Have Things Really Changed?

Every night, before bed, my hubby and I always spend some time together watching a little TV or movies.  It’s just something we’ve always done.  Usually it’s episodes from some of our favorite shows (Doctor Who, LOST, Once Upon A Time, Friends), nothing too serious.  Occasionally we’ll find a movie to spread over a couple nights, also, generally light-hearted flicks.  But over the past two nights we changed that a little bit.  We finally relented and let a movie that we’ve put off for several years move to the top of our Netflix DVD queue.  One, most people our age watched years ago, but that for some reason, we’d both avoided. Schindler’s List.

Being a huge lover of history, I’d always wanted to watch it.  But, anyone who has ever studied that part of world history also knows why I’ve always avoided it.  It’s painful. Very painful.  I still can’t wrap my mind around the Holocaust.  It just doesn’t make sense to me.  How?  Why?  What were they really thinking?  I mean…there are no words, only a million questions.  I will never understand how anyone could justify any of that.

But what has weighed heavy on my mind and heart since we finished the film last night…have things really changed?

Sure, the scale of genocide that occurred then was massive, and things like that don’t happen very often even on a small scale.  But the hatred.  The pure hatred of people who are the slightest bit different…has that changed in our society?  Watch the news for 5 minutes and you’ll know it hasn’t.

Most of culture doesn’t seem to value life.

Just because your ethnicity is different than mine, doesn’t mean you don’t have value.

Just because your lifestyle doesn’t line up with what I believe, doesn’t mean you don’t have value.

Just because you worship (or don’t worship) a god that isn’t my God, doesn’t mean you don’t have value.

Just because you were “unplanned” doesn’t mean you don’t have value.

LIFE IS VALUE!

You live. You breathe. Your heart beats. You think. You love. You hurt. You laugh. YOU HAVE VALUE!

For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139: 13-16

120208_Romans12_10

We will never all agree on lifestyles, religions, etc.  But disagreeing doesn’t mean we have to hate.

Christian sisters & brothers, please, oh please, hear this.  Christ called us to love the world.  LOVE.  Don’t be confused or misled. Take a lesson from Paul:

Romans 12 English Standard Version (ESV)

A Living Sacrifice

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Gifts of Grace

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Marks of the True Christian

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Be blessed!

-De

And I Almost Gave Up

Don’t you just love how God can reach out and smack you in the head sometimes?  I don’t know about you, but I need it on occasion, and today was one of those occasions.

Yesterday afternoon, the hubby and I were sitting at our kitchen table discussing Bible studies.  I was lamenting how I was really wanting a good, beyond surface level study to do during my quiet time.  Not a book on spiritual formation, or a feel-good 2 minute study, but a real “dig in” kind of study.  He told me to go out and find one. (I love him and his simplistic answers.)

Background: A few months ago, a friend from seminary posted on facebook that she was seeking some accountability as she wanted to go through Beth Moore’s 90 Day Journey with Paul.  I had the book already, so I said sure.  We formed a little group on fb and got started.  Shortly after this, we were called to a new church and the task of moving began.  As much as I tried to keep up studying, I failed, and Paul got packed away with everything else.

I got so far behind everyone else, I thought to myself, why bother picking it back up.  Catching up isn’t going to happen.  You know, I was really rather embarrassed to let the other ladies in the group know how far behind I was.

Back to Yesterday:  I mentioned to my hubby that I had been enjoying the study, while I was doing it.  It may not have been as “deep” as what I thought I wanted, but it didn’t really matter now.  I was so far behind there was no point in picking it back up.  He lovingly gave me that “whatever you think you should do” look, and we continued on with a new conversation.  (Ladies, don’t you just love how your fellas can speak a million words with just a look.)

This morning, I put my risen sour dough loaves in the oven to bake, fixed my cup of coffee and sat down with my Bible.  Not really having a clear direction, I felt nudged to go grab Paul from my desk.  Here’s what was at the end of our little lesson:

How does it help to know that a real enemy is engaged in battle against you, an actual foe who is seeking to deceive you and distract you? Rather than suffering endless pangs of guilt over your inconsistency or weakness of character, does it strengthen your muscle to know that your acts of obedience are blows against Satan’s army? This is war! Wanna fight?

Thanks for that, Beth!  God has used your words to smack some sense into me this morning.  I was so wrapped up in me and what I had failed to do. I was allowing the enemy to distract me from the whole point.  Here was my reply to her question:

It helps me to not condemn myself as harshly. It’s so easy to forget that the enemy has an army surrounding us, trying to beat us down & prevent us from getting in the Word, & spending time in prayer. We should acknowledge our victories!  Celebrate them & then seek them our more often.

distractions

It’s so easy to allow Satan to distract us every day.  And after a while, we start blaming ourselves, beating ourselves up because we were distracted.  Then, we just want to write the whole thing off, and never get God’s blessing for us.  So what if you get behind in your quiet time?  Here’s a thought…pick it back up!  Proclaim a victory!  Be obedient and give the enemy the blow he deserves!  Rejoice in your victories over Satan’s distractions!  Keep at it!  Distractions will happen!  Worry more if they don’t!  When Satan sees you as a threat, he’s going to pound you with everything he’s got.  Kids are going to need you.  The phone is going to ring.  People will knock on the door.  Etc, etc, etc.

Let me end this with Beth’s prayer from 1 Peter 5:8-10

We heed Your call, Lord, to be sober, to be on alert! For our adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. May we resist him, Lord, firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by our brothers in the world–knowing, too, that You, the God of all grace, who called us to Your eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support us after we have suffered a little.

Don’t give up!  Don’t let Satan beat you down with distractions and life.  Let’s celebrate our victories (even the smallest ones) together!

Be blessed!

-De

What a Good Friday Looks Like

Again we’ve come to the time of year when we are truly encouraged to reflect upon the sacrifice Christ made for us.  As Christians, it should be at the forefront of our minds daily, but being creatures of this world, more often than not, it isn’t.

This evening, take a few moments to meditate on these verses from Matthew.  Read them.  Think on them. (I attached a video of a song.  I love to listen to music while I meditate on scripture.)  Make them personal.  He endured this…He did this for YOU!  No one else would ever do the same.  Only Christ.  Your Savior.

Matthew 27:27-61 (HCSB)

Mocked by the Military

27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into headquarters and gathered the whole company around Him. 28 They stripped Him and dressed Him in a scarlet military robe. 29 They twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and placed a reed in His right hand. And they knelt down before Him and mocked Him: “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 Then they spit on Him, took the reed, and kept hitting Him on the head. 31 When they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the robe, put His clothes on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.

Crucified Between Two Criminals

32 As they were going out, they found a Cyrenian man named Simon. They forced this man to carry His cross. 33 When they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Skull Place), 34 they gave Him wine[l] mixed with gall to drink. But when He tasted it, He would not drink it. 35 After crucifying Him they divided His clothes by casting lots.[m] 36 Then they sat down and were guarding Him there. 37 Above His head they put up the charge against Him in writing:

THIS IS JESUS

THE KING OF THE JEWS.

38 Then two criminals[n] were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 Those who passed by were yelling insults at[o] Him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “The One who would demolish the sanctuary and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, with the scribes and elders,[p] mocked Him and said, 42 “He saved others, but He cannot save Himself! He is the King of Israel! Let Him[q] come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. 43 He has put His trust in God; let God rescue Him now—if He wants Him![r] For He said, ‘I am God’s Son.’” 44 In the same way even the criminals who were crucified with Him kept taunting Him.

The Death of Jesus

45 From noon until three in the afternoon[s] darkness came over the whole land.[t] 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, Elí, Elí, lemá[u] sabachtháni? that is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken[v] Me?[w]

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling for Elijah!”

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, fixed it on a reed, and offered Him a drink. 49 But the rest said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to save Him!”

50 Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. 51 Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary[x] was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 And they came out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.

54 When the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they were terrified and said, “This man really was God’s Son!”[y]

55 Many women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and ministered to Him were there, looking on from a distance. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

The Burial of Jesus

57 When it was evening, a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph came, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 He approached Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Then Pilate ordered that it[z] be released. 59 So Joseph took the body, wrapped it in clean, fine linen, 60 and placed it in his new tomb, which he had cut into the rock. He left after rolling a great stone against the entrance of the tomb. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were seated there, facing the tomb.

 

Be blessed.  Today is Friday, but Sunday is coming!

-De

Stop and Refocus

When I sat down to have my quiet time this morning, I looked at my Bible study book and just couldn’t pick it up.  So after a little prayer, I began getting the kiddos working on their lessons for the day.  I really felt God wanting me to stop and refocus.  Not exactly what I wanted to do this morning.

Here’s a little insight…

Ok, so we’re working to get settled in.  Unpacking is just as much fun as the packing was. Moving-Homes-The-Unpacking-Nightmare-700x466I’m honestly, OVER seeing boxes everywhere.  But, unpacking and living in a place at the same time makes it slow-going.  That’s ok.  It really is.  But, here’s what happened over the past few days.  The hubby has started officially at the church.  He’s keeping regular office hours (and not just across the parking lot), so he’s not around during schooling hours if I need a little assistance.  (That’s really ok, too.)  I, however, during this transition have not been as diligent in keeping the Enemy out of my thought life.  That’s a very dangerous thing!  Little unpacking has been accomplished this week.  All of my time has been spent schooling & cleaning.  (I mean, you have to clean if you are going to live in a place…even if it isn’t unpacked.)  Insert LOTS of frustration over not being able to find items needed for cleaning.  More frustration over being interrupted by children needing assistance while I was looking for missing items needed for the cleaning task I was involved in.  Dishes. Laundry. Creating a home atmosphere. Sweeping. Vacuuming. Dishes. Laundry. Trip over a box. (Did I break my toe?) Try to develop a cleaning/shopping routine.  Realize it doesn’t work.  Try again.  Redirect kiddos back to school.  Etc. Etc. & repeat.

During all of this, the Enemy is whispering: “You are going to have to do this all by yourself.”  “Look at them all, playing around & not helping at all.”  “You’re never going to get anything accomplished.”   See where he was taking me?  UGH!!

Insert God saying “STOP!” “My daughter, I need you to refocus!”

Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom and loving instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle. Her sons rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also praises her: “Many women are capable but you surpass them all!” Proverbs 31:25-29 (HCSB)

He directed me to read and meditate on Proverbs 31, again.  I love my Abba for times like this!  Sure, I may get overwhelmed at times, but I don’t have to listen to the Enemy’s lies.  As long as I recognize them, I can rebuke them.  God created me for the purpose of “watching over” my household.  That doesn’t mean I have to do it all myself, but I do have to delegate responsibilities & ask for assistance when needed.

Why do we, as women, make things SO much more difficult than they need to be?  ;)

May I encourage you, sister, if you are feeling overwhelmed or discouraged with simply everyday life, take some time to stop and refocus.  Pray.  Listen to God.  Obey Him.  Maybe read through Proverbs 31. (And please don’t feel that you EVER have to live up to her example.) Be inspired by her!  Be encouraged by her!  God created you for a beautiful purpose!

Be blessed!

-De

Terrifyingly Exciting

How’s that for a title?  Seriously, though, God has brought us down a path over the past 6 months that is both very exciting and completely terrifying.

Where to start…

How about here:  About a year ago, at a women’s conference, I first heard the song Oceans.  You know the one.  I was so moved by it…literally moved to tears.  I wanted God to do that kind of work in me.  I wanted to not fear His will, whatever that may be.  I wanted to be willing to go wherever He called.  So, I began to make that my prayer.  Every time I would hear the song, I would make it my hearts cry.  God kept it on my mind and in my heart.  I would find myself singing it at random times, my heart’s prayer.

Fast-forward several months, late summer I believe, all I know for sure is that I was in the throws of a “Who Do You Think You Are?” season and totally in my genealogy state of mind.  My sweet hubby comes in one afternoon and asks me, “How close is Kershaw, South Carolina to where your ancestors are from?”  *Insert nerdy squeee*  Um, my great-grandfather was born there!!  Then he tells me that he’s been contacted by a church there.  Excitement ebbs a bit and terror takes over.

*God, that’s SOOO far from our family!*

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown, where feet may fail

Deuteronomy 13.4Well, that’s all it is for several months.  My husband and I purpose to consistently pray for God’s will over our family & His church.  God revealed to my hubby two very specific tasks to complete at our current church.  Not easy tasks mind you, many nights of prayer went into these.  It was very difficult for him at times, but I love my man of God, he faithfully followed.  Here’s the most awesome thing…the morning after he finished the final of the two tasks, the church called him again.  (God doesn’t play games guys.  He is full of awesome!)  It was a serious call, a we’d love to talk more in depth call.  A terrify this little girl to the core call.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed, and You won’t start now

So, we began the task of SUPER heavy prayer (with the addition of a few faithful prayer warriors) and conversations.  You’d think by this point in my life, and through all the things God has brought us through, I’d have no fears with following Him with blind faith…WRONG.  This little mommy is a worrier!  This southern belle is really a home body!  This planning girl doesn’t like for things to be “up in the air” or unknown.  (You’d also think I’d know by now that God doesn’t work like me.)    Ministry at the intersection of one place and another is HARD, I’m not going to lie.  If you are serious at all about loving and working for Jesus, you can’t just “check-out” from your current ministry home.  Things still need to be done.  Things still need to be planned and organized…even when you know you aren’t going to be the one to see it through.  I can’t even begin to accurately describe how hard that is.  My emotions have been a roller-coaster.  But, I know God’s holding us in His hands.

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine

And now, after many months (and I must confess, a Gideon prayer or two) God has finished the task of preparing us for His work in a new place.  We are going, with full faith in Him, to South Carolina.  We are excited to see the work He has for our family there.  Our hearts continue to pray for His church here, I know He has amazing plans for His precious people here.  Change is always difficult, but it can so often be a wonderful thing, especially when it is ordained by the Creator.  Commit yourselves to Him!  Follow Him without fear and question!  It’s terrifyingly exciting!

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Be blessed!
-De

A Prayer for This Christmas

Father above,

As I sit this morning, coffee in hand, to catch up on the news of the world, all my mind can think is how badly we need to cry out to You.  Our world is lost and crumbling without You. Forgive us in this Season of Holiness.  Forgive us for our lack of holiness.  Forgive us for abandoning You.

Break our hearts for You, Father.

I close my eyes and see Your perfect love…

In a tiny little stablearts-graphics-film_1189811a
So very far from home
You gave up Your throne in glory
For a humble bed of hay
You put Yourself in the care
Of simple mortal men
To allow Yourself to learn and grow
To fully understand
How broken and in need of You
Our world truly is
You taught us faith and showed us love
As You walked upon this land
You endured our pain and took our place
While shamed upon that cross

Father, give us each Your eyes to see through during this Christmas season.  Let us not see with the hate of the world, but with Your unconditional love for all of mankind.  Give us Your wisdom and desire to pray.  Pray like we’ve never prayed before.  Prayers for a lost world to come to You.  Prayers for wisdom to show Your love to those who need to see & experience You.

Help us focus on You!  Rejoice in You, for You are worthy of so much more than we can give!  Remind us to praise You on Christmas morning for Your greatest gift and abundant blessings!

Amen

If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Merry Christmas & Be Blessed

-De

Take Off Those Steel-Toed Boots

2_timothy_3_16_by_treybacca-d5vmg7vBut as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2Timothy 3:14-17 HCSB

Preface: This verse actually popped up in my children’s lesson a few Wednesday nights ago.  That set it rolling around in my brain.  God has had it on simmer for the past weeks, allowing me to draw some amazing things from it.  Speaking its lessons to my heart.

How often do you wear your “steel-toed boots” to church?  You know what I mean…the imaginary armor you put on after a few weeks of the preacher’s words stepping on your toes.  It’s so easy to become exhausted of sermons stomping our toes into the ground.  You may even be tempted to ask your pastor to give your toes a break once and a while.  Ever been there?  I have.

You know what friend?  Don’t be tempted to ask your pastor to “tickle your ears.”  There are warnings against that.  Paul specifically warns Timothy of this just a few verses later:

I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of His appearing and His kingdom:  Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.  For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new.  They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. But as for you, be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”  2 Timothy 4:1-5

Prayerfully, if your pastor is truly seeking God’s will, he/she will not listen to your counsel anyway.

We are human. We don’t like to be told we’re wrong in any way.  It hurts.  It makes us uncomfortable.  It often makes us angry.  We may want to lash out.  We may want to withdraw.  There are many ways we respond to rebuke or correction.

When your pastor or teachers are teaching the Words of God in truth*, friends they fulling God’s will for them.  If those words from scripture stomp on your sensitive toes…LET IT!  That usually means that you need it.  I know that is the case with me.  When something my hubby preaches just pierces me to the core, I know it’s time to get with God and do a check-up!  (Not always willingly…I have been known to throw a toddler tantrum or two.)

God’s truth can hurt as well as encourage.  I’ve heard messages in the past that I found incredibly encouraging only to be told by a friend how much it stomped her toes, and vice versa.

Let’s take those old steel-toed boots and toss them in the trash!  Let’s allow God’s Word to pierce our hearts and stomp our toes!  Only then, when we’ve been taught, rebuked, corrected, & trained will we be complete & equipped for the work He has prepared for us.

Be blessed!

-De

*Please be aware that there are “teachers” and “pastors” who do not teach the Word in truth but in twisted versions of the scriptures.  I encourage you to study the scriptures & hold them accountable.