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March 6, 2014

Christ Is My Strength


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Back when I was a new believer in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, and had surrendered my life and soul to him, I was extremely excited to begin a study of THE BIBLE.

Growing up and being "churched" by a group of well-meaning but ignorant people, I considered THE BIBLE to be a book of mystery. Full of strange language (the language of the King James Version is so difficult to comprehend), stories of the supernatural (who actually believes that three men were saved from a fiery furnace, or that the Red Sea parted at Moses command?!), promises that the world will end and some sort of judgement will occur, my white leather-bound copy of this book sat on a bookshelf in my bedroom alongside my Girl Scout Handbook, brought out for special occasions only. Such as carrying into Sunday School to look "cool".

However, after I had my own supernatural encounter with the Holy Spirit in which my heart was changed for good and I began to understand the grace and mercy of God the Father, and the extent to which He had gone to save my sinful soul, I became hungry to learn more about the work of the trinity. And THE BIBLE was going to be my authority.

It took a few years, but God led me to a church I would call "home". Biblically solid, led by pastors who hold to a sola scriptura foundation under a reformed theology, taught by Godly men and women, I began to walk a road of sanctification that included intensive study of the bible.

I first learned that there are different "versions" of scripture being published. What a dizzying array of choices out there! My first major bible purchase was a New International Version. Goodness, what a difference it made in my understanding of the inspired work of God! Today, I own a few different versions of the bible, however my "go to" bible is one in the English Standard Version.

At my new home church I was able to sit under the teaching of a couple of ladies who shared scripture in a group setting. Their depth of knowledge of scripture was so amazing to me. I was being fed knowledge from God's own word! Oh, I was so hungry and eager to feast at that table!

Joining me in those meetings were other ladies who felt the same as I did in regards to bible study. I found fellowship with other believers to be so sweet.

One evening, another gal and I sat and chatted after our study time had ended, and she asked me if I had a life verse.

Well, no I didn't. What was a life verse?

She explained.

And soon after that evening I opened my bible and re-read portions of scripture to which I had been exposed. For my life verse I chose Philippians 4:13. I wish I could remember what drew me to that particular verse. But I do not. I did pen the reference inside the cover of that NIV bible, so I could remember it.

Perhaps I simply felt very weak in those early years, mature in chronological years but just an infant in my Christian walk. Reflecting upon this verse taught me that I was going to be prompted by God to act in His service in ways that I never would have even considered before. After all, I wasn't qualified enough to do much, for goodness sake. And the commands came.

Such as putting together songs for worship during a ladies' retreat. What did I know about doing that? Phil. 4:13.

Or singing solo for God's glory and to edify the body of Christ. I'm not a good enough singer for that!! I get too nervous!! Phil. 4:13.

Or going to Zambia and ministering to the people there. What have I to offer those people halfway around the globe? Phil 4:13.

And now my life's journey has led me here, to the blogging world. I would not ever have thought I would own a blog, that others would actually take an interest in it, and that it would be used to edify the body. 

I am so thankful that I don't have to rely on my own strength in order to be in God's will. The Holy Spirit prompts, I respond, and God is glorified. All in Jesus' strength, because I have none of my own on which I can rely.

Which brings me back to this first life verse of mine, chosen sort of randomly, and begs the question: When is God ever random? Never. God is always intentional, and my trust is in Him.

By the way, I changed my life verse about five years ago to Jeremiah 29:11.

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Why? 

Because God is NOT random.

And the truth of the sovereignty of God has become a very important reality to me after living these past 17 years as a follower of Christ. My life is evolving still as the Holy Spirit continues to work in my heart, molding me into a closer image of Christ himself. 

God plans, the Holy Spirit prompts, I act. It's a simple formula.

Praise Him!

March 2, 2014

Boundaries For My Heart

I have a very rebellious heart.


In my youth, I rebelled against my parents, authority figures, any person or structure that tried to restrain my wild nature.  I was a child of the 70's, immersed in the sexual revolution, drug culture, in the abandonment of self control.

You can probably guess how that all turned out. Not well, let us say.

Now that I have the wisdom of 4 more decades behind me, and now that I have fallen in love with my Savior, I find that I cherish boundaries.



I find myself unsettled without defined boundaries.

The control that felt so constraining in my youth feels secure and comforting.

Is it because these "new" boundaries are self-set?


I am learning to add boundaries in two areas of my life that I hadn't considered before, around food choices and activity choices.
                                   


It is a choice I can make daily, hour-by-hour, moment-by-moment, all choices to glorify God through my decisions and choices.


I rebelled as a young girl and young woman against external bounds.

 But self-set boundaries are incredibly freeing.

    And I find this to be a very restful place in which to live.

February 27, 2014

#Courage in the Face of Temptation

"But Lord, how can I possibly resist this chocolate fountain right in front of me? The aroma of the melted chocolate is making me swoon with the desire for just one little taste!"
chocofountainco.bravesites.com
That will be me tomorrow evening. The ladies' ministry at my home church is hosting over 150 women at a mini-retreat tomorrow and into Saturday. Directly following the teaching portion of the evening tomorrow night, ladies will gather together for refreshments and a "Thrift Store Fashion Show".

Who in the world thought it will be a good idea to have two chocolate fountains, surrounded by mounds of fruits, cookies, and marshmallows available for dipping?! And I am a lady who is a chocolate-lover, make no mistake about that! 

God has seen that I need 1Corinthians 10:12-13 today!! I have been repeating those verses over and over today, to strengthen me and give me the #courage to say "NO!" to the chocolate fountains.

In 1Corinthians 10:1-11, Paul has just finished relating to his readers several examples of how the Jews (he refers to them as "our fathers" in 1Cor. 10:1) had succumbed to the temptation to turn away from God during a time of crisis. With that background setting the scene, Paul is now ready to instruct those he considers "brothers", fellow Christians, on how they are to react to temptation. Here is the wisdom of Paul in 1Corinthians 10:12-13:
http://scripturebypicture.com

12 Therefore vlet anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. wGod is faithful, and xhe will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (ESV)

Therefore - Since you know these things I've told you about, now listen to this which I am going to say next.
anyone who thinks - using their own knowledge; believes; understands
stands - any person up on their own feet
take heed - look out!
lest he fall. - they may unknowingly be ready to fall down
temptation - trial, being put to the test
overtaken - been put upon a person
common to man - an experience that is the same for every person on earth 
God is faithful - is full of faith, is trustful
tempted beyond your ability - past the point of resistance
he will also provide - God sees a need and gives what is needed
way of escape - an avenue by which to flee the temptation
may be able to endure it - the ability to stand fast in the face of temptation 
http://dvolente.tumblr.com

I am so curious to discover what means of escape God will be providing for me. I will have the #courage to say "NO"!

Praise Him!!


February 19, 2014

A Beneficial Bronchitis

    Last weekend, I was scheduled to serve on our church's worship team for both of our Sunday services. Anyone who knows me knows how I have a deep desire to sing for God, and that being asked to serve on our team gives me so much pleasure and satisfaction.

   So when woke up the Friday before feeling a little bit "punky" I was not confident that I would be healthy enough to sing on Sunday.
Credit: Getty Images
   My fear came true. I wasn't able to sing on Sunday. Or Monday, Or Tuesday, Or even today, which is Wednesday.

   It's doubtful that I'll be getting my singing voice back by the coming weekend.

   Last Sunday, I felt disappointed, but not discouraged. Not angry. Not frustrated.

   At about the same time I would have been on the platform in church, singing glory to God, I wrote these words of reply to a sweet friend's message of encouragement and concern about my absence from worship on Sunday morning due to illness:

          "The Lord is my rock! And He is blessing me right now with this illness, and I thank Him for it. (For whatever reason - giving Him all the glory!)"

   I wondered at the time what possessed me to call this illness - which has worsened since Sunday into bronchitis - a "blessing". It truly was reflexive action!

   This morning, I do. My mind was directed to 2 Corinthians 4:7-11.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

http://jesus-hereiamsendme.tumblr.com
   My sense is that I am "processing" my experience in the Made to Crave study which I have been writing about here since January 15, 2014. God is at work changing my heart. As a result, my mind and emotions are being changed as well.

   I haven't been made angry or frustrated by this situation. Because there is a reason for everything.

   And isn't God like that, to give us a blessing when we least expect it, for our benefit? Even a blessing like getting bronchitis.

   One time I was blessed financially, which allowed me to finish my Master's degree without needing to take out a loan. I was trusting God to help me pay for my courses. God came through in an unexpected way.

   Another time the blessing came from passing an audition that eventually took me to the stage of Carnegie Hall. That evening I had paused at the door to the audition room and placed my attempt into God's hands for God's decision. To my mind, I "blew" my audition. God thought differently.

   This week God is slowing me down and changing my plans.

   It is a concrete reminder that when God wishes something from me, He will give me what I need. 

   I initially joined the Made to Crave study to improve my overall health. No, I don't believe having this infection is an indication that replacing my cravings for food with a craving for God is detrimental to my health! That conclusion would be totally erroneous.

      The reflex of calling the fact that I was too ill on Sunday to attend worship services a blessing from God is proof that my heart is indeed being changed because I am intentionally making decisions by first asking myself "Will this choice bring glory to God?" and giving a truthful answer.

   It's a process, this walk of faith that is slowly, step-by-step, changing me into the image of Jesus.

   If the blessing from this illness turns out to be that you who are reading this right now are encouraged in your own walk towards the perfection of Christ, then I am more than content to be sick this week - I am THRILLED, and giving all the glory to God!! 


February 14, 2014

My Valentine!

Happy Valentine's Day to my wonderful husband Larry, who supports me, encourages me, and loves me unquestionably.




Here are some of the many faces of Larry.




















Funny, talented, loving, generous, tender, and MINE!
Happy Valentine's Day, honey!
I'll love you forever, too.