Tag Archives: faithful instruction

Soul Searching

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“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified…” 1 Thessalonians 4:3

I’ve taken a temporary hiatus in part because life feels crazy at the moment, and in other part because I felt like I was misappropriating my time. That being said, I’ve reevaluated things, and I’m back, at least for this post. 😉

I was really trying to do some soul-searching; figure out what I want to go to school to study, what I want to do as a career, how I’m going to pay for my education, etc. What I found out was that in spending so much effort thinking about the what-if’s and how’s and why’s, and when’s that I took my sight off of deepening my faith and in my morning devotions had just been going through the motions. So, I took a break from everything I felt was distracting me, and I set aside some time to really think on things. I came up with a few conclusions:

1.) God indeed has a will for me, and it is His intent that I discover what His will is for my life.

2.) In order to see God’s will, one has to be in close fellowship with God; I like the illustration of walking in pitch-black darkness, with only a lighter to lead the way- the closer to the light, the more you can see.

3.) My focus should forever be on the Lord and His teachings because that is my ultimate purpose- to serve and worship God, not to go to the right college, or get the right job, or have all kinds of money. My purpose is to be a servant of God and to His people during my time here on this earth. It is God’s will that I be sanctified, or set apart and dedicated to the Lord, not living consumed by the things and desires of the world.

It was made clear to me when I did this soul-searching that my priorities had slid out-of-order and I was trying to pile my goals on a stack of uncertainties. Imagine a large stack of books teetering as you try to carry them to the shelf; the stack goes up past your head and you can’t see where you’re going, all the while the stack of books sways unsteadily as you attempt to move forward. What happens then when you meet an obstacle you didn’t see coming because of the precarious book stack? You trip, fall, and books go everywhere. I decided to put down the books and discard the few that were blocking my vision. So I picked up THE book, God’s Word, the Bible and I started to read. God’s will is for me to be a servant to the least, to throw away my pride, anxiety, and selfish ambition and focus solely on Him. That is the ONLY way to learn and follow God’s will; to learn and follow God’s teachings. Then the Holy Spirit will reveal the Lord’s truths through scripture and study.

Would you all like to know what happened after my big, epiphany of letting go of the unnecessary and focusing in on God? I’ll tell you what happened…

I had been completely preoccupied with finding a way to pay for my schooling which I would like to start back to in January. Anyway, I had been filling out financial aid forms, surfing scholarship websites and looking for grants of any kind for which I qualified. Finally, I had enough of the exasperation of searching for “free money” for school and I just turned to God. I prayed, “Lord, I don’t know what you have in mind for me, but I’d really like to. I desire to further my education and get a good job. I know my motives tend to slip toward monetary and earthly things and I pray that you’ll guide my intentions and keep them pure. God, I’m tired of searching and coming up empty and I’m ready to let go, and trust that you’ll provide a way. Even if your answer is ‘Not now,’ or ‘Not this way,’ I will be content with your answer because I know that your way is always the best way. Lead me, God, and take this burden away from me. Amen”

Later that week, I was called for an interview with the county school board for a position as a substitute teacher. I had almost completely given up on that as a valid option seeing as how I had taken the class in July, and school has been in session for almost three months now. That only goes to show you that God’s timing is not the same as my timing and that when it’s the proper time, His plan will unfold.

As I sit and ponder the situation and my upcoming interview, I still wonder things like, “will this position pay enough to cover the costs of my tuition?’ or ‘Will I be able to handle the demands of the job AND the demands of school?’ and ‘If I have the opportunity to work full-time, should I take it and postpone my schooling until I’ve managed to save some more money and go back to school with my husband after he gets out of the corps?’ Following God’s will doesn’t mean you will stop having questions. If anything, closer proximity to the Lord has only raised more questions in my mind. Now that I know this, what comes next? But I think that’s the way God made us, so that we’d be continuously seeking HIS wisdom, and HIS insight, and HIS will because HE is the only one who can answer our plethora of unending questions.

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A Change

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A Change

Have you ever had that moment when you are fully aware of the Holy Spirit speaking to you, but you’re not sure what it means?

Yesterday at church our preacher spoke about Mark chapter 8 and the distinct shift Jesus made in going from preaching to all people about salvation to specifically teaching his disciples about who He is. Pastor George asked the question, “Have you ever made a decision that makes a life-changing shift in your relationship with God?”

Pastor George went on to reference Mark 8:34. He said that Jesus taking up his cross, to him, represented Jesus obeying God’s will for Him to die for the salvation of all mankind; that the “cross” is to know and follow God’s will. What is God’s will for me? God knows what He wants me to do, so I have to ask Him.

What is it I’m doing, and what is my “cross”? Pastor George left us with the thought that we should discover God’s will, and act upon it; that we should seek a change, or a shift, similar to that in Mark’s gospel.

Well, I woke up this morning and turned on the TV. It was on the Today Show, and the first thing I heard as I turned on the television and the picture came in to focus was, “Make a change; Change something…” and then it went to commercial break.

Then I read my devotion and it centered around Romans chapters 9-12, and that we should live sacrificial lives in response to the grace God has already given us, using our spiritual gifts to serve the Church… Then I read Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

I hear you, Lord! I hear you, but I don’t understand what you’re trying to say! I feel like Samuel! I keep hearing God speak, but I don’t know what it means! What am I supposed to change? Which aspect of my life requires a shift in a different direction? How am I not using my spiritual gifts that I SHOULD be?

I don’t know. I know that there has to be something that needs to be renewed or shifted or changed, but I don’t know what that something is. I’ll wait. I’ll ask God to continue speaking to me through any means he chooses… I’ve been doing tons of things differently today in an effort to stumble across the thing(s) that needs shifting… I’ve done a different yoga series, I ate a different breakfast from my usual, I unconsciously wrote the check for our water bill differently… I want to know and understand… Pray that God will show me and open my heart and mind to be receptive to His message. Word of God, speak! and let my ears hear!

Small Group

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Small Group

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25

So a while back I mentioned wanting to start up a small group Bible study. Well guess what? I did it! Or I suppose I should say WE did it. Mitch and I open our house to a total of 3 other people at the moment, and we’re hoping we can continue to grow and fellowship with as many people who feel lead to come. 🙂 This coming Tuesday will be the 4th week of our group’s existence and I can’t say enough how proud, blessed, and pleased I am each Tuesday evening as we share scripture and life experiences with one another, growing in spirit and wisdom. I’ll take a picture or two of our next get-together so you can see us all in “action” 🙂

God is good and we would be in a very dark and abysmal place without Him as Lord of our lives. That is what makes our small group study such an amazing blessing; we have found a group of people who desire God and want to walk with the Spirit. I just thought I’d share with you our topic of discussion for next week and give you all some things to ponder this weekend.

We will be discussing the subject of “Choosing to be Servants”.

1. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12– a Cord of THREE strands

  • Is God an integral part of your marriage? Your relationship?
  • If not, why?

2. Ephesians 5:21-33– Biblical Submission: Submitting your right to be right because Jesus is right. 😉

  • What is your first thought when you hear the word “submit”?
  • What does Biblical submission look like to you?
  • Is your marriage following this pattern outlined for us in Ephesians?
  • Do you believe that order and unity under God’s design for marriage are truly more important than demanding to get the decisions “right” based on pride rather than righteousness?
  • If not, why?

3. James 4:1-10– Adulterous People

  • Women, how is submission to God essential in being able to submit to your spouse? And do you Biblically submit to your husband?
  • Men, how is your submission to God critical to you being an effective spiritual/ household leader?

4. Ephesians 2:2-3– Objects of Wrath

  • Are you at war with God?
  • If yes, is that putting you at war with your spouse?
  • What steps can you take to put yourselves at peace with God? With each other?

5.  Romans 5:1-2– Finding Peace

  • How does this scripture relate to your marriage?
  • Do you believe that peace with God or conversely, war with God will ultimately lead to peace or war within your marriages? Why or why not?
  • The fruits of our faith and submission to God’s will are peace, grace, access to God, the hope of Heaven. Do you see your relationship with God bearing these fruits? What about in your marriage?

That is our basic outline for study next week. I’m truly excited about the discussion the scriptures will inspire and the many insights that will be brought to the table. Think on these things for yourselves. If you are NOT married, think about these things in relation to what you hope to find in a future mate. Are you looking for someone based on what is scripturally sound? Are you setting yourself up for failure by going against God’s plan for marriage/relationships? What can you do to change or enhance your relationships according to scripture?

Enjoy your weekend and leave me some feedback on your thoughts/ideas of marriage/relationships and how they are or are not similar to those outlined to the Bible.

And They’ll Know We Are Christians…(1)

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And They’ll Know We Are Christians…(1)

“For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ ” Romans 1:17

I was doing some thinking this morning. There are a couple of things which all major religions share in common, for example, a deity, and a destination, or heaven, nirvana, Shangri-La… But the one thing that sets Christianity apart, other than our Savior dying for us, is that salvation is achieved not through any action of our own, but through faith in Christ alone.

Take a few minutes to really chew on that… Nothing we do, however spiritually impressive could ever get us in to Heaven on our own, without faith and submission to God.

As I thought about how freeing and wonderful this statement is, that we’ve been ransomed as sinners so that we might BECOME righteous, I started thinking about how I would convey this message to a non-Christian. And I have to admit, other than quoting exactly what the Bible says in Romans 1:17, Habakkuk 2:4, or Hebrews chapter 11, I am seriously having difficulty in describing how this concept actually works. My biggest “hang-up” is how I would explain things such as baptism to someone without it sounding contradictory to “by faith alone.” If salvation is achieved through faith alone, then why must a Christian be baptized? It’s not that I don’t understand the significance, it’s simply that I’m having difficulty breaking it down into its simplest parts to explain it to someone who has virtually zero background in the faith.

Maybe my brain is over-thinking what “by faith alone” actually means. Does it mean by intellectually believing that Jesus is the Christ, who died once for the sins of all? Is it more than that? Is it the relationship? Or does it mean that because of your faith, here are the next steps you need to follow?

I guess the confusing bit to explain is the whole, It’s not about what you DO to receive salvation, except that you must repent and be baptized, or take communion, or adhere to Jesus’ teachings, or go to church, or be in fellowship with other believers… How would you reconcile those things to a non-Christian?

The best explanation I’m coming up with is as follows: that when you believe in God, and you profess your faith in Christ, your life will change. You will WANT to be closer to God, and in being closer to God, you are innately moving farther away from sin. The symbolism of the things Christians do, such as baptism and communion are things that help us turn from our old lives of sin, and turn toward our new lives in Christ. By being baptized, you are acknowledging your sin, and dying to the old you, and raising up again in the new you that is redeemed by Christ. By taking communion, you are observing and commemorating the Last Supper, and there by bringing Christ and the Holy Spirit to dwell within you. When your life becomes centered around God, you will begin to do things out of love. That love is the source of the transformation that will take place within you as you move from sin to righteousness. Because you feel the love of God when you turn toward Him and the teachings of Christ, you will inevitably leave behind sin as you progress toward the Lord. That’s not to say that you’ll be a perfectly righteous person from the moment you’re baptized, or that you won’t make mistakes. It’s just that you will now feel convicted by the Holy Spirit, who dwells within you, to repent of your sin when you DO inevitably fall short, and God’s forgiveness will be waiting for you.

That’s the best way I can come up with to describe it… Please, I encourage all of you to leave feedback, and input. The clearer we make Christianity, the easier it will be for people to fall in love with God. I believe it is our job as “amateur apologists” to remove as much doubt and mystery as we can and present the Gospel to non-believers in such a way that is true to God’s word and win over non-believers with the TRUTH, not fancy words or speeches.

Small Group Bible Study

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Small Group Bible Study

“God sets the lonely in families,…” Psalm 68:6

So like I mentioned WAY back, I’ve been feeling led to host a small group Bible study for some time now. And God finally gave me the “Ok, go!” on that venture.

I was reading Rescued by the Cross by Ken Freeman and I got to the chapter about making excuses… there was a quote I’d like to share with you:

“An excuse is a skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.”- Evangelist Billy Sunday (Rescued by the Cross p. 143)

I’ve been making excuses for 7 months now; I don’t know that many people, no one will show up, it might be awkward, I don’t know what material to cover, I’ve never led a group study before… and on and on and on. Well, God showed me it’s time to end my era of excuses and just do it. For all I know, there are people around me who may be truly aching for something like a small group study and they might find a family in that kind of support. “God sets the lonely in families…” I know that had it not been for my church and faith in God, I would have truly struggled to survive emotionally and financially during those periods of time I was alone while Mitch was doing what I like to call, “Marine things.” I was able to thrive because I had support that gave me the strength and wisdom I needed to overcome those temporary emotional obstacles.

I’ve been “spitballing” my idea to a few friends, and I was surprised at the support I was given. Even Mitch is supportive of the idea of a group of our friends invading our house once every week or so to grow together in spirit through our walks of faith. Or at least, he hasn’t said he’s against it, so if he’s not against it, he’s for it! Either way, I believe it will be good for both of us and give us a chance to witness to the people with whom we surround ourselves. God showed me that we (Mitch and I) may be the only family some people in this area know, since most everyone we know is here because of the Marine Corps and are far from family for reasons ranging from dysfunction to geographical distance. I love the thought of being family to my friends. I love the thought of my home being seen as the spiritual save haven outside of church where we can all come together to fellowship and grow in Christian love. I’m getting a little mushy, but I think mushy has its place. And since my marriage would assumedly be failing if not for God showing me how to love, respect and care for my husband in this military circumstance (and all others, for that matter) I think it’s the least I can do to share my experience with married couples we hang out with and to share with them that it’s God’s unfailing love and faithfulness that keeps our marriage together in spite of the odds.

So that’s my big thought of the day. I finally took initiative and responsibility for my faith and made a big step forward. Hopefully, there’s a good response. Again, if I can reach even one person, then I’ll know my efforts weren’t in vain.

I’m A Young-Old Person… And I’m Okay With It.

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I’m A Young-Old Person… And I’m Okay With It.

“Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.” Proverbs 2:11

I was thinking this morning as I sipped my morning coffee (seriously, I have to find a decent tasting decaf brew, because I hate caffeine…) and I thought about how much my views and opinions have changed since I was in high school. Let’s be honest here, I’m still called “kid” by the vast majority of individuals I spend time with. My husband and I drastically lower the average age of our church’s chancel choir. Last night, we were mistaken for high school students by the new pastor. Establishments check our ID’s in every possible circumstance. I’ve only been a high school graduate for 3 years, my husband for 4. My point is, I’m incredibly “young and foolish” so it just downright shocked and awed me when I noticed how much more conservative I am now as compared to when I was in high school because I’m still seen as fairly liberal by my church friends who are in their mid to late 60s.

I wondered then what changed my mind on so many issues… I don’t wear bikinis to the beach, or even go to the beach if my husband isn’t around, I no longer feel a fascination toward body piercing or tattoos, nor do I have any, I don’t now nor have I ever consumed alcohol for the purpose of getting drunk, I don’t wear make-up every day or even every time I go out in public (*GASP*- I know this may seem shocking to my mom and sisters 😉 ) I love wearing cardigan sweaters, and putting my hair in buns. I don’t like wearing high heels over 3 inches tall, and I wake up by 7:30 AM and prefer to go to bed by 10PM. There are those little things, and then a whole host of other more political issues on which my opinions have changed, or slid slightly more to the right.

I came to the conclusion that getting married did something to my brain. Having that one person in my life, to whom I am to give my utmost respect and support changed the way I do the little things. I’ve found I WANT to make those little changes out of respect for my husband. It’s not because I struggle with body image, or self-confidence, or modesty, or anything of the sort, because honestly, I’m in awesome shape and by society’s standards, have what it takes to “show it off.” The point is that I choose not to because before I do anything, I ask myself what my husband would think. I want nothing but to bring him honor, and to remain upright in integrity and discretion. If that means dressing more conservatively, then that’s what I’ll do, without question. If that means being cautious about my actions in public, that’s what I’ll do.

I first discovered I was making the transition to “old lady” sometime in college, when people were talking about their feelings toward porn, erotica, or general “benders” of any sort. I’m not willing to do anything that could compromise the integrity of my relationship with my husband; I’m not willing to sacrifice his trust and respect for doing something “fun” for its own sake. I don’t want to open doors that could lead to potential marital complications in the future; i.e., no porn, no erotica novels, no drinking without my spouse, no emotional/marital sharing with someone of the opposite sex, no revealing clothing (yes- this even applies to my husband and his pair of jeans with the duct taped rear, and proclivity for mooning…) and full disclosure of anything that could potentially be seen as an indiscretion (like the “make her famous” texts, with which I have MAJOR issues.) What is right for us as a couple may not be right for anyone else, but so far, our marriage works, and we don’t have to have the petty arguments because we place each other’s feelings and concerns ahead of our own. We are aware of one another’s struggles and failures, and rather than create stumbling blocks for each other out of pride, we just avoid what we consider “the taboo” altogether. It doesn’t matter that I think the length of my shorts are just fine as compared to that other woman’s shorts, because I’m not that other man’s wife. It doesn’t matter if my husband doesn’t think his caboose hanging out of his jeans that are more hole than pant is a big deal (though I’ve caught men and women alike checking out his rear), because he’s not their husband. We guard each other’s hearts, out of a mutual trust and respect.

He has full confidence in me, because I don’t test the boundaries (except for that time I bought a Cosmo because of a random “how to tone” article, which we’ve already discussed and I just tossed the mag.) He knows that I’m not nagging him when I ask who’s texting him, because he knows (or at least he will after he reads this) that I’m just trying to 1.) legitimately make conversation, because there are times we just sit in the same room, each surfing Facebook, and not say a word to the other, and 2.) guard our marriage. He doesn’t mind my questions, because he has nothing to hide, and he knows he can have full confidence in me when he has to be away.

It’s our system, it works for us. Like I said before, what works for us may not be right for anyone else, but it’s not for us to judge them, nor for them to judge us, because it’s not about that-it’s about honoring God and my husband and if that takes me setting up some boundaries so that I am able to avoid failure or disappointment, I’m cool with that.

May as well show you Old Man Mitch

So Simple, It’s Complex

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So Simple, It’s Complex

I’ve made a recent discovery; faith in God is so simple, it’s difficult. That is, so simple, we over-complicate it… or I do, anyway…

I’ve been doing a study of the various names for God used in scripture and how the various Hebrew words and their meanings all bear significance in identifying God for who He is. For example, “El” was a Hebrew word meaning “god” little “g”. But we see something in scripture that can’t be explained by the “rational thinking” people of that time- El gets hyphenated and added to in order to reveal characteristics of the one, true God. For example, Elohim- describes the nature of God and his plurality, yet unity; El-Shaddai-God Almighty; El-gibbor- Mighty, or Heroic God; El-de’a- the God who knows; El-emet- God of truth; El-kabod- God of glory… All of these are used to refer to the same God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The only problem is that I often times forget that my God is the God of ALL THINGS, and not just the God of some, or most things… I forget that I don’t have to struggle, or go it alone, because I have God on my side.

Too often I ask myself why I experience periods of doubt and uncertainty instead of just leaning on God and relying on His promises… the answer is simple: instead of turning to God, I turn inward and attempt to control that which is beyond my comprehension. It’s like when our lawn mower mysteriously went on the fritz (We bought it in April, so there’s really no reason for it to not be working…) We tried everything… I replaced the air-filter, Mitch siphoned the old gas, and we added new fresh gas, we checked the oil, we changed the spark plug… We consulted the owner’s manual… Now all that is left for us to do since after all our attempts to fix it have failed is to contact the manufacturer and have it replaced or exchanged…

As annoying as the whole lawn-mower ordeal is, what it’s taught me is that I have virtually zero knowledge of small engine repair and/or maintenance… So why do I continue to pretend I do rather than just consult the maker of the product? Why in my life, do I assume I can deal with the stresses and problems that crop up on my own without regard to the One who made me? You see where I’m going with this? I’m not saying to call Husqvarna every time you struggle with anxiety or depression, but I am saying that when there’s a problem in your life you can’t fix, consult your manufacturer God.

Huh… What do you know? I’ve taken an annoying homeowner’s issue and used it as a teaching opportunity… maybe I can be a teacher after all… 🙂 Blessings to you all!