A Praise – 9/16/15
God is Good

I am singing some praises to the Lord this morning. Taking the time to reflect on the goodness of God is something I want to make a daily habit out of.

Gratitude brings joy to the heart even on the worst of days!

Will you join me in giving Him the praise He is due for the Light in our lives?

“O my Strength, I will sing praises to You;
For God is my stronghold,
the God who shows me lovingkindness.”
Psalm 59:17


God is Good , www.lorditsmeagain.com, Lord Its Me Again

A Reflection – 9/11/15 –
A Message for The Church …
The Truth Will Set You Free

Have you ever sat and complained to God about a certain person or group of people only to have Him reveal that you used to walk in those shoes? Much of my current revelation has included how much grace I have been lavished with personally. I honestly believe the truth will set us free, so it is time to be honest with ourselves as Christians.

Lately, I have been pretty irritated with the amount of people who claim to be Christian, but whose behavior speaks adamantly that they aren’t, and it is obvious they have no desire to change. I have had such a fire in my heart for this group of people for awhile. God has just recently turned that fire of irritation to a fire of love. I have a heart for those who have said the “Get Out of Hell Free” prayer, and think they are covered even though their lifestyle proves their heart was not in that prayer. I have a heart for those people and feel drawn to correct them, because I used to be one. And I wish someone had stopped me in my tracks and let me know it. Would I have taken it well? Uh, No, but it makes my heart sad that no one “loved” me enough to tell me I was wrong. Yet, all things have worked out for good, now that I love Christ. Now He is using my journey to help others on theirs.

So here is part of my testimony, followed by what I have on my heart to share with my brothers & sisters in Christ.

In college I was someone who went out and got tanked on a Saturday night, stumbled into the church door on Sunday morning, and believed it was all good so long as I felt bad about what I did. Eventually that behavior would become a thing of the past right? Then I grew into a “believer” who went out only on Friday nights to get drunk, because I needed to not be hung over on Sunday. I had read a few Christian books, and I occasionally did a shot-gun prayer and read a Psalm or two out of my Bible. That was better than nothing, at least I had made “progress”, right? Eventually I only occasionally lost control, learned to bridle my tongue in the correct times and places, learned some Christian-ese, and had it together enough to fool some people. But I wasn’t fooling God.

In hind sight, I always knew that I wasn’t where I should be. Eventually, I wanted to take my masquerade a little farther. I decided to try out one of these Christian conferences all the church ladies went to. I didn’t know anyone I was going with and the trip started out pretty rough, but over those few days through the testimonies of women I didn’t even know, Jesus lovingly did what others hadn’t. It was lovingly, but it sure didn’t feel that great at first. Through testimonies and teachings, and times of prayer and praise, Jesus snatched me up by the back of the neck, and opened my eyes to how little I really loved Him. I knew that I wasn’t a Christian up until that point. I may have been saved from hell, because I did believe that Jesus was God’s son and said that prayer, but I certainly was not allowing Jesus to be Lord of my life before that point. I definitely was doing more harm to His kingdom and those looking for it than good.

Yesterday, I came across a passage in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and I thought that it was the best response I have read for people who believe that Christ’s only call to us was to LOVE HUMANITY and that the rest of it really doesn’t matter. These are people that believe that our behavior is of little consequence to the people around us; it is only between us and God. The type of person I am talking about believes that so long as they believe Jesus was a real person that their behavior doesn’t matter and where their heart is doesn’t matter, so long as they are “good” people.

After all, no one is perfect, right? And the Bible says not to judge… Wrong.

These people often believe that going to a church building means they have a relationship with Christ, but even after a lifetime in a building their life is not marked by any kind of radical change when compared to the rest of society. They try to keep one foot in the world and one foot in the church. I am not just talking about sporadic church attendees either, I am also talking about people who show up every Sunday, people who are involved. When Jesus found me, I was going to church every Sunday.

A couple of the people I have on my heart include people who volunteer in the nursery and Sunday school rooms, praise and worship team members, elders and their wives, and even a pastor or two. (Yeah, it is about to get real in here…But time is short and we don’t have time to tip toe around some of these issues.)

In fact, the people doing the most damage to the Church are the people in it. Evil doesn’t need to walk through the doors with a semi-automatic weapon, it has already slithered in with greed, pride, jealousy, controlling spirits, misuse of power, gossip, manipulation, and the acceptance, promotion, and participation of unholy behavior within the Church body.

So what did C.S. Lewis say about only focusing on loving humanity? Can we actually just ignore the call to holiness, the call to live a just life, a righteous life? Some people actually believe that so long as we are “loving humanity” at all cost, we can.

“The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There is not one of them which will not make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide. You might think love of humanity in general was safe, but it is not. If you leave out justice you will find yourself breaking agreements and faking evidence in trials ‘for the sake of humanity’, and become in the end a cruel and treacherous man.”
(C.S. Lewis, ‘Mere Christianity’, p 11-12)

Now I know some people may instantly jump to 1 John 4:8 and spout off that God is love. Yes, and in that same passage John references the death of Christ for our sins, which some may not consider “loving” according to our world standards, but it was the proof of God’s love. I am not denying that God is love, but I will say that God is not only love. God is light. God is holy. God is perfect. God is just. God is our avenger. God is many things. We have to be careful not to paint God as a giant cute, cuddly teddy bear in the sky that sprinkles out love dust around the world while accepting every sinful act with open arms. God hates sin.

God is unchanging, and if you open to the Old Testament, you can see that God wiped out whole populations of people who sinned,  and those who stood against the Israelites, His chosen people.  He even opened the earth and swallowed up a whole group of His own chosen people because of their sins. He did not stop being a God who desires holiness when the New Testament rolled around. He did not stop becoming the defender of His people either. The New Testament resounds the command Moses gave the Israelites from God to purge the sin out from among us – in the church. I truly believe, God is going to raise up those who are really after His heart to correct what is going on within His camp, because our sinful ways are harming the spreading of the Faith. These people may be met with resistance, they may be rejected, but make no mistake – they are right in what they are doing.

We are to do all things in love, but sometimes, as any believer can tell you, Christ’s love hurts so good. When He found me, His correction hurt, but it was so-so-so-so good. His love does not look like our “earthly” love, and Thank God for that. Our love can be wrongly founded, jealous, selfish, and a host of other evil things. HIS LOVE IS NOT LIKE OURS, none of His ways are. His love tells us that we are sinners, but that our sins can be forgiven. I don’t know about you, but sometimes coming face to face with my sin isn’t pretty and it doesn’t feel good. His love tells us to go and sin no more, because walking in sin causes spiritual death and He loves us too much to let us live like that. Doing battle with sin is hard, Christ came so that we can win the battle, but He didn’t promise it would be “easy”. His love makes us aware of our weakness, past & present, to squash the sin of pride, and allow His love to embrace us and strengthen us all the more. His love is full of righteousness and justice. His love is PERFECT and HOLY.

So, if we love as Christ so loves us, then we are going to have to do these same types of loving things for the world. When we are telling other people about Christ, we have to acknowledge they are a sinner and that we are a sinner, but that Jesus died so we do not have to let it rule us anymore. He died so we can conquer that sin, day by day, and live a new life in Him and once we have a new life in Him we will be amazed at how unpleasant and obviously harmful walking in sin becomes. Our view of sin changes, because we know that God loves us and we desire to please Him. When we share the Truth with others it should be because we love them too much to imagine them spending an eternity in hell. True love means risking offending someone in order to ensure they have heard the truth.   That is a true and holy love for humanity.

But how can we do that when we ourselves are sleeping with the enemy?

When someone is walking towards Christ alongside us, when we have become brothers & sisters in Christ, it becomes our duty to help them see their blind spots and their duty to help us with ours. We call them out in love. Now there is a particular way this should be done, but it is supposed to be done. If we are in a good relationship with Christ, and have dealt with the plank in our own eye before helping them with their speck, we will do this in love. We also need to be cautious that we accept correction just as lovingly as we like to give it.

We do not get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible we want to believe. Christianity is not a buffet of faith where we pick what we want to believe.   If you sign up for Christ, you sign up for the beautiful parts and the not so easy parts. Christianity is not a democracy where we get together and decide that God was wrong when His Spirit led the authors of the Bible, and vote in what we believe is “right” instead. If any of the Bible could be wrong, then all of the Bible could wrong. It is either the whole Truth, the inerrant Word of God, or it is not. You do not get to pick and choose which truths are convenient to you and call yourself a Christian. You are damaging other people’s faith, and hindering people who may have otherwise come to Jesus already. Not to mention, when you knowingly walk in sin, you are spitting in the face of Christ’s sacrifice.

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?  For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Hebrews 10:26-31

I pray that there will be others who rise up and admit their past weaknesses in the faith in order to show by example that there are ways that seem right to men that in the end will only lead to death. I pray that God will fill our mouths with words that will cut to the heart of things in as loving a way as possible. I pray He will also fill our actions with grace and mercy for people who need to hear the Truth. I pray God softens the hardened hearts within His Church, so they can receive correction. Most of all I pray He gives us courage to no longer sit by while the devil has his way with our churches.

If you find that you are one of these people – the misguided, misinformed, or someone who is sleeping with the enemy at night and playing church by day, I pray that you know that there is hope for Christ to save you. Even after you have said all the right things, to all the right people. Even after you are in a position that people would gasp to know that you need some gut wrenching repentance. Who cares what they think? The One you need to get right with is God. One of the greatest miracles is when someone gets saved out of a lifetime in the church building.   I will be praying for you, brothers & sisters, because allowing our pride to take the backseat isn’t always the easiest thing to do. I know I struggled with admitting where I was, but I thank God that He gave me the grace to be humble enough to do so. I am not where I want to be, but Praise the Lord I am not where I used to be.

If you are not a Christian and hesitate to believe in Jesus, because you have met way too many people who claim to know Christ but act no different than any other “religious” group, please seek Him for yourself. Seek the Truth for yourself. Read the Bible. Yes, I know that there are astounding numbers of people who “profess” Christ who really do not know Him at all in America, but if you search just a little deeper, you will find those who do love Him. You will find people that are marked by a radical change in lifestyle and heart. You will meet people who will make it obvious that Christ does exist. You will meet people who are willing to walk the narrow way with you. They are out there. Pray for God to lead you to them.

You will not be alone in your prayer. I pray for God to give me discernment and to connect me supernaturally to those who are the most on fire for Him. It seems our Christian numbers are dwindling, but I will not lose faith or hope that He can make a way when there seems to be none.

All need grace and all is grace, friends!


The Truth Will Set You Free - Lord Its Me Again

A Reflection – 9/3/15
When Did Christian Become
Synonymous with Weak?

Yesterday I read a blog post that was linked on the Focus on the Family Facebook page and I just found myself nodding in agreement. Finally, someone else said it! I am not alone in my thoughts and battle.

Wanted: Tough Christians is a post by Gary Thomas, and it begins with a pretty powerful one-liner – This is not a generation in which weak Christians will do well.”   This piece really articulated part of my disappointment in the American Church. With churches on every street corner, why are a majority of American “Christians” so weak in the faith? It isn’t because they lack access to other believers. My belief is that the size and structure of our churches easily allows attendees to be present, but not really active. Even some of the believers who are “involved” to the max, those who are the most busy with works, those who you would figure are strong in faith, are weak.

I am sure I will say this a million times in my life: Just because you go to church that does not make you a Christian. Just because you believe that the Bible is true, it does not make you one of God’s children. The Bible says that even the demons believe in Jesus and fear Him. Demons definitely are not saved.

In his post Mr. Thomas discusses the life of the prophet, Jeremiah, who stood firm through the many trials in his life. His family and friends forsook him, his country men thought him a traitor, and he spent time in the most horrible of situations physically. Yet, he remained faithful to the job that God had called him to do. Even after he was cast into a cistern and left to die.

“Jeremiah lived to see another day, but he certainly never became a popular and revered religious leader, the equivalent of a bestselling author or a popular speaker on the religious circuit today.”

It seems that the most popular of our modern day religious leaders, the ones that churches flock in droves to do the latest book studies of, are the ones that are saying what tickles the ears but their works are not producing fruit. Their books contain enough of the Bible to be considered “Christian” by bookstore standards, but contain no true calls to radical righteous living. No true calls to follow the example of Christ. They are just Christian enough to make us feel like we are “active”.

We live in a country where we can freely practice Christianity. Currently our only real struggles are battling the media’s attempts to put “failed” Christians in the lime light and some liberal minded people’s shenanigans trying to remove Christianity from association with the government. Yes, it breaks my heart that Christians have to have their sins aired in this country thanks to the media. Although, I can’t say that I am overly concerned about the government’s association with Christianity, so long as they do not start associating with another belief system and forcing it on people. God gives us free will, so I believe our government should do the same.

If you are super opposed to that opinion, think for a minute if the majority of the U.S. population were Muslim, as they are the fastest growing religion in the world. Would you want that forced on your children? I wouldn’t, and I believe that genuine faith is created out of choice not force.

While we are over here worried about the media and liberalism, our brothers and sisters in the Middle East are being brutalized, raped, beheaded, and slaughtered for their beliefs. There are also those who are not Christian, but will not accept radical Muslim beliefs that are dying in the cross fire. They are experiencing the worst of persecution. They are suffering and dying by the sword. All for the sake of not denying Christ. That is strong faith.

“Who among us today would have the strength, the perseverance, the courage, to live such a life and endure such a ministry? A weak man or woman, expecting nothing but prosperity, comfort and health, would wilt within two weeks.”

Meanwhile in America, we have churches the size of stadiums that preach that God wants you to be happy, wealthy, and healthy and “Christians” flock to that message like flies to sugar. The leaders of these droves are best selling authors. Their services are aired on television. They are welcomed onto day time television talk shows. Was Jesus ever readily embraced by the society around Him? These so called “Christian” leaders pick and choose what they believe from the Bible, and pretend God is some magic fairy who just sprinkles you with prosperity dust once you say the “Get Out of Hell Free” prayer. And we wonder why people are leaving the American Church in droves and seeking answers elsewhere?

Anyone who spends about five minutes reading the Bible can see right through the prosperity nonsense. Jesus faced persecution – we will face persecution. The world hated Him – they will hate us. There was low ground, middle ground, and high ground in the early Church’s life. The same will be true for us. So if you are not adamant about seeking Christ and growing strong in the faith, when the middle ground comes you are going to fall off the wagon. Even those so-so in strength in the faith will fall off when it hits rock bottom.   The only way you are going to make it through is by establishing yourself on The Rock. Establishing yourself takes time and effort. Yes, we are saved by grace alone, but to be sanctified takes us coming to the Lord continually. That is how you grow in strength.

According to the book of Acts, one of the Apostle Paul’s great ministries was “strengthening the souls of the disciples” by “encouraging” them with the words, “Through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). The early church expected persecution and so was strengthened and encouraged by it, as opposed to being cast into a season of doubt and despair.

We serve a God of many kindnesses and mercies, who treats us far better than we ever deserve. But we also serve the General of all generals, who leads His men and women into battle for the truth. Brothers and sisters, we need to take up our spiritual arms and march bravely forward. We need tough Christians in the days ahead.

If you believe that your walk with Christ is going to be through meadows filled with unicorns and fairies, you are sorely mistaken. If you are truly fighting in the war for the truth, you are going to encounter some battles that are ugly. The difference between outcomes in the weak in faith’s battle and those who are strong in faith will be drastic. I agree with Thomas’s assertion of the outcome. The weak will “either “adjust” their message accordingly or collapse into bitterness, thinking that God hasn’t kept up His end of the bargain”. The strong will be victorious in Christ and will come out even stronger on the other side of the battle.

If someone who really knows you were to describe your faith, would they describe you as weak or strong? How would you describe your own strength? We can all improve in areas of our faith, but what is your overall faith like? If you were faced with a sword today and told if you do not deny Christ your head would roll, what would you do?

If you are strong in faith and can emphatically say you would not deny Christ, Praise God.  Pray for those who will choose the contrary. Pray for those who are actually having to make the choice. If you second guess your response, I pray that you seek the Lord today and pray for Him to bring you closer to Him and to increase your strength.

Once we are in a place of strength, I believe it is our God given duty to strengthen those around us. To build up the Army of God. Make no mistake, we are not here to live out our days in some false rainbow and unicorn filled reality while the world burns down around us. We are here to do battle against darkness which is rampant through out the world. You may not always see it in your corner of suburbia, but if you believe in Christ, your heart should be hyper aware of the struggle of your brothers and sisters in The Faith around the world. It should be breaking as if that was your actual physical brother or sister, or your son or daughter.

So what say you? As the darkness starts to overcome our country and starts to rear its ugly head around the world, are you going to run and hide or are you going to stand up and go to war? If you profess to be a believer and think the thought of spiritual war is a tad bit over zealous, your faith may be weaker than you think.

All need grace and all is grace, friends!


James 2:17-19

Images courtesy of Sura Nualpradid and maniaroom at FreeDigitalPhotos.Net.


Dear Lord,

I approach Your Throne today with a humbled heart.  May You strengthen my faith where it is weak.  Please, draw me closer to You and build up my spiritual strength.  Help me to see how I can reach out to those who are weaker than me and help them gain strength in You.

I pray for my brothers and sisters around the world who are facing the worst of persecution, because they love You.  I pray that they remain steadfast in their profession of Christ and that they are well aware of the greatness of Your love for them.  Encourage them that even though the battle may be treacherous, the war has already been won.

It is in Your Son’s beautiful name I pray.

Amen.

 

A Prayer – 9/1/15
Help Me Live at Peace…
Even on the Internet

Dear Lord,

My heart is heavy this morning. You have revealed to me on numerous occasions that the internet is the devil’s playground. I can see it now more than ever. Social media is his stomping ground. Blogs are his past time. He will use every means possible to confuse the masses. After all, He is a master manipulator. Not only does he use this tool to promote sin in every form, he also parades around it as a wolf in “Christian” sheep clothing trying to confuse those who are interested in You, but haven’t found You, and leading those who are weak in faith and knowledge away from The Truth.

Father, help me to have super natural discernment. Allow the Holy Spirit to come into my heart, rule my mind, and keep me from falling into the devil’s snares. Guide me to pray and search your Word for answers to the things I question. Help me to not sin in my anger at the lies and sinful things I encounter. Help me to live at peace with everyone, even on the internet. It is so easy to ignore that their little avatar or picture is connected to an actual soul.

On the other hand, Lord, please do not let me misuse “peace” as an excuse to do nothing in the face of unrighteousness. Help me to be grace filled. When you call me to, help me to speak Your truth in Love. Help me know that you do not call me to every battle, but you will equip me for the battles You have called me to.

Lord, help me not doubt that Your power can be glorified in my weakness. Even when that weakness is knowledge of biblical history, certain doctrinal beliefs, and theology. I know that the devil knows Your Word inside and out and will try to confuse even the most well versed of Christians. Use me as the weak that shames the strong. Help me to grow stronger in my knowledge of You every day, but also help me to be open minded to those people my heart may consider weaker in faith.

God, please use the precious time that I pour into my writing for Your glory. Whether that is in response to an article or blog post that is filled with “Christian” opinions that are not founded in Your Truth, or when I stumble through trying to convey what you put on my heart. Continue to help me put my fleshly desires and opinions away, and to shine a light on Your Word. Help me to discern between my own desire to be right, and the desire You have placed on my heart to correct those who are misguiding Your sheep.

I also pray for my friends and family, that they are careful in how they spend their time. That they do not fall for the devil’s tricks. Oh be careful little eyes what you see… Oh be careful little fingers where you click…   Although there are thousands of voices out there on the internet, Lord, I know it can be one lonesome place. We can fall under the belief that just because we are not physically doing something wrong, it is not wrong. May our hearts yearn for holiness, Your perfect holiness.

As I head into my time of worshipping You this morning, may my heart be open to Your correction. Renew in me fervor for Your righteousness. Draw me close to You, break my heart for what breaks Yours. Lead me, Father.

It is in Your Son’s beautiful name I pray.

Amen.


Romans 12:18

Photo courtesy of blackzheep at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A Reflection – 8/28/15 –
What Are Your Priorities?

Behold, God is my helper.
The Lord is the sustainer of my soul.
Psalm 54:4 NASB

This week I have been fighting another straight out assault on my quiet time. It was as if it was a structured, well thought out plan to keep me from feeling able to sit down to pray, read, and write. This attack definitely put a stop to my work on my blog. I see now why my life was such a desperate wreck before I spent time with Christ daily.  How did I ever manage to live without Him? Breathe without Him?

The first few days of only shot-gun prayers left me feeling weak and desperate, both emotionally and physically. Finally, yesterday I was able to sit down for some quiet time, but I had to retrain myself to focus in. Not only did I have to retrain myself to focus, I am having to retrain my daughter to respect my time alone with God.

Thank the Lord that He has mercy on us even when we do not feel we have time for Him. In hind sight, I could have forced myself to be alone. I could have read through the children screaming and running around me at the table. I could have locked myself in the bathroom to pray, or prayed while I angrily scrubbed algae from the walls of our pool. I could have read my Bible on the nifty app on my phone instead of scrolling through Facebook while waiting on my doctor. Could of, would of, should of…

This morning while thinking about my frustration with how hard this week has been, God gently showed me how I could have still spent time with Him all along the way. Isn’t it wonderful how God can turn every attack into a lesson that will grow our faith?

I have once again been reminded that there is never a day where I do not have time for God. I may feel like I can’t fit Him into my schedule, but if it weren’t for Him I wouldn’t even have a schedule. He sustains my life. He is my life. That is what we sign up for when we say that we want to forsake all others (including ourselves), take up our cross and follow Him.

Are you struggling with making God a priority in your daily life? There is no good excuse not to. If we truly value our relationship with Christ, He should be our top priority. Ask for God to reveal to you how you can better spend your time. Can you wake up earlier? Can you read your Bible instead of ending the day staring at a screen? What about your lunch break? We all waste time through out our day, and when we ignore God even though we actually do have time to spend with Him, it is like spitting in the face of our faith. Our actions are saying that everything else is more important than Christ.

I pray that we all can remain faithful to time in the Word and prayer, and when we get our priorities out of line, I pray we repent and return to the One who sustains us.

How is your schedule looking today?  What are your priorities?

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

John 3:30
He must increase, but I must decrease.

Matthew 22:37
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

Proverbs 16:3
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

Matthew 16:24
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

All need grace and all is grace, friends!


Psalm 54:4

Photo credit.

A Reflection – 8/20/15 –
Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us
—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—
so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles,

so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”
Galatians 3:13-14 ESV

I have read through Galatians many times, but until this morning the Spirit did not reveal the weight of these verses to me. Undoubtedly, I was not at a point in my walk where I was ready for them.

I know without a doubt that Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins, and I believe in the triune God. I also know that Jesus promised it would be better for Him to leave this world so that we could receive the Holy Spirit. I know the Holy Spirit is living in me. I guess what I didn’t realize is that one of the reasons Christ died on the cross was so that we could receive the Holy Spirit. If that is so, why do so many Christians ignore this essential part of God in our walk?

I have been praying that God reveals more of the spiritual world to me. I am no longer satisfied with mediocre glimpses of spiritual things. I have come to a place in my walk where life may get a tad bit uncomfortable. I hope so. I have been praying for God to reveal His Spirit to me in a very real way. I want it to be evident, so much so that my analytical mind can not break it down. I am to a point in my life where I care less about other people’s opinions of me, and more about just getting after Jesus’ plan for my life. It is scary, but He has proven Himself to be real and faithful.

I am sure that some people may wonder why asking God to reveal more of Himself to me is scary. Well, if you believe God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, then His power should scare you – in an awesome way. God deserves our reverence. It is because He is almighty that we worship Him. So, yes, I am a bit nervous that I may not like what God shows me. After all, we can all use work in the holiness department. What if God asks me to do something “radical” when compared to my mediocre day to day walk? I am also fearful of my own response, and I pray I will have the courage to listen.

All of us like to pray for what we want, but many of us do not ever take time to ask for God’s will to be done in our lives. As I walk through yet another autoimmune disorder that my doctor is working on identifying, I find myself praying for medical healing, not miraculous healing. What if God is trying to stretch my belief in what the Spirit can and will do? I find myself praying for what I think would be best and what I best understand, not for God’s will. What if God’s will is that I walk through another disease, because it grows my faith in Him in ways that would not happen otherwise?

Do you have a situation in your life in which the Spirit’s power could be revealed in awesome ways, but you find yourself praying for a worldly solution? I believe every trial presents an opportunity for us to stretch our faith. What if we all believed and prayed as some of the first believers did after they received the Spirit? Paul went around doing battle with darkness – casting out demons, praying for and seeing miraculous healings, and finding joy in the worst of situations. Paul and everyone around him were able to catch glimpses of God’s awesome power on a regular basis!

There aren’t many times I find myself envying those in third world living situations, but when it comes to seeing the Spirit at work, I find myself envying the people that American’s go on “missions” to help. If we really look at it, the mission is actually helping our faith more than theirs. I have heard countless stories of the Holy Spirit’s movement in the most desperate of places and situations. I believe it. After all, I seek and see God the most when I am in despair.

Most of us sit in the lap of luxury here in America, especially when compared to the majority of the rest of the world’s population. We are blessed in abundance in most every area, but spirituality. I believe that is because it is really hard to seek God earnestly when we are not in need. The Israelites proved that after their trek through the wilderness ended in the promised land. Even after 40 years of reminders, they still forgot God when things were going well.

Whatever you are battling today, I pray that you seek God’s will for your situation. Do not be afraid to ask for it. My prayer life is evolving, and I have found myself changing from only praying for what I would desire, but also remembering to ask God for His will to trump my desire. I still have days where I forget to even ask God’s counsel or will, and just shotgun my wants, but they are becoming less numerous with time. Whatever you lack or desire, whatever your struggle, I pray that you and I remember that God’s will is always going to be the best option.   I also pray that we remember that we can and should ask for and seek the miraculous.

All need grace and all is grace, friends!


Galatians 3:14

Background image courtesy of rakratchada torsap at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


 

A Reflection – 8/10/15 –
The Pursuit of Peace

Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.

Psalm 34:14

The other day as we were driving to the YMCA, we were listening to a few children’s Bible songs and their simple focus on God really stirred my heart. One of the songs in particular became my mantra for that day and has been stuck on replay in my mind. “This is the day which the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (It is based on Psalm 118:24.)

Sadly, so much of modern Christian music is focused on the believer rather than Who we believe in. It is rare to turn on a Christian radio station and catch a tune that focuses solely on God. I love that I can learn to just simply focus on how good God is right alongside Sister and Brother. Out of the mouth of babes, right? I pray to have eyes that focus upward on Christ, rather than inward on what it means for me.

While studying the Bible last week, Psalm 34:14 struck me as a simple way to redirect my focus every day. I am going to work on writing this Psalm on my heart and meditating on its meaning.

Depart from evil And do the opposite – GOOD.
evil: Morally wrong, bad, wicked, or characterized or accompanied by misfortune or suffering. Marked by anger, irritability, irascibility, etc.

What exactly does “evil” mean? Many times I think we focus on only the most deplorable of actions, and by doing so we allow many evil things to just take up residence in our lives. To me evil simply means an action or a thing that lacks holiness. When I looked up the definition of the word evil, it started to blossom in meaning.   Psalm 34 calls us to depart from evil, which means to leave behind things that are morally wrong, including our anger, and any behavior that would cause hurt to someone else. This includes sarcasm, television shows, music, and a host of other things.

Seek peace… Go in search or quest of Shalom
Shalom: Jewish word of greeting, literally “peace”, properly “completeness, soundness, welfare”

As Christians we should be in continual search of Peace. It is not by coincidence that Christ is called the Prince of Peace. We should be continually seeking Him to complete us. He is our peace. This is a daily thing. In fact, we should strive for it to be a moment by moment thing.

Pursue it…
pursue: to follow close upon or to proceed in accordance with (a method, plan, etc.)

As Christ gives us the peace we need day by day, moment by moment, we need to pursue it in our lives. We need to proceed in accordance with the plan of peace. This is probably the hardest part for me. I can get after Jesus first thing in the morning, and then by noon my peace is gone. If you are a parent, you know how on certain days children can suck the peace right out of you. The same goes for people sharing the road, coworkers, spouses, and our four legged furry kiddos. That is where the moment by moment pursuit comes in. We need to refuel more than once a day, even if it is only a few seconds here and there spent in quiet prayer or reciting scripture aloud.

Simply put, we all need to reevaluate our lives several times each day and make sure that Christ is always our priority. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, it is all for the glory of God, and we need to live our lives accordingly. He should be our sole focus.

I pray God gives you grace in your pursuit of Him and His Peace, today and always.

All need grace and all is grace, friends!


Psalm 34:14

 

Dear Sweet Baby Girl –
An Open Letter of Apology

It is not always easy to practice what we preach. Often we see the Church exalting itself for what it does do, instead of humbly seeking where God would have them pour more of themselves out. Today I am going to share a story that humbled my heart. I pray you see it through eyes of grace.

My social skills have never been stellar, and yesterday I failed epically because I lacked the courage to look past what I did not have and to the One who gives freely when I ask.  I wish I could think faster on my feet.  I am not going to let the situation lose its value though.  Even if this letter does not shine the best of light on me, I hope it encourages you to pray for eyes to see the opportunity to share Christ’s love, even if it feels awkward at first.  I have learned that I would rather regret making a fool of myself than regret not saying anything at all.

All need grace and all is grace, friends.


Dear Sweet Baby Girl

I noticed you toddling through the grass when we got to the park today. I immediately wondered where your mother was. A few minutes later your older sister came to scoop you up, and bring you back to the baby area. You looked so precious with your chubby cheeks and unsure legs. As I turned on my computer to write this letter to you, I smiled through tears at a picture on my desktop of my daughter playing on the playground at about the same age you are. She is being steadied on a piece of equipment by her Papa. He followed her step by step that day. My heart breaks wondering why someone wouldn’t do the same for you.

As far as I could tell, you were the youngest of maybe six children at the park with your mother. Two others were awfully close to you in age. Your mom sat on a bench while your older sisters did their best to wrangle you little babes, while also trying to enjoy the playground themselves. Your mom looked worn and tired. Your sisters were trying their hardest to help, but I know that they wanted to be carefree children themselves.

A little while later on the other side of the park, I watched your brother toddle around alone on the big kids equipment. I didn’t know he was with you at the time. I followed him around looking for a parent, a sibling, someone who was there with this beautiful, saggy diapered, sand covered boy. I gently redirected him from places he could fall from while trying not to get too judgmental towards whoever he belonged to. Who would let such a young babe out of their sight? Your sister came a few minutes later looking for him. Thank the Lord. She looked me over questioningly, probably wondering why this random woman was following her brother around.

When we returned to the baby side of the playground, I put it all together. I saw both of your sisters with your mother and the other babies. As I stood hovering over my own daughter, you caught me in your gaze. You locked me into those big, beautiful eyes like a laser and started toddling toward me with arms lifted high. I looked up to see if anyone noticed you were walking away. No one had their eyes on you. Why did no one care that you were walking towards a total stranger? You started whining and stretching your dirt covered fingers towards me. Your arms and legs were covered with sand, and your cheeks were bright red from the heat. I knew what you wanted. I know the look of a tired babe; a babe that just wants to be held and snuggled.

You desperately wanted to be held. And baby girl, I desperately wanted to pick you up, dust you off, and get you something cold to drink. I wanted to hug you, sing with you, and give you the attention you desired. You were dirty, you were tired, and you had been on your own for far too long at that playground. I smiled the best smile I could. Oh honey, I am so sorry that I backed away from you today. I know you didn’t understand. You gave such a whimper when I did. Finally, your sister came over to get you.

My husband read all the signs. He watched what was happening and knew it was time to go. We gathered our two children and headed out. I looked back at you and your siblings several times, my heart breaking all the while. Once we loaded up in the car all I had to say is, “Did you see?”, and my hubby gently responded, “Yes. Where was their mother?”

As we were slowly driving off, I looked for her and by chance, we happened to lock eyes. She looked like she was carrying a million emotions on her shoulders, and in the eye contact I saw it, the questioning look that wondered what I was thinking of her. She had seen you walking towards me and sent your sister over. She probably saw several questionable looks on my face today. My eyes darted away from hers quickly. I wish I had the courage to turn that car around and just go offer to help her. Why didn’t I just go show her some of Christ’s love? Why was I such a coward when it was obvious she needed some support? I wish I could have told her that I wasn’t going to judge, that I just wanted to help. I wish I could have practiced what I preach.

Baby girl, you deserved better from me today. You deserved me stepping out of my comfort zone and just making conversation with your mother. Maybe she needed some attention too. With six children, I am sure she was desperate for some adult interaction.

The images of you on the playground did not leave my mind through out the drive home. I am sure they are going to haunt me for awhile. As I was washing the dirt and grime from my own little girl’s hair, I wondered whether someone would bathe you tonight. Whether your mom would have time to get you all squeaky, clean, and snuggle you before bed or whether one of your sisters would do it. Will someone embrace you tonight? Will they rub your little toes and run fingers through your hair, just like I will to my little guy?

Baby girl, I do not even know you, but you have changed my heart. You have given me the desire to start desperately praying for God to open my eyes sooner to ways I can show His love daily. I am going to start specifically praying for courage and wisdom and eyes to see the opportunity to share Christ. Next time, baby girl, if I ever get graced with a next time, I will pick you up. I will risk your mother thinking I am a crazy person as I walk over to her with her baby in my arms, and ask her if it is alright for me to sit and talk. I will ask her about her story. I will show an interest. I will be courageous. I will show love, grace, and mercy instead walking away.

I pray that you are loved and that maybe I just caught your mom on a bad day. Somehow my heart just can’t accept that. I pray that if your situation is as it looked, that God will show me the grace of seeing you and your family again. I pray He will give me a do over. I pray that He will also continually remind me that we hardly ever get a do over in life, and that I need to remember to be courageous the first time. Next time I hope I remember to pray, even if it is a shot gunner – “God, grant me courage. Help me show your love.”

God loves you, sweet girl.

The Lady Who Walked Away


Jesus calls His followers to care for those who can not care for themselves.  In Matthew 25, Jesus shares an analogy of how He will separate those who are His from those who are not, as well as the eternal consequence of not following Christ. 

Matthew 25:35-40

A Reflection – 8/5/15 –
Holy As He Is Holy – A Legacy of Christ

I am slowly but surely making my way through Forgotten God by Francis Chan. It had been awhile since I picked it up and I had lost my place, so I back tracked a bit. Not by chance I am sure, because God encouraged me with the same passage He had the last time I read it. I definitely needed to read it for a second time (and third and fourth…).

“As disciples of Jesus, being in relationship with Him must be our focus. When we allow others’ perceptions of us (or even our perceptions of their perceptions!) to control how we live, we are enslaved. We become entrenched in the ways of this world and do not live as citizens of heaven, which is another kind of kingdom altogether…. When we become overly concerned about our appearance, our spiritual reputation, our coolness, and our acceptance, we are living as citizens of this world rather than as ambassadors.”

I am sure I need to make a copy of this and tape it to my bathroom mirror, the dash of my car, tattoo it to my forearm – you get the drift. I am an ambassador to this world for Christ.

One of the specific things God has been working on with me is my desire to be accepted. The Spirit has been revealing to me how certain behaviors grieve Him, things I wouldn’t have thought twice about before. Things that I may say or do just to fit into certain social situations I find myself in. Things that some if not most people wouldn’t see a problem with. I am so glad that I can see Him at work in my life, and even though it is painful and often tedious, I find myself desiring more of it. I want to take seriously His command to be holy as He is holy. God doesn’t just want us to be good on the outside. He wants us to strive for holiness inside and out. Our flesh does not naturally desire holiness. Holiness is hard. It takes time, energy, and focus, but it is worth it.

One recent day in particular, I wasn’t exactly feeling too chipper about God’s correction. I found myself arguing against the nudge towards holiness that I have come to love. It was like having an argument with God in my head. I was trying to justify myself, and His correction was short and sweet. “Do you love me?” was what came to my mind. Of course, I thought, and then it set in. I found myself wondering how far I was willing to follow Him, what I was willing to do, how much truth I was willing to share.

Does my life reflect my love for Christ? Do the things I do reflect my desire to be holy as He is holy? Just because there isn’t a specific verse in the Bible about a behavior does not mean it is righteous behavior. If you feel a check in your heart about something, it would be wise to listen to it.

I found myself thinking about the future. If anything ever happened to me, what would be the number one thing I wanted my children to remember about me? Did I want them to remember me as fun, kind, charitable, passionate? Well, those things were nice, but not what I wanted to be remembered for. I want the first thing that comes out of their mouth to be, “Mom loved The Lord.” I would love them to remember the times that I was kind, fun, charitable, and passionate, but I want that all to lead them back to remembering our walk with the Lord. I want every good thing my children remember about me to lead them right back to Him, the source of every good thing. I do not want my own legacy. I want Christ to be my legacy.

What do you want to be remembered for? If you were to leave this world today, what would be the first thing mentioned about you?   Would it be that you are a good parent or an excellent business person? Would your love for your job or sports be the first thing people remember? If what comes to mind is not what you want to be your legacy, then now is the time to change that. If you are a Christian, I will lovingly remind you, that it should be your love for the Lord. If we follow Jesus’ command to love the Lord with all our hearts minds and souls, then He should be the first thing anyone remembers about you. The next will be how loving you were because of that.

Mother Teresa comes to mind when I think about leaving a legacy of love for Christ. Even people who are not Christ followers can not deny that there was something different about the way that woman loved. That she gave herself over for Christ’s cause. You can not remember her without remembering her love for the Lord. She lived it. She is not alone. Our Bible is filled with stories of people who lived it. The world is filled with people who are living out Christ’s command right now. Are you living it out?

All need grace and all is grace, friends!


Colossians 1:10

 

A Reflection – 7/15/15 –
The Words of My Mouth and the Meditations of My Heart

Yesterday morning I was reading Psalm 18 and the second part of verse 19 really struck a chord in my heart. Psalm 18:19 says, “He rescued me, because He delighted in me.” Sometimes I need to remind myself that God actually delights in me. Regardless of how many times I fail, and no matter how ridiculous those failures are, God forgives and forgets them because of Jesus. He rescues me from my sins daily, because He delights in me.

Part of my reflection on that verse was whether or not I actually try to bring Him delight daily. Yesterday morning I prayed that my inward thoughts and outward behaviors would bring Him delight that day. Of course, as is the usual for me, I prayed one thing and by the time the kids were up and about, I forgot all about it. This morning I received a little reminder in Psalm 19.

Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:12-14

Now I know that there will never be a day when I walk a perfect walk, but I want to be sure that every day I am reflecting on what I could have done differently. God has definitely placed a few checks about certain behaviors of mine in my heart. This passage in Psalm 19 this morning was my little reminder.

I have several presumptuous sins. I am ruled by several of them daily. Often they are the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart. Oh that I could have a “speech check” feature to catch certain things before they spill out of my mouth!

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth,
but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment,
so that it will give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29

Do you have any presumptuous sins that you have all but written off as part of your “personality”? When Paul told the church at Corinth that they were a new creature in Christ, he meant it. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “the old things passed away”, and “new things have come”. Many of us keep giving life to certain facets of our personality that should be long dead. (Preaching gospel to myself!)   It is time to let those behaviors take their rightful place in the grave, and to let the new behaviors of the Spirit take their rightful place in our minds, hearts, and actions.

May God help reveal the deadly behaviors in each of our hearts this morning. May He also give us grace to replace them with ones that bring life.

All need grace and all is grace, friends!


Psalm 19:14

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