Friday, September 30, 2011

Love Letters I Will Read Over and Over

So, here's a little history of me.  My husband and I were good friends for four years of college before we became each other's significant other. heehee!  We spent many days in those four years getting to know each other during the times we hung out with mutual friends.  It was always a great time hanging out with my friends and Brodie.  Brodie has said many times that he would have rather called me girlfriend instead of friend even after the first week of knowing my name. But, I have a little different story. 

I'll cut that story super short. Throughout college, he asked me out on a date three different times (and very well done, too), but I turned him down each time. Even though I felt bad turning down my good friend, I just did not feel I was supposed to pursue a serious relationship with him. I didn't want to even go on one date with him if I didn't think it would lead anywhere. I'm weird as you have already discovered. I know it, he knows it.....everyone who has ever spent five minutes with me knows it.

Here's where it gets good....well, funny. About two weeks before we became "a couple" I remember telling him very sincerely that I didn't have the desire to date him so I requested he not try and ask me out again.  Then I continued to tell him that I cared for him so much as a friend that I didn't want us to go our separate ways after graduation. I told him I'd wish he and his future family would live down the street from my future family because I didn't want to live far away from one of my best friends. HA! 

Two weeks later, we were at my friends recording studio and I was recording some songs I wrote. Brodie (my husband) was in the living room talking to my recording friend's wife while waiting for me to finish up a song. I remember walking down the hall to come join in the conversation where they were and seeing Brodie (with his back turned to me talking to my friend's wife) and a VERY clear thought went through my mind. "Man, I love that guy." (Speaking of Brodie, of course.) The rest of my mind went, "WHAT!?"  "Did you just say you love Brodie!?  How can this be? When did this happen?" Suddenly I was smitten.  I mean, SMITTEN. I couldn't fight it any longer. I knew that Brodie was THE man that God had set for me to spend my life with. No doubt.  It scared me to have no doubt about such an important decision. CRAZINESS!

So when I joined the conversation I was trying to keep my face from showing the new feeling I held in my mind and heart for Brodie. I don't think it worked because as I started acting all nervous and skiddish around him, he then proceeded to think that something was up too and began acting nervous and cautious as well. A few minutes later, Brodie looked at the clock and saw it was a little after midnight. He said something like, "Hey, Happy Birthday to me!" I looked up and said, "What?!" "Oh, man, I'm sorry. I didn't think you're birthday was today. Happy Birthday."  He reminded me that his birthday had just begun at midnight. What would have been no big deal on any other night was suddenly HUGE that I forget his birthday.  I was panicked. I was saying stupid stuff like, "I'm sorry that I forgot. I'll make it up to you." He asked if I was going to our friend Tracy's birthday celebration the next night since he wasn't planning on doing any party for his birthday. I said I was going and I asked if he had intended to go even though the folks there weren't aware it was his birthday too. He said he hadn't any other plans. Thus that next night we went.....separately.

After the party was over, we walked together to our cars. And I told him I saw him as more than a friend (those were my exact words). He was absolutely floored, speechless for several minutes that I had changed my mind. After a bunch of awkward silence and questions from him like, "So, if I were to ask you out, you'd say yes?" we prayed together. We stood leaning up against my car and prayed to God for guidance. To date or not to date....that was the BIG question. After four years of friendship, we didn't want dating to ruin our friendship.  HAHA!    Several days later, we didn't feel any differently than the night of the party and decided it was "cool" to date. And so here we are, nine and a half years later still loving each other.....probably even deeper than that cold January night praying together next to my car.

From then on, it was a bunch of letter writing since I went back to Pennsylvania for another semester with National Student Exchange. Almost every single day that I was away that semester, Brodie would write me an e-mail. I would eagerly await each morning his letter/e-mail, hoping to hear "You've Got Mail" when my computer booted up.  When I had read the whole letter, I'd surely read it again sometime later that day and maybe even again before bed.  JUST BEING HONEST HERE!  I was truly loving the man God had given me. I longed to know as much about him as I could.  All the while this was happening each day, God was whispering to me that His love letters to me were in His Holy Word.  He was daily and tenderly telling me to read His Word and see how deep His love was for me and all the world.  It was craziness! I was blown away by the human love and devotion of Brodie (my boyfriend) and it just thrusted me into a deeper level of understanding of the infinite, unconditional, fierce and holy love of God.

In my last post I wrote, "God is telling us everyday of His deep and abiding love for us. We just need to be listening and looking for His messages. Closer to home.....I need to be listening.  And once we who are listening and seeking have heard, we should be changed forever for the better because we have heard from the Living God!"

God is totally pursuing me.....pursuing you. He is wanting you and me to see how much He richly loves us. His Word is a great place to start to hear Him tell us of His deep love, but He is also talking to us about His love for us in so many other places.  Are we looking around for it?  Are we listening to His sweet voice? It be in a gentle cool breeze on a hot summer day, or a warm and intense ray of sunshine on a cold snowy afternoon?  God's voice telling us he loves us could even be in the car horn that blares at us getting us to stop when we are distracted by something and don't see the stop sign.  His love for me can be heard in the sweet voice of my little boy asking, "Mommy. a hug? a hug?" as he toddles toward me with his little chubby arms stretched out.  God's love can be seen in the homeless man we see sitting on a bench in downtown West Chester as he looks up at us walking by and smiles and says hello.  So many ways we can read the Love of God each day. Do we read it? Do we want to? And if not, why not? Our Creator is longing to relate to us and walk through this life with us. Will we let Him? Will we become smitten by the deep and assuring love of our awesome and powerful God?

"You've Got Mail"...
Deuteronomy 7:9
"Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,"
Psalm 26:3
"For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness."
Psalm 40:10
"I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation."
Hosea 11:1-4
The LORD’s Love for Israel
"When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them."
Lamentations 3:22-24
"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."

**I used to search for verses that speak about God's love for us and his people. There are pages and pages of verses that speak of His love.  The ones I gave here are just ones that stuck out to me and speak to me right now. I encourage you to take some time to see just how intently God wanted us to know about His love for us.  See how many hundreds of times the Bible speaks about God's steadfast love for His people.**

God is telling us everyday of His deep and abiding love for us. We just need to be listening and looking for His messages.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Profoundly and Amazingly Simple

It has taken all week to write another post because I was waiting for something profound to come to my mind to write. (Trust me, I know even if I came up with something profound to write, my grammar would be so bad that it would ruin the profoundness of it anyway. haha!! That's another reason why it took me nine months to decide to start writing a blog and sharing it with others to read. haha!)  However, the only thing that can always be profound to write is that God loved us (the whole world) so much that He gave His one and only Son so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but will have eternal life. (that's a little version of John 3:16 for ya).

Why do I need to have something profound to say?  God has already said it. He still continues to say it; through His Word (the Holy Bible), through His people who carry His Spirit in them, through His beautiful creation.  God is telling us everyday of His deep and abiding love for us. We just need to be listening and looking for His messages. Closer to home.....I need to be listening.  And once we who are listening and seeking have heard, we should be changed forever for the better because we have heard from the Living God!

Hmmm, this gets me thinking.  Many times we "write off" the idea that God speaks to us.....the "normal Christians".  We might think that was just for the old folks in the Bible stories, or that's for the popes, priests, pastors and other super righteous people out there somewhere.  Personally, I believe God speaks to me.  My best way to hear Him is in my mind and through His Word.  I really can't explain it.  I am just grateful that Christ Jesus made a way for me to hear the Almighty God.  Because Jesus came and conquered death by rising from the dead, He made it possible for His Holy Spirit to come and live in each person who confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives.  It's like having live chat on all the time with the Creator of the Universe.  It's like having an all access pass to the throne of God.  Whenever I want, I can talk to God, petition God, worship God through word, deed and song. And the cool part is...HE HEARS IT AND RESPONDS!

If you haven't surrendered to your Maker, the King of Love, the Almighty God, you are missing out on knowing the One who made you.  I, too, was missing out on knowing Him before I put my trust in Christ.  I urge you, to know Him today. Trust Him today. Be made new today. Go from living "in the dark" to walking daily in the light because you have the Spirit of the Living God inside you speaking to you, guiding you and showing you His ways.  It's all available by believing in Jesus Christ and confessing you need a Savior from yourself....your sins.  I made that decision as a ten year old. I made a decision to accept Christ's forgiveness for my sins, cleanse me and make me new from the inside out.  It's not like all my "issues" went away, but I suddenly had the Creator of the Universe's Spirit living in me to guide me and give me LIFE in my every day of living here on this Earth.

Come with me this week and seek Him who saves.  Let us seek Him daily, listen to His commands and guidance, move forward sharing His amazing Love with all who we know, honor Him by following His commands and guidance.  Let us be women of Truth because all around us there are people who need to see and hear and feel and know Truth.......Christ.  Jesus Christ said "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" and He said no one comes to the Father (God) except through Him.  So, even on the days that don't seem to be very profound, let us live knowing the truth of that......every day is profound because we Christians serve a Living God!

My toolbar here on the post administration page continually gives me the option to click a button that states: SAVE NOW. So, this is what I ask God right now.  Lord, save now.  Rescue all my friends and even those I don't know from the dark and the grip of sin. Save now, LORD, and bring them into the marvelous light of the Son you love, Jesus Christ. Give them the strength to trust in You.  Amen.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Eat What's On Your Plate, Then We'll See About Dessert

Although our eighteen month old son isn't aware what dessert is and doesn't get to experience dessert all that often, my husband Brodie and I seem to frequently say to Zachary the phrase, "you need to eat what's on your plate first..."  For some reason, whatever food in view that is NOT on Zachary's plate seems much more enticing to him than what he has been given.  It's not just Zachary's struggle, I'm sure. Regardless of how old we get in this life, I think this is a pretty common response to the "portion" we've been given on our own "plate".

Lately, I have had a little bitty battle with what I'll call MyDreamsAreTooBigForMe Syndrom.  I have been dreaming of some things that seem to be just out of my reach and I feel completely powerless to achieve them.  Some folks would say, "Bummer.  So what will you do instead?" Some folks would say, "well, that's a great place to be, Becky.  That means if you can't achieve those dreams then it's a perfect moment to watch God make it happen.  He is the One who is able and all-powerful to make dreams come true."

I battled with these thoughts a bunch this week.  I still have those BIG dreams, but I am struggling to keep them in my mind as something actually achievable.  I struggle with thinking maybe all these BIG dreams I have aren't going to ever happen. This struggle in my heart and mind has caused me to begin to feel guilty for dreaming up all these dreams in the first place. And to think I've spent YEARS prepping and waiting for them to come about. Wow, I sometimes think, if they don't come about, I've wasted SO much much life.
Looking at this situation now, while writing is apparent that those moments of defeat were on the days that I didn't read God's Word much and didn't let the Truth of God's amazing grace, love and hope fill my heart and mind. 

Now, to tell you that when I DID dig into God's Word this week, it has been such a wonderful help to my soul in all this turmoil of differing viewpoints in my mind lately.  I was reading Psalm 119 this week.  I chose it because I needed a shot in my arm about the necessity of putting God's Word to work in our lives.  I know that I need to crave the words of my God more than I do.  Since He is the Creator of all I see and all I don't see, he is able to set me straight on what dreams are backed by Him and what dreams are not.  Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and this week, I must admit I didn't read the entire chapter simply because I was amazed by the first fourth of the chapter that I was jotting down notes in the margins in my Bible next to the text.  I was underlining and drawing arrows to certain parts of the text that were to go with the notes I just wrote. I was looking up other verses in other chapters of God's Word that were speaking about the same topic. Here are some of the verses I found that just brought me back to center.

The first verse I found this week which gave me something new to pray whenever I got myself all wrapped up in looking for dessert instead of finishing what portion I have been given on my plate is Psalm 119:36-37.

"Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways." -Psalm 119:36-37

Then I found another short verse in the same chapter that simply states:

"The LORD is my portion;" -Psalm 119:57a

At that verse, there was a little footnote. That note led me to one of my favorite chapters in Psalms.  What a blessing it was to read it in a new light this week as I struggled with being content and patiently waiting for my big dreams to come about.  Psalm 16 is where the footnote led me to read.  I will write out a few bits and pieces of the chapter.

"Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you." -Psalm 16:1-2

"The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure."- Ps. 16:5-9

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." -Ps. 16:11

To have the LORD, the God of the universe, the Most High God, as my portion and my cup....I should be thrilled.  I should be at such peace and rest in the fact that HE is my portion.  That I don't need anything else, anybody else, any big dream to be what or who satisfies me.  God can be my portion. When I surrender my "selfish gain" mode of thinking over to Him, He gives me life! (That's what His Word says...Psalm 119:36-37)  I LONG to be content like the Psalmist David was when he wrote this song thousands of years ago.  I want to be trusting that God will give me just what I need for each day.  I want to be content that His plan will prevail, but that it will prevail in His timing and not mine. 

May you have a blessed day. May we all find ourselves sincerely declaring inwardly and maybe even outwardly that the LORD God is our portion forever.
Love you all, dear friends!

Friday, September 16, 2011

I Just Had an Anne of Green Gables Moment

Most of my life....since I was ten, I have been a huge fan of the movie series Anne of Green Gables.  Without even trying, in my 31 years of living, I have noticed how my life's adventures closely compare with the stories and adventures that Anne had in that fictitious tale.  haha!!  I laugh about that alot. Her response to her world and all the silly predicaments she'd get herself in is so amazingly similar to my little life that it still shocks me.  I could probably write all day about the funny similarities I have with the character Anne Shirley, but I'll save that for some day a LONG time from now. ha!

All that silly introduction to say, there is a scene in the first movie of the Anne of Green Gables series where she is walking home with her teacher, Ms. Stacy.  In this scene Ms. Stacy is trying to get Anne to talk about the trouble that seems to have arisen between Anne and her best friend Diana. Anne shared how she was heart broken to have lost her best friend all because of a mistake she made.  Ms. Stacy told her (in some certain words) that tomorrow is fresh and that Anne can start all over with a clean slate instead of living with the remorse of her honest mistake.  Anne replied (and I'm not quoting) that she was encouraged that tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.   That little dialogue from that movie/story has stuck with me and I am reminded of it often.

Also, I often remember that as a little girl, my mom would remind me that God's mercies are new every morning.  This truth from God's Word has also stuck with me all the way through my life. Today, I encourage myself and you, my friends and sisters, that this day is's fresh with no mistakes in it. God's mercies toward us are NEW every morning, including this one.  I find that so refreshing!

In Junior High school I had such a child-like faith in God to lead me and direct me.  I believed God could do ANYTHING.  To be honest, now as an adult, I struggle with believing that every moment of the day. But at that time, it was easy.  I saw God was able to do great things and I looked for great things to happen.

Short story:
I remember one silly situation from when I was in eighth grade.  My youth group's Sunday morning Bible study teacher challenged us to read God's Word daily for at least five minutes.  So, I tried that.  It was a cool time for me as a junior high girl to read God's Word before I got to school each day.  Well, one morning, after my five minutes of reading, I took a few seconds to talk to God.  I remember telling him how I wished I could speak less negatively at school around my friends because I wanted them to see God in me, through words of kindness and love.  I knew that I rarely was able to achieve that goal.  So, I told God that morning; (remember..."told") that I was going to strive to honor Him in my words that day and not speak one negative thing to anyone for an entire school day.  Wow! Kinda lofty goal, huh? HA!

As I rode to school with my mom, I was gearing up for the challenge I set before myself.  I entered the building and walked to my locker, got my books, walked into my 1st hour class. So far, so good.  However, no one had spoke to me yet. Ha!  When I arrived in class, one of the popular guys in our school walked by to his seat and said something that was meant to make fun of me in some way.  Suddenly, feeling my face get red, I snapped back, "Shut Up!".  Immediately, my "promise" to the Lord that morning came clearly into my mind and my heart fell.

Throughout that first period class, I was feeling so bad for not even making it through the first class, let alone the first five minutes, without saying anything negative. (Looking back on this story makes me laugh, but at the time this was SERIOUS.)  I was feeling so rotten when I had promised God I would spend at least one day honoring Him with all my words.

However, somewhere in that first period class, my spirit got this comforting feeling and I realized that I failed at my goal simply because I tried to do it on my own.  If I had asked God to give me the strength and the love for my fellow man that day.  If I had asked God to be the one to speak through me.....allowing His love to penetrate my heart and overflow out of me so that others would naturally see and feel His love, THEN that would have been a more successful goal.

All this to say, I know that living my life in fear and anxiety of failing is silly, since without God's strength, love and daily help I am destined to fail at some point in my journey.  God is the One I can lean on, who I can always trust in to bring me through each day, helping me to make the most of every moment.  And since He is so able to help us, guide us and restore us, I know I can count on Him to be there for me each day.  Also, since He is the One who brings mercy into our every new day, we can trust that each day is truly new and fresh and clean, with no mistakes in it.  He has wiped the slate clean.

Lamentations 3:21-23 (The New Living Translation)
"Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning."
*Thank you, Mom, for always keeping this great truth fresh in my head. Even twenty years later, it's still sticking. 

Psalm 51:7 & Isaiah 1:18 are also great verses about this thought. You can use to quickly look up both of these verses. 

May our Lord bless you today with the knowledge of His presence, with the knowledge of His love, with the knowledge....deep in your spirit.....of His constant watch over your life.  May you be blessed to know that today God's mercies begin afresh.  Love you! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Third Time's a Charm

I have attempted to blog twice in the past 24 hours, but neither draft I wrote seemed right for this blog. They were both really honest about what I am working on these days and I'm not too sure just how open I should be in this blog.  I am struggling with writing about my weaknesses in detail only because it may come across as if I am whining about it. I want this blog to be a place of encouragement and uplifting dialogue....not a dumping ground for my negative thoughts. I hope that makes sense to you all.

I have never had my own blog before. And since that's the case, I also have never had gals from all over the country and somedays even from overseas reading my blog on a daily and/or weekly basis.  Because of that I am cautious to put out into this blog some things that I am wrestling with currently.  How transparent do I become in this blog? I truly believe that being vulnerable is a good thing only if it is the right timing for it. ha!

So, here's what I'm going to say today.  I am needing a deeper trusting heart, mind and soul in my God these days.  I find myself feeling stuck and immovable in certain areas of my life all because of anxieties and insecurities.  I know that there are self help books out there on helping a person gain self confidence and on helping a person learn to have more faith in God's plan, His mighty hand and His ability to restore our broken lives.  I get that.  I even have some of those books and read a few of them.  However, nothing is going to help me gain self confidence more than me finding the desire to "die to myself"; die to my hopes and dreams and to live for a higher for God's glory and renown. 

Now, for all you friends of mine that don't yet believe what I believe about God and His son Jesus Christ, it's okay.  You can still see that if we live just for ourselves and not for a greater cause it becomes consuming, and kills our spirit.  We become robotic in our approach to life.  To live for Christ's glory; to bring praise to His name each day is so rewarding and refreshing because to honor Christ is to love one another just as we love ourselves. Thus living for Jesus causes us to bless those around us basically because it is our response to the great love that Christ has given freely to us all.  However, I must say, that I live in such a state of anxiety sometimes that I can't even live out that which I just wrote. I become stuck.....worried and for who knows what reason.

So, I have been aware of my struggle for months now. I realize the craziness and I desire to break free.  Lately I've been reading the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. It is a crazy tale of Joseph's enduring trust in God even when he's been sold into slavery by his brothers, put into prison without any reason, brought into a household where the master's wife wants to get with him every waking hour and so many other difficult situations beyond those.  Through that whole story, the Bible says several times that the Lord was with Joseph.  It speaks about God's steadfast love being with him always.  Another thing I read was in Philippians chapter 4.  It speaks about thinking only about things that are noble, right, pure, of good repute, lovely, excellent and praiseworthy.  The only thing....well, the only person I can think of that....I mean, Who is all of those things is my amazing Savior Jesus Christ.

In my times of recoiling into my anxious thoughts, I should be thinking about Him, my Savior Christ. I should take time to acknowledge His greatness, His power and my amazing need for His grace. I should rise up, reach out my hands and allow my Savior to carry me out of those anxious thoughts and set me in a wide open space.  It says in Philippians 4:5 (second part) & 6
"The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." 

Even now, after writing all this, my heart is pounding.  I am apprehensive to publish this, but here it goes.....

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Women of Truth Rise Up and Shine!

Another week has begun. Women of truth rise up and shine!  I just wanted to blog tonight to cheer you on as this work week has begun.  I need a cheerleader too. haha!  From the moment we open our eyes and crawl out of bed to the second we close them again to sleep the night away tomorrow, let us all go forth into our day looking to the One who made us to be our strength.  I'm gonna proclaim this thought to my soul today: God is all-powerful and able to carry our burdens, stresses, problems, trials and everything we could ever give Him.  God is the mighty fortress in whom we can hide and find safety as we go through this week.  God's Word says the joy of the Lord is our strength.

I want to cheer you on (and me too) to be women of joy. Let us be women who are genuinely happy to exist this day simply because God made it for us to honor Him with our lives, our giftings and talents. Let us pursue to be women of truth who seek to delight in God this week. wahoo!

Now, I would LOVE to hear from you.  There are many followers of this blog.  I see the stats each day on the blog's administration site.  You are a large group of women who hopefully are seeking, like me, to be women of truth.....of God's truth.
How are you showing your world that you are a woman of truth?  Do you have any stories to share with us all?  Maybe you have a story about your pursuit of wanting to be a woman of truth.  I'll have you know I'm definitely not the poster child for it.  I am pursuing this lifestyle too....thus this blog you are reading. ha!

So, what's your story (my friends who I call women of truth regardless of if you think you are one yet or not)? 

"Blessed is she who has believed that what the LORD has said to her will be accomplished."  -Luke 1:45

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Honesty with Grace

Remember the movie Liar, Liar?  When the main character gets trapped in some crazy time period when he can only tell the truth everywhere he goes?  It gets him into alot of trouble, but sometimes it helps him. 

I think we need to pursue being women of truth with grace....God's grace. In my mind, being a woman of truth doesn't mean we need to wander this earth spouting out everything we know to be true without tact, direction, purpose or understanding. I think you'd agree with me on that. We need to be women of Truth.  The Truth.  God's Word is the Truth. Jesus Christ said "I am the way, the truth and the life."  He wants us to KNOW His Word and live it out in our lives with understanding and wisdom.  He wants us to be full of truth in everything.  Yes, sometimes, even with grace, being women of truth is gonna rub people the wrong way, but I pray the Lord will be with us in those moments and help us by His Holy Spirit to still bring peace and comfort to the situation in some way.

Remember that song for a Kodak commercial YEARS ago that said, "I see your true colors, shining through. I see your true colors, shining through.  Don't be afraid to let them show."  Let us allow the true colors of the love of God shine forth in our lives.

Women of truth with grace will love genuinely, cling to what is good, seek peace and pursue it.
Psalm 34:14  "Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it."

What do you have to add to these thoughts I have written today?

Concluding thoughts of Romans 12:9

Okay, obviously I haven't been able to blog as often as I'd like.  It's almost once a week now that I get to sit down and right what I've been thinking about.  Not cool.  I want to blog my thoughts more frequently. Hopefully I can get some more self discipline in this area of my life. ha!  Here are the thoughts I have about the first part of Romans 12:9 "abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good." Hating (or to abhor) what is evil is a statement that can be taken in several ways, however, I'm just going to say this about it.

I am sure most of us Christians have spent ample time looking at other peoples' "evil" and making judgement calls on it.  But I think this verse in Romans is telling me to look daily into my own pursue the good in things and hate the evil in me (whether that be thoughts and/or actions). I know I am totally capable of being evil (ungodly) each and every day just as much as the next person.  I mean, without Jesus as our Savior, each one of us will only do what we think is best for us.....and sometimes what we think is best for us hurts other people or dishonors our Creator....thus the whole evil thing comes into play. Sooo, I think this verse is talking to me (at least this is what I'm getting out of this verse in this stage of my life) about being aware of what I allow into my heart and head each day. 

What do I allow into my life that is not honoring to God should be a question I ask myself every once in awhile.  Here, I'll say it this way, what do I allow to take root in my mind and heart that is dishonoring to God and His Son Jesus Christ?  I think we need to hate evil in that way.  Seeing what is in our lives that provokes us to dishonor God our beautiful Maker and King is necessary in knowing the difference between what is good and what is evil.  We NEED to know the difference between them. We can't just assume as Christians that we will always choose what is good in each situation (DUH!), but we need to test things, continue to put Christ first in our decisions each day (another DUH statement). These thoughts are for me from me, but if you're resonating with it too, awesome! haha!
All this sounds exhausting. It's late at night as I write this, so that explains the craziness of my writing skills. However, getting back to it, I think if we are "clinging to what is good" and since the main thing....rather Someone who is always good is Jesus Christ this will help us in knowing the difference.
I want to cling to Christ and his ways; learn what He says about how to live and follow those ways.  Those ways lead to peace, hope, light, truth.  Anything outside of God's ways is most obviously the opposite of good.

Okay, I'm done rambling.  I just know I need to start with looking at my own life first when it comes to the statement of "hating what is evil".  Start with cleaning house in my own mind and heart with God's strength and guidance.  Then living each day having a regular routine of cleaning up my mind and heart so that evil stuff.....thoughts or whatever... won't end up taking root in my life. 

I was reading Psalm 119 this week.  It is such a LONG chapter in the Bible and kind of repetitive. However, it is so amazingly chalked full of requests that King David made to God for his heart to want the ways of God instead of the ways of the wicked.  One verse stuck out to me that I will leave you with:
"Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways."  Psalm 119:36-37


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Clingin' to What's Good

So, this next part of Romans 12:9 is packed full with meaning and application that there is no way I'm gonna try to dig into all of it.  The part of 12:9 I'm pondering today is:  "Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good." Another translation (the old New International Version....not the new one that has just been published, of which I am NOT a fan) puts it this way:  "...hate what is evil; cling to what is good."

I am not going to talk about the first part of this statement tonight.  I'm going to let that "hate what is evil" part marinate in us for a few more days.  Tonight I just want to put out my thoughts about "cling to what is good".

Cling is one of those words that paints a picture for me.  When I think of someone clinging to someone or something, I think of these ideas:
 1. clinging is usually used in a moment of desperation.  It's not a casual action....not passive.
2. clinging is something that makes muscles start to cramp and knuckles to turn white because letting go is not an option if one desires to survive the situation in which one finds him or herself.
3. clinging is a choice to hold to something that is going to keep them living, instead of dying.

Both versions of translation for this verse that I have read tonight state "hold fast to" or "cling".  I don't think either of those statements work in our lives as a passive action or one that just naturally occurs in the heart of a person.  Those phrases are intense, urgent, without any other option unless we are to choose defeat.

WOW!  So, this is huge to me!  Cling to what is good.  Obviously to do such a thing, the Apostle Paul thought that is not an easy task.  The Apostle Paul thought we are to have the mentality of hanging on to what is good with all our might.  Apparently he found it very difficult to keep good in his life by just living daily in the knowledge of Christ and His sacrifice.  Apparently, even the Apostle Paul had to consciously seek to hold fast to what was good in his daily life. 

THUS, the whole idea behind abhoring what is evil or hating what is evil becomes very necessary when pursuing a lifestyle of clinging to what is good. 

Ugh, this is so deep, but so very eye opening and honest. 
I am challenged to look into God's Word these next few days and look into my life and see what God is meaning by the phrase "hate what is evil".  I want to get the right idea about what God is saying through the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 12.

If you are following my blog and are interested in this topic as well. I encourage you dig into God's Word.  Ask God to show you His heart for what He is saying to us in Romans 12:9.  As a tool, I have used to help me with the questions I have.  It is a great resource.  You should check it out.

Here's an old hymn that has inspiring words to me. It may not necessarily relate to today's topic, but it's still a neat song: Be encouraged!

Love Lifted Me
written by:James Rowe, 1865-1933
I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more;
But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.

Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else could help, Love lifted me! (repeat this line)

All my heart to Him I give, ever to Him I'll cling,
In His blessed presence live, ever His praises sing;
Love so mighty and so true merits my soul's best songs;
Faithful loving service, too, to Him belongs.

Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else could help, Love lifted me! (repeat this line)

Souls in danger, look above, Jesus completely saves;
He will lift you by His love out of the angry waves;
He's the Master of the sea, billows His will obey;
He your Savior wants to be, be saved today.

Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else could help, LOVE LIFTED ME!

Monday, September 5, 2011

I love the smell of gen-u-ine Love!

Gotta love the smell of genuine leather. It's not like anything else....distinct.  To me, most of the time it's very refreshing for some reason.  Regardless how great it is and refreshing it smells, I usually don't like to buy genuine leather things. Mostly I don't buy it because leather items are typically pricey and usually need to be treated with care and special products to keep their luster. haha! Luster?? I don't know what to call that finish they all have. And I usually don't want to take the time to maintain that luster or however you want to describe finished leather.  Anyway, the genuine leather things I have owned seem special to me. When I bought them I knew that they would hold out through all the wear and tear of life.  I knew I could depend on them to hold together. 

Remember the loafer frenzy of the late '80s and early '90s?  Man, I always had to have the leather loafers with the little bit of fringe on the top and some type of tassel.  Looking back they were UGLY, but those days, leather loafers were the coolest casual dress shoes youth could wear.  Well, what I'm trying to say is that the good loafers, the sturdy ones, were genuine leather shoes.  They lasted the longest and seemed to take rainy days, muddy walks home from school and Oklahoma red dirt quite well.  No problems. Might not stay luster-y, but they sure would hold together. haha!

When I read the verse in Romans 12:9 "love must be genuine", I thought of the "genuine leather" phrase stamped on 100% leather things.  There's alot to that description and so should the description of us showing genuine love to our fellow man.  The way I look at it, genuine love shows itself to be trustworthy, strong, hopeful, honest, dependable, bold, peaceful, self confident/not self righteous, desperately needed, praiseworthy and very rare. Really, genuine love, is so desperately needed in our world.  People rarely see it because most of the time we don't let our love for one another be genuine.

The way I see it, this genuine love the Apostle Paul talks about is unattainable without the One who IS love.  I believe that Jesus Christ is the One who gives us the capacity to love like that.....genuinely....without the hopes of a return for the act of charity. I mean, Christ gave us genuine love by dying on a cross for us....taking the wages of our sin (which is death according to God's Word) and giving us new life instead when we believe in Him. No strings attached kind of love is so rare, so needed, so amazingly life altering when it comes into our lives. To think we are capable to giving that kind of love to others is awesome. If only we could daily surrender our selfish ways to Christ and let Him love through us.

So, I need to ask myself tonight, what does that look like in my life....loving genuinely?  Another translation of this verse says it like this, "Love must be sincere."  My attempt at breaking sincerity down further without Webster's help: sincere= from the heart, thought about before acted upon, no strings attached, the recipient being top priority in the giving of the gift of charity/love.  
So much of the love I give to others has strings even though I don't realize it most of the time, but that's not what I hope to be like.  As a Christian, there is an inner drive in me to be like the One who rescued me from darkness,.....from my lost self.  And to be like Him is to love genuinely. So, I know I want that way of living. I just need to surrender to Christ and let him love through me. That way others might someday say (subconsciously, of course), "Man, I just love the sweet smell of gen-u-ine love."

Friday, September 2, 2011

Women of Truth Rise Up

If you are just now joining me in reading my blog, I encourage you to read the first couple of blogs I have written to give you an idea of why I'm blogging in the first place.  Then, the rest of these ramblings of mine will most likely make more sense. ha!

As you probably know by now, I'm a Christian.  I desire to be honoring to God my Heavenly Father because of the great love He has shown all of us by sending us His Son.  Because of His love, I desire to strive to be a blessing to others and honor them too. I have been challenged by the thoughts that the Apostle Paul wrote to a group of Christians in Rome a couple thousand years ago.  In chapter 12 of Romans there is a small group of verses that packs a punch.  Even if you are not one who believes what I believe, I think you'll find the Apostle Paul's thoughts/encouragement to be very insightful.

Throughout the next several posts, I am going to be writing about several things mentioned in that group of verses (which I have typed out below). It will be a study of sorts....a look into my own heart and head about what I think of these things that Paul raised in his letter to the Romans.  This is a GREAT time for you to chime in after I have blogged on these points.  I would love to hear your thoughts too.
Here now, is the group of verses I will be blogging about:

Romans 12:9-21
"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.  Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."  To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Have a blessed day, everyone.  Let us seek to be women of truth inside and out!