Sunday, January 19, 2014 just the right time...He revealed...

So, I attend New Life Providence Church in Virginia Beach, VA.  The sermon series this new year is entitled "Knowing God".  Simple and powerful.  After last week's sermon, I decided I was going to begin the difficult discipline of being still.  Easier said than done.  One night, after about a minute had gone by, I was already thinking about all of the important things in life:  what I was going to wear for my meeting the next day, if I had received an email I'd been waiting on for a few days and so on.  You know, the usual.  Once I caught myself, I realized this was going to be a real challenge.

Earlier that same day during the sermon, the pastor reflected on a time when he asked the Lord to show him what scripture to read during his devotional time.  So, I quieted myself and gave it a go.  

Titus 1:3
Okay, great!  So I turned there expecting a powerful verse which would immediately speak to my life.  This is what it says: 
"And now at just the right time he has revealed this message, which we announce to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this [good] work for him." (NLT)
I'd be lying if I said the word immediately resounded in my heart.  My initial thoughts went a little more like, "really?"  An introductory statement?  But then I read it again, and again and again. just the right time...
...he revealed...
...I've been entrusted...
...with this [good ] work....
Yeah, now things were beginning to click. 
Let me pause and fill you in.  I'm at a point in my life where I'm waiting on the Lord...for a lot of different things.  I've been praying and waiting for the Lord to reveal what it is He wants for my life.  How He wants to work through me to bless others and to make a difference. 
Now, this verse really encouraged me on several fronts.  The last phrase really grabbed me and I began to throw it around:  "...this good work...".  I asked, "Lord, what is my "good work"?
The Lord spoke to my heart.  This is what He said:
"It is less about completing the 'good work' and more about being complete in me."
(Good thing I was already sitting down.)
Wow... You see, I believe God has a purpose for my life (and for every one's lives) but I have become so consumed with trying to determine what I need to do versus who I am to become.  You and I were created to have a relationship with God.  The Great Commission is about relationship, about leading people into a relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ. 
Our lives are a constant transformational character-building process.  Every good situation, bad situation, it's all being used to shape us into the people God has created us to be. When the Lord spoke to me, He was saying yes the plan and work I want to do through you is important but it is less important than the work I (God) am already doing in you.   
God cares more about who we are than what we do.  That should bring comfort and encouragement to you because it certainly did to me.  God sees you as significant and important.  Life with Him promises to be one free from guilt, shame, oppression and depression, past mistakes, etc.  That does not mean it's an easy life nor one free from hurt or pain; however, living in relationship with Christ, you can freely cast your cares (Ps. 55:22) upon Him knowing that He is a merciful and gracious God (Ex. 34:5-8).  He works all things out for the good of those who love Him(Rms. 8:28).  He will never forsake the righteous (Ps. 37:25).  He will provide (Phil. 4:19).  He is good (Ps. 100:5, Nah. 1:7).   
Yes, He has things He wants to do through us but more importantly, He just wants us--you and me.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Costa Rica Mission

I am very excited to tell you that this March I will be traveling to Costa Rica with River of Life Ministries (Dr. Lee) to serve seven remote mission training centers. Mission training centers train and equip native evangelists who, in turn, plant churches among the unreached people groups within their own country.

On March 14th, the team will leave from Norfolk, VA and travel to San Jose, Costa Rica. We will then travel south to Perez Zeledon, the seventh largest canton (county) in Costa Rica.... Our team will serve primarily as the prayer and ministry support. Each day our team will conduct conferences and church services to bless and encourage the local people. I will have the opportunity to share a short testimony or word of encouragement with the Costa Rican people. At the end of each service, our team will pray for people who need healing--physically and spiritually.

I would love it if you would consider partnering with me. My request is two-fold. I need financial support. The total cost of the trip is $2,500. Any support is significant and will be a blessing. The second way you can partner with me is through your prayers. Please pray for our team as we travel to and in Costa Rica. Pray that God’s will be done as we minister to the people. Also, please pray for the hearts of the Costa Rican people, that they would be turned to the heart of their Heavenly Father.

Would you consider partnering with me as I travel to the nation of Costa Rica? If so, please send all financial contributions to:

River of Life Ministries

P.O. Box 6128

Virginia Beach, VA 23456-0128

Or via (my email is :)

Please write checks to River of Life Ministries. In the memo line, please write RLM Costa Rica-AH (Due to recent changes at the IRS, please do NOT write my name out in the memo line). All contributions are tax deductible and you will receive a receipt in the mail. Also, all donors to RLM are automatically added to the newsletter distribution list. If you do not wish to receive RLM’s newsletter, please make note of that on the envelope or on a separate sheet of paper.

Thank you for your prayers and support. I will send out a post-mission letter briefing my trip and all of the awesome things the Lord did.

Ashley :)

*River of Life Ministries  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


It's been several years since, but I'd like to share a dream I had back in college (around 2008).  It goes like this: I had walked into this building.  There were winding halls, doors everywhere, and it was dimly lit.  I was only with about 2 other people, and we were frantically trying to find a way out.  Everywhere we turned, it seemed as if we were getting even more turned around and lost.  Finally, we turned a corner and we could see the light from an open door.  Elated we ran out of the building.  After I had walked out of the building, down the 3-4 stairs I beckoned for another person to come out.  They hesitated, and I kept going.  They eventually came out of the building too.  Now I was running.  The wind picked up, and what had been sunshine and blue skies had begun to change.  The wind picked up and dark clouds encroached like a storm coming at high speeds.  I turned around, and looked up.  The clouds were coming from behind me, moving towards me and the building which I had fled from.  When I stopped for that moment, I looked at the building.  There was a sign on top of it.  

Since this dream I have not truly understood what it meant, if God was trying to speak (which I believe God does speak through dreams as per my personal experience) or warning me of something in the future, or of my own self. 

When people think of pluralism, we often think of diversity, acceptance of multiple views, state of society, etc.  However, in the Merriem Webster Dictionary it is also defined as "a theory that there are more than one or more than two kinds of ultimate reality".  This got me thinking a little bit.  In my view, it comes across as very New Age.  Perception is reality.  You create your own truth.  Everyone is right in his own way.  If you don't agree or accept then you're intolerant of other views, etc. 

This is so dangerous.  In essence, this theory or ideology diminishes a need for God.  The Lord says, "I am the way, the truth and the life..." (John 14:6). 
Today, we can see it all around in our society.  The consequences: the blurring of the line between right and wrong; truth and falsehood.  We are living to an ever-graying culture, taking a dip in the waters of luke-warm.  Living for self, for false gods and for our own pride.  Ego has gotten so big, that now, to save face, we are all right, all the time.  Anything goes...right?

Perhaps in the eyes of the world; however we are called to live a life which glorifies God, a life of righteousness.  To be in relationship with Him, and live like we spend time with Him.  Now we all mess up--thank goodness for grace, which through Jesus filled the gap between life and death; now everlasting life. 

Take heart.  Seek God and you will find TRUTH.  Don't live a luke-warm lifestyle.  Stand tall even if you're standing alone, right?  Truth is you're technically not alone, but stand. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Common Sense Obituary

Touche!  This was too good to pass up.  I can not take credit for it, but the title is "Obituary of Common Sense" (London Times).  Enjoy! 

"Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

Knowing when to come in out of the rain; accidents may happen; If it ain't broken, don't fix it; why the early bird gets the worm; Life isn't always fair; and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home but the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little on her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, his wife, Discretion, his daughters, Responsibility and Integrity and his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights; I Want It Now; Someone Else Is To Blame and I'm A Victim. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone."

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What are you seeing?

"If all you're seeing is what you're seeing, then you're not seeing all there is to be seen". 

The first time I heard this was last night during a Lifeway Simulcast  featuring Priscilla Shirer, a powerful woman of God.  Thankfully she repeated this twice becaue at first, it doesn't seem to make sense; however when you really meditate on it, it changes your perspective--or at least it did mine.  This weekend's simulcast was so powerful and truly was one of those moments when you feel like God is speaking directly to you (because He was), and I just want to share some of my thoughts from it. 

The phrase above really sums up the ministry time for me.  We often as people (especially in western cultures) fill our lives up with a lot of things (ie- work, school, hobbies, shopping, starbucks visits, etc.).  This isn't necessarily a bad thing...unless it encroaches on time with God.  The word "Sabbath" means to rest or pause.  The purpose of it is rest, more importantly rest in the Lord.  When the Israelites were in the wilderness after God saved them from slavery in Egypt, God then had the task of taking the "Egypt" mentality out of them.  For hundreds of years the Israelites had worked, worked, worked--to please Pharoah and the gods.  Now they were in the wilderness, complaining (really, they had been freed?).  I know in my life, I get so caught up in busy-ness; when I've got a long period of down time I start complaining, becoming restless and anxious to get back to my "auto-pilot" lifestyle....why?  Because I don't know how to rest! 

So what does this have to do with the initial phrase? 

We often can't rest in God's provision because we are too caught up in the flesh (our own circumstances, our own, me, me).  "If all you're seeing is what you're seeing" other words if you are living daily by sight alone, by circumstances alone, by other's attitudes towards you alone; by what you think of as lacking in your life alone; by feelings alone...
"then you're not seeing all there is to be seen"... If we live by only what we see at face value in our lives, we've missed the whole picture.  We've missed God's hand in our and [what Priscilla called living with] "Sabbath margins" is the time in which we should spend time with God. A time to look back and reflect on the "breadcrumbs" behind us of which we see God's work and provision throughout our lives on days 1-6 (Sabbath is the 7th day).  So if you're like me, in a "wilderness" time, this is a great lesson to learn, and season to be in because God will provide and will bless you in great abundance (John 10:10).  It also leads to something greater than we can imagine.  Isaiah 35:6 says, "In the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert".  God is preparing a way for you and I, take time to see and obey.  Selah. 
Now, I realize this is not a "stream", but to me this picture is useful just as a mental reference for the scripture in Isaiah.  The waters break out, streams in the desert, life and abundance where there used to be nothing.  Tafilat Oasis in southern Morocco (2008).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Identity Crisis: Who do you say I am?

****Note: This is a continuation of my previous post, "Identity Crisis:Who am I?".  See the previous post first.

The Lord spoke.  It caught me off guard, but I knew exactly what He was saying and why He was saying it.  I was immediately convicted, and repented for making God feel the way I had felt because I was hurting. 

I had gotten myself in so much of a tizzy, and instead of coming to the Lord with my problems and my insecurity I had totally bypassed Him.  Sorry to admit, I liked having my fit, my pity party.  There are a few things God taught me, and still has to remind me of from time to time, that I'd like to share. 

On January 19, 2011 I wrote in my journal and I want to share with you some of what I wrote:
"Even though I've been boxed in, labelled, judged, misunderstood, etc that has not been the object of this life lesson.  How people have treated me is not what my focus should be on.  Who I am in the worldly sense is not important at all!  I've been so down and distressed that people don't look at me in the way I do myself.  The only opinion I should care about is the Lord's.  My identity is in Jesus Christ.  While He has blessed me with being born in a great country--my birthright is within God's kingdom--not of the one's in this world (Philippians 3:20)". 

You see I was so bent on being accepted by the standards of this world.  Honestly, the "labels" are temporary, they will someday pass away and what will be left?  When you get caught up in checking the world's boxes, you're surely headed for destruction, depression and fear.  BUT, when you fully come to terms with who you are in the eyes of God, then you're on a path toward joy and contentment. 

I put God in a box all the time.  As people we have standards and limits.  Our minds have limits--God is limitless.  All things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26).  Think about it, what does God call himself?  "I am."  He is everything. 

Think about this:  people tear you down to elevate themselves.  Father God sent His son, Jesus Christ (who is fully God, fully man) to live among us sinners for a purpose--that those who tore down, demeaned, and crucified Jesus (our sins were upon Him) might someday be elevated and adopted into the Kingdom of God.  Wow. 

So just as Jesus asked Peter, He asks us, "Who is it that you say I am?"  Recognize who God is, get to know Him before boxing Him in.  He is a big God, much to big and much too great to be placed in our small box.  Allow Him to be who He says He is in your life.  Since I've stopped boxing Him in, and spent more and more time with Him, He truly is mighty in power. 

Lastly, one of my absolute favorite chapters in the Bible is Job 38 "The Lord Speaks".  It's awesome and shows just how BIG God is! 


Identity Crisis: Who am I?

****Note: read this before reading "Identity Crisis: Who do you say I am?"

In my last post I mentioned that I had studied in London for a year.  During that year, I went through what I now call my "identity crisis" (sort of like a mid-life crisis would be but a few years earlier, I mean I'm only 22).  I was a foreigner living in another country, in another culture and in another mindset.  Have you ever had experiences where people pass judgement on you?  I don't necessarily mean the type that's negative or insulting, rather when people make assumptions about you, your thoughts, your religion, life, etc.  In short, have people ever put you in a box?  Have you ever gotten the feeling you were the heading of a checklist, and they were going down the list to see if you fit into their box? 

I experienced this everywhere I went.  Until people heard my accent, they assumed I was British, Canadian, Indian, Spanish, Italian (that's partially true), Arab, the list goes on.  Once I even got Albanian (I'm not too sure even where that is).  I studied Middle East politics, which most have strong views on.  My views were often standing alone, but many, including my professors would assume what I thought (or at least what I should think).  Even on American politics, people would "school" me on how I should think (there's a lot of uninformed perceptions about people from the American south)because it was how they thought.  When it came to religious beliefs, I came into some interesting conversations with people.  Many assumed my religious beliefs based on how I looked (and my last name), not how I acted or what I said.  I wasn't checking any of the boxes at all--it frustrated them and it frustrated me. 

It's funny now, I had an argument with my Farsi language professor about what nationality I was.  She was telling me I was Iranian (because my last name is Persian).  I told her "No, I'm American.  My parents are American."  She got frustrated and so did I.  We went another two times like this until she gave up.  I couldn't help but think, "I think I know a little better than you who I am" (yeah I was low on grace that day).  I had another incident with a girl who thought I didn't fully understand my thoughts on certain American political issues.  She (being from another country) told me I was not as informed as her on the politics of my own country.... we had very different views in case you didn't catch on.  That night, I had had it up to my neck with others, who didn't even know me, trying to tell me how I should think, act, believe, etc. 

Finally, after my ranting and outrage the Lord spoke to me clear as day "Now you know how I feel when you put me in a box".   Selah. 

(Continued in "Identity Crisis: Who do you say I am?", 4/28/12)