Friday, February 26, 2010

I Love My Kids!

"Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him." Psalm 127:3

"But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Luke 12:18

I don't talk about my kids nearly enough on my blogs. Last night, as I was crawling into bed I was reflecting that every single day has ended exactly the same since I became a mom. Not a day goes by that I don't check in on my sleeping kids and thank God for them. Every day! They're just such cool little people! Someone was asking me about them the other day, their ages and such, and I told her, and then she asked if they drive me nuts sometimes. I was about to say, of course they do, but I had to stop and think about it, and you know what? They really don't. The things that they do that would drive the normal person batty, don't drive me batty, because I understand where they are coming from and why they are doing that.

For example. It would drive any person nuts to look at the toys that are scattered all over the house almost every single day. Seriously, at any given time the living room, the stairs and all the bedrooms can literally be smothered with stuff. That would annoy most anyone, except that in the last year, since we start homeschooling, I've watched with fascination as my children have been able to stretch their wings and really explore the art of play. They no longer sit and play in a tidy little box with one toy. They figure out the most amazing games and scenarios that involves almost all their toys. And these games can go on for days! Their minds are simply amazing.

And I am just so thankful to God that He placed this whole idea of schooling at home on our hearts. It's literally been life-changing for us. Yes, it's made me crazy busy a lot, but our relationship as a family is just indescribable. The kids are so much more happier than I would have thought possible and I know part of that is because they are at home learning with me every day.

The other part- and probably the bigger part is their own individual relationships with God. I am so thankful that God brought us to the church He did,where there are people who love my kids so much. They are walking them into a life of loving God that is nothing short of amazing. This past weekend at our conference I watched my little boy just praise and worship God with all his heart... it was just so awesome to see.

Children ARE such a blessing from God, but I think they key to enjoying them as a blessing is looking at them as a blessing. Sadly, I think so many people look at their kids as a burden- as activities need to be gotten to, money needs to be spent on them, time needs to be given to them. And I realize not everyone has the opportunity to stay at home like I do and spend all my time with my kids- but boy, when I look at my kids as the little treasures that God created, it boggles my mind! God had such a sense of humor when he put my little boy together. All those little pieces and parts put together to make this little man who cracks me up almost every single day. And as I look at my growing daughter, He certainly didn't hold back when he added on the beauty dust. It seems that every time I watch her dance, she gets so much more graceful and beautiful. It does terrify me that we're treading into that grey area of becoming a woman, but I know that with God's help, this time will be one full of love and understanding.

So I think I just wanted to say that today- how cool I think my kids are. If you are reading and this and you have kids- aren't your kids awesome too? Isn't that great how we look at our own kids and think that they are the greatest kids ever? Now think about how all these kids around us have at least one person thinking they're the best kids ever- that does a lot for that little person, whether we know it or not. Give some extra love on your kids this weekend and enjoy them for all the craziness they bring to your life.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thankful For Shelter

"I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Selah" PSalm 61:4

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1

"You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall" Isaiah 25:4

Last night I had a simple dream. Well, actually I had many dreams that I need to sift through and see if there is something important there- but the one that sticks out to me the most is the one where I was with a group of people from church, and we were simply praising God. That's all. Nothing spectacular or crazy was happening, we were simply praising God- worshiping in one accord. When I woke up from it though, I had such a warm fuzzy feeling- like I had actually been praising God for a while. This is one of those instances where I believe I was. My spirit had a desire to worship God, so it did it in my sleep- and as a result I feel like my whole day got a boost, and I am reminded that in everything- I. Will. Praise. Him. In everything!

I feel like too much of me has been focused on our current situation of looking ahead to moving. I am so focused sometimes when I am praying, that I feel like I am missing out. This morning I spent sometime with some ladies online- I've offered to pray for a few people who are also looking for a home, and as one shared a bit of her story, I was really reminded that I should remember to thank God for the home we already have, before looking ahead to the next one. I should also be thankful for our new home before it's there- but really, I need to be thankful to God for the years that we have been sheltered where we are. This place really has been a blessing to us!

And I also need to be thankful for other means of shelter. Because the reality is that while we are believing that God has the perfect place for us, about to be revealed, should something get in the way of fulfilling that plan, we do have other options. We don't have to be worried in the least about having a roof over our heads, because we know that will be there. God will provide shelter in whatever way it needs to be done.

But in the meantime, while we're waiting for our physical shelter, I am thankful for our spiritual shelter. I feel this morning like I am nestled up in God's arms. I do feel like I am in a time of rest- and maybe it's to prepare me for the days to come- but maybe it's simply rest while I am waiting. And that is such a gift! These last few weeks I have felt such a peace- I don't feel like I am a slave to a clock at all, we get things done that need to be done- we go to the places that we need to go to- but we always have plenty of time to fit it all in- including some relaxing time as the day goes on. Boy, am I thankful for that. So thankful! I can't help but think that maybe a part of the reason why I am feeling such a time of rest is because I am placing my trust in God to be the perfect refuge and shelter. As long as I am dwelling with Him- He will meet our physical needs.

In our days that could be filled with trouble, we've found peace and rest. God is so good!

"For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock." Psalm 27:5

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Warfare Wednesday

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."

25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;

26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD." Lamentations 3:22-26

Do you know that there are over 1 billion people in the world who go to bed hungry most days? Over one billion people across the globe are suffering from hunger and starvation... I barely have words to take this further, because this just isn't right. In the U.S. alone, one in four households with children are suffering from a lack of food. One. In. Four. Look out your front door, count the number of houses you can see, and then do the math. Odds are really good that some of your neighbors fall into this "food hardship" zone, and no one knows anything about it.

Think about that co-worker who always says that they aren't hungry, so they skip lunch nearly every day. Think about those children down the street whose only meals are the ones served at school. I'm thinking right now about the fact that our local school district just started serving breakfast in the last few months. What a blessing that has got to be for some of those children.

You know, we've gone through some rough times with money, but we've never been to the point where we've skipped meals or sent kids to bed hungry because there was simply no food. There have been lean times, where we simply don't snack much, have treats, or I don't go grocery shopping for weeks at a time- but then we eat out of the pantry and freezer- our storehouse which God has laid in abundantly.

I have such a heart for people who are hungry. It just shouldn't be. People should not have to decide between paying the heating bill or buying groceries. There should not be children walking to school in the morning with a stomach that feels like its eating itself. I chose the Bible verse I did this morning because it gives me such encouragement when things seem like they are just in a downward spiral. But I wonder how encouraging even words from God could be when someone is facing an empty pantry and a child with an empty stomach. I simply cannot fathom that.

And so I pray this morning, as we pray for our country and for wisdom and safety for President Obama, I pray for an awareness. I pray for an end to hunger in our communities- I pray that our eyes may be opened to the need around us, and that God will provide the means to meet those needs. Yesterday I went grocery shopping and while I was there I picked up a few things to take to the food pantry, but as I looked at it, it just isn't enough. I have such a heart and feel so much compassion for those who are suffering from hunger- both here at home and abroad.

I don't know.... I guess it seems to me that there is something missing. Last November it was reported that about half of the US population was receiving some amount of food aid from the national SNAP program. Yet there are still one-in-four suffering from hunger. Something is missing here. Something in the chain is broken- and those families who are receiving assistance? Most of them don't receive enough to keep their growing children's bellies full. So as I'm praying this morning my soul is just weeping for those who are hungry, and I'm praying for wisdom and revelation. I'm praying that a solution will be found soon to help those who are truly, truly in need. There are just so many- and no one should go to bed hungry. No mom should have to tuck a child into bed hungry. No dad should have to skip dinner so that his children can have just a little more. Hunger should not be an issue in the world today.

May God move mightily. May he fill the bellies and fill the hearts. As a solution comes forth to help solve the worlds hunger problems- may the world know that the solution found is from God. Man truly cannot live by bread alone- and as the hungry find food, may they also find a loving and compassionate God who wants to heal their aches and bruises.

God is so good. May He fill our hearts with compassion so that we can reach out to those around us who are truly in need.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What is Holiness Anyway?

"But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life." Romans 6:22

Here is Miriam-Webster's definition of holy:
exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness
as well as:
devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity

And of course, the actual word holiness means "the state of being holy".

I was thinking about holiness last night as I sat and read my story Bible for a bit. It had a little footnote in it that the generally accepted definition of holy is "set apart" and I thought that sounded like a great way to put it. I think Webster's first definition is holiness as God is most holy. God is exalted and worthy of complete devotion. Of course He is perfect in goodness, righteousness, and a million other character traits. God pretty much IS the definition of holy. But I think I have to disagree with that second definition up there- that holy can mean being entirely devoted to a deity OR the work of the deity. If I spent every hour of my life in service to God, but lacked any of the spiritual aspects of being holy, I think I would fail at achieving any kind of holiness. Basically, I mean that being holy, or becoming holy is much more than the physical. It's more than what we see with our naked eye- the state of holiness is more about what's going on on the inside.

And that's where I think "set apart" is a great definition, because how many of us have already been set apart for God? How many of us is God shaping and molding for the purpose of following His perfect will? I wonder if we would use that language- being set apart for God- if we would understand a little more about how as we go through life, we should be growing more and more In Him and learning to be set apart.

And what do I think of when I think of set apart? Honestly? My mind immediately goes to another time and another place. I actually think of the dark ages- the times of kings and queens and Godlessness, because there, in that time, one who was set apart for God was obvious. The people who worshipped the one and true God were very few and far between- but everyone knew who it was. They were truly set apart- they dressed differently, their homes probably had particular markings on them to identify that a Christian lived there- and everyone in a community knew who the God people were.

Let's think about that for a minute. Yes, that was a very dangerous time, there was a reason it was called the dark ages, and at any moment one who worshipped God could be put to death, and yet, they did not hide. How is it for us today? We live on a street surrounded by homes- and first of all, we don't even know all our neighbors. There are just some people who don't want to get to know their neighbors. But I'm thinking, if there was truly a community-wide crises of some kind, who would the people turn to? In their darkest hour and time of need who would they call for prayer or guidance from God?

If we are living truly set-apart for God, more and more people will see that in our everyday appearance. As we go about our daily life, people will look at us and wonder what it is about us that makes us different? As we become more and more like Christ, and more and more holy, our physical countenance will start to reflect that. Truly! Think about it- when someone is pregnant with a child- they are said to glow. And most pregnant women really, truly do glow- there is something on their face that just screams of the joy they are experiencing over carrying this new life inside of them. Think of a bride on her wedding day-glowing with excitement over marrying the man of her dreams. Right now- think of the joy and excitement on an Olympian's face as they realize that they just won a gold medal.

It is the exact same thing for those of us who carry the love of God with us each and every day. That love has got to go somewhere! So it comes out of our pores- it shows up on our faces. Have you ever received a hug from someone and as they walked away you really and truly felt like you were given more than a hug? That warm fuzzy feeling perhaps? That's the love of God that person is carrying with them! I think as more and more people accept the challenge of living for God truly and completely, and as more and more people start sharing the love of God in their everyday, that we'll start to see the results of that.

"When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel." Isaiah 29:23

As more people share the love of God in their everyday, and as more of us accept the idea that we can grow in holiness- that we were designed to grow more and more holy so that we can spend eternity in the presence of the one who is Most Holy- that the world around us will see this and will want to know more. They will see the influence of God on our lives and they are just going to want it for themselves as well. And that is the entire point. The point of being holy here on earth is to be an example for the world around us- and to take as many of them with us as we can. Holiness is for anyone and everyone who wants it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Healthy Fear

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18

I read this verse this morning, and I felt a stirring in my heart. Fear. Man, is fear a tough thing to overcome! You know, as time has gone on, I've lost a lot of my fears that I had. I used to be afraid that I would look foolish or goof up when worshiping at church. Heh, I think anyone who's been to church with me in the last year would see that I am definitely over that fear. I've also overcome the fear that I had for the longest time regarding blogging. I used to be afraid that I would offend people with the things I said here. I am most definitely over that fear, and blog purely as the Spirit inspires me every single morning.

But you know, this weekend as I listened to testimony after testimony of God's goodness, I realize that I still have a fear or two, and I would like them to be gone. This verse above? Tells me straight out that the fears that I have are not from God- nor are they part of a fear of God. They're an irrational fear of man- a fear that the devil likes to point out from time to time- and I have no doubt that it's to try and and dissuade me from doing or saying something awesome for God. I'll be talking to God about those- and I hope that the opportunities will come up where I can just get rid of those fears and prove they are gone by stepping out in faith and telling fear to be gone.

But then I got thinking about the fear of the Lord, and maybe that fear itself could help me or someone else overcome the other fears that are holding us back. The verse above hints at that too- it says fear has to do with punishment. So let's think about this for a minute. See, one of the fears that I deal with is what people will think of me. I know it doesn't really matter- but the thing is, it's not so much what people I know think of me- its more the strangers- which probably doesn't make sense at all. If I walk up to a random stranger at a grocery store and ask to pray for their affliction- their response, and the response of those of us around us is the thing I fear. And why is that? If fear is the fear of punishment- what am I really afraid of? Am I afraid they'll say no or laugh at me? I'll never see them again- what does it really matter?

Maybe instead I should think on that idea that fear is the fear of punishment. Think along the lines of a child who is disobedient to their father. Now that is a fear of punishment- a child who follows the rules because they are afraid of being punished.

"But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love," Psalm 33:18

And it appears that is the healthy kind of fear that we are supposed to have. A fear of God- that fear of really wanting to do what is right and good because we want approval in God's eyes. God's eyes are the only eyes that really and truly matter. And I think... I think if we keep our eyes on God's eyes instead of mans eyes, we will be surprised at the results.

I've been reading a lot of history lately- and much of it has been church history. I was reading some accounts during the Spanish Inquisition and you know, all the stories I read of people being burned at the stake for speaking heresy all had something in common. Not one person went to the stake or the chopping block sobbing and pleading for their lives. Every single one of them kept their focus on God and lost their lives without a single regret. There are even stories of men who complained that the fire being lit under them wasn't hot enough... these people were so focused on God and doing what was right that the punishment from man didn't even affect them. They all knew that they had eternal rewards waiting for them- and that gave them the courage and the strength to stand for what they knew was right and good and of God.

Healthy fear is a good thing- the fear of the Lord. The fear of man can do nothing but hold us back from being pleasing in the eyes of God. I know which side of fear I want to be on.

"I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Promise

"If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:

3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

4 The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

5 Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

6 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

7 The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.

8 The LORD will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

9 The LORD will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. 10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will fear you. 11 The LORD will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your forefathers to give you.

12 The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. 14 Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them." Deuteronomy 28:1-14

My scripture passage is a little on the long side this morning. But if you kind of skipped over it a bit- don't. Go back and read it. Just read that! Look at all those wonderful blessings and promises straight from God. Read verse 9: The Lord will bless your barns and everything you put your hand to. Just think about that- it sounds so wonderful and, well, blessed!

I have it heard it said, more than once that much of the scripture found in the Old Testament is just that- it's old. That it applied to a land and a people before Christ came, and that now it's more a collection of stories. I completely disagree- there isn't a "story half" and a "applicable half" of the Bible. It's one complete collection of instructions, encouragement, and testimony to further our walk with the Lord.

So when I read passages in Deuteronomy like this one today- it gets me really excited, and makes me want to do better today to follow God's laws and to do better at sharing His Glory with everyone around me. There's more though, too. If you go to Deuteronomy, chapter 28, and keep reading, there's a second section- a section of curses for those who do not follow the laws that God puts before his people. I want to avoid those too! And I can avoid those by learning more and more what it is God wants me to do- and I learn those things by- you guessed it- reading my Bible.

It always comes back to that doesn't it! You know, there are a lot of days where I think I write that over and over because I need to hear it. If it benefits someone else- that's fantastic, but I can't tell you how many times it is a physical struggle to pull out my Bible and read it! Maybe part of my problem is because there is always something else vying for my attention. I always have a stack of magazines I could flip through, hundreds of books I'd love to read again, the Internet, just a few feet away- even relaxing in front of the TV beckons from time to time- although not as much as it used to. And yet... every single time that I pick up my Bible and read it, there is something there just for me. I even picked up a new Bible just a few weeks ago called "The Story". It's a completely different Bible, in that every verse has been put into chronological order. I love reading history, and seeing how the pieces are put together- and am excited about diving into this Bible. Yet it's been on the shelf for two weeks now!

Back to the subject at hand. The promises. That's what all those blessings are in Deuteronomy chapter 28. They are promises- it starts out with the words "If you fully obey, and follow His commands...then HE WILL bless..."

But wait. These are promises for the Israelite people thousands of years ago- could they really be for me today? Oh yes, yes, they are. Paul tells us this in Romans, chapter 4.

"Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were." Romans 4:16-17

When I was my kids ages, we used to sing a song in Sunday school called "Father Abraham" and it really was just a fun and silly song. Yet, the more I think about it, the more I think that we were all really just being prophetic little singers- telling ourselves, exhorting ourselves to believe that Abraham is indeed, our father. For if Abraham really is our father, as Paul says he is, then those promises of blessings way back in Deuteronomy really do apply to me today.

Is that not awesome? When we accepted Christ as our Savior, we became one who is of faith with Abraham- these verse above are not speaking about being physically Jewish- but spiritually Jewish. And if we have accepted Christ, really, we are on the inside part Jewish- as we bear the DNA of Jesus of Nazareth in our very souls. That in itself is really fun to think on.

So this morning, as we head into the weekend, I'm going to be thinking about promises and obeying and following laws. You know, this is basic stuff here- it says if I follow, I will be blessed, so I can't help but wonder if there is something that is being missed. Am I missing something when it comes to walking in all those blessings listed out here in Deuteronomy. When I think of the greatest commandments- that I shall love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul and mind. As well as love your neighbor as yourself. I think perhaps I may have my answer. No matter how much I try, it seems I still keep coming up short in the loving my neighbor department. I know God's working on that with me. But until I can look at my fellow human beings and see them the way Jesus sees them, I know I fall short. And I pray that is something that can be fixed, because it would be wonderful to walk in every single one of the blessings listed here in Deuteronomy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


"Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you." 1 Timothy 4:14

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands." 2 Timothy 1:6

Over the years, I've been witness to many of those occasions where people are given prophetic messages. Whether they be messages that another person delivers, or a minister, these kind of messages are always exciting and usually welcome. They are often words that speak about the future possibilities for someone- they can offer encouragement when someone is having a rough spell. Sometimes they are words of instruction, or sometimes words of caution- information to change a situation. But no matter what the meat of the message is, they all have one thread in common. They all speak of potential.

When a teenager goes away to Bible camp and they come home and say "I've been called to be a missionary or a Pastor" that teenager has been shown a glimpse of their potential. They have been told by someone or by God that within them is the potential for them to be a missionary or a pastor when they grow up. But then what happens with that teenager? I can tell you that if all the missionaries were active who had been "called" when I had gone to camp, there would be so, so many more missionaries on the field today- witnessing to every corner of the earth. So what happened?

So often, when people receive one of these messages from the Lord, they don't realize that those are words that speak of their potential- and that now that they have the information, it's up to them to do something about it. A teenager who is told they are called to missions, should, if they want to follow up on God's potential for them, should spend their years researching colleges who offer missions as a major. They should spend time going on short term missions trips, studying anthropology and even basic geography. When the time comes, they choose the college that best fits and they go through the proper steps to become a missionary- thus fulfilling the potential that was spoken into their life all those years ago.

The same is true for those called to pastor. People who have been called to the pastor ship have been called because of the potential that is inside of them- and if they want to see that potential fulfilled, the person must physically take the steps necessary to become a pastor. Bible college is usually the first step for that one. The thing about this potential is that it can potentially be wasted. Someone comes up to a young lady at camp, puts their arms on their shoulders, looks into her eyes and says "you are going to be a youth pastor someday". The young lady tells everyone she knows that she's been called to be a youth pastor, but when the time comes for college, she either makes a different choice, or college doesn't work so well for her. As life goes on, the young lady ages, and still remembers those words spoken, but seems to think that there is a magic moment when someone will come up to her and proclaim her a youth pastor. The truth is- she was given the words of potential, and she wasted them. The potential is still there to be a great youth pastor- but she needed to take the steps to fulfill that potential.

I was the recipient of my own word that required my action. I had a woman come up to me one time during a time of worship and tell me that I was supposed to be a part of the worship team. (Read more about that here!) At the time I was really wondering what I was supposed to do. Being on the worship team at our previous church had really just been something to do- it was more of a lark, but ended up really helping the team get organized. I wasn't so sure, though, that I was qualified to be a part of the worship team at our new church. After I had received my word of potential from this woman though, I had a choice to make. I could wait, and I could tell myself that I should pray about it, and just wait for an opportunity to be invited, or I could be proactive and see just what potential there was hiding inside of me. The very next time I saw the worship leader, I went up to him, nervous as all get out, told him I played percussion, and asked if they ever had practices.

I went to that very next practice and have been a part of the team ever since. But it took me taking physical steps to fulfill the potential that was inside of me. I'll tell you- the things that I am doing with the congas today... I had no idea I had inside of me to do! That's not said to brag, but it's said to prove the point of potential. Had I not stepped out in faith and taken action to fulfill the potential, I could still be sitting in my seat, waiting for an invitation.

When God speaks to you and gives you a goal to strive for, then by golly, you need to strive for it! If you are told that you have the potential to be in ministry, but you don't know what that is yet- then you need to, at the very least, start digging into God's Word over and over. In multiple translations and multiple commentaries. Once you show that you are in earnest, that you are a willing vessel and are willing to do the work required, maybe another piece of the puzzle will fall into place.

I posted the verses above about Timothy because he is an excellent example of potential. In Paul's letters to him, he's encouraging him, helping Timothy shape his own ministry- because Paul knows the potential that is inside of him. And God knows the potential that is inside of us- every single on of us. Whether we received that potential from the laying on of hands, or from another way- we all have our own potential of all that we can be in Christ. It's up to us to USE that potential. The last thing I want is to get to heaven and have God say to me "What about that potential I told you about? Why did you never use that." What would my response be? Because I was too lazy? Because I couldn't be bothered to pick up my Bible and read it? Maybe it was because it doesn't make sense to me- but if we take the steps- even baby steps to fulfill that potential, God will help us through. But until we take even one step- that word is just that- a word of potential. It's not a promise- it's potential, and it's up to us to see that potential become a reality.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Warfare Wednesday: Olympic Edition

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." 1 Corinthians 9:24

We've been watching the Olympic in our house the last few days. It's really been a wonderful time sitting with my kids watching sports we never get to see, and just cheering on whoever we feel like cheering on. Along the way there are the amazing success stories- and we really love hearing about them too. Then there are the moments where you just feel so awful for someone- someone has a bad run or wipes out or doesn't get their jumps in when they should. Even though we all know there can only really be one winner... It's still heartbreaking to see the tears and the discouragement.

But we don't have to be discouraged in Christ! This week as we continue praying for President Obama, I am also thinking of the example put forth by the Olympic athletes in Vancouver. Because no matter how well or poorly they end up doing, the athletes all have something in common- they all bring their very best to the table. They try to do their very best- striving for the prize with every move they make. But more than that, even though they are competing with each other, they still are competing as a team- cheering each other on. They are celebrating each others victories, and supporting those with disappointing results.

Think of the nation who can follow the athletes example and strive for the prize of glorifying God! Think of the success that could come if we as Christians started lifting each other up and working towards the common goal of lifting the name of Jesus on high! The country that keeps God at the head of state is the country that finds favor in the eyes of the Lord. Let us continue to lift up our country and the leaders around us. We will continue to pray for President Obama, but let's also pray for our local leaders- our city government and state governments. Let us pray for the Senators and Representatives who work so hard to make the laws that make sense. Let us pray for the Supreme Court justices who must uphold these laws, and let us pray for the Commander-In-Chief and his cabinet. May his advisers advise him that God is the answer for this struggling country. May he realize that God is what is best for this nation- and may God get the glory for that decision.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The No-Stress Lifestyle

"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." Jeremiah 29:11

I shared this verse with someone yesterday as a little reminder for them that God's got their back. And I've been thinking on it ever since. Because God does have their back! And God has my back too! The mere idea that God has plans for me and my family has literally revolutionized my way of thinking and has led to me living as stress-free as possible. That's a wonderful way to live!

I think I baffled a few people this past weekend as we were talking about us moving eventually. They asked when and if we were going to look at a few houses, and when I told them that I had no plans to go look at them...well, you can tell it caught them by surprise. I just have such a confidence that God is going to work this one all out. When the time comes, the right house will be the one, and I have no need to physically go and see what it looks like on the inside. Andy may go and look simply because he will be the one who has to do any remodeling if it comes to that- but until it's set in stone, and I have keys in my hand, there is no point in me looking at homes.

Here's why. For me, if I go and walk through a place, and it meets our basic needs, I will begin to mentally plan moving in. I will place furniture in my head, I will have a garden designed for the yard, and I will be planning for the future in that place- paint, curtains, things like that will become a priority for me, and I will think on it all the time. Now let's say things don't work out with that place. Now I've put all this time and thought, and maybe even some money in purchasing things for nothing. Then we move on to another place, and I'll have us moved in again in my head. It's just a cycle that for me, causes undue stress that I simply don't want to have to deal with.

God knows the plans He has for us! He knows! And I know that He knows, and I know with absolute certainty- because my Bible tells me so- that He will not leave us homeless and on the street. He has a plan, and I will be patient and hold that plan in my heart. I will wait and I will praise Him for the answer to prayer that is coming. I will thank Him for making this entire process wonderful and easy and I will trust in His precious Words of truth.

God's Word never fails. By trusting in His Word, I am rebuking stress. Stress is a tool of the devil- used to drive people bonkers and cause health issues. I will not be stressed, because I carry with me the Peace that passes ALL understanding.

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:5

The peace of Christ does rule in my heart. I will be peaceful and I will trust. God is just SO GOOD! I know He will not fail us, and I am so, so incredibly thankful that He has taken this burden from our shoulders. Looking for a new place to live can be such a burden, and could even cause problems with our marriage, but because Andy and I both trust that God has our backs, He is taking us to exactly where we need to be.

And along the way, while we're waiting for this physical need to be met, spiritually we are growing in phenomenal leaps and bounds. This whole process is something that our spirits are just eating up, and storing inside, just waiting for the ability to be able to share with everyone how God makes a way, even when there seems to be no way. This whole adventure has been worth the spiritual benefits alone! I have to confess, that even if we ended up in a less-than-desirable place for us, we would still be incredibly thankful, because we have grown and matured so much in our walk with God because of this journey. We will praise Him no matter what happens! It just so happens though, that we have a God who has plans for us- and those plans include plans to prosper us and not harm us.

And I believe that He will follow through on His promise. I can't wait to share exactly how He does that.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Are We Really Willing?

"He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." Mark 16:15

"...and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

Often times in church services, or crusades, or evangelistic outreaches, we get spurred on by a fantastic sermon or message. We get all pumped up in the heat of the moment, and somewhere along the way our heart cries out and we say "Okay God! Whatever you want- use me!" Or we'll see a natural disaster on TV and we'll tell God that if he can use us in some way to do so.

But do we really mean it?

When we're in the throes of passion- in an intoxicating atmosphere of God, and we yearn to do whatever He asks of us, do we really and truly mean it? If God told us right then and there to give away all our belongings and travel to the outer reaches of the earth, would we do it? Or would that be the moment where we say "Well, I didn't mean quite that extreme, maybe I could write a check instead- or go on a short two-week mission trip." I wonder about that sometimes. I know often times in my daydreams, and even in my night dreams, I have dreams of just walking up to people and healing them or freeing them from their bondages, but then when confronted with reality, I chicken out. Do I really mean it when I tell God to use me however He wants? Maybe it's a work in progress. I think I have baby steps to take before I can go leaping off the cliff that is hanging out somewhere before me.

Late last summer, when we were preparing to move, we were really having a tough time finding a place to move to. What was supposed to be an easy move was becoming more complicated, and all these open and available places we'd seen in the past were suddenly gone- our out of our budget. We started out all excited about the process, eager to look at potential homes and choose the best one. But somewhere along the way, after not seeing what we wanted, we realized that we needed to give the process to God. We wanted to move to the exact place that He wanted us. It was then, at that moment in our home search that it seems as if that was exactly what God had wanted in the first place. Not even a day or so later, our landlord showed up at the door, proposing that we stay until spring.

This really rattled me at first, I admit it. I mean, we were so ready to move- half our belongings were in boxes or totes, we even had people lined up to help us move- and a truck at our disposal. We also had a back-up plan to move in with family. But here it was- we gave the home search to God, and just like that, He presented a solution to let us stay here through the winter. It took us no time at all to see God's hand in this plan, and we agreed to stay. The whole time that we've been here though, I have to admit that I've thought that our staying here until spring was a blessing to us- it was because our new home wasn't going to be ready yet, and that God wanted us here for a reason.

But what if that reason- what if God wanting us to stay here was not for our benefit? What if God had us stay put because He wanted to bless the people who own this house? What if He knew they would not find the right tenants, and the house would sit empty all winter, causing problems and undue stress. And furthermore, what if our staying here in this house makes it so that it is available to just the right people at just the right time? Had we moved out in September like we'd originally wanted, odds are that it would not be available at the end of April when someone may very well need to be moving in here. God works in such mysterious ways.

You know, over the last few days I've really been wondering if our staying here through the winter was simply a test of obedience. Would we really listen to God when he said stay. And in that regard, will we listen when He says go?

I do know this. I know that my Father loves me and my family. But so much more than that- God loves our landlords, and doesn't want them to stress and worry about anything in regards to this house. God also loves the people who will eventually move into this house- and He loves our housemates, and He loves our neighbors. Over the last month or so, I have had more than one moment of regret about our decision to move. We really do have a good relationship with most of our neighbors, and the idea of starting over... it's intimidating. And it's also got to be tough for some of these neighbors to know that this is a rental, and that they have no idea who could be moving in here when we move out. God has the perfect people in mind to bless this neighborhood-and to bless our landlords by making the whole transition process smooth as silk.

I will admit though, that while I think I have been willing... last night on the drive home from church I was second guessing myself again. We may have found a place to move to. It meets our bare minimum requirements, and I think Andy and I have both talked to God about it, and we feel good, that if it's the one, everything will work out smoothly and that if we do move there, we will be content. And yet... Yet, there is the part of me that is pining away for the impossible. I'm just not ready to let go of that dream- of that possibility. Because I know that with God, all things are possible, and He could put us in the impossible with barely a thought. But maybe, just maybe, in the neighborhood that has come to our attention, a little light is needed. Maybe there are a couple of kids in the neighborhood who need some new friends. Maybe there is a lonely old widow who Andy can go be a blessing to. Maybe there are people in that neighborhood who need to meet Jesus- and we can be the tools that God uses for that purpose.

Am I really okay with that? Am I willing to give up the impossible dream to be God's instrument? I think I am. I think that God has His plans, and that everything will work out according to His purposes. He knows exactly where He wants us, and when the time is right, everything will work out with His perfect timing. I trust in that.

Friday, February 12, 2010

All You Need Is Love

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

It's Valentines weekend here in the US, and I for one will be glad when the parade of red, pink and diamond jewelry commercials become a thing of the past once again. Admittedly, I've never been a fan of Valentine's Day. Well, except when I was a teenager and every year I was certain that Prince Charming would pop out of the woodwork and profess his dying love. As I get older though and the years pass by, I get more and more annoyed with this day to celebrate love. Why do we need a day to celebrate love? Love should be experienced every single day of the year, but it should be more about the giving than the receiving of love.

Look at all these traits of love in the verses I posted above. Nowhere does it say that love must go sell a body part to finance a piece of jewelry. Nowhere does it say that love comes wrapped in foil and filled with chocolate. Love is just so much more than what this silly commercial holiday says it is.

Love is patient and love is kind. When someone is struggling, love lets us come along side that person struggling and offering an arm to help carry them along for a while. Love tells me that when I am waiting for someone, that I have all the time in the world and when they do arrive, I show that I am not upset or agitated.

Love does not envy, does not boast and is not proud. It is love that keeps me from telling everyone we meet about the latest greatest thing we bought the other day. Love keeps me from bragging to everyone we know about how great my kids really are doing in school. Oh, I'll love on my kids all right and tell them they're doing great, but I have no idea if that other mom is really struggling with her kids, or if there is another couple really having a rough time with their kids...Love keeps me from bragging and making those people feel worse about their situation. Instead, love fills me with kindness, and I lend an ear so that I can hear about those troubles and pray for them- maybe offer an encouraging word.

Love is not rude and not self-seeking. When I do something for someone out of kindness and love, I do it for them specifically to bless them. I don't do it for the accolades. I don't do it so the next day at church I can brag to all about how I went and did this specific thing yesterday. At the same time, when someone is sharing about how they went through something, I don't interrupt to tell them about my experience which was really so much worse. To them, that was important, and I should have listened without offering my own story.

Love is not easily angered or keeps record of wrongs. This means that when someone does something that annoys me I have to just let it go and forget about it. There are just some people who seem to be prone to getting under your skin. Love tells me to love them anyway, so when they do get to that point, I turn to love, which keeps me from getting annoyed and angry. And on the off chance that someone does do something wrong to me- I need to forgive and then forget completely. Love does not allow me to keep a record in my head of all the wrongs that someone has done. If I kept a written record of every time my child displeased me, I would have quite the long naughty list. But I don't do that. I don't keep a record of my child's wrongs because I love them so much. Love tells me that the more I love them, the better they will behave. As they learn from my example, they will also learn the traits of love.

Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. Ah, I think we all learn this one. Have you ever had that situation where you could look at someone and say "I told you so." Yikes. Love removes that sentence from the spoken language. Love will never look at someones rough situation and laugh at them or scorn them. Instead, love feels compassion and wants to help right a wrong. And in a situation where the truth must come out, when it does, the rejoicing will be wonderful- full of love and gratefulness to the God who supplies all our needs.

Love always protects and trusts. When someone trusts me with a secret, or a detail, that is meant for my ears. Love will protect that secret as if it is my own- it is not something that I casually gossip about or share with anyone who will listen. Love will protect those precious words and ideas, and love understands the great trust that was placed in me in the first place.

Loves always hopes. Love always hopes for the future. Love is what fills me with prayers for friends going through rough times, and love is what leads me to find powerful stories of testimony to share with friends going through those times- to share tales and stories of hope and resolution. Love places our hope in Jesus Christ and our God who truly is Jehovah Jireh and sees our every need. Love reaches out to those around us who need that hope- who need that everlasting assurance.

Because love is always persevering. Love is what keeps me going back to talk to that neighbor for the hundredth time about Christ and what He has done for me. Love is what keeps me on my knees at night praying for the thousandth time for that need a sister shared with me. Love never, ever quits. Jesus is the perfect example of this. How easy it would have been for Him to say "enough" and walk away from the task before Him. But He didn't. He stayed the course, and because He did... because He loved us so much, we can now spend an eternity with Him in the heavenly courts of praise. Love never quits or gives up.

"Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:8

Love should be experienced and celebrated 365 days of the year- not just on some made-up greeting card holiday. I want to love each and every day of my life- not just the day the calendar has set aside for love. Love never fails. It didn't fail me thousands of years ago when Christ died for me, and I choose to honor that love and try and share it with as many as I can. God. Is. Love. All year round, God is love, and for that, I am eternally grateful and filled with the love that transcends all understanding.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Temple

"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? 17If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple." 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Many years ago, I remember having a little bit of a debate about the importance of a church body having their own church building to worship in. Some people felt that it was necessary, that it showed a body's commitment to a community. And some people felt it completely unnecessary- as the church was really the people within, and not the building. Who was right? Both were in their own ways, of course. Lately I've been thinking about this again. My thoughts have been dwelling on the importance of belonging to a church- a body of believers, and I thought about how there are so, so many different churches out there where one could belong to.

On the one hand, that's a great thing. So many different groups of people worshiping God and gathering together once a week for the purpose of doing so in one accord! At the same time... well, these days most churches have websites that you can go and visit, and see what they are all about. I find this particularly nice because you can see in black and white the truths they hold to be true. What always distracts me though are the extra things a church has going on- and I confess that these are what has me distracted as of late.

So many churches are doing so much to try and "reach the lost" so to speak. And I say it that way because I wonder if that is what they are really doing. Many churches call them outreach opportunities or areas of ministry, and I know God blesses these efforts, because he knows the hearts of his people, but it just seems to me that when a church is so focused on reaching outward to the lost that they forget why they are a body in the first place. It just struck me the other day that the entire purpose of a church- of a body of believers should be to build each other up. We should be ministering to the body of Christ when we are within our congregations- praying for each other, exhorting each other and giving messages to embolden each other to actually be the temples we are called to be. This idea of reaching the lost? The church body as a whole should not be responsible for it- we as individuals should be responsible for it.

When I go into church on say, a Sunday morning, I should be hearing messages from the pulpit that encourage me as an individual to reach out to those around me as I go about my week. Every single one of us has an amazing scope of people to draw from. When I think about all the different people that Andy and I come in contact with throughout the week- both individually and separately, we could found a church body alone if all the people we came in contact with accepted Christ as their Savior. The purpose of my church and my fellow church mates is to take care of each other so that every single one of us can reach out to the lost each and every day. The purpose of the church is not to come up with plans and programs to try and get more people in the door.

When we reach out to the lost individually, we're more successful in achieving our goal. And why is that? Because individually, in the every day activities, the lost get the opportunity to see the real Jesus in me coming out. They get the opportunity to see the difference that having God in my life makes- they maybe can't see that in a Sunday morning church service. When I am happy to see someone at church Sunday morning, that person may wonder if I'm truly happy to see them or not. When I am happy to see someone in my backyard on a Thursday afternoon- that comes across as genuine and loving.

We ARE the temple! God's Spirit lives and breathes in us, and I can't help but think that if we put our focus and energy into showing Jesus in our everyday that we would be much more effective at reaching the lost in our communities- instead of trying to devise a program to entice people in our doors. What are we? A mega-mart or the Body of Christ? God loves all the lost around us so much- and if we are willing... If we are willing to step out in faith and let our actions speak volumes, that Spirit inside of us will stir things up and make us shine for Him! The Spirit inside of us will naturally draw those people closer- it will be enticing to them because we all are born with the desire for God. We don't need to come up with a gimmick or activity to entice. The Holy Spirit is enticing all on His own.

We are God's sacred temples! Think about that! Think about how the attendance at our churches would swell with more and more believers if we really put these sacred temples to work. That's what the world around us wants. They want to see the realness of Jesus in people's lives- they don't want a gimmick or a picnic with free food. They want Jesus. That's all they want- and that's all they need.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Warfare Wednesday: The Power of Prayer

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5:16

In the year 1813, a Shawnee Indian named Tecumseh died in a battle in which the future president William Henry Harrison was leading. Tecumseh's older brother, Tenskwatawa became very angry with William Harrison. Just a few years earlier, Mr. Harrison had given the order to have Tenskwatawa's village attacked and burned. So Tenskwatawa cursed William Harrison. He spoke a great curse, saying that William Harrison would become president, and that he would die while in office.

The curse spoke more though. He also proclaimed that every president who was elected to office in a zero year would also die in office.

William Henry Harrison died just one month after he became the president of the United States. Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy were all assassinated- and elected in zero years. Presidents Harding, Roosevelt, and Harrison died of natural causes in office- elected in zero years. This curse was very real and very effective.

Until 1980. Ronald Reagan was elected president and Christians had enough of Tenskwatawa's curse. And they did what every Christian should be doing anyway- they prayed for the safety of their President. Their prayers were successful. 69 days into his presidency, President Reagan was shot in the lung. The bullet stopped just one inch shy of his heart- and furthermore, the bullets used in the shooting had been a special kind of exploding bullet. They should have exploded upon impact, and all six bullets failed to explode. President Reagan recovered and led a very successful presidency. The zero-year curse was broken because the Christians prayed.

I tell all this today to remind myself and others why it is that we still pray for our president each and every week. While the zero-year curse is broken and has no effect anymore, how many people are there in the world speaking hateful words about our president? How many different groups of people do you suppose would like nothing more than to see our president killed? I suspect far too many. So we will continue to pray. Safety for the President of the United States is a worthy thing to be praying for day in and day out. God hears the prayers of His children, and I believe that the more of us who are praying for the safety of President Obama, the safer he will be. God loves all His children- and He hears every single one of our prayers. God also loves President Obama, and wants us to pray for his safety. He wants us to pray for the well-being of the man who has given up so much to take the leadership of this troubled nation.

Whether you consider yourself a "fan" or not, it is our duty as members of the Army of God to pray for our leaders- and so we will continue. As we enter into our second year of Warfare Wednesday, we will continue to pray for the safety and success of President Barack Obama, as well as his wife Michelle, and his children Sasha and Malia. God loves them so much, so we will continue to pray. Prayer can make all the difference in the world.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Keys To Being Effective

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires" 2 Peter 1:3-4

I seem to recall, in my days in school and my days in the business world, that there was a big deal being made about being "effective" in the workplace. In fact, there are whole businesses created around the idea of encouraging positive attitudes in the workplace, because it does help a business to be more successful in the long run. Thinking on it now though, I don't think these companies that do such things are doing anything new and innovative. In fact, they are taking some very old thoughts and ideas and turning them into something different.

Just read these verses above from 2 Peter. What a boost of encouragement from just a few sentences! His divine power has already given us everything we need to live Godly and good lives. We just need to figure out how to tap into that which he has already given us! As we read further into this chapter in the Bible though, we find out exactly how to tap into the rich promises of God that are laced throughout the Bible.

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1:5-8

We are to strive to become men and women of quality. These character traits are the traits of people who have a good attitude and walk with God. And as we walk our daily walk, these are the traits that we should be striving to improve. As they increase- as the faith increases, our goodness increases. As the goodness increases, our knowledge increases, and so on. They build on each other, and the more we possess of these traits, the more Godly we become, the more effective and productive we will be in our every day living for Christ. The more we strive to become like Christ- the more effective our days will become. Think about that. Think about going through your day- your job, your daily chores at home, your interactions with other people and being so effective at it, that not a single breath is wasted. Every word you speak is filled with Godly encouragement and words.

Yet there's more too! In the business world, a successful business person always has goals to strive for. They have productivity goals to meet, and results for meeting those. Sometimes these can be rewards- bonuses, vacations, a raise in pay. But look at what God has for us as a result of our spiritual productivity:

"Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1:10-11

If we do these things- we will never fail. Never! Never is an awfully big word, and it's one that sounds fantastic! We will never fail- and we will receive a rich welcome into the Kingdom of God. Now that sounds like a great thing. The last thing I want is to squeak into heaven by the skin of my teeth- to just make it by sliding by. I want the big reward- the party because I've arrived. And I want to take as many with me as possible. We can achieve this by standing on God's promises and by escaping the things of this world. God's promises are abundant and peppered throughout the Bible- and one of these days, I may do a series on some of God's Promises. Because you know what? God is not a liar, and when He makes a promise, He keeps a promise. When I read that it is possible to escape the things and the ways of this world- I believe it, and I hold to it, and pray that God will make His Promises even more real to me as I go about my day.

"Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." 2 Peter 1:2

Monday, February 08, 2010

Justified And Not A Sinner

"Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" Romans 5:7-9

When is the last time you heard someone say that we are all sinners? I'll bet it was recently- whether it was in a church service, a Bible study, or a casual conversation with fellow believers. Talk frequently turns to issues and things we may be dealing with as people, but so often we'll hear things like "but we're man, we're sinners."

Ah, but we were sinners. Past tense.

First of all, over 2,000 years ago, Jesus took our sinful nature, placed it on his shoulders, and carried them with him up on that cross. When He died for our sins to be redeemed, they were redeemed. Now when we say the sinners prayer and ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, we cease being a sinful person. Our sinful nature becomes dust in the wind- because we become a new creation- destined to sin no more.

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

But you know what? The evil tempter wants you to think that you are still a sinner. The devil wants you to think that you are a sinner, and that no matter what we do- we will always struggle with sin, and that no matter what we will fail.

But the truth is, that's not how it is supposed to be. Our old nature is gone and the new nature says that I can spend the rest of my life shedding sin and becoming more and more like Christ every day. The truth is that Jesus took my sins with Him on the cross, and now that I am a new creation in Him, I am no longer burdened by the wages of sin. The wages of sin is death, but since I very clearly prayed and accepted Jesus into my heart, sin has no hold over me anymore. I chose life instead.

"It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." 1 Corinthians 1:30

Christ has already come so that we might become holy and righteous in the eyes of the Father. It's time for us to stop listening to the lies of the devil, and start living like the righteousness people that we are! It is more than possible to live a life worthy... because we are more than conquerors!

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Romans 8:37

And when the church realizes this, it's going to be a wonderful day. When the church finally stops listening to the father of lies and embraces righteousness and holiness and stands on the Rock of Ages- it's going to be a wonderful day, and God will get all the Glory. Jesus will stand at the head of the Army of Christ, and we will be unstoppable. We are already saved through Him. It's time to start living like it!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Everything Is Good!

"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer." 1 Timothy 4:1-5

Do you ever have those days where you wonder if you do enough? Those moments where you hear about someone else doing something extreme with their faith, and you wonder if maybe you should jump on that bandwagon? Every once in a while, I think of those things, and I do wonder. But then I always come back to the idea that God made me just the way I am- to be the person I am, and that I shouldn't change a thing just because someone else does.

Lately I've been hearing of more and more people who adjust their diets because of something in the Bible- or simply something that they feel about the way God designed our bodies. You can read reports that say that man was never meant to eat meat- that we should all simply eat plants and be vegetarians. You can also read reports that say that God designed our bodies to do its own cooking- so we should eat raw foods only, and let our digestive juices handle all the processing. I've also heard of many people- Christians- who follow a kosher diet, because if there is a reason for it in the Old Testament, if should still be applicable today. Now, I'm certainly not one to tell anyone what to eat or not to eat- I happen to think every single body is different, and what is good for one is not good for all. But here's the thing. I happen to also think that it's wrong to think that because of what I eat or don't eat- that I may fall out of favor with God. Or that maybe if I followed one of these diets that I would be more holy. Maybe I should research and try and eat only foods Jesus would have eaten- after all, isn't our ultimate goal here on earth to be more like Him?

The thing is, what we eat and drink is not tied in any way to our salvation. God didn't say to accept Jesus as our savior- and then stop eating red meat. This verse in 1 Timothy 4 today spoke volumes to me when I read it yesterday- because here it says right here that everything God created for us to eat is good. God created all these different foods- all these different plants for food and animals for food for our dining pleasure. And when we thank Him for what He has provided- he blesses us for that. Here is another passage from the book of Acts that speaks about this very thing.

"About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat."

14"Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."

15The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." Acts 10: 9-15

God made everything clean- and God made it all for our enjoyment. Now, if we choose to follow a particular lifestyle for health reasons- or for spiritual reasons (thinking of a fast here), that's our business with God- and not our business to run around telling everyone who chooses to not follow suit that they are committing sin by what they do or do not eat.

You know what I love? Just this week I was thinking that we're getting closer and closer to Passover, and I was thinking about maybe trying to do a Passover meal of some kind this year. And that got me to thinking about cooking in a kosher way, and it really made me wonder if there was any merit to that lifestyle- if we would be better served by doing so. And then I open up my Bible and read this letter to Timothy. I love how God can talk to me about something as trivial as diet through His Word.

Now if only there would be a verse or two that tells me specifics about what I should be looking for in a home... then we would be all set!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Wholesome Thinking

"Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles." 2 Peter 3:1-2

I thought this was an interesting choice of words here in these verses this morning. Wholesome thinking. It made me really think on it and wonder how many of us really could say that our thoughts are wholesome. It made me think of myself- I know my thoughts are not always wholesome. But what does this really mean?

Wholesome means "promoting health or well-being of the body." Huh. I had an experience with this just the other day.

Earlier this week I had an evening where I was having company for dinner. I had woken up that day feeling like I didn't quite get enough sleep, and while we finished school quickly enough, it just seemed to me like all day I was half a step behind. After lunch time I sat down to just take a break and have a cup of tea when I began to take an inventory- and I didn't like what I found. I felt run down, my throat had a scratchy feeling, and I also was feeling like I was congested in my chest. I identified that perhaps, I might be coming down with a cold or something. I thought about this friend coming for dinner and wondered if I should call and reschedule- but I knew she was preparing dinner and who knew how far ahead she was going to make it. I so seldom have company over that I really hated the idea of rescheduling.

So you know what I did?

I refused to accept any of those symptoms as symptoms of anything. I enjoyed my cup of tea, and then I set about doing some housework. I put on my internal CD player and started rolling a few praise songs through my head, and started thinking on good things. I thought about enjoying time with my friend, and I thought about the fact that I was not coming down with something. I didn't want to skip church mid-week, and quite honestly, I just wasn't having it! I thought positive thoughts- that I was just a touch dehydrated, so I drank more tea and took a multivitamin for an added boost. I spent time thanking God for good health this winter- and I told myself over and over that I walk in divine health. That I am a citizen of heaven and not of this earth, so earthly disease cannot hurt me.

Do you know what happened?

By the time my friend arrived, I had forgotten that I was "coming down" with something. I felt perfectly fine when she got here, and I was able to enjoy our evening together. Just like that- I tell you- I used the idea of wholesome thinking to banish a cold from my body. Zander also had been feeling not right. When I tucked him into bed that night he confessed to me that he had a scratchy throat. I told him that sore throats and yuckiness was not allowed and that Jesus would take it away. When I went to bed that night, I continued those thoughts, and I prayed for my son, and declared that sickness was not welcome in this house. The next morning he asked if we could pray for his scratchy throat to go away- so we did that very thing. Ten minutes later he came up to me with great big eyes- telling me that his sore throat was gone! He was so excited- and told me that he didn't think the prayer would work so fast! Praise God! After that he was back to his old self and felt fine the rest of the day.

Wholesome thinking.

Here is what standard procedure used to be for me when someone came down with something. Have you heard of WebMD? Yeah... I can't tell you how many times I've gone on there and diagnosed myself or my family with something awful. In the past, two of us would have had a scratchy throat, and I'd look at associated symptoms and put together a diagnosis of strep throat because some of the symptoms fit. Then I would walk around declaring that to everyone. You know how that goes- a child is sick and every time you bump into someone you repeat "I think my child has strep throat". The person commiserates with you- tells you how they had it a few months ago, and you walk away, convinced your family has strep throat. This repeats itself over and over. With good intentions, you ask people for prayer, telling them your child has strep throat.

The thing is- the more you tell yourself that you or your child have strep throat- the more you speak that thing aloud- the more permission you're giving the world to actually put that disease in your household. So by the time you get to the doctor and do the tests, of course there is going to be strep throat in your family- you've spoken it into being- whether you meant to or not. It's the principle of blessings and curses. Jesus spoke to a fig tree and it withered and died. So when you speak to your body and tell yourself it is sick- it's going to listen! When you feel that warm forehead on your child and you tell yourself or your spouse that you think your child is coming down with something- you're giving that idea voice and speaking it into being. And most of us do this absentmindedly- or we do it with good intentions- wanting prayer for our afflictions. And there's nothing wrong with that.

But I have to tell you- by focusing on this idea of wholesome thinking- it can really make a difference! Instead, when you feel that warm forehead on a child- speak blessings and wellness. Force yourself to think positively. I am proof positive that it is working in my body. And I think I've always been like that. Growing up, I could count on the calendar when I was going to get sick and come down with something. If a certain period of time passed and I hadn't been sick, I would look to myself and say, huh, it must be about time for a cold or flu- and of course I would get it. Because of that, I always thought of myself as someone who gets sick easily. That of course, translated to so much more. I would be around someone with a cold, and immediately think to myself that I would catch that cold- so you know of course that I did. A change of thought process has literally kept me sickness free for a while now. Last year, for the first time in forever, I spent the entire year without seasonal allergies. Not because of anything I took or ate- but because I keep telling myself that I have perfect health. Every time I have begun to even think I might be coming down with something- I start telling myself how healthy I am. I start thinking about how I never get sick and have divine health because Jesus died for me to have it.

And I claim that for my children and my husband as well. We do walk in divine health- Jesus paid the ultimate price so that we could spend an eternity in heaven. When I accepted Jesus as my savior, my citizenship was approved. I became a citizen of heaven -and all that that entails- including the right to divine health.

Wholesome thinking truly makes a difference.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Warfare Wednesday: Economy Woes

"But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble." Psalm 59:16

There will be a day when our country will be able to claim this verse as her own.

This week as we pray for President Obama, we are also praying for the economy of our country. It's in a perilous place right now, and it's a very thin line the country is walking that could take us out of the recession and into recovery- it could also go the other way if we are not careful. We need to pray that the right advisers be speaking to our president, and that God's plan for the economy of this country be revealed at just the perfect time and place.

Our nation will recover, and the glory will go to God because of it.

One of the issues that I read about this morning is the line that people are walking between spending and saving. So many people are saving and not spending, that it is affecting the economy greatly. As more and more people sign on to the big money saving programs, and learn how to reduce their debt load, they are not spending at all- they are not cycling money back into the economy. A healthy economy has a bit of both, it has the spending and the saving. I am praying this morning for Godly wisdom for the American people as a whole. May the fear of being without be taken away from the people of this country- and may they realize that God is truly their provider. Money should be a tool- something we use- not something we hoard or something that we worship so much it's on our mind all the time.

As our economy slowly recovers, it's also going to take jobs to completely emerge from the recession. I am praying this morning for President Obama as he looks at different programs and ideas that will help create a better job market. May God give him the right ideas and the wisdom to discern what is truly best for this country. May entrepreneurs and inventors have a surge in ideas that will help stir up the economy for the better. And may God bless the efforts of the working people.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

No Eye Has Seen

"However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" 1 Corinthians 2:9

My heart starts beating faster every time I read this verse. I love the part where it says "no mind has conceived..." No mind has conceived, let's just think about this for a minute. Think about all the dreams and stories that people have told over the years. Think of the best fantasy ever written about a pauper becoming a prince and having everything he possibly could want- including loving friends and a beautiful family. Think of the fantastical dreams that you have- you know those ones. The ones where you wake up in the morning regretful that the dream is over, and as it slowly fades you can't help but smile and wish it was reality.

Even then, we have not even come close to unlocking the mysteries of what God has prepared for us. This verse is fairly well known, but have you ever really read beyond it? Check out verses 10 and 11 here:

"but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." 1 Corinthians 2:10-11

While one verse tells us that we cannot even begin to fathom what God has done, the next verse tells us that the Holy Spirit has revealed it to our spirits. So deep inside- there is a part of us that does know. There is a piece of us that knows exactly what God is doing, what God is preparing, and that part of us is the part that is yearning for an eternity in His presence. Our spirit man inside of us is craving God and His presence- and that is the part of us that nudges us out of bed on Sunday morning and says "hey, let's go to church." Our spirit is the part of us that always wants more- that can't get enough- because it knows that the closer we get to God, the more we will love and adore Him, and eventually, what is hidden will be revealed to us.

It seems to me that when it seems like there is a part of us that just wants to know more- that wants to get closer to God, that we need to listen more often. I mean, how many times do we think that we should read our Bibles more, but in the very next thought we wander over to the computer and pull up a game- or crack open today's newspaper. Or we think that maybe this week we'll go to the midweek service at church, or we'll call some friends up and see if they want to get together for a Bible study- but then we don't. We look at the calendar and see all those activities we have lined up and we decide that we should just choose to relax that night or we think maybe next week we'll be less busy.

Our spirit is crying out for more! Our spirit knows what God has for us if we will only yield and really let Him in. So the next time you have that passing thought to grab your Bible, or head to a prayer meeting, or even a thought to put on some worship music and get caught up in that a bit, listen to that thought. Make it more than a passing thought and put it into action. Feed your spirit, because it is in good company with the very Spirit of God- and maybe this will be the time that you read the verse that changes your life.

God has prepared something so wonderful for His children that there aren't even words to describe what it is. I think that's something that I'd like to find out what it is...don't you think?