Pleading for the Storm

Pleading

PleadingI am typically not a fan of storms, so you can imagine my surprise when I was excited to hear thunder a few weeks ago. It’s been hot and dry in my little corner of Texas. Our yard is barren for the most part. The little grass that is left is brown and crunches when you walk on it. Dust fills the air with almost any type of movement. We need the rain, and on that particular day, I was willing to endure the storm to have it.

Honest to goodness, as I sat there I couldn’t help think how, here lately, that has been the state of my spiritual life more often than not. My insides feel dry and crunchy. I feel like every movement just stirs up more dirt the enemy uses to pollute and obscure the air around me. Don’t get me wrong there have been pop-up showers that have wetted the ground, but the deep down nourishing rain had escaped me. The landscape of my emotions, of my heart, felt barren.

Have you been there? Desperate for the drought you feel like you’re in to be over? Desperate for the rain of His presence to come at you like a torrent? Willing to endure the storm, maybe even pleading for it, so you can be drenched in the Living Water?

Be encouraged. The storm will come. Mine did, but that is another post. I will tell you, in the midst of the storm, when God’s presence rained down, this barren land yielded fruit only Christ could have planted & harvested.

Keep looking to The Lord. Keep pleading for the rain. Time after time, while it appears nothing is coming, you keep looking. Our God is faithful to those who seek Him.

When you see that cloud forming (1 Kings 18:41-46), gird up your loins and be ready, for only those things we have secured to Christ will not wash away.

And we should praise Him for that.

Rhonda summer

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Committed in the Contending

Filtered Through His Hands

Filtered Through His HandsChallenges. Well, we’ve got a few of those don’t we. Recently, I saw a sermon by Pastor Brian Houston from Hillsong Church in Australia, addressing purposeful living. I know for me, if I am going to face, and overcome, these challenges I am going to need to be purposeful. Here are his points, and my two cents, because you weren’t getting out of here without that.

1. I will not be limited by my perception & beliefs. I will let God mold those. One of the greatest battles I have when facing my current, and ongoing it seems, challenges is believing they are always going to be there. I am always going to be this or that. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. Those are beliefs and perceptions. They box me in.  They trap me. They enslave me to the challenge. God’s word brings freedom.

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (NKJV)

2. I refuse to accuse to excuse. My challenges are just that – mine. Whether they are the consequences of decisions I made, decisions someone else made, or they just showed up, as a Christian, I believe that they passed before the eyes of God first. He has seen them. He is watching me to see how I handle them. I could blame people all day long. I could even accuse God Himself of being unfair in handing these to me. Doesn’t change a thing. I am still accountable for how I deal with them. I am the one called to be purposeful in humbling myself before Christ Jesus in them.

Romans 14:12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. (NKJV)

3. I am not looking for exception clauses. It’s easier for her. She doesn’t have to … Well, if I had that then sure I could…. Comparison. Get’s me every time. How ’bout you? How often do I look at the snapshot of someone’s life and think how easy it is for them, completely forgetting that I often Photoshop my own picture to make it look carefree. Bottom line, scripture tells all have sinned (Rom. 3:23), even the girl that looks like she hasn’t. God desires for us all to come repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Forgiveness in Christ is available to all men (Rom. 5:18). God is able to handle, and enable us through the power of the Holy Spirit to handle,  all of our challenges.

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (NKJV)

No exceptions.

4. I will not be guided by my fears. I will not. I will choose faith. I will choose to listen to my Heavenly Father. I will choose to push on, perhaps not knowing the outcome, but trusting Jesus with it. I will not make decisions out of fear. I will seek godly council. I will not be tossed to and fro by my challenges. I will take God at His word.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (NKJV)

Valid points, don’t you think? Now look, I know (and pray) many of us will read this and have an immediate shift in our attitude. Not because of what I said, or he said, but because of what the Spirit of God is doing within us. I also know that many of us will have to be deliberate about putting these promises before our eyes and into our hearts every day.

God is faithful in both.

May we be found faithful in both.

Committed in the contending.

For we don’t contend alone.

Isaiah 43:26 (NKJV)

Put Me in remembrance; Let us contend together; …

Rhonda summer

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My Confession

My Confession

My Confession

Lord, we’ve had this talk many times.

You know I have spent the better part of the last two years sitting in a church pew, but sitting out of church. You know how long its been since I have had what I would call a “church family”. You know the wounds and You know the scars.

You also know how hard this heart could be. Just like a dormant knife, I lost my luster, unable to reflect the light of Your truth into my own life. You know how dull I had become. What was once a sharpened weapon against the enemy now felt like a blunt blade trying to cut through the darkness in her own power, and only damaging herself in the process.

 Jesus, You know that I knew.  I could feel it happening. I attempted to fix it.  I tried to choose what tools would sharpen me, how and when. I tried to set this up on my terms, and You rarely do things on my terms.

Like a master blade smith, You have continued to shape me. You have trimmed the edges of my cynical mind. You have flat-out knocked chunks off this scarred exterior. You have cut the stone away to expose this heart of flesh.  In ways I never could have expected, You have enlisted the church in Your efforts. Whether they were gentle swipes used to finish the edge or harsh strikes used to reshape me, my brothers and sisters in Christ have been a part of this effort. Could You have done it alone? Absolutely, but You chose not to. You knew I needed them. To encourage. To challenge. To remind this wounded heart of what it is to be invested in the lives of others and have them be invested in me. 

Lord, we aren’t done yet. You know that. This beating heart is longing for the “church family” again.  You have restored that desire. You will also fulfill it.

In Your time.

In Your way.

With Your people.  

1 Corinthians 12:24-26 (NKJV)

” …But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Rhonda sig

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Plumb Line Existence | Life on the Prophetic Edge

Pink-Impact-2010

Pink Impact|Prophetic Art|Intercession|Prayer|Pink

God has spent more than a year impressing upon my heart the fact that alignment with my identity with Christ is utterly dependent on aligning my heart, my mind and my emotions with His will, His plans and His purpose for my life. This is what I have come to refer to as a plumb line existence.

I’m home from an early morning run having injections to treat pain in my back and thinking about alignment, truth, prophecy and destiny tonight. Pardon me if I wax prophetic. :)

The picture left came to me birthed out of an intense season of prophetic intercession with a group of amazing ladies around the annual women’s conference at Gateway Church.

If you run in charismatic circles – you might have an understanding and a resounding yes in your heart. Likewise, if you run in primarily evangelical settings you may ask what I mean by the word “prophetic” as you picture Elijah running for his life from Jezebel prophesying against the prophets of Baal. You might even see Isaiah in the throne room uttering the words, “Woe to me, for I am a sinful man.” Still – you likely think I’m out in the weeds. And if I tell you the truth, I believed exactly the same thing before joining Gateway Church seven years ago.

Well, the Lord is so gracious He gives us standards and examples of prophecy in New Testament Scripture. I have learned through experience that Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians 14 remain relevant to the believer today just as they did for the believers in Corinth. This area of ministry and gifting has handily been one of the most life-changing things in my life behind my salvation experience at the age of twelve.

My husband and I find ourselves returning to our Baptist roots, but I am not going to lose sight of the revelation I received that continually bears good fruit in my life. I may have to change the expression of it in my life to be submitted to the church I am joining, but I will continue to test everything and personally hold onto what is good.  I simply ask you to do the same. Test this message and hold onto what is beneficial to you.

I land here tonight thinking about the power of words. Scripture admonishes us to realize that the power of life and death is in the tongue, in our words. Our words convey agreement and agreement  creates a covenant and covenant produces alignment. Alignment then shapes everything we experience in our life.

James tells us that the tongue is an untamed and powerful thing. It is like a rudder that can turn a very large ship. But, think about it, turning a ship doesn’t happen on a dime. It takes time, distance and a certain amount of nautical and engineering acumen to adjust the course of a ship. The captain calls out the command, then his first officer delivers the word to the engine room while the man at the wheel begins to crank the ship in a new direction. The movement is gradual, and in open seas would not necessarily be notable. And if a command contains an error, it could result in horrible consequences for everyone aboard the ship. It could even lead to physical death.

So it is with our words. The words we speak indicate two things. 1.) What we truly believe in our heart, and 2.) The kingdom with which we align ourselves. You see we really do live in two realms, a natural realm, this earthly life ruled by the principalities and the prince and ruler of the air (Satan). And, the Kingdom of God. the heavenly spiritual realm where we are now seated with Christ. The kingdom you agree with will either produce life or death in your lives and the lives you have influence to speak into. Weigh your words. What do you find yourself continually speaking and making agreement with?

Think of how you pray for people or what you say when you disagree with or disapprove of them. How do you speak to your children when they misbehave? One of the most powerful lessons I ever got on this subject came from a friend. Her two young children were in a near empty restaurant while we visited and her daughter kept going to a cooler with bottled drinks to bring to her mother. Her mother patiently and gently admonished her not to do it again and had her replace the drink. When the little girl walked away the third time I said, “She is a bit mischievous.”

Her mother smiled and shook her head. “No, not mischievous, adventurous. We are working on boundaries.”

Very appropriate for a 3 year old girl. No raising her voice, no negative commands, just a patient, gentle rebuke and a lesson on boundaries.

POWERFUL stuff right!

I share all this to say living a plumb line existence comes from understanding and valuing the life-giving words of Scripture. When we learn to speak and pray them over yourself, your family, and the people you influence. I would even say to pray and speak it over the people you’ve given up on or who have wounded you. OH! Now I’ve gone to meddling.

You see, prophets in the Old Testament spoke warnings and promises to the people of Israel while they lived in captivity. There were no Bibles to pick up and read, just a personal relationship with the priests and Levites in the temple and the things handed down by tradition from one generation to another. The prophets spoke with the authority and power of God. They helped to bring the people of Israel back into align with God’s covenant promises and His perfect will for their lives. The role of the office of prophet is to help the leadership of the community structure the worship of God to bring about the alignment of the leader’s vision with the purpose and plan of God. Let’s face it – Old Testament prophets spoke a lot about the judgment of God. Not a pleasant thought to be that kind of prophet right?

Prophets in the New Testament did one of two things… They prepared the way for the advent of Jesus, the Messiah, or they ministered the gospel through words of encouragement, edification, comfort and occasionally through stronger words of motivation called exhortation. These words never contradict Scripture and always line up with the character and nature of God. They do not “uncover” or reveal sin, but instead they open the door for healing, repentance, and speak to destiny as well as freedom. New Testament prophecy is administered through the Holy Spirit to each as He wills. It is available to everyone who is in Christ and has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Revelations tells us that the Spirit of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy.

So living a plumb line existence with a prophetic edge looks a bit like this:

1. Rightly Understanding Who God Says I Am. My friend and pastor, Bob Hamp, often says, “Jesus didn’t die for what you did, He died for who you are.” Repentance then becomes not about saying your sorry and asking for forgiveness, but instead about responding to the Holy Spirit’s conviction by agreeing about unconfessed sin in your life and changing your mind about doing it. You see, if Christ died on the cross to redeem all of mankind from the sins of the world, then even the sins I will commit – that I don’t even know about yet – are completely covered if I am in Christ.

Do I need to share that again? IF. JESUS. DIED. ON. THE. CROSS. ALL. MY. SINS. ARE. COVERED.

So why do I need to 1 John 1:9  and confess my sins to Him? Because we have to change our mind about sin and the first step to changing our minds about sin is coming out of agreement with what led us into the sin and coming into agreement with God about the sin. It is not debasing and shame ridden – it is cleansing and freeing. I don’t have to beg God or make a list of reasons why – I just have to agree with Him that I sinned and I have no power to stop sinning apart from His power in my life. Every time I go to God and come out of agreement with a habitual sin, I become more and more released from its power over my life. Think about that. And realize, the more my identity begins to come into line with who God says I am the more Christ-like I become.

My daddy used to tell me my consequences would have been less severe if I had just come to him and told him that I had screwed up and needed him to help me through it. I believe that reflects the heart of God toward us. Just like when my father felt the consequence I needed was a spanking. My father would say, “This hurts me to do this, but I love you and I want you to remember not to do that anymore.”

God doesn’t want us to live in the consequences of poor choices and sinful behavior. He wants to redeem it but He cannot redeem what we don’t lay out and acknowledge honestly before Him.

Again, the first step to living a plumb line existence is to rightly understand who God says you are in Christ.

2. Learning To Listen To That Positive Still Small Voice Inside of You. For a number of years I would dismiss hopeful, positive affirmations in my thoughts because I didn’t realize these promptings were words of revelation and affirmation from God. Jesus says we are His sheep and His sheep know their shepherds voice. How do we know His voice? We study His Word and we learn about His character.

Does that thought or dream you are carrying in your heart bring life to you, encourage you, bring you hope, give you direction or even feel a bit like Deja Vu? What if you are dismissing God thoughts thinking that is just wishful thinking? Scripture admonishes us to live not as fools, but as the wise. And God uses the things that defy human logic to confound the world’s wisdom and culture. So test that word… Does it reflect His heart for you? Does it get your passion stirred up? Do you feel empowered by it? Then ask Jesus if that word is His voice. He’ll never lie to you. :) Be open to how God speaks to people in the Bibl: some see visions or dreams, some get words that turn into books, while others just have a strong sense or impression that what they are hearing is of God. 

3. Aligning who you were created to be up with the words God gives you and speaks over you. If you have never done a strengths test, a spiritual gifts test and even your unique learning style or an emotional quotient evaluation, then do it. When you have your results compare these things with the things you do that seem to bring life to others and really bring life to you.  If you have never sat down and done a personal assessment for yourself this way… DO. IT! Finding your sweet spot is more about who you are than what you are doing. Living your life on purpose, through a revelation of God’s life-giving power, will bring you more satisfaction and blessing than you can imagine. Plug into that tree of life, and let Him set the boundaries and teach you what risks are worth taking because He is in them with you.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. ~ Proverbs 13:12 (my memory)

I began to meditate on what a plumb line existence would look like a couple of years ago. When my identity is perfectly aligned in who Christ is and who He says He is in me, there is no limit to my potential in Him. I must discover that first. As I do, then these other things – learning to hear and respond to His voice out of who He says I am will bring about healing, deliverance, discipleship, equipping and empowerment to serve and minister in your unique role in the universal body of Christ.

It is the power of Christ at work in you, accepting you in the Beloved and creating the good pleasure of His will in your life that enlightens your heart and awakens you to the impossible possibilities of life on the prophetic edge with Jesus. Live it today!

Michelle sig

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Unoffended

A tiny bud springing to life is the heart of one newly saved and abiding in Christ, 
the Liberating King.

Do you know Him?

A few months ago I attended a special event coordinated by the singles ministry at our church. This singles event has prompted a journey in my life I could not have dreamed possible: the journey to discover what it means to live unoffended.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, a man known in charismatic circles as one of powerful healing came and share his story of how God redeemed him from a destructive pit and delivered him into a life of love. Todd White doesn’t believe that God won’t heal someone he prays for… Does that mean everyone gets healed? 

I don’t know. But, I’ve seen and experienced the powerful way this man administers the gifts God has entrusted him to express and offer. He ministers the Gospel of Jesus and walks in signs and wonders. Believe it or not – he reads his Bible and refuses to believe that what he reads about God is not relevant and valid today. He goes to malls and walks the streets of cities around the world offering God’s healing power to anyone who will receive it. He does not give up until he sees God move.

And if that were all, would that be enough? Todd was so radically healed and set free when he met Jesus that he walks the earth, advancing the Kingdom and giving away what he so freely received at salvation.

Todd’s testimony is amazing from FUGITIVE to GOSPEL FREEDOM FIGHTER. A prodigal, if there ever was one, now walking in victory as a son of the Most High God. I will refrain from indulging my desire to tell his entire story because it really is not the point of this article.

You know, I have come to realize in my life that you can argue points of theology, doctrine and the interpretations of learned scholars (men), but the one thing you cannot argue with is the good fruit that comes from one person’s testimony about God’s love, goodness and grace. Based on what I’ve seen of Todd White I cannot argue with the testimony of his faith.

That night as one of my favorite worship leaders stood on the stage and poured out her heart like oil before the Lord, my heart opened to receive. As Todd took the platform I realized how much God must delight in this man who donned a Hawaiian shirt, Fivefinger shoes, and lots…

Did I say LOTS?

Yes, Lots. and Lots. Of dread locks. He’s a simple man who walks in the simplicity of his utter faith in God and walks also in great authority and power. Not puffed up with pride, but doused and immersed in love and humility.

Where was I? Oh yeah... He took the stage, and this man who looks like he has lived some rough, rough life steps up and starts to speak.

“Whoa! That was worship. Do you feel that? I mean…” He begins to weep. “You shouldn’t sing that stuff if you don’t mean it. Don’t sing it if you don’t believe what those words say… You shouldn’t sing it, man. It’s sick if you do.”

I found myself nodding in agreement and crying along with him. So true.

If I tell you Todd White got all up in my business with his next point, I would not be lying at all. HE. GOT. ALL. UP. IN. MY. BUSINESS. Y’ALL. 

He said, “I am unoffendable. I cannot be offended. I walk in love. I live by love and I choose not to be offended. Forget about boundaries, forget about protecting people – if you walk in love – you cannot be offended and you won’t hurt people.”

Uh-huh. If you are shaking your head, you are beginning to get how I and a number of my friends in that audience felt that night. It’s one of those moments when your heart says, “YES!” And your head says, “NO WAY!”

A tiny bud springing to life is the heart of one newly saved and abiding in Christ,  the Liberating King. Do you know Him?

A tiny bud springing to life is the heart of one newly saved and abiding in Christ,
the Liberating King.
Do you know Him?

I remember thinking: I didn’t know that was even possible! 

Yet, as Todd shared his story I could not get past that one thing. I began to ask God, “What does it look like to live unoffended? ”

As the few weeks that followed led to Christmas I wrestled with God much like Jacob did at Peniel. I came under conviction for all the judgments and offenses I continued to carry. All the times I have uttered the words, “Well, I don’t know about that, but you know she…”

Yeah, that’s me, guilty. I’ve done it over and over. Yes, I eventually move to forgiveness. Forgiveness, and not just in the sense I say what they did doesn’t matter or that it is okay, but forgiveness as in I sit before God and acknowledge what the specific person did that offended me. I acknowledge how that made me feel, and I confess any judgments I’ve made against them as a result. I also acknowledge that in and of myself I have absolutely no power to forgive. At the end of all of that, I choose by an act of my will to give every bit of it to Jesus, who earned the right to take that offense and all of its effects along with my judgments off of me and put them on the cross. Then I ask Jesus to give me something in exchange.

Now, it would be nice to sit here and confess right after that moment when I receive from Jesus life-giving power to overcome offense that the issue never arises again. But, that would not be true. I remember one particularly difficult year when I was nursing a broken heart and a particularly grievous offense that threatened a vital relationship in my life. I chose by an act of my will to engage God’s heart of forgiveness early in the journey through that valley of betrayal. But, before I even got to that forgiveness prayer, I sat in my car the night I learned of the offense and prayed, “God I cannot forgive ____________ right now, but You can. I don’t even know what is going on yet. But, You do. So, God I ask You to forgive _____________ and then work that out in me. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

I believe had I not set my heart on forgiving this loved one that very night this story would have come to a very different conclusion.

But, after that day a few weeks later when I engaged my will to embrace God’s grace and mercy, the wound remained like a surgical incision working through the process of healing. Stitched as it was, if you got to close and bumped up against it – it bled, it ached, it throbbed and it even tortured my heart. I would run into the one place I could be alone – the “toilet closet” and sit there on the closed lid of our commode rocking and praying, confessing Scripture until the moment passed. I would say, “Remember… God. Remember, I forgave ___________. We did this. Help me, God. Help me to heal.”

That season changed my life. But, not like this new season is changing my life. 

Right after Christmas an offense rose up between someone else close to me. And God used that as an opportunity to bring Todd’s words from a month earlier home to me. What does it mean to live unoffended? 

After several days, I remembered something that had helped me through the earlier episode where forgiveness became so relevant and healing to me. A pastor I respect and admire sat in a board room and shared about grace.

He said, “God’s grace is what it is. You can’t out-sin it. You can’t undo it. You can’t earn it. You can’t take advantage of it. It is what it is. Once you receive it you cannot lose it.” 

Powerful. Right? I sat there as revelation poured over me like a soothing wash of anointing oil. I knew he wasn’t saying that grace is a license to sin – but, that it covers sin and forgives it. As he spoke I began to feel this awareness come over me so I raised my hand.

He smiled and nodded for me to speak.

“So, what I hear you saying is that if I try to forgive someone out of my grace, they can take advantage of that, they can hurt me with that – because my grace is not unconditional, it is not free. But, if I forgive someone out of God’s grace at work in me, then they can’t take advantage of me or hurt me with it because it was never mine to give in the first place. It is up to God to take care of that – and He is a God of grace.”

The pastor smiled. He picked up his pen and said, “Would you say that again?”

I did.

He then responded. “So, what I hear you saying is that you are not going to be codependent on someone else’s response any longer. You’re not going to live codependent anymore.”

I just nodded and smiled. “That’s right.”

I needed to immediately let go of the thing that hurt me in what my loved one had done. So, I chose not to let it offend me.

Wait. What was that? You read that right. I chose not to let it offend me. 

You are probably asking what I asked that night when Todd White first illuminated this topic for me. “Can you choose not to be offended?”

And, my testimony, is yes. Yes, you can.

In the days that followed God showed me that His heart is that we remain unoffended so we need not forgive. You see, I cannot control what other people say and do to me or around me, but I can control how I respond to it.

Bitterness, prolonged unforgiveness, is like a weed in a lush green lawn. If you let it go unchecked, soon it will take over the entire yard and destroy the beauty that is planted there and instead replace it with dry and drab unsightly scrags that creep along the ground choking the life out of everything around it. Oh… I know I may be stepping on some toes, but it is just where I am in all of this.

If I allow offenses to take root in my heart, at some point I have to go and dig them out. If I don’t they become a root of bitterness that covers up all the beauty God intended for me to receive in this life and contaminates the lives of all those around me. Can I just say weeding the garden is a LOT of work?

So what if we tended the garden by choice, and refused to allow those weedy seeds of offense to enter in the first place?

What I have learned is this… I can walk unoffended, unaffected, by the choices and offenses of others. I must guard my heart and take responsibility for what I allow to take root in it. I am only responsible for what I allow the actions and words of others to do to my heart. I cannot change them, but I can change me – and if I remain unoffended I can pray for them and what it is that is hurting them to be revealed and healed. AMEN?

Above all else, watch over your heart; diligently guard it because from a sincere and pure heart come the good and noble things of life. ~Proverbs 4:23 (The VOICE)

In Full Bloom,

Michelle sig

 

 

______________________________________________________________________________

Just before Easter I ran across the following video that moved me beyond what words can adequately expressed. It is powerful! Life like that.

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Speakin’ a Good Word

Speakin a Good Word

Holly
Have you ever had someone speak a good word over you? I have, and it changed me. At least it led to changing me. I have pictured it to the left.


When I was 20 years old, I married my Chris. I was a junior in college and transferred from University of Texas in Austin to Texas A&M. I found that at UT, Campus Crusade for Christ was a life-source to me and led me to know Jesus in a way I never had before known. He became my Friend there. I learned to pray there, too. It literally changed the way I approached God. So when I got to A&M, I began going to Crusade and joined a Bible Study there.



One friend in the study, Christa, did this calligraphy for me. Here’s what she wrote: “Holly …your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. I Peter 3:4″

I read that and the first thought in my head was, “OH, she does not know me well at all!”

In the Amplified Bible, it says that this gentle and peaceful spirit is not anxious or wrought up. Well, I was, very much so. I freaked out every time I had a test. I worried about money. I worried about everything really. I was content in two things–that Chris loved me and mostly that God did. That was really all I knew. There was nothing gentle about me, but perhaps I “posed” well.  I know I did.

 

So when I read this good word, and I thought I wish I was like this, I prayed to be. The good news is that today, posing aside, I have become much MORE gentle and quiet in my spirit. Isn’t that amazing? All Christa did was speak the Word over me, and it changed me.

 

Today, I will speak two over you–it is a life-changing, two-part Word. No matter who you are or where you find yourself this day, these words are true for you :

 

Leviticus 20:26 “You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.”

 

Deuteronomy 7:6 “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”

 

Speakin a Good WordHere’s what I want you to know today–You are His treasured possession, set-apart, holy, and chosen.

 

Do you feel like that today? ‘Cause if not, like me, you need to ask Him to make you MORE and MORE like that Word.

 

Now will you speak a good Word over those you love today? How about those who drive you crazy? How about over people who don’t ever BLESS you?

 

Maybe it will be to them a cup of cool water and bless and change them. Speak it in Truth and Speak it in LOVE.
Holly sig2

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Personal Pursuit

Personal Pursuit

Personal PursuitFear-based pursuit of holiness puts us against each other and not for one another (Matt Chandler).

I was listening to his sermon online and jotted this down. He goes through both sides of the coin – fear based pursuit makes me either jealous that I am not as good or proud I am not as bad.

Ever find yourself there? Afraid you will never be as good as her? Anxious over all the things you do wrong compared to how many things she does right? Why can’t you ever be as nice and sweet as she is? Why can’t you be as gracious as she is to everyone?

Maybe you are on the other side of the coin. Very glad you are not as bad as the girl two rows in front of you, showing just a little too much skin. Relieved that she, as evidenced by her decisions, is way behind you in the sanctification process. Maybe just a little delighted when she messes it up in a public manner, because, seriously, who is ever actually that good?

Or perhaps, like so many of us, you find yourself flipping back forth between both sides.

Ladies, we have got to stop it. 

We have got to stop letting the enemy blur our eyes.

Sanctification, our pursuit of holiness, is not a contest. There is no prize for the one who gets there first. You don’t get bonus points for being more holy than that girl ahead of you. As a matter of fact, you are not even compared to her. The only person God wants you to become more like is Jesus.

Will God send mentors into our lives to help us along the way? Absolutely, and praise Him that He does. Let us not forget, though, that they are to be sources of encouragement and coaches, not who we set our eyes upon to be like for try as they, and we, may, we are all still flesh and bone. We will all still make mistakes and stumble in out pursuit. As great as we think they are, compared to Jesus, we are all on level ground. We all find ourselves at the foot of the cross in need of a sinless Savior to forgive, redeem and sanctify us.

Father God, forgive me for the times I have deemed myself more holy than others, and for the times I have let the enemy beat me up for not being as seemingly holy as some. Forgive me for letting my eyes drift to the left and to the right, looking to others for my sanctification. Forgive me for letting the world’s standard be what I compare myself to. Jesus, to You and You alone, let me fix my eyes. After You may I run hard, after You may I  model my words and thoughts. Thank you for being with  me in this chase. For picking me up when I stumble, for cheering me on as my feet become swift, and for shining brightly before me as a light unto my path. As the song lyrics say, “let me not lift my soul to another”.

Rhonda sig

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A Peculiar People

A Peculiar People

There is something entirely intriguing about a show like Antiques Roadshow. People bring trinkets to very large items of furniture to have them evaluated by a professional, who will attribute a value to it. The best part is when someone comes in, unsuspecting–but you can tell they are hopeful–to find that the item they brought was very valuable indeed. Oh the joy of finding value in what we own!

The biggest challenge with the value is its restorative qualities. Has it been refinished? Were the original craftsman’s techniques used? The type of glue or fabric will even contribute to value that could be quickly lost by an unprofessional job.

What about hidden value? Let’s say that it was sealed by the maker to show its authenticity. That makes it even more valuable! To have Ben Franklin’s desk and a letter written by Ben inside the desk increases the value even more–pairing the desk made by Ben Franklin and his writing and signature. The value goes through the roof!

Our value goes beyond even that very valuable desk. Let’s say that we are standing in line. All we have brought is ourselves–our varied and unique selves. One by one, our Creator looks upon us and says, invaluable. The value placed on each of our heads is beyond estimation. To purchase us would require perfection.

So He sent His Son, Jesus. His spilt blood on the cross redeemed each one of us, who believes in Him. We are sealed by our Maker, through His Holy Spirit, and His letter is written on our hearts. He calls us treasured possessions.

God’s restoration techniques are beyond compare. For our Creator comes to us–broken and marred–and as the expert Craftsman, He makes us new. Not like new–no, we are not made almost new. We are made new.

Let’s explore a few verses that have been stirring in my heart this week. There are treasures to be discovered. They are of the life-changing kind.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

Create is the word bara, which means to create, qualified, to cut down and select wood, the process of preparing food to feed, choosing, dispatching and making fat. God comes to us, having created us in His own image, and makes us a new creation–a wonderful masterpiece.

He cleans us, so that we are bright and pure. Our purity is expressed in every way–physically, chemically, ceremonially, and morally pure. Our heart is a combination of our feelings, will, intellect and wisdom–the center of who we are. To the very core of us, we are made pure through and through.

Renew is the word chadash, and it expresses a fresh, new thing. Our Creator breathes a sensible exhalation upon us to make us stand straight up. He confirms, directs, fastens, renders, stabilizes and in faithfulness, God causes us to firmly be established.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10 (Amplified)

For a puny amount of time, just briefly, perhaps even a season, God says you will experience a painful sensation or feeling– a vexing, passionate suffering. After that time, God will take you in your brokenness and mend you to make you perfect.

He will lay your foundation and settle you. He will increase your strength and vigor, building you up in both spiritual knowledge and power. The LORD will cause you to stand in covenant power. He will turn you resolutely in the right direction, setting your feet fast, confirming you as His own.

You are His precious treasure–crowned with glory, made to walk in the newness of your life. In 1 Peter 2:9, He even calls us a peculiar people. What does that mean?

Peculiar comes from two Greek words: peripoiesis and eis. Peripoiesis means that you are an acquisition that by extension is a preservation–you are obtained, purchased and bought from His savings. Eis indicates the point reached at a certain place, time and purpose–far more exceeding for intent and purpose that is in motion.

Do you understand what that means? Consider this: You and I are on the auction block, waiting for someone to come to purchase us and call us valuable. Then, the God of all Creation, stands up and says, “I will give you everything I have through my Son, Jesus. I have a purpose for that one. She is priceless to me, of inestimable value. His perfect blood will be the price to make her perfect.”

The LORD has restorative plans in mind for you and for me. It will take a little while. It may be painful. But He will do it right–no corners cut, no quick fix. Then He will set you forth in motion to carry out His purpose–the purpose He had for you since before the beginning of time.

So Peculiar One, are you ready to walk steadfastly with His purpose?

Holly winter2012

 

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JOY WELL CHOSEN

Joy Well Chosen

 Joy Well ChosenI have been reading Elizabeth George’s book Beautiful in God’s Eyes which is about the Proverbs 31 woman. I am a little over half way through the book and a constant thread woven through the pages is joy:

Finding joy in the Lord.

Finding joy serving our families.

Finding joy in the most menial of tasks.

I realize my next statement will not include everyone, but I think for many, if not most, women it can be counted as true:

The home is our responsiblity. To care for. To manage. To set the tone for.

Whether we like it or not, whether we think that’s how it should be or not, whether we chose it for ourselves or even had a choice, for many women this is the case. Single, married, mama or not, the home and its needs tend to fall to us. For me, that can be frustrating. The repetition bores me. I have been a working mom and I have been a stay at home mama and I can tell you this - the routine doesn’t change. You still do things on Tuesday that you will turn around and do on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday. Single or married, you will still pick up dirty clothes, clean the kitchen, vacuum, clean the bathroom and mop.

When you view those as chores, as work laid upon you, as yokes to bear, they can steal your joy.

When you feel like nobody notices, your joy can get lost in the mix of pleas from your sinful nature to have your deeds recognized.

Anyone else ever give the “I DO EVERYTHING” speech to your family? Oh please tell me a least one of you  has…….

But it doesn’t have to.

Reading through this book, what I have discovered is that my focus needed to shift. I needed to re-wire my brain and the way I thought about housework and meal planning and bookkeeping. To view them no longer as chores but God-given responsibilities:

Responsibilities to be treated as though they were to Him.

Responsibilities intended to bless my family and those we interact with.

Responsibilites designed to satisfy and bless me.

In the past (and that means like up till about 3 weeks ago), I didn’t take pleasure in cleaning up the kitchen every night, but I always enjoyed getting up to a clean kitchen. I didn’t want to be diligent in meal planning, but the weeks I did I enjoyed a decrease in my stress level. I wasn’t chomping at the bit to get laundry done, but I was happy when I saw empty baskets. I was striving in my own flesh to provide for humans who sometimes forgot to say thank you. I was joyless.

But I didn’t have to be.

The Lord has shown me over the last 3 weeks, that in His strength, I can choose to joyfully be the keeper of my home. I can choose to joyfully handle that dishwasher every night when I see it as an act of service to both my God and my family. I can choose to joyfully fold those clothes, even if they are just mine, and put them away. I choose the tone set in this home. I choose if it is one of joy and order or one of chaos and stress. I can choose that. Just in case you doubt it, just think of some time when you were in a mood. How did the house run then? How many friends did you have lining up to come hang out with you. Like it or not, we set the tone, gals. Even in the worst of times, we set the tone.

Let’s get real honest here, some days it is a definite choice. The flesh that cries for public applause can only got unnoticed for so long; then it starts showing out a bit. You and I have to choose to die to it daily and submit to God’s will for our lives. Joy is to be found there.

Someone is thinking, well, she just does everything and her family must do nothing. I am not about to be a maid for my husband and kids (or parents or whomever you live with). How do I know you thought that? I did to. You know what that tells me? We need to shift our focus. We need to stop viewing our responsibilities as things done to please and pamper man, but as things done to please and honor God. Let us not forget the management of our home is often ours as well. Often times, for me, when I end up doing everything, it’s because I have not managed my kids responsibilities well. I can choose differently.

Ladies, the care of the home is a great responsiblity, no doubt. The hours can be long, the earthly pay small, but what an awesome honor it is. The God of the universe has set you inside that home, inside that dorm room, inside that one-bedroom apartment, to care for it and those who come through it. You, dear one, are esteemed highly enough to be the one to carry God’s plan for that home in your hands. Maybe your clean dorm room is a sanctuary for someone with an out of control roommate. Maybe the order of your house is the only stability the neighbor kid sees because her house, and family, is a wreck. Perhaps the joy you choose to walk in doing those most trivial of tasks ministers to the single mama or daddy just trying to hang on. Choosing joy has no doubt set a better tone for my house overall. It hasn’t been perfect, but it has been better.

My encouragement to you - choose joy this week. Be you a single girl living in a apartment - choose joy. Be you a married woman – choose joy. Be you a mama  – choose joy.

In the mundane, trivial tasks set before you – choose joy. Start at home and watch it carry over to other areas of your life.

Joy is there for you.

Jesus is there for you.

May your joy be found in Him.

Acts 2:28 (NKJV)

 You have made known to me the ways of life;

You will make me full of joy in Your presence.

 

Rhonda winter2012

 

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