING in SEPTEMBER… Watch for details!

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