Monday, April 30, 2012

{Z}zzz

The last day of April.
and
The last day of the A to Z Challenge.

I'll admit, this challenge was a bit trying.  Not being fully established as a "blogger," I learned a lot in the past month.  I have posted regularly.  I have connected with fellow bloggers.  I have learned different aspects of participating in the blogging community.  I upgraded the design of the blog (huge thanks to Digging Deeper Designs).  I have wavered between blogging as a hobby or a taking this more seriously.  Most importantly, I have grown deeper in my relationship with God throughout this challenge, as well as encouraged and hopefully instilled some hope in the readers of this blog.

I guess what I am getting to is... 30 to 31 days ago, I never imagined I would have came out of the other side of this challenge considering the things I am considering now.  While, yes, I want to help those that are hurting or have been hurt, and yes, I want to help others deepen their relationship with God, I never really thought of the potential a blog would offer in my reaching out to others.  What started as an idea has the potential to go far and beyond what I could have fathomed.  Maybe in the back of my mind somewhere, I considered this a trial run at blogging... Is it worth the time and effort?  Is it worth putting myself out there?  Could this even be what I truly want for my 'ministry'?

That being said and many prayers later, I have decided I am not going anywhere.  There, I said it.

So, for now, I am going to rest up.... The ideas over the past few days have flooded my brain, and there is a lot of work to do.  Exciting things to come, and being tired is not going to cut it.  Off for a nap.  (Lame "Z" post?  Maybe.  It is just going to have to work.)

In His Love,
F....

Saturday, April 28, 2012

{Y}HWH

Abba
Advocate
Almighty
Alpha
Anointed One
Author of Life
Author of our Faith
Beginning
Branch
Bread of Life
Christ
Comforter
Commander
Consuming Fire
Cornerstone
Counselor
Creator
Deliverer
End
Eternal
Faithful
Father
Firstfruits
Friend
Gift
God
Guide
Holy Spirit
Hope
Jehovah
Jesus
Judge
King
Lamb of God
Leader
Light
Lord
Love
Master
Mighty One
Omega
Potter
Prince of Peace
Redeemer
Refiner
Rock
Ruler
Savior
Servant
Shepherd
Shield
Source
Strong Tower
Teacher
Truth
Way
YHWH

Exodus 6:2-3 - And God said to Moses, "I am Yahweh—'the LORD.' I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty’—but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them."

What do you call Him?  How do you know Him? 

In  His Love,
F....





Friday, April 27, 2012

{X}n

Xn: Christian

While the word in itself has a negative connotation, the meaning, as complex as it may be, varies among different belief systems. Putting aside the legalistic issues, the foundational meaning is one who believes Christ is who he says he is.

If that is your fundamental belief, can people tell?  If you are thinking, "wait, you just said it was a belief.  I believe.  Is that not enough?  If it is not enough, change your definition"  Let me explain...

Merely waving the "Christian" flag yet living as if He does not exist is a contradiction within itself. Because if you believe who he said he was, you would know he is not dead. You would know the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead has taken up residence inside you.

Example:

As with any residence, things change with new occupants. Not only is the inside refurnished, but the yard begins to change. Things change.  As you learn more of your savior things change.  You notice things you may not have beforehand.  Your feelings change.  The things you do change.  You change as the Spirit transforms you.

Vacancy


Turning off the vacancy light doesn't constitute true occupancy. Onlookers usually know a vacant structure regardless of the sign out front.  Because you may have accepted that Jesus was a savior and more than a legend, it isn't until you have come to know that Jesus is your savior daily, in everything, that you have true occupancy.  If you still aren't sure, do other people see you as different?

For those who waive the flag with manicured lawns, blossoming flower beds, and elaborate furnishings, it is noticed. For those who have powered down the light of vacancy while neglecting transformation, evict the renters and reevaluate your property.  Are you really who you say you are? 

Lastly, for those of you who aren't into real estate, see beyond the false advertising.  If the word "Christian" leaves you with a nasty taste in your mouth, learn of Christ for yourself and decide on your own.  Resist judging Christianity due to vacant "Christians."   

What is the condition of your heart?

In His Love,
F....


Thursday, April 26, 2012

{W}eary

Weary: Physically or mentally exhausted by hard work, exertion, strain; fatigued; tired.

Confession time:

While a lot of the time I have a smile on my face, I am trekking through weary territory. This season in my life is trying, exhausting, draining. Even I admit an upward focus is not all rainbows and sunshine. Yet, I do not retreat to the fetal position and await something phenomenal. I must keep going.

BUT

I'm tired.
I'm drained.
I'm exhausted.

Jeremiah 31:25 says, I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.   So I say, refresh me Lord. Satisfy me. Yet still, the cloud of defeat hovers and rain of weariness falls drip by drip.  Matthew 11:28 says,  "Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

So I surrender, "God, I'm here. Please give me rest. I can't go on like this. I'm too weak." Then I recall Isaiah 40:29, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."

"I await your strength. I need your power. Where my flesh fails me, you are there to fill the gaping holes. Yet, I'm still worn. How God? How can I tap into your strength? How am I to be strengthened when I am so alone?"  Hebrews 12:3 - Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you do not grow weary and lose heart.

"I'm before you now pleading for fullness, begging for change, craving your presence in this tortuous circumstance. My trial pales in comparison doesn't even compare to the One who went before me. Help me to not be weary or lose heart. Please God, just confirm my continuance or let me out. Oh so easy it would be to give up, to bail, to escape, to run and never look back. My honor to you goes unnoticed in this area of my life. My surrender to you reaps void and pain flows so effortlessly. Meanwhile, I cling to you."

I am reminded of Galatians 6:9. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."  I pray for a spirit of perseverance, renewed endurance, and limitless strength to survive this season.

Isaiah 40:31 - but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

May I be the one who who hopes in the Lord and their strength be renewed? May I be one who runs without fainting? May I be the one who soars high on wings like eagles? I praise you Father for your promises and with an "if not" faith, I'll never abandon the One who gave it all.  In your son's holy name I pray. Amen

While raw and unedited, I pray this speaks to someone, that this encourages someone, and shows someone they are not alone. If led to, feel free to email me a prayer request. I will pray for every eye that reads these words, that they not become weary or feel defeated in the face of their struggle.

In His Love,
F....

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

{V}iral


Viral: pertaining to or involving the spread of information and opinions about a product or service from person to person, especially on the Internet or in e-mails.

Confining this term to the Internet is narrow, as the concept predates the computer.

Matthew 9:26 says, "News of all this spread through all that region."  This was stated after Jesus had brought a girl back to life and healed a woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years.  People talked about it.  How could they not?  This man resurrected the dead.  I'd talk about it too, I'm sure.

A few verses later, we see, "But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region."  This was said after Jesus restored sight to a blind man.  Further, this was said after Jesus told them to keep it to themselves.

What is viral in your life?  What you want people to know or what you wish they did not know?  As you go about your day, live as you want to be known.  When you live with a purpose of impact and life of honor out of overflow of your heart in Christ, Christ goes viral.  People see.  People talk.  "There is something different about her." 

John 3:30 says, "He must become greater, and I must become less." 

In His Love,
F....






Tuesday, April 24, 2012

{U}pward

As today is "U" for the AtoZChallenge, I had to take advantage of the opportunity to delve into the namesake of this blog.  Upon the initial glance, sure it seems obvious.  Upward not inward.  Focus upward  (eternity) and not inward (temporary).  But it is so much more than that...

Psalm 123:1 - I lift my eyes to you, to you who sits enthroned in heaven.

Psalm 121:1 - I lift my eyes up to the mountains - where does my help come from?

Job 35:5-6 - Look up at the heavens and see; gaze at the clouds so high above you.  If you sin, how does that affect him?  If your sins are many, what does that do to him?

Isaiah 40:26 - Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?  He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name.  Because of his great power and mighty strength not one of them is missing.

There is something to be said of perspective.  Living life in a box magnifies our issues, our problems, our pain.  When we can't see beyond the four walls surrounding us, we fail to see the magnitude of God's wonder and awe.  Affixing our eyes on Him, the temporary trials lose their luster in our lives.  At the same time, I do not say trials loosely.  
  • When feeling battered by life's circumstances, look up.
  • When feeling deep pain of betrayal, don't lose focus.
  • When feeling exhausted from the continuous pull in 100 different directions, look up.
  • When feeling hopeless, don't lose focus.
  • When feeling insignificant, look up. 
  • When feeling angry and irate, don't lose focus. 
God can take every circumstance and turn it into a mighty set up for something spectacular.  Don't lose faith when you are facing something brutal.  Don't let loss steal your joy.  Remember who you serve.  Remember where your help comes from.  Remember that the One who placed and named the stars did not miss a thing.  Should your focus fade and your restricted vision impair your walk, affix your eyes on greatness, holiness, righteousness.



If anything, consider this your encouragement today to perform a self-perspective test.  Where is my focus?  Where is the center of my perspective?  Am I robbing my days by remaining in a box, or am I committed to maximizing the potential of each day by focusing upward?  

James 4:14 says we are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  If our time is limited maximize each day by remaining focused on what matters.

In His Love,
F....


Monday, April 23, 2012

{T}emple

Today's post is brought to you by Ms. Laura.  Her wonder of God and talent make for brilliant posts.  Enjoy!

Temple: A building devoted to the worship, or regarded as the dwelling place, of a god or gods.

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. John 2:19-22

Jesus told the Jews that if they destroyed the Temple he would raise it again in three days. When these words were spoken by Jesus, the Temple was the center of religious life. The Temple had taken 46 years to build and was believed to be the house of God and a symbol of God’s presence among his people. No one could fathom how Jesus could possibly raise the Temple in three days if it was destroyed.

However, Jesus was speaking of himself as the Temple. Jesus says in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus should always be the center of religious life because we can only get to God through Jesus. God sent his flesh, Jesus, in the likeness of our sinful flesh to bear the rightful punishment for our sin. Jesus is our Temple! Jesus is our building devoted to worship! Jesus is our dwelling place of God!

Where is your center?



Sunday, April 22, 2012

{S}lave

Slave:  A person entirely under the domination of some influence or person.

Romans 6:20-22: When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

When I initially read this parallel of slavery applicable to our life with Christ, I admit, I was a little caught of guard.  While I have no problem seeing myself as a servant of God, I do have a problem with seeing myself a slave to sin. 

See, I never thought of myself as a slave to sin. When it asks, "What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?"  I just shook my head. 

Not a Thing!

Pain. 
Heartache. 
Hopelessness. 
Void. 
Brokenness. 
Loneliness. 

Continuing on, "Those things result in death!"  Little did I know, they certainly did! There was no life producing element seeded in my life of betrayal and going through the motions. 

BUT

Now that I have been set free from sin, I am now a slave of God.  God is my Master.  I serve my Creator.  And the benefits.... Ohh the benefits. 

Holiness.
Eternal Life.

This text was a moment of reflection for me, a time to evaluate where I am, what I am doing, and whom/what I am serving.  In all things, I want to serve righteousness.

Matthew 6:24 says "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other..."  In each day, maximize each opportunity to display to whom you are devoted.

In His Love,
F....


Friday, April 20, 2012

{R}omans

My all time favorite book of the Bible. 

The chapter that changed my guilt-ridden life of shame and self-condmenation - Romans 8.  The very first verse changed my perspective on everything.


While I knew Christ before my face hit the pavement with a fall that would eventually bring to light the concept of grace in my life, it wasn't until my heart was pierced with the truth in Romans 8 that I went from knowing Christ to having a relationship with Christ. 

The key word in this verse for me was:  NOW.  I had vested five years into a continuous cycle of guilt, shame, self-condemnation, grief over the same thing over and over and over.  I was held captive by the thoughts :

  • I'm damaged goods.
  • I've messed up too bad.
  • I don't deserve God's love, let alone forgiveness.
  • I'll never be good enough.
  • I'm worthless to God now.
  •  
Finally realizing my roots were already planted in Christ, this verse applied to me, because I am "in Christ Jesus."  I thought this concept of "no condemnation" was something attainable when my life on earth had ended.  But, how can that be if it clearly says "now?"  There is NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!  That's today!  That's in this very moment.

So, when those thoughts start creeping into my mind, I align the thought with truth.  
 
  • I am damaged goods, but God calls the unexpected to do the extraordinary.
  • God's grace weighs heavier than anything I could ever do.  Thinking otherwise cheapens the death of Christ on the cross.
  • I don't deserve God's love or forgiveness, but he freely gives it as an undeserved gift--something I cannot earn or destroy, which is grace.
  • I'm not good enough on my own, but I'm not on my own!
  • I'm am not worthless to God.  I am worth dying for!
  •  
Have you had to combat self-condemning thoughts?  Have your mistakes surfaced in your mind to build a wall between you and God? 

In His Love,
F....




Thursday, April 19, 2012

{Q}uotes



I have a thing for quotes.  When I hear something that impacts me, I try to jot it down somewhere.  Whether it inspires, motivates, encourages, or convicts, sometimes a good quote reveals another angle to the same old thing we have heard.  Today, I just want to share a few of my favorites that have in one way or another helped me.

The most effective way the enemy can blind us is to cause us to focus on ourselves. ~ John Bevere (in the book Bait of Satan)

Until we see ourselves as sinners, we won't see our need for a saviour. ~ Craig Groeschel

We can't hide from the world when we are called to change it. ~ Steven Furtick

Remember what God has done.  Short memories harden the heart. ~ Max Lucado (in the book 3:16)

The more valuable the reward, the more costly it is... It's simple economics! ~ Ms. Laura Waymire

Don't let your desires derail your destiny. ~ Steven Furtick

If prayer isn't necessary to accomplish your vision, then you aren't thinking big enough. ~ Craig Groeschel

Acknowledge what you have done.  Sin-hoarding stiffens us.  Confession softens us. ~ Max Lucado (in the book 3:16)

Worry is like a rocking chair, it will give you something to do and get you nowhere. ~ Unknown

No one can change a person, but a person can be the reason someone changes. ~ Spongebob Squarepants

Do you have a favorite quote?  Feel free to share. 

In His Love,
F....



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

{P}rodigal's Advantage

There is a parable in Luke 15 called the "Prodigal Son" in verses 11-31.  Short story even shorter - 

There was a son with a rich dad who thought he would be better off with his inheritance up front then continue life without father.  His dad conceded.  He bailed, lost everything, and began to starve.  He then took control and got a job with pigs.  He realized the pigs ate better than he did, so he wanted to go home.  He even wrote a script to his dad about how sorry he was and would even be okay with just being a servant, because he didn't deserve to even be a son.  This brings us to verse 20.


While this son was raised in wealth, his selfishness and entitlement got the best of him.  He still thought he could do better on his own.  He was starving and no fix-it he came up with satisfied.  So, he hit rock bottom and wanted to go home.

What is the prodigal's advantage?

The prodigal's advantage was that he always knew the way back home.  He was raised there.  He knew what life was like at home.  There was comfort at home.  There were no hunger pains at home.  He did not have to take control at home. 

Every attempt to not need his dad bombed.  His effort to live life apart from what he knew failed.  Each misfortune reminded him of how life was before he took control.  He longed to be filled with the food his father gave him when he was home.

I can pinpoint to you the time in my life that I felt this way.  I thought I knew it all.  I understood everything I heard at church.  But, there came a time in my life that I thought I would continue on completely focused on myself.  Then, I lost "everything."  I lost the peace and comfort I once knew.  I created such grief for myself.  I remember hitting rock bottom.  And more than anything, I remember the pain in realizing I didn't deserve to be called a Child of God. 

However, I never forgot the way back home. 

Have you ever gotten so caught up in yourself that you look up and find yourself standing alone?  Remember, if you aren't as close to God as you once were, He's not the one that moved.  Go home. 


In His Love,
F....







Tuesday, April 17, 2012

{O}ngoing


Ongoing:  Continuing without termination or interruption.

Ongoing dependence on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Ongoing obedience even when we want to give up.  Ongoing surrender of our will for His will.  Ongoing prayer to the God who not only loves us but knows us, who has vast power, who can make the sun stand still

COMBATS

Ongoing obstacles.  Ongoing resistance.  Ongoing trouble. Ongoing hardship.  Ongoing strain.  Ongoing pain.  Ongoing bondage.  Ongoing struggle.  Ongoing weakness.  Ongoing temptation.  Ongoing exhaustion.

RESULTING IN

Ongoing comfort in comfortless situations.  Ongoing peace that surpasses human understanding.  Ongoing joy in seemingly difficult circumstances.  Ongoing refueling in our spirit.  Ongoing endurance. Ongoing favor in all circumstances.

Have you ever felt like walking away because you feel like a doormat?  Have you ever felt like giving up on God, because it is not easy?  Have you ever felt like you are always the one doing "what's right" and still seeing no payoff?

Please consider this your encouragement today, that no matter what you are going through right now, your ongoing obedience, faith, and surrender are not in vain.  Psalm 31:19 says "How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you."   

Hebrews 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.


In His Love,
F....






Monday, April 16, 2012

{N}either {N}or



What can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ?

Death?
No.

Life?
No.

Angels?
No.

Demons?
No.

The Present?
No.

The Future?
No.

Powers?
Nope.

Height?
No.

Depth?
Still no.

Anything else?
No again.

Powerful, powerful verses in Romans 8 (38 & 39).  Read it again.  Take time to digest this word. 

In His Love,
F....



Saturday, April 14, 2012

{M}ore

Today's "M" post is another brilliant blog post from an incredible woman, Ms. Laura.  Thank you for taking the time to guest post straight from the heart.  Enjoy blog readers:



Romans 8:37 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”


More: A greater or additional amount or degree.

Conqueror: Someone who is victorious by force of arm.

How can you be More than victorious? Paul tells us in Romans 8:37 that we are “More than Conquerors”, but how can that be? 

We are More than victorious, because the victory was already won on our behalf. The battles we face have already been defeated. God’s sacrifice of Jesus rescued us from our rightful punishment. 

When you are fighting a battle that has already been won, you must take a different outlook on the battle itself. Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” IN ALL THINGS GOD WORKS FOR THE GOOD! 

Our everyday battles of sin, temptation, frustration work for the good in our life. Paul tells us in Romans 5 that we should even take great pride and pleasure from our battles because our battles develop passionate patience within us and through patience we gain experience and through experience we gain hope.

Prepare to be More than a Conqueror. Continually upgrade your armor through studying His Word daily. Do not go into battle defenseless or you may miss a moment to develop your patience, gain experience, and gain hope. 

We are undefeated, and we can’t be beaten!


Laura Waymire


Friday, April 13, 2012

{L}onely

Lonely: affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone.


I have felt lonely many of times.  My husband deploys with the Air Force.  Generally, after he leaves for a deployment I feel lonely.  That is an obvious example.  There have also been instances where I have felt lonely in a crowd.  For example, last night... 

Last night, I attended a Women's Event at church.  Normally, I have my best friend with me.  (She moved to another state recently.)  So, this was an event I attended solo.  I had invited a few folks to go with me, and no one could make it.  But, I went anyway.  

Let me just say, I attend a large church.  That is putting it mildly. I attend Lifechurch.tv.  I'm talking largest church in the country.  So, there were quite a few women at this event.  To say I was intimidated is an understatement.  More so, I felt lonely.  I felt the absence of my friend, who I miss dearly.  I felt alone amidst a crowd. 

After the initial pity party in my mind and a few text messages later, I was reminded that I was there a) for a purpose [whatever that may be] and b) I was not alone.  Psalm 23:4 says, "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me."  

I share this with you today to remind you that wherever you are, whatever you are going through, you are not alone.  Whether you are surrounded by silence or overwhelmed by chaos, you are not alone. 

Have you ever felt lonely in a crowded place? 

In His Love,
F....


     



Thursday, April 12, 2012

{K}nock

Knockto strike a sounding blow with the fist, knuckles, or anything hard, especially on a door, window, or the like, as in seeking admittance, calling attention, or giving a signal.

Luke 11:10 - "For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."



Luke 13:25 - "Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’"

While these are both pulled out of their respective chapters, let's not view these as opposing verses.  There is a difference.  The first verse tells us what happens when we knock.  The second verse tells us what happens when we knock too late.  There will come a time when we meet the master behind the door.  When we do, we will either be meeting someone we know or someone we don't.

We are never forced to knock.  It is an action that is all our own, our decision, our initiation.  Some people reach the door, yet don't knock.  Some people have received an invite, yet still don't knock.  Some people see the door as too big or too small, yet still don't knock.

It deeply saddens me that there will be people who will not have an open door.  Showing up late pleading for entrance is, to me, not something to look forward to.  So, today I encourage you if you haven't knocked, knock.  If you have stood at the door and remained hesitant, go ahead and knock.  If you have knocked, went in, looked around and left, knock again.  Knock before it is too late.

In His Love,
F....


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

{J}oking

Proverbs 26:18-19  Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, “I was only joking!”

someecards.com - You only call me when you want something...

Joking: to say something in fun or teasing rather than in earnest; be facetious: He didn't really mean it, he was only joking. 

Goodness, I thought and thought and thought about a possible "J" topic for today.  I contemplated Jesus, Justification, and Judgment.  I had a hard time finally deciding on Joking... until today.

A few days ago, I was joking around on the phone with my mom and said, "Geez... you only call me when you want something."  We went about our conversation, laughed about other things, and hung up the phone.  Then, today, we talked again.  She asked me in a sincere tone, "do you really think I only call you when I want something?"   She had let that "joke" resonate, so much so that she had to confirm it was not truth.  I was only joking.  There was in no way, shape, or form any underlying issues or implied resentment in the joke.  I felt HORRIBLE!!!

I instantly thought of the verse in Proverbs about joking.  While I didn't intend to hurt her feelings, I did.  It was to me in that moment a lesson in being careful on how I joke.  I planted doubt and caused pain for the sake of humor.  That certainly wasn't my intention, but it is true.  I did.

I encourage you to be aware of the potential to hurt someone's feelings, even if you are just kidding.  You never know when your jokes are burning someone else.   Have you ever hurt someone's feelings with a joke gone bad? 

In His Love,
F....


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

{I}dentity

Identity: condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is.


 
 
In the past, I have defined myself based on roles, performance, failures, what other people think.  I have used words such as:
  • Daughter
  • Mother
  • Wife
  • Student
  • Busy
  • Talker
  • (Insert Job Title Here)
  • Liar
  • Failure

However, the more I study the Bible, the more I learn that I am not defined by what I do, what I have done, what I am going to do.  I am not defined by my failures and mistakes.  I am not defined by my job.  So, who am I?

I am Righteous, Holy, Loved, Complete, Perfect, Acceptable, Blameless, Loving, Joyful, Peaceful, Patient, Kind, Good, Gentle, Faithful.  Further, I am Redeemed, Forgiven, Covered in Grace. (See: Ephesians, Romans, Colossians, Corinthians, Hebrews, Galatians)

I am not all these on my own.  No one could be.  I am a Child of God, with my identity defined by the one who made me.  The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives within me, and by continually surrendering and renewing my mind I rely on the Spirit to transform me. 

When I am consumed with doubt, self-condemnation, the cycle of my mistakes playing on repeat in my mind, loneliness, or brokenness, I reflect on who I am, who I am called to be and realign my thoughts with what God says about me.  There is an indescribable peace that accompanies the knowledge that the truth about me is always what God says--not what anyone else says, not what I think, but what God says.
 
How do you define yourself?  What are words you have used to describe yourself?

In His Love,
F....

Monday, April 9, 2012

{H}onor

Mark 6:4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.”




Honorhigh respect, as for worth, merit, or rank.

Pastor Stephen Furtick did a series on honor, called Honorology.  During this series he said, "familiarity is the greatest foe of honor."  This statement is clearly seen in the verse above when it even came to Jesus.  Honor is not something to be earned, but something to be given--not based on what they deserve, but based on who I am in Christ. 

I've been thinking about this, as I knew today would be "H" for the A to Z Challenge, and I was leaning toward using honor.  In all honesty, the more I thought about it, the more I felt convicted.  When I know all the faults, the mistakes, the past, the forgotten promises, the routine, the rejection, I put a shortage on honor when it comes to 'familiar" people.  I will admit it. 

The greatest expression of love is honor.  Don't let familiarity rob you of an opportunity to honor someone today and every day.  Is honor displayed in your everyday relationships?  Do you see where you have not been honoring or have been honoring even when someone did not "deserve" it?

In His Love,
F....




Saturday, April 7, 2012

{G}rave

The day after Good Friday and the day before Easter, I find no "G" more fitting than Grave...

1 Corinthians 15:55 (KJV) ~ O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?



When I think of grave, I think of:
  • dirt
  • the end
  • cemetary
  • the finale
  • its all over
  • no more life
  • gone forever
  • name on a rock
  • never coming back
I will admit, the term victory is far from my mind.  I do not even think about a grave as anything to be triumphant over like battle or war.  I see it as the end.  Every grave site I have been to, I know that marks the end of the road.  Whoever is buried, I will not see again.  The funeral is the last of it.  The burial marks the final sign of life that was.

With Easter approaching, the lesson within transforms every worldly ideal of grave.  In Christ, the grave wasn't the end.  It wasn't all over for Jesus.  His life did not end with dirt or a gigantic stone.  His life did not stop the moment everyone thought it would.  His trip to the grave did not mean he was never coming back. 

In fact, what seemed like the greatest defeat of all time was merely the greatest set up that would transform the world forever.  As we venture from Good Friday and ultimately to Easter, take a moment to reflect on death being swallowed up in victory.  Isaiah 2:8  The {G}rave is not the end. 







In His Love,
F....

Friday, April 6, 2012

{F}ire

What follows is another brilliant post by Ms. Laura. Thank you for posting from the heart and sharing your
{F}ire with us



Psalm 39:1-3 (NIV)  1 I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.” 2 So I remained utterly silent, not even saying anything good. But my anguish increased; 3 my heart grew hot within me. While I meditated, the Fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue.

Fire: Combustion or burning, in which substances combine chemically with oxygen from the air and typically give out bright light, heat, and smoke.

Combustion: Rapid chemical combination of a substance with oxygen, producing heat and light.

We sit quietly while the world around us continues in chaos and turmoil. Our patient continuance to do well allows us a window of opportunity to learn and grow IN Christ by:
  • Reading His Word and upgrading our armor for the battle against the wicked resistance
  • Nourishing our spirit through church, small groups, and musical inspiration 
  • Receiving God’s Favor and responding to His voice through obedience 

This quiet growth of our spirit, this rapid combination of growth causes a Fire to kindle deep within our spirit. The Fire combines with God’s breath of life within us and burns so deep and hot that we can’t hold it in and we must release God’s peace, joy, and light out into the world around us. The flow of God’s peace, joy, and light is so overwhelming that we even find it hard to catch our breath at times.



*this is an extremely powerful picture of how the Fire burns within us….please take a moment to listen*

You are my Joy, You are my Joy, You are my Joy, You are my JOY! 
Is the peace, joy, and light of God flowing from your life? Can you feel it radiating from mine?

Laura Waymire


Thursday, April 5, 2012

{E}mpathize


Hebrews 4:15-16 - For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet did not sin.  Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Empathy:  the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.



This picture doesn't really scream empathy.  However, it does represent a time in my life that resulted in some of the greatest pain I ever endured. 

I do not know about you, but I have been hurt in my life.  I have endured pain.  I have been kicked down, judged, made fun of, and felt lonely.  Further, I have failed.... repeatedly failed.  Experiencing what I have, I find great comfort and rest in knowing God more than understands what I go through and have gone through, but He is even able to empathize with my weakness.  He identifies with my feelings, thoughts, and attitudes.   He's been there! 

This concept of empathy was foreign to me for a while.  I was beyond knowing or even caring about others' situations.  As a result, I felt better than.  I looked down on those that could not get their act together.  That was, until I screwed up royally.  See, until I could empathize with what someone else was going through, I could not fathom why people messed up all the time.  They knew better.  As a result, for a long time I thought that was how God viewed me.  She knows better.  

But, he has been there.  He has felt the feelings we have felt.  He has felt betrayal.  He has felt pain.  He knows how it feels to be kicked down, judged, made fun of, and lonely.  So, "let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." 

God is not some far off, distant sky daddy frowning at every idiotic thing we do.  He is a God of second chances (or 3rd or 4th or 5th) who intellectually identifies with you, who waits for you, and who adores you.   He knows how you feel.  Find comfort in that and approach the throne of grace with confidence.



Do you have a hard time with empathizing?  Do you find it easier to relate to people who can identify with you?

In His Love,
F.... 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

{D}espair

Today's blog is brought to you by a genuine, Christ lovin', big-hearted, amazing and talented friend of mine, Ms. Laura.  She has a giant heart for God, and it is an honor to present {D}espair to you from her.  As this topic is near and dear to her heart, I am sure your heart will be tugged by her words.


Romans 7  (The Message)
(17-20) But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. (21-23) It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
Despair:  The complete loss or absence of hope.
Becoming a Christian does not solve all of our problems.  It only begins our intense struggle with sin.  In Romans 7, Paul describes to us how our flesh is hostile to God and desires sin.  Verses 17-23 detail the overwhelming sense of Despair in the realization that our flesh refuses God while our Spirit desires God.  Until we experience the agony of overwhelming Despair over our struggle with sin and our defeat by it, we will not look UPWARD for the resolution and will continue to look INWARD.  Many Christians do not recognize their struggle or take it seriously enough.  However, Despair is an essential step in the process!  Until we have experienced overwhelming Despair causing us to Hate sin, we will refuse to turn from sin.
Sin is beyond our understanding.  The good news is that we are not required to understand sin in order to resolve our Despair.  Paul depicts our overwhelming Despair as Christians to prepare us for the resolution to sin found in Romans 8.  Until you can identify with the Despair depicted in Romans 7, you will not fully receive the peace and joy graciously given by God to All in Romans 8.


Do you struggle with sin?  Or do you redefine your sins, excuse them away, deny them, ignore them, cope with them?  I pray that you will begin to fully understand your struggle with sin and experience Despair so that you can receive God’s Grace.


Laura Waymire



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