Supernatural Synchronicities

Supernatural Synchronicities, as described by Mark Batterson in The Grave Robber, are those moments in our life when God puts us in the right place at the right time, seemingly with no connection to the person, situation, or place where the “synchronicity” took place. Another name for this might be a miracle or that moment when you encounter a “coincidence” that you can only explain as God did this. These supernatural events cannot be created by man but can only be created by God. It is our duty as followers of Christ to say yes when God calls us.

Some may be thinking, how do I become a part of God’s miracles, or how do I know if I am doing what God intended? The answer is simple—you must talk to God and learn to love like God loves us. A specific example Mark gives to “get in the miracle game”, is performing acts of kindness for strangers. When we learn to love like God, we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives and that’s when we truly see God. Galatians 6:9-10 reminds us, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

In Sunday School Brother Larry Staggs taught me that it is always important to not halt God’s plan as He uses us to fulfill His plan. While we may not necessarily comprehend what God can do, we know that his plan is perfect and He is in control. This was often in response to fear that I would have with teaching certain subject matter, anxiety of teaching others with much more knowledge than me, giving, or just living in general.

When Daisy asked me to write for Rays of Sunshine a lot of those same fears arose. For those that know me well, putting my business out on the Internet is way out of my comfort zone. But after several nudges by God, I said yes.

After coming to my senses and understanding that I’ve got a call to answer, my first thought was about the little boy who gave Jesus his loaves of bread and fish to feed the multitudes. What if that child decided not to hand over his day’s work? I’m sure if he knew what was about to happen, he would have handed it over without question. However, the Lord doesn’t work that way, so that child made a donation out of faith and with a servant’s heart. What seemed like such a small gift from an ordinary child with just a little bit of faith, ended up with Jesus transforming the child into a superhero. That child’s gift keeps on giving still today. We never know the boy’s name, but does that make his impact any less special? I try to think of this story when I give, as I may never know if my gift made an impact, but I know that God can do more with it than I could by myself. I also don’t know what He’s going to do with it, and I’m ok with that—He’s got a plan and it’s perfect.

When Daisy first started this non-profit it hit close to home. I would tell her, do what you got to do, just don’t tell me how much it costs us! Growing up in South Carolina, we didn’t have much money. My dad was a welder, and as many that are in that field know, it’s either feast or famine when it comes to work. Periods of sustained work history were often met with long periods of unemployment. Often, my family and I received support from schools, churches, and charities such as Rays of Sunshine Inc. Today, I want to share a story of how a single donation impacted me and how God plants seeds in our lives.

For those that know me, you know I’m a huge basketball fan—coach it, play it, watch it, or talk it—I can’t get enough! I was able to trace that love back to a time when my mom and I went to the arcade and played basketball. Let’s just say, I was destroyed that day. My mom won so many tickets, had the buzzer go off for high score, and she did it all by using the backboard (a la Tim Duncan)! That love for basketball would grow, and eventually we found an area in our yard that was covered in shade by a dogwood tree that would become my basketball court. The ground was relatively flat and grass-covered, there was a large root going right through the middle of the court, and the tree was curved—but it was perfect for me. I didn’t have a basketball at first, so I would take socks, a duct tape ball, anything roundish, and I would do layups up against that dogwood tree with a small circle that I drew on the trunk with chalk. After some time, my Dad nailed up a piece of plywood and a rim that was given to him to make a basketball goal. My brothers and I eventually wore down that backboard until we were once again shooting off the tree. I have several fond memories of the games out there, both against friends & family, and the imaginary games against ACC opponents in my head!

One day, my mom asked me for my shoe size and if there were a certain pair of shoes I wanted. We had fallen on some hard times, but luckily there was a local charity that was going to donate shoes and other clothing items to us. This was right around the time of the Reebok Pumps (for my sneakerheads out there) and I wanted them so badly! However, I couldn’t bring myself to ask for them, so I settled on a pair of high-top white Reeboks that I could wear everywhere. I loved those shoes! It was very important that I took care of them because someone gave them to me. Now I felt & looked like a real basketball player. While they didn’t make me jump higher or run faster, they led to a release from stress, a sense of pride I didn’t previously have, they gave me confidence to play the game I loved, the confidence to try out for the team, and the courage to strive for more.

When you are in the moment, it is often hard to see or appreciate God’s work at hand. As I reflect now, love from “my community” and a small act of kindness had a profound impact on my life. Had God’s calls not been answered by those generous strangers, would I be telling the same story today?

I would love to say that my story results in me becoming a basketball superstar. In all actuality, even with my new “kicks” I didn’t even make the team the first year I tried out. The gift however did lead to confidence, which led to courage to try out for the team in the first place. Trying out was the first time I said I want something more and I’m going to have to work hard to get it. It was also a realization nothing worth having will just be handed to me and I can’t blame my circumstances for what I don’t have. I made the team the next year and my confidence and courage continued to grow more and more as I got older.

Basketball has continued to be a large part of my life and that love has transferred over to my children. I’ve coached a lot of kids and have so many fond memories and friendships from these experiences. It’s allowed me to play for some outstanding basketball coaches and afforded me the opportunity to meet even more outstanding coaches that were positive role models and showed me a righteous path. Basketball has given me opportunities to share God with people, mentor others, and even learn skills to improve my career. It has made me strive to be a positive role model to many. While I’m sure the charity that gave me that pair of shoes thought they were helping one child for a season, they didn’t know God’s plan and how He was going to multiply that gift.

When you give with love in your heart it may just be meeting a need for that moment, but it could just be the gift that changes the trajectory of one or more people’s lives. You will not get the glory, that’s just for God. God will call on you with an opportunity to help fulfill his plan and you don’t want to miss that call when it comes!

In closing, I hope you takeaway these messages:

1) God has a plan and it is perfect. It is not our job to understand it, it is our job to be vessels to fulfill his plan. Also, answer God’s call—do not hit “Ignore!” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

2) Love your neighbor like God loves you. (Mark 12:31)

3) A small act of kindness or a prayer can open the door to “Supernatural Synchronicities.” While you may never get to see the plan fulfilled or even your prayer answered in your lifetime, God promises to us that he answers every one of our prayers and we will be blessed for doing his work! (John 14:13 & Luke 6:38—to name a few)

Here’s my question to you? What random act of kindness did you receive that made an impact on your life? Share your story!

Thanks, Daisy, for asking me to share and as always, I adore you!

Fully Alive

Guest Post by Mrs. Taylor Shoats

This is not often the most popular message; however, it is necessary as a Christian. We read this scripture “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If you truly want to follow me, you should at once completely reject and disown your own life. And you must be willing to share my cross and experience it as your own, as you continually surrender to my ways.”Matthew 16:24, but often we tend to skip over the denying yourself and taking up your cross part and go straight to the following Jesus part. However, we MUST die to us before we can ever truly follow Jesus.

I recently had a dream of my own crucifixion. It was one of the most beautiful, humbling, powerful experiences I’ve ever had with Jesus. The reality is, we must crucify our flesh, our desires, our opinions, our thoughts, our plans, our characteristics, so that we can take on more of Him.

It says in Galatians 2:20, “My old identity has been co-crucified with Messiah and no longer lives; for the nails of his cross crucified me with him. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me— we live in union as one! My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me, and dispenses his life into mine!”

Our wonderful Father is not asking us to die to us because He wants to create robots. He’s asking us to die because without the death of us, we cannot be fully alive in Him, operating in everything Jesus died for. Fully alive in Jesus means that we look like Him. It means that we walk in the greatest love, kindness, boldness, passion, compassion, patience, joy, peace, etc.

This world needs Christians fully alive in Jesus. We’re not fully alive if we haven’t died to us yet. We sacrifice our obedience to God because we haven’t died to our comforts yet. When we’re fully dead to us and alive in Jesus, obedience to Holy Spirit is always top priority. This world doesn’t need Christians that look like self. This world needs Christians that look like Jesus. This world is waiting, groaning, longing for Christians who look like Jesus. They need face to face encounters with the King.

Let’s take a moment to pray. Make this personal to you.

Holy Spirit, I ask You to come. I ask You to show me what it means to die to me so that I can fully live in You. I ask for a personal revelation of crucifying me. I want to stay close to Your spirit, close to Your fire, the fire that purges me so that I become like You. I love You God and I thank You for inviting me into this death. Dying to me so that I live freely in Jesus is the most wonderful invitation and I say yes. Amen.

Be You

Guest Post by Miss Brooklynn Manzer

My favorite saying is, “Be bold. Be true. Be kind. Be you.”

I actually have a sign that says this hanging in my room next to my light switch. I hung it there so that every time I leave the house I’m reminded.

I’m reminded to just be me. I’m reminded that nothing can knock me down, or make me ashamed, or make me feel like I don’t matter.

Because God tells me that I do matter.

That I’m His daughter.

That I’m His creation.

That I am beautifully and wonderfully made.

If someone can love me that much and forgive me of all of my sins, then He deserves all the praise, glory, and honor He can get.

Acts 28:31 says, “Proclaim the kingdom of God and teach about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”

What I’m saying is to go out and don’t be afraid. Be bold, be true, be kind, and be the you God created you to be.

Prioritize Prayer

Guest Post by Mrs. Kim Harris

We all have a deep desire or longing in us that wants to connect with someone or something that understands us, accepts us, and loves us completely. The issue we run into is that even as followers of Christ we often try to fill that with hobbies, things, entertainment, church, activities or other people which leave us empty, unsatisfied, and alone.

Worse, in hard or dark times we may even be tempted to go back to old behaviors, habits or relationships. There is nothing there for us or of any true value in the old ways prior to our life in Christ. We have to come to the realization that only God and His love can truly satisfy our hearts.

How can we have a real, true, authentic, on-going relationship with the living God? By prayer and spending time with Him. We draw near by coming to the Lord openly and honestly, telling Him what is on our hearts and what concerns us. He wants us to. We can’t mess it up and we don’t have to try to impress Him.

Only Jesus can save, redeem, and heal the broken places in us. It is by His power and grace that we are able to leave behind the things of the past and begin anew each day with hope because the work He started in us He will finish.

So no matter where you are in your walk of faith, there is no better time to deepen your relationship with the Lord. Start practically by dedicating a specific time each day to just think about the Lord, pray, read His Word, and worship. If it feels a little overwhelming or you still just don’t know how to start, try 10-15 minutes a day at a time and gradually increase it until you find the right balance for you.

If you need a reminder, set an alarm on your phone just for prayer. Lastly, write prayer notes or have a prayer list. It will help you to stay on track and remind you of those you told you would pray for them. If you find you don’t know what to pray, don’t worry. Simply ask God to show you what to pray for or over.

The most important thing is to be consistent and make it a priority. You will be amazed at the things the Lord will show you, the ways the Holy Spirit will speak to you and lead you, and how you will grow spiritually when you prioritize prayer.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. ~ Psalms 42:1

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled. ~ Matthew 5:6

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. ~ Psalms 139:23-24

Come near to God and he will come near to you. ~ James 4:8a

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. ~ Jeremiah 29:13

Brothers and sisters, 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. ~ Philippians 3:13-14

Best Friends Forever.

God is my best friend.

I love Him more than anything. More than my husband. More than my kids. More than my sisters.

Don’t worry – they’re good with it. They all love Him more than they love me, too.

It’s a good, good relationship, but it’s not always a two-way street. Last week when I was sick God pulled all the weight. There were days I couldn’t speak, let alone form a cohesive thought to pray.

In my absence He was present. And because when I’m well I communicate and worship and love Him all day long, in my absence He knew I still cared. He picked up all the slack. That’s what my God does.

He wrapped His arms around me in the tightest hug and let me know that it in fact was all gonna be ok. I’m not trying to brag about me, I’m trying to brag about my God. I want Him to be your best friend, too. I want you to have what I have.

If you want this relationship with God just start talking to Him. Start reading. Start worshipping. Watch your life be transformed.

It will be.

“26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

Romans 8:26-27

Get OK.

Sister, you’ve got to get ok with being different.

Here’s the thing – if you are God’s girl you will always be different. Just go on ahead and embrace that truth nugget.

God says you are holy.

Set apart.

You are set apart from them.

Stop longing to be like them.

Stop longing for the invite.

Stop longing for anything that isn’t of God.

Just stop.

Did anyone else just have the lyrics to Vanilla Ice go through their mind? Just me? Now I need to stop.

Seriously, be different. And be ok with being different. God’s word – His truth – states that He made you precious in His sight.

He thinks you’re awesome, girl.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Now Go.

Guest Post by Mrs. Emily Wilson

So here is the thing, I have issues with feeling inadequate at times. Like, “How can God use me?” “What is my purpose for the kingdom?”

Ever since I was asked to contribute to this page, I have worried that I wasn’t worthy or had anything worthwhile to say. I don’t always have the most catchy or witty things to say, and I questioned if anyone would even want to read anything that I wrote.

I began to write a “cookie cutter” lesson on my computer at school, but then the Lord stepped in. I came home to finalize that post only to find out that I had not saved it properly. Lost – everything was lost! I had to start over from scratch. Then the Lord spoke to me and said, “I am doing a NEW work in you! I have something else for you to say.”

Isn’t that just like the year we have had? All the plans and paths we thought we were on suddenly changed almost a year ago, and we have all had to adapt and readjust. I believe strongly that this is a time in history where God is going to do amazing things. We just have to be willing to be true disciples of His.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

EVERY Christian, not just those in formal ministry roles, are called to make disciples of all nations. The Lord has been showing me lately that my “nation” might just be my neighborhood. We all have a sphere of influence that the Lord has entrusted to us with whom we need to share the love of Jesus by simply doing life with each other.

You don’t have to go to a foreign land, have a degree in theology, or have a formal role in ministry to make disciples of those around you. Moms are called to love their children and families like Jesus does, and that is a mission field for sure. Teachers can positively impact students lives by loving them like Jesus when they need it most.

People in this country, probably more than ever, need Jesus and are seeking Him, even if they don’t realize it. The words we speak can either speak life or death into someone’s spirit, and I pray that all that I say or do will point the people I come into contact with to the cross.

Over the course of my life, I can look back on the everyday people I have come into contact with that have ministered to me in a meaningful way, many of which had no idea what they did. They simply lived their life out in such a way that it pointed to Christ. Rather that be a praying Grandmother that got me through many trials in life, to a caring teacher that offered extra encouragement at just the right moment, or a friend that offered to be present and listen just when I needed it.

When we fill our hearts, souls, and minds with the word of God, that overflow naturally impacts those around us and could quite possibly change the trajectory of not only their day but also their eternity.

I want to encourage anyone reading this to be filled with so much Jesus that it can’t help but overflow, to be intentional about relationships, and to treat your neighborhood as your mission field.

Now go out and make disciples. Yes YOU! I’m telling you to go out and make disciples!

A new Thing

A NEW THING by Mrs. Teresa Cockrell Mathews
 
Behold, I am doing a new thing: 
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:19
 
A new thing, this is my phrase for this new year. Why would I need God to do a new thing in my life? It is because I have been in the wilderness for a spell. 
 
My wilderness was not like the one that the Israelites went through because they refused to see the Promised Land and take that blessing. My Wilderness was God setting me aside to learn, wait, watch, and grow. This wilderness is not a place by choice; it is a place by design.
Sometimes this wilderness comes and you know it is about to happen. Other times it sneaks up on you, and you don’t realize you are in it until you are halfway through. My wilderness snuck up on me. I found myself sitting down and not moving forward in my wilderness. While in the wilderness I knew God was there, but He seemed far away – so I thought. At times my attitude stunk, sometimes I did not want to worship or read my bible, and there were times where I did. I tried to be a hermit, but God and life pulled me back. 
 
The first Sunday of this year our pastor spoke on the children of Israel who were about to take the Promised Land and cross the Jordan River. He told Joshua to put the Ark in the water 2000 cubits (10 football fields long) ahead of the people. Why 2000 cubits? By this time there were millions of people that were about to cross the Jordan. God placed the Ark (Himself) this far ahead so all the people could see it (Him). This distance let all people see the Ark. They were to LOOK UP and keep their eyes on God, and He would show them the way.
 
God, in this moment told me, “Teresa, LOOK UP!!!  Quit walking with your head down. You can’t see the way I am leading you, and you can’t see me. Look Up and follow me through this. I will be your Focal Point. You may not see the whole road but I will guide you in each step.”He was to become my pillar of fire at night and my cloud in the day.
 
When you find yourself in the wilderness:

  1. LOOK UP: Find God, keep your eyes on Him.
  2. Know this time is a teaching, pruning, and growing time for your life, (sometimes it can be a punishment). Seek God to show you
  3. Follow the way in the wilderness God sets before you. You have not been this way before. (Joshua 3:4)
  4. Stop at the Rivers God sends your way to refresh you. (Now there is not a river on every turn). Keep going, don’t get comfortable here. This is not the destination.
  5. Perceive: “Know, be aware.” Keep telling yourself God is doing a new thing I know it, I perceive it, I am aware of it.

Plastic Dishes

Guest Post by Mrs. Heather Hull

True confession. I am a little obsessed with plastic dishes. I really like them. I love when Spring is just around the corner and value stores begin hawking brightly colored plates, bowls, and cups with gaudy prints in tropical patterns. Likewise, I have one large cabinet dedicated to reusable bowls with lids, good for leftovers and lunchboxes. I love getting new, pristine bowls with matching lids that I don’t need to search for. There is a hierarchy in the world of plastic containers. Tupperware is at the top! It costs the most, but it lasts forever. It seals perfectly, doesn’t leak, and washes easily. We all probably have a piece or two from our mom or even grandma at home! It is the gold crown on the plastic heap. Then there are the mid range plastic dishes like Rubbermaid. They have some quality pieces, but they aren’t quite in the Tupperware league. Next in line you have the toss and take varieties of plastics. I like these guys. They are good in a pinch, and I keep them long after the recommended one use. Doesn’t everyone? Last in the hierarchy are the empty cottage cheese, sour cream, and lunch meat containers. These bowls can be used just like the other dishes, but they are essentially free. Sure, they don’t seal as well, so you don’t want to transport liquids in them, but they are good in a pinch.Yes, they can be useful, but if someone forgets to clean their lunchbox out over spring break, I don’t feel nearly as bad about throwing them away as I would a Tupperware.

You may wonder what plastic dishes have to do with your relationship with God. You see, I am a Christian and have been for the better part of my life, but I have always felt more like a cottage cheese container than a Tupperware. I see all those Tupperware Christians. They seem to have life all together, they are stain resistant, and their lids never leak. You would never throw away a tupperware that got left in a lunch box over Spring Break. You would wash that sucker until it gleamed! It seems so valuable compared to the cottage cheese dish with the label wearing off the front and a lid that is a little bent and crooked. I feel like if God looked at me like I look at my plastic collection, He might just be tempted to say, this little cottage cheese container has really hung in there, but maybe she just isn’t worth the effort to save anymore. Maybe she’s just too worn out, after all this time she still leaks a little, and she certainly doesn’t hold everything together like a Tupperware. I don’t pray enough. I’m not good enough. I could always read and study the word of God more. I give in to panic and fear more than I like to admit. I don’t feel shiny and I certainly don’t have my life all together. If God looked at Christians like I look at plastics, I’m pretty sure I would be in recycling or the trash can.

Thankfully, God does not see me as a cottage cheese container. I am not at the bottom of the Christian heap, or worse, discarded. God sees me through the eyes of Jesus who died to give me a new life. He sees me fully reconciled to Him. He wants me. And if my lid is sometimes a little crooked, He is reshaping it and helping make it straight. He seals me in His righteousness. He teaches me to trust in the process, knowing that sanctification is ongoing for a lifetime. He says to me, you are mine and you are worthy. He knows I am not perfect, but he loves me anyway. And though I know He wants me to have a clean heart, he doesn’t throw me away when I give in to sin. He washes me, removes the stains, and holds me close. You see, the cottage cheese dish is just as valuable to God as the Tupperware. So if you have trouble sleeping because of worry, or you complained about your week instead of showing your gratitude, or you yelled at your kids this morning, it is really okay. Ask for forgiveness, and try again. And when your husband asks you if you are going to keep another cottage cheese container, you can just look at him and smile as you put another valuable vessel in your overflowing plastic cabinet.

Matthew 10:32

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven,”

1 Corinthians 6:10

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Come home.

Guest Post by Mrs. Pam Bryant

In this life I have messed up, fallen down, and allowed sin to get a grip on my life. I say things I shouldn’t to others, then kick my self around with regret and guilt. I will have a whole conversation in my head about how I should apologize, what I should or shouldn’t say, and how they will respond.

A few things I never expect is for that person to hug me or throw me a party. Yet, as we look at the prodigal son this is exactly what his father did when he returned home. (Luke 15:17-24)

The world beyond the prodigal’s home beckoned for him to come take a look around. Much like today, the world paints a beautiful picture of ‘fun’. It doesn’t show us the reality behind the scenes – the pigpens or the plan the enemy has to wrap us up so tightly in the bondage of sin that freedom feels impossible.

As we look further into the life of the prodigal son, we find him broke and in a pigpen. While feeding the pigs he thinks about how he would gladly eat the same things they were eating. During this time he came to his senses and thought about how even his fathers servants ate better than this. He starts home with many thoughts about what he would say to his father, never imagining his father would still be waiting and watching for him to return. His father saw him while he was still a long ways off, and runs to his son – hugging him even though he was dirty with the smell of pigpen still on him. The son had taken the money his father had given him, spent it on all sorts of wasteful ways, living it up with friends he thought he had, until he was broke.

Not only did his father hug him, he had the very best robe brought out to put on him. Then he had the servants kill a calf and not just any calf, but the best calf in honor of the return of his son.

I am so thankful that we also have a Father that never gives up on us – no matter how many times we fall. He is always there to pick us up, hug us, and dust us off. Just like the prodigal son’s father, He allows us to make our own choices – even the bad ones – and yet He is always waiting with arms open wide because He loves us so much more than we can imagine.

The prodigal son left to pursue the best the world had to offer only to find the world’s best was lacking. Our best life will always be found in the arms of our loving Father.