Monday, December 21, 2009

LIW :: Lady of Devotion

God longs for our devotion.  Not as an afterthought or wherever we can fit Him in (if we can fit Him in) our busy day.  He wants our wholehearted devotion.  He wants to be out all in all.  He deserves to be our all in all.  What's stopping you from giving it to Him?

Is it fear?  Are you afraid that once you let your guard down, you will be left vulnerable?  We are all Gods children.  He is here for us.  He will never leave us.  He loves us, not in spite of our imperfections, but because of who He is.  His love is unfailing, neverending, allencompassing.  He is the only one who can love us as we need to be loved.

Maybe it's your past that gets in your way.  No matter what you've done, where you've gone, how you've you strayed...God will always be there for you.  Come to Him with a grateful heart, ask for his forgiveness (and mean it!) and pledge to do better.  He will forgive you of your misdeeds and give you a clean slate.  Every time.  Jesus already paid our debt on the cross.

Maybe it's your current circumstances.  I don't know where you are in your life, but there is always room for God.  If you're in a dark place, seek Him.  He will shine the light that will lead you out.  Seeking God, devoting your life to Him, may not make you the most popular person around but it will give you a promise of life after death in Heaven with your Heavenly Prince.

Maybe it was your parents faith that is stopping you from seeking God.  Growing up, I had one parent who was a Christ follower and one parent who was agnostic on some days, muslim on others, atheist on still others.  That can be very confusing for a child.  Luckily, my mother held strong to her beliefs and did her best in raising my siblings and me in His light.  We have all been born again and have a thirst for His word.  Maybe you weren't as lucky.  Know that your parents are still human.  They did the best they could, but they're not perfect.  Learn for yourself.  Read His word and decide for yourself.

Your heart is the center of your being.  When you love someone, you are essentially giving them you.  You give your all to a significant other, to a friend, to a child, to a family member...God asks for no less.  He wants all of you...your heart, your soul and you mind.  When you love Him with all your might, only then will you find true love.  Make God an intimate, personal part of yourself.  Let Him eminate your soul.  He loves you as no human will ever be able to.
God is many things.  But He is not capable of doing evil.  He is not supersensitive.  He is not selfish.  He is not temperamental.  He is a sovereign God who loves you no matter what.  He sees all.  He knows your heart and your motives.  It is impossible to hide things from Him.  It is pointless to make excuses to Him.  He'll see right through you.  God is not hard to please.  He created you.  He loves you.  He notices every effort given to please Him and He delights in you. 

Seek God and you will know Him.  Seek God and you will feel His Holy Spirit.  Seek God and accept His forgiveness.  Seek God and accept His love.  Seek God with all you have.  Seek God and listen for His directions.  Seek God by enrapturing yourself in His word.  Seek God by following out His will.  Seek God and let Him in all areas of your life.  Seek God wholeheartedly.

When you give Him all of you, you are not keeping a piece 'just in case' something better comes along.  Devotion to God is an all or nothing deal.  You wouldn't date a guy who was holding out a piece of himself 'just in case' he finds someone better, and God deserves the same respect...if not more.
Seek Him with a clean heart.  Let Him absolve you of your sins.  Ask for His guidance in areas where you are prone to stray from His will.  I have a tendency to gossip.  It takes alot of restraint on my part to hold my tongue.  Without Gods help my tongue would be vicious.  What is your weakness?  Ask God to lend you His strength.
As single women, we have more time than we will ever have again to devote to the Lord.  We determine how deep our relationship with God will be.  So what's more importanto to you?  God or tv/internet/reading/shopping/whatever it is that dominates your time?

Monday, December 14, 2009

LIW :: Lady of Virtue

Virtue can be defined in many ways.  It is moral excellence.  It is righteousness.  It is goodness.  It is purity.  It is patience.  It is kindness.  It is abstinence.  It is wisdom.  It is vigilance.  It is carefulness.  It is thoughtfulness.  It is discretion.  It is everything God longs for us to be. 

Jackie likens our lives, our trials and tribulations, to that of a pearl.  Just as a pearl starts off rough, being sanded, and belted with grains of sand until it becomes a precious jewel, so do we become His precious jewels when we let Him use our life experiences to turn us into such.  Ever heard the saying 'when life hands you lemons, make lemonade'?  As cheesy as it may be, it's great advice.  No one lives a life without any downfalls...without any issues...without any problems.  What's important is how you respond to all of these.  Will you use the burdens in your life to glorify God?  Or will you turn from Him in your time of need?

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
- James 1.2-4

Trials are meant to test your faith and build your character.  That's not to say that God is inflicting pain on all of us.  Pain comes from the free will of others.  It comes from poor decisions we've made in the past.  It comes as a consequence to things that have already be done.  When you turn to God and follow his will, you are allowing Him to use these 'sands' to soften your inner 'pearl'. 

Every decision you make has an impact.  Some bigger than others, but an impact nonetheless.  Will you base your decisions upon the Lord?  Forsaking your will for His?  Or will you be more concerned with the world?  With a quick, easy fix?  Sometimes Gods way isn't the easy or popular way.  It can be hard.  It can take time and effort.  He is the God of all, and He knows better than you ever will.  Trust in Him and let Him make you into the pearl He desires you to be.

When you base your decisions on the Lord, you are not only working on the issue at hand.  You are also working on beautifying yourself on the inside.  Think of all the time you spend on your hair, your make-up, your outward appearance...do you spend even half that time on your inner beauty?  Developing your personality, your mind and your heart is lasting work.  Your outer beauty will fade, no matter how hard you work at it.

What do you look for in a man?  Do you want someone tall, dark and handsome with a nice car and a big house who can afford to take you to fancy dinners and buy you expensive presents?  Or would you prefer someone who has a heart for the Lord, who serves God whole-heartedly, treats others with respect and truly has a passion for life?  While the former does seem tempting...I'd much prefer the latter.  The only way to attract a man of character is to be a woman of virtue.  How can you expect a man of great character to want a woman of shallow worth?  It's what's on the inside that counts.  Pretty people are not the only ones blessed with marriage.  Now this is not to say that you shouldn't take pride in your outward appearance.  You should absolutely seek to look your best...just don't make your beauty your primary worth. 

"Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in Gods sight."
- 1st Peter 3.4

While your outer beauty fades with the sands of time, your inner beauty will only grow stronger as you continue to nurture it.  You cannot expect to catch a prince when you yourself are not a princess. Develop yourself so that you will be ready to share yourself with your god-sent. A godly man will take notice of a virtuous woman because of her godly character rather than for her flowing locks and sparkling eyes.

"Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
- Proverbs 31.30

Our personalities are like that of a necklace where each 'bead' or trait is displayed.  Is your necklace full of pearls or of cracked, dirty beads?  No one is perfect, and no one expects us to be, but you can clean these dirty beads, repair the cracked, broken ones, by asking for Gods forgiveness and help.  You must realize that alot of the habitual sins you do or due to underlying cause.  Work to realize that cause and seek Gods help to resove it.
"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are -- no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought."
- Matthew 5.5

God is with us always...it is up to us to decide to walk alongside Him.  When you seek to obey God on a moment to moment basis your are emptying yourself of your sinful ways and filling yourself with His Holy Spirit.  Will you release your sinful ways and allow God to make you into a His precious jewel?  It will most certainly take time and energy, but I strongly believe it will be worth it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

LIW :: Lady of Faith

In the third week of our LIW study, we broached the subject of faith. Seems pretty simple. Obviously I have faith. I mean, I'm a christian. I believe in God. I have faith that what I believe, what I've learned from the bible, what I feel in my heart, is true. But is that enough? Is it enough to just believe that He is the one true god? No, you must put your faith in Him in all areas of your life. This is where some soul-searching comes into play. Do my actions reflect my faith? If they do, is my faith anywhere close to what God wants from me?

Taking a long, hard...honest...look at your own life is not easy. We are quick to justify our actions. 'Well I only did that our of necessity.' 'I wouldn't have to do that if it weren't for the surrounding circumstances.' 'Everyone in my field has to act this way to succeed.' Justification is just a nicer word for excuse. God doesn't want our excuses. He wants our hearts, our lives, our faith. The root of our issues are not our extenuating circumstance, they lie in our motives. Where do your motives lie? Are they self-serving or God-serving?

'All a mans ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.'
- Proverbs 16.2
Imagine you have a big date. He's this great guy, so cute! You've been eyeing him for awhile and he has finally asked you out. How much time do you take to get ready? You do your hair, spend extra time on your make-up, go shopping for that perfect 1st date outfit. Now, how much time would you spend preparing your heart? Will you spend time in your bible? Will you pray for Gods will regarding this man? Will you listen to what He tells you?

When you spend daily time with God, you are building up the foundation of your faith. You may not be able to see faith, but it's not based on nothing. A faith in God is built upon His word. Reading the bible, praying, living out your every day interactions with His will in mind, will only make your faith stronger.


'Faith is the evidence of things unseen; the substance of things yet hoped for.'
- Hebrews 11.1

That is my absolute favorite bible verse. It is the pinnacle of what I believe. How true that the effects of God can be seen everywhere! It is the foundation for my life. I don't know how I'd get through a day without it. My faith rests solely in my Lord and Savior. While that is something that is completely undisputed in my heart and in my mind, it (regrettably) does not always rule my decisions. Satan can be so tempting, so alluring. He can make worldly things seem so appealing. It is much too easy too look with eyes of the world rather than eyes of faith.

God is in control. He will be there for you no matter what eyes you choose to look through, but how much easier would your life be if you chose to look with eyes of faith? Earthly things will not bring you security, only God can do that. Spend quality time in His word to refresh your eyes. The longer you stay from Him, the cloudier your vision will become. Satan will be quick to turn your eyes, bringing you to the opposite of faith. Fear. There is no fear with faith. Trust in God. Trust in His plans for you...even when they don't match up with the plans you've made for yourself.

Jesus may want you to be married. He may not. Either way, He will lead you there. He will bring your God-send to you. Going to a singles bar every night, having all your friends set you up with every single man they know, switching churches to one with more available men, choosing a career in a male-dominated field...none of these will bring you 'the one' if it's not in His will. That's not to say you should just stay at home and wait for Mr. Right to appear on your doorstep with a bow on his head. You should live your life for you and for God. Do His works. Follow His will. He has your best interest at heart. Who do you think knows better...you, with your easily clouded judgement, or the Alpha and Omega?
'Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon ones thoughts.'
- Elisabeth Elliot

Relying on your faulty judgement rather than on Gods wisdom will only result in pain and heartache. You won't find completion in another person. Noone can fulfill you in the ways that He can. You don't need a man to live a full life. Don't be bitter about your singleness. Take peace in the knowledge that God has a plan for you. Instead take this time to deepen your faith. Never again will you get this time back.
'Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.'
- 1st Peter 5.7

He can handle whatever you throw His way. Will you put your faith in Him? Will you start making every decision with eyes of faith? I don't know about you, but I'm sure going to try.

Monday, November 30, 2009

LIW :: Lady of Diligence

What does it mean to be a lady of diligence? Websters defines diligence as constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind. God wants us to be His diligent followers. I'm sure many (hopefully most, if not all) of us strive to be just that, but often work/school/friends/family/life gets in the way. As single women, we have the time to follow God persistently and earnestly...if only we so choose to.

As single (childless) women, we have much more time on our hands than that of someone who is married. We do not have a husband to tend to or children to look after. The only person we are responsible for is ourself. A married womans life is that of her familys. A single womans life is her own. We have been given the gift of time, it's time we realize it and put this gift to use. Too often we focus our time on achieving married life - finding the perfect guy, perfecting our hair and makeup, getting our bodies beach ready. Imagine the jewels we would be if we only took that time and focused it on God and on preparing our hearts and minds for Him.

Don't waste any of the God-given opportunities placed before you. Use the gifts and time God has given you in this season of your life to do His works. Every choice you make is a reflection of your devotion to Him. Are you living your life in envy of what you do not have? Or are you living your life diligently for Him?


'Be very careful then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lords will is.'
- Ephesians 5.15-17


God has plans for you. You may not see it. You may not understand it. That's okay, you don't need to. You need only to seek His will and follow His direction. I don't know what God has in store for you, or what He's calling you to do right now, but I can say with certainty that it is not to sit idly by until something happens to or for you. Make the most of your singleness. Honor Him in your daily actions and interactions.

"God has called me to live now. He wants me to realize my full potential as a man right now, to be thankful about where I am, and to enjoy it to the fullest. I have a strange feeling that the single person who is always wishing he were married will probably get married, discover all that is involved, and wish he were single again! He will ask himself, 'Why didn't I use that time for the Lord when I didn't have so many other obligations? Why didn't I give myself totally to Him when I was single?' "
- John Fischer

It may not be in Gods plans for you to be married. He may have another plan for you. Conversly, He may plan on you being the next octomom. Okay, probably not. The point is, you don't know what God has in store for you. All you can do is trust that there is a plan and follow His lead. Don't stay at home, fearing that which you cannot know. Use this time without obligations to focus on the Lords will.
Take all the time and energy you've been putting into finding a man and turn it to God. Focus on Him and on readying yourself for your heavenly prince. Don't put your life on hold just because you may not have someone to hold. Would you want a man who has done nothing with the single season of his life? Someone who has just sat idly by pining over different women, hoping that the next one will be 'the one'? No, you want someone who takes pride in himself, someone who has a strong faith and a resolute conviction. Or maybe that's just me.

As a lady of diligence, you would serve the Lord without distraction. Don't relent in seeking His will. Focus on what you can do rather than on what can be done for you. God has bestowed gifts on you, it is your duty to use them to honor Him. What gifts do you have? Are you using them or hiding them away? Would God be pleased with how you use them? Or would it make Him want to shake His head in shame?
'Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain'
- Proverbs 15.4


Take a look at your daily agenda. Where is your time being spent? Is it being wasted? Is it glorifying God? Give Jesus full reign over your time and you will not be disappointed. The heavenly rewards are great and the satisfaction you'll feel is like no other.

God understands that we are only human. We are easily tempted. We are easily swayed. That is why it is so important to surround ourselves with people who support us. Prayer in numbers is so powerful. I always find such comfort when I know someone is praying for me and praying for the same things I am praying for. It's so easy to whine and complain about whats going on in your life. Misery loves company and it's no hard task to find people to sympathize with you. Next time you feel like having a pity party, why not find someone to pray with you instead? You may be surprised at how much better you feel.

Maybe you've been gifted with a ministry in writing. Sending a letter of encouragement could really brighten someones day. I, for one, absolutely love getting snail mail. Knowing that someone cares enough for me that they took the time out of their busy day to drop me a note letting me know that they thought of me, makes me feel so loved.

'A generous man will prosper, he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed'
- Proverbs 11.25


Perhaps your gift is a ministry of listening. Sometimes all one needs is a shoulder to cry on. Just your presence can be healing for someone who is in pain. The knowledge that you're there and that you care for them can be much more powerful than any words you can say.

'Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart'
- Proverbs 25.20

Maybe a ministry of hospitality is your strong suit. A casserole can go a long way for someone going through a rough time. What a gift a simple meal can be to a new mother or a recent widower. You don't need to be experiencing a life change or trauma to appreciate a good meal. Cook a gourmet dinner for a few of your closest friends. Some of the best heartfelt conversations take place over a home-cooked meal.

'Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God'
- 1st Corinthians 10.31


A ministry of helps may be what you're being called to do. Helping a friend move, babysitting for a single mother, lending a neighbor a cup of sugar, giving someone a ride...what may seem like a small task to you can bring huge relief to those you are helping.

'Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men'
- Colossians 3.23


How are you using your singleness? Are you ministering with the gifts God has blessed you? Or are you pining away for what might be?

Monday, November 23, 2009

LIW :: Lady of Reckless Abandonment

Jackie Kendall proposes that the first step in becoming a Lady in Waiting, is to become a Lady of Reckless Abandonment. I went into this chapter a little skeptical. Don't get me wrong -- I'm all for being a Lady in Waiting and am very excited to see what this devotional will bring -- the title of this chapter just threw me off a bit.

When I think reckless, I think, without care, with no thoughts for what may happen to you or to anyone else, dangerous, selfish...negative all the way. Abandonment doesn't bring about the most positive ideas either. So when Jackie proposed we abandon recklessly, I was a little perplexed. Luckily, I didn't just skim the chapter title, chalk it up to lunacy or a misprint and put the book away. Instead I delved into the chapter, mind and heart open.

By abandon, she means we need to abandon our former selves, our worldly selves, at the feet of Jesus. Ah, now I see where you're going with this. We need to leave ourselves behind, forsake our will for His will. We need to not only let go of our sinful ways, but of all that may lead us back to those ways. We won't be doing this all in vain. In place of all this, we accept God's love and the heavenly rewards He has promised us. We are accepting the gift of His forgiveness, through Christs death and resurrection.

This is not something you should ease into, inch by inch, until you're acclimated to this new lifestyle. No, you need to recklessly abandon yourself to Christ. Know that He is there for you. Know that He is God, the Father. Know that He will not leave you. Know that what He has for you is better than what the world could ever offer you. Know that when you trust in Him, He will provide for you. So leap without looking for a net, without testing the warmth of the water. Trust that He is there. He will not leave you.

Jackie defines reckless abandonment as following God with no expectations that someone or something else can fulfill you in the way that He does. We can be our own worst enemies. I know I have stood in my own way and in Gods way many a time. Our disillusionment can often keep us from giving ourselves fully to the Lord. We think a career or a hobby or a boyfriend or a husband can satiate us. None of these earthly things we'll satisfy you. Only God can bring you true and total satisfaction.



"A woman is not born a woman. Nor does she become one when she marries a man, bears a child and does their dirty linen, not even when she joins a women's liberation movement. a woman becomes a woman when she becomes what God wants her to be."
- excerpt from Learning to be a Woman

Jackie urges us to use this time of singleness as the gift it is intended to be. As a single woman, you have more time than that of a married woman. Use this time to do Gods work. Where a married woman is tending to her husbands needs, a single woman can be volunteering in the community. Where a married woman is tending to her children, a single woman can be ministering for God. Listen to what God is telling you. Go where he is urging you to go. Follow in
His plan for you, submit fully, and you will find true contentment.

No one, not even the man you will marry one day, can make you happy...only Jesus can.
- anonymous

God is the only one who can complete you...not a boyfriend, husband, child, job, money or any other earthly possession. You will never be complete without Jesus. Men and women were not created to complete eachother. No, we were made to compliment one another. A mate will not make you whole, only God can do that, but they can bring out the best in you. Completion is Jesus' responsibility - complimenting is a womans privilege. The feeling of incompleteness comes from a lack of Christ in your life, not from being single.

"I feel very strongly that marriage is not a higher calling than the single state. Happy indeed are those people, married or single, who have discovered that happiness is not found in marriage but in a right relationship with God."
- Gary Chapman


This chapter also speaks of breaking our alabaster boxes at the feet of Jesus. The alabaster box is a symbol of our worth, it is everything we are, everything we know, everything we have, everything we hold onto. Jesus is worthy of our alabaster box. He is the ONLY one worthy of it. When you break your alabaster box for Him, you are giving Him your all, so that you can follow Him with reckless abandonment.

Giving yourself fully, even to God, can be very difficult. To let go of everything and leap blindly is a true testament to your faith and to your devotion to Him. While it may not be possible to remove all sources of temptation from your life, there are ways to limit the things that may influence you. Surround yourself with people who will help you grow in Christ - not hinder that growth or stagnate it. That's not to say you cannot have any friends who are non-believers. It's important that you are in their lives so you can show them the light of Christ. Just be careful that advice you are taking from your friends is routed in His word.

He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.
- Proverbs 13.20

We often mirror those who influence us. Who is influencing you? Is it someone who has a strong faith? Someone who strives to follow God's lead in their lives? Or is it someone who is self-serving? Someone who lives for the moment with no regard for Gods will in their lives?

Do not be deceived: 'Bad company corrupts good morals'
-1st Corinthians 15.33

There is truth to the old saying - you are the company you keep. Your closest friends should be cheering you on in your commitment to Jesus. A good friend should be someone who encourages you to follow Gods way and someone who calls you out when you stray from the righteous path or when the choices you make are leading you to temptation.

Sometimes big changes are required to bring about spiritual growth. These changes are not always easy and can seem to be some of the most difficult things you'll ever do. You may need to stop hanging out with certain people. You may need to change your job. You may need to move. Pray and ask God what changes you need to make in your life in order to follow Him closer. Seek counsel from devout followers, believers and leaders in deciphering what He is saying to you. Often you will need to step outside your comfort zone to show reckless abandonment for Christ.

Take all the energy you use to get to know a new boyfriend, all the energy you usually use to please that boyfriend, and turn it to God. Imagine if you used that energy to learn about Him. To learn from Him. To get to know Him. How much more fulfilled would your life be? How would your life change if you took Gods will over yours (or your families, or your friends, or societies) every time? How much fuller would your life be if you took all the time you know use to pine over a significant other...or lack thereof...to fulfill Gods plans in your life?



'Marriage teaches us that even the most intimate human companionship cannot
satisfy the deepest places of the heart. Our hearts are lonely til they
rest in Him.'
-Elisabeth Elliot

Christ will give you comfort, healing, direction, purpose...if only you'll let Him. Will you let Him be your all in all?

LIW video intro


video

the links I mention in the video are ::

my tokbox

Amy's tokbox

You can also friend Amy, Desiree or myself on facebook (or the the group, of course!) by clicking below.

facebook group

Amy's facebook

Desiree's facebook

my facebook

If you're interested in getting the book, Lady in Waiting by Jackie Kendall, you can find it for under $15 on amazon.com or check out jackiekendall.com

Saturday, November 14, 2009

LIW bible study

As I mentioned in my last post, Desiree, Amy and I will be starting a new bible study using Jackie Kendalls book, Lady in Waiting. We'll be doing it using tokbox.com, which is basically a video im site that compiles your friends lists from gmail, aim and msn messenger, as well as any friends you add through the site itself.

We're opening our study up to any single woman who would like to learn how being single is a gift from God, gain community with other single woman, strengthen their relationship with God and/or learn how to become God's best while waiting for Mr. Right. You can join us in person or online. If you're in the Tampa or St Petersburg areas, email me (click on 'me') and I will let you know how to get to either Amys or my house. If you're out of the area, or would prefer to just log onto our chat, you can friend either Amy or myself on tokbox.

We've also started a facebook group. We'll be sending out weekly evites to the study as well as posting discussion topics for each chapter. I'm really excited to get started. I hope you'll join us!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lady in Waiting

For my birthday this year, my good friend, Desiree, gave me an awesome book -- Lady in Waiting by Jackie Kendall. Des and I have become quite close over the last several months. She is an amazing christian woman who radiates the light of Christ. We have had quite a few heart-to-hearts...most of them revolving around men, relationships and the difficulties of being single and being a good christian.

Desiree and Amy (another good friend of ours) did this bible study a few years back and it really changed their outlook on being single. Due to my transportation issues, or lack there of, and the fact that I now live over the bridge, we decided to this study in a new way. We're going to do it over the internet. With a webcam on their end, and one on mine, we'll conference in once a week and discuss our thoughts on the chapters. I've never done a bible study, or anything else for that matter, via live webcam so hopefully it will work out!

This book focuses on how being single is a gift from God, and what you should be doing with this time in your life. It's not a how-to on getting a single guy or anything like that. It's about focusing on you. The tagline being 'Becoming God's best while waiting for Mr. Right.'

I am really excited about this study! Desiree knew I had been looking for a good study to do for single women for myself and my friend Cassie to do together. I did pick up one of Priscilla Shirers books, but I didn't feel it was really what I was looking for. Lady in Waiting looks perfect! I've only read the back cover so far...Des and Amy forbade me to open it until we start our study. But so far, so good!

I can't wait to start!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Deeper Still :: Beth Moore

The last speaker of the weekend, was the highly anticipated Beth Moore. She has a way of hitting you hard while still speaking in such an upbeat manner. She is truly captivating. She'll make you laugh, cry and search your heart. Her teaching style was frank, relateable, comedic--completely enthralling. I was on the edge of my seat throughout her talk. She spoke on discerning the voice of God. On how to, not only know if it is God you are hearing, but on how to discipher what it is He's telling you. Here's what I got from her teachings as well as the passages she referenced.

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever -- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot), said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"
Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
"All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
-John 14.15-27

God promised to be with us always. To lead us, to teach us, to show us His will. All we need to do is listen, not to the outside world, but to His voice. We need to not just hear Him, but to truly listen. If you are not living in His word, obeying the laws He has set forth in the bible, you will not hear Him. Follow in the laws He has set for you and His light will shine upon your path. If you spend time daily with Him, spend time in His book, really divulge yourself in His teachings, His words will ring loud and clear for you.

Some of His disciples said to one another, "What does He mean by saying, 'In a little while you will see me no more, and after a little while you will see me,' and 'Because I am going to the Father'?"
-John 16.17

As humans, we're going to have doubts. It's in our nature. It's how you handle these doubts and fears that matters. Will you let them chip away at your faith? Will you turn them to God? Will you go to His word for reassurance?

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him" Isaiah 64.4 but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" Isaiah 40.13 But we have the mind of Christ.
-1st Corinthians 2.6-16

You can have the highest IQ of anyone you know, and still be lacking in spiritual knowledge. Only when you lay your judgement in the bible, will you gain spiritual discernment. By living in His word, you will gain the ability to know what you cannot humanly know.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God -- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth -- men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.
You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings -- what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
-2nd Timothy 3.1-13

To follow the ways of men is to turn from God. These evil ways may seem intriguing and may give you earthly pleasure, but indulging in these sinful lifestyles will be in exchange for your eternal life in heaven. Is a moment of pleasure worth sacrificing eternal bliss? All Christians will be persecuted -- in some way. You may not be stoned or hung or beaten, but as a devout Christ-follower you will face opposition.

A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.
-Ephesians 3.20

God already knows. He knows your heart. He knows what you've done. He knows what you're thinking. He knows where your devotion lies. He knows what you will do. He knows what will happen to you. He knows all.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,
-2nd Timothy 3.14

Who are you learning from? Are you taking advice from your neighbor down the street? A co-worker? An old friend? Are you taking heed of what the Lord has said. Of the words He has spoken. Of what He wants out of your life?

Brothers, I could not address you as spirtual but as wordly -- mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?
-1st Corinthians 3.1-3

It's not just about reading through the bible and memorizing key verses. You need to live in His word. Adhere to His laws. Listen to what His will is for you and then follow it.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ,
-Phillipians 1.9-10

When you love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind, you will take heed to His directions. You will live in His word and you will follow in His ways.

The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, 'Who can bring me down to the ground?'
-Obadiah 1.3

Imposters will multiply as we get closer to the kingdom of heaven. Do not confuse the voices of man with the voice of God. Do not let your pride stop you from hearing the words of the Lord. Do not let your fear take you from the path of God.

"All this I have spoken while still with you."
-John 14.25

God is talking to you. Can you hear Him? Are you listening?

There are two dimensions of spiritual revelation we desperately need. Divine revelation in our human encounters and divine revelation in Christ encounters. How do you differentiate God's voice from satans?

How do you know if you can trust what you're sensing? Ask yourself these questions ::
- am I a critical or suspicious person by nature?
- am I jealous or do I feel threatened?
- do I have anything selfish to gain from the outcome?
- are my emotions clouding my discernment?
If you answered yes to any of these questions,, these are things you need to work through with God before you can gain spiritual discernment.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
-Hebrews 12.1-2

Turn your eyes from earthly temptations and set them upon God. Run to Him with all your heart. Look to Him for everything in your life. Look to Him with everything that is within you. He will show you His way.

When looking for spiritual discernment, judge the situation not the person. Remember that it's not only about obedience, you also need a relationship with God. You need to walk in the Spirit. This is a purposeful choice, you cannot accidentally walk in the Spirit. A godly person will seek Him out. Trust in Him because the Holy Spirit is steady.

Can you put trust in your spiritual gut?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Deeper Still :: Priscilla Shirer

Priscilla Shirer is one of the most charismatic and captivating Christian women I've ever encountered. Her style of teaching is warm and welcoming; not at all like a lecture, more like a talk with a good, energetic friend. If you've never heard her speak, I encourage you to change that quickly. I was so enraptured with her talk, I almost forgot to take notes. She will have you laughing while still keeping you on your spiritual toes. At the Deeper Still conference, she spoke mainly from Ephesians 3.20-21 :

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

with supporting notes from several other verses. The key note being; God is able to go beyond beyond. Here's my take on her talk along with the supporting verses she referenced.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.
- Proverbs 3:5-6

God is able. He is able in all things at all times. He is able to suprise you. We must know who God is, and what He has, in order to access him. He is the almighty. He is the alpha and the omega. He has access to everything we can imagine -- and beyond.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
- John 10.10

God can counteract anything and everything. He has resurrected the dead, He has parted the seas, He has done beyond what is imaginable. Believe in Him, follow in His will, and you too will have everlasting life.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
- Hebrews 12.2

Just like a flower can only grow in soil rich with the right nutrients, we can only grow in a life filled with God. Now is the time to consider the ability of God.

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
- Psalms 46.10
What is impossible for you, is possible for Him. He deserves our praise and our worship. Turn your attention away from the frustrations, from the seemingly impossible and turn to Jesus. Deliberately shift your fears unto Him.

This, the first of His miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Can in Galilee. He thus revealed His glory, and His disciples put their faith in Him.
- John 2.11

Will you put your faith in Him? Open your eyes to see His ability. Don't let the 'urgent' things in your life outcrowd the important things. Believe in what God says over what you can percieve.

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.
- Micah 7.7

God will hear you too. You need only faith. Trust in the Lord, your God, with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul. He can accomplish the unfathomable. He will amaze you. He will do astonishing things in your life when you believe and put your trust wholy in Him. The truth is not relative, it is absolute.

'For I know the plans I have for you,: declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
- Jeremiah 29.11

He can do all things. He has plans for you. You may not understand them, you may not always see where He's taking you, but He has a plan for you. Follow in His will and He will be with you.

Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol Him, all you peoples. For great is His love toward us and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.
- Psalms 117

Shower Him with your doxologies (outpouring of praise and worship to God).

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is He that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died -- more than that, who was raised to life -- is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
- Romans 8.32

You may be persecuted here on earth. You will have trials and tribulations in this world. All things are not good, but all things are working for our good. God has a much bigger plan than we can even begin to fathom. The reward for those who believe, those who follow God whole-heartedly, is eternal life with our Father in heaven. He wants this for us. He wants us to be our best. Live life for Him.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession -- to the praise of His glory.
- Ephesians 1.13-14

Everything that concerns you, concerns Him. Take the totality of your needs to God. There is no problem, too big or too small, that He cannot handle. Whether or not He does something is a question of His sovereignty, not His ability.

My God is able.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Deeper Still :: Kay Arthur

Kay Arthur was the first speaker of the Deeper Still weekend. Kay is an amazing woman. She speaks with such knowledge and conviction. She can be a little hard to follow at times though. While she stayed in the book of Hebrews, she flew all over it and I found myself just writing down the verses she mentioned so I could go over them later. I simply couldn't keep up! Don't get me wrong here, she was very inspiring. She's just not someone you can listen to in the background. Kay Arthur demands your undivided attention.

She spoke of having 'rest of faith.' Basically of living your life through God, for God and with God. Whenever you have a doubt, a concern, a question or a decision to be made -- turn to His word. Live by the bible, in the bible, and you will be living out God's will. The book of Hebrews, being all about faith, gave some great examples of those who survived by faith alone, forsaking all things earthly for the glory of God. Here's my take on her speaking and the verses she used.

but in those last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and hrough whom He made the universe.
- Hebrews 1.2

God sent His Son for us. All of us. Imagine sacrificing your child for all of humanity. It's unthinkable. How could you not worship a God who loves you so much?

You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possesions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. For in just a very little while, 'He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.' But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
- Hebrews 10.34-39

Would you be able to give up your earthly possesions if that was God's will? Are you willing to be persecuted in His name? Is your faith strong enough to sustain you through what the world may throw at you?

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
- Hebrews 5.11-14

This verse really spoke to me. It's so easy to bypass the 'beginner steps' and go on to bigger, harder things. But it is so important to grow in God in a manner that you will really take His word with you in all that you do. We are so eager to be mature and to know all, that we sometimes forget to focus on the smaller details -- on the beginning. Don't rush through God's word. Take your time. Listen. Hear Him. Talk to other believers, or Christians who are further in their walk than you. Ask questions. Grow in Him --with Him.

God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
- Hebrews 6.10-12

Don't waiver in your great faith. God will sustain you through it all. Times may be rough, you may feel as if you're being overlooked. But God has a plan for you and he will never forget His children.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
- Hebrews 11.1

Anyone who knows me well, knows this is my favorite bible verse (I have it tattooed on me). It gives me a sense of peace and reassurance. Are you sure in your faith? I know that if I'm hoping for a new pair of shoes, chances are, God's not going to bring them to me, but if I'm living in God's word, then my hopes are going to fall in line with His will, and this will be done. Some may argue that you can't see God, how can you believe He is real? I say God is like the wind. I can't see the wind, but I can feel the effects of the wind. I am sure that He is real. I am sure that He is present in my life. I am sure He sent His only Son to forgive me of my sins. I am sure that He has a plan for me.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
- Hebrews 11.6

I always find it a little unnerving when I hear people seek God in their troubled times, then immediately denounce Him when things begin to go better. How can you ask Him to help you and then not give Him credit when He does? Without Him we are nothing.

For this reason he had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.
- Hebrews 2.17-18

Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice in dying for our sins. What did we do to deserve this? Does God not deserve our hearts, our souls, our lives in return?

So, as the Holy Spirit says: 'Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation and I said, "Their hearts are always going astray and they have not known my ways. So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest. ' "
- Hebrews 3.7-11

Will you rest in faith or go for the passing pleasures of sin? We often think we know what's best. That we can do things on our own. How much easier would life be if we just did things His way? He has promised us treasures in heavens, in return for our worship and obedience.

And to whom did God swear that they would never enter His rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
- Hebrews 3.18-19

Don't be passive when it comes to God. He is eternal life. He is with always...not just when we deem Him convenient. Give Him the worship, praise, devotion and respect He deserves.Therefore, since the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you to be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
- Hebrews 4.1-2

Often things go in one ear and out the other. Don't let God's word be one of those things. Have faith in what He says to you. He knows better than you.

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Paraoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
- Hebrews 11.24-26

Keep your eyes upon the Lord. Follow in His word and He will reward you.

By faith he made his home in the promised land like stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.
- Hebrews 11.9-10

There is no fear with faith.

Women received back their dead, raised to life again Others were tortured and refused to be released so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated--the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. Thee were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
- Hebrews 11.35-40

Are you willing to be persecuted in the name of God? Or will you forsake Him in the face of fear? Our lives on earth are only the beginning. He has something much better in store for us in the afterlife -- if only we choose to worship and obey Him.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perserverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
- Hebrews 12.1-2

Don't let the weights of this world outshine that which God has promised you.

And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy though his own blood. Let us, then, go to Him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace He bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
- Hebrews 13.12-14

I have faith that what the bible says truly is words from God. I have faith that Jesus died so I could live ever after in heaven. I have faith that God is a sovereign God who will accept me time and time again. I have found rest in faith and will continue to do so as I spend daily time in His word. Will you?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Deeper Still :: an overview

Over the weekend, I, along with the ladies of CATB, attended the Deeper Still conference. It was led by Kay Arthur, Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer. These 3 women have a unique way of relaying God's word in a way that not only speaks to you, but that grabs a hold of your heart and lets you feel the word of God eminating through you. By the end of the 2 days, I had been moved to tears, laughed uncontrollably and been led to go deeper still in my walk of faith.

The weekend started off Friday night, with praise and worship led by Travis Cottrell. If you've never heard him before -- he is amazing! We sang well known traditional gospel songs as well as a few contemporary gospel hits. Travis and his team had such awesome talent and presence that even the songs that I'd never heard before felt familiar.

We also heard Kay Arthur speak on Friday night. She is clearly a women in touch with God's word. The common thread of her teaching was 'rest in faith'. She taught from the book of Hebrews and spoke of relying on the Bible in everything you do.

Bright and early Saturday, we were back for day 2. Again, the day started off with an amazing time of worship with Travis and his praise team...though this morning they had a special surprise. Beth and Priscilla came out and performed a rap. It was hilarious! For those who missed it, don't you wish you had left the hotel just a little earlier now?

Priscilla Shirer was the next to speak. She had me in hysterics! Her teaching style was funny and relateable while still incredibly thought provoking. She broke down Ephesians 3.20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Her main point being that God is able! He can go beyond beyond!

We than had a break for lunch. Everyone pretty much went their seperate ways for that. Sarah was kind enough to take Beth, April and myself to her uncles local pizza joint. We ordered several different personal pans as well as some caesar salad and shared it all around. It was delicious! If I could remember the name of it, I would recommend it to anyone in Orlando.

After lunch, we re-congregated at the arena and settled in to enjoy another round of praise with Travis and the gang, where they unveiled the 'prayer wall'. There were glass panes set up friday night for all who attended the conference to write their prayers upon. During this worship session, they displayed the 4 panes and painted a picture of Gods hand holding a single flower over top. It was a great way of joining thousands of women together to lift up our prayers.

This was followed by the teachings of Beth Moore. This was the most anticipated speaker by our group and she did not disappoint! Her high-energy style was captivating, humorus and heart-pulling. She taught on discerning the voice of God -- how to listen to your spiritual gut.

After another rousing round of praise and worship we were then treated to a question and answer segment. Beth, Kay and Priscilla answered questions that were submitted prior and gave real-life, biblically-based answers. Overall, the conference was an amazing, God-filled experience. I am so blessed to have been able to be in the presence of these 3 awe-inspiring women.

Over the next few blog posts, I will be giving you my take on this conference. What I took from these 3 amazing women, what I feel God is saying to me through this, and how I am being led deeper still.


The ladies of CATB who attended this awe-inspiring event.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

blogs i love

For those of you who don't know, I'm a total internet addict and an avid reader...so, naturally, I love blogs. There are several that I subscribe to that I thought I'd share with all of you.

Hal's Blog :: Hal is the lead pastor at Church at the Bay. His blog follows our church and his insights. They're great if you ever need a little spiritual awakening or a laugh.

Through This Lens :: A look at life and Christianity through April's eyes. It is one of the most insightful and humble blogs I've ever read.

It Happened Between Jersey City and Manhattan :: Written by Manhattan Chick, Rachel, this blog is a must for anyone living between Jersey City and Manhattan. She gives humorus and honest reviews on where to go, what to eat and what to do in NYC and it's surrounding areas. Non-New Yorkers can enjoy her clever anecdotes, DIY eats and money saving tips.

Neal's Blog :: Neal is the connections pastor at Church at the Bay. He encourages leaders with to the point narratives and challenges.

music. art. service. :: Blaine, the worship arts pastor at Church at the Bay, takes the reigns on this one. While his posts are few and far between, they are jam packed with wisdom and soul-reviving words.

Carmen :: One of the hosts on one of Tampa's christian radio stations, the Joy fm, Carmen chronicles her life as a dj, a mother and a christ-follower.

The Big Big Blog :: The big big house morning show can be heard on Tampa's other christian radio station, spirit fm. This blog is written by Carlos and Abby, and talks about topics they've covered on their show as well what's on their mind.

CATB Childrens Ministry :: Written by Don, the childrens pastor at Church at the Bay, this blog speaks of leading kids to Christ as well the going ons of the CATB kids.

These blogs are insightful, humorus and full-filling to read. Check them out and let me know what you think. Or if there's a blog you think I'm missing out on, please let me know! I'd love to expand my blog horizons! You can quick-click to any of these blogs on my sidebar.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

color me christian

Life is like a coloring book. I know, I know...it sounds like I'm going on a Forrest Gump route...trust me, I'm not. Allow me to elaborate...

Like most kids, I loved coloring. I wasn't much of a scribbler though, I was more interested in the end product. I wanted a beautiful picture, not a mess of color.

Staying inside the lines took more time, concentration and work; while scribbling was much easier, quicker and, at times, more fun. The end product of scribbling was never anything grandeur though. Definitely not anything I was proud to hang on the refrigerator.

Staying inside the lines could be hard though. Sometimes there were intricate details, my hand would slip, my brother or sisters would knock my hand or move the book, I would get distracted or I was just too lazy or tired to pay attention to what I was doing. Luckily, if I messed up on a picture, I could just turn the page and have a blank slate to start all over again.

That's kind of how I see life. God has set the rules, guidelines, boundaries...whatever you want to call them...for us in the bible. He then gave us free will. Just as in a coloring book, we choose whether or not to stay inside the lines. Sometimes there are outside forces making that more difficult. Often those force aren't coming from the outside at all.

Then God sent His son to die for our sins. So when we mess up, and go outside the lines, we can simply turn the page and start anew.

Monday, May 4, 2009

single

Though I've always thought it would be great to have a boyfriend who had a passion for Christ, it was never a deal breaker. It was more of a bonus if they went to church. But, as I grow more in my faith, I find that my priorities have shifted.

I strive to live my life centered around Christ and I need someone who's on the same track as I am. Someone who understands how to get through trials and tribulations by faith. Someone who will encourage me to stay on track and not lead me astray. Someone who will go to church with me, pray with me, do devotions with me. I want a partner in Christ.

I am a Christian because I believe in Jesus. I believe He is the son of God. I believe He died and rose again. I believe He paid for us all. Yes, I know those are lyrics but they state my feeling perfectly. Saying that I am passionate about my faith would be a gross understatement.

When I have kids, I want them to be raised in the church. I want them to be emersed in the faith, taught about Jesus, shown the Christian lifestyle. That's not something that can be accomplished if they only see it on Sundays. It needs to be 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It needs to start at home.

In my minds eye, the purpose of dating is to find a boyfriend. The purpose of having boyfriends is to find a husband. I plan on having children with whoever my husband ends up being. So why date a non-believer? To date someone who doesn't have the same integrities would be against my values and a contradiction to my beliefs.

I believe that somewhere out there is my Godsent. I believe that we will meet when the time is right...when we are both ready for eachother in the eyes of God. Until then, I will be patient. I will not waste my time or his or His with someone I know, in my heart of hearts, is not my soulmate.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

domino disposition

Lately I've been noticing that my daily interactions with people tend to set the tone for the rest of that day. Whether it's due to that encounter heightening or lowering my mood is up for discussion...though that's the conclusion I'm reaching towards.

Yesterday was a great day. Nothing extraordinary happened...just a good day. I woke up before the alarm today...always a good thing. Nothing like not being startled awake in the am! Got up took a nice, hot shower...gotta love those...made myself an everything bagel with cream cheese, filled up my water bottle and packed up my backpack. So far a fairly typical day.

My roommates grandmother is in town and she was up. Had a nice convo with her while I was getting ready. This wasn't a grandeur talk...maybe 10 minutes in total...no serious topics were broached...just some simple, good-morning-how-are-you-have-a-good-day small talk that ended with a hug and a see you later. But it was pleasant and so I left the house in a good mood.

I got to work, had 5 clients back-to-back, and just as a grumble was starting to creep up on me, my 3:00 came in. I had worked on him once before and he had come back and asked for me. He is a Christ-follower and I remembered him well because we had had a good talk about Christ and being a Christian. My mood instantly relightened as I awaited what our conversation, if any, might entail. I was not disappointed.

I left work with a smile on my face. I then headed off to home team, which is always good for my mood and spirit. All in all, it was a great day that started off with what may seem to have been an insignificant beginning.

Conversely, today didn't start off as happily. I, again, woke up before the dreaded alarm, grabbed a bagel, packed a lunch and headed off to catch the bus.

My first encounter was with the bus driver. Typically the drivers are quite nice. We exchange pleasantries and I go about my day. Today, however, she was not so pleasant. I told her the bike rack was bent making it difficult to put the bike on correctly and she snapped back that it didn't matter. That's fine. I was just letting her know so she could pass along the information. Her attitude certainly put a damper on my mood.

Isn't it funny how one person can completely change your disposition? It makes me think that maybe, just maybe, I need to depend less on others for happiness and more on myself and God. What if the tone of my day was set by how great of a prayer session I had that morning rather than by the snide remark someone made on the bus?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

unwanted suitors

Allow me to vent for a moment.

I ride the bus on a regular basis (that may be a bit of understatement...I take 4 buses a day to get to and from work) and, while not ideal, this is kind of my alone time. Time that I put on my headphones, listen to my favorite radio station, spiritfm, read a book or magazine and just sit.
I am not riding the bus, or sitting at a bus stop, waiting for Prince Charming to come along and sweep me off my feet.

Don't get me wrong here, I am open to chatting with my fellow commuters and/or the bus driver. My headphones are always low enough that I can hear what's going on around me.
What I don't appreciate is being hit on, or asked for my phone number when I am clearly tuning my surroundings out and after I have concisely and politely informed the suitor that I have a boyfriend. It is none of your business how long we have been together or how serious the relationship is.

Telling me that I'm pretty and look 18 and then proceeding to say you're in your late 40s is just creepy. If you thought I was that young, why on earth are you hitting on me?? You'd be old enough to be my father!

Asking me if I'm available and then, after I say no, asking if you can have my phone number is just plain disrespectful. Would you want to date someone who gives out their number to random strangers within 2 minutes of meeting them? I wouldn't!

So, seriously, if you're sitting beside me, or anyone for that matter, on the bus or at a bus stop and you feel the urge to open up those lines of communication, don't let this rant stop you. I have had several nice conversations and even exchanged numbers with people I've met on my commute AFTER speaking with them several times and with honest, good intentions.

I am merely speaking out against the creepers. The ones who ogle anyone with 2 x chromosomes. The ones, who after you politely answer whatever question it is they had, then turn away and put headphones in, continue you to tap you on your shoulder and ask about your personal life. The ones who feel it is within their right to tell you they're a better match for you then the one you're with...even though they have yet to learn your name.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Follow the Leader

Last night, we started a new curriculum in my bible study. Go Fish by Andy Stanley. It centers around Matthew 4:19. "and He said to them, 'follow me and I will make you fishers of men'. "

God wants us to not only live our lives for Him, but also to bring others into His light. I struggle with this -- not because I disagree with the notion; I wholeheartedly agree -- but because I find myself feeling unworthy of such an important task.

Who am I to tell others how to live their lives? What gives me the right, the fortitude to dictate what others should do? Now don't get me wrong here, I fully believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. I ardently believe that it is our jobs, as Christ-followers, to shine His light for others.

My qualm is more in that I struggle with my faith on a daily basis. If I don't feel that I am 100% right with the Lord, how can I tell someone else that they need to be? So the question ensues, do you need to be the perfect follower to lead?

When I take the question out of the context of myself, I think absolutely not. We are human. We all fall short. That should not, cannot, take us out of our faith. If anything, it should bring us closer to God. We need to use our trials and tribulations -- past, present and future -- to show others what we have found in Christ. We need to think outside ourselves, we are not the main objective here. Jesus is.

So while you absolutely have to follow in order to lead, you, in no way, need to be perfect. So long as you are living you're life for Him as best you can, He will help you the rest of the way. So go on, be fishers of men -- and women -- for Him.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

un-zen

As I sit at work, awaiting...dreading...the next massage, I can't help but wish I were anywhere else but here right now. Preferably my bed...or the couch would suffice.

Don't get me wrong...I truly love my job. On most days, giving someone relief from that aching shoulder, lumbar, sciatic...or whatever ailment they may have, brings me joy. But, today...this whole week really...I'm just not feeling it.

I don't know what it is. Maybe it's how slow it's been lately has made me unmotivated. Or, it could be, the 6 day a week work schedule I had last month and now again this month. Or maybe it's the growing number of stupid, arrogant people that I keep receiving as clients. Well, that last one may just be a default thought of not wanting to work in the first place...but it sure doesn't help!!

But, for now, I will suck it up. My next client has arrived. Time to strap on my lotion holster and a happy face.