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The Battle is not mine…

The spiritual battlefield tires you out, and takes the strength out of you. For those who are in a battle today, I am with you! The last 3 or 4 days it seems like the devil has had my number and is calling it in to the head honchos of the spirit world. My eyes are continuing to tear up, and I just can’t blame it on my allergies. So here I am at the place that I am ready to do battle again…

In the middle of my musings, I realize something significant. I am not alone on the battlefield. In fact, I am never alone and the battle really isn’t mine to win. The Savior is my defender. God will fight for me when I am weary in the battle. I love the verses that speak to all that God is to me.

Psalm 73:26, “…but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Nahum 1:7, “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble…”

Psalm 28:7, “The Lord is my strength and my shield…”

Isaiah 46:4 “… I will carry you , and will deliver you.”

And the list goes on and on! God is all these things to us and more. The battle may rage hot for you today, but remember who is fighting for you.  Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. We cannot fight a spiritual battle without the help of our Savior who knows how best to fight. So let’s get on our knees together and fight the only way we can with prayer and a whole lot of Jesus.

Hang in there, sweet friends. The battle is not mine or yours. It is Christ’s battle to win.

Blessings to you!

Joy in the Process

‘Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. ‘ Romans 15:13

Of all the ministry areas the Lord has led me to work in, I find myself enjoying leading Bible Study with the ladies of our church. It actually has not always been this way. When my husband and I first began in ministry together, He was the associate pastor at a local church. He had been serving  in churches for quite some time before we were married so he had his feet already wet and prepared more than I was for the challenges in the ministry. I had served in the church, but had not yet been in a position of leadership. I remember the first time I was approached to lead a women’s bible study. Two words come to my mind, “SHEER PANIC”! I would have to get up in front of other women and lead in a study of God’s Word. I felt so unworthy and then concerned. What if they asked me stuff I didn’t know the answer to? What if they thought my teaching style was weird? I went through every scenario. I prayed a lot. I prayed God would change His mind. Then I realized that God was calling me to do it. So I took a deep breath and jumped in feet first. God did a work in me. He taught me to rely on Him.

When I think of leading a bible study now, I look forward to it. I know I am doing what God has called me to do. It took a little while to find my groove, but the Lord showed me I just needed to be myself and trust him fully. A lot of prayer and preparation goes into it, but I have found joy in all God has taught me over the years. It’s hard to believe that it has been 24 years since that first Bible study. I give God the praise for all He has done in me and through me. Last night, Our ladies finished up the Book, “Why Do I Put So Much Pressure On Myself And Others” by Kathy Collard Miller. Though the Book is a lesson on how God helped our author through overcoming and learning to cope with perfectionism, we looked at a lot of Scripture to realize who we are and whose we are! I had the privilege to go through this book several years ago. This time the Lord taught me some more about how my life goal should not be about making sure everything is perfect, but to strive to pursue Christ with my whole heart. Someone with perfectionist tendencies often never sees the joy because they are more focused on the circumstances. I am thankful that God is willing to take us where we are and lead us to where He wants us to be. If we spend all our efforts focused on things we cannot control we will not have the energy to pursue Christ. We can find so much joy in the pursuit of Christ.

God can fill you will all joy and peace as Romans 15:13 says. The key is we have to be in a position to let Him. Let go of things, and grab Jesus with both hands. Don’t let Him go. Tell Jesus you can not take one more step without Him. To Trust and Rely on God should be our focus. When this happens, Joy will be the product, and Peace of God will be experienced as you never have felt before. We can find joy in the midst of trials. The bible says, “Perfect love casteth out fear.” (1 John 4:18) We can learn to hope in God alone. Do you want pure joy? My friend, you cannot find it outside of God. Pursue Christ and find joy in the process!

Blessings to you today!

How’s My Love?

Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.’ ”  ~ Matthew 22:37

One of the things I have tried to practice in my home is to tell each member of my family how much I love them. I wanted my boys to know as they were growing up that in any situation whether good or bad they were loved by me. Of course, I loved doing things to show them that I loved them. I feel this is indeed very important, but equally important is to say the words, “I love you!” Every time they were leaving to go anywhere or even off with friends. I would tell them to “Be careful, and I love you”. This did get a bit tricky when they moved into that age when saying “I love you” around other people can be embarrassing for a fellow to hear from his mother. So, we used code 143. (I Love You). It was something we did not explain to anyone. It was just something we did. It kind of cracked me up when sometimes when they got older. I would tell them 143 and they would respond back with, “I love you too”. We said it so much that it got to the point when it didn’t matter anymore. Our saying “love you” grew beyond the code. It became our second nature.

In our relationship with God as in our human interaction, we tell others we love God, and we even show our love by our actions, but when was the last time you told God, “I love you!” Maybe this has never occurred to you and that’s okay. I was talking with someone not long ago and this was the case with her. She began telling God she loved him and it made a difference in how she viewed God. She stated that it encouraged her to hear someone praying telling God that they loved Him. Our verse today in Matthew encourages us to love God with all that is in us, our heart, our soul, and our mind. Leave nothing out. We must love completely and love big! God has done so much for us. God shows his love to us, but He also tells us He loves us. (John 3:16) God is the very essence of love. (1 John 4:8) With all that He has done to extend love to us should we not want to love Him back with all that is in us: Heart, Soul, Mind? With our whole heart, the essence of who we are, we serve and love God and others. With our soul, spiritually seeking to love God as He loves while following his commandments. With our mind, using the knowledge and wisdom God has bestowed upon us discerning when we need to go the extra mile in loving.

So I give it to you, my friend. How’s your love? Do you love God with all of your heart, soul and mind. I have to say for myself, I have come a long way, yet I have not arrived. It is something that I am striving for daily. I want to love God the way He wants me to. I do need to remember that this is an area God can help me with.  ‘And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, ‘ (Ephesians 3:19-20)  God wants us to know his love! He can do more than we ask or think. So together, Let’s ask!

 

The Needs of the One

As an avid Star trek fan, I am always moved by the scene at the end of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn”. Spock tells Jim not to grieve because He is doing what is needed, “For the good of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one!” I suppose if one were to think logically this may apply, yet God thought that the needs of the one, me, was worth sending His beloved Son to be born, live, endure hardships, die, and be raised from the dead. As He did it for me, Jesus did it for you too.

God thought we were important enough when ties were broken with man, God chose to pursue a relationship with us. He chose us and in return we have the choice to choose Him too.  The truth I am looking at is that although God is the God of the individual, He can also be (and is) the God who loves and cares for the masses. We read in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” God loves everyone! In the New Testament, Jesus also had compassion on the multitudes. God cares about everyone! NO ONE is excluded from His compassion and caring heart! He gave His Son to the Masses (the World); He gave His Son to the individual (Me). How is this possible? The answer is very simple, He Is God!!!

I know my brain may be going in a circle right now, but what brought this train of thought along is the fact that I have needs every day. What can I say besides, “I am needy!” I need Jesus! This year our church’s theme is “Pursuing Christ”. As we have been studying the Scriptures I am realizing that I need to pursue Christ as He pursued me in Salvation. Our salvation begins our relationship with Christ. As God pursued me in having a relationship with Him, I need to pursue that daily fellowship that deepens the relationship. I need to meet with God every day. I need to fill up with Him in the mornings and pursue Him all day long. Psalm 70:4-5 reads, “‘Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified. But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O Lord , make no tarrying.” We need to pursue Him because He alone is our hope, and peace. We need to go after Him joyfully and cheerfully. We do not do this because we feel we ought to or because someone will realize if we don’t. We pursue Christ because of the love we feel for Him. We need to be so wrapped up in loving Jesus that it is our main focus and concern. Because we know that whatever we face during the day, He is there with us to face every challenge, to walk every step, and to overcome our weaknesses. We are needy, but God is our help and our deliverer! Why would we not want Him with us through the day?

So this is where we live, knowing we have needs that far outweigh our ability to handle in a day. We know also that God wants us to reach out to the world. We can only do this in a strength that is not our own. It is Christ living in us and reaching out through us. Through our obedience, we reach out to the individual, and by doing this, we can reach the World. The needs of the one, me, must propel me forward to meeting the needs of the many, the world. The significant Truth is the need is the same, JESUS!

Blessings to You!

Peeling The Onion…

Just when you think you have everything figured out, life throws you a curve ball. In the last few weeks I have been praying that God would renew me, reveal more of Himself to me, and basically have a “spring cleaning” of my heart. Be careful what you pray for. In my quiet time today, I read over a passage I have probably read several times. In fact, it is one that I memorized in my teenage years. It is Colossians 3:13-17,

13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
About 13 years ago, God really began to work on my heart in the area of forgiveness. I had some unresolved feelings that needed to be removed from my life. I was a work in progress, and it took a while. I am glad God was patient with me, and did a work of grace in my heart. I was able to forgive some who had hurt me very deeply. I absolutely give God the praise for this because I know I could never have done it on my own. I continued to live my life using the principles I had learned in the area of forgiveness. For a long, long time, I began to think, “Ok, I got this. I have mastered forgiveness.” Well, brothers and sisters, I needed to think again. My husband is fond of says, “Dealing with our sin and attitudes is like peeling an onion. You work on it till it is mastered, and as it it peeled back you realize there is another deeper layer that must be dealt with before considering it mastered.” (or words to that effect) Today, I found a new layer. Something can up in my life that caused me to look back at the hurt all those years ago. I found myself focusing on it, rather than shifting my focus to God. So once again, I gave it back to Him and forgave again.
When things happen in our life, we often find that new depths of our trials need to be dealt with. As I read these verses, I saw a progression from forgiveness to thankfulness.  According to our Scripture, once we have forgiven we need to “put on charity” or love. This is a deliberate act.  I needed to show love. Once I “put on love”, then “the peace of God” can rule in my heart.This peace shows us that we are part of the body of Christ. When we fail to show forgiveness to our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are fighting against our own body. For peace to be felt, love needs in be in action. From peace, I have to choose to be thankful. This is a command, something I must do whether I am ready to feel thankful or not. After I make the choice to be thankful, I am in a position to let the Word of Christ dwell in me “richly in all wisdom”. Do you want the wisdom of Christ? If so, let’s work on getting in the Word of God. If you think about it, the onion applies to this too. To get to the to the heart of the matter, I want Christ to dwell in me completely in all the nooks and crannies of my heart.  I do not want to hold back areas of my life and whisper, “Lord, don’t go there!” When Christ takes over, He gives me a song in my heart that is grace-filled, then I can praise with a heart that is overflowing with thankfulness. Forgiveness to Thankfulness is a overwhelming feeling. It is after this progression is made can I truly be thankful for going through the hurting that I have received by others or by my own making.
Yes, peeling the onion often causes tears and anguish. The knife of God’s word can cut through, and show us where we need to begin. Forgiveness is one of the hardest, needed thing we can ever do, but once those layers are peeled back our heart will be just a little closer to the person we hold in highest regard–Jesus Christ.

The Definition of Me

As you get to know the real me you might be surprised. We had a game at the Minister’s Wives Retreat. Let me explain how it worked. We had a list of several things that we had to find someone else in the room that had done that particular thing, and sign their name by it. The list ranged from anything from riding a horse to milking a cow or finding someone who has less than twenty pair of shoes which is very hard by the way especially in a group of women. As I was meeting all the different ladies, I realized the things that they had done or had not done did define them.
When I was 19 years old, my mother went to be with Jesus. Although this has reshaped my family unit, and the women I have become, this does not define me. I am a wife and a mother to two wonderful boys. They are a part of who I am, yet this does not define me. Another big event in my life came about when I was in a bad car accident 2 years ago. I broke one of my ankles and dislocated my other ankle. My life as I knew it had changed. I now deal with chronic pain every day. Again, The events that I have struggled through in my life does not define me.  My shirt size does not even define me. Am I making changes in my life and adopting a new healthy lifestyle? Yes, but all of this does not define who I am.
We all have bad circumstances and good circumstances that occur in our lives. Many of the things that happen are with in the realm of what we can control. However, A major portion of events and circumstances in our lives fall in the category of what we cannot control. Yet, these events do not define us.

Our definition needs to be set in one thing and one thing only,  our identity in Christ. You may like I have done in the past is spend more time focusing on what who I am and what I have done, rather than focusing on whose I am. I am God’s child! I am a daughter of the King! I have been forgiven those I did not deserve any compassion. When we come to Christ in humbleness and accept His gift of forgiveness when are forgiven and made over in the likeness of Christ. It is not about me! It is all about Jesus. Satan will try to come to you and discourage you with negative thoughts saying that you are unworthy and that you are defined by what you do and the women you are becoming. It is time to cast aside negative and discouragement, and let Christ cover you with the robe of His righteousness. Remember when God looks at me and you, He sees you with the filter of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. He paid for your sin and mine. Because I have accepted this gift He so freely offers, I have a new definition of me. It is a definition to build a life upon. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.”

Loving the Broken

We all share a common bond. Whether it be physically, emotionally, or even spiritually, we have all had times in our life when we have been broken.  As I am starting to get out and about a little more, I have come in contact with so many of my friends who expressed how glad they were to see me doing better. I can honestly say this is one of the hardest physical tests that I have ever been through except for giving birth to my two boys. Almost every one of my friends has mentioned how hard it must have been to be confined to the chair and/or bed for so long. I would have to agree. It was hard, but there were two reasons why I didn’t go crazy. One reason was knowing that God was with me, and he would never leave me during my hard days. The second reason is the one I would like to focus on today. It is all of the love and support I received from my family, my church family, friends, and even those I didn’t know who were loving me through prayer. They were all reaching out to someone who was broken. Through these dear ones, I have seen and experienced the Love of Jesus.

Last week, I was able to participate in the block party we had in a community near our church. This is a relatively new ministry our church has become involved in the last year or so. I was struck by how many faces I have looked into and realized these people are experiencing brokenness. I am not sure if it is the times we are living in, but so many I have come in contact with lately have been hurting in some way. It is not only in our communities, but in our church pews as well. I read a quote the other day that seemed to sum up what I have been feeling. “Hurt people hurt people.” I am not sure of the author of this quote, but I can relate.  So many times during my time of recovery, I would pray that the Lord help me to speak sweetly especially on days when I was hurting. I think we fail to see that people in our communities and in our churches often speak or react to what we do out of frustration or because they are hurting. It is not always easy to love and reach out to someone who is harsh or cutting with their words, but God calls us to Love. We need Him to love through us. We need to love the broken and hurting people God has put us in contact with. Why? It is simple. God has called us to minister. Sometimes the only time someone may be open to letting the light of God’s love into their heart is during a time of brokenness. It is our chance to be the hands of God reaching out to them.

I am so glad for all those who reached out to me in my time of brokenness. I know I need to take the things I have learned during this time in my life and pass it on. I need to reach out beyond what is comfortable, and love all the ones with whom I come face to face with daily. We have all been in a place where we have been brokenhearted, broken physically etc. So we know what to do. We need to love and bind up the broken. It is what Jesus would do.

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek;  he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;” ~Isaiah 61:1

God sees beautiful me!

Beauty, it is something we all think about from time to time. Am I beautiful? Who thinks I am beautiful? Does my family really think of me as beautiful? In the moments of quiet reflection, Do we ask ourselves, “Does God think I am beautiful?”

As a child, When we are told we are beautiful by those who love us, we believe it with child like wonder. Then as we grow older, we may come in contact with other little girls who feel they must point out all our flaws to others, and make fun of our imperfections. Perhaps, these little ones have been called out by people who supposedly love them, or maybe they feel they must make fun of someone before someone else points out their flaws. I have encountered gals like this all through my growing up years. Although at the time they just seemed mean and spiteful, I have learned that many times people lash out because of their own insecurities. Do the angry barbs and cutting words hurt any less? No. These harsh words can, however, change your view of yourself and you begin to question your own beauty in the eyes of your family and even God’s view of you.  I can say this with personal conviction that this can happen, because for  a long time I did just that. I let the words of mean little girls permeate my heart and began to let it alter my own perception of me. In my own mind, I began to see myself as not worthy enough, and less than average. Maybe you find yourself in this place as an adult. Believe me when I tell you, you are not alone.

After a lot of soul-searching and praying for answers, I have come upon some simple truths. First, We are made in the image of God. Regardless of how we look on the outside, God formed every part of us. He knew what family characteristics we would have. Whether we looked like Mom or Dad or Grandma was all up to Him. He knew the flaws and blemishes we would have. God formed us in our mother’s wombs to be who we are today. We cannot allow the world dictate to us what beauty is when we are all made in God’s image and do not have control of the imperfections others may see. We need to look past our exterior. Earthly beauty fades. Solomon offers in Proverbs 31:30,”Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” We have to keep in mind what is most important. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. Is our heart a God-fearing one?

The second truth that has become evident to me is the more I focus on the beauty of God and praise Him for who He is the less I think about me. Several times in Scripture, we are called upon to recognize the beauty of the Lord.   Psalms 27:4 is one of these, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.” Also, Psalm 29:2 and 96:6,9 speak of the Lord’s beauty. We should be gals full of praise and reverence for the one who made us and trust that He has perfect knowledge and understanding of us.

In my own reflections, I have learned that inner beauty trumps outward beauty. When you see someone you think is beautiful, it’s all good till they open their mouth, and the ugly comes out. Maybe, you see someone maybe a little plainer, but when they speak their beautiful heart for God shines through their features making them more beautiful than you thought at first glance. I would definitely want to be part of the second group in this scenario.

Do you think of yourself as beautiful? You should if God is in your heart and shining brightly to the world outside!

A Month in a Whirlwind

Greetings! I just can’t believe how fast the month of October has flown by. I had many good intentions as well as thoughts to share with you, but alas my good intentions did not quite meet my opportunity. My month began with health issues which then collided with fall break and a camping trip that moved into Church activities, hunting season for my men, and another part-time job for me. Needless  to say, Life once again took the wheel, and My little corner here was shoved to the back seat.  I have been tired and so weary with everything. I do realize that when you are not feeling well it is a prime opportunity for our humanness to get in our way. I wish that I could say that I stayed on top of everything and I was upbeat throughout it all not letting my circumstances affect me in the slightest way. Unfortunately, I did not. I did try to focus on the good the Lord was allowing me to be a part of . I will say, also, that in the midst of the whirlwind blowing me to and fro, God has been there with me.

I am reminded of Elijah. He was on the run from a wicked woman, when God lead him to a cave to strengthen up. God fed him and took care of him. (I Kings 19)   He was weary, tired and felt so alone in the task of doing God’s work. He was in fact feeling sorry for himself ( Been there and done that). God had Elijah stand on the mount and sent before him a great wind, an earthquake and a great fire, yet God was not in these things. God spoke to Elijah in a quiet moment with a gentle voice. Though the world around him was shaking and seemingly being torn apart by several different things, Elijah heard God in a still small voice. God talked to him, and while getting Elijah to recognize where he was and what he was doing, God encouraged him in the journey that he was about to take.  In the verses to follow this story, we also see God gave him some help in the person of Elisha. Even though at times we might feel alone in our journey, God is always there, and many times sends us someone to encourage and uplift us as we step out in faith again following Him.

So as one Whirlwind, may have passed for the moment, there will be more ahead.  As we enter the month of Thanksgiving, I know that God will continue to hold my hand no matter what may come across my path. I am thankful that God is a powerful ally. Be encouraged, dear friend, He will never leave us. Strength for the journey is available in Christ. So as you face the whirlwinds around you, be sure to take a quiet moment and listen for His voice. It is the sweetest sound in the world.

Sweet Wisdom

I called home from the office knowing that in a little while I would be heading out to the grocery store. I wanted to double-check with the family to see if there was anything they needed to add to my list.  While chatting with my youngest son, I asked, “Is there anything you need?”  To which he enthusiasticly replied,”Oreos!” Now what 13-year-old really needs Oreo cookies? Apparently, mine does! He was craving a sweet bite. Can’t say that I blame him to much because often enough I crave a sweet bite too.  We have to face cravings in life every day. We often crave things that are not good for us. Now I know that I shouldn’t have gone there should I?  🙂  Here you were hoping to be uplifted today then I started messing with your “Oreos”.  My own healthy eating plan has had its ups and downs so I am speaking today merely as a student of this, not the master. God gave me a nugget of truth today so I thought I would pass it along. God does have a “Sweet bite” He wants us to crave.  Are you ready?

In my devotions, Proverbs 24:13-14 grabbed my attention. It reads,”My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.” It never ceases to amaze me how God speaks to me through his Word. It not because I have a special gift, I’m just His child.  If you are a son or daughter of the King then you have the same access to Him. God has a special portion available for you today. Dive in His Word, and find out what  He wants to say to you. In the verses above, God wants us to crave wisdom. He wants us to go after it as someone goes after something sweet. When the craving hits, you just have got to have it. Why don’t you go for it? Get in God’s Word, and search it out. Proverbs 3:15 speaks of wisdom in this way, “She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared to her.” The desires and cravings we face are not to be compared to wisdom. Wisdom is a precious commodity. We need it!

Not only do we need wisdom, but it is also good for us. Often the things that I crave do not have good nutritional value. When faced with temptations, do verses come to my mind that help me? When I need comfort and direction in trials, does the Holy Spirit guide me to biblical truth? Wisdom is the key. The more wisdom I have the better it is for me when I am faced with the daily tribulations. The more I hide God’s Word in my heart, the more wisdom I have access to.

The Last sweet morsel of Proverbs 24:14 to me is, “thy expectation shall not be cut off.” I will never be disappointed in going after wisdom. The more I dig deeper into God’s Word, the more wisdom I will receive. This should be a daily challenge for me. Every day I should strive to learn more about God. There is great reward in gathering sweet wisdom.

My prayer is to crave more of Him than anything else!