Thursday, August 21, 2014

TRUTH AND ENCOURAGEMENT

I read the book of Colossians this morning. It was awesome, and I want to share with you what God spoke to me. I hope that God uses it to encourage you right where you're at :)...

Do you realize what a treasure you are as a child of God? Do you realize how much he loves you, cares about you, thinks the world of you? He even SINGS over you! Today, I want you to know (and God wants you to know!) that if you belong to him, He sees you has holy and blameless, and you stand before him without a single fault...you stand before him without a single fault because God sees you as justified (just as if you never sinned) through the blood of his only Son, Jesus Christ. BELIEVE this TRUTH! Stand firm in it! Any thoughts that label you are failure are not from God, but from the enemy, who prowls around like a raging lion to DEVOUR you! God's word says that satan also wants to sift you like wheat! And he's constantly fighting a hostile battle in and for your mind so you MUST take EVERY - THOUGHT - CAPTIVE!  Don't let anyone capture you with thoughts of inadequacy or any nonsense that comes from human thinking or the enemy. You are complete through your union with Christ, who is also the head over every spiritual power! God cut away our sinful nature and disarmed satan when he saved you, so do NOT let the enemy condemn you with thoughts that you're a failure or that God is displeased with your effort to live for him! GOD IS NOT DISAPPOINTED IN YOU! You, child of God, bring him glory and make him smile! Through the death and resurrection of God's Son, Jesus - YOU ARE FREE! Free from believing the lies of the enemy! Free from having to adhere to a strict list of rules to earn your righteousness! Free to be all he created you to be! Free to say NO to the power of sin! You have died to this life and your real life is hidden with Christ in God! Put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Put on your new nature and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become more like him.

If this blog post inspires or encourages you, consider taking some time to read the book of Colossians. It's short and sweet - and most of what I just wrote about comes from there! :)

In the mean time, let me leave you with this assurance that you are who you are because of Jesus Christ, and not your own efforts...

Philippians 3:3 "We rely on what Jesus Christ has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort...(v8) all effort is garbage."

Saturday, August 16, 2014

ON MARRIAGE AND SUBMISSION

I was reading in Ephesians 5 this morning and found it fascinating as I pieced verses 21-33 together. Here's what I walked away with...

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For the wife, this means the husband is over her as Christ is over the church. The church follows Christ's way of living...so the wife should follow the husband, submitting in every way to the man who is Christ's leadership, head, authority over her. Done in a Christ-like way, this provides protection and security. By submitting to him and trusting his authority (Acted out resulting from his great love for her) over her, she is showing him the respect that God desires her to show him that he deserves and craves. The husband must also submit to the wife by loving her as Christ loved the church...loving his wife as he loves his own body...feeding, caring, providing for her...just as Christ cares for the church. Christ is the husband's example for how to love his wife. Jesus was not above the church...he stooped down to wash his disciples muddy, stinky, nasty feet...the husband is to love his wife the same. Each spouse is responsible to do their own part REGARDLESS. 

When a man and woman are married, they become one...illustrating the great mystery of how Christ and the church are one. So men, love your wife selflessly. Women, respect and trust your husband as God's chosen leader over you. In this way you are submitting to each other and reflecting Christ in your marriages.

This is not old fashioned - this is God's design for marriage. Any wonder why marriages don't work out much today? We must put away our selfishness when we feel our spouse has wronged us, and submit to them out of our love for Christ and for them. Let God do the refining...in our spouse, as well as ourselves...and let God work out the details and grow our character to be more like him :).

I sure do love you Drew! And I thank God for putting you in my life! Thank you for all you do to lead and provide for our home! <3

Monday, May 26, 2014

HOLY SPIRIT POWER & OUR EFFORT Part 1

I listened to a pretty intense sermon tonight by Francis Chan on YouTube. That guy always makes me think and evaluate why I do what I do and am I needing to change any given area of my life. God has gifted him in his preaching to make the Scriptures come alive in ways I have never understood before. I want to share some of his main points with you. So all of the following is taken from my notes from his sermon. I will post the link to part 1 of this sermon at the bottom.

Chan preached on 2 Peter 1:5-11. In verse 5 we are told to MAKE EVERY EFFORT, BE DILIGENT to respond to God's promises. Chan then asks..."What are your goals in life? What are your goals in ministry? Are they wrapped around the person you NEED to be or are they wrapped up in things you want to accomplish?" See, God is more interested in the woman I become than in the things I accomplish...so much so that he is more concerned about changing ME than changing an uncomfortable or challenging circumstance.  So life isn't to be all about what do I want to DO...as much as WHO has God called me to BE...and then the "do" will fall into place.

The question is...Do I want to change? Do I want God to change me? Because God has given me, as a Believer, his divine nature that gives me EVERYTHING I need for life and godliness (verse 3), I AM ABLE to make EVERY EFFORT for each of the Christ-like qualities made in the following verses.  I GET to change!!! The thought process should not be I HAVE to change or I HAVE to let go of my struggles and addictions. Rather, I GET to let go of my struggles and addictions! The Holy Spirit makes me a slave to righteousness rather than my old sinful nature and as a Believer, he does not let me get away with continuously blowing it and living in sin. That's part of the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

DON'T WASTE POTENTIAL! Believers have potential to be godly, holy, self-disciplined, full of love...and we are to MAKE EVERY EFFORT!!!! (v.5) Being a Christian takes EFFORT!

Starting with FAITH (v.5). If I have FAITH, I believe that any of these character qualities can be mine through the work of the Holy Spirit. Once I have FAITH in Jesus Christ, however, that is not where I stop! I am commanded to add to it! To strive after the following with strength and courage!

ADD TO YOUR FAITH, VIRTUE (v.5) - Virtue is high moral standards or excellence. Work hard at your moral excellence knowing that it's God working through you to accomplish these things.

ADD KNOWLEDGE (v.5) - studying God's word and knowing him better. This is more than knowing just the facts from the Bible. This is internalizing them and applying scripture. This is growing in the knowledge and wisdom from God that directs us in life!

ADD SELF-CONTROL (v.6) - the ability to master and control and be moderate in desires....food, sex, sleep, play, shopping, clothes, drinking...you name it. We are called to control ourselves. We're not to compare ourselves to the next person and call it good enough...we are to MAKE EVERY EFFORT until the day we die.

ADD STEADFASTNESS (v.6) - this is patience and endurance. Like when you feel like you have a heavy weight on you and you keep holding it up rather than giving up and quitting. Perseverence. You feel like quitting and collapsing and you don't.

ADD GODLINESS (v.6) - respect toward God.

ADD BROTHERLY AFFECTION (v.7) - the idea of being a family with other believers. Being there for one-another.

ADD LOVE FOR EVERYONE (v.8) - The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to love even the unlovable. It's a love that we can't explain where it came from other than "God gave it to us."

Verse 8 goes on to say if you have these qualities INCREASING - it will keep you productive and useful for God's purposes.

Chan then goes on to challenge with the fact that putting your kids in Christian programs to lead them in the right direction is all fine and dandy, but the GREATEST THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR KIDS IS TO PURSUE YOUR OWN CHARACTER. They need to see a life changed and want that! Teaching them DO NOT DO THIS BECAUSE YOU WILL BE LIKE ME isn't the way to go...You don't want your children to change because they DON'T want to be like you. You want to be able to say "Follow me as I follow Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:1) I am convinced that one of the reasons that such a great percentage of teens grow up and walk away from the faith is because they never made it personal...perhaps because mom and dad never made their relationship with God personal? (this is NOT the only reason). As Believers, we need to be living out Christianity daily, letting your kids see you in the Word studying, discussing what you're learning with them, teaching them God's word, memorizing scriptures with them, praying with them, MAKING EFFORT TO BE INTENTIONAL...(I have not arrived but I strive for this end!) See also Deuteronomy 6 on how God expects us to live out what we our walk with him with our children.


...getting into a little bit of part 2 of Chan's sermon...
Verse 9 says that if I lack the previous qualities, I am near-sighted and cannot see beyond the moment. I am forgetting that I am cleansed from my old sins. To be near-sighted in this verse means I only see what is tempting me...I only see that temptation in the moment and the immediate pleasure it will bring. I do not see beyond the temptation to how I will feel afterwards...or how it will affect my spouse, children, friends, tomorrow or in the future. Near-sightedness does not see into the future. It just sees the NOW and wants to enjoy the moment. Christians forget that we are not only saved from the penalty of sin, but from the sin itself! We live in defeat and believe the lie from Satan that we HAVE to give in rather than believing and trusting and acting upon God's TRUTH that we are FREE from the bondage of sin!
What is God challenging you to surrender to him as you read this? Don't be like the man who looks in the mirror and sees he needs to fix his hair or face and walks away, forgetting what he looks like. God says to be doers and not just hearers of the Word. I challenge you to take the next step that God is pressing on your heart to work on or let go of. If you belong to Christ, you are FREE from sin! and you have divine power to MAKE EVERY EFFORT!!!




Thursday, May 22, 2014

LIVE GENEROUSLY

Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.

1 Timothy 6:17-19



Love those verses. No explanation needed :). 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

BE STILL

Do you take the time to BE STILL with God on a daily basis? Some of the worst advice I've ever been given (and this was even from a well-respected woman in one of my past churches) went something like "your kids are little, you are too tired right now, and it's ok...God understands." REALLY!? DOES HE!? Because if I am totally head-over-heels in love with my God is that even gonna be ok with ME for me to miss a day with him!? Or make that miss a few years with him!? The answer would be negative! I'm not talking legalism here, I'm talking about how when I am emotionally attached to and in LOVE with My God I CRAVE TIME WITH HIM LIKE CRAZY! My alarm goes off EVERY day at 5:51am...sometimes I am able to get right up, sometimes I'm pretty dog-gone tired and drift back off...But I'm telling you I DESPERATELY CRAVE this time alone with God every morning before my kids wake up. And if I miss it, I feel a GIANT God-sized hole in my heart and I'm honestly pretty sad I missed out on my moments of quietness with my Heavenly Father. God has grown in me sooo much that I honestly crave him and his word more than I crave sleep. His word is like a breath of fresh air every morning. It makes my heart smile to spend time with him. He loves me. I am his creation. And I love him <3.

Whether you're old or young, with or without kids, married or single...I want to challenge you to find a time slot every day where you can be quiet. be still. and focus on your creator. Do this day after day after day...whether you feel like it or not. Ask God to change you. Ask him to make you crave him more. Ask him for more time with him. Ask him to teach you through his Holy Spirit! Listening to sermons on the radio, podcast, or internet while you're working out or cleaning house or riding in the car is NO SUBSTITUTE for sitting down to be still with God....just you and Him. There's just something about the connection when you're still and seeking him with all your heart.

I am not boasting or bragging in anything except for what God has done in my life. I want SO BAD for you to experience what I have found. But it's up to you. Read God's Word - and Live it out! READY. SET. GO!

Check out this short video by Lisa Chan (Francis Chan's wife). So inspiring!


GOD AT WORK

I LOVE seeing God at work in and around me and my family. I LOVE how God can take a situation where we are obedient to him and totally flip the outcome from what we would thought it would be...and we see the mighty hand of God from start to present in our current situation. This has happened SO MANY TIMES in my life! God tells us that his ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not like our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). As believers, we are responsible to obey God's Holy Spirit within us - whether or not it makes sense...and whether or not it's an easy or even "safe" thing to do....being obedient outside our little comfort zone. It's not our job to figure something out from start to finish all the time. Sometimes God moves in the hearts of his children to start something that ends in a totally different outcome than we expected but this comes as no surprise to God, because it was in his plan ALL ALONG! We are his hands and feet to accomplish his purposes!!! Outsiders who only see the surface of what's going on in our/your life often see things that don't go the way "as planned" as quitting or as failure. And they may even vocalize that! It is so important that we know the TRUTH from God's word about what he says about the "good and bad" events in our life. The Bible is clear when it says that MAN makes his plans but GOD determines the outcome. (Proverbs 16:9) It is when we are moving and serving that God continues to lead us in the right direction. Isaiah 30:21...And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. God also talks about how "All of our days were planned out before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139:16). God never promised the Christian life would be easy, comfortable, safe...but he DID promise that it would be abundant and result in eternal life! (John 10:10) And he DID promise we would suffer for him! (2 Timothy 3:12)


"So let's not get tired of doing what is good. 
At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up!" 
(Galatians 6:9)

"Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord."
 (Romans 12:11)

I found this in my journal this morning from earlier this year...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

ANSWERED PRAYER

I have to share something really cool that God did on Monday. All weekend the forecast showed crazy thunderstorms starting at noon in Monday. Even Monday morning showed the rain on it's way and it was sprinkling when I went out for my morning walk. The problem with all this was I was supposed to do engagement pictures at 6 that day and it was the ONLY evening we could find that meshed with this couples' schedule for several weeks....and they get married June 14 so we were limited. I told them I was praying it wouldn't rain and we chose not to reschedule unless it was raining at 6pm...
In the mean time, that morning, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the verse in James 5:17 how Elijah was human just like me and he prayed it wouldn't rain and it didn't....now I'm not saying this is a magical or manipulative way to make God control the weather, but I know God gave me that verse to give me the faith that he could and would hold off the rain. So I arrived for Sheri and Jacks pictures and the sky was definitely holding the rain. GOD held the rain and the crazy strong winds literally until our last picture....I did not make it back to my car before the sky grew mean and the wind went crazy. And then the rain came within minutes....the craziest storm we've had this season, held off by our great God in heaven that heard the prayer of another human just like Elijah and chose to show his sovereignty in granting my request. Do I believe he arranged the whole day partially because of how I prayed and sought him!? YES! I really do. God is not a genie...but he hears and cares about and answers the prayers of his children according to his own perfect plan. 

God's ways are perfect! EVEN if it had rained .

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

FOLLOWING MY EXAMPLE

God is constantly making my heart smile through my 6 year old.

First of all, I am not a perfect mom. I mess up pretty much daily and there are some days where every time I turn around I am telling her "I am sorry I did not respond to you like I should of...I should not have raised my voice...I should not have acted gotten angry or impatient...mommy is human...that is not what Jesus wanted me to do/say...i mess up...but I'm trying and I love you and will you forgive me...AGAIN???..." But in the middle of all that, I sure do try hard to take advantage of my opportunities to speak TRUTH into her life. And I try my best to live out what a personal relationship with God is like so she can follow my example. I leave my Bible and journal out if she's not up when I finish my quiet time so she can see that Mommy spent time with Jesus today...and she can even read my journal if she desires...it's there. I am completely open with her and she is (almost ;) ) completely open with me. Because of my example, my 6 year old is quick to apologize. SOMETIMES she even apologizes AS SHE IS YELLING at her brother or sister. LOL it can actually be quite comical ;). I love her tender heart. I LOVE her sensitive spirit. I LOVE her strong desire to obey God completely. This kiddo gets so frustrated when she sins or messes up. She wants to be perfect, even though she knows God doesn't require perfection. One day she said to me, "momma, I try so hard not to mess up...but everything I want to do I don't! And everything I don't want to do, I do!" Welcome to Romans 7, my child! She pretty much quoted the Apostle Paul perfectly without even knowing it!

This same child of mine called a family meeting yesterday morning...she had stayed up late reading her Bible and writing in her prayer journal the night before and she had her sermon and her prayer all ready and wanted to encourage the family to let the Holy Spirit guide us, to respect each authority, to spread the good news about Jesus. and to trust God. And that was one long-winded sermon - but it was awesome to hear what God was doing in her heart.<3

When I was crying today for the struggles my mom is facing with her health, my 6 year old snuggled me and prayed the sweetest spirit-led prayer with me that brought peace that passes understanding.

What she did tonight melted my heart once again. She couldn't sleep...so she came out and asked me for MY Bible. Part of me, the selfish part of me, didn't want her to mess with MY things...after all, she has her OWN Bible...but I KNEW that the Holy Spirit wanted to speak to her through her MOMMY's Bible...I have so many underlined verses and notes in there that she can read through and see "THIS is how God is working in Mommy's heart." And she will see even more that my relationship with my creator is REAL. I LOVE HIM. And I DESPERATELY want my children to know him even MORE than I do. One thing I NEVER refuse my little girl is the opportunity to read her Bible (or mine ;) after bedtime...she has a flashlight and if the Holy Spirit leads her to read His word I WILL NOT STOP HIM from speaking to her! That is a great, quiet time for my sweet girl to grow closer and closer to the God who created her and knows her and loves her more than I ever could ever imagine.

I LOVE what God is doing in my life. And I LOVE what God is doing in my family. And I LOVE that he uses imperfect me to accomplish his perfect work :). I am so glad he created me for such a time as this!

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1

But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me--and not without results. 
1 Corinthians 15:10 

Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.
1 Timothy 4:12  

But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children."
Matthew 19:14


STEP OUTSIDE YOURSELF

A question I have been challenged with much of my teen and adult life and even more so recently is WHAT AM I DOING FOR OTHERS? What am I doing to step outside my comfort zone and be the hands and feet of Jesus? Yes, I am a mom of 3, and we are often told that THAT IS ENOUGH to worry about. HOWEVER, I don't agree. I don't agree because what am I teaching my children if they don't see ME serving others outside my comfort zone, outside my immediate family? What if I don't train them to step outside themselves to serve others outside their immediate family? My children have the advantage of growing up in a Christian family where they are daily discipled toward loving God and loving people. Part of that loving people is going out into our community to DO GOOD that God has called us to do and even planned in advance for us to do.Christianity is more than a Sunday ritual or religion - it is a personal relationship with our Creator. And as we spend daily time with our Creator, God, we become more like him. And in becoming more like HIM, we are compelled to do the good that God has planned in advance for us to do. Keep your eyes open, God has good for us to do EVERYWHERE! The Bible says "they will know we are Christians by our love!" John 13:35. (which includes doing good because LOVE seeks out how it can serve others!) So this morning I researched some scripture on what the Bible says about Believers doing good...(notice I said Believers doing good...not doing good to BECOME a Believer :) ).


God wants his children to DO GOOD!
* Titus 2:7...Do good of every kind.
* Titus 2:14...Be totally committed to good deeds.
* Titus 3:1...Submit to authority...always ready to do what is good.
* Titus 3:8...Devote yourself to doing good.
* Titus 3:14...Do good by meeting the urgent needs of others.
* Galatians 6:9...Don't get tired of doing good.
* Galatians 6:10...Do good to everyone whenever you have the opportunity! Especially to other       Believers!
* 2 Timothy 3:16-17...God's word is to prepare and equip his people to do every good work!
* Hebrews 10:24...Motivate others to love and to do good works!
* 1 Samuel 26:23...God rewards doing good.
* Proverbs 3:27-28...Do good NOW when it is in your power to help.
* Ephesians 2:8-10...God saved us by his grace so that we can do the good things he planned for us before time began.
* Ephesians 6:8...God rewards the good we do.
* Hebrews 13:16...Don't forget to do good and share with those in need! These are sacrifices that please God!
* 1 Peter 2:20; 3:17...God is pleased when you suffer for doing good, rather than for doing wrong.

Let's step outside our box. Look around your neighborhood and city. Pray for God to open your eyes to where he wants you to serve. The neighbor that needs help with some yard work. The single mom that needs a babysitter for her kids so she can have a break. The couple with a struggling marriage and little money that needs their kids to have a playdate at your house so they can invest in eachother and restore their marriage. The lonely friend who needs you to slow down and invest in a relationship with her so God can use you to help heal her wounded, tired heart. The stranger who needs you to take your eyes off your cell phone and be all there even in public - they may just need to see your smile - and they may not smile back - but you never know what that smile or genuine "how are you?" does to their heart. (and let's not forget our children who need our attention OFF OUR CELL PHONES (i am too often guilty too!). Your local salvation army that can use donations, help in their store, or your services or company with the residents in their activities. The local nursing home where the elderly may not have family ("adopt" an elderly person who has no one else who visits them!). Organizations that help single women and children such as Living Alternatives or Youth with a Mission. Volunteer at Grounds for Justice or your local organization which raises money to stop sex trafficking of little girls HERE IN THE US! The options are endless once we open our eyes and see where God is working! However, all that being said, don't get SOOO caught up in serving outside the home that you forget to serve willingly INSIDE your home...our kids won't believe our relationship with God is legit if we are happily serving others while ignoring them ;). Baby-steps. Follow as God leads...one day, one moment at a time. Let's cut out the AMERICAN DREAM BUSY-NESS and invest in what matters:)

I leave you with this today...


I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received! 
Ephesians 4:1


Monday, May 12, 2014

BELIEVER

"I wanna live this life unsafe, unsure...but not afraid." I LOVE the start of this song by Audio Adrenaline

My life is not my own. My life, my family, my kids, my home and possessions are not my own...they are gifts from God and I am to be a wise steward of what he has given me...in every area. This song inspires me to be and do all God created me for, no matter what the cost or where it is.


God is doing SO SO SO much in my life and in my family right now that I need a place to share what is over-flowing! My desire and hope is that God will use this blogging platform starting with this post to use what he's doing in my heart to reach and make a difference in the lives of others. That He will use this blog to tug at the heartstrings of believers and unbelievers to draw him to himself and that they (INCLUDING YOU :) ) will have the desire put into action to seek him more and more every day. 

Bottom line...
I want to live with NO REGRETS.