Saturday, April 26, 2014

My First Blog HOP! :) 3 Simple Steps...

3 Simple Steps…

Last week I wrote about the power of perspective and as I prayed all week for my involvement in my first ever blog hop and which topic God wanted me to write about the word simple kept tripping me up. My journalism training often pleads with me to get more specific or logical than Faith in Jesus Christ requires and that obsessive need for facts or detail once caused my heart to doubt and test God but over the past five years, as my journey with God has raised me up from the lowest and darkest of places I have learned how to truly Let Go and Let God rule my life and it is because of these THREE “Simple” Steps I take every day.
1.)      I wake up every morning saying, "Good Morning Jesus I love you." These six simple words immediately puts my heart in a God place and eliminates any desire I may have to be self-focused or have a pity party. I have a terminal lung condition and there are more mornings than not that I wake up knowing I will not be able to leave the apartment, I will be missing being able to get out in the world and serve and interact with loved ones and often know each breathe is going to be a struggle but I refuse to live being haunted by my condition. God has made it clear my time on earth is not finished, He wants and needs me here so starting my day focused on my Lord and Savior, starting my day thankful that I am seeing another morning and expressing my pure devotion allows me to choose Joy instead of sorrow. It allows me to be open to whatever He has in store for me that day because while I may not be able to be out in the world I can still shine His light to others in many ways. “My flesh and my heart my fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 ESV (My life verse)
2.)      I have only been doing this step for a few months but it has enhanced my morning devotional and quiet time with the Lord, each day I feel more intimately connected with Jesus than I did the day before and I can feel my emotional and spiritual strength increase daily. I read aloud A Daily Prayer for Freedom as written by John Eldredge in “Waking the Dead.” The prayer itself has over forty scripture references that encourage, motivate, protect and arm me with God’s truth, power and love.
3.)    Nearly two years ago I was diagnosed with PTSD and a Chronic Anxiety disorder. From what the Doctors can tell I have probably suffered from it most of my life, but defiantly my entire adult life. My scariest episode occurred in July 2012 five months after my brother passed away.  For months I had been hiding sleeplessness, crippling social anxiety, obsessive work habits\hours and had been acting out in dangerous ways but my best friend and accountability partner, the most discerning person I know knew something was wrong and encouraged (aggressively like only she can) me to get help. I started seeing a Christian counselor who provided me with so many tools that have led to great victory and healing but this step was the most life sustaining and something I still do every night. I use my YouVersion Bible App on my phone and have the Bible read to me every night as I fall asleep. I am now half way through my second year of reading the Bible in a year by taking advantage of technically I often loathe. There are nights of course I have to listen to the few chapters twice because the first reading I am much too involved in God’s amazing story to actually fall asleep but every night the last thing I hear isn’t the worries playing over in my mind or my fears about my health, among other things, but instead I hear God’s beautiful, powerful, life giving truth! “All Scripture is God-Breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Pray so that…
Pray so that you can hear God. SO that you are in a constant state of awareness of His presence, power, will, glory and love. Pray so that we can talk with Him, with the creator of everything! God wants us to be in constant communication with Him because we are His heart’s desire and so that we can grow stronger in our spirit! Pray so that you can connect with God intimately and access the glorious riches of His power, love, forgiveness, grace and redemption. Pray so that God can be glorified and our hearts can be God-centered and our lives Kingdom focused. 

"Let us then approach the throne of Grace with Confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16 NIV

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Week of Living So That, A Blog in a Blog Hopless week...2

P31 OBS, Week 2 of: Living So That

I have been thinking a lot this week about perspective. One of its many definitions is: the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance <trying to maintain my perspective>. While I once viewed the world from a place of self; what would be the effect on me. I now see the world (as best as I can since I am human) through God’s word, character and truth. I try to never rely on my emotions or feelings because I have learned how fleeting and unreliable they are. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. I try and approach every moment of life asking two questions, does this glorify God and does it align with God’s word. 

Last week I talked about my initial response to the Gospel of John and my initially negative reaction to Jesus. The other reason I tend to shy away from recommending the Gospel of John to new believers is because John refers to himself as the disciple Jesus loved and I know I have been left feeling that sounds arrogant and I have felt intimidated and even jealous by this. Then this week I found myself in the middle of an argument about how and who God can speak and work through. A brother in Christ has called into question a popular Pastor whose book I am reading. I also have felt called to a ministry of sharing God’s word and Christian encouragement through my twitter account. I am the only one of my local friends who has a twitter and I receive over 200 texts a day from twitter that I read through and forward on to five sisters in Christ on a daily basis. This male friend has asked that when I feel led I include him as he is always desperate for a revival and accountability but more times than not he makes me feel foolish for choosing to follow certain people. Now this friend is known for being a worrier and negative, he often engages people in fear inducing end of the world conversations and his FB wall is filled with often hostile debate over politics and the state of our country. We are complete opposites because God has gifted me as an encourager and I have always preferred being positive and focusing on the glory of God than the negative and I normally let his words go by without hurting me but this day I was led to, in what my mind felt like defending God. I reached out to my best friend who has the gift of discernment and asked for prayer coverage and realized that my argument wasn’t coming from a place of anger but of Love. I am now, every day more in love with God and I felt as though God’s glory was being attacked. I spent hours in His word, praying and finally responding to my friend. Two days later, having not heard back from the friend I was starting to doubt my response, I was confident in the content and tone but worried I had hurt someone whom I love. Then I read Part 4 of Living so That by Wendy Blight. The first two chapters had me rejoicing, I knew that is exactly what I had been feeling that I was standing on God’s truth because I was confident that He loved me dearly and that I was in line with His will for me. Wendy writes, “What is so intriguing about this statement is that John alone called himself by this name. At first, it makes him sound a bit arrogant. But as you read through John’s writings, you will sense that it is more likely John experienced God’s love in such powerful ways that he knew without a doubt Jesus chose him, called him, and deeply loved him. He knew his identity was in Christ, and, because of that, he knew he was the Lord’s beloved. Oh, that we would have that confidence to unabashedly speak these same words: “I am the girl Jesus loves!” No matter my actions, no matter my words, no matter my mistakes, no matter my exploding emotions, “I am the girl Jesus loves!” There are times I doubt my intensity of devotion to Jesus, times I fear that I must sound so arrogant and even cocky. I worry that people think I have all the answers because of my position in leading Life Groups (Bible Study). I will no longer worry these things. I know that Jesus called me to be a completely transformed woman, one who went from hating him and challenging others faith to one who depends on Him for every breathe she takes. I know that when I come armed to groups with God’s word investigated it takes me hours praying and digging deep into five study bibles and online commentaries and reaching out to leaders at my home church when I need even more clarity. I know that when I read a book by a Christian Author that I research their mission and know that there have been plenty of times I did not see evidence of God’s truth in what I was reading and put the book aside. There is always a chance the devil can work his schemes and fool me with a false teacher but I also know that I dress myself every morning with God’s full armor and pray in the Spirit.

God Spoke so that…

God Spoke so that we are equipped to walk in a fallen world. So we can lead from God’s character of grace, mercy, love, forgiveness and restoration. So that we can live with His power tucked deep inside of us and arming us on the outside. God Spoke so that His love for us would be clear, so that His might, power, peace, love, grace and mercy would be available to all to be transformed, equipped and ready share with others. God Spoke so that we could hear. He loves us so much, pursues us with His beautiful, living word so we can tuck His seed in deep, true, rich soil and have His best in our lives. God Spoke so that we would know peace, true, unhindered, unconditional peace as a gift from Jesus that isn’t fleeting or based on what we can do but on what He has and continues to do. “It is finished.” God Spoke so that I would have confidence to share His good news, know that I am His girl who He delights in and that I would stand firm in my faith. 

"All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Friday, April 11, 2014

Week 1 of Living So That, A Blog in a Blog Hopless week

While we did not have a blog hop this week I had committed to God that I would write at least one blog a week as I go through the online Bible Study of Livings So that by Wendy Blight. My week was busier and more chaotic than most and the enemy was telling me since there wasn't a blog hop to participate in I could wait until next week but God has been waiting long enough for me to honor His calling for my life. So here is my first real attempt to get the mess of my life before Jesus out as a message of His Grace, Mercy and Love! 

P31 OBS, Week 1 of: Living So That

My views of who God was and what He is capable of have all been in extremes. Growing up I hated him with every fiber of my being, I blamed Him for taking my Poppi away from me who was my only source of stability and my greatest cheerleader wanting me to be educated in a uneducated surrounding. I was only four when Poppi died and as I stood outside his house watching him being wheeled away on a stretcher I looked up to the Heavens, shook my fists and threw down with Almighty God. I declared war on Him that early cold morning in January and spent the next twenty four years of my life talking people out of Christian Faith. I was a bully, deep down thinking I would hurt him by taking away what He loved just as He had taken what I loved most.

God’s love for me ended up being stronger (of course) than my hatred for Him. As I began my journey to Faith someone told me (as so many people do with new believers) that if I read the Gospel of John I would start to fall in love with Jesus. I had read the Bible growing up; you can’t reason and intimidate people out of their Faith without manipulating God’s word and turning it around to fit your selfish agenda, after all. I read all 21 chapters in one evening. I was not left with the warm fuzzies. Instead I thought Jesus was arrogant, condescending, intolerant and well kind of a jerk. Verses like, John 2:4-11, 4:16-18 and the entirety of John 11 echoed in my mind. Each time I share my initial reaction to Jesus with fellow CHRISTians I get the same response: a mouth agape, head cocked back and slightly tilted in shock and awe that I could utter those words. I know it is shocking. As I have read through the first week of my current Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study, Living So That by Wendy Blight I have found encouragement, motivation, a mutual love and admiration for God’s word, structure and powerful Spirit led messages. Completing Day 5 assignment I found a moment of understanding I never had about that Jesus who shows up in John 2:4-11; on page 37 Wendy writes, “His words confound me because they sound almost disrespectful.” Hallelujah and Amen finally someone gets me! It may be a small silly thing but it has motivated and inspired me to write this blog. I have not written since early February when the anniversary of losing my baby brother drove me to get out the despair. God has called me to get writing again for years and He can be pushy but I can be just as stubborn and full of fear and doubt of my abilities.

What I eventually realized was I wasn’t reading The Gospel of John through the eyes of a willing, hopeful child of God; I still had scales on my eyes that blinded me. I gave my life to Jesus on a chilly January morning and while I drove home I was hungry for God. I gave John another read that afternoon and the very moments of this beautifully written Gospel that I had haunted me are some of my favorite moments of Jesus ministry. I fell in love with my King, the Lord of Lords, Mighty Tower yes but for the first time in my life I felt unconditional love back and I continue to fall more in love and feel more loved by Jesus every day. 

Jesus came so that…

Jesus came to earth to save us, to cleanse us so we could follow Him back to Heaven. Jesus came to earth so that we would have no excuse, we would know exactly what and how to live our lives for God’s glory. Jesus came to earth so we could experience Grace and see a living, breathing example of God’s love, power, strength and peace. Jesus came so that I could be free in faith and grace. Free from bondage of life long sin, free from conditional love, free from shame and guilt. Free to worship my savior! Jesus came so that I could be reborn as His child, cleansed, renewed and restored. Jesus came so that I could know love without conditions. That I could see and experience family (Zellers and HCC) and He equips me daily to share the great news of His coming! Jesus came so that we could see and feel how loved we are as God’s chosen children. 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." ~ John 3:16 NIV