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Even God Rested!
Category: Member Blogs

Even God Rested!

 
This has been one heck of a chaotic year. If you don't know why, you might want to read the previous blog posts- but get some coffee first, you'll be a while!

Both my husband and I were burnt out. Completely. Like 'rampaging forest-fire inside a volcano' burnt out. We were coming to the last dregs of our energy, time, stamina, and sanity. His blood pressure was way up, as was my temper. We needed a respite.

We got one.

Thanks to a pastor friend of ours (Yes, you, Rob!), we were connected with a ministry in Maine for a stay at a pastoral retreat cabin in the boonies. As long as my husband qualified (he's a deacon so he could apply), we could stay for a long weekend. After the owner of the cabin read my husband's long list of ministries, he contacted him and said 'Buddy, a weekend isn't enough- if you can do it, I'd suggest an entire week!'

So that's what we did. The week of our twentieth anniversary, in fact.

Granted, at first I wasn't thrilled about being cooped up in a cabin with nowhere to go. Oh, and did I mention it was off-grid? That means there was no TV, internet or even phone service. No screens, no DVD players...nothing concerning visual entertainment or contact with the outside world.

But there were elk, coyotes, and bears around, so they said. That didn't help.

Egad. I was going to die. If not of boredom, by the mauling of some wild animal as I tried to limp my way to civilization.

But wait- was there another way? I could still use my laptop, because the cabin had solar power; I could plug and charge my Link to Sanity (at least during the day), and get some writing done...right? Both my husband and I had a plan. We were going to write, read, write some more, and brainstorm all kinds of things we could do in ministry. After all, that's what busy people do- even when they're supposed to be resting! I even brought a craft with me for my creative side- just in case.

We also had to eat, and there was no way I was going to cook all week. So we made meals we could bake or make on the propane stove/oven (as we couldn't use anything with heating elements like crock pots or microwaves- they take too much power). There was no freezer but there was a cube-like fridge, so we froze what we could for the trip, and packed a massive cooler full of food for single serving breakfasts, lunches, and dinners- and even more than a few veggies and fruits to snack on. We were set.

We visited and stayed overnight with my husband's uncle on the way up, but miscalculated the distance to the cabin (thinking it was on the way), and wound up making a twelve hour drive instead of an eight or nine hour drive to Maine the next day. We had to adjust our time to leave and left as soon as we woke up- about 4:00 am. Let's just say when we got to the cabin at 4:20 pm, we were ready for a meal and some rest.

The cabin wasn't the mud-and-stick hut I imagined it would be- it was a one thousand square-foot pine-scented piece of heaven! The kitchen bore a wood stove (for warmth, not food) that was giving off a pleasant heat that the owner stoked before we arrived. There were even bird feeders all over the place for us to enjoy the local feathered wildlife! We were greeted cheerfully, shown how to work the water pump and energy system, given the basic rules in a notebook, and left to ourselves for the night. 

I don't think we ever unpacked so fast in our lives. 

The kitchen was roomy, and as the oven was baking our dinner, we went upstairs to check out the bedroom. And it was a bedroom. The room was almost all bed! Not only did it take up most of the space on the floor, it was tall- almost up to my ribcage. We both noted the hand-made quilt on it and smiled appreciatively, but then I wondered....how was I going to get up on this thing with two gimpy knees? 

I had to find out if I could get into this massive bed. I hoisted my trunk onto the mattress, and tried to swing my left leg over the top- and failed. I tried again, grasping the quilt and sheets on 'his' side and I tried pulling myself up. After a minute or two, I was on top- and out of breath.

Then I heard my husband chuckle. I would have maimed him (because the Bible says Thou shall not kill, after all), but the bed was so soft and so comfy I almost put off dinner to get some sleep. But my belly complained, and I had to slip off of the mattress ever...so...slowly onto the carpet. 

The next few days were spent sleeping, watching the birds, eating, and reading. It's really nice to be unplugged for a while! I'd forgotten what that was like. On the third day though, we became restless (and we ran out of milk), so we went on an adventure. Try finding a Wal-Mart in the middle of the Maine boonies with a GPS that didn't work until we were miles down the main road! As we left the dirt road and hit asphalt, I'd hoped we'd find the cabin again when we came back.

We found the Wal-Mart at least thirty minutes away, and decided to peruse the aisles a little. I found a few crafty items that I needed, but the best find was... coloring books! I loved to color, but what I didn't know is he loved to color too! All these years and I never knew this. We flipped through about twenty of them before he chose one and I chose two, making sure we also got a big box of crayons and colored pencils. And a sharpener- don't ever forget the sharpener.

That as our only trip out of the cabin that week. The laptops, lesson books, and projects we were going to read, write, and plan, all were replaced by three coloring books, crayons and colored pencils. We were happier than two kids in kindergarten. 
Our TV was the bay window featuring blue-jays, wrens, finches, a woodpecker and one red squirrel; at night we were lulled to sleep by the 'peepers'- little frogs by the thousands that chirped like an orchestra of crickets.

The rest of the week was filled with naps, crafting, and coloring. We didn't do one 'productive' thing the entire week. Maybe that was the point.

Our only adventure with the large outdoor wildlife was a bear removed one of the window feeders with a loud 'Pop!' about 1:00 am mid-week, destroying the feeder. The little birds still flew to the window though, looking in at us as if to say "Dude- where's the birdseed?"

By the end of the week, his blood pressure went down twenty points. My temper dissipated. We visited his cousin overnight on the way home (and this time it wason the way back), and got home in time to spend a few hours with the kids on Sunday. We came home to a clean house- our two friends and the kids all worked to make the house sparkle- my Mother's day gift! The only sad part is we didn't have a 'buffer day' to rest before we had to jump back in the fray on Monday morning.

Sometimes you just have to stop, unplug, watch the birds, and color.

We learned a lot about ourselves this week. We need to rest more. Need. Not want. We have to remind ourselves that even God rested on the seventh day! 
We must plan off time to rest, and not try to 'let it happen'. Busy people who don't schedule time off will never get it.
We also learned that being off grid is good, and not to pack so much stuff just in case we get bored. To take more fun reading than lesson reading. To take less food (we had a lot of leftovers). And to remember to bring coloring books and plenty of crayons and colored pencils. It leads to a lot of really good conversations.

Now that we're back, we're not jumping into the chaos with both feet. Yes, we have a lot to catch up on, and yes, there is a backlog of things to do, but our minds are rested and can sort thorough the muck a lot better now. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you're rested! And I'm making a point to keep it that way as long as possible.

I'll no longer get mad at myself for falling asleep on the couch. I'll have a more flexible schedule, so when driving jobs come, I can maneuver things around. I will watch less TV, play less computer games, and time them when I do. Looking back, I was stunned by all of the time I wasted with a screen in front of me! Now if I'm in front of the TV, I'll be doing something productive- like cutting fruits and veggies or sorting through papers. The job is a lot less daunting that way, and I still get to watch my favorite shows.

If you need rest, please plan for it. Even if it's staying home and unplugging everything- do it. Rest your mind, body, and spirit for a day, a weekend, or a week to get yourself back on track with God and His purpose for you. It will be the best thing you've ever done for you and your family!
Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all my mommas! Today may be hard for some and I know and and completely understand it. To the mothers who lost their little ones too early, this is for you. To the mothers who are young, this is for you. To the mothers who are older, this is for you too! To the mothers who are thinking they are failing, this is for you! To the mothers who are feeling overwhelmed, this is for you. To the mothers who hide out in the closet and cry, this is for you. To the mother who suffers with depression, this for you. To the single mommas who pull double duty, God sees you! And yes, you got this! To the grandmothers who gave birth to our mothers, this is for you. To the mothers who struggle fertility, this is for you. To new moms, old moms, and step moms, this is for you. You are an inspiration to your children. You are what makes a house a home. You are a safe place for your children and your husband. You have the hardest job in the world. You are kind. You are caring. You loving and selfless. You run around like a crazy person just to make your kids happy. You are protective. You are strong in more ways than one! You can feel overwhelmed at times and that's okay! You don't need to have it all together. You need to take care of you every once and a while. Your children need you to be happy and healthy. Your husband needs his sexy wife back. You are worth far more rubies. You are hard working so your children don't have to work hard. You kiss their owies away. You give the best hugs. You change countless nappies. You tie shoes endlessly. You give tirelessly. You are the rock of your family. You see and understand your kids better than anyone else. You bring joy to them. You are their mother. You may not have given birth to them, but you are their mother. You have adopted them as your own. You would move heaven and earth just to get to your child. You are the best at what you do. You are a mother, you are a wife, and you are more than loved. You are going to go crazy at times and that's okay! We all lose it from time to time. Mommas are God's gift to humanity. They have an incredible bond with their children. They are incredible women. I think the world could use more mommas when things get hard. I pray this little post brightens up your day. To all the mommas on my social media accounts this is for you! HAPPY MOTHERS DAY! I hope this blesses you in some way. Have a beautiful day!

Amassing the Kingdom Not the Pockets
Category: Special Blogs
Tags: inspirational

What shall I render to the Lord for all of his benefits towards me? I will take up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord, Now in the presence of all of His people. (Psalm 116:12, NKJV)

I beseech you brethren by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1, NKJV)

“Bless the Lord all my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name.” Thank God for yet another privilege to speak as the “Holy Spirit gives thee utterance.” God is an awesome God and worthy of all of the praises and I am thankful and humbled that he chose me as an instrument for his glory, that is why I thought it necessary to talk today in reference to what is our true motivation for what it is that we do as it relates to God’s work and advancing the kingdom? Because like it or not, as Christians our first focus should be faithful obedience and total submission to God’s will for our lives and serving him until he returns.

It is quite evident as we look all around us that people need God at the forefront of their lives. They chase after money, status, position, titles and all the things that the world tells them makes a person whole and complete but often times more than not, they find that after acquiring these things, they are still empty and unfulfilled. Why? Because what they are searching for through things is a fallacy. It isn’t things that makes us who we are but it is God that completes us! So having stated such, we as people of God need to understand that going after stuff should not be our main focus and objective either but chasing after God and winning souls for him. Too many people engage or entangle themselves in the cares of life to the neglect of their relationship with God and the Bible tells us emphatically that, that is a tool of the enemy to get us distracted that we may become fruitless (Luke 8:14, NKJV).”

I don’t know about you but I desire to live a life that is obedient and surrendered to the will of God. I am not perfect nor am I claiming to be but it is my desire to serve God while I have time. I recognize that there are innumerable opportunities all around me to bless others and if I allow myself to make money and the “world’s goods” my focus then I can’t be all God requires me to be. If what I do is motivated by fine cars, fine houses, “people praises,” titles, positions and all other insignificant things, then when those things are taken away, my passion and focus goes with it. But if what I am doing is for God’s glory and not my own, then no matter what happens on this “side of life,” I will keep my eyes upon him, “looking unto God which is the author and finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2, KJV).”

I don’t know who is reading this article today but I implore you “do all to the glory of God (Colossians 3:17, NKJV).” Let all that you do in life be motivated by your love for God and pleasing him, let all that you do be to see other’s lives spiritually transformed and walking in relationship with God. Let all you do not be motivated by money as it is sure “ we brought nothing with us when we came into this world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it (I Timothy 6:7, NLT ),” so, let all you do be a testimony of the awesomeness and faithfulness of God in operation in your life so that people may see you more than just another “motivational speaker” or “life coach” but one that is loving, faithful and surrendered to God, living a life that is pleasing in his sight and therefore being “salt and light” unto the earth (Matthew 5:13-16, NKJV).”

God already knows that in order for us to survive on this earth that we need to be able to financially support our families. He knows how the world operates and he knows even the things that you need at this moment but the word of God states that “if you seek first the kingdom of God and all of his righteousness then God in his time will provide the things that you need (Matthew 6:33, NKJV).” If God provided “manna” to the children of Israel (Exodus 16:35, NLT), then surely he knows how to provide for your needs and the needs of your family.

But, it is when we make “mammon” our focus that we fall into many destructive behaviors and are consumed for the Bibles states that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows (I Timothy 6:10, NLT).” And sadly, that same mindset and mentality has also crept into many churches today whereas, the primary motivation for what many ministers, evangelists and others in ministry do is geared toward money. But the Bible is very clear that there is nothing “new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NKJV).” And, that there were false prophets in Israel just as there will be false teachers among you. In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed (II Peter 2: 1, 3, NLT).”

Yes, “money answers all problems (Ecclesiastes 10:19, KJV),” but if it is used deceptively and as a means to twist and distort the word of God for worldly gain, there are consequences for this sinful and corrupt behavior i.e. “It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life (II Peter 2:21, NLT)” and, “Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins (Hebrews 10:26, NLT).” In order words, there is no excuse, when we know better we do better!

In conclusion, hear the truth of the matter, serve God, trust him, let him lead and direct your life and in all that you do, do it in sincerity and with love towards God and love for people in that you tell them the truth of God’s word and acquaint them with who God is that they may have life and that more abundantly that is found only in Jesus Christ (John 14:6, NKJV).”

The Gift of Writing
Category: Member Blogs

                                                               

Recently, the Lord revealed to me the alphabet. It came about, while reading the three things, the Jewish people teaches their little children.
There are three things they are taught: Know from where you came, know where you are going and know before Whom you will stand one day to give an account of all things.
This is the thing, you come from a pure and holy place, from God Who encompasses everything that is good. And you are going back to Him, a place that is pure, holy and good.

This is what the Lord brought to my understanding: He is the beginning and the end of all things. The Alpha and the Omega. This is the alphabet! Even in your writing, it comes from Him and it is going back to Him. It lit a fire within and I will never forget this teaching from His Hand. I hope it will encourage someone too. I just love the alphabet now!

Genesis 49:21

King James Version

Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.

Genesis 49:21

Amplified Bible

21 Naphtali is a hind let loose which yields lovely fawns.

The Gift of Writing

Little fawn, with great wrestling you were born.

They strove against you, but you prevailed and came out strong.

The little fawn is your victory emblem.

a Blessing bestowed on you from on High.

a Reminder of your victory and freedom, the gift of eloquence and song.

Let loose, let loose, run freely...

Give words of beauty...

Give words of truth...

Give words of the Heavenly Father, already laid up inside your heart.

a Nation is set on high by being right with God...that is where the blessing lies.

The heights is where you belong, surefooted in faith, under the shadow of God's Wings.

There you will rejoice and sing your songs.

Drinking waters from the stream of life, you will go swiftly and grow strong.

Let loose, let loose...

For I know God will break the chains that bind you and fill you with fear, it is only to silence your voice singing to Me.

You are a deer living in the heights, living in the Spirit, not made for the hunters snare.

Those with their human ambitions of do's and don'ts.

You are tuned into the will of the Father and part of His symphony.

a Part of those who work according to the Spirit.

a Symphony conducted by the Holy Spirit producing beautiful notes and beautiful songs.

Songs of healing the Spirit said.

The Lord saw your birth, He fed you with milk, His heart is tender towards you.

God instructed: “Take it safely home”

To the heights in the Presence of the Lord, away from any danger and deceit.

Go and be strong, keep on singing your songs...

God Bless

Written: 24/1/2015

Habakkuk 3:19

Amplified

19 The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and

will make me to walk [not to stand in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering or responsibility]

 

 

Open the Windows
Category: Member Blogs
Tags: new day worship healing victory

                                                                       

Luke 1:74-75Amplified Bible (AMP)

To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,

In holiness [being set apart] and righteousness [being upright] before Him all our days.

Open the Windows

At the dawn of day, light bursts forth...

O, what a glorious day!

To be able to fearlessly serve and worship You, my God.

 

You were with me in the valleys, in the cold of night.

For every tear I cried, you held my head up high.

For every valley, You gave a mountain of Glory.

 

Next to me in every storm. a Lighthouse showing the way. a Safe refuge.

I stood in awe, time and time again...

You made known the hidden things and brought it to light.

For every challenge, you gave me an outstretched Hand.

Before the enemy came, you have revealed their plan.

One step ahead, leading me, step by step...

O, let me worship You...You are the only God...

Richness and treasures can only be found in You.

Who can really know it all...

What you have prepared for those who love you.

 

For every temptation, you shown the opening of escape.

When I could not see the way, You shown me the Light.

When I did not make it, You showed me...You have made it for me...

You were always there to catch my fall....You let me standing and I just loved You more!

 

The fullness of what Jesus Christ did on the Cross is yet to be discovered

and be lived more and more....

Amazing Love...

You deliver and restore...and let me find what I have lost.

a Fountain of praise and worship and the enemy can not cast a shadow over it any more.

 

Your perfect plan:

To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our foes,

might serve You fearlessly

in holiness and righteousness within Your presence all the days of our lives.

 

a Covenant You have sealed with an oath,

a Saviour that was born unto us

in Him we have deliverance.

Without fear we can now serve God:

Delivered from the threatenings and curses of the law filled men,

free from that spirit of bondage.

Delivered from sin and Satan,

without fear of hell and damnation.

Without fear from the world,

without fear of men,

and from fear of death.

Delivered from those that rise up against us.

Blessed are we, when God is our God.

 

What a glorious day,

it bursts forth in light...

 

When I am delivered from those that oppress and harm me.

When I am delivered from myself and mine own enemies within.

What a glorious day the Saviour was born...

What a glorious day Jesus Christ died and rose for us.

What a deliverance!

What a promise!

This is what He gives us, rest of our enemies.

What a glorious day, it bursts forth in light...

Let me open the windows and take and live what You gave me!

Thank you, Lord

Written: 1/12/2014


 


 

 

Can God do the impossible?
Category: Member Blogs
I know you're probably wondering what the heck I am talking about in my post from yesterday. I will tell you this because I am all about being honest with people and where I stand health wise and for that I went to my ENT specialist. I still have an infection in my right ear. It's now behind my the hole in my ear. That's not good. The good dr took a swab of it and yes, it hurt! I wanted to cry, but I kept my composure.

I don't know what will come back from the lab, but I have another round of antibiotics. This round is much stronger and is for bacterial infections. It's not foreign to me to take this type of medicine. I have had a much worse bacteria infection when I contracted mersa in my right ear. So, after that little history lesson here's the skinny. I know now that there is a surgery that can be performed on my ear to help me. I have mechanical issues inside of my ear. I have 25% hearing in my right ear. It can help me out a lot. It is FDA approved.

Now, knowing he can go in to fix the hole and help my hearing is kind of overwhelming at this point. He wants a clean and dry ear before we can do anything that means all this struggling with my ears and hearing will finally be done but at what cost? I've been done this road before and it was painful. The surgery didn't work. It made the hole move and bigger. It was baffling to the dr and the people helping me.

I am not sure when I want to do it. My desire runs deep to be a mother and it seems like everything is in the way. I am getting sick way more than I have ever been in these past few years since that major surgery. I've had time to think about it and I know it's not a one day discussion and a decision. I am still praying that God gives me wisdom for this and it's not that I can't wait and I can wait, but my heart wants to torn and my head is being stubborn and making me second guess it.

I know that God has given me this awesome opportunity and I know that God knows my deepest desires to be a mother. I've lived with this hearing issues. Now, I have this new technology and now, I have a choice to make and no one else can make it for me. I don't want to go through with it and it not work like before, but this is different and it's brand new thing can repair my issues.

I know for some it's a no brainer, but for me, it's a yield sign. I am extremely cautious. I trust my dr. I trust that God brought him into my life for a reason. I know that this dr has seen me struggle and I know that in some small part of his heart that he knows this will finally be the one to heal me from the inside out. Im scared that it will leave me worse than before and that's the only reason I am seeing this as a cautionary tale.

I am writing to sort out my emotions if you read anything from me you should know this by now and because I believe that God has kept His promises to me. I feel this valley of dry bones needs to have new life breathed into them. Things that I know that have yet to come to pass and I trust God with my whole heart.
I just want to feel better. I am emotionally drained and exhausted. I gain weight with these medicines. I feel fat and ugly. I feel awful. I hate the outlook I have on myself right now.

You may think I'm being vain with all those pictures of myself, but it's a completely different story. I am struggling to like what I see right now. To have this surgery means that he will have shave the small part of head and that stresses me out. I love my hair. It will look funny until it grows out. I've come a long, long way and I know that you probably think I'm being overly dramatic, but I promise you that I am not because this is sort of a big deal.

I am still praying and I am still waiting on the timing. I do this surgery then I can't go to San Antonio. I do this and I may have full hearing. I do this and I may not have full hearing.

God is my Healer. I believe that in due time I will see this promise come to pass. I need prayer for wisdom and understanding. His peace floods my heart. His love surrounds me like a blanket. His hope rises inside of me as I face the storms of life.
The Gift
Category: Member Blogs

One day, unexpectedly you are given a gift. At first you are presented with a gift box, and you question it, what is in the box, and why today,  it isn't your birthday, why? That's when you realise that, only the other day, you had asked God for a surprise. Life has been hard lately, and interestingly the gift has suddenly appeared on your doorstep, seemingly from nowhere. You had not seen anyone deliver it, and there is no address from a sender written on it. But there is a label with your name beautifully written on the gift, and you do not recognise the handwriting.

Immediately you wonder what is inside?  That's when you build your hopes up. What is it? After a few seconds of anticipation, you whisk off the lid, only when you open it, you find it is an empty box. Surprise and a slight disappointment shivers over you. Even more mysterious. But you have not looked inside sufficiently to see what is there. So, just to check, you turn the box upside down, that's when a bit of paper falls out, and all it says is 'You!'

For a while you wonder 'what is this all about?' And after a time of reflection you realise that somehow, this box is a gift from God, and the gift you have been given is to find the real 'you,' because that's who you need to be happy with.

 

 

 

 

Living Our Days
Category: Member Blogs

I started listening to NPR a few years ago because I had entered a season of needing to hear a different voice, of wanting to listen to viewpoints and encounter opinions that I did not share.  In these days of challenging conversations around politics and race, it’s important for me to remember that I am called to love, to trade my litmus tests for conversations with real people.  In navigating the deep divides within the church on everything from immigration and the role of women to worship style and the definition of family, more than ever the body of Christ must be the force that passes through our differences all the way to grace.  Deidra Riggs reminds me in ONE that Unity in a Divided World must be an intentional thing, something that we pray for and work toward.  Jesus modeled this focused attention in His prayer recorded in John’s Gospel:

20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

This begs the question for this middle-aged, stodgy, and opinionated soul:  Can I love my neighbor “without being concerned about whether [my] neighbor is right?”  King Solomon and Parker J. Palmer invite me into a Third Way in which my soul hears well and is, therefore, enabled to choose the God-honoring, others-serving path that may go against the grain.

Ambassadors of Unity

Deidra traces the path of reconciliation that leads to oneness, urging readers:

  • to ask challenging questions about our motives for living toward the homogeneous and the “safe”;
  • to offer and to seek forgiveness;
  • to continually remind one another that we are one.

The Two Chairs

Whenever people come together, there are two chairs in the room.  One is the seat of justice, and the other is the seat of mercy.  “Only God has the credentials to sit in both of those seats and perfectly administer both justice and mercy,” (64) and while we may crave justice, it is critical to recall that God “does not ignore our broken hearts” when He invites us to sit in the seat of mercy and to view life from the perspective of someone who has wronged us.  (75)

When Jesus prayed for his followers (present and future), He would not have been blindsided by the fact that an outcome of His magnificent creativity would be uniqueness — manifested in differences of opinions.  It would be alarming if we all walked in lockstep on every issue.

“Oneness is not about conforming.
Oneness is about transforming.”  (97)

The oneness that Jesus prayed for us is bigger than our position on an issue or our political affiliation.  The challenge is to love well — especially if disagreements make love an unlikely thing, for then the radical love of God is put on display.

Going to Ferguson

Because her heart was broken, and because she needed to see the fallout from the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Deidra boarded a plane and spent three days in the sweltering heat, living in the midst of the tragedy and joining in the lament.  Two years later, when Alton Sterling was killed, she used the internet as a virtual gathering place in which the “Prayers of the People” became an invitation to come together around shared grief.  Looking squarely at tragedy, acknowledging together that we live in the space between what is and what will be can be the starting place for God-initiated transformation leading to oneness in heart and in mind.

Spiritual Integrity

Like Deidra, I am the bologna in a generational sandwich.  Mine comprises an elderly mother on one side, and on the other, a range of adult and teen sons.  Add to this a quest for a vibrant marriage, ministry, blogging, and the occasional cup of tea with a friend, and the tendency is to fragment, bringing only part of the self to each aspect of life. Unity in a divided world requires personal and internal oneness which brings a screeching halt to the sacred/secular dichotomy and nullifies the “requirement” that I be all things to all people.  Only Jesus can do that, and it turns out that His prayer in John 17 is a prayer for integrity, a heart’s cry from the Son to the Father against the “massive fault line that runs through the center of my soul.” (156)

The unity that Jesus prayed for among those who believingly follow Him is a product of the “oneness within each follower.” (157)  Spiritual integrity de-emphasizes lines of division, assuring our hearts that all of life is sacred.  We care for and respect our one-and-only heart through radical practices of grace, going home to our roots for restoration, and recalibrating our perspective through regular observance of Sabbath (which Eugene Peterson defines this way:  “Take nothing for granted.  And do it every week.”)

Gathered under God’s loving wings, may we look around us at all those within His vast circumference and find, to our great surprise, that this is what it means to be One; that this shared protection and provision is proof that God loves the whole world and delights in each one of us — no exceptions.

//

This book was provided by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Where is God in the dry seasons?
Category: Member Blogs
Where is God in our dry season?
Where is our help when we are hurting?
Where is God when the night closes in?
Where is God when fear has its hold on me?

You will experience many different seasons in life.
You will question your faith.
You will find it hard to keep your mind steady.
You will feel lost.
You will feel confused.
You were not made to understand it.

In our weaknesses ;He is made strong.
In our helplessness; He is our strength.
In our hopelessness ;He is our hope.
In our wandering;He is our help.
In our mess ;He is our Messiah.

In our dry seasons
In our rainy seasons
In our harvest seasons
In our many seasons, He is there to hold us.

We were not made to understand the seasons.
We were made to trust and have faith.
We were not made to carry these burdens alone.
We are told to lay them down at His feet.

Where is God in the dry seasons?
He hasn't ignored you.
He hasn't left you.
He hasn't abandoned you.
He is watching and waiting.

This desert may be dry and lonely, but I am not alone for the Lord my God guides my every step.

He shields me from the sun.
He wraps me up at night for He is my light.
I don't fear for He is always near!

I may walk this path alone.
I may not always understand it.
I may not feel like obeying.
I may not feel like trusting.
I may not feel like staying put.
I may not like it, but I do it.

So, if you are in the dry and lonely places right now, I want you to know that God sees you. It may feel like it's becoming overwhelming for your soul. I know it's hard. I know it's uncomfortable. I know you hate it, but nothing lasts forever!

Your season will be over.
Your pain is not done in vain.
Your sores.
Your sighs are not falling on deaf ears.

Be at peace and know that the God of miracles is watching you. He loves you. He cares for you.
“Love’s Sacrificial Mindset” by Carol Hind Tags: Love sacrifice God's Love

A Disturbing Narrative

There’s a story in the Bible, which grabs at my heartstrings whenever I read it. I’m troubled by the tragedy that unfolds, by the unnecessary waste of a young life, by the foolishness of a man’s vow, by the fact that our sovereign God did not intervene to save this young woman. It is hard to understand love’s sacrificial mindset.

I’m referring to the story of Jephthah’s daughter.  Have you read it? If not, or should you need to refresh your memory, it can be found at Judges 11:29-40.  In order for you to fully appreciate the message of this article, you will need to be familiar with this disturbing tale.

A Devoted Daughter

Now I’ve often heard about the special bond between a father and his daughter. It is not something to which I can relate, since I didn’t have that kind of relationship with my biological father. However, having walked with God for some years now, I believe I’m beginning to enjoy a similar bond with my Heavenly Father.

There is no doubt in my mind that Jephthah’s daughter loved her father very much. She was obviously watching and waiting for this mighty man of valour to return home from war.  As soon as she sees him, she runs out to meet him. She’s overjoyed at his safe return. She celebrates his triumph in customary fashion, with tambourines and dancing.  Alas, her love and devotion for Jephthah becomes her undoing. Her love for her father costs her life.

Now let’s apply this scenario to ourselves on a spiritual level. Do we love our Father God to the extent that it costs us our lives? I’m not referring to a literal death here. I’m referring to the demise of our old way of thinking and living, which runs counter to God’s commands, his word and his will. I’m referring to our constant challenge as believers.

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Do we love God with ALL of our heart, soul and strength as He requires? Have we crucified our flesh with its affections, appetites and desires, as His word demands? (Deuteronomy 6:5; Galatians 5:24).

Whilst I reflected on the various elements of this story, I wondered: where was Jephthah’s wife? I imagined her busy at home, tidying up, or preparing a special home-coming meal. And then I remembered Martha.

Martha, who hadn’t chosen the ‘better part’. Martha, who became preoccupied with serving food instead of sitting at Jesus’ feet. Are we like this? Too busy with our personal business, or too busy ‘serving the Lord’ to sit at his feet, to make him a priority in our lives?

If this is the case, may I remind you of Jesus’s words in Matthew 10:38-39? (See Amplified Bible). May I remind you that to be his disciples, we are required to lose our lower life (the life focused only on earthly quests and concerns) and pursue the higher (God-quality and spiritually focused) life?

https://womenofwarfare.wordpress.com/

God’s Measure of True Love

Now, with regards to our relationship with the Lord, we learn from Revelation 3:16, that He prefers we are cold, rather than lukewarm. Fellow Christian writers and readers, let us not be deceived into thinking we are ok because we go to church, participate in Christian activities and believe in God. Don’t forget, the devils also believe! So let me ask you—are you guilty of loving God with your lips, whilst your lifestyle declares otherwise?

Jesus revealed in no uncertain terms that there will be those who are convinced they are in the right place with God, working his works etc., but the Lord will turn to them and say: I never knew you; depart from me. And let’s not forget the five foolish virgins who found themselves shut out from the marriage feast, to whom the same damning words were spoken: I do not know you!

Are we paying heed to these stark warnings? Do we take them seriously? Do we yet understand love’s sacrificial mindset?

The ‘S’ Factor!

God requires an intimate knowledge of him. Relationship. Not words. Not unfulfilled intentions.

It can be easy in this age of grace to become careless. To be like the prodigal son, to avail ourselves of the rich resources of God’s Kingdom (his love, forgiveness, grace) and squander them selfishly, without care or consideration for the high price paid for us to enjoy our inheritance.

Wake up daughters of Zion! Wake up to the fact that the only life worth living is in our Father’s house, under his protection, submitted to his rules and regulations.

Wake up to the fact that we have an enemy, who hates us, and seeks to deceive and destroy us 24/7. Those suggestions that we can take God’s resources and use them for our own ends, where do you think they emanate from? Satan of course! Embraced and endorsed by our selfish inclinations, by our own carnal appetites and agendas.

We don’t even have to commit terrible sins.  Just not be fruitful.  Just not be concerned about the issues on God’s heart. Just be too busy with our personal dreams and desires to care about the needs of our neighbour, to participate meaningfully in the work of God’s kingdom, to fall on our knees and pray.

Daughters of Zion, I speak to myself and I speak to you all – wake up! Let us understand love’s sacrificial mindset.

Love’s Mature Outlook

Moving on, I’d like to focus on another admirable quality of Jephthah’s loving daughter. She is not bitter with her father, or about her fate. How about you?  Have your experiences of life caused you to become angry with God, resentful about your experiences and negative about your future?

Dear reader, I suffered many years of spiritual malaise because of wrong attitudes. I carried around in my heart an ever increasing record of offenses and was both inwardly and outwardly hostile towards those who hurt me. Yes, life can be unfair. However, spiritual maturity, faith and trust in our Father God, enables us to overcome and carry on with the right attitude.

https://womenofwarfare.wordpress.com/

Cultivate A Friendship Circle

Jephthah’s daughter called upon her friends and shared her sorrow. They mourned with her.  Do you have good, genuine, spiritual friends whom you can call and depend upon when needed? Who will pray for, and support you if, or when things fall apart?

Now don’t be discouraged if you don’t have such supportive friendships. There’s always the help and counsel of the three Godhead members to fall back on. In fact, you should be pursuing close fellowship with them anyway.

I believe your relationship with each (Father God, Jesus, Holy Spirit), is vital to your spiritual health and strength. Your relationship with them should not be superficial.  But deep. Strong. Like Paul’s—so that you are convinced in your heart that NOTHING can separate you from God’s love.

The Heroine’s Finale

As mentioned at the beginning, the story of Jephthah’s daughter always tugs at my heart.  I usually take issue with God about it. Why did he allow her to die?  It seems so harsh and unfair. I’ve never really gotten an answer.

However, I do acknowledge that God’s ways are higher than my thoughts and ways.  We are not qualified to judge.  Yet isn’t this how we can feel about the things we face in our own lives sometimes—about that false accusation, that persecution, that sudden catastrophe?

Unfair!

Jephthah’s daughter may have lost her life but she made history. God saw to it that she was inscribed within the pages of the Book of books.

There are those seeking to make history, to make a name for themselves, to make it according to worldly standards but in doing so, lose their own lives—whether literally, mentally, or spiritually.

Dear readers, let’s make sure we aren’t so foolish as to gain the whole world, yet lose our own soul.

Let’s remember we are not our own, we’ve been bought with a price. Let’s ensure that when all is done and dusted, our names appear in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Join us in the RUBY community for more inspirational posts and discover opportunities to connect with other Christian women.

 

https://womenofwarfare.wordpress.com/

I’d describe myself as a God-seeker and recovering perfectionist. From an early age my love of words and insatiable appetite for stories kindled a passion for writing. I’ve enjoyed modest publishing success both in print and online and spent several rewarding years as one of a team of editors for a Christian women’s publication. I like to write devotionals, inspirational articles and poems and occasionally a short story. My blogs are Women of Warfare and Purpose Driven Achiever where you can read inspirational and thought-provoking articles.

Carol Hind Links

Feed Your Flame!
Category: Member Blogs
Tags: Christian life

Feed Your Flame

 
We all start out with a pilot light- that little spark that inspires us to do bigger and better things. Sometimes we wait for others to feed our flames to take us to the next level instead of finding our own fuel. It might work for a time, but when the fuel from others runs out, we often find ourselves back where we started- that tiny flicker of flame.
 
We can’t let ourselves wait for someone else to build up our fires. Don't get me wrong- It's great having support to keep the flames going, but the bulk of the fuel has to come from within us. 
 
Cakes bake from the applied heat, but cakes wouldn’t be the yummy, fluffy things they are without their ingredients!
 
This not only applies to our lives at home and the workplace, but also applies to our spiritual lives. God gave us the Holy Spirit in our hearts, but it’s up to us to apply the heat and fuel the fire. Use that passion you have deep down inside! Get inspiration from others, but remember if that's what you're depending on, the flames won’t last long without our feeding and fanning them by praying, reading the Bible, going to church and really listening to the sermons.
 
Don't wait for an epiphany- look within yourself and your environment (who and what you surround yourself) and seek an epiphany through God. Believe me- I’ve done the sitting and waiting thing- it just doesn’t work.
 
What would make more sense- a writer that waited for a publisher to come and discover her book, or for the writer to contact publishers? No one will hand us our dreams on a platter- not even God will just hand us everything we want- we have to be spiritually ready and pray for it. Babies aren't ready for solid food, and even toddlers with teeth don't get fed T-bone steaks! God will feed us what we need when we can handle it. He's a really brilliant Dude.
 
Pray. Read. Attend church. Fellowship. Feed that flame within you. Dance around like your spirit is already on fire and the flames will grow. I’m wearing bunny slippers when I dance- just in case someone is making a YouTube video!
 
 

Beth Brubaker, Assistant Editor is a humorist poet and songwriter, and her day jobs include homemaking, writing, and paper and fabric arts. Beth's passion is the written word, and is developing ways of sharing her brand of humor with the world through poems, songs and stories. Don't miss Beth's columns and puzzles in every issue of Ruby for Women! You can read Beth's posts on her blog Footprints in the Mud at http://footprintsinthemudblog.blogspot.com or email her at bethatruby@aol.com.

Living the Old Ways ~ The Amish Culture by Daniela
Category: Special Blogs
Tags: Amish traditions

Visit Daniela's blog, My Little Old World, to see more beautiful images of Amish life.

My Little Old World

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