Monday, December 17, 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time if the Year

It is Christmas time. For many people it is the absolute best time of the year. Christmas lights, Christmas music, kids plays, presents, family, friends, extra time off work, and the list goes on and on. So many great things going on.

For others, it is a very difficult time of the year. Some have to work extra hours, have to miss the Christmas festivities, and miss spending time with families. Military men and women are spending Christmas away from their families and friends. Many people are missing loved ones who are no longer here this Christmas and just long for one more family Christmas together with them.

For me this Christmas hasn't even felt like Christmas. I can't quite put my finger on one specific reason why, but I just am not feeling it this year. Even among all the hustle and bustle, the lights, the music, the plays; I feel like a Scrooge. I feel like I would rather just skip Christmas all together.

I just keep reminding myself what Christmas is really all about. It isn't about the lights and big productions. It is about the birth of Jesus, without which we would still be a people who could only reach God through priests and sacrifices. Because of Jesus birth, we are able to reach the throne of heaven directly through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We have a hope of a future because of the birth of one special baby.

I may not be excited about Christmas this year but I am always excited about that baby that was born on Christmas, not for any other reason but to save you and me and give us the opportunity to spend eternity in Heaven with Him. I may not be feeling the holiday spirit but am blessed tonight to be feeling the Holy Spirit hug me and wipe my tears just like a true friend does in the hard times.

So for those reasons, all bah humbugs aside, I pray you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

His Word Stands the Test of Time


A friend of mine has a Bible that has been used for a long time now. The cover is worn, peeling off and almost gone. The inside is all marked up with underlined verses and notes written in the margins. At times I think maybe I should at least buy her a Bible cover or something. But then I stop and think about the beauty in seeing that Bible that way. Some days it is even convicting for me to look at it.

What is it about a worn out Bible that is so precious? For me, seeing it is a reminder of several things.
  • The Word of God will always be and will stand the test of time.
  • The Word of God never changes. No matter how many changes happen to the cover, what is written inside is forever intact (spiritually speaking).
  • God speaks through his Word. The notes in the margins and the underlines are there because during times of reading that Word, the Lord spoke to the person reading it.
 The picture below is a picture of her Bible next to my Bible. This is the convicting part for me. My Bible (though it is only about a year old) just last week started getting marked up and has not gotten much wear. I used to think that I shouldn't write in my Bible and that I need to protect it. Well, if I am not marking in it then what am I doing? Reading the Word of God is wonderful, but if I only read, I am probably not retaining much and I am certainly not focusing on studying. We encourage our kids to highlight and underline in their books while they study for school, so why would we not do the same thing while studying the Word of God.
 
So, I know it will take some time, but my challenge to myself, is to one day make my Bible look like hers. I want to one day be able to say that my Bible looks like this because I use it so often. I want one day for someone else to tell me that my Bible makes them wish they read theirs more.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

If He did it for them He will do it for me!!

Hebrews 13:8 says, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Acts 10:34 says, "Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.""

Believing the truth of these two verses, I realize that I can read a story in the Bible, even in the old testament and see how God worked in the lives of people in the Bible, and know that because Jesus Christ never changes and God is not a respecter of persons, He can work the same way in my life too!

Does that mean He is going to part a red sea for me? Well, I likely won't be in the exact situation, but it does mean that when I am stuck between a sea and an army (between a rock and a hard place) either of which could take my life, He can make a way out.

Does that mean that He is going to ask me to build an ark and bring two of each kind of animal on it and wait for the earth to be flooded? No, because He promised He would never destroy the earth by flood again. However, it does mean that when God tells me to do something, I can do it, no matter how crazy other people think I am, and I can rest assured that He is working for my good. I can follow His direction knowing He is bringing me through the flood and placing me and my family on dry ground on the other side of it.

Does that mean that He is going to save me from the fiery furnace? I don't know about that, but it means that when the heat is on, He is standing with me. He will not leave me to face the fiery furnace alone.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. What He has done before, He can do again! We serve an AWESOME God who cares for us and loves us the same as He cared for and loved everyone else who came before us.

“The Moment – Hot Springs”

Pastor Ben Wiles, pastor of River of Life Church in Hot Springs posted a great blog post concerning an upcoming local event in his area.

Friends, take a moment to read his post. It is amazing to me to think that we have "Christians" who are falling for the lies of satan left and right. They truly are deceived and because of that are deceiving others as well.

Don't make decisions based on what others have to say. READ YOUR BIBLE and make your own decisions based on what THE INFALLIBLE WORD OF GOD has to say!!

Check out Pastor Ben's reflections here!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Simple Life

I remember a time in my life when things seemed simple. A time where the most important thing I had to worry about was how many boxes of girl scout cookies I could sell this year. A time where the most difficult decisions I had to make was which shirt I was going to wear to school today. Where did the simple times go?

Is life more difficult because I am an adult now or is life changing all together? Being an adult brings on its own set of responsibilities that I didn't have to worry with as a child, but I really think that life is getting harder over all. Things that used to be simple are so complex now. Things that are supposed to make life simple, add layers of complexity that cause more stress. 

A good example of this is simple communication with a friend. When I was a kid, if I wanted to communicate with someone, you basically either had to talk to them face to face, call them on the phone, or send them a letter by snail mail. When I was a teenager (or around that time) we got the internet at home and added email as a means of communication. Then there were cell phones and pagers and now we add texting and social media outlets to the list of endless ways to communicate with people.

Before all the technology, I could call someone and they would answer and talk to me. Now I don't know how I should try and get a hold of someone and when I try they sometimes don't respond. Come to find out later, they saw your text, email, or facebook message, they just didn't reply. It is easy to hide behind the technology to avoid people and it makes it more difficult to communicate.

This is just one example. I love technology as much as anyone, but some days, I just want the simple life back!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New Beginnings...

Well, it's that time of the year again! Time for the kids to start back to school! One last weekend before the bell rings again. I know that some folks are definitely ready for the new year while some are already dreading Monday morning.

Back to school time comes with many things that need to be done to be ready for the new school year. Most folks will buy new school supplies, new clothes, new shoes, and get those last minute hair cuts to make sure that the kids look their best on the first day of school. They do this to make sure they are prepared to start out on good footing.

As I was sitting here thinking about this whole back to school process, I realized that there are many things that correlate with salvation. Salvation is all about new beginnings. Every year our kids get a chance to start over again. Praise the Lord, it is a fresh start with a new teacher. Salvation gives us a fresh start and a new beginning. When we ask the Lord to come into our lives and be our Savior, we have a fresh start to life.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

Once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, with the Lords help, we try and change how we live. We do our best to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10 says, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord."

In order to make those changes, we will likely have to make outward changes in our lives. Just like we buy new clothes and new shoes for back to school, we may have to make some changes that are going to be obvious to others. We may have to give up things that we had before. Maybe there is music or television that are not good for you to be hearing and maybe you need to give that up and find good, wholesome, music and television to watch and listen to instead. To live as children of light, we must live in a way that pleases the Lord.

What about back to school hair cuts? While changing the things in our lives that could be a stumbling block to us or open up doors to the devils attacks will be hard, there could be those things in your life that the Lord really wants to change about you. More than something you can take on and off like clothes, it could be something that the Lord wants a more permanent change in your life. Maybe you are hanging out with a group of friends who will do nothing but tear you down.

Psalm 88:8-9 says, "You have taken my closest friends away from me. You have made me sickening to them. I feel trapped. I can't escape. I'm crying so much I can't see very well. Lord, I call out to you every day. I lift up my hands to you in prayer."

These verses really speak to me. The Lord may take away people who you thought were your friends (but I can promise you, if you choosing to make your life better by following the Lord offends, or turns them off, they were never true friends to begin with), but He is right there waiting for you to call out to Him and lean on Him.

Back to school means it's time for a new year, with new beginnings. Is there more in your life that needs a fresh start than just another school year? Are there things in your life you need to turn over to the Lord? Do you need to turn your ENTIRE life over to the Lord? Maybe you have been saved for years, but there is just something, some situation, that you can no longer manage alone. Take this opportunity to seek the Lord and let Him wipe your slate clean! It's time for a fresh, new start!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Love them Anyway

I had the opportunity this afternoon to listen to a man who has lived with dementia for ten years and spends his time traveling around telling his story and encouraging people who are dealing with dementia and alzheimer's, either those who have it, or those who care for people who have it. I want to share a little bit of what he said because while he was talking about living with dementia, he said something that is so profound I can't help but not share it.

He was talking about later in the process of dementia when your loved one may get to the point of not even knowing who you are when you come to see them. Or maybe they get depressed or stop talking as much as they used to and aren't as responsive as they used to be. Sometimes when these things start happening, family members may be tempted to start pulling away from their loved one. For many reasons, but he said something that I will not forget anytime soon. He said, "if your husband can't remember your name, does that make them any less loveable?" It shouldn't.

Love, he said, was about giving, not getting. If you woke up every morning to a husband who didn't know who you were and didn't say much to you, would you love them any less? Some people may answer yes, but if you married someone because they knew your name, you settled too fast! Loving someone isn't about what the other person can give you, it is about what you can give them.

This was a humbling statement for me. Even without dealing with dementia, life in general serves up these moments where someone may not be as loveable as they were at another time in life, but if we truly love them, that doesn't matter.

Love isn't about how loveable the person you love is, it is about how willing you are to put yourself aside and love them anyway.

God loved us enough to send His only Son to die for us so that we could spend the rest of our lives with Him. I know there are times in my life where I am certainly unlovable. But I am so thankful for the love of God. He loved us when we yet were sinners. God is in the business of loving the unlovable and turning them into lovable people. We need to accept the love God has shown us and take it a step further to be the hands and feet of Jesus and love those who are unlovable. Show love and kindness to those who don't seem to deserve it.

So many times we dismiss people because they do things to us that make it hard to love them. Love them anyway! Blessings will come for you and them in the process.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

One Step at a Time!

Jonathan was such a great baby. He was usually happy and laughing and I never had many reasons to worry too much about him. He always seemed to make me feel like everything was fine. Have a bad day, come home to his smiles and laughs and it all dissappeared. Even when he was not feeling well, he still was pretty happy.

The whole first year of his life the one problem we seemed to have was ear infections. He constantly had an ear infection. We would get rid of one and a month later, we would have another one. We finally saw a doctor who refered us for him to get tubes in his ears.

The other thing that was beginning to weigh on my mind about this time was that he really wasn't walking. Now, I still wasn't too worried about it. He would crawl and stand, he just wasn't actually walking. I don't know what age you would actually worry about that, but being a first time mom, I worried a little about it.

Back to the ear infections. We took him in to get tubes put in his ears. It isn't a long or complicated proceedure but it does require them to be put to sleep. Obviously that was a little stressful just because he had not ever been put to sleep before. We went back with him until they were ready for him. They took him back, we walked around to the recovery area, and it was literally about two minutes and he was back in recovery. It took him five minutes or so to wake up and we were heading home. (One of the craziest experiences ever I think!)

He was cranky afterwards, but we took him home and laid him down for a nap. He took about a two hour nap and then woke up ready to play and as happy as he always was. I took him into the living room and put him down in the floor. The next thing I knew, he was pulling up on the end table. He had done that before so that wasn't a big deal. But then, he let go and just took off walking like he had been walking for months. I couldn't believe it. I guess the pressure and stuff in his ears had him off balance and wouldn't allow him to actually walk. He could stand but he couldn't take those steps.

The Lord reminded me of this story today. I think sometimes we are like Jonathan was. The pressures of life get us off balance and we have a hard time taking the steps we need to in order to move forward. Once something happens to change the pressure, we can start moving again.

This doesn't mean that the pressure will be removed. Maybe it will just be rebalanced or maybe we will just turn to the Lord and let Him hold the pressure up for us. Either way, when the pressure is shifted, we can start moving again. Until the pressure is shifted, as long as we get up and STAND, we will be ready to take off when the pressure shifts. Jonathan first steps were not a few slow steps and then falling back down. He was ready to walk because he had been taking small steps while holding onto the furniture and he had been STANDING when he couldn't walk. His strength was being built in the process.

Sometimes we don't see that the processes of life are building our strength. They are not there to tear us down. They are there to build our strength and prepare us for the next phase of life. So if you are going through a process and feeling pressure, turn to the Lord and let Him hold you up and prepare you for what's coming next.

Ephesians 6:10-13
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to STAND.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lessons from a Queen!

The story of Esther has so many great lessons and just plain interesting things in it.

First of all, this book of the Bible is a great example of how NOT boring the Bible can be. Many people think that the Bible is boring, but Esther is far from it. I’ll leave it at that and you can read it for yourself to find out why I say that!

One lesson found all throughout the book of Esther is the importance of obeying the King’s commands or you may end up in trouble. There are several cases throughout the book of Esther where someone went against the King and they ended up being killed by the Kings orders. The King James Version says they were hung on a tree. The New International Version says impaled on poles. The New King James says hanged on a gallows. The New Living Translation says they were impaled on a sharpened pole. Either way, I wouldn’t want that to be me in any case!

Interesting Bible Fact: Esther 2:12 - Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics.

I’m not sure if a whole year of beauty treatments would be heaven on earth or torture! I mean think about it. We do crazy things now days like plucking eyebrows. What did they do back then? I don’t think they had tweezers! I’m just saying, Bible time beauty treatments could be a little scary.

Life Lesson #1: Esther listened to her “father”. Mordecai had essentially adopted Esther when she was young, but she respected him and listened to him when he asked her not to reveal to the king that she was Jewish. Had she told the King she was Jewish at first, she likely would not have been his choice to be queen and would not have been able to save her people. We need to listen to our Heavenly Father and follow his instructions. He knows best!

The King had a right hand man, Haman. He was not impressed with Mordecai because Mordecai would not kneel down and pay his respects to Haman as a royal official. This infuriated Haman and he not only wanted to kill Mordecai, but he wanted to kill all of his people as well. When he went to the King about this, the King just handed over his seal and told him to do with the people what he wanted. When Mordecai found out about it, he was distressed and asked Esther for help.

Interesting Bible Fact: Esther 4:11 - All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives.

How awesome would it be to be able to banish everyone you didn’t want to see and only see the people you summoned! I’m just saying, that sounds like a perk to me for being the King!

At first, Esther didn’t want to go to the King as Mordecai asked her to, because she was not supposed to go to the king unless he summoned her. Mordecai said something to Esther that makes me stop and think. He said, “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Wow, what a statement. First of all, someone will deliver the Jewish people if you don’t! Secondly, why do you think you were put in a position of power? Don’t you think this could be the reason you are queen? How many times do we think we have no authority in a situation? But what if we are in just the right place at just the right time? We just have to step out on faith and trust that we will make a difference if we do the right thing.

The king liked Esther so much, that when she approached him, he asked her what she wanted. He said whatever she wanted up to half of his kingdom could be hers. She invited the king and Haman to a banquet. At the banquet she invited them to a second banquet. This is when she was going to tell the King what she wanted.

In the meantime Haman passed Mordecai again who would not show the respect he wanted. Haman was furious and at the suggestion of his wife, he set up a pole reaching a height of fifty cubits and was going to ask the King in the morning to have Mordecai impaled on it.

The king that night didn’t sleep well. He was thinking about the person who exposed an assassination attempt on him. When he discovered it was Mordecai, he wanted to properly show his appreciation.

So, the King asked Haman what he should do for a man who the King wanted to honor. Haman responded thinking the king was speaking of him. He named off a list of great honors to bestow on the man.

Life Lesson #2: Vengeance is Mine sayeth the Lord! Once Haman listed all the honors he thought should be bestowed upon this man, the King told Haman to go and bestow these honors on Mordecai! (He had to personally honor his arch enemy)! Haman was mortified and ran home, but he still had a banquet to attend. When Esther finally made her request to the king (to spare her people from being killed) the King wanted to know who had planned this terrible act. Esther told him it was Haman. Haman ended up being ordered to be impaled on the very same pole that he had set up for Mordecai and Mordecai was honored. How ironic is that? Not only is he embarrassed by having to honor Mordecai in the streets, but he is killed on the same pole he had set up for the king to impale Mordecai on!

Life Lesson #3: Think before you speak! I am pretty sure that at this point Haman’s wife was wishing she had given him some different advice! Not only did she lose her husband in a humiliating way, she lost everything that belonged to him.

In the end Esther and Mordecai were given Haman’s estate and were able to write their own edict signed by the king to protect the Jewish people.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Don't Let Satan Steal Your Blessings!

I want to take a few minutes to share a little bit about my last semester in college and something incredibly important that I learned from it.

As an adult student, married, with a child, and working full time, finding time to get things done was very difficult. Anything that seemed to be “extra” just didn’t get done. I would go to work during the week from 8:00-4:30 Monday –Friday. After dinner, I would try and work on homework or study. I would spend all weekend, Friday night through Sunday night doing homework and studying and somewhere in between would try to squeeze in laundry and a little housekeeping (and I mean a little). My husband would cook dinner most nights and he would help out with some laundry and dishes.

One thing about me is that I will work hard at whatever I’m doing, but I can’t do it on limited sleep. I don’t function well on just a few hours of sleep, so giving up sleep to find time for other things was not the best option for me. Although I did have some nights of a few hours of sleep, I couldn’t do that every day. I had to find other ways to get things done.

While I was saved, and had a relationship with the Lord, it was not what it needed to be. When life was overwhelming and I was trying to balance the 24 hours I had in the day, it was difficult to balance things. One way that I dealt with balancing my time was skipping church. I told myself that it was ok because I prayed at home and I would watch preaching on TV. At the time it all made sense to me, I got extra stuff done and I felt like I was still OK with God.

Here is what I learned this semester. THAT WAS A LIE FROM SATAN!! Satan convinced me that my life was just fine the way that it was, but let me share with you some of things that I was missing out on by missing church. I found these things out this semester after I started going back to church regularly.

Friendship – support, love, and prayers from other Christians change who you are. Without that, you are missing so much in your life. Hebrews 10:25 says - Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (NIV)

Being in the Presence of the Lord – Matthew 18:20 says “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." While you can pray and read the word of God at home, there is a much stronger move of the Holy Spirit when you are gathered with other believers. The Lord shows up among a body of believers.

The infilling of the Holy Spirit. While I know different people have different beliefs about this, I have to tell you, this is so real. There are many places in the Bible that speaks of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Act 9:17-18 is where Saul was baptized in the Spirit. “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized”.

While you can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit without someone else laying hands on you, for me, it took someone laying hands on me. But I had spent years wanting it and seeking it and it took one Spirit Filled Believer, listening to the Lord, stepping out and approaching me, laying hands on me, and it came. I have heard stories of people being alone somewhere and being baptized in the Holy Spirit so it can happen when you are alone or with other believers but either way, it will change your life! I am a different person now than I was before this occurred.

Intimacy with God and a Connection to the Throne. All of the things I said above impact the intimacy level you have with the Lord. He wants to give you all he has and He just needs you to open up to Him and allow him to give you more of Him.

Friends, don’t miss out on what the Lord has for you. Let me tell you, this last semester of school was both the best and busiest one of them all by far. I had many more assignments, projects, tests, quizzes, and papers this semester than any other. Mostly due to the nature of the last few classes I had to take to graduate. Two of the three classes included exit exams and assessment exams to evaluate the program and the university in how well it did preparing us to graduate. More work and no more time in the day to complete it all. But, I CHOSE this semester to be in church and let the Lord help me deal with the rest. He blessed me so much this semester because of it. He came through for me and I came out at the end of the semester with grades just about the same as any other semester. So, really, there was no loss in productivity on my part. If anything, the Lord helped me out and increased what I could get done in a short amount of time.

DON’T LET SATAN STEAL YOUR BLESSINGS. Don’t let Satan keep you from allowing God to bless you. The Lord is waiting for you to come to Him and He WANTS to bless you. I heard this from someone before and heard from another person today and I have continued to come back to it. “You can have as much of the Lord as you want to have”. He is waiting to give you more. Lay it all down, trust in Him, and He will work in ways you could not imagine in your life. Satan wants you to think that your life in Christ is fine just the way it is. He wants you to think that you don’t need more. But he is a liar! The most spiritual person on the face of the earth can still have more. If anyone thinks they have enough, they are missing out. THERE IS ALWAYS MORE IN HIM!!!!

Don’t let the circumstances of life hold you back. Jump in head first and let the Lord handle the circumstances of life. He is better at it than we are anyway!

The moral of this story is not so much about church attendance (that’s just what it was for me). The moral of this story is that until we reach the throne of Heaven, we haven’t had enough. There is always more. DON’T SETTLE FOR LESS THAN WHAT GOD HAS FOR YOU!!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

We Are More Than Conquerors!!!!!

Romans 8:37-39, NIV
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For those of us who are Children of God, hold fast to these promises in Romans 8. If you are a born again believer in Christ, absolutely nothing can separate you from His love.

I’m no Bible scholar, but I can tell you some things that stand out to me in this scripture. First and most importantly, the whole message of this verse is that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.

The verse starts out by saying, “In all these things we are MORE than conquerors”… If we were ONLY conquerors, that would be awesome. To be a conqueror would be plenty and we would have won, but that wasn’t all God had for us. Through Him, we are not only conquerors, but we are MORE than conquerors.

The next sentence in this passage lists things that specifically cannot separate us from the love of God. The very first thing listed is death. We instinctively think of death as a separation. When we lose a loved one and they are no longer here on earth with us, there is an obvious and painful separation. So this analogy makes perfect sense to most people. As Children of God, earthly death is the doorway to living with Christ forever! Earthly death is not a loss; it is only a gain for God’s Children. It allows us to go home to our Father who loves us more than we could ever imagine.

The next part says that life cannot separate us from the love of God. What exactly does that mean? Life is hard and full of things that we are often taken back by. We spend so much time just trying to get through this situation or that one. We are constantly hit with situations that we cannot change or control, but just have to walk through. If we are not careful, we can focus too much on life and less on Jesus. If we put our trust in Jesus, we will not only be closer to Him, but we will have help dealing with life’s circumstances. Focus on Christ and let him lead you through.

We are human and Christ is not. The fact that we are human and Christ is not does not matter. Christ love reaches beyond the bounds of humanity. Just because we do not take the same life form as He does, doesn’t keep Him from loving us just as much. God created us as humans while He was still a spiritual being. He created us just the way we are and loves us for who we are. And as I said before, life eventually leads to death, and death leads to ETERNAL LIFE in Christ!

The next part says neither angels nor demons (and later nor any other powers) can separate us from the love of Christ. This one is fascinating to me also. God created humans as well as angels (demons being fallen angels). Even though the Bible says that we were made a little lower than the angels, the angels cannot stand in our way of God. Demons (or fallen angels) cannot stand in our way of God and His love for us. So, when Satan is on your back or you feel defeated, don’t forget, Satan and his demons have no power over you. God is in control of your life and neither Satan nor any of his demons can separate you from God.

Neither the present nor the future can separate us from the love of Christ. This is good news for me. This means that I can stop worrying about everything! I am such a worrier and to know that the future cannot separate me from Christ’s love is huge for worriers like me. But, my goal is that in Christ, I will go from being a worrier to a warrior!! With the Lord’s help, that is the direction I am moving.

Neither height nor depth can separate us from the love of Christ. There is no amount of space in any direction that can separate us from Christ’s love. No matter how far away we are from other people we love, Christ’s love is never far away. So in those lonely moments in life when you feel like no one is there for you, lean on the Lord and let His love hold you.

Nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. What a way to sum it up. NOTHING AT ALL can separate us from Christ’s love! Thank you Lord for loving us as much as You do!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Change is Coming...Ready or Not!!

Life is full of changes, both good and bad. It is just part of living. If things stop changing, you aren't living anymore. How we handle change can make a huge impact on our lives and the lives of those around us.

It's graduation season. Many high school seniors are getting ready to walk across their graduation stage and cross over into an entirely different part of life. Some will go on to college while others will join the workforce. Either path will be vastly different than going to the same classes in the same building with the same people every single day.

Going back to school after being married and having a child creates its own unique circumstances. Everything from paying for college, to finding time for everyone and everything, to finding time for myself. There just aren't enough hours in the day for everything and somewhere along the way someone has to give something up. Now that I am getting to the end of this part of my life, there are so many decisions that I need to make. Looking to the future is just as scary or maybe even more so than it was when I graduated high school. You see, as a non-traditional student, married with a child, any decisions about my future affect at least two other people. I have to consider my husband and my child, it isn't just about me. With student loans as a way to finance my education, I need to make more money. I need to figure out how to pay the extra bills that we will have because of me graduating.

So for now, maybe I'll just have a little more free time (although I have some projects in mind already that I want to do), but very soon, everything will be changing. I can feel it in the air already, I just don't know what is coming. I am praying for guidance for my family as we move on the next stage of our lives. While looking for a better paying job is probably the first step, I feel like there could be an opportunity here for the Lord to use me and my husband in a different way than before. The Lord knows what we need to get the bills paid and I fully trust that He will lead and guide us in the direction that we need to be going in.

While change is inevitable, it is important that when change is on the horizon, we stand firm in the Lord. Lucky for us, He will never change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever! That eases my worries a lot. To know that there is one thing in my life that will never, ever change, helps me get through each day.

If you are going through a change in your life, hold fast to the promises of the Lord. He will guide you and direct your path and He is the one who already knows where your path is heading. Lean on Him and let Him lead you!

Proverbs 3: 5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Psalm 91

Psalm 91 has meant a lot to me lately and I wanted to share it. I do want to point something out though. I have read a lot of scripture lately that has made me realize that for a long time, I have read scripture with the wrong perspective (or maybe just listened too much to other people instead of reading it for myself). There are many scriptures that people use to make others feel good. They quote many scriptures to uplift others, but a lot of the ones that people use to be uplifting have the stipulation in them that these things are true for the believer. It does not promise them for the unbeliever.

Psalm is incredibly uplifting for those who fit the qualifications of verse one, but if you don’t, then this isn’t referring to you. If you don’t meet the qualifications of verse one, take time right now to ask the Lord to forgive you for your sins and ask the Lord to bring you into the secret place of the Most High! It is truly the best place to live life anyway.

Psalm 91(AMP)

1 HE WHO dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].

2 I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!

3 For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.

4 [Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.

5 You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day,

6 Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.

8 Only a spectator shall you be [yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High] as you witness the reward of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place,

10 There shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent.

11 For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service].

12 They shall bear you up on their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

13 You shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the serpent shall you trample underfoot.

14 Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness--trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].

15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Strong Enough



I absolutely love this song and have since the first time I heard it. The official music video is even better! This song is the ultimate in "real life" situations, but an ultimate reminder of what the Lord is doing behind the scenes.

You don't realize at first, but each scene in this music video is another member of the same family going through some problem in life. The dad gets fired, the son gets bullied, the daughter has to resist a boyfriends advances, and the mom is stressed over the bills. This is real life, we could add a million other situations and scenarios to this list of real life, every day struggles.

Satan is attacking families left and right these days. Anything he can use to tear a family apart, he is. There is hope in the Lord though! We do not have to go through life alone. Not only are we not alone, we can turn to the Lord for love, strength, and anything else that this world can not give us.

It is time for our families to take a stand! As a Christian, I know how things will end. Satan will not win in the end and he doesn't have to win now! Whatever circumstances he is throwing at you, take a stand against him. I know when you are in the midst, that is easier said than done, but when we are weak, the Lord is strong. He is strong for us.

I don't think I will ever forget what I heard Friday night. The Lord wants to help you in your struggles. He is saying, "Let me hold your worries, while you take your stand"! The Lord NEVER expected us to struggle through this world alone. That is not His plan for you!

Stand firm!

Ephesians 6
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, BE ALERT AND ALWAYS KEEP ON PRAYING FOR ALL THE LORD'S PEOPLE!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Nuggets of Wisdom

I just want to take a few minutes and reflect over some of the Godly wisdom that has come my way this week during services that I have attended.

First of all, I am always amazed when two different people (unknowingly) end up speaking about the same thing. Sunday morning, our Pastor talked about the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from Daniel chapter 3. Tonight I was blessed to be able to go with our State Women's Ministry Director (and friend) to a service she was preaching at. She also talked some about this same story. I want to share some of the things they shared.

One of the most encouraging things to me about this story is that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not alone when they were in the fire. When the heat was on, they stood their ground and the Lord stood with them.

There are three nuggets of wisdom to remember from this story:
1. My circumstances don't change who God is.
2. My circumstances don't change God's power.
3. My circumstances don't change the final outcome.

In the end, the King decided that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's God was the real God, not the golden idol he had built.

The other thing that I was sincerely blessed by tonight was parts of Psalm 46.

Psalm 46
Amplified Bible (AMP)
1. GOD IS our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.
2. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains be shaken into the midst of the seas,
3. Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling and tumult. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!
4. There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.
5. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her right early [at the dawn of the morning].
6. The nations raged, the kingdoms tottered and were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
7. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge (our Fortress and High Tower). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!
8. Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has wrought desolations and wonders in the earth.
9. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow into pieces and snaps the spear in two; He burns the chariots in the fire.
10. Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!
11. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge (our High Tower and Stronghold). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

Verse 5 blessed me. Although I realize that this verse is referring to a river and not a human, I am so blessed to see a verse like this that I can stand on. I can claim that God is in my midst and I will not be moved!!!

The last thing that truly blessed me goes right along with the same message. God is our refuge and our Strength... He is there for us all the time. One statement that was made tonight was that God told our Women's leader "Let me hold your worries while you take your stand". That blessed me so much. The Lord is here for us and wants to help us as we stand for Him.

I know this post has some randomness to it, but I pray that some part of it will help you in your journey this week. Stand for Christ and know that he has your back!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

In your pain, you find your purpose!

My husband and I were watching Joel Osteen earlier tonight. If you have ever watched him on television, you know that his preaching style is definitely to motivate people and uplift them in whatever they are going through in life. His messages are full of catchy phrases which hold much truth, but I think are also designed to help people remember what he has to say.

One of the things he said tonight was "In your pain, you find your purpose". I instantly had an ah ha moment when I heard this. My life over the last year or so has been a series of ups and downs. I have been trying to figure out how to explain exactly what has happened in my life during this time. While there are many things I could tell you about this time in my life, this phrase I heard tonight, sums it up.

I feel like my life has a purpose now that I never saw before. While I don't know where this will lead me, I do know that this new direction is a direct result of the path I've been down. The things I have been through have led me to where I am.

My life about a year ago was spinning out of control. I was put in a place that I never thought I would ever be in. I was going through something that I didn't want to talk about with other people. Partly because I didn't want to believe that it was happening and partly because I was afraid of what other people would think. So the only thing I knew to do was go to Church.

Jesus was the only thing I knew that was never going to change in my life. He was the only one I knew I could count on. He was the only person who I knew would never hurt me. But what I didn't consider at the time was how much He could change my circumstances. How much better my life could be by trusting Him to handle my situation. Before I realized this, I was spending countless hours trying to change my situation on my own. I was praying about my situation, but I wasn't praying in a healthy way. I was praying for the Lord to change the other people involved. I was begging God daily to change someone else so that my life would settle down.

In January, I went to a sectional women's meeting with a good friend of mine. It was an amazing women's meeting and the Holy Spirit was definitely moving. During that meeting, I heard from the Lord in a way that I never have before. It was such a clear message and I felt like someone was standing in front of me talking directly to me. I felt the Lord telling me that He was in control and that no matter what happened in my situation, He would take care of me. From that moment on, my prayers changed. I stopped trying to change my circumstances and the people around me and just trusted God that He would take care of things. From that night on (literally) things began to change. When I gave up control and let the Lord handle things, my life started getting better. Things were changing for the better.

Earlier this month, the Lord began showing me something else. I believe that the Lord is calling me to begin sharing my story. Although, I have not been incredibly detailed in this blog post, I really don't need to be at this point. My life was spinning out of control because of ______________. Just fill in the blank. Whatever it is for you, insert issue here... The Lord is able to change your circumstances no matter what they are.

Back to Joel Osteen. I have a calling on my life that I would not have ever realized if it had not been for my pain. If I had not gone through what I have, I would have missed my purpose in life. Look for your purpose in your pain. Satan would love nothing more than to make you miserable. Don't let him win. Take the pain of life and turn it into something with purpose!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

No Fear!

There are fearful moments in each of our lives. Some are more scary than others, but no one can say that mine is more scary than yours. Each person at each stage of life has a different view of fear and what scares them. I remember a couple of times when I was little where I felt pure fear. Now, looking back, they weren't particularly fearful situations, but at the time, they were the scariest things I had ever been through.

One particular instance I recall involved a sock drawer full of socks and a little grey mouse. I was getting some socks out of the drawer and when I opened the drawer there was this little mouse staring up at me. I screamed bloody murder! My parents ran into my room to see what was wrong and I was just standing there screaming. Dad had to save the day and get rid of the mouse.

Another instance was one night I had a dream about a scary guy at the food of my bed in my room. I woke up screaming and crying. I remember telling my mom that it was so real. I really thought there was a man in my room. It was not like a dream! My mom helped me calm down and I went back to bed.

Looking back at both of these times in my life, there are a few things that I realize about them.
  1. In both cases I was genuinely fearful.
  2. In both cases my parents came to my rescue.
  3. In both cases I was able to calm down and move past them.
These are just fears that I recall from early in life, but since then, the things that scare me have been bigger, harder issues to deal with. But remembering my previous trials and the fact that I made it through them gives me strength and confidence to face the trials of tomorrow.

2 Timothy 1:7 - For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.

In facing future fears, I will remember:
  1. I may be genuinely fearful
  2. But my Father (my Jesus) will come to my rescue
  3. and I will be able to calm down and move past it!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hold Me Fast!

Psalm 139:7-10
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

I have to admit, at times I can be a bit of a smart alac. I didn't used to be that way, but the more I go through in life, the more I struggle with this. People say things that are just plain dumb and it takes everything within me not to make a comment. I sometimes roll my eyes and grin but try to bite my tongue. Other times, things just slip out.

Back in January, the Lord started moving in my life in ways He never has before. I will talk more about all that later, but ever since then, He has been molding me and shaping me. Now, when things go wrong or even if I'm just annoyed by someone, I literally feel the Lord holding my tongue. I physically have a harder time responding than before. I have also noticed lately that if something has to come out, it won't be words, it will be tears. Now, trust me, there are times and places where that is extremely awkward.

Slowly, I am coming to realize how important it is to hold your tongue. The verses below show this.
  • Proverbs 13:3 - He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction. 
  • Proverbs 15:28 - The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.  
  • Psalm 34:14 - Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.  
  • Proverbs 18:21 - Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Back to Psalm 139, no matter where I am at, the Lord's hand is guiding me and holding me fast! Thank goodness, because the Lord knows I can't do it alone. I tend to be too sarcastic on my own.

Thank you Jesus for keeping my tongue! Keep on guiding and directing my words so that they will be a reflection of You.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Friendship

Growing up I never had many friends. I can probably count on one hand the number of true friends I had as a kid and still think about to this day. Honestly I was not a normal kid I don't think. The majority of the people that I considered friends were not peers. The people that I was closest to growing up were adults. I'm not sure why, but that just seemed to be how it worked out.

Recently God has blessed me with a new friend. Someone who is a fabulous Women of God. What makes this friendship different? First of all, for reasons I don't understand, I do believe that the Lord placed this person in my life. I say for reasons I don't understand because I still have a hard time believing that someone can actually care about me and that I am not annoying them when I call or cry on their shoulder! :) But that is a personal flaw that the Lord is working through with me.

Proverbs 13:20 says: "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm".

Proverbs 27:9 says: "The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense."

Having someone who has a heart for the Lord to talk to and pray with has changed my life. She is wise beyond her years and is always willing to give heartfelt counsel.

I say all of this to encourage each of you to find someone who is Godly cousel and wise to be a part of your life. The prayers of friends can change your life. I know they have changed mine. Matthew 18:19 says: "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven." God can hear and answer the prayers of a single person, but the stereo sound of two in prayer together really get's His attention.

Who are your friends and what impact are they having on your life?

In the Beginning...

I can't begin to blog without talking about beginnings. There is so much on my heart that I want to share, but if you have not accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, none of what I will say in the future will mean anything. Life is a journey and what matters in life is who is leading you as you walk along your path.

Everything has a beginning. The natural life of every human being begins at conception, but when does life really begin? When do we start living and loving the way we were created to? Is it as a child with loving affection toward parents? Is it as a teenager when we have our first true crush? Is it when we walk down the isle and say "I do"? Where does the journey begin? All of those moments in life are beginnings of phases of life. All important milestones but none are the real beginning of life.

Life begins with Jesus!

2 Corinthians 5:17 says: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

Isn't that fabulous news? No matter what has happened between the time you were conceived in your mother's womb to the present time, you have a second chance! No matter what hardships life has thrown at you, Jesus is there to pick you up and brush you off and give you hope for a future. Even better, you have a friend who sticks closer than a brother! He will never leave you nor forsake you!

Believe in Him and let him carry you through life's journey.