Strength For Today

A journey of keeping my heart, mind, and body in TODAY

Hope

Hope.  It is such a beautiful word with such a transparent feel to it. For so many years, ‘hope’ seemed elusive, like I could say it, I could feel it, but I just couldn’t wrap my heart or mind around what it really meant.

One definition of hope is:  a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. 

Another definition of hope is: a feeling of trust

When I look at those two definitions, and I reflect on my faith, I realize that there is a beautiful Hope I have today.  A true Hope, at least for me, that can be defined as a feeling of desire, expectation, and trust!

I can honestly say that today, my life is anchored in one, and only ONE Hope, and it goes something like this:

I desire, expect, and trust that Christ is exactly who He says He is, and that He will do exactly what He has said He will do.

I desire, expect, and trust that eternal glory awaits me on the other side of death.

I desire, expect, and trust that this life and its trials and hardships are only temporary, and eternity will be spent in the presence of my Lord.

I desire, expect, and trust that Christ will return and bring me Home to my Father one day.

I desire, expect, and trust that as a result of my total surrender (confession and repentance of my sins) to Christ,  I have been promised and guaranteed eternal life through the Salvation of my soul, made possible by the Blood of my Savior.

Hebrews 6:17-19

17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,

Hebrews 3:4-6

4For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5“Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,”a bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

Do you have a favorite verse that has the word HOPE in it?  Please share!

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Determination

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

I just had to include verses 9 & 10 this morning.  This section of scripture is the offensive weapon I am going to carry around with me this week, and for the remainder of this study!  

In Ephesians 6: 10-11, we are told to put on the full armor of God, so that we can stand strong against the attacks of Satan.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

In Ephesians 6:12-13 we are reminded that our battles are not in the physical realm, but rather in the spiritual, and that the armor of God is the way we can stand strong in the face of those battles.  These verses remind me that there will always come a time when “my resources” fail me.  My human efforts, alone,  will not cause me  to stand firm.  It is ONLY the armor of God that causes me to “stand my ground” in the face of a spiritual attack.

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Verses 14-17 outline the  elements of the armor of God:

Belt of Truth, Breastplate of righteousness, Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel, The Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit (God’s Word)

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

When I envision myself preparing for battle, putting on the armor of God, I notice something.  I notice that everything, well almost everything, is a defense mechanism.  Each item is made to protect me from the attacks of the evil one.  Each item, with the exception of the sword of the Spirit.  The sword is an offensive weapon.  It is how WE attack him.  We throw the Word of God at Satan, and he has to flee.  This is how I can walk victorious this day, and every day thereafter: by using the WORD OF GOD as my weapon of attack.  And how do I do that?  By combating every spiritual attack with scripture.  Starting this week with 1 Peter 5:7-8.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind.

1 Peter 5:7-8 is a very strong “battle cry” for me. Let me break it down…

Cast: the act of turning or directing at something

all:  in TOTAL

your:  MY (a personal invitation)

Cares: 1. A burdened state of mind, as that arising from heavy responsibilities; worry.2. Mental suffering; grief.3. An object or source of worry, attention, or solicitude

on:  to place in the care of someone else

Him:  GOD ALMIGHTY

because:  tells me why I should do it….

He: GOD ALMIGHTY

cares: the act of paying close attention to, painstaking application or devotion

for: indicates the object of something….

you: ME!!

SO, IN A NUTSHELL…

I place ALL of my burdens, worries, attention, and concern, in the hands of the Almighty God because He absolutely loves and adores ME.  In addition I need to stay alert (aware/awake) and of sober (clear) mind, so I am ready for the attacks of the evil one, and stand my guard against those attacks by suiting up daily in the armor of God.

This, my friends, is DETERMINATION to me.  I will plant my feet in the soil in which I now stand, and I will prepare for the battles that are to come….with the God of ANGEL ARMIES always by my side! (Check out Chris Tomlin’s song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOkImV2cJDg )

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Willingness without action

My fiance, Ashley,  likes to share some valuable advice he once received, “Willingness without action is just wishful thinking”. Tonight I am pondering that quote.

Willingness without action is just wishful thinking. 

I feel like I am stuck in that place right now.  I keep saying that I want to change my eating habits.  I say that I am willing to do whatever it takes in order to make new patterns of eating.  When it comes down to it, though, I am not sure that I am.  I mean, I do change….for a while.  Always temporary.  When I am “feeling better”, I go right back to the same eating cycles I had before.  Slowly, but surely, I always end up back at the same place.  Staring at the toilet, trying to convince myself not to do it….again.

It is a vicious cycle.  No different from the cycle of my alcoholism.  Just a different symptom.

Alcoholism is but a symptom of much deeper rooted issues.  I remember when I first heard those words around the tables of recovery.  I thought my problem was that I drank too much alcohol.  The truth?  Drinking alcohol was a solution to a set of problems that run far deeper than the bottle.

Now, I think my “problem” is bulimia.  I overeat.  I feel sick.  I feel guilty.  I purge.  That’s the problem.  Duh.  No it isn’t.  There is something beneath this cycle of binging and purging.  It’s bigger than that.  It’s deeper than that.

But I’m not willing to look at it.  Not really.  I mean, I say I am.  But whenever I look at it, all I can see is the surface problem:  the food.  The body.  I can’t see beneath the surface.

I’m stuck in a cycle of willingness without action.  For a year now, I have been aware of the truth of my “habit” of poor eating choices.  God gave me the word “bulimia” at this time last year.  It has taken me a whole year just to start talking about it.  With people I love and trust.  With people in recovery.  And now with you.

Two years ago, I was listening to a recovering alcoholic share his story at recovery convention.  He said something that has stuck with me since that day:  “The most uncomfortable times in my sobriety are times when I am aware of what needs to be done, but unwilling to do anything about it.”  I think is where I have been for the past year.  I think that now, I am finally willing to do something about it, but I have not been following up that willingness with action. Time for change.

I took an action step today.  I reached out to another woman who has successfully come out of the other side of this eating disorder.  She sent me some things to read.  I am going to read them now.

Tomorrow is a new day, and thank the LORD that His mercies are fresh every morning!

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His Providence – My “pluck-pluck-plop” theory

So, almost 3 years ago to this exact date, I became thoroughly CONVINCED that God is intimately concerned with every detail of my life!

I was at work.  Nothing abnormal about my day.  Just going about my business.  I made a  decision that day to leave work at lunch and get “Wendy’s”.  (This is not a typical thing I do)  On the way there, I was listening to a Christian radio station, which was a fairly new music choice in my life.  Suddenly the radio waves  were filled with static and another station broke through.  The lyrics screamed at me…. “Burnin with the devil….!”  (Are you familiar with the song I’m referencing here?)  I immediately shut off the radio, shuddered, and continued driving.

Upon turning into the shopping area which contained the Wendy’s I thought I was seeking, I made a new decision.  I decided maybe I could get something healthier at Meijer.  So the “right turn” became a “left turn” instead.  It’s funny how, at the time, I believed that these “decisions” I was making actually belonged to ME.

As I was turning into a lane to find a parking spot, I noticed a woman.  She was hurriedly crossing the parking lot, one child on her hip, one attached to her hand, and another running astray.  I could tell she was yelling at the 3rd child to come back to her side (I could tell because I am also a mother of 3, and we just understand these things…) Anyway, I immediately sensed, and empathized with, her situation.  I felt a strong urge to encourage this woman and let her know that she was a “good mother”.

**side note here….this is NOT something I typically did during that time of my life.**

I quickly parked my car, and made a “bee-line” for the store.  I desperately looked around for the young mother I had seen outside.  I spotted her down the center aisle, heading for the pharmacy section.  The hairs on my arms literally stood up, as I began to pursue this woman like a predator pursues its prey.  I vaguely recall feeling that this woman was going to think I was a lunatic, the way I was planning to just waltz right up to her and tell her she was a good mom.  But the thought would NOT leave me.  This was something I HAD to do.

*         *        *

I feel like you should know two very important things here before I continue this story.

1.  I was not a Bible-believing Christian at this point in my life, although I was seeking.  I had begun to have some conversations with a good friend about Christ, here and there. She had turned me on to Christian music, which I found to be both positive and encouraging, and I had begun to desire a different way of living.  The thought of reading the Bible had occurred to me around this time, however it intimidated me and I was unsure where to start.  I had a friend that I knew had “converted” to Christianity, but I had ostracized her over the years due to her dramatic change, and I felt guilty even considering reaching out to her now.  Her name was Christina.

2. I was not used to stepping outside of my comfort zone for ANYTHING at this point of my life, so it was an incredibly big deal for me to “chase” this woman down the aisles of Meijer just to tell her she was a good mom. This was the first time I listened to what I now understand to be “God’s leading”.

*         *        *

 OK, back to the story.  So, I’m basically hunting through the aisles of Meijer to find this young mother and her 3 children.  Finally, I spotted them.  Her back was still to me.  I never did see her face, but no matter, I just knew she needed to hear what I had to say to her. I went to gently tap her on the shoulder, but I never had the chance.  She turned around to face me first.  Her face lit up. 
“Dawn!”  she cried joyfully, wrapping me in an authentic embrace.  “How are you?  I have been praying for you!  I’m so glad to see you.  This isn’t my typical day to be at Meijer, but….”  She went on, but I didn’t hear a single word.  I was standing in awe for what felt like 10 minutes (I’m sure it was only 30 seconds).  The woman chatting away at me about how she had been praying for me, how she had hoped to see my dad at an upcoming event to ask him how I was, how she was totally off her normal schedule….was Christina.  The very same Christina that had been coming to mind lately, but I had continuously “brush aside” in fear of her rejecting me.   This very same Christina was standing in front of me right now.  The words that came next, from my mouth, came without my consent.
“I have been thinking about you.  I was hoping we could get together and talk about the Bible.”
It just so *happened* that she was available that exact day because her Pastor’s daughters had been looking for ways to serve and they were coming over to babysit her children.
I never did get to tell her what a “great mom” I thought she was.  Funny thing, that was never the intended purpose for our encounter in the first place.  God had been working on that meeting for far longer than I can even understand.  It was His divine appointment, not mine.  It was for His purposes, not mine.  Something was sent into motion that day.  Something that has continued growing and changing, deepening and strengthening….that something is my relationship with Christ.
Christina and I met once a week for about 6 months.  She mentored me through the book of John.  We had wonderful conversations about who Christ really is.  My life has never been the same since.
That was my first experience with “Radical Obedience” to God.  It was the first time, I allowed Him to manipulate my circumstances for my good and His Glory!  It was not the last time, thank goodness.  For a few years that followed that day, I called circumstances such as this one, my “Pluck-Pluck-Plop” theory, because I had no other explanation.  I believe that sometimes God just plucks us out of our comfortable little places in life, and plops us right in the path of another, in order to achieve the purpose that He has set into motion since before time was even created.  Today, I have grown in my knowledge of God and His character.  I understand my “Pluck-Pluck-Plop” theory to actually be God’s Providence.  He does, in fact, orchestrate our circumstances in order to achieve His plan for our lives.  When we say YES, He starts MOVING in a powerful way!
What do you need to say “YES” to today?
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Made to Crave – Week 2

Made To Crave: Online Bible Study – Week 2 Journal

Word

DETERMINED

Verse:

1 Peter 5:7-8

Prayer:

God, you are a great lover of all of your children!  You love me, exactly as I am!  Thank you for the body you have given me, exactly as it is.  Thank you for every curve, for every soft spot, for every wrinkle, for every gray hair.  All these things show that I am alive!  You have given me the gift of life.  I am grateful that you have gifted me with a body that works as it should.  Please help me to see past my imperfections.  Please help me to glorify you by honoring my body.  Thank you for revelation that it is ME who serves my body, not the other way around.  My body was created to be a temple for Your Holy Spirit.  Please give me eyes to see it that way.  Please help me not to fall into vain thinking about my body.  Please help me make choices that honor my body.  Please help me choose clothes that honor you as well.  I love you Lord.  I praise Your Holy Name!!!  In Jesus I pray!  Amen!!!

Goals:

My first goal this week is to continue to stay clear of processed sugar, simple carbs, dairy, and meats other than fish.

My second goal this week is to connect with Denise on Tuesday morning.

Action Steps:

Make the phone call on Tuesday.

Choose healthy food choices.

 

REACTIONS TO THIS WEEK:

I was able to accomplish this week’s goals!  I had a bad food day on Tuesday, but it didn’t pull me under.  I got right back on track the next day.  I absolutely lived “determined” this week.  Overall, I felt God becoming bigger as I am becoming less!  Amen and Hallelujah!!

 

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The idols I’ve worshipped

It dawned on me this morning, that I did not write yesterday.  I have to be honest with you all right now.  My initial reaction was to “monkey” with the date and time and write a quick post this morning so that it didn’t look like I had ALREADY fallen short on my commitment to write at least 1 sentence every day for the next 365 days.

Immediately following that thought, came conviction.  Thank the LORD!  What I realized is this: it is still in me….that desire to “look” good to others.  The truth is, I am sure that none of you even care whether or not I write every day for 365 days.  I am the one who does.  Yet, I am the one who didn’t take the time to write.  It is interesting, the way we can be both ally and foe to our own journeys!

My image used to be an idol that I worshipped.  It took me a while to understand that.  Anything that I place above my relationship with God is considered an “idol”.  Just a short while ago, I would have told you that I had NEVER worshipped any other god except the LORD Himself.  Today, I understand that statement to be false.  My image is just one of many “idols” I have worshipped.

I have worshipped the idol of comfort, the idol of satisfaction, the idol of financial stability, the idol of materialism, the idol of performance, the idol of perfection, the idol of vanity, the idol of time, the idol of acceptance, the idol of validation, the idol of alcohol, the idol of food….  and so many many more.  Are you sitting at your computer right now, reading these words, and wondering if you really agree with me that these things are truly “idols”?  I know I would have been doing that at one point of my life.  And that point wasn’t so long ago.

Over the past 3 and a half years, I have learned so much about the things I always thought I knew, but never fully understood.  God has continued to reveal more and more to me!  I have found that the more I seek to understand, the more He will reveal!  As His Word tells us in Deuteronomy 4:29~  29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. This is so amazingly true!  God is 100% faithful!

So, I didn’t write yesterday.  That is the truth.  Again, a truth that most likely doesn’t matter to you one way or the other.  To me, it represents a stumble….but not a fall!  I have learned that when I stumble, The Lord is ever-faithful, there to catch me and put me back on the path.

Thank You God!

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Never Say Never: A new game

Growing up, I played sports.  I enjoyed playing sports, and I was pretty good at it.  My favorite sports were softball and volleyball.  I also played basketball, but only because my dad made me. I liked it OK, but it wasn’t my favorite.  There was too much running, and I never felt ‘good enough’.  I think I spent most of my time during basketball season wishing I didn’t have to play basketball.

I went to a junior college after high school on athletic scholarship.  They wanted me to play all 3 sports, but I chose not to play basketball.  I was thrilled that my dad didn’t pressure me into it, and I really didn’t have to play!

Here I am, 20 years post-highschool, and I have just entered into coaching…..basketball.  Interestingly enough, I first tried coaching volleyball.  I didn’t care for it, and lasted only a year.  After that I tried coaching softball.  I lasted 5 years, but didn’t experience the joy I had anticipated experiencing during that time.  In 2010, I thought I hung my coaching hat up.  That was before I got engaged to be re-married this July.

You might be wondering what getting engaged has to do with coaching.  Well, it’s called a honeymoon.  My fiance and I are planning a honeymoon to a quiet log cabin in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado this July.  It is going to cost us some money.  A coaching position was posted for girls basketball in the fall.  Coaching means I make some extra money.  Almost enough to pay for the honeymoon.  Bingo.  Incentive.  Just get through 2 months of coaching, pick up the check and be done with it, right?

Wrong.  I didn’t intend on enjoying coaching basketball.  I didn’t think I was going to remember anything about the game after 20 years of not playing.  I invited my dad to come alongside me as an assistant coach.  Now he understands the game, I thought.  I figured I would let him take the driver’s seat, and I would go along for the ride.

That is not what is happening.  We are about a month into our season.  We have just entered into our first week of competition.  And I am having a GREAT time coaching these girls!  I can’t believe it (seriously, I can’t), but coaching basketball is my “thing”.  The game came right back to me.  There is a love for the sport of basketball inside me, and an understanding that still exists, that I didn’t even know was there.  My dad has taken the ‘back seat’ and let me run the team.  It’s pretty amazing….this new game.

I can’t help but wonder if this enjoyment that is coming as a result of coaching has something to do with the new way I choose to live my life.  I can’t help but think that it does.

Everything got better when I decided to live first for Jesus, second for others, and lastly for myself.  It’s a whole new ballgame, and it affects every aspect of my life.  Even basketball.

I don’t look at this coaching experience as a way to pass on my knowledge of the “game” to a group of athletes.  I look at this coaching experience as a way to relationally connect with a group of 12 and 13 year old girls.  My goal to is be a good role model to them.  My goal is to give them opportunity to learn lessons that they can carry with them through life.  My goal is to be there in any way I need to be for each girl on my team.  My goal is to bring God into each practice, and each game, and listen for His guidance.  My goal is to coach basketball for Jesus!  Now….THERE is something I never thought I would ever say.  Goes to show you….NEVER SAY NEVER!

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Yes, Lord!

Tonight, I was honored to be a part of an audience that received an anointed healing message from Pastor Roy Patterson, station manager at Moody Radio (90.1 FM).

What a blessing he was, and oh how beautiful the message he carried!  And timely.  Exactly what I needed to hear on exactly this night.  What an amazing God we serve!  He puts us exactly where we need to be, exactly when we need to be there!

He preached a message on Matthew 15:21-28.  The Faith of the Canaanite Woman.  Interesting choice, considering he was preaching to a room full of people who have walked through most of their lives feeling unworthy.  (We were at an anniversary celebration for a local Celebrate Recovery Ministry.)  Anyway, as he read the words from scripture, my mind started immediately wandering to the places I used to be where I felt as unworthy as this woman must have felt.  And I wondered “Why?  Why would Jesus give her the “silent treatment”?  Why would the disciples urge him to send her away as she pleaded for Jesus to heal her daughter?  Why would Jesus tell her that he was sent only to the “lost sheep of Isreal”?  Why would he refer to her as a dog and say that it wasn’t right to take “children’s bread and toss it to their dogs”?  He definitely had my attention.  I had no idea where he was headed, so I sat up and listened.  The message that he delivered was captivating, and right on the mark for me.

The words that came next, hit me right in the heart:  “Too desperate to be denied”.

When trials come, I must decide to press on, to persevere!  He explained how the Canaanite woman was a model of this absolute Truth.  He used 3 teaching points, which I would like to reflect on here:

1.  Persevere Through Silence: What do I do when God is silent?  Sometimes I reach out for God and He doesn’t respond in the time or the way that I expect.  Sometimes, He is silent.  Is He silent because He doesn’t care?  Is it because He is rejecting me?  The answer to both of those questions is an ABSOLUTE “NO”!  Sometimes God is silent because He will test our Faith from time to time.  He wants to see if we are ready to “press on”, if we will choose to persevere.  The Canaanite woman did.

A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!  My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”  Jesus did not answer a word.  So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us”  Matthew 15: 22-23

2.  The second teaching point came from verse 23. Persevere Through the Saints.  As this woman was crying out in desperation to Jesus, He did not respond to her.  As verse 23 points out, she continued crying out after them.  She did not accept Jesus’ silence as a rejection.  She persevered right through it.  Then came the second obstacle:  The “saints”, or disciples.  They urged Jesus to send her away.  They placed “judgement” on her, and saw her as unworthy of Jesus.  They responded in a way that was unloving.  We all face people in our lives that think they are better than we are.  We also face people in our life that we think we are better than.  The Truth?  God loves us all equally.  Our status, race, position, or personality don’t affect the way God looks at us, or the way He sees us. He loves each one of His children, unconditionally.  We are commanded to love one another as He has loved us. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen, and we must persevere through people who treat us as though we were “less than”.

3. Persevere Through Stigma.  The Canaanite woman was referred to as a dog by Christ Himself!  Can you believe that?  I had a hard time with His response at first.  She was given a “label” because of where she lived.  She was considered to be unworthy simply because she was not a Jew.  She was born a Gentile, and by her birthplace, had no “right” to approach Jesus in the manner in which she did.  Jesus’ silence didn’t stop her.  The disciples shunning her didn’t stop her.  Now, even the stigma of being a Gentile (referred to as dogs by the Jews because they were unworthy) was not going to stop her.  She didn’t let the label of unworthiness actually deem her unworthy.  She didn’t let anyone’s opinion stop her from pursuing the Lord in her time of need.  She didn’t even let Christ’s silence waver her desperation.

The woman came and knelt before him.  “Lord, help me!” she said.  He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”  “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table”.  Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.”  And her daughter was healed from that very hour.     Matthew 15:25-28

The woman’s reply of “Yes, Lord” indicates that she acknowledged her unworthiness.  She didn’t argue with Him.  She didn’t try to persuade Him that she was worthy of His love and healing just as much as anyone else.  She didn’t deny who she was, she didn’t try blame or deflect the problem on anyone else, she didn’t respond in anger or hostility.  She simply said two amazingly powerful words.  “Yes, Lord”.  And then she stated a fact.  Even dogs get crumbs from their masters’ table.  Crumbs from heaven.  The best kind.

The result of the Canaanite woman’s perseverance?  Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.”  And her daughter was healed from that very hour.  She was granted her request!  Her faith had persuaded Jesus to heal her daughter.  It wasn’t her status, her race, her words, or anything about her, other than her decision to persevere through trials and lean into her faith in Jesus.  She knew Him to be a healer, and she wasn’t going to stop crying out to Him in desperation until He responded.  And, boy, He responded!!

*The above reflection is not my own preaching or teaching, but rather a processing of Pastor Roy Patterson’s teaching tonight.  Below are my reflections from the teaching*

As I sit here reflecting on this message, I am just in awe at the Beautiful God we serve!  He takes us in our brokenness, in our yuck, in our sin and in our pain….and He loves us right where we are at.  This teaching was so encouraging to me!

How refreshing it was to hear that God’s silence doesn’t mean that He is rejecting me or that I am doing something wrong, but rather that He is growing me! I definitely go through seasons where I feel Him in a  tangible way, and other seasons where it seems I can’t “feel” Him at all.

The message about persevering through the “saints” is also one I needed to hear.  There are always people trying to thwart my joy, people who just don’t support me in my journey – who just don’t understand it, or just don’t agree with it.  There are people who talk about me in a negative light.  None of that matters.  I can persevere through that.

Finally,  the teaching point that hit home the hardest with me tonight, is the acceptance of who I used to be.  It is amazing how when I decided to own my past instead of continuously run and hide from it, it lost its power over me.  I am able to speak about every broken piece of my life because He has redeemed me fully from all of it.  I know who I was, yes.  But I also know who I AM.  I can stand tall in my brokenness because I am being made perfect by the only One who is perfect now!  That is a thought that I will never get tired of meditating on!  He is teaching me how to walk in the Redemption I have already been given by the blood of my Savior, day by day, one beautiful step at a time!

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Permissible but Not Beneficial

“I have the right to do anything,” you say — but not everything is beneficial.  “I have the right to do anything” –but not everything is constructive.  1Corinthians 10:23

Growing up, especially in my later teens through my later twenties, I thought I was invincible.  I remember thinking that I could do anything I wanted to.  I was enthralled with the concept of “freedom” from the authority figures in my life.

I never considered that my actions actually had an impact on God.

My thoughts were that God wasn’t interested in the “little things” I did in my daily life.  I easily justified every sin I committed, by telling myself that it wasn’t sin.  I didn’t think that God cared what I did in my life, as long as I didn’t commit what I then considered to be the “big sins”, like theft, murder etc.

I went through my life like whirling dervish.  I justified getting drunk, being promiscuous, smoking, overeating, overspending, binge and purging…you name it, it was OK for me.  It literally was not until I became a surrendered Christian at the age of 35 that I even considered the things like yelling,  gossiping,  overeating,  frivolous spending,  or other similar seemingly “small” actions sinful!

As part of my nature, I cannot stand being told what to do.  I immediately begin the process of rebellion.  Growing up, I always felt like I had to be a “rule follower”, and I hated rules.  I was so consumed with what others thought of me, that I followed those rules whether I wanted to or not.  When I got out from under the constant watch of my parents and others who “told” me what to do, I started acting out in the ways I had always wanted to.

Finally, as I began to understand what it really means and looks like to follow Christ, I started to understand that I could “choose” to do anything I wanted to do.  I realized that God does not FORCE me to do anything, however He does ENFORCE consequences for wrong choices.  So, from the big things like getting drunk  and being promiscuous to less significant things, like profanity and gossiping, were actually choices I still had.  I was free to act in any way I wanted, but wrong actions equate uncomfortable consequences.  This was a concept that took me a while to understand.

When I did begin to wrap my mind around this Truth, I started changing my actions.  I started trying to line EVERYTHING I said and did up with God’s Word.

I focused on Philippians 4:8 ~ Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

This verse helped me to change the way I thought.  Changing my thinking helped me to change the way I behaved.  Changing my behavior is helping me to change my entire character, thus having a grand effect on my destiny!

Yes, I fully embrace that everything is permissible, but not always beneficial or constructive.  It is the constructive and beneficial choices that I choose for my life today!  Thank the LORD.

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The One Who is in Me….

So, this morning was a bit of a struggle.  My alarm went off at 5:00 AM.  I “thought” about getting up for about a half hour.  I did get up at 5:30, which is still a half hour earlier than I typically awake.  So, this is a victory.  The scripture verse that I had to repeat over and over in order to make that move to throw the covers off and put my feet on the floor?

1 John 4:4    the one who is in you [me] is greater than the one who is in the world.

I absolutely believe that I get attacked in the morning by Satan because he knows that I will use that extra time to praise and worship Christ.  Today I am victorious.  Now, on to do some quiet time before I have to wake up my children….

Have a BLESSED day!

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