Election Day {11.6.18}

It’s election day here in the United States. election day 11-6-18It is a privilege of Americans to be able to vote for our governing leaders. Our nation was founded on the principles of God and this is a blessing that we may sometimes take for granted. As we cast our votes today (or may have already done so by voting early), I thought I should check out some things God tells us in His Word about government and leaders. Here are a few verses I found. Today is a good day to reflect on them.

“Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you..” (Deuteronomy 16:18-20)

Our votes should never be taken lightly. vote countsWe should prayerfully and thoughtfully consider our choices. We hear many things on the TV, radio, internet, newspapers, etc. Some may be true, some may be far from the truth. But, if we will devote the time to truly research and prayerfully ask God to give us wisdom, He will guide our decisions.

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” (Romans 13:1-2)

Whether “our choices” get elected or not, we must respect the position/office of the person elected and submit to the laws of our land. I pray that we will all let go of the “ugliness” that exists presently and pray! It’s impossible to hate someone when you are praying for them. Let’s join together as Americans and pray for our nation. God tells us to even pray for those who persecute us. We see a lot of persecution right now – especially toward our President (who we voted for and God put into place).

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” (Titus 3:1-2)pray for nation

The most important thing we can do for ourselves, our families, our communities and our country, is to pray! Pray for our leaders, pray for our nation, pray God will guide and direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). Our thoughts, words and actions do have consequences, and prayer does make a difference!

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior,” (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

True Fulfilling Fellowship {3.5.18}

Fellowship is mentioned 94 times in the Bible (NIV version)

Old Testament – 85 times, except for Psalm 55:14, each time refers to a fellowship offering

New Testament – 9 times, relational with each other, fellow believers and with God – 1 John 1:3-7 ”We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make your joy complete. This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

I quite often fall asleep talking to God. Likewise, I usually wake up and tell Him good morning before getting out of bed. However, while that’s a good thing I’m the one doing all the talking. When God wants to get my attention, He usually does it in the middle of the night. It’s dark and quiet. Nothing is going on to distract me from listening. Last night was one of those nights. I woke up about 2:30 a.m. Wide awake. Then God started taking me through my day yesterday and all that led up to that day. While it may seem insignificant to many, to me it was an “a-ha” moment yesterday in our Sunday school class. And, in the middle of the night God gave me a glimpse of what He has been doing in and with us for the past couple of years (maybe 3, I haven’t kept track). Yes, sometimes it takes time.

The word He kept giving me was “fellowship”. Of course, I had my own idea of what that meant. Getting together with others in a social setting. Usually food is involved or some type of activity. Something (sporting event, concert, charity) or some person (birthday party, anniversary) is usually the center of attention or the reason for the gathering.

  • Wikipedia: NOUN: friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests:

fellowship growthHowever, God showed me what true, fulfilling fellowship looks like. In true fellowship, God is the gracious host, guest of honor and center of attention. All focus is on Him and we share together for His glory.

  • Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary: Bond of common purpose and devotion that binds Christians to one another and to Christ.

Several years ago, I was part of a Bible study group that met one evening a week. It was a really good group and we enjoyed the studies. However, it was hard for some to come to an evening meeting. So, we decided to move it to a Sunday school class instead. Of course, we now had only one hour instead of one and a half so it might take more than one week to complete a lesson. But, that was ok. Our group started out small but has grown over the years to more than double it’s original size. That’s a good thing but the really good thing is how we have all grown together in the process. We decided to give ourselves a name “Ladies Learning Together”. We knew that we were all on the same path (narrow road) and none of us had all the answers. We were literally learning together. We knew that God would teach us through His word. What I don’t think we realized though was how much God would grow us through our fellowship in these classes. He has a plan for us and He had some work to do in us before His plan could be revealed and implemented. God showed me last night what true fellowship means. It is the learning and growing together while openly sharing our lives with one another. We truly love one another and we have allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and transparent, not only before God but with each other. When we humbled ourselves and looked to each other’s best interest rather than just our own, then…God could work in us. We have shared sorrows and blessings, heartaches and joy, ups and downs. We have encouraged each other and when necessary, held each other accountable to God’s Word. But, God really got a hold of us when we started to pray. He led a lady in our church to begin a prayer team ministry. Then, he led our class to study and participate in prayer (we actually did three Bible studies on prayer and I would recommend them all – “War Room”, “Battle Plan of Prayer and “Fervent”). We just finished a study titled “Called and Accountable”. That one was really eye opening, personal and pointed. We learned a lot about ourselves and grew in our understanding of God’s call on our lives and the consequences of not obeying His call. One important thing we learned was that a “call” does not necessarily mean a call to pastor, go on the mission field, something high profile or what we might deem important. It could mean the encounter with someone at the grocery that God orchestrated so we could encourage them. It might mean the encounter with a neighbor who is cranky and just needs a friend. When we allow God to open our eyes, the opportunities are always there. We just need to see them and seize them.

Okay, now to what really got me excited… As our class is getting ready to begin a new study, we realized that we had a financial need – a DVD player and projector. We have a couple of them at our church but others need them as well and we can’t hog one every week. So, we brainstormed ideas on how to raise the money. We came up with some good ideas but that’s not the exciting part. The exciting part is that we are dreaming big (our God is able) and are now brainstorming what we can do with the extra money we raise by serving our community. communityWe have so many ideas that we ran out of time before we could post them all on the chalkboard. That’s what God showed me in the middle of last night. He has been preparing us these past few years to be ready and willing to go forth and share His message and His love with others. Joining together with like minds, in unity, we can now make a difference together in our community. It’s exciting and I think it’s going to be contagious! I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us. It’s such a humble honor and blessing to serve Him, especially with my “fellowship partners”.

Thanks for allowing me to ramble on. I’m still excited and I want to encourage you to persevere. Sometimes, like with us, it takes time. True fellowship comes with like-minded people truly sharing life and all its ups and downs together with Christ in the center. What a joy it is to get together with friends not just for food and social events, but to share what Christ is doing in our lives. That’s the most exciting fellowship there is aside from the personal relationship with Christ.

Who might we encounter today that needs a touch from Christ’s love – through us?

A Girl Can Dream {2.7.18}

Several years ago (about six I think), my daughter called and asked me to pray about something. She had a dream on her heart. It was a dream with a goal, that she would be home more with her family. This dream involved a shared passion/hobby both of us have. I was certainly all onboard with her idea because I could see myself in the middle of it with her. But, more than that, she was seeking God FIRST – I had to honor that! I knew that what seemed impossible from our perspectives for many reasons, was entirely possible with God if it was within His will for her life. So, we began praying and God began working. dare to dream

Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

As the years progressed though, it became apparent that the details of the dream she originally had in mind was not going to materialize. Then upon further reflection, knew that the original idea would not produce the goal she sought. So, we kept praying and watching.

Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

God gave her creative ideas, wisdom, contacts, etc. He closed one door but opened so many more that we knew He was intimately involved. She kept on going where He led, learning as she went along. She has had many successes through her obedience to God’s call and direction rather than doggedly going down the original path she had envisioned. Yesterday was another one of those successes. It made me think of God’s Word and specifically, how He gives us skills when we need them, words when we need to speak them, and direction when we feel lost. I was remembering the words in Exodus where God was directing the Israelites to build the tabernacle. It says that He gave them the skills they needed to create what He designed. He has done the same for my daughter and we are so thankful.

Exodus 35:35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers.”

A dear friend recently shared how God had answered her prayer. She had been praying for a financial need. She knew God was able and trusted Him to provide. She didn’t know how but knew that He could send money in the mail to her if He so chose.

1 Timothy 5:5 “The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.”

However, like she shared, God didn’t give her money, he gave her a job. But, it wasn’t just any job. It was a job doing things she enjoys! How like God to orchestrate things in our lives that we have no idea of and then putting them before us as a gift of love. Did God answer her financial need? He sure did. And, in the process she is meeting new people and sharing the good news. She was blessed and is now blessing others. Sometimes God gives us our hearts desire even when we haven’t thought to ask him for it. psalm 37.4

Why do I share these two stories? Because they both began and continued being bathed in prayer. If we are going to delight ourselves in the Lord, we must know Him, speak with Him, listen to His Word. Prayer is our part of the conversation; God’s Word is his part (along with wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit). Both of these women sought God’s will, not their own. They shared their desires of course, along with their needs but they ultimately trusted God with the outcome. God always delivers – just what we NEED, and just WHEN we need it.

Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

So, my friends. Don’t be afraid to dream big. Our God is able!

Matthew 19:26 “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

New Year Resolutions {1.9.17}

Well, we are one week into the new year of 2017. Did you make a New Year Resolution? If you are like most of us, your resolutions involved losing weight and getting fit.resolution-list It seems that the gyms are full to capacity in January. However, by February or March, many have given up on those resolutions made such a short time ago and gone back to our old habits. I have not given up on those two resolutions but it got me thinking about resolve, what it really means in other areas of my life and what I needed to resolve to do this year (my New Year Resolutions if you will). I looked up the words resolve, resolute and resolution. Here’s what the Webster’s dictionary has to day about them:

  • Resolve: Fixed purpose of mind; settled determination; resolution.
  • Resolute: Having a fixed purpose; determined; hence, bold: firm; steady; constant in pursuing a purpose.
  • Resolution: Fixed purpose or determination of mind; as a resolution to reform our lives; a resolution to undertake an expedition. The effect of fixed purpose; firmness, steadiness or constancy in execution, implying courage.

Like any habit you want to begin or perhaps end, it takes practice. But, before we can practice, we must resolve in our minds to either do it or quit doing it (whatever “it” is). My biggest resolution this year is to continue drawing closer to God in my relationship to Him and others. This takes a determined effort and plan. You know the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Well, I certainly don’t want to fail in this! I don’t mind so much losing at board games (I have plenty of practice there) but these stakes are so far greater and higher.

In my Sunday school class at church, we have been discussing and diving into the scriptures about prayer and its part in spiritual warfare. That term may be foreign to you but that makes it none the less real and dangerous. I don’t know about you, but we have decided not to just simply live on the defense any longer but to plan, strategize and fight the battle with all the God given weapons at our disposal. We have determined to practice! No habit arrives and stays on its own. It takes a concerted effort and much practice. We are practicing prayer in the real sense. Personal prayer, corporate prayer, strategic prayer, intercessory prayer, along with quiet times of listening to the voice of God. He speaks through His Word and through the Holy Spirit that we can’t explain how we hear and know – we just do. We have begun praying scripture, which can seem foreign in the beginning but what better way to know we are praying within the will of God?!

I spent many years not really understanding this battle we are in and how to fight to win. Of course the battle and victory are God’s but we are in the trenches. Just like our military, we have a Commander (God) and we, as soldiers, have to train and obey as if our lives depend on it because – they do! Think of Boot Camp. I’ve never been but I imagine they go over and over again the drills until they get it right. That’s what we have to do. resolution start.jpgPractice, practice, practice. God’s word (the BIBLE) is our guide book (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth).

So, my question is, are you with us? Will you resolve this year to draw closer to God? I hope so. The only way things of this earth will change is if we do. It all starts with a step toward God and then hanging on for dear life. A full life. An eternal life. So…Happy New Year!

“Undo” {1.3.17}

I don’t know about you but I was thrilled when I first saw the “undo” key on my computer! undo-buttonIt allowed me to play with formatting and if I didn’t like it, just “undo” and try another. If I made a mistake or just didn’t like the way something looked or was worded, I could simply click the “undo” button. Easy. No consequences, just a new start. It quickly became one of my favorite keys. Unfortunately, we don’t have an “undo” key for life choices. I’m sure that most if not all of you are like me in that I hate to make mistakes. Make them I do but I don’t like it for sure. There are always consequences.

Today I had one of those times. I was working on a quilt, sewing strips of fabrics together into sections, staggering them (one group staggered one way, the other group staggered the opposite way). Unfortunately, when I had finished the very last set, I realized I had staggered all of them the same way. YIKES! I tried but there was no way to “fix it” without ripping out all of the seams and starting over. Time wasted. The good news is that I do have a seam ripper and can easily (even if it does take a lot of time) remove the seams and begin again.undo-mistake

Unfortunately, life’s choices can’t so easily be undone or removed and started again, can they?

  • A bad choice can’t be undone.
  • A harsh or hurtful word can’t be taken back.
  • A cut finger can’t be uncut.

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” (James 1:19-21)

We could all list a million things that can’t be undone because all we do and say have consequences. The good news is that we can be forgiven. We just need to ask for it (repent) and try our best not to do it again (turn from it). We can be proactive and try not to make the same mistakes again or at least not make as many mistakes. God will give us a way out of temptation to sin. We simply have to look for, recognize, and take the escape route.

Well, the thing about my mistake today is that it was a direct result of prayer. Rarely are my mistakes a result of prayer. At least I can’t remember another time I could say that but here’s what happened. undo-button-pencil-eraserI was praying as I started to work on the quilt, “Father, please give me a message today. I want to hear what you have to say to me that I can share with others.” Unfortunately, sometimes I’m slow on the uptake. I didn’t remember that prayer at first because I was too busy being frustrated with myself. However, as I began removing the stitches, my prayer came back to mind and I had to laugh. God answered my prayer alright. He gave me a message I won’t soon forget because it’s going to take me quite a while to fix this mistake.

That saying “be careful what you pray for” comes to mind. Actually, I don’t mind so much because I have a lot to learn and God can teach me any way He sees fit. But, I’m going to be careful what I “do” so I don’t have to look for the “undo” button quite as often.

It’s a War – Prepare for Battle {8.31.16}

If you remember 9/11, you know that many people sought God after those horrible attacks on our soil. Sadly though, many turned away as it seemed our nation was “back to normal” so to speak. Well, it’s not back to normal. Look around. Turn on the news. Read the paper. We don’t have to look far to realize that we are in the middle of a war. There are battles all around us – in our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities. Though the fighting is much fiercer in our nation than ever before, war is nothing new. It’s been going on since the Garden of Eden. What we often fail to realize is the war is not between ethnic groups. It is not between classes. It is not a fight between the law makers, law breakers, law enforcers or law abiders. It is not between special interest groups. The war is between good and evil, God and Satan. We know that in the end, GOD WINS and Satan loses. But, we must still fight the daily battle here on earth. Satan is a liar and deceiver. He wants us to believe that our enemy is flesh and blood (our neighbor). We are all so worried about “self” sometimes that our vision is clouded and we don’t really see or care about others. Satan tempts us to evil and then by our own fleshly desires, we head down that path of us versus them, our way is the only right way. Don’t give in to that temptation.

Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

God created us all equal, all formed in His likeness, wonderfully made and perfectly formed for His glory and purposes. It is a spiritual battle. It is here and it is fierce. We must prepare to fight and win!

The thing about war is – we must choose sides.

We are either for God or against Him. We can’t sit on the fence or bury our heads in the sand any longer. The “silent majority” in America has been silent too long!  We woke up from our slumber and realized things were not what they had been, not what we wanted. It’s time to take a stand and kneel in prayer.

In war we must also prepare for battle.

We can’t just jump in and do something. We can’t just start shouting ideas that we have not thought completely through, let alone prayed about. We must prepare. God has provided the weapons we need (the armor of God) in Ephesians 6:10-18. He tells us to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.the whole armor of god.png It’s not us against them, it is good against evil. It’s not the people we are fighting, it is the spirit behind their words and actions.

If you have seen the movie “War Room”, you have seen a battle fought and won by the power of prayer. Prayer isn’t just a way to change a circumstance, it changes us in the process. Whether we know it or not, sometimes our attitudes need a little adjusting. God can help us with that as we seek a relationship with Him through faith in Jesus, prayer, and reading His Word. There is a reason God tells us to pray for each other (friends and enemies). Prayer is powerful. In prayer, we invite God into the situation and surrender to His will and His way. Be persistent in prayer. I’ve seen prayers answered that frankly I had almost given up hope on – you just never know when or how God will answer but He Always Does! It’s been my experience that’s it’s usually just in the nick of time.

Mark 14:38 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

So…whose team are you on? Are you preparing for battle? Are you fighting the war on your knees?

Romans 2:6-11 “God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.”

The Guys in My Life {7.27.16}

There are a lot of guys in my life. My Dad was the first guy I loved. My “forever love” is of course my husband, Pete. We have four sons, a son-in-law, grandsons, brother, brothers-in-law, nephews and a host of other guys who have been a part of our lives. Our only daughter and I have been outnumbered for years but that’s ok. It kind of makes us feel special and we’re surrounded by some fantastic guys.

This summer I had the opportunity to spend some time with three guys that I want to recognize. These young guys (ages 9, 10 and 11) impressed me so much that I can’t stop thinking about it and praising God for them. Each one of them have a bold, brave and humble spirit with a confidence that comes from knowing who they are, whose they are, that they are loved, and that they have a responsibility which they take seriously. They are fun-loving kids and I enjoyed spending time with each of them. However, that’s not what has impressed me the most. strong and courageous Each of them have no hesitation to pray both privately and publicly. I’m not talking about “now I lay me down to sleep” or “thank you for this food” prayers. Their prayers are heartfelt, timely and personal. They are not ashamed, embarrassed or intimidated when it comes to their faith. These guys have prayed at restaurants, in front of each other before going to sleep, whenever and wherever without hesitation. I am so proud of them I could bust! They are living out this scripture to be strong and courageous and I don’t think they even realize it! Many adults, even though they have a strong faith, still find it difficult to publicly pray to  or praise God. I know…I was once one of them. God has brought me a long way with regard to praying publicly and it all started with children. He is so gracious.

Matthew 18:4-6 “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Sam (10), I had the blessing of spending 3 days a week with you this summer. We played games, the piano, rode bikes, watched movies, went swimming, joined reading clubs at our local library and did a Bible study together. We studied Titus, Ezra and Proverbs. We read, discussed and wrote down our observations. I could not be prouder of you. You inspire me to be a better person and set a good example as you watch me live my life. Thank you for still thinking it fun to spend time with Grandma.

Jonah (9), You are new to our family but even though you spent some overnight time with us right away, you were not intimidated at all. You volunteered to ask the blessing over our food when we went out to eat. You didn’t even mind when I put you on the spot to pray with Sam at a family gathering. You are a very social person yet secure in your own skin. It is a blessing to have you in my life.

Caleb (11), I knew your parents before I knew you and then you and Sam became friends. What fun! God gives us unexpected blessings all the time. I am so thankful you were able to have a sleepover this summer with Sam. You also impressed me with your faith and bold confidence. You felt quite comfortable praying in public and in our home. I hope you join us again.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

There are many guys and girls who are just as great as the three I have mentioned above. These three just touched my life personally this summer. praying boys.jpg How about you? Are you encouraging a child? Are you leading by example? Are you praying for them? They need us – all of us.

Ephesians 6:1-4 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ – which is the first commandment with a promise – ‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

I want to encourage these guys’ parents to keep leading, keep praying, and keep teaching your children. They are our future and when I look at them, the future seems bright. The fruit you are producing in your children is visible and good. You’ve done a fantastic job but your job is not yet finished. They will encounter opposition, ridicule, etc. and need to be strong to stand firm. So, don’t stop – keep praying, keep ministering, keep walking in faith. You are their role model of what it means to be Christ-like.

Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

We all need to pray for the children in our families, country, and other parts of the world. Pray they all will receive love, guidance and instruction in the Lord. Pray they will not let society, peer pressure, teenage years, etc. to come in and steal their bold faith and witness. Pray for a renewed faith as they continue to grow and that they will be bold witnesses in their schools, neighborhoods, future workplaces, and communities. Prayer is powerful. It’s something we can all do and that we all need.

Thanks to all the guys in my life. You are a blessing!