Thursday, May 31, 2012

Conviction



The last couple weeks have been FULL of conviction and revelation for me.

It all began with a simple judgmental statement from me.  I was totally convicted by the person I said it to.  Granted, that person totally overreacted and caused more drama than necessary, but the cold hard facts are that I was wrong to say what I said.  I found myself complaining about the drama that person caused and gossiping about that person and judging that person.  Looking back, my "simple" judgmental statement caused the awful downward spiral of negativity.

Fast forward four days, I was enjoying an evening with my niece and her friend.  My niece and I often blare Eminem in the car together.  We know most of the words to a few of the songs and we are so proud of ourselves.  It's quite ridiculous, now that I look back at my texts, but I literally texted a friend "No one would bug us...we are hard ass bitches blaring Eminem...we scare people."  A few texts later I said this, "There are many sides to me that most people don't see...my affliction for Eminem is one of those."  What?!  Who is this talking?!  What am I trying to prove?!  As I tried to make it ok I said "It's just music..don't take it so seriously!"

This was the response I received from my friend, who just so happens to be a non-believer:  "It's so NOT just music.  When you spend money buying something he produces, you are tacitly supporting the fact that being a bad person pays out in society.  You support it.  You propagate it.  You contribute to the degrading of our culture and the ignorance of our society.  It's THE thing that SHOULD be taken seriously." (I fixed all his texting typos, of course, lol)

His response was so very convicting that it haunted me for days.  Fast forward another four days, I had a few minutes left at the end of my lunch break so I picked up the book I've been reading and began the next chapter.  Low and behold, that next chapter was Germ Warfare - Cleansing Our Lives of Cultural Toxins.  Yes, God, I'm listening!  Promise!!!

These are the lessons I've learned from the last couple weeks utterly FULL of conviction:
  1. Even a non-believer instictually knows what is right and wrong. (Romans 2:14-16)
  2. When I fail to focus on God, my thoughts become useless and negative. (Romans 1:21)
  3. Who am I to feel qualified to lead others while I continue to commit the sins I tell others not to.  (Romans 2:17-24)
  4. I refuse to conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of my mind.  (Romans 12:1-2)
  5. Actions speak louder than words.  I can preach God's Word all I want, but living out God's Word is how I can really affect people.
Conviction....Reveleation.....ACTION:  I am making a bold statement and recruiting all who know me to hold me accountable.  No more complaining.  No more judging others.  No more gossiping.  No more multiple personalities.  If you see me living in a manner contrary to those 4 bold statements...convict me!!


"This is your life, are you who you want to be?"
This is my life, and who I want to be is who Christ wants me to be and I choose to live IN Christ.  



 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lackluster

Lackluster: Lacking brilliance, vitality, spirit, enthusiasm.

Yeah.  That's me as of late.  Feeling flat, dry, and unmotivated.  Brilliance and enthusiasm are both distant and impersonal at this moment.  I am sure the recent disconnect plays a vital role in my mood.

Varying circumstances and situations are easily blamed.  Yet, I roll my eyes and see the fleshly justification in such an excuse.  Outwardly, I am bogged down by obligation - work, family, fitness.  Two weeks ago even, I was amped and ready for a fitness plan led by Allison over at Feeding My Temple.  However, I have not worked out for a ridiculously long time.  Work is picking up and the load increases with special assigned tasks and projects, let alone my everyday responsibilities.  I am in no way complaining.  I adore my job. Being busy makes the day go by faster and productivity is one of my favorite things--as odd as that may sound.  Family is a day to day issue, with school out, pending vacations, household maintenance, and the bumps along the way maritally speaking. 

Trying not to let busyness hoard my days is a task in itself, let alone plugging in to the source that sustains.  I know when I need filling.  I know where to go when emptiness creeps in.  I know what I should be doing.  So, why am I sulking, retreating, and isolating myself in a pity party for one?  Yeah, I know the answer to that one too.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
honor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.

You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

What is your cure for feeling flat?  How do you gain enthusiasm and refresh with new inspiration?


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Outta My Mind

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."  Romans 1:21

My biggest struggle lately has been my thought life.  When I don't intentionally focus on God and His plan for my life I notice my thoughts wandering off into places they do not belong.  When I'm having a bad day or when I'm frustrated I find myself complaining about my situation, gossiping about others, and/or judging others rather than focusing on God's directions for my life:

  • "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."  Romans 8:28
  • "Do everything without grumbling or arguing."  Philippians 2:14
  • "A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends."  Proverbs 16:28
  • "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things."  Romans 2:1
  • "Do to others as you would have them do to you."  Luke 6:31
  • "Love does no harm to a neighbor.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."  Romans 13:10





Holy Spirit, clear my thoughts of all unrighteousness.  Let not only my life, my actions, and my words glorify You, but strengthen me to be able to take each thought captive that isn't of You.  Father, strengthen me so that I may live "outta my mind and into Your heart."  Amen!

 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fab Five Friday

This is our third Fab Five Friday. We encourage you to ponder your Fab Five. Feel free to share the outcome of your positive reflection with us! We truly are blessed by your feedback and participation.


 
(1) This week, I am grateful for:
 
Falen: For the systems God has in place, specifically forgiveness.  If we are to pray “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us,” the mercy that flows to us must flow through us for the system to function properly.  Operating out of the system robs us of operating at max capacity and chokes off the blessings awaiting us.
 
Laura: That as imperfect as I am, I am still able to be used by God and be a light for others. I am grateful that every day is a new chance to be obedient to God and do things differently than the day before.
 
(2) This week, I enjoyed:
 

Falen:  One of the Big 12 Championship Games at Bricktown Ballpark with my family.  We were gifted four tickets to the Second Session and made the Texas v. Missouri game.  My daughter gobbled up a sundae in one of the souvenir hats, and my son scarfed down an entire funnel cake.  We had a good ole time!

 
 
Laura: Time spent with family over the weekend, good conversation with friends, seeing friends grow closer in their relationship with God, and witnessing God's perfect timing over and over in my life and others' lives.

(3) This week, I learned:
 
Falen: Of the infinite options in business card designs.  I was sent on a special task of obtaining estimates and design options for work business cards.  Lemme tell ya, I had no idea of the different variations of card stock, paper weight, linen, all the different colors of white and ivory, and even further the different ink/toner/foiling options, emboss & deboss, and rounded corner v. straight corner card options.  I gained this knowledge by way of work, with the side benefit of gaining possibilities of future Upward Not Inward cards.
 
Laura: That even when every ounce of ME screams to do its own thing I can be obedient to God.  He is my strength.  Thanks to Holly Furtick, I learned that "What seems to be like a pointless or even painful waiting room may be God's most productive workroom."  And I need to resist the urge to complain and instead fill my situation with praise.
 
(4) This week, I accomplished:
 

Falen: The mighty feat of forgiveness regardless of feelings and heartache.  I usually cool down and ponder my options before trusting again.  I can officially say I have let go, forgiven, and placed my trust in God to carry me through whatever may happen next and not the person that may hurt me again.  The world sees that as crazy. So, this is purely a spiritual feat, one that I will continue to attempt triumph.

Laura: Overcoming the desires of my flesh, taking it one day at a time.  Not focusing on the what ifs, but focusing on the now.

(5) I am looking forward to:

Falen: A kidless night with my husband.  This has not happened in a very loooong time.  However, both children will be gone on Saturday night!  I just may wear a dress for this occasion!  

Laura: Watching my dear niece graduate from high school on Sunday and seeing many old friends at our Alumni dance Saturday night.  I also get to visit with a friend who is in town from California that I haven't seen in over a year.  Can't wait to see her at her baby shower and see her beautiful baby bump!

We love to engage our readers,
learn about them,
and get to know them.

Please comment and let us know one or even all of your Fab Five's of the week.



 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Afterlife


"The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.  So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."  Romans 13:12

Life is short, death is right around the corner.  Why put off obedience to God?  It could be your last chance to fulfill God's purpose for your life.  The good news is that eternal life is what is around that corner after death!

Lyrics of Afterlife by Switchfoot:

Cause everyday the world is made
A chance to change but I feel the same
And I wonder why would I wait till I die to come alive
I'm ready now, I'm not waiting for the Afterlife

Everyday, a choice is made
Everyday, I choose my fate
And I wonder why would I wait
Till I die to come alive, to come alive


Every day we live we choose to live for ourselves or for God...we choose our fate.  God always gives us an out when faced with sin...we just have to choose to follow Him.  We must arm up with brilliance before it's too late because life is over before we know it.

I don't know how long I have on this Earth, but I refuse to wait "Till I die to come alive." 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Light::Hope

Ever been in that place or season where you cannot see even the lightest sliver of light... That area where all hope is lost, confusion and frustration abound, and turmoil suffocates every ounce of goodness you once perceived?  If not--maybe I am the only one--let me tell you, it is lonely and heart wrenching!  Your once upward focus shifts to the inward pain, which in turn magnifies the despair of the bleak outward circumstance.

I am finally reaching a point of restored hope.  I say this because I believe it and don't want to forget it.  While I may still be sauntering along in the valley, I see again a sliver of something bright.  My focus has again shifted upward.  Now I see, loosing sight of what was important and focusing on the tragedy of what was happening around me, I missed the opportunity to BE the light.  A good friend recently said to me:


Considering the title and mission of this blog, I am trying hard to not focus on the woulda-coulda-shoulda's  in my situation.  So, in turn, let me convey to you, the readers of this blog, if anything--learn from me.  When you start to see yourself curl into the fetal position of hopelessness, remember who you belong to and do not lose sight of your purpose.

Jeremiah 17:5 says, "This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord."  Don't shift your focus.  God is working ALL things for good for those who love him. 

Mark 9:23 says, "'If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Don't lose hope.  God's got this! 

Psalm 56:4 says, "In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?"  Praise and trust.  Don't give up! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Slumber


"And do this, understanding the present time:  The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed."
Romans 13:11

When life throws you lemons, make lemonade?  Right?!  When life has you down in the dumps and you don't even want to get out of bed, WAKE UP!  Wake up and see that God is always with you.  Wake up and see that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28)  Wake up and see that He is your salvation.

Lyrics of Slumber by Need to Breathe:

Days they force you
Back under those covers
Lazy mornings they multiply
But glory's waiting
Outside your window
So wake on up from your slumber
And open up your eyes

Tongues are violent
Personal and focused
Tough to beat with
Your steady mind
But hearts are stronger after broken
So wake on up from your slumber
And open up your eyes

The longer you wait to Wake Up, the harder it is to do...the "lazy mornings they multiply."  But God is waiting right "outside your window."  He will never abandon you, even in your slumber.  This world can be tough to negotiate, even when properly rooted and nourished by God.  Always remember that "hearts are stronger after broken."  (Romans 5:3-4)

"So wake on up from your slumber and open up your eyes!"

Monday, May 21, 2012

Prayer::Ephesians

Here are some of my notes from a recent verse breakdown in my study time.  Feel free to share your thoughts and input!

Ephesians 6:18-19:

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions
  • Not just good occasions
  • Not just bad occasions
  • Not just your friend's occasions
  • Not just your occasions
  • Not just happy occasions
  • Not just sad occasions
  • Not just last resort occasions
  • Not just shout out occasions
with all kinds of prayers and requests.
  • Not just thanks and praise
  • Not just pleads and requests
  • Not just seeking and searching
  • Not just triumphs and victories
With this in mind, be alert
  • Don't forget
  • Stay tuned in
  • Keep tapped in
  • Remember what you are supposed to do
  • Be cautious of forgetfulness
and always keep on praying
  • Don't stop praying
  • Maintain your prayer life
  • Don't let up
  • Continue in prayer
for all the Lord’s people.
  • Everyone
  • Not just yourself
  • Not just the healthy, but the sick too
  • Not just those on track, but those off track too
  • Not just those who have it all together, but those falling apart too
Pray also for me,  
  • Pray for those that pour into you
  • Those that lean on you
  • Those that look up to you
  • Those that seek your counsel
  • Those that build up
  • Those that encourage
  • Those that take risks for God
that whenever I speak, words may be given me
  • That words of light flow with brightness
  • That words of love flow freely
  • That words of conviction flow tenderly
  • That words that should not be heard do not depart from my mouth
  • That words of wisdom flow with might through the leadership and guidance of God
so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,
  • So that with no fear my tongue all honor and glory go to the King of Kings
  • So that with no fear my mouth not destroy but build up for kingdom gain
  • So that without fear my utterances can be an example
  • So that without fear the gospel will be clear and not clouded
  • So that with no fear my speech will be precise and eloquent for furtherance of truth

How is your prayer life?  Do your prayers seem to sound repetitive and rehearsed?  Do you pray for the same subject in varied ways?  Is it easier to pray for certain people than other people?




Friday, May 18, 2012

Fab Five Friday


This is our second Fab Five Friday. We encourage you to ponder your Fab Five. Feel free to share the outcome of your positive reflection with us! We truly are blessed by your feedback and participation.


(1) This week, I am grateful for:

Falen:  Friends that encourage me with truth when I feel broken, friends who lift me up when I am weak, and friends who love me enough to stop what they are doing and salve my wounds.

Laura:  The Frustrations of a Fixer sermon by Steven Furtick that I heard on Monday. I have been able to apply this sermon to my life this week in numerous situations. I am grateful for God's impeccable timing...even when it doesn't seem right, it always is! I am also grateful for Godly friends who are willing to drop everything to pray for someone they don't even know when asked.

(2) This week, I enjoyed:


Falen:  Watching my preteen (I’ll never get used to that!) graduate from the sixth grade. I had to leave work early and run around like a chicken to get there, but to see him with his head held high as he received his certificate was every bit enjoyable for me.

 Laura:  Discovering....Air 1...thanks to Falen! This discovery has already led to some great blog ideas!

(3) This week, I learned:

Falen:  That no matter the circumstance, situation, trial, struggle, or pain, I am surrounded by Godly women who genuinely care about me and my journey. I learned that reaching out was immensely greater than holding it in and resorting to isolation, which is my default mode.

 Laura:  That I can't fix everyone and their problems. I can walk with them and encourage them and pray with them, but I can't fix them. There are some things that only God can fix and I need to get out of his way. 

(4) This week, I accomplished:

Falen:  Obedience in a tough area of my life. As hard as it was/is, I have to believe that I am More Than A Conqueror.

Laura:  Giving Godly encouragement rather than wordly responses to tough situations. Obedience even when it's easier to be disobedient.
(5) I am looking forward to:

Falen:  Witnessing God’s miraculous movement in my life and current struggles. I am looking forward to great things that are in store for me. I am also looking forward to an adventure filled Sunday with dear dear friends.

Laura:  Begining a new bible study with a friend. Hosting my niece's graduation party this weekend and seeing lots of family and friends that I don't get to see often enough.



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stay Rooted

This life has a way of bringing on pain that a lot of time can catch us so off guard.  When spiritual attacks are flown in from left field, I admit, my initial reaction is to bail.  Running from the problem so I can never see it again or feel the pain again is what I want.  This is where I am.  As I cling to remain rooted near the river in the face of pain and heartache, the question of authenticity for so many other circumstances/situations/statements begin to surface.  The “whys” roll in with their best friends “what ifs” and “how coulds.”

Yet, every questionable act that led to this pain, for me, confirms even more the truth I know that never changes.  I know that ALL things work together for good for those that love God.  I know that my present pain and suffering cannot even compare to the glory that shall be revealed in me.  I know that when fleeing is desirable, truth says “But as for me, it is good to be near God.  I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge, I will tell all of your deeds.”

So, as I endure, persevere, and remember truth, I cannot abandon obedience.  I cannot allow myself to stray from that which is true in an effort to alleviate the burdens life throws at me.  Even I can publicly admit that fleeing sounds easier.  That being said, such admission is born in the flesh.  I know deep within my soul that while temporarily it may seem true, God has bigger plans for me.  Jeopardizing my destiny isn’t an option for me. 

And here I remain… Rooted yet attacked, nourished yet broken, satisfied yet suffering.  As I pray and cry out to God, Galatians 6:9 surfaces.


Have you ever felt like the wrong thing was a better idea? Have you ever felt like giving into disobedience when you know deep down it's wrong? Have you ever been put in the position to flee or remain rooted?

 
 
 
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dive Time

Dive:  to plunge head first into water.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who started reading her Bible again.  I am very happy that this friend picked up her Bible.  However, this was my suggestion to her, "How about you read it.  Then we'll study what you read together at a slower pace, more in depth."  From my experience, casual reading of the Bible is only the tip of the iceberg.

"He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said."
Romans 4:21 (The Message)

When I first read that passage of scripture, I was absolutely stunned by the visual I got from "plunging" into God's promise.  Casual reading of the Bible is like sitting in the baby pool...you get wet, but not soaked!

"But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
John 4:14 (NIV)

I refer to my Bible study time as diving...plunging head first into living water!  Here is how I dive:

I first read the chapter I'm studying in The Message translation.  I find that translation the easiest for a casual read.  This gives me a base for my break down of each verse.  I then re-write each verse in my own words using The Message, New International Version, and King James Version....and often a dictionary.  I find that using all three translations at once, helps me decipher the meaning of each verse.  I then discuss my re-written verses with a dear friend who does the same, comparing and discussing verse by verse.  Often our re-writes are very similar but not always.  Our different points of view have lead to some very interesting discussion.  :)

My Dive Time is often done on my lunch hour at The Coffee Pot.  This is what my Dive Time looks like:


 
As you can see, I usually take up most of the table:)  I have my lunch (yummy salad and bagel), my coffee, my hard copy of The Message, my binder full of Romans (NIV and KJV), my pen, and my phone for the dictionary.

This is how I plunge head first into living water and get soaked.  Do you relax in the baby pool or do you thirst for soaking?  Share your study time with us.....

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Happy Birthday

Today is my niece's 18th birthday.  When I think of Monica, I think of a beautiful and caring young lady.  She would do anything for a friend in need, and she Loves animals.  AND...she gives me a manicure and pedicure bi-weekly:)


Thinking of Monica makes me consider all the child/parent parallels that exist with being a Child of God.  Falen and I have discussed many of these in the past.  In fact, one of Falen's prior blogs addresses these parallels.  Here are a few:
  • I can ask my child over and over again to put his dirty clothes in the laundry basket to no avail...God asks me over and over again to stop swearing, to stop complaining, to stop gossiping.
  • When I don't see my children for days, I welcome them home with open arms and can't wait to hear about their adventures while they were gone...when we leave God out of our lives, he welcomes us back with open arms and wants to hear what we learned in our trials.
  • When my child falls and skins her knee, nothing makes the pain go away more than a hug from Mom or Dad...when I fall and sin, Nothing makes the pain go away more than my Heavenly Father wrapping his arms around me.
While all these parallels come to mind, I struggled with one.  Romans 8:39 (NIV) tells us that "Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  The reason I struggle with this parallel is because my niece's mom, my sister, died when my niece was only six years old.  So, she was separated from the love of her Mom at a very early age.  But God spoke to me and showed me that even though my niece's Mom is in Heaven, the love of her Mom never left her and never will!  She has always been at her side walking along with her, just like her Heavenly Father.  And just like her Heavenly Father, she will see her Mom in Heaven one day.
HAPPY 18th BIRTHDAY DEAREST MONICA MAE!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Control Freak: Me?!




Confession: I have been strongly convicted recently, with regard to my having to ‘control’ things all the time. While I am still a work in progress, I acknowledge that I have let go of many things and quit trying to manipulate circumstances or use various tactics to my own advantage. Yet, I continued to hear the whisper of “whenever you are finished, I will take over.” Puzzled, I prayed, “God, I have done x, y, and z. I have quit doing a, b, and c. Reveal to me what you wish to change, what I need to hand over, what I need to let go of and return to you for your working.”

Not immediately, but by continual pleading and searching, it smacked me in the face... which usually happens mid-sentence in an “I told ya so” type of conviction, this time was no different. As I uttered out a sentence of slight manipulation, I realized my attempt at control was self-defeating.  If I believe God's ways are infinitely better than my ways, why hadn't I moved out of the way and let God do what I was trying to do?




So publicly I say...

 This situation is yours, God, not mine. I will withdraw my grasp and surrender this to you. You are in control, not me. Romans 8:28 says, “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.” Father, I know your word is true. This verse is true. I thank you for displaying this in my life, and I praise you! Thank you for revealing the condition of my heart and poor intention. I believe huge things are in store with regard to this issue. As I step to the side stage and play background, take the lead and do a mighty work. In Jesus’ Name I Pray,

Amen

Are you a control freak? Have you ever struggled with controlling behavior?



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fab Five Friday




This is our first Fab Five Friday.  We encourage you to ponder your Fab Five.  Feel free to share the outcome of your positive reflection with us!  We truly are blessed by your feedback and participation.
  

(1)  This week I am grateful for...


Falen: Laura jumping on board with Upward Not Inward!  I am so grateful for such a wonderful friend that helps lift me up when I am down, encourages me, and keeps me level-headed!

Laura: Well, since Falen took mine.....being able to pray for friends who need prayer.

(2)  This week I enjoyed...


Falen: Working out... Yeah, it has been too long.  However, I am getting back into the groove, and it feels great!  The accountability with Allison certainly helps too!

Laura: Having a girls' day shopping with my mom, niece, and daughter.

(3)  This week I learned...


Falen: That our idea of reaching those who don't know God and reaching those who claim Christ and live as if he does not exist was in Romans (11:13-14), which adds to my adoration for Romans.  It really is my favorite book!

Laura: Again, since Falen took mine......I learned how to edit photos...courtesy of Falen!

(4)  This week I accomplished...


Falen: I accomplished two chapters of Romans.  Not simply reading, but diving (cross-referencing, defining, analyzing).  Loved every second of it. Also, P90X!!  Okay, not all of it.  But I started!! 

Laura: Sharing my testimony with the world.  I was very nervous, but it was well worth it!

(5)  I am looking forward to...


Falen: A peaceful yet productive weekend.  The To-Do List isn't in ink, so there is nothing urgent, but there are the usuals--like laundry, grocery shopping.  With the fantastic weather we have had, I have high hopes for this weekend.

Laura: My niece turns 18 on Tuesday!


Now that we have shared... It's your turn...




Quadrilateral



I often listen to Creed by Third Day and Brandon Heath on repeat at work because the music and lyrics are so comforting.  When I'm having a rough day, it's a good reminder of who I am!  Earlier this week, some of the lyrics jumped out at me.  "It is the very truth of God and not the invention of any man."  Made me think...WHY do I believe in God?  How would I explain my belief to someone who doesn't believe?

The Wesleyan Quadrilateral is a method of coming to a theological conclusion using four interconnecting sources:  Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience.  The following is how I apply the Wesleyan Quadrilateral to reach the theological conclusion that there is one true God:

Scripture

Scripture is the Word of God written by authors who were divinely inspired.  In the words of Pastor Steven Furtick, "There's a verse for that."

I believe in God the Father, Almighty Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth:
  • "To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever." Phillipians 4:20
  • "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1
I believe in a life that never ends:
  • "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23
Tradition

The witnesses in the scriptures link us as followers together as a church, the priesthood of all believers.  We are the church!  The fellowship through worshipping with others and the traditions that have been carried on link us to those who have gone before us and who are now in Heaven with God.

Reason

I believe that the complexities of the universe and life are no accident:  the magestic beauty of all things in their natural state, the vast differences between blades of grass and elephants, the vast differences in humans, the complex organization of the human body, the cycle of nature, the perfect placement of our Earth in the galaxy.  It's more reasonable to me to believe that God created ALL things than it is to believe that everything was created by chance/coincidence.

Experience

Some say that "Seeing is Believing"  I can't see God, but when I am obedient to God I can see his favor work in my life.  Once I begin to see God's favor, I see it everywhere because I am finally looking for it.  You will not see something you are not looking for.  Seeing God's favor work in my life (and how God's favor stops flowing when I am disobedient) is all the proof I need!


That's why I Believe.  Why do you Believe?



 
 
 
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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Prayer Requests


Covered in Grace
  
Whether you are heart broken,
struggling,
lonely,
nervous,
unsure,
exhausted,
scared,
overwhelmed,
isolated,
in pain,
devastated,
worried,
wore out,
facing difficulty -
big or small.

We care.
Even more than that, we want to pray for you.

Feel free to email me or Laura, leave a comment, private message me on Facebook or Twitter.  As soon as your request is received, you will receive prayer and a response. 

Ephesians 6:18 says, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people."

It would be an honor to pray for you

and with you through your journey.
 
Click below for more prayer warriors. 

Covered in Grace



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Laura's Testimony

I was raised in the church. We went as a family every Sunday. We played church volleyball, attended Sunday School, went on mission trips, attended Vacation Bible School, the works. I even met my future husband in Youth Group. It was all I ever knew and I thought I was good with God. I thought I knew what I needed to know. Looking back, I now realize that I never really had a relationship with God I was just following along like I was supposed to. And then one day, it all fell apart.


I can vividly remember waking up to the sound of the doorbell, wondering who would be ringing the doorbell so early on a Sunday morning, only to look out the window and see the Sheriff car. Most of the next few days were like a fog, but there are very vivid memories as well: the memory of telling my six year old niece and four year old nephew that their mommy was in Heaven; the memory of standing arm and arm with my brothers next to my sister’s casket saying goodbye; the memory of seeing all the men in my life weeping for my sister; and especially the memory of making snow angels in the fresh snow where she was buried that same night with my niece and nephew.

I went to church very rarely for years after my sister died. I was angry at God. I couldn’t accept that a loving God would take my sister away from me so early, would take her away from her babies so early. They needed her…I needed her. My sister wasn’t there for my wedding or the birth of my babies. Every time something good in my life happens, it’s always mixed with a longing to share the joy with her.

Less than a year after my sister died, I married my high school sweetheart who I met in Youth Group and had dated for three years. Four years later we had a son and about three years later we had a daughter. Soon after our daughter was born we finally made it back to church regularly, but it was somewhat forced on both of our parts. We both wanted our children to be raised in the church as we were so we made ourselves go. I found a home at my church and a church family who welcomed us in. We became active in that church and even attended a Young Adult group as a couple. I attended an Emmaus Walk to work on building my relationship with God. And even after all this, I still didn’t really have the relationship with God that he wanted to have with me.

Our church changed pastors, our small group fizzled out...I was left very hungry and empty. I felt that my husband didn’t want to go to church, didn’t want anything to do with church activities…I was left very angry. My husband and I began to live very separate lives at home…I was left very lonely and tired. I was craving, seeking anything to fill my soul of the void. But what I found and what I filled myself with was not what fit that void and it never truly satisfied me but only pulled me down lower and lower until I didn’t know how I was going to pull myself out. My marriage had fallen apart. This wasn’t the life I had planned. I went to church and knew God, how did this happen?

God sent a few angels into my life when they were desperately needed…not to point me in the right direction, but to open my eyes to the direction that was already there but I couldn’t see. The day my dissolution was filed, an angel convinced me to watch Courageous when all I wanted to do was numb the pain. That movie opened my eyes and I finally opened my bible once again. A few weeks later, I became consumed with the despair Paul depicted in Romans 7. I knew that was exactly where I was, but I couldn’t figure out how to pick myself up.

That’s when another angel appeared and offered to study Romans with me verse by verse because she happened to be reading Romans as well. That angel also shared these life changing words with me, “Laura, there’s a gaping hole in your soul. It’s a God shaped hole and only God is going to fit into that hole.” (I wish I would have saved that email, because that’s not exactly how she said it, but very close-it was good stuff!) That same angel also shared with me the wonderful words of Pastor Steven Furtick at Elevation Church. His Romans 8 sermon series ‘Christ Alone’ changed my life. That series was the solution I was looking for from the despair I was in.




Since these angels have come into my life, I’ve learned a lot and God has revealed a lot to me. God revealed to me that while I was waiting on everyone else to fill me, I should have been filling myself with His Word. That was an eye opener for me. I always just relied on church every Sunday to fill me. And I was always frustrated with feeling empty again by Tuesday. I was always so angry that my small church didn’t offer more throughout the week so that I could refill myself. What I was missing was that church on Sunday is only part of what I need to be doing to build my relationship with God.

Another lesson I have learned was obedience. When your gut tells you something is wrong or when it tells you that you need to do something, you need to listen. Thank God I was finally obedient when that angel asked me to watch Courageous. I could have just taken the easy way out once again and numbed the pain and continued down the wrong path. I was finally obedient, and my obedience began the domino effect of God’s Favor.

I was asked to write about “how I got so faithful” and “how did I get over what I had been through”.  Well, Romans 8:1 is how I got over what I have been through.  “Therefore, there is NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  God doesn’t condemn me for my sins because Jesus died for my sins.  Romans 8:1 tells me that if I live in Christ Jesus, there is no reason for me to condemn myself.  Romans 8:1 tells me to forgive myself for what I’ve done wrong.  Additionally, the bitterness and anger I was harboring as a result of my sister’s death, I turned it all over to Christ.  I laid it all down on Him and began to focus on the good IN ALL things.  (Romans 8:28)  That doesn’t mean that I don’t miss her or long for her, but it does mean that I no longer allow the anger to consume me and rule over me.



How did I get so faithful? Once I began to fill myself and not rely on others to do it for me and began to turn to God I could see God’s Favor in every aspect of my life. The domino effect of one act of obedience is endless. Even more so, when I mess up, I don’t see God’s Favor in every aspect of my life. That domino effect stops in its tracks. The loss of God’s Favor grieves me so deeply that I desire to be obedient to God’s plan.

In His Love,
Laura


Monday, May 7, 2012

Faith Time

I went to a Blogger's Event recently and talked with my friend, Jessa.  We both were about to finish the AtoZChallenge.  While we were both still baby bloggers, we were talking about what we were going to do when the challenge was over.  Then, she asked me two questions.

How do you do it? How are you so faithful?

I thought that was the sweetest thing!  I just wanted to hug her.  I am far from perfect and could always be more faithful...  So, running with that question... Here's what I do:



Here is what a chunk of it looks like any way.  This is my study time material.  I have scheduled chapters to read.  For example, right now I am studying Romans 11. So, I print three translations (usually NIV, KJV, and The Message) of the chapter I am studying. I have a digital dictionary, a pen, and my hard copy Bible.  My phone for more versions if I bunny trail down another verse not already printed.  I will post more on what exactly I do with all this later.

I read the Bible.  But, more than that, I study it.  I engross myself in it.  It isn't a casual read for me.  It is my ticket to wisdom and closeness to God.  I take lots and lots of notes.

I will post more on this later too, but I write a lot of my prayer.  Like the Psalmist in Psalm 73, I start out one way and finish another way.  I sometimes begin writing sad, angry, weary, or just tired and finish in praise and thanksgiving.  This usually happens when I write my prayer.  A lot of out loud prayer is busy prayer for me, usually when I am driving or shooting up a flare prayer for someone quickly.  I find I am more intent about prayer when it is on paper.

Music:



This is my newest playlist... Elevation Worship from a dear friend, Ms. Laura.  I adore Elevation Church, their pastor, their worship band, their messages.  So, this is on repeat in my car.  If I'm not listening to a CD (prior to this it was Elevation Worship's Kingdom Come Album), I will listen to Air1 or KLove on the radio.  These are both available online, too.

Then, of course, there is church on Sunday.  I usually go to Lifechurch.tv (which you can watch online, too) and watch Elevation Church online.  Throughout the week, I usually listen to online archived sermons when I get ready for work in the mornings.  For me church is not a Sunday event, but the peak of my week...

I have someone I study with on a continual basis.  Someone who builds me up, encourages me in faith, holds me accountable, and cares about me.  This is crucial!  We have said many times, "how do people do it alone?"  When one is down, the other pulls them up.  When one is confused, the other helps discern and learn.  If you don't have someone, get someone.

Considering there are only so many hours a day awake, this is an all-throughout-the-day dependence and surrender.  It is continual and moment by moment.  However, I am only human and while I strive for moment by moment dependence, I still slip and let life get in the way sometimes a lot of times.  So, there you have it.  That is what I do. 

What do you do?  How do you keep your walk fresh? 

What does your time with God look like?  Is it frequent? 

Do you have someone to hold you accountable and encourage you when you need it? 

If there is anything I can do to help encourage you to go deeper, leave me a comment and let me know. 

In His Love,
F... 



Friday, May 4, 2012

Definition

There is something about a dictionary that I love... 
 

Taking the meaning of something for granted is sooo easy, especially words we use often.  This may be why I keep one (usually digital) handy during my study time.  Definitions have the ability to take me on rabbit trails deeper into scripture.  Defining a word, then another, then another is fun for me.  Call me weird if you want.  Ha.

Last week, I had to give a brief definition of Upward Not Inward and describe it for those around me.  This, too, was something I had not really thought about.  To say I was caught off guard is an understatement.  This blog is still new to me.  I had a general idea in my head of what I wanted it to be. Yet, I had never really defined it in simple terms or given a quick description.

The questions to ponder in describing the blog were: Who are your target readers?  What do you want them to know, feel, or do?

Target readers are:
  • Anyone looking to read or learn about people with hearts for God;
  • Readers who may be curious or confused about the whole "Jesus" thing;
  • Readers who may have been burned by "church folks";
  • Readers who think people who believe in Jesus are weak hypocrites;
  • Readers who need to be inspired or encouraged in their faith;
  • Readers who may feel lonely but know there is something greater or are unsure if there even is something greater;
  • Readers who can either relate to or question God's love, grace, or forgiveness.

I want readers to know: 
  • They are loved by a savior, whether they know Him or not. 
  • They are forgiven, whether they know that or don't think they need it. 
  • Strength, satisfaction, and fulfillment are free-flowing from a God who sacrificially showed the greatest love and has the power to redeem, restore, and renew you. 
  • There is a difference between those who call themselves Christians and live as if Christ doesn't exist and those who claim Christ and genuinely love Him, live for Him, and overflows that same love to everyone they meet. 
  • Christians are not perfect, but they are forgiven, changed, and serve God continually and not just on Sundays. 
  • Even when Christians feel broken, lonely, and hurt, my prayer is when they read this blog they are inspired, encouraged, and confident in Christ. 
  • Lastly, I want readers to know that when they focus inward, they are not focusing upward.  Focusing on God and His power makes any problem, struggle, or trial insignificant compared to His glory and miraculous ability.

Our Theme Song




So, if you are just stopping by to see what this blog is about, I hope this clarifies any questions you may have regarding its purpose or intent.  I am beyond grateful for every reader and blessed by their stopping by to take a peek.  I continually pray for each reader, Christian or not, Believer or not, Follower of Christ or not. 
 
  
Click ::HERE:: for Falen's Testimony.
 
Click ::HERE:: for Laura's Testimony.

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