Thursday, December 27, 2012

Painful Reminder

Last night I went to bed with back pain.  This morning I awoke with even more discomfort making me realize that I have a kidney infection.  This isn't the first time.  This could have been prevented.  You see, I have over indulged in sugar yet again and now I am reaping the consequences.  It is a painful reminder that we will reap what we sow (see Galatians 6:7).

Now I know that sugar is not the greatest analogy for sin.  After all, sugar in and of itself is NOT sinful.  However, it did remind me of the truth that followers of Christ cannot engage in the things of the world and not be affected.  We kid ourselves, though, don't we?  Just like I was kidding myself every time I picked up a chocolate almond cluster and shoved it into my mouth.  I thought, "A little bit won't hurt me" and "It's only during the holidays", but after several trips to the candy dish, a little become too much and now I am in more than a little discomfort.

Thankfully, there is a cure.  I know what needs to be done to get well.  First of all, I must STOP eating and drinking things with sugar in them.  Second, I need to drink a LOT of water.  And third, I need take the homeopathic treatments that have helped me in the past.  If I do these things, I'm confident I will get well.

Spiritually speaking, I also know what needs to be done to be well and stay well.  First, I need to repent of any sin in my life: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).  Second, I need to drink of the Living Water - a LOT, and third I need to pray so that I can be in communication with God, Who has helped me in the past.

A painful reminder of simple truths. 


Saturday, December 15, 2012

His Gospel is Peace

One of my all-time favorite Christmas songs is O Holy  Night!  The second verse is one reason why that is so:

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace. 
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, 
And in His name all oppression shall cease.  
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise His holy name. 
Christ is the Lord! 
O praise His name forever! 
His power and glory evermore proclaim! 
  
Just recently a horrific event made headlines in America and across the world.  A school shooting in Sandy Hook, CT claimed the lives of 27 people, mostly children.  It's times like these that makes a person look inside and wonder just what can bring someone to such depravity.  Many times, and this time is no exception, people flock to churches in search of answers, comfort and peace.  Yes, God is the God of comfort and peace.  It saddens me that it takes a tragedy to remind people of that.  However, He never turns people away when they seek Him.  He is faithful.  He is our strong tower.  He is our refuge.
Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace!  His gospel IS peace!  Knowing this is not enough, however.  You must confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead - then you will be saved (see Romans 10:9). 

So why am I talking about a Christmas song and a school shooting in the same post? Because if we will proclaim the Gospel of Christ to everyone we meet, they will have the opportunity to hear the good news of peace and accept it.  If they do accept it, that is one less person who will feel there is no other choice but to take innocent lives and then their own.  When man has no hope, he has no respect for life.  Not his own nor anyone else. 

Mankind does not originate from animals.  Mankind was created in the image of God and every person has worth.  Everyone has value.  Everyone has a purpose.  That purpose is to worship God, our creator.  It really does not get any more simple than that.  



Sunday, December 2, 2012

I Want More!

This morning I felt the Holy Spirit stirring within me, compelling me to approach my God in earnest prayer.  Even now, I still feel the Spirit moving me to act.  Sharing on this blog is a miniscule way, but I believe it's one way that pleases Him.

There is so much more that God wants OF us and FOR us (the Church)!  We are cheating ourselves out of witnessing God's miracles because we are content with complacency.  He desires to show us things, tell us things that we do not know: "Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." Jeremiah 33:3

God is a god of miracles! He need only speak and galaxies explode into splendor! He breathed life into a dusty form and man awoke to life!  The earth is filled with His majesty and yet we go about our daily lives barely taking notice of our Divine Maker.

Jesus performed miracles on a daily basis during His earthly ministry.  He said that we (His disciples) would be able to do even greater things! (see John 14:12) Jesus knew that after His death, burial, and resurrection He would extend that power to everyone who would believe in Him and confess Him as Lord!  (see Romans 10:9-10).  He knew that the Holy Spirit would come and fill us up with HIS power to continue His miracle-filled ministry on earth! (see Ephesians 3)

But we seem to think that those days are over.  Now is the time to sit back and enjoy our salvation, but nothing more.  We are not moved to reach out to the lame, the deaf or the blind.  We don't believe that God wants to do any more miracles.  If we did believe that, then we would be crying out to Him to do these very things through US for the glory of Christ!

Jesus did not spend His time on Earth quietly sitting in the temple listening to man's interpretation of the Scriptures.  He lived the Scriptures!

He attended to the needs of the sick, the dying - even the dead!  He rebuked demons and they had to release their victims.  He healed those with physical and spiritual infirmities.  He loved on people and told them how to find God for themselves personally.  I want to do that!  I want the Holy Spirit to move in me and move me to action!

God, help me, I want more! 



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Keep the Fire Burning

 
I am currently reading through the book Can You Hear Me? Tuning in to the God who speaks by Brad Jersak. I've read this book once already, but wanted to read it again.  Brad talks about the various ways that God speaks to us.  He reminds us that God speaks the same ways He always has, and one of those ways is through parables.  At the end of the section I was reading, Brad suggests that the reader stop and ask God to reveal a parable to us.  So, I asked God to show me a parable and He did so immediately!  Bear with me as I try to share my thoughts.  I apologize if they are too scattered, but hopefully the point will get across:

The temperature has dropped here, and so we are using our wood burning stove to help warm the house.  I was adding wood to the fire and God told me this parable: The stove is my heart (spirit).  The wood is God's word.  The oxygen the fire needs to burn is the Holy Spirit.  The door to the stove needs to be opened so that I can put more wood on the fire.  I need to open the door of my heart (spirit) and put more of God's word inside to keep my spiritual fire burning.  By continually feeding the heater with wood and stoking the coals, heat is generated and it warms those around it.  I need to continually feed my spirit with the truth of God's word, stoke the coals (which is doing good works) and I need the Holy Spirit to breathe on me (surrender to Him) so that I will, spiritually speaking, warm those around me.

It takes work to keep a fire burning.  I can't just put wood on once, walk away and expect it to keep going;  I need to keep adding wood.  I also need to remove the ashes from time to time so that there is room for the wood.  You see, fire produces ashes.  God's word will burn up things in my life, and some of those things need to be removed so that there is more room for Him and His word.

Other things I realized about fire:

Fire gives light.
Fire gives warmth.
Fire is fuel. 
But, fire can also do damage.  If I use God's word incorrectly, I can burn those around me instead of warming them.  In return they will recoil from the fire instead of drawing closer to it.  

 

Father God, thank You so much for pointing out this parable to me.  Thank You for speaking to me in this way.  This is something that I need to meditate on today.  Show me how I can better tend to the fire You have started in me. Help me to feed the flame with Your Word.  Help me to stoke the coals by doing good works.  Help me to keep the fire burning so that light and warmth emanate from me and so that people around me are drawn to You and to Jesus Christ.  Holy Spirit, breathe on me so that I can stay on fire!  


How is God speaking to you today?



            

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Going Before Us

I was so encouraged this morning while reading Genesis 24.  In this chapter, Abraham wanted to be sure that his son, Isaac, had a Godly wife.  Abraham instructed one of his servants to go back to his home country to find a wife for Isaac.  The servant asked Abraham what he should do if the woman would not come back with him.  Abraham said that the God of heaven would send "His angel before you", and if the woman was not willing to come back with him, then he was released from his responsibility.  This was encouraging because it reminds me that I am responsible for my own obedience, not the response of others.

Reading on, we see that the servant reached Abraham's homeland, stopped at a well and prayed to God.  He was very specific in His prayer, which I found interesting.  BEFORE he had finished praying (vs. 15), Rebekah shows up.  The scene works out exactly as the servant had asked God for it to!  The servant goes with Rebekah to meet her father.  He shares the situation with Laban (Rebekah's father), describing his detailed prayer and how God answered it to the letter.  Laban said, "This is from the LORD: we can say nothing to you one way or the other.  Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master's son, as the LORD has directed." (emphasis mine) In the margin of my Bible I wrote a note beside this verse that says, "When God works - it is obvious!" 

Long story short, Rebekah agrees to become Isaac's wife, which also encourages me because of the amount of faith it took for her to agree to that.  It also shows her act of obedience to God's will - a reminder to me that my faith requires a deliberate act of obedience for it to be true faith.

I hope this encourages you as well.  God directs our paths. He is intimately involved in our lives.  We are exhorted in Proverbs 3:4-5 to "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."

Unfortunately those verses have become almost cliche in Christian circles.  However, that is exactly what we need to do.  Too many times we rationalize things and try to work things out on our own; after all, "God helps those who help themselves", right?  Not exactly.  He already has things worked out for us; we just need to get on the same page and follow His directions.  His story ALWAYS ends up much better than any we could write for ourselves.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Door of Mourning



 Sadness closes in on me
like a door being shut.
On the other side is happiness, 
joy, singing & laughter.
There is no lock on this door,
so I can open it at anytime.
But for now I'll just sit here
in the dark, in the silence.
Until my ears adjust & I can 
once again hear the celebration
that is taking place on the other side.
Then I'll stand up, reach for the door knob,
turn it & open the door.
I'll step through into the warmth
of the sunlight & once again 
join the singing & laughing.
But I'm not ready just yet.
So I'll just sit here & wait,
& mourn behind the door. 


Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 
 There is a time for everything,
  and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.


I wrote this poem after losing a beloved family dog, Dixie.  Even though she was "just a dog", she really was so much more - to us.  Grieving is a necessary part of loss.  Grief has taken me places before where it became a trap instead of a process.  I won't let that happen this time.  I'm not going to pretend that my heart isn't broken and that I'm not extremely sad.  But I'm not going to allow myself to live in this place again.  I will give myself time.  There will be a day, soon, when I'm ready to stand up and open that door. 
 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Being Whole

Psalm 119:89-93
Your word, O LORD, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulfulness continues through all generations; 
you established the earth, and it endures.
Your laws endure to this day,
for all things serve you.
If your law had not been my delight 
I would have perished in my 
affliction.
I will never forget your precepts, 
for by them you have preserved my life.

There were times in my life when I struggled just to get out of bed.  Depression took hold of me during my teen years and I wrestled with it well into adulthood.  Looking back I can see where at times the issue was most likely hormonal, other times chemical, but there were also spiritual elements to it as well.  You see, God has created us all as spiritual and physical beings.  We can't separate the two on this side of heaven (or hell).  

I realize now the areas where I gave Satan a foothold in my life, whether it be through the entertainment I participated in, the people I associated with or rebelling against God's will for my life.  Again, looking back I can also see the faithfulness of God.  Even through my periods of rebellion, God's word reminded me of His love.  I knew deep within that what God said was best for me, but for whatever reason, I chose to ignore it and try things my own way, all the while asking God to bless it!  

I won't go into every detail of my past experiences with depression and rebellion.  I just wanted to briefly share the fact that I DO know what it's like to struggle.  There were times when I considered taking my life (notice I said "times").  But again, God is faithful.  He wasn't finished with me.  After all, I had been doing things MY way for so long, but He wanted HIS way.  Now don't get me wrong, God didn't force His will on me; He's not like that.  He just allowed me to give it a go and when I finally realized my way was wrong and I submitted to Him, He then graciously began doing His thing.   Philippians 1:6 tells us: "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it." 

So my hope in sharing this little tidbit about myself is that I will encourage those who are struggling to seek God and do things His way.  It's not always easy, but nothing worth doing ever is, is it?  Easy is over-rated, anyway.  Another thing I wanted to point out is that both the physical AND spiritual aspects need to be addressed. 

Before I stop, I wanted to share some tools that God used in my life to set me free.  If you want to talk about them, contact me.  Concerning the spiritual issues, Freedom in Christ Ministries made a huge impact:



After reading those books, I went through a "Freedom Appointment", which was essential.  For more info on that, contact me or visit their website (linked above). 

Another essential factor was addressing the physical aspect.  I went to Creative Healing, owned and operated by a wonderful Christian lady, Linda Lucas.  Her store is in the Five Points area of Huntsville, AL.  She is an herbalist and God used her to get my body back on track.  I continue to follow her advice for my family and myself.  The past five years we have been healthier than ever - praise God!  I've also changed my eating habits drastically (I eat vegetarian) and exercise regularly. 

THE MOST IMPORTANT factor is my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Without Him, I would be nothing.  He truly is the Living Water and the Bread of Life.  If you don't know Him, call out to Him.  Seek Him and you will find Him, if you search with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13). 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Little Again

Matthew 18:2-4 is a passage that I've been meditating on lately: He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

So what are children like? 

  • trusting 
  • innocent
  • inquisitive 
  • helpless
  • dependent
  • vulnerable
  • teachable 
  • always wanting to be with parent  
I was thinking back to when my children were little.  They were always so eager and excited to be with me and/or their daddy.  Their minds were like sponges and they soaked up every little word or concept we would teach them.  They would constantly ask questions and of course they wanted to do whatever they saw mommy and doing.  They trusted that what we told them was true (they still do, thank the Lord!) because they knew how much we love them.  

Yes, I can see why Jesus said we need to become like little children.  Lord, help me to become little again.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Growing

Lately I have been trying to learn how to better hear the voice of God on a daily basis.  I want to know without doubt, what His will is concerning every aspect of my life.  Not only the "big" things, but the little, daily, mundane things as well.  I want Him to infiltrate my being like never before.  I think that so many of us have been raised on focusing on the future kingdom of God and being with Him for eternity, not realizing that TODAY He is with us.  TODAY is His kingdom.

I have had more personal encounters with the Lord lately.  I've seen Him in my mind.  I've talked with Him, not just to Him.  I've heard Him respond to me.  He smiles a lot.  He is so... calm.  I thoroughly enjoy my meetings with Him.  So much so that that's all I want to do is just sit with Him beside the still waters and be in His presence.  However, God still has me here for a reason.  He wants me to do His work.  I can't spend my days only sitting in His presence.  Somehow I've got to learn how to get up and go about my day still knowing that HE IS WITH ME.  I need to learn to walk in His strength, His peace, His power - not my own.  Without Him, I am nothing and I can do nothing.  It's the transitioning from the mental meetings to the active doing that I'm trying to figure out.

Just this morning He reminded me that I need to come to Him like a little child.  He said that I'm learning to walk all over again.  At first this hurt me because after 30+ years of being a believer, I would like to think I'm beyond the childish stage.  But then He called me out and said that I was being prideful.  Instead I need to rejoice in the moment of learning something new (to me).  I need to be excited about the opportunity to grow.  

In the meantime, right now, I can't help but feel, well, restless and out of place. Which reminded me of a song by Sarah Groves called "Going Home".  This isn't the only song that Sarah has written that makes me think she has been eavesdropping on me!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSq8LyCdtgk

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Grateful, Not Hateful

My family's background and history is what I have assumed to be the "typical" American family history.  My grandparents worked in a cotton mill.  Long, hard, hot, noisy hours day after day after day.  I remember seeing my grandmother come home with cotton all in her hair, on her skin, clinging to her clothes.  My mother even worked at the cotton mill for a time and so I have a mental picture of her covered in cotton as well. We lived in one of the houses built near the mill just for mill workers and their families.  Our doors and windows were always open during the hot months to let the breeze go through.  I remember running around barefoot and playing outside ALL day long.  I remember either my grandfather or grandmother (depending on who was home) cooking a full breakfast, lunch and dinner every day; nothing fancy, but always filling.  My grandfather liked to dip hamburger buns in the grease! Oh, and he would scramble eggs in the bacon or sausage grease (I cringe to think of that now). 

We were not rich monetarily speaking.  My mother was one of six children, so money was always tight.  However, I don't recall hearing anyone complaining of how poor we were or how we weren't getting what we deserve or that the government should be doing more to meet our needs.  No.  I remember my grandparents and my mother always working hard, doing their best, persevering and just simply doing what needed to be done. 

I'm not even sure why I started writing this particular post, except that I keep hearing over and over how the government should be providing for the needs of the people.  There are those who covet the wealth of the wealthy and think that the wealthy should simply hand over their money to the poor and all will be well.  It seems that work ethic is no longer an issue.  We have a society that expects to be clothed, fed, housed, even handed cell phones, cable TV, and/or laptops, simply because they exist.  What ever happened to finishing school, starting out in a hamburger joint (like I did), paying for your own car, saving up for college and/or a home?  How did America get to this point?  What happened to the days of hard work?  

I just read a headline (which I suppose is what prompted this post) about how the "progressives" think the "middle class" should be rejected because they have no "relationship" to the "poor or people of color".  What does that even mean?  If you ask me (which no one did, but that's why I have a blog) as long as there are people on Earth, there will always be some who have more money than others.  That's just the way it is.  It doesn't mean those people are evil.  Some are, but not all.  It doesn't mean rich people or even middle class (which I suppose I am a part of) doesn't understand the needs of the poor.  That's why we have charities.  Also, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then you know the importance of meeting the physical needs of the poor and you should be doing something to help in that regard.  However, our government should not - let me say it again, should NOT be encouraging people to not work and have all their needs meet by them.  America is better than that!  We should be encouraging people to get out and work.  Not everyone was intended to be a CEO of a corporation.  We NEED newspaper carriers, fast food workers, factory workers, and the like.  There is nothing belittling about any of those occupations.

It saddens me and maddens me to hear the rhetoric going on and on and on in the media today.  I long for the days of my childhood.  Days of getting up, thanking God for another day, going out (or staying home for us stay-at-home moms) and doing what needs to be done for the family, coming home and thanking God all over again.

That's the source of the problem.  God has been left out.  God is no longer recognized as the Giver of all good things, our Provider, our Source.  God is no longer recognized in general.

Well, I do recognize and thank God and I am teaching my children to do the same.  It is my prayer that soon America will turn back to God; then we will once again have homes filled with those whose hearts are grateful for what they have, not hateful for what they don't


The mill house where I lived as a child.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

No More Cover Up

There are times when God speaks to me and I can't help but wonder if I heard Him correctly or not.  It's times like these when I have a debate of sorts with Him.  For instance, the most recent thing that God has told me happened this past Sunday morning when I was getting ready to leave for Sunday School.  The conversation went something like this:

 God: "Don't wear any make-up."
Me: "What?!"
God: "Don't wear any make-up."
Me: "Ummm... Did You just tell me not to wear any make-up?"
God: "Yes."
Me: Blank stare at myself in the mirror.
Me: "Ummm... Really?"
God: "Yes."
Me: "OK.  What am I supposed to say if people ask me why I'm not wearing any make-up?"
God: "It's time to stop covering up sin."
Me:  "That's it? No Scripture or anything?"
God: "It's time to stop covering up sin."

So, I went to Sunday School and then service without wearing make-up. After praying up front (which is another thing that God has told me to do), I went upstairs to pray for the service. On my way, I said hello to several people.  It was a bit uncomfortable.  Some would do a double take my way. I could tell that some of them were actually trying to recollect the somewhat familiar face in their minds.  When they would realize it was me, they averted their eyes away as if they were embarrassed or something.  Of course, ALL of that could have been my imagination stemming from insecurity, but then again maybe not.  No one asked me why I wasn't wearing make-up. However, I told just a few people the reason anyway.  One person did ask me if there was anything wrong, or was I alright, I don't really remember how she phrased her question.  I gave her the explanation and she completely accepted it without question. 

I made it through the morning and explained to my kids on the way home what was going on.  They were so sweet and supportive.  My son even said that I'm more beautiful without make-up.  I thanked them but told them that being pretty wasn't the point.  I'm trying to obey something that God told me to do.

Before I go, let me share with you the passages of Scripture that God HAS been laying very heavily on my heart concerning His people.  Let me also add that God has affirmed to me over and over this week through different sources and various people that the words from Ezekiel are as relevant today as they were the time Ezekiel spoke them to Israel.

Ezekiel 13: 5, 5-11 
You have not gone up to the breaks in the wall to repair for the house of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the LORD... Because they lead my people astray, saying, "Peace," when there is no peace, and because when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall.

 Ezekiel 14:1-6 
Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front of me.  Then the word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces.  Should I let them inquire of me at all? Therefore speak to them and tell them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: '''When any Israelite sets up idols in his heart and puts a wicked stumbling block before his face and then goes to a prophet, I the LORD will answer him myself in keeping with this idolatry. I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.''' "Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!'"

I don't know how long God is going to have me go around without make-up.  My prayer and concern is that His message will be received by His people and that revival will take place, not only in my local congregation but across the nation and the world!  We desperately need God, most of us, however, just don't realize it - yet.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Peacemakers

The passage from James 3:18 has really been on my mind a lot lately:

"Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." 

I'm meditating on it and asking God how I can be a peacemaker.

In Matthew 5:9, Jesus says, 

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will called the sons of God."  

I looked up the definition of "peacemaker" on http://concordances.org/greek/1518.htm : peacemaker-  Cognate: 1518 eirēnopoiós (from 1517 /eirēnopoiéō, "make peace") – properly, a peacemaker, bravely declares God's terms which makes someone whole (used only in Mt 5:9). See 1515 (eirēnē). 


WOW! Bravely declaring God's terms which makes someone whole. Most people don't want to live on God's terms, so how can one be a peacemaker by declaring His terms?  Well, because when we DO live on His terms, we are made whole.  John 8:32 explains that when we know the truth, the truth sets us free. What is truth?  God's word is truth, plain and simple.  The people who disagree with that, simply do not want to accept it because it causes them to be accountable to it and to God Almighty Himself. 


While I was reading in James about sowing peace, I asked God how I can do that.  He reminded me of John 15 where Jesus describes Himself as the true vine.  If I abide in Him, I will bear much fruit, or as James puts it, I will raise up a harvest of righteousness. So what is "righteousness"?  According to the Greek word definition, it is "what is deemed right by the Lord (after His examination), i.e. what is approved in His eyes."  So how am I supposed to know what God approves of?  Again, I must go to His Word, and I must abide in Christ.

Another aspect of the James 3:18 verse is the word "harvest".  It's meaning is "everything done in true partnership with Christ, i.e. a believer (a branch) lives in union with Christ (the Vine), fruit results from the two life-streams - the Lord living His life through ours - to yield what is eternal (see also 1 John 4:17).

Again, WOW!  I want to abide in Christ so that HE can live HIS life THROUGH me.  I have so much growing to do in this regard.