Tag Archive | religion

My One Word – Narrowing It Down

myonewordI have participated in a growing movement to forget about New Year’s resolutions, and instead pick one word that will be the focus of my year.  The idea being that focusing on that area will bring about good things in all areas as it spreads.  I picked SEEK the year before last, then JOY this past year.  SEEK God was the focus, then finding the JOY in all things.

I was going about it just fine but this year decided to not only check out the website but to also read the book.  It has been a life changer already and it is only the 3rd of January.

My word was harder to pick, as there are so many areas of my life that need change, improvement or just to find a way out of the door of my life altogether.  The book has been very helpful in narrowing things down.  I was down to just 4 words, all of these words would have an impact on my life if they were chosen as my ONE WORD for 2013:

KNOW – as in really get to know my Savior through God’s Word in extensive study.

REFLECT – as in reflecting Christ in my life every day as if I am the mirror that reflects Him to the world around me.

APPLY – apply the Word of God in all areas of my life.

SURRENDER – as in yielding, surrendering all areas of my life to Christ.  While I do not care for the whole “WWJD”, maybe more in line of what would Christ have me to do.  Based on scripture and not my ‘gut’ feel.  And praying through things before making choices and decisions.  Surrender my thoughts, actions, Sunday mornings…everything to the Lord.  This word will encompass the others as time goes on, so it was the clear choice.

sur·ren·der

[suh-ren-der]

verb (used with object)

1. to yield (something) to the possession or power of another; deliver up possession of on demand or under duress: to surrender the fort to the enemy; to surrender the stolen goods to the police.

2. to give (oneself) up, as to the police.

3. to give (oneself) up to some influence, course, emotion, etc.: He surrendered himself to a life of hardship.

4. to give up, abandon, or relinquish (comfort, hope, etc.).

5. to yield or resign (an office, privilege, etc.) in favor of another.

verb (used without object)

6. to give oneself up, as into the power of another; submit or yield.

The word will be in front of me all year…taped to my dashboard, as my bookmark in my bible (maybe several as I’m all over in there), anywhere I might come across it or the need for it, I will have it in front of me to remind me to focus on that word and what it entails.  It will set the tone for my year, be at the heart of much of my writing for this blog this year, but more importantly it will help me to grow in my walk and faith with my Savior, Jesus Christ.

In addition, I’ve taken the “30 day challenge” I’ve heard on K-LOVE, and I am listening to only Christian music for this month.  Again, it is already impacting my thoughts and mood.  Guess that whole “garbage in (to the brain) = garbage out” could be true.  I catch myself  little more when using less than appropriate language, when a negative or unkind thought goes through my brain, etc.  The music and songs may lack sound theology, but they are positive and encouraging, as K-LOVE often uses as their slogan.

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Praising God In The Hallway

Romans 5

New King James Version (NKJV)

Faith Triumphs in Trouble

5 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have[a] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

One of the college students at my church started a Facebook group to bring a bunch of us together across the miles to read through the book of Romans together.  We post our thoughts and discuss it as we go along, following a week by week schedule.  It has already been a blessing to me as I needed the push to find a place to again begin the practice of daily reading my bible.

We’re in chapter 5 this week and as I was reading it yesterday I stopped dead at verses 1-5, especially verse 3, which I highlighted in pink above.

See, my week started off Sunday morning with trials and tribulations.   My car has been in the shop being fixed more than it has been driven this year.  I finally got it back Friday and was so excited to finally be able to get around independently again.  Sunday I get up, get ready for church, it is pouring down rain…and the car is messing up again.  I wanted to cry, instead I yelled.  No one heard me, but that wasn’t real productive.  It was not rejoicing either.  I was determined to go even if I had to walk to services.   The car eventually cooperated and I made it on time for Sunday School, but it was not the way to start the morning.

In hind sight I wonder, could I have handled it better? Certainly!  A stopping, regrouping, and praying would have been a better way to handle it.  Yelling didn’t do anything, I simply raised my blood pressure and stress level.  Instead I could have prayed for the Lord to help me.   I need to be more aware that when a bump in the road hits, I need to stop, breathe and pray.

I did get a lesson in faith though, during worship services.  I put the last bit of cash I had to my name in the offering plate, praying and trusting the Lord for what I needed this week in order to keep my Avon business running.  I did not get a huge influx of cash, but instead, after praying, received just enough to meet my needs.  🙂

My prayer of late has been, “help my unbelief”, and to continue to seek joy.  Only now I understand a bit better that even in the rough spots, I need to find the joy and rejoice, praising Him in the hallways of my life.

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Lessons In Brokenness

angels-falling-broken-feathersToday was the first Sunday of December, which means at church it was the day to celebrate the Lord’s supper, communion.

I had gone over the things from Pastor’s email, and spent time praying during the service, and there were things I needed to confess.

In my heart I carry a root of bitterness toward my soon to be former sister-in-law.  I won’t go into details other than to say that I see her as a very evil, manipulative person.  But the Lord put it on my heart while praying about things I needed to confess, that I need to forgive her for  the perceived wrongs toward me, and pray for her daily.

During that time of prayer, thinking on the fact that Christ died for my sins…and then it hit me.  He died on that cross over 2000 years ago for my sins…sins that had yet to be committed!  Mine and everyone elses, yes, but MINE.  Sins of a woman that had never even been born!  Sins that would not be committed until nearly 2000 years later!  He died to cover the sins of all of His sheep, and those sins, so many were yet to be committed because those sinners were not even to be born for a long time to come.  How unimaginably incredible that weight must have been!  I cannot begin to wrap my head around this!

How could I not want to fall on my face and serve the Lord, the One who paid for my sins thousands of years before I’d ever walk this earth?  Sins I had not yet lived to commit?  The love the Lord Jesus has for His people is not something to be comprehended, that He was willing to die such a horrible death, suffering like we cannot begin to imagine under the weight of sins He knew would occur but were yet to happen?  It is beyond my ability to begin to understand.  Any parent understands they would take a bullet for a child…but can we imagine dying for a child or person who was thousands of years in the future???  No, we cannot.

While  in Sunday School, a passage came up that really made me think, especially during communion:

Isaiah 55

New King James Version (NKJV)

An Invitation to Abundant Life

55 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—

It really made me stop and think…What IS my focus on?  What is it I “buy” with my time and efforts?  It isn’t that it is wrong to work hard to achieve my goals, but which areas of my life are taking the priority?  My study in the Word of God? My walk with Christ?  Or is it still all about me, and things of this world that won’t last?  I need to prioritize my life, really focus on the things that last, delight in the Lord’s abundance first, then the rest of my life will take shape according to His plan for me.  I can pursue my dreams, but pray for what His will, for where I should go and trust that those paths will open up if they are His plan for my life and how I can best serve Him.

I’m thankful that I’m broken, or I’d never have returned to my Father in Heaven, the prodigal daughter, the broken angel in need of Him.

November Goals

I joined this Linky Party on my Marvi Marti blog as well.  Different set of goals but LOVE putting it all in writing and making myself a tad more accountable!

My November Spiritual Journey Goals

  1. Read my Bible daily!  Follow the Facebook group Romans study and do it, daily!
  2. Ladies Bible Study – go every Friday, no excuses!
  3. Church on Sunday mornings – no excuses. A cold? Great, sit alone and don’t breath on anyone but go!
  4. Prayer time, daily!
  5. Catch up on the home group reading – and GO to the home group night!
  6. Write at least 3 times a week on this blog page!
  7. Finish memorizing Psalm 103.
  8. Memorize Psalm 121.

There we go, good start!

Bible Study With 167 Facebook Folks

I love technology.

I love my church family.

I love my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I love studying God’s word.

Now, combine all that, through the brilliant idea of a college student and friend and you have a Bible study with 168 people (and growing) through a Facebook group for encountering Proverbs 27:17.

Proverbs 27:17

New King James Version (NKJV)

17 As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

I was SO excited to be invited into this!  We are spending now through 2/23/13 studying through the book of Romans.  One chapter a week.  Not hard at all.  And interacting on the group. You cannot begin to imagine how sweet this is for me!  Some are folks I know, some are strangers, all are of a common interest and desire.

Thank you Jessie, this is a FANTASTIC group!

 

Peppermint Coffee Musings

Peppermint coffee.  Gotta love it.  And my diffuser filling the air in my room with soothing scents of pure lavender oil, and 31 oil.  Mind and heart full of good ‘food’ from church this morning, both the Sunday School lesson and the worship sermon were great.  I’m listening to Twila Paris’s album Perennial.  Some of my very favorite hymns on are there, like Be Thou My Vision and Amazing Grace.   Her voice is so beautiful.  And the words of the songs beyond  description for me at times.  Also listening to a beautiful CD of  music from Fernando Ortega, The Shadow Of Your Wings, it is one  my friend Janie gave me when I first returned to church 2 years ago.  I need to share with her how much that has meant over the past 2 years.  The songs and hymns on it are in somewhat different arrangements than what you might traditionally hear in church.  And they have helped me many times to quiet my spirit and prepare my heart to pray, read God’s Word, or head out to worship services.

The lesson this morning was really good and spoke to me in Sunday School.  One thing that stood out was that we need to be very careful what we desire, as we just might get it and all that goes with it, good and bad.  And that what we sow we reap, no question about that.  Some call it karma, or “what goes around, comes around”.  I prefer to stick with what I know as a believer, God handles vengeance.

Psalm 7:14-16

New Living Translation (NLT)

14 The wicked conceive evil;
    they are pregnant with trouble
    and give birth to lies.
15 They dig a deep pit to trap others,
    then fall into it themselves.
16 The trouble they make for others backfires on them.
    The violence they plan falls on their own heads.

That is one really good passage, and here was another:

Proverbs 5:21-23

New Living Translation (NLT)

21 For the Lord sees clearly what a man does,
    examining every path he takes.
22 An evil man is held captive by his own sins;
    they are ropes that catch and hold him.
23 He will die for lack of self-control;
    he will be lost because of his great foolishness.

Dave pointed out, that if you sow seeds of corn in a field, you will reap corn as that is what grows from corn seeds.  If you sow beans, likewise.  And if you sow trouble, you will reap that too.  Gossip, slander, unkindness, sin….sow those seeds and that is what you will reap in return.

The trouble  with seeds is they are tiny at first.  You drop a tiny seed no bigger than a corn kernel into the soil, and a full blown corn stalk grows up with many ears filled with many more kernels of corn.  Now, think about when you plow trouble and plant seeds of iniquity, like sow gossip seeds, seeds of strife, or other seeds that are not things that will reap blessings, they reap what was sown/planted, in abundance.  That tiny seed will grow into a large plant and produce far more than you bargained.  This happened in my past.  Yes, if you go to the search section of my blogs and search the word “swinger” or “lifestyle” you will get back several posts.  I make no pretense that this is somehow a secret, I was a swinger.  And I did photos that were not good, and my kids know.  My church family knows, my friends and family all know about it.   I don’t hide these  things because others might learn from my mistakes.  It was not a good time in my life that I’m not proud of.  But it IS part of who I am today.  It goes hand in hand with the song lyrics I posted yesterday.  I will not deny the worst you can say about me, if it is true.  But I’m not the sum of my mistakes and sin.  It is in my past.  The consequences will at times  be far reaching, but that is not who I am anymore.

Now, I try hard to sow the seeds of good things.  If it isn’t nice, I just try not to say it all, and pray about the thought behind what I considered saying.  I’m not perfect, but it IS the goal I strive for now.  And I pray for those that find it necessary to sow unkindness toward me.  Letting go and not being upset by what is said about me is far easier when I do what God says and just pray for them.

Matthew 5:43-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. …

We are not responsible for what others do, only in how we respond.

Matthew 12:36

36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.

I am opting for a Christ like response.  Those that talk, tweet, Facebook or verbalize unkind things about others, will one day have to give an account for that.  And I will give one for my reaction.  My reaction now is to pray for that individual(s) every day.  I sleep solid at night because my conscience is clear, my heart isn’t full of bitterness and hatred any longer.

My Wild, Untamed Tongue

Image Courtesy of ddpavumba/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Social media has ushered in a new way of communicating.  Where we used to speak our words for others to hear, or actually write them out in long hand on paper, now we put them in texts, on Facebook walls, Twitter etc.  Our words can now reach much further simply by hitting the enter key, or as in this case, publish.  The trouble with social media is it is much easier say things when sitting behind my computer than when I am in person.  I’ve always communicated much better when writing my thoughts, but now there is a safety in the anonymity of using electronic media to stick my opinion and thoughts out there for others to ‘hear’.

In December of 2010, just 4 months nearly to the day after my divorce was final, I ventured back to my church ‘home’.  I thought I was ready for it, the prodigal daughter going home to her Father and faith family.  I was welcomed back with open arms and tears, and I knew that it was HOME.  But it wasn’t long before I hit the ground and ran from there, and somewhat back to what had been familiar to me.  Part of that was due to my own words, which were a reflection of my very battered heart.

I was still up to my neck in bitterness and pain at not only my ex-husband, but many former friends.  One I lashed out about on Twitter.  She proceeded to send copies of that tweet to my pastor, in an email in which she painted herself to be a wounded believer by my words.  She also made sure to let it be known of my past in the swinger lifestyle.  It was an attempt to hurt me, I get that, and she was successful.  It was one more flame on the fire that was burning away at my heart and soul.  That combined with a few other incidents concerning  my ‘words’ and I hit the ground running in to opposite direction of where I needed to be.

Part of the problem with going back was that things had changed.  I was no longer “Pete & Marti”, and that was hard.  The couple who had been our best friends were divorced and he was there alone, she was missing.  And I honestly felt that no one there could understand the road I was on at that time.  Honestly, I still don’t know if anyone understood or could begin to grasp what I was going through.  It was not just the divorce, but where I had been during the final years of my marriage.  I was constantly on the defense so when someone did point something out, it felt like I was being judged.  That was all my own heart issue, I get that now.  This time, I went back and instead of being on the defense I decided that I would simply relax.  I don’t have to be liked by everyone, because not everyone is going to like me.  And yes, I am going to be under scrutiny by my fellow believers, because I did walk away twice, and I had been in a very dark, sinful place for a long while after having been a proclaimed believer.  I gave folks reason to be skeptical and that is okay.  My return isn’t about them, it’s about where I  know I need to be, being fed and worshiping the Lord.

One of the reasons that former friend’s email to my pastor upset me so much is that deep down I knew she was right.  Her motives were questionable, but I had in fact done something that was unbecoming of a believer.  I don’t have to answer for her motives, that is between her and God, but I do have to one day give account for every careless word spoken by me:

Matthew 12:36

New King James Version (NKJV)

36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.

If I had a dime for every careless word/idle word that has come out of my mouth just since I’ve been a believer, I’d never have to work again and could live off of the interest only.  Judgmental? Oh yes that would be me!  Run  off of the mouth? GUILTY!  I used to take pride in the fact that I could slice someone’s jugular verbally.  Not exactly something to be proud of, I know.  And it doesn’t matter if what I say is true, it is the motive and intent of my heart that is behind the words that is also at issue.  When in doubt, I should just be silent!

Which brings me to the whole social media side of the issue.  Back when James wrote his letter that is now the book of James, written and spoken words were all we had.  And while he addressed the tongue, or verbal side of communicating, I think the spirit of the passage applies to written words, and now social media as well.  But not just on posted, public places where we write, but in emails and texts along with the spoken word.  Because we WILL one day have to give an account before God, on the day we are judged, and it will include, no doubt about it, every word spoken and written.

I’m learning to keep my mouth shut more than I run it.  To stick to what my grandpa used to tell me, that if I didn’t have something nice to say, it wasn’t necessary to say anything at all.  I later realized that is what Thumper’s mom taught him, in the movie & story of Bambi, what I call the Thumper Rule.   This is by far one of the hardest things for me to do, keep my mouth shut, sit on my fingers when I want to lash out at someone on Twitter, in my blog, or on Facebook.  I have a tendency to go all mama bear on people and need to be more careful.  Stop, think, think again, wait 24 hours, pray during that time.  It will keep me from stumbling in this area.  And meditate on this verse above from Matthew, apply it like spiritual duct tape to my mouth and hands.

James 3:5-12

New King James Version (NKJV)

Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.[a]