Thursday, July 29, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I cannot help but be reminded of Jesus's conversation with Nicodemus about being born again...
It is hard to imagine that, when we accept Christ as Savior, we are born again. Just like a newborn baby has no past and has made no mistakes or bad choices, our slate is wiped clean when we accept Jesus' gift of salvation.
2Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Thank you for the reminder of the new life I have in Christ Jesus. Thank you Jesus for making it possible for me to be reconciled to the Father!
Monday, July 19, 2010
Practicing Basic Spiritual Disciplines
Focus on the Foundational Principals of Christian Living
Charles F. Stanley
Looking For God In All Things
Learning: Does God speak to us in ways beside the Bible?
Growing: How can I learn to hear His voice?
Last week we talked about relationships, specifically what things are involved in GOOD relationships. One thing we touched on briefly was communication. Listening is as important in communication as is talking. It is important to make sure that you SAY what you mean, but it is even more important that you listen to the other person so that you know what THEY mean!
Listening is an integral part of communication, including our communication with God. It involves an active listening- an intent watching and waiting anticipation- for God to speak to us continually. We are to expect the Lord to speak to us and should keep our hearts and minds open to Him so that He can speak to us by any means at any time. To listen in this way is to be available to the Lord without hindrance.
When have you listened to someone "intently"?
4 ways to develop an attitude of listening
Wait in God’s presence 1Kings 19:11-13
Practice frequent praise Isaiah 25:1
See Christ in all things Colossians 3:1-2
Listen for opportunities to give a witness 1 Peter 3:15-16
Today: God DOES speak to me, but I must be willing to listen.
Tomorrow: I will practice listening in silence during my prayer times this week.
I do want to hear what You have to tell me. Help me to listen intently for your voice as I go through my day. I know that you are with me always and that you speak to me and through me. Lord, I want to be focused on You and what You wnat to do today and always.
I hope you have a spectacular week! Remember to wait for God with the exoectation that He WILL show up!
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Today's post is from Jennifer Westerfield
Thanks Jennifer for sharing your thoughts with us!
For the past several weeks, I have not slept well. I have been waking up in a sweat and thinking to myself, “I’m too young for hot flashes”. I’ve been getting up, turning the air down, the ceiling fan up, and threatening to kick my hubby right out of the bed and onto the floor if he comes anywhere near my side of the mattress.
Now, I know the July heat in Central Mississippi is a force to be reckoned with, but THIS is just crazy!
This morning it hit me; there is a possibility that I am losing sleep and having night sweats because I have something on my mind: something that I can ignore during the day when I am awake and have lots to do. Perhaps all this is a result of me trying very hard to ignore something....or better yet, someone.
Several months ago, God let me know that He wants me to start a ministry for the girls in our church. Many of them belong to families who do not go to church and many of them have single moms and many of them just need someone to share the love of Christ with them. My heart’s desire is to establish a mentoring program for our girls; a ministry that encourages Christian women to build relationships with the girls so that we can lead them to Jesus and help them grow into strong godly women themselves. God placed this desire in my heart and, instead of being a good servant and following His guidance; I have been running in the opposite direction. “Why me, Lord?” is the question I keep asking. There is no way I can do this. See, I’m a big chicken. I am afraid of failing. I am afraid someone will tell me that I can’t do this, and I will believe them. I am afraid that others won’t approve. I’m afraid I’ll do it wrong.
This morning, God reminded me that all I have to do is follow His lead and He will take care of the rest. I have a new appreciation for Moses’ questioning...”Who am I?” God’s response to Moses warms my heart: “Certainly I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12)
* I have learned throughout my 31 years that I have never been alone.
* Over the past several weeks I have learned that I can’t ignore God.
* Today I have been reminded that, when I do what God has called me to do, He is certainly with me.
I am so thankful that scripture is full of people like Moses who asked “who am I?”
I am thankful that God loves me enough to whisper to my heart “Do you remember Moses?” because
* Like Moses, I can’t do much on my own
* Like Moses, there is no limit to what God can do through me.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Practicing Basic Spiritual Disciplines
Focus on the Foundational Principals of Christian Living
Charles F. Stanley
Getting to Know the Lord
It’s not hard to get to know someone you work with. We usually spend at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year with our coworkers. Over time, even with no effort, we know a good bit about these people…just because we spend so much time in their presence. With no effort at all, we know about their spouse, their kids / grand kids, what they had for dinner last night…you know, all the superficial general stuff. For the most part, we don’t share our lives with our co-workers. With the exception of a choice few, they are not our friends. Even though we spend a lot of time with them, most are not part of our lives outside work.
- Spending time together
Friends are people that we spend time with, share mutual experiences with, and share ideas, hopes, dreams, and beliefs with. We trust our friends more than anyone else in our lives because we have shared our life with them and we know they are trustworthy.
These same basic principles- spending time together, sharing experiences, and talking things over- are also the ingredients for developing and maintaining a healthy relationship with God.
Last week we talked about Scripture study and learned that a person must know God’s word if he/she is to develop the mind of Christ, move into obedience to God’s commandments, and become more conformed to Christ. We learn about God when we read His Word and go to church. While these are absolutely necessary to know God and grow as a Christian, there is a danger of treating God like a “co-worker” if we leave God at Church....to know a lot about Him, without Him actually being a part of our life.
We deepen our relationship with our Creator (move from “co-worker” to “friend”) when we share our life with Him. We learn about God...What He likes and does not like, wheat He wants from His people, what He has done for His people in the past, and what He promises us as his children, from Scripture and Lessons taught at church. The way we share our life with God is through prayer. Prayer is not just a good idea, it is a command.
What does Matthew 26:41 say?
Prayer is a requirement if we are to become and remain strong in the Lord and develop an intimate relationship with Him.
Seven Aspects of an Effective Prayer Life:
- Continual Prayer 1 Thess. 5:17
We pray at all times, without ceasing, by living in an attitude of prayer.
- Petitioning Our Needs
- Praise and Thanksgiving 1 Thess. 5:16-18
“Bookend” your prayers with praise and thanksgiving, remembering Who is in control and what He has already done in your life.
- An Attitude of Forgiveness Matthew 6:14-15
It is imperative that we forgive others. Our unforgiving attitude acts as a barrier, keeping us from receiving the fullness of what God desires to give us.
- Praying Without Doubt James 1:6-8
At ALL times, our prayers are to be steeped in faith to be effective.
- Praying For Our Leaders 1 Timothy 2:1-2
Christianity prospers when government allows religious freedom and freedom to share the gospel.
- Intercession For Others Acts 4:24, 29-30
If Peter and John needed the prayer of others, how much more so does each of us need the prayers of fellow believers in Christ?
Colossians 1:9-12 gives a beautiful example of what to pray for another Christian:
9For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
Today: Prayer is a vital part of growing in Christ-prayer for myself and for others.
Tomorrow: I will add regular prayer to my daily schedule of Bible Reading this week.
Help me to develop a deeper relationship with You through my prayer life. I don't want to have a superficial relationship with you. I want to share every part of my life and every part of each day with You. Thank you for loving me and for desiring to have a relationship with me. Guide me and direct me in the way I should go. Help me to always seek You in all things.
Hope you have a great week!
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Thanks Joy for lending us your thoughts!
During all of this camp prep, I have also been getting ready for my second major test in New Testament. It is all about the Pauline epistles. I have been amazed at how what I’ve been studying has applied to sending Alex off to camp. So many letters from Paul to Timothy and Titus were instructions on how to relate to the new churches and about how they themselves were supposed to handle day to day life. It is easy for me to see Paul’s writings as that of a parent to a child... instructing on proper behavior and conduct in foreign places. Just like a parent, Paul knew more than Titus and Timothy and understood the challenges they would face. He also knew that, no matter how he tried to prepare them, Timothy and Titus would be on their own. Paul labored and cried many times over the details. (I have felt like crying a few times over the past few days too!)
Paul spent time teaching and guiding missionaries so that they could spread the gospel in foreign places and work with young churches. . .I am realizing more and more that parenting is the same. As Alex’s mom, it is my job to teach and guide him so that he can share Christ with the people he comes in contact with throughout the rest of his life. While I know that camp is one of the things I can “give” my son to help him grow, I also know that there are going to be many opportunities for him to flex his decision making muscles, and I’m not sure how strong those muscles are.
I have equipped him the best way I can to live the next week on his own without my presence.
Now it is up to him to do so.
(If church camp is this bad, I don’t know how I’ll ever survive sending him off to college! Thankfully, I have several years to prepare!)
Monday, July 5, 2010
Today it hit me....the majority of women appreciate a devotional, an explanation of a scripture, or a reminder of what God wants from His people. BUT while these are appreciated, there are numerous other sites with posts written by people much more educated in theology than I where any of us can go at any given time to find out what the Bible means in this or that verse.
God has put many amazing women in my life. Many of them are in our church, more are not. Of all the things I may talk about (or e-mail back and forth about) with any number of these women on any given day, rarely do we have heated debates on theology, nor do they regularly come to me with questions about specific scripture. What we do talk about are kids, marriage, laundry, housework, cooking, working outside the home....and how God wants us to live our lives in the midst of all these things.
All the things I try to separate myself from when I sit at the keyboard are the very things that the women God has put in my life come to me with day in and day out.
This ministry, being a branch of the Ladies Ministry at our church, was born out of the needs of the women in my life and in the lives of the women that serve at Pearson with me. Over and over again, women have made it clear to us that they desire to know more of God, that they want God in the details of their lives, that they want God's will for their lives.
So, while I don't have a degree in theology and I cannot give detailed analysis of every scripture, I do look for God in the details of my days and I do very much want His will for my life. God is very real to me. He shows up in the craziest places (like laundry) and speaks to me in the most amazing ways (like through my husband and kids), and He has proven Himself completely and totally worthy of my trust(even when I do not understand what he's doing). That's what I know, and that's what I'll share. I'll leave the heavy theology up to the pros...ha ha.
I hope that you will continue to visit, and that you will be refreshed and revived during your time here. More than anything, I hope that you will find God in all the crazy places during your days, from laundry baskets to traffic jams, that you will hear Him speak to your heart, and that you will discover over and over again that He is totally and completely worthy of your trust, even when you don't understand what He is doing.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
Help me to see you in the regular details of my life today. Help me to seek your will in all the decisions I make. Give me words to speak that reflect Your love for those around me. Make me aware of those things I do that do not reflect your love and your ways. I love you Lord and I want to share your love with the people you have placed in my life.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Virginia Gazette, July 18, 1777
Yesterday the 4th of July, being the Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America, was celebrated in this city with demonstration of joy and festivity. About noon all the armed ships and gallies in the river were drawn up before the city, dressed in the gayest manner, with the colours of the United States and streamers displayed. At one o'clock, the yards being properly manned, they began the celebration of the day by a discharge of thirteen cannon from each of the ships, and one from each of the thirteen gallies, in honour of the Thirteen United States. In the afternoon an elegant dinner was prepared for Congress, to which were invited the President and Supreme Executive Council, and Speaker of the Assembly of this State, the General Officers and Colonels of the army, and strangers of eminence, and the members of the several Continental Boards in town. The Hessian band of music taken in Trenton the 26th of December last, attended and heightened the festivity with some fine performances suited to the joyous occasion, while a corps of British deserters, taken into the service of the continent by the State of Georgia, being drawn up before the door, filled up the intervals with feux de joie. After dinner a number of toasts were drank, all breaking independence, and a generous love of liberty, and commemorating the memories of those brave and worthy patriots who gallantly exposed their lives, and fell gloriously in defence [sic] of freedom and the righteous cause of their country. Each toasts was followed by a discharge of artillery and small arms, and a suitable piece of music by the Hessian band. The glorious fourth of July was reiterated three times accompanied with triple discharges of cannon and small arms, and loud huzzas that resounded from street to street through the city. Towards evening several troops of horse, a corps of artillery, and a brigade of North Carolina forces, which was in town on its way to join the grand army, were drawn up in Second street and reviewed by Congress and the General Officers. The evening was closed with the ringing of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks, which began and concluded with thirteen rockets on the commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated. Every thing was conducted with the greatest order and decorum, and the face of joy and gladness was universal. Thus may the 4th of July, that glorious and ever memorable day, be celebrated through America, by the sons of freedom, from age to age till time shall be no more. Amen, and amen.
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Philadelphia July 3d. 1776
...But the Day is past. The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America._____
I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
Cornerstone of Human Government
"Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day [the Fourth of July]?" "Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of
the Redeemer's mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity"?
John Adams, July 4, 1837 when he delivered a Fourth of July speech at Newburyport, Massachusetts
On Freedom and Liberty
Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed — else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Liberty Takes Root
Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.
George Washington, March 2, 1788, in a letter to James Madison
The Value of LibertyThe value of liberty was thus enhanced in our estimation by the difficulty of its attainment, and the worth of characters appreciated by the trial of adversity.
George Washington, letter to the people of South Carolina, circa 1790
The general principles on which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity
John Adams, June 28, 1813, to Thomas Jefferson
Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
…It is in vain, sir, to extentuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775
Thank you for the freedom that is mine being born an American. Thank you for the brave men and women that have gone before me to insure that freedom. Thank you for the ones that are serving now to insure that my children and grandchildren grow up free as well. More than this, thank you for the freedom that is mine as a child of Yours. Help me to never take these freedoms for granted, to remember that they are gifts given to me, bought with blood before I was born.
Friday, July 2, 2010
IT'S QUIET. It's early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming.
In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.
For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day's demands. It is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I'm free to choose. And so I choose.
I choose love . . .
No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.
I choose joy . . .
I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical . . . the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.
I choose peace . . .
I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.
I choose patience . . .
I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I'll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.
I choose kindness . . .
I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.
I choose goodness . . .
I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.
I choose faithfulness . . .
Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.
I choose gentleness . . .
Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.
I choose self-control . . .
I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek his grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.
From When God Whispers Your Name
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1999) Max Lucado
I mentioned a few days ago that one of my friends is dealing with rejection from her husband. He told her that he simply does not want to be married to her anymore. Today I got to work and she'd sent me this. When I read it, my heart smiled because it reflects how she faces each day and how she is dealing with her husband's rejection. It blesses my heart each time I am around her because she is so humble in her walk with Christ, and because her faith shines through in this difficult time.