Monday, January 30, 2012

God will never let go of you.

Let this song be your prayer today.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Take my life.

Have you ever reached a point in your life when you felt as if you had one too many things fall out of your grasp? You were doing okay, plodding along, when all of a sudden one thing after another fell through your fingertips and before you knew it things were no longer within your control like they used to be?

What's a person supposed to do when things don't land in their lap quite like they would like them to, or when they lose a job, a relationship, a home, or something else equally important? Or maybe all of the above? These things happen all the time.

What comfort is there for a person who has it all and feels like it "all" is taken from them? This is a HARD place to be.

I would like to highlight just a few things that I have found as I have wrestled with this question lately.

1. God is at work in every part of your life, if you are a believer who is seeking after the Lord. Someway. Somehow. This is something we have faith in and choose to believe in. Consider the story of Jonah. In her book, "Disciplines of the Heart", Anne Ortlund uses these references from Jonah to demonstrate how God is at work in everything in his life as he continues to turn back to God:
  • "The Lord provided a great fish" (Jonah 1:17) to rescue him from drowning.
  • "The Lord God provided a vine" (4:6) to shade him.
  • Then "God provided a worm" (4:7) to destroy the shade.
  • And then "God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head" (4:8).
The Lord provided them all: two goods, two bads. (Although if it was me, I don't know that I would consider being swallowed by a giant fish to be a "good" thing!)

2. What Satan meant for harm God can use for good...every time.
I have heard it said many different ways, but Pastor Gregg Matte says it this way: God loves to take our "misery" and make it our "ministry". Joseph's brothers abused him and sold him and do you know what Joseph said to his brothers when they came back around years later?
Genesis 50:20, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good..." Joseph had the mind of Christ, so he was able to forgive his brothers with a pure heart for what they had done to him.
Romans 8:28 is a promise you can cling to: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

If you are going through a particularly trying time right now, and it feels like it will never end, don't give up on God just yet. Give it time, allowing God to do His healing and redemptive work in your life, living out of faith trusting that He is at work, because He is. As you choose to "take the high road" like Joseph did, continuing to live out your faith journey, in spite of your circumstances, you will have a testimony like Joseph's years down the road... "What Satan intended to use to harm me, God intended to use for good." Let that be your story.

What have been your hardships, struggles, or hang-ups this year, or these past few years? Bring them before the Lord today. Ask God to bring you healing in those areas where there is still pain, bitterness, grief, hurt, or resentment. Be honest with God. He can handle it. You do not surprise him with your humanity. He created you. Pray that stuff out. Cast your cares upon the Lord because He cares for you! Ask Him to take the frustrations in your life and turn them into something meaningful. Ask Him to open up your eyes to see what it is that you can be doing to fulfill your greater purpose here on earth as it relates to His will, as it is in Heaven. Ask Him to use all of "these things" that have not been "good" in your opinion for His "good", to somehow give you opportunities to rise above your circumstances and get back to a place a peace in your heart. He will honor your prayer and I think you will notice your heart soften even as you pray, and as you surrender your will to His, allowing God to be the God of your life.... and this is where you will find TRUE comfort. You are loved.

Friday, January 27, 2012

"What's next Papa?"

Romans 8 (MSG)
The Solution Is Life on God's Terms

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn't deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn't deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn't pleased at being ignored.

But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won't know what we're talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God's terms. It stands to reason, doesn't it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ's!

So don't you see that we don't owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There's nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what's coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we're certainly going to go through the good times with him!

That's why I don't think there's any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what's coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We're sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

(The Message (MSG), by Eugene H. Peterson)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.

"Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God." ~1 Corinthians 4:5

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

May the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in your sight, Oh Lord.


The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
and all of them are righteous.

They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

My faith and hope.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Romans 12:9-21

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

John 13:35

"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Let God feed you, and then you go pour into the world.

This video is short, but it is PACKED with back to back amazing "food for thought". Somehow Mark Hall managed to put what feels like 10 really amazingly deep mini messages into 3 minutes with this one. Not really sure how he did that, but it's really good stuff. Check it out...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Beautiful Song Time.

Two messages of freedom that God wants to speak over His believers...

2 Corinthians 5:17
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"

Galatians 5:1
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

Heard this on the radio today and wanted to share it. Love this song and its message of freedom!

An encouraging word.

"The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The Lord is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all He has made. The Lord is near to all who call on Him to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them. The Lord watches over all who love Him, but the wicked He will destroy. My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise His holy name for ever and ever." Psalm 145:13b-14, 17-21

Whatever this day holds for you know that God is faithful, loving, near and watches over us. Be encouraged because YOU are NOT alone! ♥

Thank you, Donna Fagerstrom, for this reminder today! I love you!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Your name is a strong and mighty tower, Lord.

Thank you Lord.

Fear: Your hard taskmaster... Faith: Your freedom creator.

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.
“You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
(Matthew 14:31)

How would you answer that question: "Why did you doubt?"

I can think of about a million different reasons why I've doubted God lately. Each time I doubted I had to go back and seek the Lord for renewed perspective and insight trying to find the answers to questions like,

"Who did you say you were again?" (comforter, provider, healer, restorer, etc.)

"What were your promises again?" (to always be with me, to protect and sustain, etc.)

"What are you up to again?" (hahaha....yeah....I'm always asking God that one, it seems)

My faith was strong until....(fill in the blank).

In the verse above (Matthew 14:31) Jesus knew the answer to his own question but he wanted to have Peter search his own heart and look inside of himself. He wanted Peter to wrestle with that question for a minute, "Why did I doubt? I had faith and all of a sudden I stopped? I was WALKING ON WATER, and I started to sink. What happened?"

Recognizing where your faith gets weak is only helpful if, in recognizing it, you choose to stop yourself in those places and build your faith back up in who God says He is and what He says He can do. Don't stay stuck and don't get yourself in to a mind cramp of "Oh, I went and did it again! I'm some kind of a failure of a Christian" or some other kind of nonsense. NO! None of that. You are wonderfully and beautifully made and God has a plan for you. Get back up and get back to that place of faith. (I'm the only one that beats myself up, right?) ;)

You have an choice: Faith or fear.

  • Faith says "YES! God can and WILL take care of the problem at hand."
  • Fear says, "Ya know, I'm really not so sure about THIS one...maybe THIS is the one problem He won't handle...this one might just be too big for Him." (sounds ridiculous, right...but that's ultimately what we're saying when we are living out of fear)
Hebrews 10:23 says, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."
  • Faith says, "I will hold unswervingly to the hope that is set on the promises of God, knowing that HE is FAITHFUL."
  • The other option is fear and fear is a hard taskmaster.


"Fear is a hard taskmaster. It leaves us exhausted and drained, uncertain and off balance. It keeps us looking over our shoulders for the next trial to begin, wondering if we'll have enough inner reserve to carry on. Fear is self-perpetuating. It grows as we feed it with time and attention. Fear is the chief enemy of the feminine soul. It robs us of our ability to nurture those around us. Fear thwarts our receptivity. It intercepts our love for others. It debilitates our faith. It is Satan's trap, binding us to self-absorption." (I found this on a paper in my basement while I was cleaning today. I have no idea who said it but I know it did not come from me because I do not write this good!) :)
The opposite of fear of faith. It pleases God when we operate out of faith, He rewards those who live out of faith, and He moves on the prayers and actions of believers who come to Him in faith. Do you believe that? If you do, it's because you have faith. :) Hebrews 11:6, says "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Do you want to move a mountain? I mean, REALLY move a problem the size of a mountain? Start by believing you can, by the power of God that is within you. This is not about faith in yourself. This is about faith in a God who can do ALL things and has ALL the resources. The possibilities are endless when God is on your side.

Isaiah 8:13 says, "Do not fear anything except the Lord Almighty, for He is God, the Holy One. If you fear Him you have need for nothing else."

"The opposite of fear is faith.
 Real faith, real fear-shrinking faith, comes from a personal, vibrant, satisfying relationship with the God who is more than a match for anything that intimidates us." (This was written on the same paper in my basement. I am certain I cannot take credit for these words of wisdom either, but I do not not know who to give credit to. Sorry.)
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Will you make the choice to live a life of freedom today? Let your FREEDOM RING!!! Choose to live a life of faith. When you find yourself operating out of fear stop yourself. Lay your fears at the feet of the Lord and trust Him to be a God that loves you, strengthens you, helps you, provides for you, protects you, and will work all things out together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. You are treasured by the MOST HIGH God. And if you are not completely convinced of that today you can click here to get some added reassurance. YOU ARE LOVED more than you will ever know!!!

Discerning the Voice of God.

Taken from a devotional by Os Hillman...

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

George Mueller was a pastor in England during the nineteenth century who knew what it meant to live a life that was focused on knowing and doing the will of God.

Whenever he lacked for something, he prayed for the resources. During his ministry in Bristol, England, George built four orphan houses that cared for 2,000 children at the time. When he died at the age of 93, over 10,000 children had been provided for through his orphanages, and he had distributed over eight million dollars that had been given to him in answer to prayer.

How did he know and do the will of God?

"I never remember a period that I ever sincerely and patiently sought to know the will of God by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, through the instrumentality of the Word of God, but I have been always directed rightly." Here is how George summed up the way he entered into a "heart" relationship with God and learned to discern God's voice:

1) "I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter.

2) Having done this, I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impression. If so, I make myself liable to great delusions.

3) I seek the will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined.

4) Next, I take into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God's will in connection with His Word and Spirit.

5) I ask God in prayer to reveal His will to me aright.

Thus, (1) through prayer to God, (2) the study of the Word, and (3) reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge, and if my mind is thus at peace, and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly."

Consider these five steps when discerning God's voice in your life.

...(For the record...I need to be more mindful of this one...just trying to be real. I don't post things on here because I am perfect at them but because when I find them I get excited about trying to work on them right along with you and it makes me want to post them.)...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Morning Mercies

A poem written by a sweet, precious friend of mine, Jacki Bustos:

Lord, I offer up this day to You,
It rests on my open hands.

Take it, Lord,
Breathe Your life into it.

Guide my steps;
I will walk with You,

Focus my mind;
I will meditate on You,

Bridle my tongue;
I will honor You,

I will not be anxious;
Nor will I fear,

Lord, You have gone before me,
Take this day from my open hands.

Beautiful Jacki.
Thank you.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The unknown path ahead of you is known to God.

"Though unknown to us, our future is not hidden from God. He is already there. He has prepared fresh mercies to touch us and bless us for all of our tomorrows. His grace is sufficient for us. His power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). He has taken it upon Himself to cover us, care for us, lead us, and strengthen us.

Over and over again He instructs us to be anxious for nothing, be strong and courageous, let not our hearts be troubled, and to trust Him in all things. All of these directives imply that we have a choice in the matter. He supplies. We lay hold of His supply. He is. We decide to become.

Thank Him for His wisdom in the way He leads you. Thank Him - by faith - for the beautiful unknown path ahead of you. He is always good; always acting in love; always offering support; always supplying; constantly present, and completely engaged."

-Susie Larson

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The question is raised...

"The spirit can endure a sick body,
but who can bear a crushed spirit?"
Proverbs 18:14

Not many, I suppose.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Beyond the Masquerade

(I am dedicating this post to my sweet, humble husband Scott Michael Hughes, who will always be content to work behind the scenes, and would never want me to dedicate a post to him because he doesn't like to have attention drawn to him...which is one of the many reasons we all love him so much. God sees all you do sweetheart, and celebrates people like you. You are a wonderful inspiration to me and I love you so much!!)

This one is for you babe!!!

"God wants to make us humbler,
so we're more and more apt to give Him glory."
-Dr. Juli Slattery

Dr. Juli Slattery works for Focus on the Family and she wrote a book called, "Beyond the Masquerade: Unveiling the Authentic You". I listened to an interview she did a long while back about her book. She made lots of good points that I really liked. One of her major themes was about boasting in our weaknesses. One point that was made that was ironically comforting, and yet humbling at the same time was this:
"God does have a plan for you, and you are inadequate."
I loved that! It's true, isn't it? Read on to digest more of this concept by Juli Slattery....

"It's only healthy to think about our abilities and talents in the context of who gave them to us and why. It's God's intention that all of our strengths glorify Him and serve His purposes.
God doesn't look at people because of their gifts because He's the one who gave them their gifts.
He doesn't celebrate what the world celebrates.
Whoever is the most talented or educated is the most important in the room, but God says that's not true. The Bible says you shouldn't do that in the church. God doesn't look at people based on what they do or what talents they have because He gave them those gifts. To those with gifts that are visible He says, "You got your reward, I'm looking at the ones who are serving without even being noticed but I gave you all these gifts because I want you to show my love to the world and I want you to build up my body--the Bride."
And we each have within us special gifts for that purpose--to glorify Him, to love people, and to build up the church."

In the quiet of the night I hear the question:
"Juli, Am I serving you or are you serving me? Who is being glorified through the good things you do?"

"I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward."
(Mark 9:41)
Dr. Juli Slattery is INCREDIBLE, and she pumps out some wonderful material worth reading!!!! SERIOUSLY!!!! If you are interested in checking out her book, or buying it, you can click on the picture of her book below...
I thought this would be fitting with this topic. I just adore singer, Chris Sligh. My favorite of all his songs is "Empty Me". I found this video of him singing "Empty Me" that was uploaded to youtube back in 2008 around the time that he would have been "found out" and "promoted".... precious...

Redeeming the Time.

I am trying to dig out some of my old notes right now, looking for times when God spoke a good word to my heart so I can thank Him for those times. Today I ran across some great encouragement from Pastor Mark Spencer, about redeeming our time. This stuff is GOOD!!! I thought I might share it. Check out what Pastor Mark Spencer had to say about the things that hinder us from living life to the fullest in an interview he did with Susie Larson in Live the Promise on Faith Radio:

The Shepherd boy, David, was out there all alone with the sheep when the lions and the bears came out. You can frame that two ways:
1. Where is God that he allowed them to be out there?
2. Here's a challenge, but God's with me. Let's do this!

Either you can look at Goliath like he's too big to fight or too big to miss.

Isaiah 8:13 "Do not fear anything except the Lord Almighty, for He is God, the Holy One. If you fear Him you have need for nothing else."

When we struggle in the present moment either the past or the future are not taken care of.
If your past is nagging you...
Pray for redemption from the things in your past that need to be worked for the good.

If the future is haunting you...
Remind yourself that God is up to something good, and that you have a story worth telling. Remind yourself that there is no place that you can go and be away from the Spirit. Reconcile the truth that God is always with you and always will be with you.

Ephesians 5:15-21
"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
"Your life is meant to be ever growing in its influence and impact. May your heart sing and your life explode with the joys of living in the fullness that lies potentially before you." -Susie Larson

Refuse worry: God is faithful.

"Worry is an indication that we think
God cannot look after us."

-Oswald Chambers

(I'm talking to myself here, but I thought maybe
somebody else could use this reminder as well.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Grateful for a lesson learned to hunger after Him...

Great perspective. Awesome song. And a neat Sermon link too.

Grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace...

Maybe not. Not today...
Peace might be another world away, and if that's the case--

We'll give thanks to you with gratitude for lessons learned in how to trust in you...
that we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream in abundance or in need,
If you never grant us peace, But Jesus would you please.

If you are going through a time of your life when peace seems far off, it might help to know that going in and out of these types of seasons is part of life and that you are normal. To live in complete joy and peace 100 percent of the time is actually not normal. You are, after all, human, with emotions, feelings, weaknesses, etc. etc. There was a time when I thought if I was a Christian it meant I needed to have joy and peace 100 percent of the time so I was frustrated with myself when I didn't. This mentality does not make much room for things like grieving, however, or things like a genetic make-up that would allow for the on-set of depression in my twenties. Joy and peace are fruits of the Spirit so it would make sense, then, that I would think that if I had the Spirit in me I should be exhibiting those things in my life all the time.

What I am finding, instead, though, is that when I am lacking joy or peace or any fruit of the Spirit for that matter, those are the times that I feel off-kilter and I have to pray,
"Lord, what is it in me that needs sifting out?"
"Lord, what around me is causing this angst in my soul?"
Whatever it is that is causing me to be "off-kilter" is the very thing that draws me closer to Him and makes me cry out to Him and lean into Him more because it makes me go to Him in prayer. It is in these precious, vulnerable, hard times that I discover who God is, and who I hate to be. And this is okay. Without those times of crying out to Him I would lack quite a bit of the Spiritual depth, understanding of who God is, and a closeness to Him that has been formed over the last several years that, to be quite honest, I would never replace if I had the option. I don't have to apologize for feeling the way I do, but you I have to decide what I am going to do with those feelings.

What do you do when life gives you lemons and you don't care much for lemonade??

My pastor, Pastor Tanner, did a sermon he called "Treasures in Jars of Clay" this past Sunday. In his sermon he encouraged us and reminded us what to do when we are put through a season of life when "our clay pot cracks" and we're left feeling "damaged" emotionally or spiritually: discouraged, struck down, persecuted, or without peace. He's kind of a really great pastor, and I think you'll like him, and I think you'll like his message too. To hear his sermon click here. It's good stuff and it's only a half hour long, so go ahead... have a listen!

Walking with a limp and crawling to the cross.

I loved what Phil Calaway had to say the other day about talking honestly, and I wanted to draw attention to one specific thought that he brought up. I loved the humble, and significant word picture this thought created. Check this one out...

"When I sin I confess it, giving thanks. 1 John 2:1 tells me that he defends me before the Father. You're going to come to find out that Phil Calaway walks with a limp and so do my greatest heroes of the faith but maybe it's because of that limp that so many others can catch up to us and ask for help. And when we sin, let's just crawl back to the cross and we're going to find that there's a God that's going to love us and use us to bring others to Christ."
-Phil Calaway

Don't you just love that?
TWO THINGS that require embracing humility...and the sooner we do it the better off we are...
1. "Maybe it's because of that limp that others can catch up to us and ask for help." (AWESOME)
2. When we sin, let's just crawl back to the cross and find the God that loves us. (YES!)

Thank you for the many times you've loved me, embraced me, and forgiven me, as I have crawled my way back your cross, knowing I have fallen short of who you have created me to be. There is freedom in your arms Lord. Thank you for the clean slate that keeps being wiped clean so that I can hold my head high in spite of my past. Thank you for the freedom this creates and the joy that I am able to experience when you choose to use me to bring others to yourself when they see my "limp" and identify with it and start asking questions. Lord, you are so good. There is none like you. Use me, Lord, please. Continue to use me for you glory. Make my life about more than just me. Use every trial and triumph in my life and use it to bring glory to yourself. Amen.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Seeking God's will in your life

I am going to share some tidbits with you that I learned a long while back from, Gregg Matte, in regards to seeking and finding God's will in your life. Gregg Matte is the pastor of Beth Moore's church and he wrote a book called "Finding God's Will". This information was shared in an interview that he did with Susie Larson several months ago. I dug out my notes yesterday and I remembered how fantastic this interview was! Gregg is a NEAT GUY!!! Take a look at some of these notes and see if they inspire some thoughts, or ideas, that might help you. If these thoughts are really catching your interest you might be interested in getting his book, which you can get here.Here are some of Gregg's thoughts on how to find God's will in your life...

Ask yourself:
What have been my defining moments?

Three steps:
1. Be faithful in what you are doing.
2. Look for signs (God's signs)
3. Take the next step.

Seek Him, know Him, take the next step.

Ask God, "How can you use my struggles?"
Once we have gone through a hardship we have compassion where we used to have judgment.
"Take your misery and make it your ministry."

God's general will for everyone:
1. Have a relationship with Him.
2. Grow in that relationship.
3. Make an impact.

Your specific will is going to be found as you spend time finding your general will.

God is going to provide for His will. If He didn't it would take away from His glory. His will is ALWAYS accompanied by His power.

Be diligent right where you are at.

God sees the past, the present, and the future all the way through.

Ephesians 3:20-21
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The heart of me.

This one is the mother of all motherloads because it is the salvation message.
At the real heart of who I am is a God who saved me and gave me a reason to live in the first place.
What does being saved mean to you?
What are you saved from?

A long while back I wrote a post about the difference between salvation and sanctification, according to how I understood it in my own life. "Salvation", being a time back when I was five years old, when I accepted that God was who He said He was and all that it entailed, and "sanctification", being the process I have been on ever since. This is what I believe in, and this is large part of what makes up the heart of who I am. Though it is very general, and does not give any specifics, this is my testimony. Read on for more details if you are interested...

I wanted to make a really cool (or what I thought would be cool) illustration, and I just couldn't muster it here's my second best option for making the point I want to make.... (great set-up, I know)...













The bad news is that your sin separates you from God and all the blessings he has for you. The road that leads us to indulge in our sinful nature is the road that leads to death. Period. If you are human, you are a sinner. There is no way around that, and the sin that separates you from God is the one that keeps you from getting into Heaven. Heaven is perfect, so sin can't exist there, so YOU can't be there...unless, of course, someone perfect pays the price, and offers themselves as a sacrifice for you.

Salvation is the process of being saved. If you pray the prayer asking for forgiveness, acknowledging that God is who He says He is and that He died on the cross for your sins, asking God to take away your sin, then YOU are saved by the power of Christ that is in you. Salvation really is that simple. It really is just a moment of declaration that God is THE God of your life, and accepting that He calls you to be with Him. With salvation, there is immediate freedom in knowing that our sins are forgiven. The cleansing of our souls is rejuvenating and energizing. Awesome, one time experience. If you have not accepted Jesus into your heart yet, or if you want to learn more about what that is about salvation and how to be saved, you can click here.

Sanctification is something different. Sanctification is a process. Where Salvation is a solitary act that wipes away all of the sin from our past and becomes the bridge that gets you into Heaven when you die, sanctification is a process that continues on for the rest of your life here on earth until you are in Heaven.

Unfortunately, we are still human, and we are still drawn to worldly things. We let our guard down. We forget what God told us was important. Temptation comes in front of us again and we fall into a trap of sin we never intended to fall into. We're not perfect, but with God in our hearts, we can be made perfect. Sanctification is the process of being made more and more into the likeness of God until the day we are made perfect in Heaven. God wants you to be close to Him, so He will continue nudging you and drawing you closer to Him. His spirit convicts you when you go off course, and you can ALWAYS come back at ANY time, ask for forgiveness, and get a clean slate again.

If you decide to let things come between you and God, (sin) you will find yourself feeling off. Where is that hope I once had?? All sins start with a wrong thought left unchecked. If you ignore that still, small voice telling you to bolt in the other direction, entertaining thoughts of how fun, satisfying, or liberating indulging your sinful nature would be, you are setting yourself up for making a bad choice. Every sin has a consequence. We still have to deal with the consequences of sin here on earth, whether we choose to acknowledge that we are sinning or not. If we allow sin to creep into our life, little by little Satan gets a stronghold over us until we don't know how to get back to where we were. We feel lost. God's will won't seem clear anymore. It will be very hard to discern where God is at work in your life and around you. You'll start to doubt God because you won't be able to see Him. If someone asks you where God is at work it will seem foggy. Your prayers will seem strained, at best. You'll miss out on the blessings that come with obedience to God. Satan is a thief and a liar.
"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:9-10
Satan's attacks on you are inevitable. Temptation is going to be in your life at some point, but you do not have to act on the sin just because a temptation came to your sweet little mind. Satan is the thief that steels your joy, and zest for life. Don't fall into his trap.

When you catch yourself coming off the path that leads you closer to God, stop yourself, ask for forgiveness and get yourself distracted with what God has for you. Make a choice to run from the appeal of the sin. Find an accountability partner...someone you trust who will hold you to the standard God asks of you. Check out the post after this one if you feel you are weak in standing up to the lure of sin in your life. It's verse after verse of what God has to say about how you can avoid sin in your life. You have the power of God on your side. You can be more than a conqueror when you seek God, and tap into the power He provides.

In the words of Susie Larson, "Be strong and last long! God is the one who will keep you strong to the end."

God bless.