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FRESH START – 2016

FRESH START – 2016


 If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.
–2 Corinthians 5:17

Fresh start. New beginnings. Forgetting what is behind and pressing forward. What does this really mean: The old has gone, the new has come?

For some, it means a new commitment, like a New Year’s Resolution––regular exercise, eating healthy, following a daily routine, changing an attitude, using self-discipline, modifying an old habit, or reading through the Bible in a year. But is there more to it than just making physical life changes? Absolutely. Digging into God’s Word, the Bible, gives us a greater understanding of God’s Truths. Let’s examine Philippians 3:12-14.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Paul is writing to the church in Philippi, to believers in Jesus. Paul is not talking about working his way to a position in heaven. He secured this spot the minute He trusted in Jesus. Paul focuses here on the condition of His relationship with Jesus and becoming more like Him every day.

Paul is clear to point out that his past sins would always be before him. But he refused to let them dictate who he was in Christ. Prior to Paul’s face-to-face encounter with Jesus in Acts 9, his job was to arrest followers of the Way––followers of Jesus Christ. More than likely, etched in his memory were the innocent Christians he witnessed being stoned, imprisoned, persecuted, and even beaten to the point of death. But because of Jesus’ forgiveness, Paul was freed from his past. Every day, Paul chose to live in victory, not in defeat because of his former life.

What a beautiful picture of God’s love, grace, and mercy! Paul encourages us, as we mature as Christians, to press forward in living sold out for Him. We are forgiven––past, present, and future. Filled with hearts of forgiveness, we are new creations in Christ. The old has gone. The new has come. Don’t allow the enemy to throw the guilt of the past onto you. Leave it at the foot of the cross. Jesus paid it all. A fresh start awaits you each day. Rest in Him.

LIFE CHALLENGE

Do you live in defeat? Does guilt invade your heart and mind, or do you press forward accomplishing God’s purposes in your life? Begin by asking God to give you a heart of forgiveness for yourself as well as others. It is vital to trust and believe what Paul proclaims… the old has gone, the new has come. The moment you said, “yes” to a relationship with Jesus, He sent His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to live inside of you. The Spirit sealed the deal with a mark that says, “This one is Mine!” As a believer, you can never be snatched out of His hand. Now, you are equipped to live sold out for Jesus. Believe it. Know it. Live it.

Excerpt from SOLD OUT: Live for Jesus, Pg. 42

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal


Check out Reflective Life Ministries newest Movie project

STRONGER

2016 SCRIPTURE HUNT

2016 SCRIPTURE HUNT

Image 11 - Scripture Hunt

Young. Married. Graduate school. Just enough money to make it through each month. I worked full-time while my husband, Fred, labored diligently to complete his graduate degree while working as a professor’s assistant. Despite our meager income, our relationship strengthened. Just the two of us, satisfied and secure.

From the beginning of our marriage, we set our life plan––or so we thought. After graduation, our goal was to find a job, build a savings account, and start a family.

But hidden deep within my heart was the desire to be a mother. I continued asking God to remove this yearning, during this time of our lives. To suppress it. To hide it. To cover it. Still, the passion for being a mom burned. God knew my heart, and He was in control. I prayed for the day when I would hold my baby for the first time. Then, the unexpected happened.

Scared, yet excited.

Fearful, yet trusting.

Scattered, yet collected.

How are we going to make it? Fred is still in graduate school. Oh, God, this wasn’t the plan!

After nine months of pregnancy, anxiety surged. Lord, fear is setting in. My thoughts rage out of control. Please show us how to raise our child to know and love You.

Suddenly, an idea popped into my mind. Grabbing my Bible, I started a scripture hunt. With the turn of every page, I prayed for God to show me a verse to pray over my baby. Then it happened. Deuteronomy 6:5 seemed to leap off the page. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. My heart pounded. Praises lifted. Blessings flowed.

Overcome with humbleness, I thought of Fred. He loves You, God, with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength. Tears welled up. Thank you, God, for my husband, our marriage, our baby, and showing me this life verse.

The time arrived and two became three.

I loved watching our baby boy sleep. Words couldn’t express my unconditional love for him. I started praying Deuteronomy 6:5 over him––Lord, help Luke love you with all his heart and all his soul and all his strength. Joy resonated in my heart. A memory forever embedded in my soul.

Through the years, God blessed us with two more boys and a precious daughter. This verse continues to serve as the life verse for my husband, myself, and all of our children. I thank God for the way He directed me to His Word. He receives the glory and honor forever and ever. Amen.

LIFE CHALLENGE

God’s Word refuels our spiritual lives. The Bible is our guide on how to live a life sold out for Jesus. The more we center on scripture, the more we know Jesus and how to live for Him. Ask God to show you a focus verse for your life, relationships, circumstances, or possibly for the year. Pray before you begin the scripture hunt. If you are married, ask the Lord to reveal a focus verse for your marriage. If you struggle with family issues, ask God to reveal a scripture for your relationships. And if you have children or grandchildren, ask Him to give you a verse to pray over them. Relish the moments in His Word through this scripture hunt. Take to heart all God is doing in your life. Reading His Word leads to living His Word, which inspires a life sold out for Jesus.

Carla McDougal – Author. Speaker. Film Producer.

Excerpt from SOLD OUT: Live for Jesus, pg. 55

DIVINE ASSIGNMENTS

DIVINE ASSIGNMENTS

Image 4 - God Appoints

My seat assignment––17A. The last row in the airplane. Immediately, negative thoughts
rushed in… I won’t be able to recline my seat. I have to listen to the engine roar the whole
way home. I’ll be the last one off the plane! But my spirit quickened after the Lord

reminded me of my prayer that morning, “Lord, please give me a divine seat assignment on the airplane. Amen.” I stopped grumbling and anticipated His appointment.


Right before the passengers started boarding the plane, my husband was called to the
boarding counter. He was offered an upgrade to first class because of his airline status.
After receiving it, he calmly turned and handed it to me saying, “I want you to have this
seat.” With a willing heart and a sigh of relief, I said, “Oh, you are so sweet. YES, I’ll take it!” Looking at the ticket, I noticed the seat assignment was now 1C. Woohoo! I thought to

myself.


I secured my items and made myself comfortable in my newly assigned seat. At the same

time, the lady next to me arranged her belongings. Now sitting side-by-side, a conversation sparked. You know the surface talk… Do you live in Houston? Where do you work? How often do you travel out of town? After takeoff, our conversation deepened. She asked me about my occupation. I replied with the usual, “I’m a Christian author and speaker.” Immediately, the Holy Spirit reminded me of my morning prayer, “Lord, please give me a divine seat assignment on the airplane.”


In a matter of minutes, the woman opened up and poured out her story to me. Before I

knew it, we were praying together. I shared how my originally assigned seat was on the last row of the plane, but God shuffled the seats around to place me on the first row. In tears, she grabbed my hand and we thanked God for allowing us to sit next to each other. We still stay in touch through email. I praise God for how He orchestrated a divine assignment.


Sometimes unexpected changes or circumstances might actually be divine appointments.
Focusing on God changes our perspective. Realizing we, as God’s children, are His hands

and feet helps us keep a heavenly point of view, resulting in a life sold out for Jesus.


LIFE CHALLENGE
Ask God for a divine assignment today. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you recognize it and
follow through with all God has planned. It is so much fun serving our Lord and Savior,
Jesus. What a blessing to take part in a divine appointment. Again, I am reminded, “It’s not about me, but all about Him!” Live sold out for Him through your daily activities,

conversations, and prayers. Look for ways God opens doors for His children to connect and unite as one.


Read Acts 15:36-41 and Acts 16:1-15. Notice all of the divine assignments along the way.
Praise God for the appointments He has planned for you today.
~ Excerpt from SOLD OUT, Pg. 24 ~
From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal


Check out Reflective Life Ministries newest film project… STRONGER

Stronger Poster Thumbnail

Master Sergeant Victor Raphael is nearing the end of his military career when an explosion in Afghanistan leaves him injured. Back home, he is thrust into battle once again, but he hasn’t been trained for this type of warfare. Physical rehabilitation is painful, and he has more to overcome than his physical injuries. His wife, Michelle, is distant, and their marriage seems to be held together only by her sense of duty.

Vic’s first response is isolation, but that becomes a dead end. Feeling hopeless and alone, he is introduced to something new and uncomfortable— meeting in community with others who have faced trauma. People who endured and survived some terrible things, with the scars to prove it, are brought into his life. It is easy to see that these unlikely heroes now live with a hope and purpose far beyond this life. Somehow, their trials have made them STRONGER.

To help support this film project please click – StrongerMovie.com 

REST IS NEAR

REST IS NEAR

Nearing His destination, Jesus sighs in relief. Rest is near. The smell of the Sea of Galilee rejuvenates His soul. Peace and quiet call to Jesus. His weary body feels the effects of the miles traveled. Looking down at His feet, He notices His swollen ankles. Bulging blisters seem to awaken every nerve in His body. He seeks a solitary resting spot. Settling down with a rock for a pillow, He closes His eyes. The sounds of the waves gently breaking on the shore play a lullaby to His soul. He releases a silent prayer…

Father, I need some time alone with you! Time to refresh. The throngs of people drain me… physically, mentally, and spiritually. I am so tired. My spirit needs replenishing.

He longs for the day He and His Father reunite. With another deep sigh, He falls into a sweet sleep.

A dim light peeks over the horizon, waking Jesus from His slumber. Taking a deep breath, He stretches His aching body. A craving in His Spirit overrides the rumble in His stomach. He decides to take a walk before breakfast.

Strolling along the shore brings back memories. He recalls His conversation with Peter very close to here, and He smiles at the memory. A feeling of encouragement envelops Him. Jesus scans the beauty before Him as a crisp sea breeze lifts His cloak, a gentle reminder of the days of creation. His eyes catch a glimpse of the sun casting its image on the surface of the water. What a picturesque moment. Suddenly, He remembers His prayer from the night before. He knows His Father is reminding Him of the time they spent together creating the universe. He hears the voice of His Father…

Good Morning, My Son. I miss You. Soon You will be with Me again, sitting at My right hand. You are doing an excellent job! Keep it up. I can’t wait for Your return home. But You have work to accomplish first. Continue listening to Me every minute, and I will give You the words to speak. I love You!

With hands raised, Jesus quotes Psalm 19:4b-6… 

In the heavens, He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

A calmness spreads over the sea. A tender touch from the Father. Answered prayer. Refreshment for His soul. Encouragement to keep going. United as one.

LIFE CHALLENGE

Does your walk with Jesus need replenishing? Are you tired, worn out, and weary? Ask God to refresh you. Recognize the times during the day when He gives you a touch of encouragement. Rest in Him. Trust His provision. Take shelter under His wings.


Excerpt from Carla McDougal’s new 2015 release – SOLD OUT: Live for Jesus, pg. 67. Purchase your copies today from Reflective Life Ministries. 

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

HALLOW GOD

HALLOW GOD

Eyes opened. Lump formed. Tears poured. Reading through Numbers 20:1-13, God revealed His Truths in such a powerful way. I grabbed my laptop and started writing…

HALLOW GOD

Parched and thirsty,

God’s children complained.

Moses fell before the Lord,

Pleading in His name.


God spoke to Moses,

Directions He displayed.

Moses listened with intent,

But selfishness led the way.


 God commanded Moses,

“Speak and the rock will supply.”

But Moses disobeyed,

On himself he did rely.


  Lack of honor and respect,

Moses did portray.

Focusing on the people,

Led him fully astray.


 Moses lost the blessing,

The Promised Land he missed.

  Greatly filled with sorrow,

A choice he’d never forget.


 Heed the lessons learned,

Never lose sight of God’s Word.

Hallow Him in every way.

Listen, trust, and obey.


We must follow God’s instructions… COMPLETELY! Never add to nor take away from His directions. Listening and obeying His Word is vital to accomplishing God’s purposes. We must keep our eyes on Jesus. This prevents us from being swayed by the world’s point of view.

Our goal is not to impress others, but to live sold out for Jesus.

 

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

Founder of Reflective Life Ministries

REDEEMED – HOLY & PURE

REDEEMED – HOLY & PURE

Faith

Do you live for Jesus? Do you live with a heavenly perspective or an earthly point of view? Think for a moment. Be honest. Where is your focus… the world or Jesus?

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. –1 Peter 1:18,19

Embedded in the midst of 1 Peter 1:18 is the word redeemed. Redeemed from what? Redeemed by whom? Redeemed why? What is God saying to us?

Redeemed carries a deeper meaning. In the original language (the Greek), redeemed means to be released from one’s self by payment of a ransom. Moreover, redeemed means to be delivered from every kind of evil… internal and external. The redeemed one is the receiver. The one, who pays the ransom, is the giver. An unmerited gift filled with grace, love, and mercy. An unconditional “love offering” with no strings attached.

Tears well up. Humbleness camps in my heart. Jesus paid it all. He exchanged Himself for our ransom–my ransom. He rescued all who trust in Him from the penalty of sin. Jesus bridged the gap between God and us. Not because we deserved it, but because of His love for us.

So, questions arise, “How do I live for Him? How do I live a life that reflects God’s abundant love, grace, and mercy? How do I live a holy life free of selfishness, pride, and sin?” Possibly, the following acronym will help spark a fresh reminder to you.

REDEEM…

RE-new

Living for Him is a choice. Daily renewing our hearts through God’s Word and prayer refocuses who we are in Christ–Redeemed. Make a decision to call upon Him every day. Renew your strength in Him. Refresh your mind by realizing Jesus redeemed you and paid the penalty for your sin.

DE-sire

Desiring, to live every moment for Jesus, changes our attitudes. Daily reminding ourselves of Jesus’ sacrifice and love on the cross keeps us focused on Him. God knows the desire of our hearts. He knows if we serve Him out of a selfish gain or to further the Kingdom of God. Desire to seek Jesus first at the beginning of your day. I love how my daddy prays, “Jesus––We love you and just want to love you more.” Thanks, Dad, for those simple, yet powerful words!

EM-power

The Holy Spirit, Jesus’ Spirit, empowers us to trust, respond, and follow God’s Word. We can’t create this internal power ourselves. This is the Holy Spirit’s job. Romans 15:17-19 states, “Therefore, I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done–by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.” By surrendering and allowing the Holy Spirit to empower us with the gifts of the Spirit (Galatians 3:22) we become empty of ourselves and filled with the Spirit.

LIFE CHALLENGE

Renew your desire to live a life empowered by the Holy Spirit through Jesus. Daily realize, “Life is not about me, but all about Him.” Living moment-by-moment knowing you are redeemed by the blood of Jesus changes your perspective on decisions, actions, and circumstances. We can’t produce holiness or purity ourselves. Only Jesus, through His death and resurrection, has the power to create a holy and pure heart. Praise God for His grace and mercy, which go beyond our understanding. Never forget–Our hope is in Jesus, our Redeemer forever.

Excerpt from SOLD OUT: LIVE FOR JESUS

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

Sold Out - v13 copy  COMING IN AUGUST 2015

 

THANKFUL HEART

THANKFUL HEART

Thankful

A Thankful Heart produces…  A Thankful Attitude which creates… Thankful Expressions and Pleasant Words!

What does it mean to have a thankful heart? Why not a thankful mouth? Or a thankful face?

What sets our MOUTHS into motion?

When someone is appreciative, her words uplift, encourage, and inspire others. Her words are evidence of a selfless and humble life. With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing (James 3:9-10). In other words, in the same breath, we can sing songs of praise to God and then scream at the driver in front of us. Confession time: I am guilty as charged.

What sets our FACES into motion?

As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man. —Proverbs 27:19

I used to live behind a mask. Every morning, I painted on a smile. But underneath was a woman in the midst of darkness. I was one of those Christians who fell into thinking believers in Jesus couldn’t be depressed and must exhibit joy at all times. Little did I know, my daily mask was slowly cracking. It worked well for a few years, but as time passed, my true feelings surfaced. A mask only works for a short time. It’s a temporary fix. God calls us out from behind the veil to be real, authentic, and holy like Jesus.

What sets our HEARTS into motion?

The Lord doesn’t look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. —1 Samuel 16:7

In other words, we often look at the outside of a person while God focuses on the inside. Character develops within the heart of man. The more we love Jesus, the more we reflect Him in our conversations and our actions. As we seek His face, we become His reflection! It all begins in the heart. A grateful attitude reflects a thankful heart, which affects what we say and how we act. A transformed life is the result.

LIFE CHALLENGE
Practicing God’s Truths and biblical principles is the best way to apply them to our lives. So the next time you sit at the dinner table, don’t focus on the delicious food, but on the love that went into making a meal and the one who provided the food. Appreciate the one who spent time preparing, shopping, and creating the family dinner. Ask God to give you a thankful heart, one that serves and encourage others, lends a hand, shares words of affirmation, and one who is grateful in all circumstances. Live life sold out for Jesus with a heart that says, “Life is not about me, but all about Him.” And remember, a grateful heart produces a thankful attitude, which in turn creates peaceful expressions and pleasant words.

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal


 

NewSold Out - v13 copyest book project releases in August…

SOLD OUT: LIVE FOR JESUS

Do you sometimes feel like you live to exist? Does one day seem to run into the next without much meaning? Do you want more out of life? 

God desires for us to live each day with meaning. From the moment we wake up, God waits for us to connect with Him. His voice calls, but do we listen?

In Sold Out: Live for Jesus, Carla McDougal encourages readers to find purpose in life by drawing nearer to Jesus in real and practical ways. As in My Prayer Chair, her heartfelt messages and analogies bring laughter, tears and understanding to God’s Word. Be inspired to live in victory and sold out to Jesus through your thoughts, words, and actions. Sold Out not only nourishes the soul but also ignites a purpose for living.

Check out Reflective Life Ministries for more details.

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