Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Oh, my Soul - I'm NOT Alone!

The song, Oh My Soul, by Casting Crowns has been pulling at me for a couple of weeks, now. Especially the line that goes, "There's a place where fear has to meet the God you know."

Today, I found the story behind the song on YouTube and it really spoke to my heart...

 I'm not really a fearful person, but lately, fear has been trying to rear its ugly head where my health is concerned. I have a disease (not cancer). I'm not comfortable sharing the details, but there is no cure and no effective treatment. For the past 12 years, it has been getting steadily worse and painful. You can't tell it by looking at me, but I feel it every day. The fear that keeps cropping up is what the future might hold. How bad will it get? Will it turn into cancer? etc.

When that fear rises up in me, I have to remind myself that I am not alone. God walks through every step of life with me. He is fully aware of what's happening. He more than able to heal me, but if that's not his plan, I'm okay with it as long as I know He is with me. Why? Because I know he loves me beyond measure and even if this condition takes my life, I am going to be with Him.

In the meantime, I want to live my life in a way that honors Him every day. I want to love others and let him love love them through me. I want to point the way to Him so that others can experience the joy and peace that comes from  knowing they are loved more than they can ever understand and that they are not alone.

Here's the song, I'm Not Alone...

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Detoxing Your Thought Life

Do you use the You Version app of the Bible?  I do and I love it. I have it on both my phone and my Kindle Fire and find it invaluable tool for digging into God's word, reading uplifting and eye-opening devotionals and sharing it with my friends.

Today I started a new devotional plan called Soul Detox by Craig Groeschel and already, day one of the plan touched me deeply.  It talks about detoxing our minds from toxic thoughts. I know, right? It's amazing how many times toxic thoughts enter our minds and how they they affect our relationships, our moods and our outlook on life.

Look at what God has to say about this...
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." Philippians 4:8
My child, pay attention to my words; listen closely to what I say.
Don't ever forget my words; keep them always in mind.
They are the key to life for those who find them;
they bring health to the whole body. 
Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life Proverbs 4:20-23

It seems that in these two passages of scripture, God has given us the key to detoxing our minds, hearts and spirits. I keep hearing that we can retrain our brains. I'm not sure if that's true, but I do know that we can renew our minds.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Matthew Henry's Commentary on this verse says that as we renew our minds (by submitting to his will, taking in his word and applying it to our lives and walking in obedience to him, we develop...

New dispositions and inclinations, new sympathies and antipathies; the understanding enlightened, the conscience softened, the thoughts rectified; the will bowed to the will of God, and the affections made spiritual and heavenly: so that the man is not what he was—old things are passed away, all things are become new; he acts from new principles, by new rules, with new designs. The mind is the acting ruling part of us; so that the renewing of the mind is the renewing of the whole man, for out of it are the issues of life. - This is called the transforming of us.
Part of the detox process for our thought life is to be aware of what we used to call stinkin' thinkin' and to be active in combating it.  I call this my 3R plan for detoxing my mind. (I just made that up 😊)

  • Recognize (toxic thoughts)
  • Reject them
  • Replace them
And I'll be replacing them with - whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy.

How about you? Have toxic thoughts negatively affected your life and relationships?

Do your entertain those thoughts or do you have a plan to combat them?

Feel free to use mine.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Citizen of Heaven - Represent

Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven,
conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of
the Good News about Christ."
Philippians 1:27a (NLT)

This verse popped out at me this morning as I read through the book of Philippians - especially the phrase "citizens of Heaven."

I'm a citizen of Heaven! Since I surrendered my life to Jesus, he not only gave me a new identity (Child of God), but a new homeland (Heaven). This world is not my home, but while I'm here - a foreigner in the only place I've ever known, I represent the Kingdom of God and my conduct should reflect that.

That's a tall order, but not one I will back away from, because, while I feel inadequate, I know that God's Holy Spirit lives in me, enabling me to do God's will.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire
and the power to do what pleases him."
Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

My heart's desire is to represent God well, to bring glory to His name and to influence others so that they will want to know Him and experience salvation through Jesus Christ, but I can only do that by allowing God to enable me to do his will and letting Him work through me to touch others.

Prayer: Father, thank you for adopting me into your family and for making me a citizen of Heaven, where you are preparing a place for me to live with you eternally. I look forward to the time when I set foot in my homeland, but until that time comes, please help me to conduct myself in a manner that brings you glory and draws others to want to know you. Amen

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Prayer - Are You Doing it "Right?"

Just pour out your heart to God.
I've been thinking a lot about prayer these days. Being the Prayer Team Coordinator for our church means all prayer requests that come into the church and channeled to me, then sent out to our Prayer Team.  Some of these requests are heartbreaking and when there are many of those during the week, it can get you down if you don't anchor your faith in a God who loves each one of those people deeply, a God who knows what is the very best for each person in each situation, A God who understands each heart.

So, a while back, I started to feel like as I prayed for each request it seemed like I was giving God orders - God, heal this person, God restore this marriage, God save this woman's son, God break this man's addiction, God protect this man in prison...

One day the thought occurred to me that since God knows the intimate details of each person and their circumstances, that it might be better to ask God to step into their situation and do what if the very best thing for all involved and to help each person lean heavily on him during their trials.

Then today I read an short synopsis for a book on prayer. It started like this...\

"Are your prayers being answered? Do you even know what to pray? Deep down inside, do you feel that prayer is too passive to really accomplish much?"
I have to tell you, these three questions bug me. It seems to infer that unless you pray the correct way or unless you pray passionately, God won't bother to answer. Or if it seems that your prayers aren't being answered, it's your fault for not praying right. That rankles me to no end!

Friend, one of the most loving things we can do is lift a hurting person to God in prayer. We don't have use the perfect words or quote the appropriate scriptures back to God before he will pay attention to our prayers. We don't have to work ourselves up into a frenzy before he responds. All we have to do is open our hearts and let our love for others pour out to him. Sometime, we don't know exactly what to pray because a trial in someone's life may be what it takes to draw someone closer to God or to transform their character to be more like Christ. Not that God brings calamity on us just to teach us a lesson. He doesn't. Life will do that for us all by itself because we live in a broken world and when it does, God sees and works to turn a bad situation around so that good will come out of it.

So, go ahead and pray for those you love, those you don't like, those you don't even know when you see someone hurting. Don't worry about saying the right words or having the right posture, just open your heart and ask God to work his perfect will in their lives. That's better than anything else you could possibly do.

So, what do you think? Does prayer intimidate you? Have you been frustrated with your prayer life?

Remember, prayer is just an open conversation between you and your Father God.
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Monday, February 27, 2017

Well, shut my mouth!

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29

Every conversation, no matter how short or how long, leaves the other person either feeling better or worse. It doesn't matter if it's an online conversation of a couple of sentences, a short conversation with a store clerk, a lengthy phone chat or asking our children to do something - in any situation, our words have the power to heal or hurt.

It's not just the words we use, but the tone of our voice, the expression on our face, even our body language conveys either a positive or negative message to the other person.

Think your words aren't important? Read what Jesus has to say about out words in Matthew 12:34-37...

34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Do your words bring healing or hurt?

"The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." Proverbs 12:18
Your words matter a great deal.  

Let's leave a trail of smiles behind us, not a trail of destruction.


Scripture Prayer:

“Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141: NIV)

"Help me, Lord, to keep my mouth shut and my lips sealed." (Psalm 141:3 NLT)

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Jesus had Questions of His Own

One day as Jesus and his disciples sat by the lake, a throng of people gathered around him. He took the opportunity to deliver a stirring message, filled with many parables. Toward evening, he said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side." They left the crowd behind, got into the boat and set out for the distant shore.

A furious squall came up. The waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.  Where was Jesus?  Fast asleep in the back of the boat!  The disciples woke him with but one question on their minds, "Don't you care if we drown?"

They did what many of us do when the storms of life hit. They questioned the one they thought loved them. The one they thought would keep them from all harm. 

We do that. We ask God why he would let bad things happen to 
us- his children. We sort of expect him to give us a smooth, trouble-free life, but he never promised that. In fact, he said just the opposite:

"...In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b)
So, we need not be surprised when life brings us stormy seas. Trouble hits everyone and yes, it does sometimes raise questions in our minds. In fact, when the disciples questioned whether or not Jesus cared if they died, he had a question of his own...
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”  Mark 4:30-41
"Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

Jesus knew the storm would hit. He is God, come in the flesh. He knew everything. So, why would he suggest crossing a lake when he knew a huge storm would hit them. Perhaps it was to prove to the disciples that no matter the danger, they could trust him. Perhaps it was to reveal to the disciples just how little faith they had in him. Perhaps it was to display the powerful saving grace of God.

Storms will hit - it's a part of living in a fallen and broken world. It's a part of life. Expect hard times to come.  Before they do, anchor your faith in the one who has overcome the world. Rest assured that he will see you through the storm, providing whatever is needed. 

Sometimes he calms the angry sea around you and sometimes he calms the angry storm within. 

Trust the One who loves you beyond measure, the one who knows you better than you know yourself and please know that if he allows a storm, he'll go through it with you. Perhaps the storm is necessary to deepen your faith.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Waiting on God - You're not Alone

You've prayed (many times) yet the answer has not come. You're weary, sick, alone and feel as if God has forgotten you. You've read, believed and stood on God's promises. You feel your faith wavering, your hope fading, your trust crumbling. You are holding on frantically, but losing your grip. You know God loves you, wants the best for you and is able to rescue you, yet He has not yet stepped in and you wonder why. What purpose could there be to this waiting?

Dear friend, you are not alone. Many believers across the land are waiting. They, too are discouraged, confused and desperate to see God's hand move.

If all who are waiting on the Lord were gathered together in one place, what would they do? What would you do? Would you commiserate, recounting your own woes and doubts, or would you look on those troubled souls and speak life to them? Would you encourage them with words of faith, pray for them, let them know that they are not alone - that you are standing with them?

Of course you would, and in the process, your own strength would be renewed, your own spirit lifted and your own hope refreshed.

You may not be standing in the midst of that waiting throng, but you know they are out there and you can still do the one thing that would be most helpful and loving. You can pray for them. Pray all the things that you would say if you were with them, and in the process, you will be strengthened, for God honors love.

So, as you wait, pray, and as you wait, take a look around you. There are people who are waiting on the Lord, struggling to maintain hope, feeling all alone. They may be the people closest to you. Don't let them stand alone. Reach out and offer friendship, understanding, encouragement and most of all, love and together praise God while you are waiting, knowing that He is faithful and will reward those who endure with patience and trust on His perfect timing and His perfect answer.

"Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you." Psalm 33:20-22

Are you in that waiting place? Discouraged and feeling alone? I would love to pray for you. Please leave a comment below and know that you are not alone. I'm here with you.


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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

There's more to repentance than you thought.

I recently made a trip home to Ohio for the holidays and had a wonderful time with my large circle of family and friends. 

Coming home, I was glad to be with my husband, but quickly became dissatisfied with the loneliness of life here in Arizona. What family I do have here are all busy working and involved with families and work of their own. I understand that, but it still leaves me lonely.

All this culminated in a day of whining and feeling sorry for myself. By the end of the day, I was headed to full blown depression, so when my sweet husband walked in from work and asked, "How was your day?" I crumbled. Then, I unloaded on him. Not blaming him, but just venting.

He held me, prayed for me and asked what he could to to help. Short of moving back to Ohio, there was nothing more he could do than what he was already doing. Fortunately, bedtime came soon and rescued him from having to listen to me any further.

The next morning I sat with God in prayer, repenting for wallowing in self-pity and thanking God for the blessings that I have in my life. I had to admit that much of my loneliness was my own fault. I had retired early, often rejected invitations to spend time with friends and spent way too much time on Facebook, telling myself that this interaction with friends and family made up self-imposed isolation and for being away from my Ohio kin. (Yes, kin - country girl here.) 

Anyway, after a good repentance session and feeling forgiveness flow from the Father, I flipped open my Bible and decided to start reading through the New Testament for the New Year. It wasn't long before I came to Matthew 3:8...

"Produce fruit in keeping with repentance."

Oh, boy - that one hit me right between the eyes. Repentance brings forgiveness, however that's not the end of it. We must then begin producing "fruit" that shows that we are truly sorry for our behavior. In other words, change the behavior - turn around and go the other way - stop doing what you were doing that brought you to the point of sin. It's not to earn forgiveness, because that's a free gift from God, but it's behavior that shows you shun sin and embrace godly change.

LOL - God has a way of spelling it out for, ya. You know what I mean?

Your thoughts on this? 


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