Tag Archives: Jesus

It’s a Gift of Life!

But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

                                                                                                                     ~ Isaiah 41:8-10 ESV

Praise be to God who allowed us the amazing privilege of being grafted into the lineage of Abraham–God’s friend–as well as Isaac and Jacob’s.  How?  Simply put by accepting His gift, His one and only Son, Jesus.

John 1.12

For God Himself, sent His only son, walking flesh and bone, to live among us. He would make a way where there was no way because of the sin that took place in the garden so long ago.

Jesus, came to earth as a humble little baby, born of a virgin (young Mary). A story that is told year after year when we celebrate Christmas. This was done purposefully so that you and I could become God’s sons and daughters.

Do you realize just how incredible that truth is?  Can you wrap your brain around the fact that the Creator of the universe, our Father, made a way for us to have a personal relationship with Him?  I will honestly say that I don’t understand it.  It makes me crazy to think of the expanse of the love that my heavenly Father lavishly poured out for you and me.

This truth certainly exceeds all imagination, all to be restore into a right standing with Him!  How could I ever expect to comprehend this one?

But…by faith, I must. I must simply believe! He saved my life, gave me hope and a chance to walk with purpose in each step, giving me a reason to wake up and live and a reason to love others as He has loved me! 

I like what Francis Chan said in his book Crazy Love, “The point of our life is to point to Him…” Click To Tweet

You too can have life that is intended to be full, rich and abundant and filled with purpose.  You do know that don’t you?  If not, friend, I can’t say enough, in an attempt to convince you of this truth. I know, you can’t see it, taste it, smell it or see it but…it is yours for the taking.  So here, here is the gift of hope and life, and it’s wrapped in love and not just any love but the Father’s love.

easterBecause Jesus went to the cross for you, you have been gifted with spending an eternity with the Father. I want so much for you to have it, no strings attached! If you are like me, it is just too hard to fathom a cross, a horrific death, where life drained from a broken body as Christ’s blood was spilled for you and me. You would think that that would be it, end of the story! But really it was a beginning on the third day, when death was defeated and eternal life in heaven won the victory as Christ arose.

“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15: 51-52
This is just too exciting! And there’s more…
“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:54-55
Oh the devil thought it was finished when it had only just begun!
 John 20.30-31
You know, my words really don’t do this story justice at all. But the story is told in His Words. Why not start with the book of John. And know that most of all I pray you receive the ultimate gift of life and the blessing of being welcomed into the family of God, friend.  Take it from someone who has been so topsy turvy on the journey to find peace, love and to have joy in the rest of my earthbound journey.

So once again…here it is, yours for the taking…here’s to life!

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.” 

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!

 

Snowflake Divider

 

 

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

DSCF2860
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.

God’s Amazing Grace

At one point I found myself reading through Paul’s book of Romans. I confess that I haven’t been there for quite a while and upon revisiting especially chapters 6-12 I have been halted for further contemplation. 

The first week found me intrigued by Chapter six and pondering the marvelous grace of God yet the warning (in Paul’s fashion) to not take advantage of it! With an aire of sarcasm he says, “what shall we say then? and, what then?” several times to get our attention. Followed by the phrase, “may it never be!” Below are some of his well known quips to help us understand that by God’s grace our sins are covered but not so that we can continue in sin but so that we can be free from the bondage of sin. (From NASB)

:1,2 “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”

:12-14 “There fore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts…but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.”

:15 “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!”

I like the wrap here. Paul says that we are to be obedient from the heart. God knows the heart doesn’t He. We can’t hide a thing from Him. We can ‘do’ all the right stuff we want but unless our heart’s motive is pure it doesn’t mean nothing. 

One of my weaknesses is dealing with the issue of food and how it affects my body. I honestly enjoy food and the tastes it has to offer.  But, I have struggled with weight issues even as a kid and since my early 30’s. It is a struggle but over the years I am working on taking off the poundage I have acquired along the way. 

In later years as part of my weekly ritual of being involved in a prayer and worship night on Tuesdays, I would fast. I believe in fasting and it really is an incredible thing when done with a pure motive, but I have done it with and without pure motives. When the Lord spoke to me one morning as I was preparing to begin my fast (sometimes no food, sometimes fruit, or sometimes no evening meal) He simply said to my spirit that I was really fasting to maintain my weight instead of to seek and draw closer to Him liked I tried to maintain.  This was a real slap because I had reasoned it out that I was doing a very godly thing by denying my food for the day. To have my Father tell me that it has many times been for the wrong reasons was like, well, getting busted. I was rather amazed at how this ‘good’ thing became sin because I was not doing it for its original intent. So how could Kimberly, who died to sin still live in it? How contrived we can become! 

Well, the lesson here is that I need to check my reasons for doing what I do. I was doing a good thing that became a tool to help keep my weight in check and to ‘look good’ or impress those who observed my denial. Wrong motive! I was so embarrassed by the obvious game I was playing with myself and God that I have been very hesitant to fast since then and I don’t very often as a matter of fact. I know that God has forgiven me and really, I am grateful He did! I was becoming enslaved to sin. And here is the beauty of God’s amazing grace, by my own admission of that sin, God has gently corrected me and helped me to move beyond it so that when I do fast it truly is for the right reasons. God is glorified when I am operate out of obedience and a desire to present myself as a living sacrifice. I still have a long way to go in regard to my eating issues as I learn to eat to live and not live to eat but that is just part of the process that I am going through to be more Christ-like.

Here is the basis of my gleaning in Romans six:

obedience = righteousness (right standing with God)

righteousness = sanctification (set apart for God)

sanctification = eternal life (to be forever with my King) 

Chapter six concludes beautifully stating that we have been freed from sin, and enslaved to God (whom we willing serve with a pure heart) with the outcome of our obedience being eternal life.

Lord, I thank you for your amazing grace that sets us free from the life we live in sin. This process that we must endure hurts especially when the truth is pointed out and we have been living enslaved to something that doesn’t glorify You. I love the final verse of chapter six where Paul tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I don’t understand it all completely but I am getting a glimpse the picture and I just ask that You would continue to show me when I am not serving You with a pure heart. I love You Father and I want Your smile when You look at me and I love what Paul Young put in his book “The Shack” when he wrote of You saying that You are particularly fond of that one.” May ‘that one’ be me!

Love, Your girl!

 

What Will You do for Mom?

Momma and her girls 2009

My little mother (she is only five feet tall to my five foot eight) reminds me frequently of how she picked my name. My given name is Kimberly. Apparently my father was not too convinced, but mom hung in there. Being a bit of a trend setter in her day, she always did things a bit out of the ordinary. I would call her creative. I am not so sure that I understand being named after a diamond mine in South Africa but…far be it from me to argue with the one who fought hard to give me that name. (After all, it is better than Kimberly Clark, the Kleenex manufacturer.)

At fifteen years of age, I ran away from home for the second and final time. I needed an alias to go by, so I gave myself the name of Dawn. I liked it because of the beautiful morning sky. Since then I have used Dawn as my first name. When finally reunited with my mom after three years, my mother was not very happy to find out that I had changed my name but had to resign herself to the fact I was now Dawn. I have a couple of those Biblical name cards and the one for Dawn says “The Break of Day” and has the Scripture from Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.” (which I love.) Mom, on the other hand, loved to tell people (when I would introduce her), “Her real name is Kimberly!” That really used to bug me something fierce.

I have watched my mother climb into her 80’s and struggle with her health since her late 70’s, and I began to asked the Lord to show me what part I could play in her coming to Christ and have peace in her heart (after all, I pray diligently for her salvation.)  The Lord spoke to my heart a couple of years back and said to just love, serve and bless her. Okay, Lord, show me how because You know how strong willed and independent this little woman is. Unfortunately, as she is aging she is also losing her vision from macular degeneration and because of that she has been forced to give up much of her independence. For those of you who know what I’m talking about, that can be very trying for the one going through it and some other issues that are a bit humiliating for her to contend with. Hey, life can get difficult as we age! 

One summer (mom tries to stays with us in the summer months when she is feeling well enough) on the first day she was here she injured her leg exercising her “I don’t need any help” attitude. She fell off a counter and gouged her leg up terribly and we ended up in the ER. This became a very unique opportunity for me to do ‘hands on’ care for ‘Miss Independent’. I had to change her dressing twice a day throughout most of the summer. It took four months for this wound to heal! But, in the process, I was able to care for her tenderly with that thing we all love and that is human touch. At one point I even asked her if I could anoint her with oil and pray for her healing and amazingly she said yes! When I was done, she had tears in her eyes and could not explain why. God is indeed up to something, don’t you think? 

It was fall and my program was beginning it’s fifth year and I like to do something new each new year to keep things fresh. So I asked the guys what they would think if I changed my on air name to Kimberly Dawn. (It was such a God thing that I would even go there.)  They liked the newness of it and said go for it. This was a real blessing to my mom and she periodically asks if I am still going by that name and I am always so pleased to tell her “Of course!” The funny thing is that I am actually enjoying being called by that name, as well, although I do not expect those that only know me as Dawn to change how they address me unless they want to. A little side note – my boss and former boss always teased me by calling me Kimberly Dawn now and again. Here is what Kimberly means – “From the Royal Meadow.” Nice, huh? And the Scripture is also delightful from Psalm 119:73 (NASB) “Your hands made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.” I just know this is softening my mom’s heart and I am believing that God is making a way into her heart where there seems to be no way! 

Please pray with me that God will continue to show me ways that I can be Jesus to her and that she will come to know the One Who will never leave her or forsake her and Who will love her with His everlasting love. I am believing the Holy Spirit is wooing her and that it will not be long now for her to take her rightful place in God’s Kingdom. And I thank God for bringing me to a place where I would want to be obedient even to the point of going back to a name I did not care for!

Spiritually Barren

We all have dry times in our lives when there is just nothing happening for us spiritually and it just seems as if we are crawling along in our walk. Everything is just as it always is and it can seem alright for a time but then we sense the growing barrenness in our life. The old feeling of walking alone and out of sync with the flow. Everyone else seems to be alive and excited to be serving God but for some reason, I feel blah spiritually!

I  have been there so many times and frankly I do not like being there. Traveling that path for any length of time is very weighty and I certainly mean that to say with a load of sorrow. I have never been in a sand dessert but for a time I did live in the northern part of New Mexico. It is not quite the same but there are some similarities with the hot dry, summers. In a sand desert, there is some life but not a bustling flurry of activity as in a thriving forest. It is simply too hot and dry.

This ugly cactus plant of mine is rather similar to the plants that grow in the desert. It tends to thrive on very little water and it is so ugly that I almost wish it would die so I could get rid of it. I think it is about 45 years old and as you can see it doesn’t get huge. What grows (very slowly I might add) are these ugly long fronds or whatever you call them with their prickly little edges (although not like the usual cacti with its thorns.)

It sits rather lopsided in my pot and obstructs my husbands view of the television if I don’t turn it around the other way.

My dry times are rather like that old cactus, dry, barren, lonely and fruitless. It really is a terrible place to be. I am not even nice to be around because I have no joy, motivation or energy. I just want to hang it up. Interestingly, it even causes those that I am around to get cranky, like my husband. My hard places don’t just effect me, they also have an impact on those around me. My co-workers know when Kimberly Dawn is going through rough times because I am generally a joy-filled person. (Praise God!) But not with the weight of the world on my shoulders, pressing me down! Or a mind preoccupied with relationships gone awry.

It is difficult to own up to but these dry times are usually caused by my own poor choices. If you are a relational person like me, you know how important people are in your life and you need them to interact with and fellowship with and just to enjoy life with. Thank you Lord for creating fellowship with one another. But then the offense comes along and steals the joy. I usually make provision for the flesh and react by harboring bitterness or jealousy in my heart and wham, there I go down in the desert for some rounds about the mountain. My thoughts are possessed with wrong thinking. My reactions are very “me” centered around all my thoughts and hurt feelings. Woe is me, they don’t understand, what about my feelings on the issue and don’t I have a “right” to feel the way I do? Just look how they have hurt me! You really can try to justify almost anything!

When I go to bed at night, I want sweet thoughts and pleasurable memories of my day or week. I want to reflect on the goodness of the Lord and to be able to see His hand in motion throughout my day. If I am in the midst of a desert experience I can’t see any of that, just miserable, poor me. If I dwell too long in that place I become dryer, harder and more and more lifeless because I am getting more and more bitter in my own defense. What an icky place to be!

How in the world do I come to an end of my desert journey? Thanks be to God for the power of the Holy Spirit in spite of quenching His Spirit with my “me-ness” mentality. Something jogs my heart and I begin to see that I am the problem not the other party. I’m the one who is holding on to the bitterness, unforgiveness, anger and resentment because all I can see is how mistreated I have been. God’s Word has sooo…much to say about the above list of excuses we use to stay in our desert land:

This Scripture from Matthew 5:23,24 really sheds a spotlight on relational issues out of sync:

“So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”

I am believing that my offering to God is not going to amount to anything with resentment at the root of my heart. And I have worshiped and wondered why I couldn’t sense His presence and wondered why He seemed so distant from me.

From Romans 13:14 Paul tells,

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

And this includes along with all sorts of immoralities, strife and envy.  And once again from Mark 12:25

“But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

You have to admit that forgiveness is a huge issue in God’s eyes. I guess that means that I better make it a priority also. He says (God says) 70 times 7 and that if I cannot forgive then I too will not be forgiven. God forbid I don’t get a grasp on this one! So, what is my excuse now? Can I really justify my situation any longer? I don’t think so! Okay Holy Spirit, show me how to get myself to the watering hole ’cause I am so thirsty and so dry and desperately longing for Your presence once again.

 You see, with enough sunlight and just the right amount of water, that ugly old cactus does an amazing thing every once in a while. It unpredictably blooms. Sometimes only one or two but these huge gorgeous blooms come out of the most unlikely places. And like that blooming cactus, I too need adequate time in the “Son” so that I can produce fruit that will please my Father and bless others. How’s your heart today? Are you filled with bitterness and anger? Unforgiveness and resentments? You may know what the fruit of the Spirit is and that is what I want to exhibit in my life towards others. It is through a victorious life that this fruit grows and is used to show others the love of Christ.

Galatians 5:22,23

“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.”

Father, will You show me my unpleasantness and its root? I don’t want to be there anymore. I want the fruit of the Spirit to be evident in my life so that when others look at my life they see You. Help me to root out all the negative things like anger, resentment, bitterness, envy and strife that is keeping me in bondage. Set me free and even if I need to go to someone for forgiveness will You give me the grace to humble myself and approach that one so that we might be restored to fellowship with one another and with You? I will trust that You will work out all the details of this in my life and that You will receive all the glory, honor and praise due Your Name. I will lean on Your promises and trust this to be resolved in Your perfect timing. Restore me Lord to Your presence and fill me with Your precious Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ Name, Amen

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1Lu5udXEZI]

Do You Fight Anxiety?

A flat tire on a Mercury Villager van.It was back in February that we said goodbye to our older Bonneville and welcomed a Fusion into the family. (When the kids leave, vehicles and animals become your kids — sort of.) I had only driven the new vehicle a couple of weeks when while I was driving to town the low tire-pressure warning came on. I thought I would just go to the post office and then stop to get air when I returned.

But when I parked at the station and looked at my right rear tire, it was flat. How in the world could a brand-new tire be flat? I asked the attendant, Davey, to put enough air in the tire so I could park and he could fix it for me later. But the tire wouldn’t even hold air, and that’s when he discovered there was a hunk of metal in it. When I picked up my car, he said there was a utility knife blade stuck upright in between the treads and there was no holding air. But he got the job done.

It was only a week later that I went to get in my car and saw the low tire-pressure warning again — another flat tire. What’s up with that? Well, last year we re-shingled our house and garage and a leftover shingle nail eventually found that tire. God, why in the world are we dealing with this stuff? Oh, how He must laugh when I say things like that. Of course, stuff is going to happen, always. I am not exempt from difficulties; I live in a fallen world.

In the fall of 2011, I began speaking for an organization called Stonecroft. Most of you might recognize the name if I say Christian Women’s Club or Connection, which is what many of the clubs are calling themselves today. My trips take me on some pretty far journeys since I live at the top of Minnesota in the “Icebox of the Nation” and to go anywhere seems like a journey of several hours. My longest trip has been to the North Dakota circuit of Harvey, Minot and then down to Bismarck — lots of miles.

Naturally I prayed that my tire would hold its patch job since I would be in the middle of unfamiliar territory and alone. After six days I was set to return home and was pretty anxious to see my husband after he had gallbladder surgery while I was gone. I was rolling right along from Bismarck early one morning when suddenly my low tire-pressure warning once again came on. I started to get nauseous and fretted because there was nothing that looked like a gas station as far as I could see.

I am thankful that God reminded me of Philippians 4:6, which I immediately put to practice: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

As I recited that verse, I felt God’s presence and care for me. I didn’t stop but began to pray for a station that would be alongside the freeway so I could check the tire. I looked with my mirrors to see if the tire looked really flat, and it didn’t, which puzzled me. But I made the choice to trust the Scripture I recited instead of giving in to my anxious thoughts. Philippians 4:7 says: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I relaxed in knowing that God would provide for my request, and I had an unusual peace that also flooded my uncertain thinking. It wasn’t right away, but a nice truck stop appeared fairly soon afterward and I was able to check the tire (not the rear patched one but my front driver’s side.) and put in air. I then praised my God for His immediate care for me, all alone in North Dakota on a big freeway. Isn’t God just so good to His children?

I made it all the way home, only stopping two hours from home to check the air. None had leaked out. Well, our neighbors repaired that tire and found another nail. I guess it is inevitable when you work next to the transfer station road where all kinds of construction waste are hauled.

But I’ve used those two verses often recently to conquer fear and anxiety and to strengthen others who are in situations of similar uncertainty. Write those verses down and memorize them. Just get them in your heart so that when times of unrest come you will have some ready ammunition to defeat the enemy’s tactics of fear and anxiety. To all who are in Christ: You are armed and dangerous. Now use it.