Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

May you and your loved ones have a Merry Christmas! I pray you have a wonderful new year full of hope, love, and many blessings.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My Slow Awakening

I want to continue a bit with the "awakening" thoughts. It's no secret that I battle with food issues, as in I love food - all kinds of food. Crispy, crunchy, gooey, creamy - I like a lot of it. But recently, some points have been brought to my attention.

Point #1: I know that unhealthy eating and lack of exercise can lead to numerous diseases and even death. I wrestle with that thought everyday. The point the Lord made to me was this - My life was bought at a price. It is worth more than the greasy slice of pizza I ate for lunch.

Point #2: At this moment, food controls me. It was hard to type that last line, but it's true. If I'm given a choice between a piece of fruit or candy, I will pick the candy. Now that I admit this I realize how ridiculous it is to have an inanimate object control me. It can't control me, but somehow I have given it power.

Point #3: The LORD has supplied me with the knowledge regarding health. Basically, I believe, any food He has created is good for me. That includes fruits, veggies, grass-fed meats, and multi-grains, all as minimally processed as possible. Now it's my choice - am I going to be wise or foolish?

Point #4: Part of my responsibility in taking care of my family is to make sure they are fed healthy meals so that they can do what they need to do everyday.

Maybe there is something in your life that is holding you hostage. I want you to know there is freedom in Christ. It may not happen overnight - it could be His plan for you to experience this journey with Him, but it will happen when you surrender completely to Jesus. I believe that's the case for me.

Let me finish with an encouraging verse: Galatians 5:1 says "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (NIV)

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Ephesians 5:13-15 "But everything exposed by the light becomes visible - and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said 'Wake up Sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.' 15 Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise." (NIV)

Lately I've been re-thinking how I live my life - what virtues I possess and what character traits I want to instill in my children. I think the Lord is using homeschooling to open my eyes even more to His will and purpose for life (homeschooling - apparently it's not just for kids).

I will admit though, it is a struggle at times to choose to do what is right instead of what I want to do. Though, ultimately, I want to be obedient to His call, I also fight against my flesh. Okay, at this point fight may be too strong of a word. It's more like the flesh calls, I say "well..." and then run right to it; whether if it's eating that bowl of ice cream or choosing to sleep in instead of praying. Life is about choices.I will admit, I tend to make some unwise choices. At times, it's as if I'm on auto-pilot because I've made the same unwise choices so many times. But, now the Lord is opening my eyes to this very dilemma. I like the phrasing of verse 14 "Wake up Sleeper." I feel that's what I've been doing - sleeping through part of this life.

I don't want my children to have to learn the lessons of life the hard way - if possible. I mean, for example, I would prefer they learn to live a healthy, active life while they are young, so that it becomes second nature. Not when they are 50 pounds overweight and HAVE to do it because of a health crisis. I want my children to care for others and realize this world does not center around them while they are young as opposed to becoming an adult and throwing a tantrum when they don't get their own way. I am realizing more than ever that I cannot just teach these virtues, character, and lifestyle traits, but I have to model them as well. But the question becomes "How am I going to model these traits?" Am I going to continue making unwise choices and have my children learn from my poor example or am I finally going to look towards the light of Christ and choose what is right? Further down in Ephesians 5:17, Paul writes "Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is." Actually, I like the Amplified version better: "Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is."

Finally, Proverbs 9:10 says "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom..." I'm beginning to understand that some choices cannot be made while half asleep. I must ask myself "Is this what the Lord wants me to do? Is this the best use of the time He has given me?" It is time to stop sleepwalking.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Knowing God

"The people who know their God shall be strong and do great things." Daniel 11:32b (TLB)

This is the verse referenced on my artsy, scripture calendar for October. It is a simple, matter-of-fact statement, but at the same time it's powerful. After reading the context of the verse, it holds even more power and yes, conviction.

At first, I believed this verse to mean that if I have faith in the Lord then I can be strong and do great things. While this may be true, this is not the context of the verse. At the time, this was written as a prophecy regarding the future of Israel. It spoke of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and his attack on Jerusalem. When he attacked, he desecrated the temple by sacrificing pigs on an altar he built for Zeus inside the temple. Here is verse 32 (the entire verse): "He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God will stand firm and take action." (ESV) Antiochus was able to flatter some people away from the covenant, but the ones who truly loved God and knew God, chose to stand firm in their beliefs and convictions while others took action (the Maccabees).

These people were choosing death instead of desecrating their bodies or abandoning their beliefs because they knew God. They understood his Holiness and how He set them apart. They would rather die than eat unclean pork (at least in one example I read) because they knew this would separate them from the Lord.

Well, once I understood the verse, I wondered how many times have I not stood firm against the enemy? How many times have I chosen to abuse His temple for my selfish wants? How many times have I been seduced by flattery ("Go ahead, you've earned it...")?

Once again, the point has been made - my relationship with the Lord requires and deserves a deeper understanding of Him, which only He can reveal to me. As James 4:8 says "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you..." (ESV)

Monday, September 26, 2011

What's in a Name?

One of my favorite songs lately has been Natalie Grant's "Your Great Name." It speaks to the power of the name of Jesus Christ. But what power does His name hold?

We are first introduced to the name of Jesus in Matthew 1:21, with an angel telling Joseph to name the baby Mary is carrying Jesus "because He will save the people from their sins." Jesus means "the LORD saves."

From that moment forward, He is then known as a teacher, a healer, a friend, one who calms the storm, one who casts out demons, raises the dead, feeds 5000 hungry people with five loaves of bread and two fish, one who offers rest, God's chosen Servant, the Son of God, the Son of Man, The Lamb of God. He is known as Immanuel (which means "God with us"), Counselor, the Prince of Peace, Almighty, powerful, Holy One, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, the Lion of Judah - just to name a few.

So much power behind a name, yet some take the name in vain, giving no second thought as to what it means. Some in society even use it more as a "curse" word, when something goes wrong. I wonder, if they realized the power behind the name, would they still use it in vain? I mean, even the demons flee and shudder at the sound of Jesus' name. Jesus was with God in the beginning. He humbled Himself and then died for our sins. On the third day, he was resurrected and now sits at the right hand of God, preparing a place for us.

When I sit and meditate upon the names and descriptions of Jesus, I get goosebumps. His name means so much more than I can ever comprehend in this lifetime. Of course, I do have one name for Jesus that I  do comprehend - Savior. That is one I cherish and am most grateful for.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Is it Faith or Religion?

Isaiah 29:13 - "The Lord says: These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men." (NIV)

Confession time: I've found bits of this verse springing forth in my mind during praise and worship at church because I've been lacking focus. Here's an example of my thought process: "Oh, I like this song! I like the original version better. Hmm, the drums are awfully loud. How many times are we going to repeat the chorus? " Nothing in there about how wonderful God is or how beautiful, holy, forgiving and merciful He is. What's worse, I'll catch myself wandering and try to focus, only to be distracted by my intent to focus. That's when I give up and pray for mercy.

Though my example does not indicate the authenticity of my relationship with the Lord, I do believe this verse addresses a lack of authentic faith - where one claims to be a Christian because s/he shows up and sings the songs and follows the rules, but does not have a meaningful, personal relationship with the Lord.

The Lord desires more than lip service and rule-following from us. He desires a true, authentic relationship with us. If He didn't want that relationship, then He wouldn't have sent His Son to die for our sins. Though only the Lord knows a person's heart, we can at least have insight into our own hearts. Am I following the Lord because my parents did or because I "grew up" in the faith? Or do I follow the Lord because I desire to follow His ways and long for a relationship with Him? When I sing the praise and worship songs in church, am I wanting to bring praise or am I just going with the flow of the service (apparently I'm struggling with this one lately, though I am aware of it now)?

Do I want to follow rules for the sake of following traditon or do I follow the Lord and His ways in service to Him? My prayer is that my walk with the Lord is an authentic faith, not a religion built on man's traditions and lovely, shallow words.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Break

I guess it's a bit obvious that I am taking a summer break. I've been wanting to write, but a few things popped up, taking my time in a different direction. I do plan on returning though September 6th, so please come back then and check out the blog.

Have a wonderful summer!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Living by the Spirit?

I recently read Francis Chan's book Forgotten God, which addresses how the church seems to downplay (for lack of a better word) the role of the Holy Spirit. Like his previous book, Crazy Love, this book has me thinking and re-thinking aspects of my faith.

For example, when others look at me, do they see something different about me or do I blend in with the rest of the world? Do I allow the Spirit to do His work or do I insist upon my own way? Am I really living by the Spirit when I don't show love, am impatient, or lack self-control?

I am not doubting my faith, but I am wondering about my daily commitment to it. When I love the Lord with every bit of my being, then His Spirit flourishes. But when I take my focus off of Him and place it on me, then I am quenching the Holy Spirit.

I fully understand Paul's dilemma in Romans 7. Verses 21-23 reads: "So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law, 23 but I see another law at work in the member of my body waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members." (NIV) And that's what it feels like - a war.

This is what I've learned so far in order to wage this war. Pray daily or even hourly for focus on the Lord. Submit to the Lord and His ways. Finally, remember the Holy Spirit is my Helper (and your's too) - not to help me achieve my plans, but to help me accomplish the Lord's.

Friday, May 20, 2011

So, the Rapture Didn't Happen...Yet

1 Thessalonians 5:1 - 2: "Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night..."(NIV)

I am beyond frustrated with groups who claim to know the day and hour of Jesus' return. Jesus himself said "But about that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matthew 24:36, NIV) I believe Jesus is coming back - I just don't know when. It could be today, tomorrow, or 500 years from now.

Earlier this evening I read an article about the man who predicted the "doomsday" this past weekend. He is now stating he was about five months off and it will occur in October.

Please do not be deceived by false prophets. If someone says they have a word from the Lord or they have solved some theological mystery, then listen to it and test it. First John 4:1 says "My dear friends, don't believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world." (The Message)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Me, a Hypocrite?

One of the harder parts of being a parent is constantly setting an example for my children to follow. I find the things I'm constantly asking my children to do are areas I have difficulty in myself. Let me give you an example - cleaning. One day my husband told my oldest to clean her room. When he went to check the room, he walked to her closet. She panicked and said "You didn't say I had to clean my closet!" It turns out she threw her belongings onto the closet floor. Any guesses as to who taught her that little trick?

Cleaning is just one example. I'm more concerned with those areas that truly matter in the end, like loving others, showing mercy, and practicing discipline. I'll admit, I have a bit of guilt with this because I feel like a hypocrite. How can I tell my kids to do something when I can't even do it correctly? It's easy to say "Do as I say, not as I do," but isn't that just an excuse used to justify my actions?

Thankfully, our Heavenly Father is not a hypocrite. He sent His Son to show us how to live. Not tell us, but show us. He said to love our enemies and then He prayed for the people crucifying Him. He said to love the Lord your God with everything we have. He did by praying to His Father everyday and obeying Him by completing His work on earth. He said no greater love existed than for one to die for his friends. He died for us so that we may be saved. Whatever Jesus preached, He did.

The good news is there is no condemnation for those in Christ (Romans 8:1). It doesn't mean I can keep living this way, but it does offer me grace and another chance to live by the Spirit.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Encouragement for Difficult Times

I recently started reading the information listed in my "Stats" tab on my blogger dashboard. One of the functions of this tab allows me to see what keywords people use in search engines, which in turn leads them to my blog. One of the phrases had to do with Bible verses for difficult times. I didn't think much about it at the time, but with everything going on in the world and in everyday life, I thought maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to list a few verses for encouragement.

Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

Psalm 10:17-18 "You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, 18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed..."

Romans 5:3-5 "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

Romans 8:31 "What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?"

Romans 15:4 "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

Philippians 2:1-4 "If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen your in every good deed and word."

1 John 4:18-19 "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. 19 We love because He first loved us."

While going through a difficult time many years ago, I clung to Romans 5:3-5. God used these verses to give me hope during a time of great loss. Not just hope that I would see my friends again, but more importantly, hope, knowing God had a plan and that He would take these tragedies and turn them for His glory.

I hope you find encouragement in these verses. I would love to hear what verses you use for encouragement.

* All Bible verses listed are from the Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, (NIV).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Word Study: Will it Survive the Fire?

1 Corinthians 3:12 - 15: "If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." (NIV)

To begin with, the foundation referenced in verse 12 is the foundation of Christ (verses 10 and 11). Paul then explains there are two groups of people - those who build using gold, silver, and costly stones and those who build with wood, hay, and straw. Our works add to the foundation of Christ. Those who use gold, silver, and costly stones are the ones staying true to the Word of God. They live for the Lord, do what He wants them to do, love Him with every bit of their being. Their works will survive the fire and they will receive their reward.

The other group, though building on the foundation of Christ, have departed in some sort of way. Maybe their teaching is flawed or their time and gifts wasted. Their works will be destroyed by the fire. They themselves will be saved (because they are building on the foundation of Christ), but their works will not.

One day, all of our works will be put to the test. Will my work survive the fire or am I only adding to it? I pray I'm building with gold, silver, and costly stones, but I know I have some wood, hay, and straw in there. I look back and think about all the time I've wasted not doing what He wants me to do. I've watched tv, surfed the Internet, napped and so on. Don't get me wrong - there are times when we should rest. But the question then becomes am I resting because I'm tired or because I'm bored? Am I obeying the Lord or doing what I want?

I also wonder though if it's more than just doing the works? Verse 13 reads "...and the fire will test the quality of each man's work..." Does "quality" refer to our motives behind our actions? In Matthew Henry's Commentary, he writes "There is a day coming...that will show us our actions in the true light, without covering or disguise." If I do a good deed, but do it for selfish gain, then is it counted as gold or wood? I feel it would be counted as wood, since I was doing it for myself and not for the Lord. I didn't do it for the eternal good, but only for my temporary gain.

In the end, God is the final judge. This verse has me re-thinking some of the things I do though. My prayer is that whatever I do, I do for Him - out of love.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Word Study: I'm Living Like What?!?

Matthew 23:23 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices - mint, dill, cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy, and faithfulness..."

I'll just admit it now - I'm guilty of neglecting the more important matters of justice, mercy, and faithfulness.

Last Sunday, my pastor started a series on Jesus. This particular day he spoke of Jesus, the Friend. He used the passage about Zacchaeus (Luke 19) to highlight three types of people: those who are curious and need a clearer view of Jesus, those who show mercy, grace, and compassion like Jesus, and those who hide and distort the true view of Christ. The more he described the group hiding the view of Christ - the religious people - the more uncomfortable I became. Not just because I felt he was talking to me, but because I had the same conviction a few weeks ago.

This past year, I felt I had been going through the motions of my faith. Say prayers with the kids, bless the food, have Bible study with the kids, and so on. Matthew 15:8 says "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me..." I could easily blame it on the move, or the kids starting school, or my husband almost losing his job. But, those elements are all part of life. And even when we are going through tough times, stressful times, or even joyous times, we are to love the Lord with everything we have. If I saved my worship, and focus, and faithfulness to the Lord for the not-so-bumpy times in life, then chances are they wouldn't happen.

So, if I was going through the motions, then how was I hiding the view of Christ? When I go through the motions I lack grace at times. I get grumpy, impatient, selfish. The character of Christ is hidden.

Thankfully though, God doesn't just go through the motions. He is faithful to me (and you!) despite how I act. His Grace is pure. His Love is unconditional. His Mercies are new everyday. And through His grace, love, and mercy, I pray I become more like a Jesus person - allowing His way to shine through while I step out of the way.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Trusting Him Instead of Freaking Out

I am a worrier. This is one of many issues the Lord is changing in me.

There are a lot of things to worry about, but I'm learning that if I freak out about everything then I become overwhelmed. In Matthew 6:27, Jesus says "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" I believe worrying takes away from the life the Lord wants me to live. It takes my focus off of Him and places it on material things I have no control over.

I recently read Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Excellent book. In one of the chapters, he writes that when we worry, then we are not trusting God. That hit a nerve. Then I recalled part of a verse (I believe it had more to do with the Holy Spirit bringing it to memory) "...perfect love drives out fear," (1 John 4:18). Finally, a couple of weeks ago, we had a special speaker give the sermon at church. His topic: fear and trusting God. Okay, Lord, I hear You.

I am learning ways of dealing with fear and worry when they appear. I quote scripture to remind myself God is in control, He loves us, and everything works for the glory of the Lord. I also pray more. I pray to surrender my concerns, and I pray for the situation.

I'm not perfect. I still have my moments of worry, but I'm getting better at surrendering those concerns. I'm finding it is better to use my energy to pray instead of freaking out. Prayer is much more effective. And I am seeing results. I feel peaceful, confident, and hopeful. Isn't that how we are supposed to be anyway? Isn't that what the world is supposed to see in us, as Christians? If I'm running around in a chaotic state, then how can the world see His light? What are your thoughts?

Monday, March 14, 2011


To begin with, let me apologize for not posting anything the last six months or so. I started to write a lengthy explanation as to why I haven't been writing or posting anything, but it sounded too much like a lame excuse. Let's just say it involved rebellion, guilt, and finally obedience.

At one point I questioned whether or not I should write anything. I allowed myself to become empty - living my way (which was pretty much in front of the tv after the kids went to bed) and not the Lord's. No church, no regular Bible study, and only a few prayers (when someone needed it).

Next, I felt guilty. I felt like I abandoned you, my reader. Thank you to those of you who stayed.

Finally, after much thought, prayer, repentance and surrender, I feel this is what He wants me to do. Though at times I question whether or not I should write, He has placed this blog on my heart.

In future posts I want to share what the Lord has been doing in my life. Please know that when I write, I do so with the intent to share with you, not as an expert, but as one living the journey. I am not a theologian.

One final note: Thank you Brian, Melyssa, and Denise for your encouraging words. The Lord used them as confirmation.