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What are you passionate about? When I thought about the word of the year that I wanted to focus on, it was a long list. Yes, I know we are five months into the year.  However, the word passionless kept coming to mind.

Life had been good, but there was no passion for it. I’m not saying that I walked around looking miserable but there wasn’t any “oomph”, just busyness. That included my spiritual life.

I think routines steal our passion especially spiritually. We have our quiet times and the Bible seems dry most of the time. Prayer time becomes something we do and not about the relationship we have with Christ.

In March my dream of going to Israel came true. For my husband and my twenty-fifth anniversary, we went to Rome, Athens, and Israel. One thing I asked God for on the trip was a new passion for Him.

To walk where my Savior walked was amazing. To this day I am pretty much speechless. To be on the temple mount where Jesus taught and removed the money changers, having communion at the empty grave, to sit on the steps that He walked up to the temple, to be in the town where He was born and raised, and had his headquarters in Capernaum for ministry was overwhelming.

These places brought the scripture more alive to me. The twinkle of passion started to grow. When I arrived home I didn’t want to go back to the same routine. Yet I have, but it’s different. It’s not about that I have to do this because it’s what good Christians do. It’s about the relationship. There have been times when I have had to pray, “Lord I don’t want to do this but because you are my God, I am here, meet me here.” And He does.

I might not learn anything new in my reading or some great truth may not come out of the time. But just being with the author of the Word and my salvation is good enough. That’s passion.

This is a full year for me. I desire passion in every area of my life but most of all I want more passion for the Lord. I want to gain a hunger for Him that is never satisfied.

How about you? What are you passionate about? Is there a passion for the Lord? I challenge you to pray and ask God for it. It may take time, the Lord’s timing is everything but I promise you it will come and it will be a growing time as well.

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I go to church every Sunday. It’s something I have done since I was a baby. Nothing like a good worship service. But recently it’s been a chore to go.

I just came back from a trip to Israel. And one of the things God really convicted me about is how I prepare to worship.

There was a site called the Southern Steps (one of the very few archeological sites known to still exist from Jesus’ days on the earth) One of the things that were mentioned was that the steps had different widths. This was done so that a person wouldn’t run up the stairs to get things done but to contemplate by walking slowly up to the temple. It forced a person to slow down and think about what they were about to do. The question one of our leaders asked was “What do we do to prepare for worship?

I had to take a long look within. I realized that I don’t prepare to worship. And that maybe it’s the reason I struggle with going. I don’t spend time in the Bible like I do other mornings. Why? I get it in church. I check e-mails and school schedules nothing that says I’m ready to worship my Creator and Savior. I do everything else including rushing around to get ready. Where is the peace, the excitement to spend time with God’s people worshipping the God of the Universe?

What other way would be perfect to prepare my heart to sing, and listen to the Word being taught than to spend time with one who has given me life, both spiritually and physically?

I have resigned from my old ways. I plan on intentionally spending time asking the Holy Spirit to prepare my heart for what is to come. That means no e-mails, school assignments, nothing that isn’t relevant to worship. That includes setting out the clothes the night before.

What are you doing to prepare to worship God? Are you rushing around instead of spending time with Him in the Word and prayer, and perhaps then turn on praise music.

Corporate worship does not negate the individual time that is necessary for us to grow. I challenge you to take a hard look at your Sunday routine and ask God if there is anything that needs to be put aside that morning so you can focus on the time of worship that is to come.

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Is it Real?

I was at work and a customer handed me a hundred-dollar bill. Something didn’t feel right about it. I guess I have handled enough money to know when something isn’t right. I looked it over carefully and couldn’t put my finger on it so I took it. That nagging feeling didn’t go away. I almost gave it to another customer but chose not to. I’m glad I didn’t because as my manager and I looked over it for a few moments we finally discovered it was fake. We got so intent on looking for what was supposed to be there we didn’t look for what wasn’t supposed to be there. Needless to say, I was kicking myself.

It reminded me how clever the devil is. He can present something so well that it looks real or the truth but in reality, it’s not.

I realized, even more, how 1. Important it is to know scripture 2. Listen to the prodding of the Holy Spirit and if needed 3. Check-in with someone that is trustworthy to give spiritual counsel.

The Word will never steer us wrong. It’s God’s word after all. If something doesn’t line up with scripture or who God is it’s more than likely wrong. Granted the Bible doesn’t give us everything in scripture such as marrying Johnny or Nancy, but we can hold an activity or decision up in view of God’s character; are they going to strive to be a godly spouse according to scripture.

The Holy Spirit was given to us as a counselor. He will put the warning beacon up if we are on the wrong track. It’s called a check in our spirit.

If there is still confusion go to someone who is strong in their walk with the Lord and who won’t tell you what you want to hear but what you need to hear.

Have you come up against questionable ideas, activities, and desires? I would encourage you to check scripture, pray and seek godly counsel.  Remember God is not a god of confusion Satan is. By doing these three things we take the risk out of missing what is there and not, there according to God. Had I checked with my manager sooner I wouldn’t have accepted that fake bill.

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Hebrews 4:12 NIV84

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In John 2 we see the first miracle Jesus performed. He was at a wedding and the bridegroom’s family ran out of wine, not a good thing in those days. Jesus’ mother asked Him to do something about it. Although His time hadn’t arrived to go public He obeyed His mother. Water was turned into wine. But it wasn’t just any wine it was the best.

God doesn’t do things half-baked. When God provides it’s always the best and for the best. I thought I was going to school to learn a few skills to help those suffering from depression and anxiety. However, what  God was doing was planting a seed for what He wanted to grow. I never thought that I would be working on a Bachelor’s degree in human services and then go on to become a counselor. This was not in my sites.  A little disclaimer: It’s not always going to be this drastic.

We want something and pray for it as the scripture says, and we get something else. We may not realize it at that point, eventually, though, we will see that it was His best for our best. And the prayer may not get answered right away either. His timing is everything. He will provide what is needed when it is needed.

He has a plan that we need to trust Him for. Jeremiah 29:11-13 says this:

“’ For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for me with all your heart.’”

I never thought that my depression and anxiety would be the stepping stone on this journey. What is it you are waiting and praying for? Are you struggling in the waiting? Keep praying (I haven’t had answers to some of my prayers yet) He will answer it in His timing with His best.

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I am back at it but in a different compacity. This term in school I took an American Literature class.  I’ve learned a lot however, one author’s piece was one of the surprises.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was a nature lover and writer and he wrote a piece entitled Self-Reliance. I think a more appropriate title should have been Self-Acceptance.  There were three takeaways I gleaned:

  1. Don’t be a conformist
  2. You are unique therefore be yourself
  3. To accept one’s self is a gift, to accept others is a greater gift.

As Christians and humans we were not made to conform to fit other’s people molds. We were created unique beings with skills, talents and personalities therefore you are who you were created to be. God loves you and created you uniquely, accept that and then accept others for who God created them to be. It’s as simple and complex as that.

As Christians were are told “not to conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” (Romans12:2 NASB) We are supposed to be different than the world around us. The idea is that we are so distinct that people are drawn to why and the who that makes us different.

As individuals, we can’t be who other people want us to be. We won’t have the same likes, dislikes, dreams, talents, and so on. God didn’t create us that way. “We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works.” (Ephesians 2:10 NASB) He created us differently to have various purposes and goals. The body has numerous parts to it so does the Christian family. We have specific jobs. (ICorinthians 12:12-27 NASB) Don’t apologize for being different.

To accept ourselves is accepting who God made us therefore, we have truly accepted a gift. And because we can love ourselves (not in a selfish way) we can appreciate the differences in others. Do we want others to come to faith and knowledge of who Christ is?  Yes. We are to tell them the gospel but not force something down their throat. Accept them no matter what. Let the changes occur because God is working.

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Okay I’ll admit it, I’m a Christmas fiend. I have one big tree, three small trees and two medium size trees that get decorated every year. This year they went up a few weeks late because we were having renovations done.

I went to our local Hobby Lobby the other day and of course they had all their Valentines Day decorations out. I bought a few thinking well it’s a way to keep some of the trees up a little longer.

The next day I started preparing to take down our Jesus Tree. This tree to me is special because it is just dedicated to the true meaning of Christmas. Each ornament is a celebration of who He is and what He came to do. It hit me, isn’t that the ultimate Valentine?

Christ was born as one of His own creations out of love. He lived among us giving us an example on how to live a godly life through love. Everything He did came from an outpouring of love from His heart. Even the correction and so called rebukes. They were to show man that they needed His love in order to live an abundant life. Some caught on, some…well…their pride got in the way.

But the ultimate showing of His love was through a wooden cross. He died and took on Himself the burden of everyone’s sin. I mean everyone’s. That means you. His love was so strong for those He created He died so that we could live. Who more worthy to be recognized at Valentine’s Day than Jesus?

Oh precious one, if you don’t know  Him and the life giving love He has to offer I encourage you to go to the Invitation Tab at the top of the page. Allow Jesus to be your Valentine.

As for the tree. It  may become a new tradition in this house to leave it up who knows but this year it will remain.

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Light of the World

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I look forward to the lights especially at night. I was sitting in the living room the other day before the family got up. I was having my time in the Word, and the topic for the day was Christ being the light of the World. As I looked around the room the trees and the candles in the window provided enough light that I could read and journal.

My mind went to the Christmas Eve candlelight service and I was taken aback at the visual our Pastor gives us. I’d like to share it you in a little different way.

Not only is Christ the Light of the World but we as His family are also light bearers. The way we live our life, how we speak, how we work all reflects the light of Christ, and who we are in Him. As I observed our main tree the thought occurred to me. One light on the two-hundred light tree gives off light but not that much. However, when you light up all 200 and the smaller trees and the six candles in the window it lights up the room where everything can be seen and you don’t need a lamp to read.

What about us. What if each of us took seriously our role as a light in this dark world. And it is dark and getting darker by the day. What if we showed the love of Christ to the unlovable, did our jobs without complaining, did our jobs to the fullest, and not try to get away with the minimum? Or love on the ones who are not His children instead of fighting them every step of the way? What would the world around us see? They would see the light of Christ shine through us. They would see a difference they couldn’t deny and maybe desire themselves.

Now to be clear there will be those who will reject the light we have because men love the darkness so their weaknesses and sin are hidden. But what kind of impact can we make?

You may ask what can one light do? Plenty but when added to hundreds of others more than one can imagine.

I challenge you when you look at your Christmas tree, or the lights on the houses you drive by, ask yourself what kind of influence am I? Am I trying to hide my light or will I be like a city on a hill that can’t be hidden. Will I add my light to others to reach the world for Him?

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year.

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Be Thankful

What are you thankful for?

It’s that time of the month when we start focusing on being thankful. This year has left us with little to be thankful for or has it?

The world is sliding downward it seems quicker and quicker these days. We have had natural disasters, a pandemic, not to mention political wars and everyday stresses. Anxiety is the call of the day. There doesn’t seem to be focused on that is demanding of our thanksgiving.

Even I feel a little guilty over having one item in my thankfulness journal last night. I been so filled with fatigue, anger, frustration, that I could only find one thing to be thankful for and that was just to put something down. I couldn’t focus on anything that was positive. The negative got in the way of thinking on things that were honorable, pure, right, lovely, of good report, excellent and praise worthy.

I could have put things on my list like:

A great day at work

Seeing my youngest dressed up for a homecoming gathering at church

Work getting my schedule right.

My oldest willing to go get her sister so I didn’t have to go out at 11 pm.

These are just a few. A friend of mine challenged me to be accountable a few months back to keep a thankfulness journal. The goal was to write three items at the end day we were thankful for. They could be simple or grandiose. It could be more or less but the goal was three a day. And we would text that list to each other every night.

Because I suffer with anxiety and depression, this was a great exercise for me. Not that it took these away but I found my attitude adjusting. I could find things to praise and thank God for even in the midst of feeling down. It caused my thinking to be more upbeat even though my body and emotions were the complete opposite. There was peace.

God is good even in the midst of trials. I challenge you to start a thankfulness journal of your own. Be accountable with a friend. Start with two or three and see how many things God allows you to see. I think you may see a difference in you life.

“May the peace of God guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”, as you see the big and small things to be thankful for each day, not just at Thanksgiving.

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One Song is Enough

A few years ago I wrote a piece for a Sunday School periodical entitled, One Word is Enough. One word prayers are as effective as hour-long ones. What matters is the position of the heart. I can be so overwhelmed that “Help!” is all I can say. Or so awed by God that “ Wow” is the only thing that comes out.

I think music is another one of those tools that God uses when we have no idea what to pray or how to pray.

Psalms 42:8 says this “The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life.” (NASB)

I can’t count how many times a song has become a prayer for me. God has created men and women who, much like David and Korah, write music that expresses the overwhelming feelings of hurt, wonder, anger, and words of questioning why.

Here are some of my go-to songs:

Dance with Me – Paul Wilbur

Wanted- Danny Goke

Exhale – Plumb

The Blessing- Kari Jobe

My Weapon- Natalie Grant

Why God- Austin French

These songs are today’s Psalms. They express the same thoughts and emotions the Psalmists expressed over 3000 years ago. Nothing has changed with scripture especially the Psalms. It’s as relevant today as it was then.

For you today I pray over you “The Blessing” by Kari Jobe based on Numbers 6: 24-26 (NASB)

“The Lord bless you, and

Keep you;

The Lord make His face shine

On you,

And be gracious to you;

The LORD lift up His

Countenance on you,

And give you peace.”

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Be Alert! Stand Firm!

Bravery means being alert in all circumstances. The enemy the Devil prowls around like a hangry lion. Yes, a hangry lion. He is stealthy. His mouth drips salavia hoping to find me and use the weakness I have to bring me down by the neck.

One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is to alert me to situations, people within the enemy’s pride to influence me in the ways of the world. Or emotions which the enemy can smell in a weakened moment.

Since the Holy Spirit can and will alert me if I am willing, I have the ability to stand my ground and the enemy will fail. Unfortunately, a injured animal can be more dangerous. The second round may cause me to be so full of fear it paralyzes me to do anything or to give up because it’s hard and lay down in surrender.

Pin on words
Be Alert! Stand firm!

The enemy is not just the spiritual one, but we can do enough damage to ourselves, through choices, negative self talk, etc. It’s why it’s important that we are in the word everyday and being in touch with our Heavenly Father through prayer.

Through the word we learn what He is capable of. What we are capable of in Christ. We are capable of standing firm and having love in all that we do whether it be a hard situation within the home, work, school or in the community. We have a Heavenly father who cares for us. That He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide, comfort and alert to the tactics of the world both earthly and spiritually.

Today I chose to stand firm and be alert. Will you join me?

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men be strong. Le all that you do be done in love.”

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NASB)

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