Tag Archives: religion

A Change

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!


Friends and Family

Friends and Family

“The same Jesus Who turned water into wine can transform your home, your life, your family, and your future. He is still in the miracle-working business, and His business is the business of transformation.”  ~ Adrian Rogers

My mom just got remarried over the weekend! Congratulations, Mom and Jim!

They are stopping by our place on their way back home and like any good daughter, I’ve been scrambling around the house cleaning like Mom always did when we had company 😉 After all, I don’t want them to think we live the way we actually live with clothing thrown over the back of the couch, dog toys scattered throughout the house, and empty water glasses on every visible surface…

Anyway, the separation of my parents and their lives with their new significant others got me thinking about God, and family, and His power to transform a negative situation into a positive one. I think about my childhood and I remember good times I had with my sisters and brother; kickball in the back yard, bike rides around the cull-de-sac, playing in mud and convincing my youngest sister that it was dark chocolate pudding, roller blading around the neighborhood and the wrap around porch… There were some good times. Life wasn’t all bad, although I wasn’t oblivious to the struggles that were present.

I think what I’ve learned most about family is that it’s not just the people whose genetic make-up you share that count as your family. It’s about the little old ladies across the street whose houses smell funny, but they’ll always invite you in for some Schwan’s Ice Cream. It’s about the friends you had, then and now, who call just to see how you’re doing, and will come and sit in your living room and not do much of anything at all, but be content in spending time with you. It’s about the people you meet in the midst of chaos and struggle who choose to stand by you anyway. My friends are my family, and my family make up a great bunch of friends.

This is important; so much more now that I’m grown, married, and live hundreds of miles away from my little sisters. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish I were closer to them and my brother. But I’ve seen first-hand how God can take something broken and hurting and use the pieces to build this brand new thing that’s more complex and beautiful than anyone could have imagined it to be. I imagine the fictitious bird, the phoenix, bursting in to flames, and then rising majestically and beautifully from the ashes.

If you think about this transformation in regards to Christianity, you see that the very best things, the only things worth living for come out of death. In marrying my husband, I died to my single self, and became one with him in body and spirit. In the separation of my parents, two new couples emerged with the blessings of step-siblings (and I’m still the oldest 😉 ) From the pain and adversity that came with the divorce came faith the likes of which I have never seen displayed before by my parents. By the death of Jesus Christ came salvation for my short comings and failures; righteousness from the torture and death of an innocent and pure man.

Some times, strong things or people have to take a hit so that a weaker being can survive to be strengthened in the future. In the same way, sometimes, weak things have to die to make way for stronger things to emerge in their place.

I see God working in ways I never really understood but I see now that he had a plan for my family’s mistakes; he had in mind for us all to be stronger, more courageous, and more faithful than we had previously thought possible. And I will praise Him every day for the rest of my life for that.

Left to Right: Mitch, my husband; Step-dad, Jim; Mom, Amy; and me



“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

I’m having a difficult time with stress lately. Mitch’s work and my lack there of are sort of converging into what is starting to feel like a giant ball of molten lead sitting in the pit of my stomach and I can’t make it go away.

Fry from Futurama, obviously feeling stressed

I’ve really been leaning heavily on the Holy Spirit for guidance and peace. That’s not to say that my human nature isn’t fighting for the win in keeping me a nervous, anxious wreck…

There are so many things that I thought would be different after a year here at our Permanent duty station, and they’re not at all the way I imagined them to be. That’s life though, right? I feel like I’m in the midst of a “tower of Babel” situation; I had great and lofty plans for myself and none of them seem to be working out the way I wanted them to, leaving me with a sense of defeat and confusion.

I trust that God has something spectacular in mind for me and I just have to buckle up and enjoy the ride that takes me there. In the mean time, I’m praying for the Lord to just destroy my anxious spirit and bring me peace amid the chaos.

It’s strange that the more you try to plan for something the less prepared you feel. I can’t keep thinking of all the worst-case scenarios though, because it’s creating stress over things that don’t even exist! How ridiculous is that?

Imagine being in a construction zone, but without any road signs; that’s my current state. I can’t see where I’m going, but I know that the closer to the Light, the more you can see… so I’m doing my best to remain as close as possible to God in a time when I know I need His guidance most. I feel like that is something I’ve gained- being able to know when I need God- in wisdom in the past year. It wasn’t always so clear to me, although it seems blatantly obvious now.

I feel somewhat detached, as if I were watching from above someone else living my life. I typically try to be a source of encouragement in my blogs, but it would appear as if I’m the one currently in need of encouragement. If nothing else, know that whatever struggles you are currently facing, there is always someone else out there who is also fighting a battle. I’m reminded of a passage in Ecclesiastes that says something to the effect that there is nothing now that has not been before, and God will call the past to account. My feelings are nothing new… and God is bigger than anything I go through.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Here’s to faith and trust that when the time is right, I’ll understand, and that I’ll be able to rest in the peace of Christ until then.

Small Group

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…(2)

And They’ll Know We Are Christians…(2)

“What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar.” Romans 3:3-4

Yesterday I shared with you my take on how to reconcile the bits and pieces of Christian belief/tradition with the fact that we, as Christians, have received salvation not by anything we physically do, but by faith in Christ alone. Let me add to that statement by referencing 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which says that ALL scripture is God-breathed and useful for instruction. That means that nothing in the Bible is at all contradictory. The contradiction comes when believers and non-believers alike take scriptures out of context and do a “copy and paste” version of “faith” that will either cater to their comfort zone and lifestyle, or completely turn them against the Gospel. That’s not how the Bible is intended to be read or used.

That being said, I have some more thoughts on the subject of faith and our actions as a result of our afore-mentioned faith. I’ve heard the same story, multiple times throughout my life, of a man (or woman) who believes that God exists. The person has faith that God created the universe, and that His son, Jesus, was sent to die once for the sins of man. This person in question, however, refuses to be baptized, or go to church- in short become a Christian- because the individual is not yet ready to let go of his or her current lifestyle, which he or she does in fact believe to be contrary to the Gospel because of not wanting to be seen as hypocritical.

This story always makes me think hard on my life, and the book of Romans always comes to mind each time I hear it.

“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:7-8] Think about that… Think about your best friend for a moment. Think of what that person means to you, and how your life would be poorer if they were no longer a part of it. Now think of all the things that your best friend does to annoy you… think of your arguments… think of the struggles you know they face… think about all the dirt, sin, and failure that surrounds them… Would you still sacrifice your life to save the life of your friend? Would you abandon everything you have- husband, wife, children, career, wealth, success- just to save that person from their own despair? God did. God did that for us before the world ever recognized Jesus as the Messiah. For crying out loud, the Jews denied Jesus as the Messiah! GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE WEREN’T ABLE TO ACCEPT JESUS AS THE FULFILLMENT OF GOD’S PROMISE! It seems hopeless if you think of it that way. If the people who God set apart from the beginning to follow Him failed, how are the rest of us supposed to stand a chance? That is the beauty of the Gospel! “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” [Romans 3:23-24] We aren’t bound by a lifestyle of sin. In fact, sin is not even a valid reason to ignore the call of God to repent and be baptized.

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” [Romans 1:18-20]

See? The Bible makes a point of saying that there is no valid excuse for acknowledging God but refusing to follow him. God KNOWS we’re sinners. That’s why he sent Jesus to the world in the first place. He knew that we were a hopeless rabble. The beauty is that although we WILL fall short, we have still been given the gift of salvation. Therefore, we must TRY to be obedient to the word of God and the teachings of Christ. Repentance isn’t code for give up everything you enjoy because the Church wouldn’t like it. It’s about choosing to be close to God instead of marred by sin, which separates us from Him. It’s not an instantaneous thing, but a lifetime process. Being in a relationship with God is about daily deciding- yes, you have the choice to decide- whether you will sin because it feels good for a moment, or whether you will turn from sin and cling to righteousness because it will lead you toward an eternity of joy and salvation.

John Wesley is quoted as having said, “What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.” I see truth in this statement. From the looks of things, the generations before us tolerated confusion and misinterpretation of the Christian faith, because now it is rampant. Somehow over the course of the past 2,000 years, being introduced to someone as a good, Christian individual now has a negative connotation associated with bigotry, hypocrisy, commercialism, judgment, hate, and scorn. WHAT!? What happened to being the body of Christ? What happened to Christianity being synonymous with love, and compassion, forgiveness, mercy, and grace?? I find it absolutely appalling that people feel ashamed to wear the label of Christianity, not for fear of being seen as “Jesus Freaks” but because society has demanded tolerance of sin, and thereby embraced it, creating generations of politically correct hypocrites who don’t know what they believe anymore. The fact that people would honestly cling to the belief that it is better to be seen as a sinner than to be viewed as a Christian simply tells me that Christians have been doing it wrong for generations.

Let me take this time to be completely transparent with you. I drink alcohol. I don’t see anything wrong with enjoying a beer with a few friends over dinner. Drunkenness is not okay in my home, however with moderation, I see no issue in a casual drink. Is it necessary or healthy? No. Science has proven that, but I’m human, and I legitimately enjoy the taste of Yuengling. I also cuss sometimes. You’ve done it, be honest- you clumsily turn the corner and you stub your toe on the table, or the couch, or that bumpy thing that holds the carpet down in the threshold of the doorway to your living room, and you let one slip. We are human! We mess up! We do things that we might not want our preachers to know about. OH- in fact, there is a Women’s Circle at my church that up-front told one of our pastors that they didn’t want her to come to their circle’s meetings because they will occasionally discuss the scriptures over a glass of wine! Now I, personally, find that more messed up than not going to church at all because they feel like they have to pretend they’re better than they are! Paul leveled the playing field for us in Romans chapter two, verse one when he wrote, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” 

There! It’s out! Someone finally said it! WE ARE NOT PERFECT! And that’s okay, because why? Because Jesus WAS perfect. That’s not saying we have a license to sin, because Paul addresses that also in Romans Chapter three, verses seven through nine:

“Someone might argue, ‘If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?’ Why not say- as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say- ‘Let us do evil that good may result’? Their condemnation is deserved.. What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all!”

Living by faith isn’t about becoming perfect overnight, or magically not being enticed by those things that were a large part of your life before you accepted Christ. Living by faith is acknowledging that you are flawed and that the only thing that can reconcile that flawed nature is a relationship with Jesus Christ, through daily prayer, meditation, and reading of the scripture. Little by little, the things that used to have a hold on you will start to fall away. How? Why? Because when you draw close to God, it is inevitable that your heart will begin a transformation that will make you more and more like Christ as you grow deeper in relationship with him. The closer you get to the Lord, the more your heart will chase after things that are Christ-like, and the more easily you’ll be able to abandon the things that had previously been binding you to sin. It’s so simple, yet so complex at the very same time! The simplicity is that all it takes for us to reconcile ourselves with God is to openly admit that without Him as the leader of our lives, we will fail, over and over again. The challenge comes in choosing something that may seem like abandonment of pleasure at first, but will ultimately lead to the greatest treasure for us; a life of joy lived in perpetual worship with our Savior in Heaven. Amen.


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

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.

Powerful Prayer


“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

How wonderful is it when you can tangibly experience the power of prayer and God’s Holy presence working in your life?? I say it’s pretty amazing. First, I’d like to point out that I’ve reached the point in my life where I can now navigate my hard copy Bible- yes, I mean actual leather bound book with paper pages- faster than I can the Bible application on my android. I don’t know whether to be excited that I know the scripture that well, or upset at my lack of interest in technological advancement… either way, I have some incredible stories to tell.

So as I’ve been writing since April, my husband and I decided to purchase a home- our first- and we finally were able to close on it last week! Praise God! That’s some incredible news that has been a long time coming, for sure. But, that’s not the best news. The best news started out as some awful and gut-wrenching news…

…I was going through the last stages of preparing for closing on the house. Because we purchased from the owner without using a realtor or realty service, we- the buyers- were responsible for all of the closing costs. Well to make a long story slightly shorter, I was checking my email like a fiend, waiting for the final HUD, or statement of closing costs so that we would know how much money we were responsible for at the time of closing. Our date was set for Friday morning, and it wasn’t until Thursday evening I got the email that said our closing costs came to a total of over $4,000, because I had not yet paid the insurance premium. I swallowed my tongue a little… T0 a couple who has only been married and on their own for 2-ish years, that was a SIZABLE chunk of change, and most of our bank account. Guess what I did after I read that email? For those of you who guessed panic and cry, you are correct. After THAT, I began to pray. I prayed with tears in my eyes. I texted, called, emailed all our closest friends and had them start praying too… We prayed and thanked God for allowing us to find the perfect home and be able to live in it 4 months prior to closing so we weren’t homeless. We prayed for God to handle the financial situation, as we had asked Him from the beginning of the whole process.  We prayed, and prayed, and prayed. [1 Thes. 5:16-18]

After I paid the insurance premiums out-of-pocket, the closing cost rounded out to just about $3,000… Thursday evening passed with more prayer, and more reading of scripture to ease my worrisome mind. Friday morning came. With a rock in my stomach, Mitch and I gathered our thoughts and prayers and went to get the money orders made out before closing that morning. We walked in to walmart and stood in the line. Just as our turn in line came, I got an email notification on my phone. Out of habit more than anything else, I checked it immediately. I couldn’t believe my eyes, and I felt like my body was about to perform every function it knew how right there not the least of which was wetting my pants with joy and surprise. It was the FINAL revision of the HUD, and it was over $800 less than the amount we were about to verbalize to the cashier who was waiting to print up our money orders! HOLY COW!!!!!!!!!!!

I couldn’t believe it! I started to cry and got all flustered. Our prayers had been answered! God had made sure we had enough money in our account to cover closing costs, as well as allow us to eat for the rest of the month! It was at that moment I realized the value of good Christian friends and family who will pray for your needs. It wasn’t until later that I marveled at how God didn’t increase our wealth, He simply made what we already had to be enough. That was what really touched my spirit. The words of Philippians 4:19 echoed in my mind as well as the words from a song that goes something like, “…His grace is enough for me…” Hallelujah! How true that is! God’s word is alive and thriving people! It is relevant! It touches my life every day. If this isn’t proof, then I don’t know what is.

With this whole little “financial miracle” as I like to call it still fresh in my mind, I pondered a devotional I read this morning. It brought up Psalm 90:15, and how the closer we walk to the light, the more clearly we can see what is around us. Amen to that. Those times when I feel so lost and out of control are always the times in which I’ve gone days without any devotional time, or prayer. And I’m discovering more and more that I AM growing in spirit and in faith because where I used to have to slide back into depression to feel God pulling me close to Him,  I can now sense that I’m chosing God more often than not, and I’m chosing prayer where I used to choose worry, anxiety or fear. I read somewhere that fear is simply lack of faith. What I’ve learned is that either I believe God is who the Bible says He is; who He’s proven Himself to be in my life, or I don’t. There isn’t a halfway. And the more I look at where I have been, the more I understand where I am now, and the more I want to continue to grow closer to the Lord every day for the rest of my life. My faith is stronger, my marriage is better, my friendships are more genuine, and my life is overall more joyful than ever before. The reason Christianity has survived for over 2,000 years is because it is the truth; the ONLY truth. If I ever I was shaky in my faith in God’s provision, I’m more firm in believing that He’ll sustain me than I ever have been.  I hope this experience is an inspiration to you who read this to draw close to God through reading his word and heart-felt, sincere prayer and praise to God the Father.