When this picture was taken, we had NO idea that night our family would be running out of the house to escape a house fire. God protected our lives.
Many friends, family, and even strangers have genuinely showed such love in practical ways by praying for us, encouraging us, and asking where they can help after our house fire.
Last weekend ended the 2 hardest weeks I think our family had endured. The smoke damage, 25 years of marriage and sentimental belongings, worrying about where we will live, etc. With tears and cries to God, I remember my parent in loves just reminded us to “keep praising the Lord and thank Him for his faithfulness, help, and direction.”
Within a week, God has given us more peace and more provision. Our hearts and minds are blown away from so many people’s generosity! Our friends ,Eva and Amy, started a Go Fund Me and a Meal Train for us 6 days ago.
I’ll be honest, this tragedy in our house situation has become larger than us. Instead of us staying quiet and telling so many people we are ok, I’m practicing what we preach. It’s OK to not be OK. But as we wait on the Lord l, we feel stronger. Our 3 kids started school looking so sharp in their ironed uniforms, ate a lovely breakfast from the hotel, and continued life as normal. I have seen growth, maturity, pain, joy, perseverance…..all the things in them.
So today I just wanted to thank y’all! Our church, friends from the kid’s school, Philip’s school, family and friends, so many people have reached out. Please know we deeply appreciate every call, every offer to help us with boxes, funds, meals, ideas on moving, etc. Philip and I love to volunteer, minister, serve, but wow…..this has been humbling being on the receiving end.
We are so grateful! Thank you!
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Psalms 23:1-6 NIV
Revelation 12:11 "And they have defeated him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die."
The key to us overcoming the accuser of our brothers and sister is our posture under the authority of the Cross's victory because of the blood of the lamb and faithfulness to the promise and authority of God's Word- by their testimony.
Just recently my family has gone through one of the most traumatic things a family can go through. We had a house fire July 4th which destroyed a lot of memories and basic things we need for a house. We have been living in friends houses and now we are in a hotel looking for a new place to live.
Anyone could look at this situation and be distraught, discouraged, disappointed, and feeling destroyed. And believe me, we have had those feelings all through this. BUT, as I hold onto my faith and not let the father of lies (Satan) talk me into being all of those things and more, I believe God is still in control. I have Victory because of the Blood of the Lamb, and God promises us through His Word that He has given Jesus all authority thus giving us authority through this testimony.
We are in need, but not defeated. We are homeless, but not hungry. We are overwhelmed but not overpowered. The thoughts inside my head can't overcome the Savior that's in my heart.
If you would like to give toward restoration of things lost and toward a new place for us to spread the love of Jesus with others, the link below is a Go Fund Me page that a sweet friend set up for us. Or if you would like to give to us directly please go to the Donate Page at the top and push the Donate button. Thank all of you and God Bless.
🎶The Shelley Bunch 🎶 The Shelley Bunch 🎶 That’s the way we became the Shelley Bunch 🎶!
One of the greatest gifts you can receive in this life is to Love and be Loved by somebody. As my family grows so does my love for them everyday. But there are people who don't get the privilege of having someone to love or be loved by someone else. That's why it's important to take the love of Christ with you wherever you go. No matter how hard it gets, Christ has commanded us to love one another. When we choose to obey God in this it releases us to reach our full potential, and also releases the restrictions the world puts on us. Why do we love? Because Christ Loved us first.
Twenty Five years ago this coming August 22 I met Divina on the side of a busy highway at 10:00pm at night. Her and her four friends, one being a guy from Papua New Guinea going to our University and the other three still great friends today, were stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire. Just that week we had started our college careers at Southwestern Assemblies of God University and were ready to start our classes the following week . On that busy I-35 highway, dark with cars and huge trucks whizzing by, Divina led them to pray for a good Christian young man from their University to stop and help.
What we found out later was we were all at the same church service that night in Oak Cliff, which is a part of Dallas. After service I decided to drive around to get to know the area a little better before heading back to campus. Good thing I did, because I would have missed them completely. I fondly remember driving past them, seeing for a split second, a couple of young ladies standing on the side of the road. One of them had a jean skirt on (that one being Divina), and I remember saying to myself that they had to be from Southwestern. I had no idea how to get back to them, so I exited the highway and ten minutes later finally got back to where they were.
As soon as I drove up some of the girls ran to my pickup and were thankful to see me. But, Divina being the cautious one, told them not to do that because I might be a crazy person. It turned out I wasn't, though some might disagree. I began changing the tire to our friends car, which took me over an hour because of the conditions, and I also stopped to pick up Divina's broken pearl bracelet. Let the awe-ing begin. But, the tire was a little flat, so some of the girls had to ride with me back to our campus. Guess who rode in the cab with me? You guessed it, Divina did. And that night I found my best friend which became my wife for life.
Now, there are some details I might of left out, but I wanted you to know in short how this family all started. Some might say it was a chance meeting where two people's fate and destiny collided on that night, but I say it was all God. I believe it was the Holy Spirit leading me to stop, because as a young man I made it a point to stop and help others that were stranded on highways. I also believe that it was through that obedience that God released a blessing that has followed us in life and ministry. He has blessed us with our 4Shells and provided in ways that amaze us every time. It's not always easy, but it's worth it to love no matter what. And we are teaching our children to love and meet the needs around them. You usually find your ministry and calling by doing, not just sitting around waiting on God to speak. So, Go and Do! There are those out there waiting on a family to love them. It's Called the Body of Christ, and you are a part of it. Peace!
"The Miracle You Are should Manifest itself through your Fruit; Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, Goodness, Faithfulness, and Self Control."
"The disciples asked Jesus privately, "Why couldn't we cast out that demon?" "You don't have enough faith" Jesus told them. "I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible." Matthew 17:19, 20
God has a way of getting your needs met. When you plant a seed, so it can grow into a plant, God changes the nature of that seed. The power of life surges in the delicate young plant to such a great extent that even a mountain can't stop it from pushing upward! Jesus tells us that our faith in God is like a seed. When we give action to our faith and when we release it to God, it takes on a new nature. It takes on the nature of a MIRACLE in the MAKING.
What is the mountain in your life? Is it something like loneliness, loss of a job, disease, a damaged relationship, strife and trouble in the home? Maybe it's something else. Be Encouraged, because Jesus shows the way to see your mountain removed! In Romans 12:3 God tells us through Paul that we have a measure of Faith. It lives inside of you. Also, God says that this Faith comes alive by Hearing. Hearing what, you might ask? The Good News about Christ (Romans 10:17). God also says that you can put your faith into use to see your daily needs met. How you might ask? You DO SOMETHING as an act of Faith! You SOW the mustard seed smallness of your Faith into an action of Love. Then, when your Faith has been planted and is growing, that's when you speak to your mountain and watch God set up its removal.
One of the keys to walking in the pathway of God's Miracles is to stay available to the meaning of Jesus' words. John 14:12, 13 says, "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."
As you're believing for miracles and acting on your faith to receive greater things from God, the miracle you are already makes itself evident through your display of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control. As you display these everyday you are allowing God to move your mountain. Just imagine the mountains we can move together as we display these 9 Fruits. Living on the 9 isn't just a great saying, but it's an actual movement of God's grace and love through the Miracle that is US.
"The Miracle You Are should Manifest itself through your Fruit; Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, Goodness, Faithfulness, and Self Control."
A Proverb a day keeps me Wise in what I do and say. Who needs apples when you have PROVERBS, WHOOP WHOOP! Well, we need apples too, but there is nothing like gaining wisdom and knowledge from God's Word. That is why I try to read a chapter in Proverbs a day, and by try, a lot of times I don't succeed. If you notice though, Proverbs has 31 chapters, which is perfect for reading it in a month. Then, you can start over the next month with chapter 1.
Today is the first of the month and I started with, yes you guessed it, chapter 1 of Proverbs. I wanted to take you through what I read today and encourage you to try reading a proverb a day to gain so much wisdom in areas you might need help in. God always hears your cry for help, and one way to maybe seek wisdom in a situation is read God's Words. The author of Proverbs was considered the wisest person to ever live. Solomon was King of Israel and instead of asking for riches and popularity, He asked God for wisdom, and God gave him the wisdom he asked for and the riches to go along with it (2 Kings 3).
He tells us in verses 2 of chapter 1 that the purpose of these Proverbs "is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise." The other purpose in verse 3 tells us it's here "to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair." It also "gives insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young", and we all know we need that even if we aren't young anymore. The unifying thought of the book of Proverbs is also found in the first chapter in verse 7 where it says, "Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge."
Chapter 1 of Proverbs provides a diversity of examples with truths about Wisdom. A few are; 1. Wisdom, which is the ability to judge and act according to God's instructions, is the most valuable of assets. 2. Wisdom is available to anyone, but the price is high. 3. Wisdom began and begins with God, not self, and comes by attention to instruction. 4. Wisdom and righteousness go together. It is good to be wise, and it is wise to be good. 5. Evil men suffer the consequences of their evil deeds. 6. The simple, the fool, the lazy, the ignorant, the proud, the immoral, and the sinful are never to be admired.
I love how chapter 1 switches gears in the middle of it. In verse 20, the writer is telling us that Wisdom literally "shouts in the streets" and "cries out in the public squares" using the tone of scolding, but giving us specific and encouraging promises. This is where I found my favorite verse in the chapter. The first part of verse 22 says, "How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded?" Wisdom is asking, how long will you be just mediocre in this life. God has made us in His image, He didn't make us just mediocre. We choose to be mediocre when we allow the enemy to lie and tell us we weren't made for greatness. Mediocrity sneaks in like a thief stealing the very image God created you in. When you decide to strive for greatness in any of your situations, that decision activates and stimulates the gifts inside of you. God has given you very specific gifts to use for His glory. God's glory is ready to be shown through your gifts, and if we choose not to display the gifts He's so graciously given, His glory will be shown through someone or something else. Personally, I want to be a part of showcasing God's Glory. Don't let the mediocrity of this world strip you of the blessings God has for you.
I encourage you to read the book of Proverbs with me this month and gain insight and knowledge to become wiser and receive guidance. There are 31 days in May, just enough to read a chapter a day. So remember, A Proverb a day keeps me Wise in what I do and say!
There is a real enemy, and he will do anything to destroy what God has set up in your favor. SO, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?! As a Christian, with God's call on your life, a person of faith and a challenge for it to grow, what can your God do in and through you to defeat the violent attacks against you, your family, and the body of Christ?! Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:12, "And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force." If you read through that verse quickly, you'll think it's talking about violent people that are attacking the Kingdom of Heaven, and it is "suffering violence". But, through the framework of the text that surround this verse, Jesus is declaring that the Kingdom is the violent one and it makes its Advancement by a Passionate entry, which opposes the status quo of society. We are the ones Advancing the Kingdom by Force. It goes beyond the softness that stuffy religious formalism brings (v.8), and exceeds the snobbery that child's play brings (vv. 16,17). I like how one commentary puts it: "It refuses to "dance to the music" of society's expectation that the religious community provide for them either entertainment ("we played wedding songs") or dead traditionalism ("we played funeral songs") (v.17)."
In Luke 16:16, Jesus declares the Advance of the Kingdom of God is the result of two things, Preaching and Pressing In. Jesus shows us the Good News of the Kingdom must be proclaimed with Spiritual Passion. We as Christians have to determine whether to respond to this truth with sensible minds and sensitive hearts. To overlook this truth will bring a laziness that limits the ministry of God's Kingdom spreading the details of Truth and Love. We "spread" this Good News by teaching, or educating and engaging in acts of Kindness. Without a doubt, we must do these things as Christians. But, if we don't have an Impassioned Pursuit of Prayer, a Confrontation with the evil forces, an Expectation of Miracles in our lives, and a Burning Heart to tell the world about Jesus, the Kingdom of God makes little advancement in the world. "Pressing In" is accomplished first in Prayer Warfare, connected with a will to surrender ones life and ones self interest, in order to gain God's Kingdom goals.
There are a few things this taught me as I studied it. 1.) I Must enter the Kingdom of God by "violent" determination, being aggressive about serving Christ. 2.) I Must recognize that the Kingdom of God requires my highest commitment. 3.) I Must understand that the Kingdom is worth more than any other pursuit. 4.) I Must be ready to forsake any personal goal that hinders me entering into it. 5.) I Must recognize that Kingdom people are not childish but childlike in their faith, trust, and purity.
The reason I am telling you all this is at times in our lives there will come an attack of the enemy, Satan. And it is through this "attack" that he will try to get you to quit, give up, become lazy and lethargic of what we are to do as Christians and diminish what Christ did on the Cross. One of those times came this weekend while I was serving at church. You can see from the picture above of the horror I felt when I returned to my van that someone had bashed in the window and taken things from it. Some of the things taken were a very nice Prom Dress my daughter had worn the night before, and her backpack with clothes, makeup, and jewelry including a very nice bracelet her Grandmother (Lola) gave her. Given the fact that this was done in church parking and some of the items were of some value, in the hours after this happened many thoughts flooded my mind. Thoughts of anger, loss, revenge, sadness. Then came thoughts of the why. Why would God allow this to happen, especially when I was serving at church.
It's just like the enemy to sabotage the good you do and try to turn it around for his evil. I think about the story of Joseph as he says to his brothers that ruthlessly treated him, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good." If I am to perceive the hand of God in this situation, it requires me to make innumerable choices to deny bitterness and to PRAY. And by doing this I have to come to terms that God's Will will be accomplished as a result of man's sinful behavior. Then, if that doesn't help me all the way, I have to preach to myself.
There’s a saying I have on repeat when situations this world throws at me tries to diminish the call on my life. "The lies inside my head can't overcome the Savior that's in my heart." As I have this on repeat, I'm Graciously reminded of the victories God has given me. I'm reminded how at the age of 18 after running from God's call on my life, He brought me back to His own, and called me back into ministry as I began to preach His Word. I'm reminded of how He led me to stop for 5 friends on the side of a busy I-35 highway to fix their tire and now one of them is my best friend for life. I'm reminded of the victories in the first ministry we were involved with in Dallas. Ministering to thousands of children and their families in the inner-city each week. Busing in over 200 teens a week as the youth pastor. I see images of walking in the project areas around Dallas knocking on doors inviting families to our sidewalk Sunday School, while passing blood stained streets from a drive by the night before.
I'm reminded of the provision God gave us through the years of ministry, and how He's provided jobs for us in the education field. How fun it was to minister through teaching and just being that kind word or smile to a student that desires true freedom from the stress of this world. I see the many mission trips we've had the opportunity to go on and see God's mighty hand move in lives of people we had the privilege of meeting and praying with. I see the little girl my wife prayed for in Nicaragua that was blind with a white film over her eyes, and a few minutes after praying the white film was gone and the Dad, excited in his amazement, told us she had never responded to him like that before. These are just a portion of the victories God has given us.
I could go on and tell you of the great opportunities He has provided. Like working at one of the largest churches in America, planning youth services and conferences for tens of thousands of people and seeing God move in mighty ways. My point to all this though, is no matter what Satan, the world, or a thief that breaks your window and steals from you does, GOD IS STILL ON HIS THRONE! And since He is still on His throne, I will put my trust and life in Him for all the days of my life. No matter what knocks me down in this life, I can get back up and tell the enemy to his nasty face, I'M STILL STANDING! If I can do this, so can you!
If you need freedom today from the lies the enemy puts in your head, remember they CAN'T overcome what Jesus did on the cross. If you need prayer today you can email us or comment below. God has provided you with a community of believers to help you get through whatever pain the enemy tries to inflict on you. Trials will come, but God will always be on His Throne! Peace!
If I were the late Paul Harvey I would say, "Now this is the rest of the story". Well, I'm not Paul Harvey, but I'll say it anyway (and if you're wondering who Paul Harvey is, Google him, he has some great stories). I left you off last time with the 3 young men about to be thrown into the blazing furnace. And right before, they said this; "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power. But even if he doesn't, we want to make it clear to you that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up." They determined in their hearts not to go against their God and defile themselves. Their trust in the one they were named after would either come through for them, or leave them dead. But, their Journey wasn't finished.
If you had to Reimagine your Journey, you're not alone. There are millions of us that have been stuck driving in the wrong direction, or not driving at all. And you ask the question a lot of us ask, "why me". But, out of the millions that had to Reimagine their Journey, there is a great percentage that have determined in their heart not to quit and give up. Are you one of these? I am. Believe me when I say that it's hard. It's hard to get up every new day and say "I trust you Lord". And even if you don't come through, I'll still trust you. Isn't that what the 3 young men said. Don't miss the point to all this. You might say, "but God came through for them." Think about it though. They would have died. Capital DIED! You get to live in your situation. They would have been dead. Not living. Gone, Kaput! Over Rover! You get the point, I hope.
God came through! As the story goes, they were thrown into the blazing furnace, that even killed the people that threw them in, and God showed up. No, literally He was in the fire with them, because the king said, "didn't we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace? Look! I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!" They were brought out with not even a hair on their body singed. The best part of this story is through God's Reimagined Journey for these 3 young men, they not only were saved from death, but they were promoted to even higher positions.
Are you ready to be promoted? I want to encourage you today to not give up on your dreams. You might have been through the fire, or still in it. God will bring you through. Trust in him. And ohhhh, what a story it will be.
You can read all of the story in Daniel 3:1-30.
Did you ever imagine where you'd be at this point in life? Are you at the place you imagined you'd be, or has your life taken a detour, been delayed, or just never really taken off. I remember sitting at my desk in school, staring out the window imagining what life would be like as I got older. The thrills, exploits, and adventures waiting to happen and be discovered. I couldn't wait to take the Journey I had Imagined.
I love reading the story of 3 young men who risked their lives because they wouldn't go against the God they were named after. You might know them as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, but did you know the names their parents gave them were Hananiah, Meshael, and Azariah. The reason their parents named them these names is because the last part of their name, the "iah" and "el", are a part of God's name. So, they were literally named after God.
Now, if your parents name you after someone, you might have been taught a little something about that person. These 3 young men not only were taught about their God, but also knew that everywhere they went they were carrying His name with them. These 3 young men lived during a time of war and desolation in their country. They saw many of their countrymen die, along with their country defeated by a wicked nation. They were carried off from their family and friends to a wicked and very unfamiliar place, and given completely different names.
One day, the country where they were taken decided to make everyone worship a wooden pole, or idol. The 3 young men knew this would go against the God they were named after, so they made a choice not to bow to the object. This choice gave them a death sentence. Since they would not bow, they were sentenced to be thrown into a blazing furnace that was heated 7 times hotter as usual. But it was their reply to their death sentence that stands out to me. They said, "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power. But even if he doesn't, we want to make it clear to you that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up."
It's that part where they say, "But even if he doesn't", that gets me every time. Some of our journey's haven't turned out the way we thought they were going to go. Just imagine how these young men felt as they grew up believing in the one they were named after. Imagine the dreams they had for themselves, only for their journey to take a turn for the worst. But, they still Trusted and Obeyed the one they were named after.
There might be some of you that haven't realized God has given you a name. He's named you and claimed you as His own. One of the things we lack is the Trusting and Obeying part. Just because the journey you imagined hasn't happened or was derailed doesn't mean your life is over. With God all things are possible. Your Reimagined Journey is waiting for you. Trust in Him and see Amazing miracles take place in your life!
“Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them. But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”” 1 Peter 2:7-10
I don't know if you've ever been victim of Identity Theft, but it happens every time we allow the world and Satan to Identify us. In the Old Testament, David went against a giant and people that thought and said he was too small to defeat the giant. But, David knew who he was through God. God Identified David as the victor even before the battle took place. So, David actually had the advantage over the giant, even when no one else saw it. God has Identified you through His Son Jesus Christ, and has given you authority over this world and the temptations of the devil. What does that mean? It means YOU HAVE THE ADVANTAGE! You have overcome this world because He has overcome the world. You have the most powerful, there all the time, all knowing Spirit by your side giving you authority, and even though you feel weak sometimes He is made stronger through your weakness. YOU HAVE THE ADVANTAGE! He has put in you just the right gifts to be what you were created to be. More than a conqueror, a chosen people, God's very own possession. Kill that giant, the Identity the world has given you, and cut its head off. YOU HAVE THE ADVANTAGE! Now Use It!
Let me be short and sweet today because I know you have a lot to do. I would always dislike getting lost in neighborhoods with long streets that turned into a cul-de-sac. I thought I was getting ahead of the traffic of life, I thought I would make good time and beat everyone to the punch, but in the end realized I had to turn around, go back, and find another way or get back in line further back. I heard a preacher say one time, "You can make good time going in the wrong direction."
Without even realizing it, we've allowed ourselves to become cul-de-sacs with the gifts and talents we've received from God. Each and everyone of us has something so great inside of us to give to others. But we've learned, either by the trappings of this life or from other people, to keep it to ourselves. So, everything we've received never goes out to bless someone else. We've become spiritual hoarders, gift hoarders, and blessing hoarders with what God has given us. Hoarding those things only delays the greatness in you and others.
The world is waiting for people like you to rise up and spread Greatness. We can't do that if we are acting as a cul-de-sac. If you want to spread Greatness in this life, let me challenge you to start being a Conduit. If you allow yourself to be a Conduit rather than a cul-de-sac with what you receive, you become a mechanism that spreads Greatness!
conduit- a pipe, channel, or means of access. A similar natural passage. A fountain.
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