Tag Archives: Christ

A Christmas Greeting…

It’s Christmas time!  Everywhere you go people are rooting around for gift giving, holiday baking and party planning.  I really feel like something is wrong with me this year. My melancholic other side has really kicked in. Normally I am the sanguine, dress me in red and send me off all smiles and laughter…but now it’s different.  Oh, I don’t think I am depressed, just rather reflective.  I’ve been peering hard into the nativity, listening to the various teaching programs present the story of Christ’s birth and well, really soaking it in.  Can it really be that after 28 years as  a believer that it has suddenly hit me…that the baby born in a manger…God’s only son…came to die for me and I am just getting it, I mean really getting it?  No, I know these things, however it is remarkably different as I just seem to be looking beyond the surface, pondering the very stark reality of this event that we make fuss over year after year. 

It has been so good for me to see just how very teeny tiny I am in light of who He is.  I am barely capable of even trying to comprehend this God that I am somehow deeply in love with.  Itsy, bitsy me knows that the Maker of heaven and earth loves me, desires my affections, and continually walks with me to bring Kimberly His very best, every day.  Not only that, the King of the universe, the One who hung the stars in the sky even sings over Kimberly when she is sleeping.  I can barely contain myself when I think of that!

The very understanding of these verses in John are so remarkable as they reveal Christ Jesus to us from the first five verses in the book of  John:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of Men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” 

These verses are proof that the Majesty came to invade our world of darkness so that we would no longer be in darkness.  He came to provide  life where there was only death!

When we read the Christmas story and get to the part of shepherds witnessing the revelation of the birth of Jesus in Luke 2, I am in awe!   

“In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” 

I listened as the Bible teacher from a program we carry on the radio talked about the fact that these shepherds who received this revelation were really the lower class of society in that day.  Dirty, stinky, sweaty and probably pretty course in their language, yet God made them privy to the realization of a story told hundreds of years before.  They were some of the first to witness this baby born in a disgusting cave filled with animal refuse  and dirt.  How can it be?  And how can it be that God has allowed one like me or even you, to come to know Himself as Trinity?  This amazing event gave us the reality of the Creator Himself!  If that doesn’t humble you just a bit then pinch yourself to make sure  you are really here! 

My past has been an ugly stumbling block to receiving God’s amazing grace.  It has held me captive with unbelief that God could love me because of _________ (go ahead and fill in the blank if you can identify.)  Maybe this Christmas is a year where after almost 29 years of having known “Christ as my savior”, that I  am able to freely receive what was given to me over 2000 years ago.  Not because of something I have done, but because I now realize that my Creator invaded my messy life and pierced my heart with His love.  Like the unlikely shepherds who were given the revelation of Jesus birth, I too am the unlikely to receive this gift of love. 

It could be that you have gone through the motions year after year like I did without really internalizing the actuality of God becoming flesh, to dwell among us, then to die so that we might live.  It is simple yet complex and as one song puts it “what a strange way to save the world”!  I have looked at myself as the most unlikely and accepted His love which completely invaded my messy life and this has given me hope for my tomorrows!  Peer deeply into the manger scene and ask God to give you His perception of what this “Christmas celebration” is really all about.  Then like me you can truly rejoice in the Savior that has come.  May His Christmas blessing be yours! 

“Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” 

Abiding in Him

I have this little piece of wall art that hangs on my wall and it says ‘Abide in Him’.  Using wall art that include words or Scripture speak loudly of my convictions and beliefs.  But the word abide (in itself) is such a descriptive of the Spirit-filled life that I desire to live, yet struggle to attain.  

I was plowing through a book by Francis Chan, called “Forgotten God”, and in his convicting fashion I was challenged by one of my favorite chapters in the book of John, chapter 15.  Chan issues a challenge by asking a profound question, is my life too loud, to which I could readily say “yes it is!”.  Then Francis proceeds to encourage us to put down his book and pick up the Book and read a few chapters in the book of John.  Right to some of my favorites in John, chapters 14, 15 and 16.  

The verb “abide”, according to Merriam-Webster means to wait, endure without yielding, to bear patiently.  It also means to remain stable or in a fixed state and to continue in a place.  In John 15 where the picture of the ‘vine’ is used to describe our life in Christ–we being the branch, Christ being the vine and then the Father addressed as the vinedresser–John uses the word “abide” ten times: 

John 15:4-11 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

Do you think maybe there is a point to be made here? There are ten references to the word abide in the verses above that are being used to drive home some profound points:

The imperative to remain in Christ;

We aren’t fruitful if we don’t;

If we refuse to abide in Christ we can be thrown away for we aren’t fruitful;

There is an invitation to remain in Christ’s love;

By walking in obedience we partake in His love.

So when I am restless, when I am struggling through (with my own resources) and forgetting that apart from Him I can really do nothing, instead of being frustrated with myself I really need to stop and remember that I am a partaker with Christ.  I really sell myself short and settle for less than His best by “trying” or “trying to do it myself”.  I am sure my Father is thinking “Oh foolish girl”, as I expend efforts that amount to little when in Him I can accomplish great things or at least what He desires and that spells success!  

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I don’t believe if you are a driven person that there is necessarily an easy way to submit your efforts for His peace that only comes from abiding in Him!  God desires that we would “remain stable or in a fixed state” by abiding in Him walking in the Spirit-filled life.  But from one who has been there…stop striving, try it and see.  Then you can appreciate these words from the Psalmist, Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:8 (ESV) Abiding in Him is where we fulfill the Spirit-filled life that God desires we live out for Him and His glory!

Father, I remember that this battle to ‘do’ in my own efforts is a winnable battle when I walk with you! I will make the choice today to let You lead via Your Spirit which is living in me! The rest that comes from giving You the reins of my life is well worth the concerted effort it takes to hand them over. So thank You Father for the gift of Your Holy Spirit who allows me to quit my striving by abiding in You!

 

 

God So Loved…

candle-64179_640This is the season of lights. If you are Jewish, you celebrate Hanukkah — or Festival of Lights — originally a celebration of the rededication of the temple at Jerusalem after it was defiled by the Greeks. Hanukkah also celebrates the miracle of the lamp, which provided light for eight days despite a lack of oil.

During this time of Advent we use candles in the four weeks leading up to Christmas expressing our anticipation as we await the coming of the Christ child.

We use light at this time of the year with candles and electric lights. The lights represent the Christ, who through His death, burial and Resurrection brought light to earth.

1 Peter 2:9-10 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light, for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God, you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (emphasis added)

The Message paraphrase reads: “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you — from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when He arrives.”

God so loved the world. … When God came in the flesh—Jesus–He made us to be bearers of His light. This is an incredible show of God’s extravagant love for us. Whether it is working in Christian radio, bringing the Good News through word and song, women who mentor others as they lead and show the way, or simply being available to bring the Light of Christ to those around us, this world desperately needs Jesus!

Matthew 5:13-16 says, “We have an obligation or mandate to be light bearers! You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.”

God so loved the world. …Every single day you rub elbows with someone who needs a touch of the light in their world. Your responsibility as a child of God is to project His light into the darkness:

  • When things are difficult, why are you able to stand firm in your convictions?
  • When your marriage is failing, why are you able to forgive the wrong and love that spouse in spite of what might have happened?
  • When someone has hurt you terribly, how is it that you are able to forgive and love them?

I will remind you as I do myself often, this journey we are on is not about us. As believers in Jesus, our purpose is to serve the Lord and bring or have an impact on bringing others to Christ. Ah, you thought there was something in it for you? Well, yes, you are being used to help build God’s Kingdom, not your own.

God so loved you so that you would shine brightly and be used to bring others to the light. So my friend, this is no time to shrink back…shine!

(reprinted from an article in Living Stones News)

Holiday Madness!

Photo from the Daily Page - Madison, WI
Photo from the Daily Page – Madison, WI

It is Christmas time and for most of us the season begins around Thanksgiving.  We typically shift gears right after the turkey dinner into Christmas.  Of course if you are a television person you may have the tradition of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  (A tradition since I was a young girl.)  I was nine when I moved to New York City and on my first Thanksgiving there I was treated to getting to see it in person!  That was exciting and chilly as I stood there watching, feeling quite small as I tried to see the floats go by.  So I have sometimes had that on in the morning background while cooking in the kitchen and specifically when my grandsons are home.  It truly jump-starts our holiday celebrations and can make me feel like decorating!

I can remember the days of late night baking, making and decorating that although nice to have, thoroughly exhausted me by the time Christmas actually came. I wasn’t really pondering the nativity scene. And with all that baking, no wonder I would put on several pounds throughout the end of November and month of December! No surprise that when the day came I was cranky and lacking energy from all the late nights, poor diet and no exercise. This makes me tired just thinking about it! Then the new year comes and we have to make all those resolutions that end up getting tossed aside after a few weeks or a month if we are really diligent.

Snowflake DividerSo how can we be kind to ourselves and those we love without over-taxing, over-spending and over-indulging ourselves? It is hard and I will be the first to admit that my will power is weak and wimpy this time of year! I guess one could shop and bake throughout the months leading up to Christmas but that typically doesn’t happen! So as I have been thinking about this I have some thoughts to share.

Over-taxing ourselves can lead to physical fatigue and then we succumb to sickness especially when we are around it. It is vital to keep the immune system boosted and fighting all those ickies that float around in the air and are on things we touch in public places! Sure we can carry our sanitizer with us but if we are taking care of ourselves then our immune system is able to do what God created it to do and ward off the ‘stuff’ that wants to invade our bodies.

Take care of yourself during this stress-filled time of year!  It seems that everything is heightened (the good and the negative) and we become emotionally drained.

  • Make sure to get lots of rest and try to eat healthy (sorry but that means to avoid sugar like the plague!)
  • Freely use your vitamin C (love that 1000 mg dose in an easily consumed package!  Stir into a little water and voila, it will go a long way throughout your day. (Just don’t take it too late in the evening or you won’t sleep!)
  • Stay hydrated.  Winter is always dry and most of our homes are more so in the closed winter months. Unless you live in the south!!! (I struggle with consuming water throughout the day but try.)
  • In the process of doing all you can do to stay healthy, visit my Zeal for Health page for information on supplements that take to keep me moving!

How is it that we know what is good for us but struggle to do it?  Sounds like the familiar words of Paul, “…for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate…” Even Saint Paul struggled to do the right thing. It is sometimes just a simple, ‘right now, I am going to make a conscious effort to do what is right’! You will be encouraged when you do. And we are reminded that we must take care of this temple God has given and that the Holy Spirit resides in, don’t neglect this!

Prince of PeaceWe all know that over-spending this time of year is typical. I don’t know about you but a gift-giving budget is just hard for me! One of my love languages is gifting so it is extra hard for me to reign in. However it helps to have a husband who is ultra conservative on matters like spending and so we are back and forth as I try to show him the “somewhere in the middle” range of spending:0) I have started to ask my kids and grandsons for a list. That way I can have a choice pricing-wisely and yet be able to gift them with something that they really would like to have. It is also nice if one can put funds aside throughout the year to use toward the gifting fund.

Gifting is a wonderful thing and we know that Jesus himself said in Acts 20:35 “that it is more blessed to give than to receive.” A few years back we decided that we would let our grandsons see giving done in the spirit of blessing those who don’t have. We looked through our Samaritan’s Purse catalog and let the boys choose a gift to give like a dozen ducks or chickens and we even purchased a goat to be given in their name another year. The whole gift thing should be focused on the fact that we give because God first gave to us His Son Jesus! We have certainly carried that to the extreme!

Snowflake DividerThen the over-indulging issue! This tends to be one of my worst sins. I have been completely defeated in this area for way too long! However I had my best year ever a couple of years ago and I am hoping to continue it this year. I confess my besetting sin, gluttony! Not a very nice word to admit to but I am going to call it what it is!

Author Dee Brestin, relates ‘gluttony’ to idol worship and I agree that we can let food replace our need for God in many instances. In the word it says in Psalm 34:8, “O taste and see that the Lord is good…”  I am determining to replacing my excessive food intake with precious time with the One I love. Not only does the consuming interrupt my Godward thinking but look at the prep time in cooking! It is time that a good portion could be given to my Father who waits for me to come and join Him in sweet fellowship! Not to mention Paul’s words again from 1 Corinthians 6:19,20 “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God and that you are not your own?”  He issues the call to “glorify God in your body.” Yikes, I guess for me it will only be a couple of ‘goodies’ and a nice meal or two when the family is home and keeping it as fresh as possible. It is difficult though, I love to cook and feed!  Now I can turn my “feeding” into spiritual food!

Mary Joseph & Baby Jesus
Now This is Peace! From Jesus of Nazareth

Be kind to yourself and those that have to put up with you. Be a joy to those around you and spend your quality time with your Father. You might even enjoy participating in an Advent reading throughout the weeks before Christmas morning. Then, celebrate Christ’s birth!

Celebrating Christmas the way it is meant to be celebrated will help us to be equipped to meet the needs of… Click To Tweet

Now that’s Christmas!

 

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So Much to be Thankful For!

Thanks Fam
From our family to yours!

 

As a child of the King, I am so grateful for new life in Christ! The Lord has saved me and I did not even realize I needed to be saved or rescued.  But, He restored me and is making me whole.  He looked down on this lost lamb and claimed me for His very own. 

I am thankful that I have a Father who has given me more than stuff, He has given me life which He promises in abundance! And on most days I feel full to overflowing with His love. 

I am most thankful to have free access to my Father and whenever there is a need He is there to help me.  He even lets me share Him with those who do not know who He is. 

“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, And the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”  Psalm 95:1-6

Not only has God given me life and in abundance but he has given me love and people to share that with, family, friends and even strangers who need to see God’s love in action. 

You see like King David said,

” I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”  Psalm 27:13,14 

I can be thankful for all kinds of stuff for I have so much but I am most thankful for the sacrifice of Christ which made a way for me to know God as my Father, Provider, Redeemer, Peace, Healer…stuff is temporal but this life in Christ is eternal! 

A Blessed Thanksgiving to You and Yours!

A New Kind of Normal at My House!

Mom & Elsa
Momma and her grandpup Elsa

Have you ever wondered and asked, “How in the world did I get from here to there?” Boy oh boy, I am shaking my head lately and asking God, “Huh, God, how in the world did you do that?”

Every day over these past few months I find myself amazed as I look around my home and the changes that have taken place and I am in awe! I suppose there is a part of me that has realized that life just ain’t what it used to be—not at all!—but also it is a new kind of comfortable. As I try to find the pattern for this new kind of normal in my home.

In July my sister brought my mom up for another ‘few month’s’ summer stay (or so mom was told.) My sister and I had been discussing that if she could stay up here for good it would be better for my sister and for my mom from the stand point that she would have more one on one time with her love ones. (My sister has a very pressing job that takes way too many of her hours!) While she was still here we looked at and discussed some options for where our mom could stay that would be financially feasible and the best fit for her and her minimal needs.

Fast forward to late August…mom was informed that she would be staying up here instead of returning to Orlando where she has lived for almost 18 years. We have asked her over the years when she stays in her ‘trailer’ for summer months to consider staying permanently to which she abruptly retorts ‘no way, too cold for me!’ You see this little five foot tall woman is barely 84 pounds! No body fat to help keep her warm. However…she is here and for her, this was a pretty rude awakening for her to “be told” that she would not be returning ‘home’.

Fast forward to October…my mom moves in with us!  And really, except for the cold, she is in a good place. Enough said.

This is a move that would never have taken place if not for a husband who has a soft spot for elderly mom! He was pretty close to his own mother who hasn’t been here for quite a few years now. So he was 100% on board with having her move in with us or believe me it wouldn’t have happened. We all know how the son-in-law, mother-in-law thing goes and the animosity that can build in those situations. No, not my guy who has been over the top kind and loving (well he can be a bit gruff at times but she knows how to read him) not to mention willing to adjust to accommodate her needs!

August end and September kept me very busy, trying to figure out where to put a room full of stuff so mom would have her own space. This and a few cupboards in the kitchen and pantry and drawers in the bathroom…oh my, what a chore! But…we have accommodated this dear woman as best as we can and she has now been in residence with us since October 10th.

For the most part I am over-the-top thrilled to have her here with us. My mom and I haven’t ever been this close (well maybe when I was a child, then it was just the two of us!) I am thrilled to be here for her, to ‘minister’ to her needs and have her see Christ in me, my hope of glory. And I want to make this adjustment for her as smooth as possible and it is going well. But there is also a part of me that looking back, forced me into an adjustment I might never have been ‘ready’ for. Caring for an elder person is time consuming. It is so not about me and my needs right now which means I find myself doing a lot of things quite differently. So in the process of laying me down to take up the needs of someone else has—let’s say—been very interesting!

Some of you know exactly what I am going through and some of you might say that you would never get in a situation like this. But as I talk to my Father about this big adjustment I have heard Him speak to my heart that this isn’t about Kimberly…this is to show Joan who I am. I have made the decision to lay down 80% of my ‘me’ time to take care of, minister to and just be there for this little woman of 83. She doesn’t know Jesus! One of the biggest confirmations that we were doing the right thing was one evening when she looked over at me and said, “You know, this really feels like family” and I had to hide my tears.

I may be doing things I haven’t done in years or never done before, like watching the “Voice” (a weekly TV program mom loves to watch), or rubbing her back with lotions and fixing a different kind of menu because of her own dietary needs. But I know that God has this all planned out. For such a time as this my calling is to be Jesus to my little momma.

Father, sometimes you call us to go to the ends of the earth to bring the Good News to those who don’t know You. And sometimes you call us to adjust our comfort level in our own home to bring the Good News to one who doesn’t know You. When we surrender our wants, desires and plans, you pour out grace where needed and help us to make the uncomfortable adjustments to accommodate all you are doing in the midst of a ‘new kind of normal. Help me to continue embracing the change and trust the outcome for Your glory and in Your Name!

Going ‘Round the Mountain

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Love Joy Peace Faith

Do you ever find yourself sick and tired of going around and around the mountain and making the same mistakes over and over again and again?  Wow, I sure do and I get so frustrated with myself when I do thinking ‘haven’t I gotten this lesson yet?’ Thankfully this has ignited my desire to draw closer to God.  I knew that God had something so much sweeter for my life but that I would have to jump some hurdles to get there. 

For me, it was a matter of learning to lay down my pride, and acknowledge that I could no longer rely on my own resources to keep from making the same mistakes over and over again.  Don’t you just hate it when you are in repeat mode?  You self-talk asking God to never let it happen again and then boom, repeat.  It is embarrassing to continually do, react or forge ahead and then realize that you have been on this pathway before!  For instance, my marriage was not going to improve unless I was willing to work on me.  My tendency to be judgmental and critical  of others was not going to stop until I realized that I had to make a very purposeful choice not to look at others comparing myself with them and criticize.  My ministry was not going to go forth until I was willing to be honest with my struggles and work on allowing the Lord to refine me in the furnace of His love, being content knowing that He would use me right where I was.  You see, God really wants us to flourish and grow and go forth in His name and for His purposes.  And finally that I would stay committed to relationships with Him, my husband, children, work and friends to the best of my abilities and most of the time.  Not in my strength but in His. 

Where God was and is concerned, I had to make a choice (and daily make that choice) to spend  time with Him first and foremost!  This is where I have learned the answers to the hard things involving all my relationships.  Learning to love my husband in a fresh way unlike I never had before.  Friends, it has changed our relationship!  I suppose realizing that I cannot control anybody but me is nothing really new but God made it fresh for me as I focused on what I could do to better our relationship instead of expecting and demanding that my husband needed to change.  I am only able to change me!!!  With my children it was similar in that I could not control their lives like I used to try to do to keep them from learning the hard way like I had to do. They have to learn their life lessons in the same way I have, through their own choices and mistakes. 

Work was merely a matter of being content where God had placed me.  I am not one who enjoys confrontation and a few years back we had a lot of confrontation going on and frankly I wanted out.  Not realizing that God was up to some big and exciting things that I could have very well missed out on.  So every interesting job posting that became available in town I would apply for.  But God certainly had something else in mind.  He has kept me at Psalm FM Radio to serve in the capacity of the office administration and on air for over 23 years. And I have now been part of a very exciting ministry including the “Vertical Connection”, my radio program.  For almost ten years I have hosted a two hour radio program to encourage listeners to draw near to the Father’s heart.  A side note of thanks to a former employee who saw something in me that I never dreamed I could do, and I thank Gene!  We just never know where God is going to take us and sometimes He takes us kicking and screaming while saying “I can’t do that!” 

These tests and trials that come through our relationships with others, whether they be Christian or not, really matter to God.  We are members of a body.  We are not all the same (thankfully) and we have so much to offer each other but more importantly people are the litmus test of getting this God-walk right!  I know we are all in process and we do not have it perfect this side of glory, but, how we treat each other is crucial from the stand point that the outside world looks at us in expectation that we know how to do it right.  I think the song says that “They will know we are Christians by our love…”  and we do know how to do it right.  But the question is will I choose to do it the way I have been instructed and shown from God Himself through Christ? Loving God and loving others? Or will I continue to circle around the mountain again and again never taking the next step upward? 

We can always justify our actions whether anger, jealousy, injustice or whatever other reason that is out there.  But as my dear friend and I were sharing recently, the bottom line is we are responsible for making the right choice.  By doing so we deny the flesh and by doing this we allow the flow of the healing balm of reconciliation to be applied to whatever the offense was that tore us apart. Our Father and Creator, is fully aware of our short comings and struggles.  And although we will continue to make wrong choices it is certain that we will make less wrong and many more correct as we purpose to serve and spend time allowing the Lord to change who we are into the image of His Son Jesus.

I know how hard it is, believe me, but for me I am now at a place where I have tasted the sweet rewards of my Father when I do it right and I would rather take that next step up the mountain than let my frustrations and disappointments continue to hold me back because of repeating the same mistake time and time again, keeping me at the baseline.  Henceforth, going round and round the mountain!

Ephesians 5:1,2

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Father, You know the sorrow that plagues me when I mess up.  I can only imagine the disappointment that You must feel when I have to take the same test over and over again.  I truly have set my sites on You and I really want to show others just how much You love them by the way I live my life and treat others.  To be Your representative I ask that You give me the courage to change me and I surrender my frustrations and all that I think is justified in exchange for Your grace and ask that You would help me to humbly wear and put on Your love for others…in Jesus’ Name.

Running the Race

Who’s to know if Paul was an athlete (unlikely?) or a wanna be or had he been an observer to the Roman Olympics? When you read the descriptions of this man we don’t really find our mind wandering to pictures of a buff, athletic form of a man. On the contrary, we read stuff like that he was a tent maker (Acts 18:3). So he sat and sewed tents and people who sit a lot…well you get my drift. No real physical prep going on there. He was raised at the feet of the famous Jewish teacher, Gamaliel which meant hours of pouring over the Pentateuch, learning all of the Scriptures. Paul was particularly known for his knowledge and obedience of the Mosaic law. I see a picture of a man who did much reading and reciting. Now you can recite on the run but…highly improbable in his day with no ipods and such with the recorded Word drumming in his ear either. In 1 Corinthians 2:1,3 we see mentioned that Paul’s inadequacies include not being an excellent orator and being weakened in his flesh. So how interesting it is that he draws a spiritual parallel of the life of faith to one of a physical race.  

Let’s look at a few verses from 1 Corinthians 9

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? :24

The exhortation is to run in such a way as you would as if you were in a competition. He has compared this journey to a marathon! Life can surely be a long one at that. Then he continues on to tell us that we have to exercise self-control throughout this marathon. 

Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. :25

Wow, now he is really hitting home. Oh how I struggle with the speaking before thinking it through thing. Or the doing before praying thing. Yet I know that this is where the Lord completely shows me that I can save many steps by checking in with Him first! Okay, I am seeing the picture here. (How we need our coach!) Now on to the prize thing. We are not running this race to add a trophy or another trophy to our display case. No, this one is a forever, in full living color kind of a trophy that is too big for my little pea-sized brain to imagine. For an eternity with my Father is just too big to put to words, but this is it, this is the goal. And I just can’t afford to get sidetracked with the minuscule issues of life (that see overwhelmingly large at the time) that the enemy of my soul uses to pull me off course. You know, sidetracked by disappointments (in myself or others), relationship issues or every little stinky thing that comes along to persuade me to stop for just a while till I get this thing ironed out. (That one just cost me three miles!) 

Now Paul gets into the ring and he really puts purpose to each swing, jab and punch: 

I run is such a way as not without aim, I box in such a way as not beating the air; :26

So I can then ask myself, why am I doing this anyway? What is it all about that I should go through all the rigorous training, denying and pushing myself beyond my capabilities anyway? Have I really got the end in mind? This is a good time to reflect and make sure I fully comprehend what it is all about. And is it really all about me and my goals anyway? Or is there a bigger picture here than me getting to the finish line. I think we all would adamantly agree that it is! I was brought to the Scripture in 2 Peter 3:9 that tells us that God desires that no man would perish and that all would come to repentance. I know that I repeat this a lot but here we go again. We get saved and on our way but then it is about those out there who also need to know the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ before it is too late. The hurting out there need to know that there is a God who is big enough to heal their pain and wipe their tears and bring peace to their calamity. To bring salvation to their souls! 

So here we go with the last verse that is going to really drive it home as I wrap my brain around the fact that Paul was a spiritual athlete! 

but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. :27

True confession time. I have failed miserably at times when it comes to doing the right thing. Whether it’s denying my appetite or exercising, I am not a very disciplined person. I want to be but…being human and on this side of glory I will be prone to fail at making my goals. I am however a bit better than I was if that counts for anything. But this is the verse that really bites. “…so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” Ouch! In consideration of being a Christian life coach, you know, you attempt to tell others how to walk the walk and then you model the way…and my biggest fear is in failing to be the example. However, there is a viable solution to “down time”. We do not have to be caught in the devils snare dwelling on thoughts that tell us that we will never be good enough to serve the King because we keep messing up! 

Bob Carlisle sings a song called “We Fall Down” that really brings this struggle to light. I hope you will take the opportunity to listen and let me know how you receive what he sings. Friends, we are going to stumble and it may throw us off course for a time (hopefully not too long) but the thing is we must get back up and continue on pursuing the race set before us. My life verse really solidifies the entire message here.  

I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet, but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead; I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13,14

 And that’s it. I am not disqualified if I press on. When I see the winners of those marathon races as they hit the finish ribbons, they ain’t very pretty and they look like they are in mega pain to boot but they made it. I too will get weary and worn but…it is going to be well worth it at the end when I hear my Abba say “Well done!” 

Friend, whatever you do, don’t loose heart. Let’s keep pressing on, you see over there, up ahead, we are getting closer! 

Father, I see that it is all for You that I am even alive. Thank you for loving me and making a way for me to be reconcile to You through Your Son, Jesus. I just ask that You help me up when I stumble and my knees are pretty scuffed up from tripping but I will not give up. You have called me to dance for You and I am going to give You my best. Use me Lord as You see fit for I am excited to see that the fields are white unto harvest and that Your return is very soon. Let me be part of the the homecoming in Jesus’ Name!

Generational Sins

Proud parents are continuously acknowledging–from the moment of birth–just how much their children look like either mom or dad.  They might see characteristics of grandma and grandpa too, such as the nose, eyes, forehead or mouth.  As the

Grannie and her Grandson Isaac
Grannie and her Grandson Isaac

children grow and develop, the opportunity may arise to begin to see familiar temperaments as well.  They may be positive or they could be negative.  You will hear comments such as “look at her, she is such a girly girl, just like her mom” or maybe “boy, has he got a stubborn streak, just like his dad.”  It is inevitable that we will take on similar looks and characteristics as genetic dispositions.  If only it was just the positive, good qualities that were evident, unfortunately that is not always so. 

If we look at this a bit deeper, we can also see how it is possible to “inherit” those good and bad tendencies.  Let me give you an example from my own life.  Divorce is not a pleasant thing to think about and go through.  Unfortunately in my family it is a prevalent occurrence. Not only has my mom been divorced twice but my grandmother once.  I recently had it pointed out that my great grandmother had been divorced three times!  That was extremely unusual and frowned upon in that day.  Sadly, I too have also gone through a divorce.  Now as a Christian, it makes me sorrowful and guarded to know that my three children could have the ‘tendency’ to fall into this unfortunate pattern and as a matter of fact one of my children has already succumbed to the divorce solution.  It is interesting yet sad that my father too was also divorced twice.  Therein that has only made for a double whammy for our family, argh! 

So how can and do we break this vicious cycle? 

God is teaching me many things right now and for the most part He is showing me how to learn to be dependent upon and put my trust in Him.  I only bring this up because my “independent” nature has gotten me into so much trouble through the years!  The world tells us that independence is good and I really do believe there can be a positive side to it.  But God calls us to lay down our independent spirit and to take up complete dependency upon Him. Generationally speaking, our family has a problem with that.  We have had to be survivors and have done just the opposite of what the Word tells us in Proverbs 3:5-8

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.  Be not wise in your own eyes; reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn [entirely] away from evil.  It shall be health to your nerves and sinews, and marrow and moistening to your bones.”  (Amplified version)

It is so ironic that God includes the healthful benefits of our being dependent upon Him!  (The first thing I thought of when I read the ‘moistening to your bones’ section was how arthritis is deterioration of our joint cushioning and once again, our family as they age tend to develop this condition!)  I am diligently learning to work through and break the habit of leaning on Kimberly Dawn’s understanding and lack of wisdom! 

The key focus here is that–while it is obvious that not everything we inherit is bad–there are or can be some debilitating ‘bends’ or ‘tendencies’ that affect our living the abundant life.  Do you ever wonder why you only move forward with baby steps?  Or why you might keep doing and revisiting the same negative habit over and over?  It is possible that it could be a generational sin or tendency.  After all the Word tells us the sins of the fathers will revisit to the third and the fourth generations!  Now that is a scary thought and I am living proof that it is so.  But the good news is we do not have to stay there! 

While it is wonderful to inherit the wonderful and admirable qualities of our family and ancestors, when we are earnestly seeking God we need to allow Him to show us our short comings.  That might involve a painful look into our past.  It might be that you can recognize your stronghold as an excuse to continue to behave in an un-Christ-like way.  The old “devil made me do it” mentality just does not fly for the Spirit led, abundant life.  God really does have a better plan in mind for us and He has called us to go higher, and challenged us to a deeper level in our walk with Him.  In Romans 6:6 we find that we are no longer slaves to sin.  And that means that I really have been given the power to overcome every bad tendency–even if it goes back to the 100th generation!

1 Peter 2:9,10 (NASB)

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.”

Abba Father, I want others to see You in my life.  I want them to see the difference You have made in me.  It is because of You that I am alive!  With all that You have brought me through and healed me from I can publicly rejoice and declare Your faithfulness to me and to my next generations.  I am not who I used to be because Your love broke through the darkness that once bound me and caused me much pain.  Let me continue to make myself available to Your refining fire then others will see how truly marvelous and in love with Your children that You are.  I rejoice and praise You as I walk in Your marvelous light.

For a look at another stumbling block visit Blocked Goals.

If We Are the Body…

Maybe like me you have been disappointed in the church, indicating the four wall type of church.  I have been in several church type conference settings where the Spirit of God has been alive and well and moving in an incredibly obvious way, breaking hardened hearts, ushering in a spirit of forgiveness and where healing is taking place physically, emotionally and spiritually.  It is so  where I want my church back home to be!  And when I don’t see God moving in my own environment I do become discouraged!

What a refreshing surprise to get to go to church, help lead the worship which I only do occasionally, and hear a message from Acts 3 where the lame man was healed…the pastor then asks why don’t we see that happen here?  And my question exactly, why don’t we?  I truly believe that there are several elements at play here but I rather like to think that what was stirred up was the question Jesus asked the paralytic in John 5 and that we could ask ourselves as well, “Do you want to be healed?”  Or is it just a faith issue, do we believe that God can do what He has shown He can do in many examples in the Bible or “other” people’s lives?  How about “nah, that was for those early church days all that miracle stuff.”

You know, I came to a place where I had to decide if this church stuff was for real.  I had to decide that even if the move of God wasn’t happening in my church that it is happening in His people and that I wanted to be one of the ones that it was happening in!  I did not want to miss out on a thing when it came to God and the move of His Spirit.  So for me it began with humble beginnings of a time of prayer and praise with a very few close friends.  I couldn’t make a thing happen on my own but I could let God change my heart and indeed he has undertaken to do just that.

So prayer is one of the keys that is unlocking the closed door to God moving in and amongst His people!  People are hungry for more of Him, people are tired of status quo, people are hurting, broken, addicted, living dysfunctionally and miracles?  What does that look like those described?

Prayer = an opening for God to move…and indeed, prayer happened one morning in my church when many people came forward and pastor anointed with oil and we all prayed for one another and I am believing that God is moving in the hearts and situations of this body of Christ.

Psalm 133 says it so very sweetly…

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!  It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!   It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.”

Three precious verses that reveal God’s pleasure when we unite together and instead of fragments of the body we are in sweet fellowship one with another.  Let me ask, can you pray for someone and be disgruntled with them?  I really don’t think I can!  Can you speak life into someone and be disgusted with them?  I want to say it is impossible.

God delights when His church comes together to breath life into one another and it is then that He ushers in a healing balm of forgiveness and heals brokenness and many other afflictions that the body today is suffering with.  We are a crippled, wounded body of Christ but on this particular morning, a body of Christ sought after God, and prayed for one another!  And frankly, I can’t wait to see what God is going to do next!

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