Without deep and wide roots a plant is sure to die. Paul addresses a really important issue... GROWTH! I believe one the most crucial issues in today's society is lack of deep and wide roots in Jesus.


"And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. "  Col 2:6-7


Paul hits on some important points that cause major growth into our lives. 


1. Are you following JESUS? It is vital to believe in Jesus and accept Him into your heart, but you also must follow Him. Years back this would have been a concept difficult to explain, but with the invention of social media and the idea of 'following/followers' we can grasp it. On most social networks, when someone follows a page, it means they receive updates about the page in their news feed. We follow a lot of people, most of who are not even worth following. These people have done nothing for us and many don’t even know we exist. But Jesus knows us and He died for us. Following Jesus is worth it. The Bible says that while we were yet sinners, Jesus died for us. This means that even though we did things that would drive anyone away from us, Jesus didn’t forsake us or ditch us. He DIED for us. Following Jesus is worth it.


2. How deep are your roots? In my early years, I was never good at growing things. In fact, most of my plants died. The most valuable lesson I learned was that plants require attention and care. Our relationship with Jesus requires attention and care. As we follow Jesus we are making room for our roots to grow. Without deep and wide roots, a plant is sure to die. Roots are vital so that plants can absorb water and nutrients from soil. Growing in Jesus is our goal. Our hearts are the soil. The seed is the word of God. Reading the Bible, fasting, praying, and going to church are all things that become the nutrients and water for our souls. These help the roots of salvation grow strong in our lives. That seed then becomes fruitful.


3. Are you building your life ON Him? Sometimes that seed becomes so fruitful that we outgrow our space. I was given a beautiful flower in the form of a bulb. At this moment, it is in a small tin can, but eventually the roots grow and the plant has to be relocated to a place that affords it more growth. As I spend with the Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to work in my life, my roots grow. Eventually, I become stronger and stronger and the places I once frequented cannot contain my roots. I have to leave things behind. I have grown out of relationships, places, people, and things so if I don’t find the right place to spread my roots, I run the risk of dying.


4. Is your life overflowing? When your life is built on the right things you overflow with thankfulness. To overflow means you have an extra amount. I will tell you that knowing Jesus and growing my roots deep in Him is more than enough in my life. Just thinking about everything He is to me and all that God has given me makes my heart overflow. Don’t misinterpret what I am saying. I am in no way financially rich, but my heart is rich with love, peace, and joy and this is better than anything money can buy.


When we focus on Jesus, everything else is put in place. I know there are people who say that struggles do not stop when you come to Jesus or that not everything will be perfect; this may be somewhat true because life has its struggles. However, I can say that Jesus makes everything better. The good is even better and He sustains me with His peace and joy when things are bad.


“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8


Grow in Jesus.


Hearing God


Hearing God

Hearing God

by Maritza Rivera

When I was younger, I had this idea about God’s voice. In my mind, God’s voice was a very low, bass voice that had a bit of an English accent to it. Well, many years later, I have come to know that God speaks in many ways.

Have you ever wondered what God’s voice sounded like? Perhaps you have been longing to hear His voice. Have you ever prayed for God to speak to you about something? Have you ever had to make a decision and in your desperation, you have called out to God to speak out, to speak loudly?

Over the years, I have learned that God always speaks to us. He hears us and He speaks to us. What I have also learned is this: If you are having a hard time hearing the voice of God, it is probably because there is too much noise around you.

Elijah was a man who had no problem hearing God’s voice. The first time we read about him is in 1 Kings 17, and right off the bat, we read that ‘the word of the Lord came to Elijah.” Imagine hearing God like that… just like that! He continued to hear God’s voice throughout that chapter. Every time Elijah needed provisions, God was there speaking to him – guiding his way.

However, believe it or not, there was a period when Elijah had a hard time hearing God. Later on in that same story, around three and a half years later, Elijah confronts the sin of Israel just as God had commanded him. He challenges the false prophets of the time and comes out victorious. Having just defeated the 450 prophets of Baal, and believing God to end the drought (which God did), Elijah runs in fear for his life and shelters himself in a cave. (1 Kings 18)

So many things to talk about….

First, if you want to hear the voice of God, do not run away. A lot of us run away from situations because of many reasons. Elijah ran out of fear. Running from the people he feared also meant he was running from God. Where was the faith that Elijah had just put into practice a few verses earlier? The faith that carried him to victory over 450 vicious false prophets.

Being far from someone does not let you hear his or her voice any better. The further away from something you are, the less likely to hear it. Stay close to God. I do not mean in the physical, I mean in the spiritual. Keep the faith. Take the fear captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Next, we see that Elijah runs toward the wilderness. The lesson here is this: God is everywhere, so running away from God to a ‘wilderness’ means nothing. If you are running to avoid people that is one thing, but if you are running to avoid God, it is not going to work. God is omnipresent. He is everywhere. Do not think you can outrun God.  Psalm 139:7-8 says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Read the whole chapter when you get a chance.

The wilderness will teach you a few things. The first I have learned is that solitude in a self-imposed wilderness begets self-pity and bitterness. These two are a very dangerous mixture that can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. Do not deliberately run into a wilderness. Elijah did. He ended up desiring death. However, Jesus is life. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The enemy will whisper lies into your mind to kill, steal, and destroy your purpose. Jesus came to give us life and life in abundance.

Thirdly, if you want to hear the voice of God, learn his language. God speaks in many different ways. Read the word of God and let it speak to you. Read the word of God so that you can learn whom He is and how he communicates. God did not leave Elijah even when he was running; he sent His angels with provisions through his depression (sleep in the Scriptures in many instances was a sign of depression), not once, but twice. Man, imagine this. God never leaves us even when we are running from Him, even when we have forsaken Him. That in itself is He speaking to us. He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

SIDE NOTE: Fear is a driving point for far too many decisions in life. Faith is the driving point for believing in God despite the fear we may feel. Faith keeps us on track. It reminds us of God’s power. When we DO NOT make a move despite fear pushing us to make that move, we are putting our faith in action. That is what faith is. It is not knowing what is going to happen, but trusting that God will take care of it, even though my fear seems greater than my faith at that moment. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 Maybe what has driven you to run from God and into a wilderness is anger, bitterness, rejection, or shame. The same applies. God is near you.

Finally, the voice of God does not always come to us as we imagine. Because of God’s provisions, Elijah has enough energy to journey for 40 days and 40 nights. Incredible. A little bit of God’s spiritual food can give us just enough strength to get out from where we are. God can do this for you. Unfortunately, Elijah ends up right back in a cave, but at least this time He travels to the Mount Horeb. Mount Horeb, although its meaning is ‘desert’, was the same mountain that Moses would climb up to speak with God. Sometimes we have to remember what God has done. In that cave, God speaks to Elijah. He calls out to him.

Many times, we call out to God to speak to us, but what we really need is His presence. Elijah called out to God and God spoke, but Elijah needed more. He needed to feel God’s presence. God is so good that He will speak to us and show us who He is, but it may not always come the way we expect.

"Then he [Elijah] was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God, God will pass by.” A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper." -

1 Kings 19:11-12 MSG

God was not in the wind. God was not in the earthquake. God was not in the fire. God spoke in a still, small voice. God will often speak to us in a still, small voice on purpose. It is just soft enough that we are forced to lower the volume of the things in our life to hear HIM. Learn how to listen. Learn how to hear Him. Learn how to drown out the noise.


God's Grace


God's Grace


By Maritza Rivera

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 1 Cor. 15:10 (NIV)

I recently had a conversation with someone on the topic of grace. Let’s face it, grace is a deep topic that many Christians fail to understand. We fail to understand grace and its function in our lives. We fail to dig into the scripture deeply enough to have a solid Biblical foundation on the topic, or at times we become utterly confused because so many ‘Christians‘ are using grace as an excuse to live sinfully. Below are a few points that arose from the conversation that will help clarify what grace is.

To dig deeper, we must first define grace…

Grace – The unmerited favor of God toward men. I like to say it is getting something that you don’t deserve. Much like a parent who randomly gives their child the greatest gift ever, or like a random stranger who gives you 10 million dollars even when you are rude, obnoxious, self-centered, etc.

However, grace is a pretty broad definition and it basically has two points. First, it draws us to salvation (turns us to Christ). Secondly, it keeps us in Christ (empowers us to turn away from sin). God created it to be two-fold because He not only wanted to gift you with salvation, but He wanted you to work out and be steadfast in your salvation.

So during the discussion on grace I had with this individual they asked a few questions…

QUESTION 1: If we are sinful beings and we invite Christ into our lives to transform us, is it wrong to give into sin and indulge in the sinful nature if we are moving toward holiness?”

Every Christian struggles to resolve the two issues of striving for holiness/sanctification and falling into sin. There is a Bible verse that has helped me truly grasp the function of grace in my life.

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

This verse explains graces two-part form discussed above. So if we are truly allowing grace to function correctly in our lives we are not only receiving the gift of salvation through grace, but we are also empowered to say no to any ungodliness that tries to rise up in our walk in Christ.

So the answer is yes, when we knowingly sin it is wrong. When we do give into sin we are disregarding the sacrifice Jesus made and ignoring the Holy Spirit’s guidance towards holiness. If we aren’t saying no to ungodliness then we are not allowing grace to function in us as God intends, we are just taking the first part of the package and not the second. It’s like eating dessert but not the meal.


QUESTION 2: “So then, does grace have the ability to cover sins committed on purpose?”

The answer to this question is actually yes, but only if we follow through with asking God for forgiveness with sincere intentions of avoiding that sin in the future. When I read the scriptures it is clear that God expects us to avoid sinning at all costs.

Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.  There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies.” Hebrews 10:26-27 (NLT)


QUESTION 3: What about intentional sin or habitual sin?”

If we intentionally sin or habitually sin we insult the spirit of grace. It’s like getting a very expensive car as a gift from someone – a car that is not like any other. It is a collectable. It is priceless. You would take care of that car with utmost caution. But let’s say you don’t care for that car. Let’s say you refuse to change the oil, you drive over nails and sharp objects, you never wash it, and eventually you crash into objects. You are insulting the person who gave you that gift. If you really cared for the person who gave you that priceless gift, then you would care for the gift.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—“ Eph. 2:8 (NIV)

“How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” Hebrews 10:29

“We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.” 1 John 2:3

“If anyone says, "I know Him," but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone keeps His word, the love of God has been truly perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him:” 1 John 2:4-5

Finally, there are a few points that I use to determine sin in my own life:

1.       Is it something clearly defined by Scripture?

2.       Is it harming me spiritually?

3.       Is it causing others to stumble?

4.       Is it causing bondage in my life?

5.       Am I feeling conviction from the Holy Spirit?

These points help us figure out whether something we are doing is sinful. This is what the scripture is talking about when it says to ‘examine ourselves’ in 2 Cor. 13:5

But before I'm done, I want to clarify that we don’t need to overwhelm ourselves on the do’s and do not’s of our walk in Christ (although it is important to reflect daily), what we need to do is understand God’s goodness which is displayed through His grace. And, understanding His goodness towards us will compel and move us to have a deeper relationship with him – a relationship not based on rules, but based on love which keeps us from doing sinful things that are not part of His plan for us.



What Makes a Good Leader?


What Makes a Good Leader?

Personal Thoughts From Experience Being Under Ministerial Leadership for Over a Decade

When I joined in my church’s ministries I was around 15 years old. I helped out in various areas. At around the age of 17, I joined the church’s AV team. I came to learn so much. I already had musical experience and had a basic understanding of what instrument should be louder or lower, the song lyrics, etc. The AV and music ministry at my church is very well-organized and the team is well-disciplined and committed.

We still have the same leader that’s been there for about 18yrs — way before I ever arrived. I’ve come to learn and observe other leaders throughout the years and have met many ministry teams from other places. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am speaking from my point-of-view as being under leadership.

Here are just a few of my observations regarding what I feel makes a good leader:


1. A good leader doesn’t overwork you.

Our leader encourages to take vacations whenever possible. You need to have that time to be away with your family and rest. Getting away refreshes you. Once you’re back you will have renewed strength and fresh mind. It’s happened far too often where those in ministry have quit because they’ve been overworked and neglected their families.


2. A good leader encourages you.

The larger a team gets, the more a leader will deal with different personalities, characteristics, and issues. And with that can come times where some things may become out of order or require some things to be discussed. Despite any issues, a leader will lift you up, won’t look at your differently, and will be concerned about your well-being. A leader will speak truth in love and will magnify your strengths while setting the example himself or herself.


“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.


3. A good leader doesn’t prepare the path for you — a good leader prepares your heart for the path.

I like to think of life as a path. Many have walked through it and unexpected things happen along the way. A good leader will show you what the way is and what you can do should a certain situation arise. Once a leader has your heart, that’s when you can be able to receive the encouragement, rest, or advice you will need in times of triumph or adversity. Out of that, leaders create other leaders for the future.


4. Even good leaders need help, too.

I’ve come to notice that there needs to be trust. And if for some reason the leader can’t do a certain task for whatever reason, then someone else on the team can take over without fear and with confidence and know that all will be under control because the team has been well-trained and well-led.


These are just some of my personal observations from my own personal experiences and certain things can vary.

Many others may have different lists and opinions. I left out other points, but these points above are the ones that have stood out to me the most in my life. You can surely find them in various articles and blogs. I’m happy to say that I’m part of a great team under great people and leaders.


What do you consider good or great leadership?


When Heaven Touches Earth


When Heaven Touches Earth

As I dig deeper in the Word of God (The Bible), and read consistently, I’ve come to realize something. From the beginning of creation, God the Father, His son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit always wanted to have communion with mankind.

Because of sin, Our Father sends His Son, Jesus, to die for us on the cross and to shed His blood to cleanse us from our sins. In that process, God restores mankind through the sacrifice of Jesus. Then, to ‘seal the deal’, God sends His Holy Spirit to live in us and to guide us every step of the way. WOW! What an amazing love the Father has for us.

When we talk about ‘heaven touching earth’, this is exactly what it means. God through His Spirit touches our lives, everyday, every hour, every moment, for the rest of our lives! All we have to do is be a vessel, desiring God’s Glory. Then we can experience that Glory.

His Glory is available. His Glory is much like His presence, yet it crosses the threshold of just being with God in His presence, to being intimate with God and experiencing His Glory. It’s a more intense level. His Glory will transform you, heal you, mold you, shape you in every way. YOU WILL NEVER BE THE SAME. Allowing heaven (God the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) to touch earth (You) will cost you, meaning you will have to  separate yourself from this world and its desires. You have to be holy and ready to receive that Glory.

My friends, always remember God created you with purpose. His Glory is awaiting you. Be like Moses; ask God to show you His Glory. Be like Jacob; tell God you won’t leave until you get your blessing. Be like David; desire nothing else but God.

Remember, heaven wants to touch earth….and that (earth) is You.



In Pursuit

The Biblical definition of the word ‘pursue’ is to follow; to go or proceed after or in a like direction. But the idea of pursuing God is far greater than simply finding God or having a moment in His presence. The idea of being IN PURSUIT of God is seeking Him, allowing Him to PERMEATE everything I once was, so that everything HE is becomes everything I am.

I was created to pursue God. As a matter of fact, my heart burns with a deep desire to passionately pursue God’s presence every moment of every waking day. It is an unyielding pursuit to know Him more and become like Him. And God is faithful when we choose to pursue Him, unlike the looming rejection of others we pursue in our lives. 2 Chronicles 7:14 - “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 

"Our pursuit of God is successful just because He is forever seeking to manifest Himself to us". (A.W. Tozer) When we choose to abandon this world, to die to this world to pursue HIM by bowing to His presence, reading His book, communicating to Him, He rewards us with His manifest presence in our lives imparting the attributes of who He in us. He gives beauty for ashes, strength for fear, gladness for mourning, peace for despair, joy for sadness, and healing for sickness. It is worth it to desert the things of life and this world all for the ONE who quenches my utmost thirst and hunger for Him.

Every day I get up I make a choice to pursue Him. I die daily in an effort to decrease myself so that He may increase. I die to my attitude, my flesh, and my desires because nothing I have can satisfy me. I found Him, but I still pursue Him. I love Him therefore, I am in deep pursuit of HIM. He loves me, so I am always pursuing Him. #dietolive #inpursuit


“To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love.”

― A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God


Time to Rise Up


Time to Rise Up

To rise up is defined as coming up to the surface; to stand up; to arise.

The days that we are currently living happen to be the best days of our lifetime. What we mean by that is that we are experiencing the biggest spiritual awakening ever. The Holy Spirit is pouring out a fresh anointing over His people (the church). We are living in the midst of a revival and it is amazing to partake of this blessing. God is calling His people (man, woman, young person, and child) to RISE UP and stand for Him. He is looking for people of conviction that do not waver and change their position, but instead move forward with the calling and purpose upon their lives.

Rising up? Yes, rising up to the task of taking the Gospel (Jesus) to a generation that is hurting. Yes, rising up with purpose to bind up the brokenhearted. Rising up to proclaim freedom to the captives. And,rising up to release from darkness the prisoners and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.

Are you up for the challenge? It is not enough to look around at this culture and say to yourself, "They need Jesus." This world is crying out for people of conviction who will RISE UP above and from the spiritual mediocrity that has become the ordinary. This thinking makes us self-satisfied and unconcerned. But in the midst of the common, there is a generation ready to be mobilized into a cause and effect. ARE YOU ONE OF THEM? 
It's time to rise up.