Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Ten Read Posts of 2012 at Refresh My Soul

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This was such a fun look back at 2012. Though incredibly hard, God has been there all along. We have seen him us the weak in strong ways, been humbled, and in awe of His mighty grace and mercy.

Here are the top ten:

1- Hope for Christians Struggling with Depression
This vulnerable post has really surprised me. It is by far the top post this year. It saddens my heart that many out there are struggling with this issue. But there is hope in Christ.

2- Family Discipleship Plan Review From Precept Ministries
This post is humbling because many visiting the Precept Ministries website are viewing this review. I love Precept so much! Any of their resources will be wonderful for you to have and will grow you in HIM.

3- 30 Day Sibling Challenge - Day One
I sent many of these resources out but have not heard a thing about how it worked out. I am blessed beyond measure that so many people read this and I hope it helped with peace in their homes. This series is what I entered into the writing contest I entered for a publishing contract. If it does not win I will list it on Amazon for kindle with the others.

4- Our New Family Dynamic - Quickly Entering the World of Boys
This has changed our life! Enough said.

5- Reasons to See Magic Mike
This one is surprising to see so many hits! Probably the title grab! As you know I would not approve this film, just wrote it from the negative perspective.

6-The House Fire of 2012
Another life changing and challenging event.

7- Psalm 119 - Week One
Again another Bible study that got many reads! I love that this ministry can help others grow in the word. I will be doing more of these next year Lord willing and I will be posting the last of Psalm 119 very soon.

8- In a Month Your Life Can Drastically Change - Meeting Little Man
I love this time when we met him! Butterflies is what I remember. Oh this precious boy!

9- Adoption - Not Completely
If you ever have been a custodian of a child or a foster parent you will understand this.

10- Fear of Transitions - Learning to be Content in All Things
I typed this on 1/3/12 only a few days before I would find out that this little man would need a home! Gives me goose bumps now! God knew what He was doing and what strength I would need to be there for little man. Oh what joy to see the great things He has done! All glory to HIM!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Audio Book Review: Les Miserables

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I received a copy of this product from Tyndale publishers at no charge for the purpose of an honest review.

This particular radio drama is magnificent. It was very well done and grabbed the attention continually of my entire family. This is a rare thing indeed! I have only seen this production done once on the stage and it was a long while ago so I did not remember the entire story or appreciate it as I did this time around.

It is important to note that this product is only a dramatic production and includes none of the choral song performances from the original production.

In order for this product to receive the attention of my family that consists of a three year old boy, Two Attention Deficit people (my nine year old girl and my husband), and eleven year old daughter and myself it had to be engaging and interesting. It fulfilled that requirement well! My children were saddened when we had to stop the story. They kept asking for us to play it again. They absolutely loved this.

It was probably the best product that I have had to review this year that would benefit the entire family. The acting and sound effects were very professional and realistic. All around this is an excellent product. I highly recommend it for the family.

Les Mis is an incredible story about God's grace and redemption. It covers topics like love and forgiveness, bitterness and hatred. The storyline is beautiful and a great one that can stem great Biblical conversations.

You can get a copy at Amazon here. It is well worth it. For $15.00 you get 3 hours of great audio drama. We were able to listen as we drove to Gatlinburg, TN. It made it a very enjoyable drive.

Friday, December 21, 2012

What the Eyes Have Seen - Adoption Journey

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Oh little man what have your eyes seen? What have you been exposed to? One thing about adopting a child who has seen some life before living with you is that you will always wonder what they were exposed to prior. And what they remember from all of it. It will happen at random times stemming from different responses he gives to certain life experiences with us.

Earlier in the year when we had the house fire and were exposed to so many sirens from the fire trucks I was surprised it did not even phase him only later to find out that he had previously been exposed repeated times to fire trucks due to fires in and around his living situations.

Today we had an episode with our van. It had to be towed due to this. All seemed ok with him until the tow truck started taking our van. He flipped out over it. He was so concerned our van was never coming back. I had to explain that it was broken and they were helping us so we could get it fixed. Then we would get it back all fixed up after Christmas.

He has repeated that statement  over and over to me all night. Mom, the van is getting fixed and we will get it back after Christmas. Many times he randomly will intentionally run up to me and repeat it. It makes me wonder why this has stressed him so.

The hard part is I may never know. I can never know all he has been exposed to in the past but I trust it was all used to shape him into who God has him to be. All of life's experiences shape us and make us who we will become. It is times like today that I just have to trust that.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Beautiful Art of Mothering - Beauty through Brokenness

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Mothering is really an art form. It is full of complexities and different colors. It can be something that paints a beautiful picture or one of doom. The influence that God gives parents is incredibly terrifying.

Children come as a blank canvas mostly. Yet God knows the plans He has for them. He knows the number of their days. He knows every detail about each one. He thinks of children as precious and He allows us to birth them sometimes and other times He allows our family to be built in ways like adoption.

Mothering either way comes with brokenness. There is a new challenge of laying your life down for the lives of our children. This will break you of selfishness. Yet it is a choice if you refuse to lay your life down the brokenness is felt by your child. Fruit is grown good or bad based on what we decide.

When you birth your child your body is broken. It really does put a huge work on your body. That is why it is called labor. Your body will never be the same as it was before. Yet that brokenness is healed and formed differently now. There is a strange beauty to this type of brokenness. For the reward is wonderful. A sweet baby full of opportunity and life a new.

When you adopt a child there is a form of brokenness. For some reason the very parents God allowed to birth the child have died or forfeited to properly care. It is difficult to swallow what kind of things happen in this type of brokenness. However, God still has a plan to bring restoration and healing. What was once broken can be restored. God works in these situations as the Savior and Rescuer He is. Beauty can come from the ashes. Where there was selfishness selflessness can now bring forth fruit.

Jesus came into the world. He had to die to His self and put on flesh, even flesh as an infant to rescue us and be like us. He chose this way of life and it is only by Him and in Him we can follow after by picking up our crosses and dying to self. He came through the birth canal of Mary. God man with flesh on. I bet His first cries were beautiful to the ears. The Christ child was here. Beauty from brokenness.

As Joseph watched this even and saw this child first hand, I bet that cry was beauty to his ears. This child he would adopt as a son of his own flesh. From brokenness came wholeness. What a beautiful picture! What a beautiful night!

What a privilege there is in mothering, though it is not easy it is good. It is an art form that takes time to master. Lots of practice, lots of love, and lots of grace and out of it a beautiful picture is displayed.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Isaiah chapters 7-12, Hard Truths and Hope

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The next section of chapters we will study in Isaiah are seven through twelve. These prophesies are sometimes hard to discern but they are still part of God's inspired word so we should be faithful to studying them.

Prophecy sometimes speaks of an immediate future, a near future or a distant future event taking place. Often phrases like, in that day or the day of the Lord are used to indicate things happening in the distant future.

Chapter Seven
Chapter seven speaks of the sad distrust that king Ahaz displays. He is threatened by his brothers of the Northern kingdom of Israel and their ally Syria. God's children should have never been at war like this but sadly it happened. God uses Isaiah to speak to Ahaz to let him know there was no reason to be afraid. As he approaches Ahaz he comes with his son whose name means a remnant will return. Ahaz is assessing the water supply making sure he was ready for the coming threat of war. God has a message for Ahaz that tells him plainly their plan of attack will not succeed. God tells Ahaz that if his faith does not remain firm, then he would not remain secure (Isaiah 7:9b).

Yet Ahaz failed to believe. God told him to ask for a sign but Ahaz refused. His heart was not believing or trusting God. God then speaks of the coming exile of Israel. In fact with in 65 years the Northern kingdom indeed would be shattered.

The name Ephraim is used to refer to the Northern kingdom (which consisted of the 10 tribes that split at the time of Jeroboam) because they became the leading tribe of the group.

Now all Scripture points us to Christ and here in this chapter is an interesting look at the coming of Christ child. It is given after Ahaz refuses a sign from God. God provides this sign anyway. Now in the context and fulfillment in this time frame there will be a child born to Isaiah who was named Immanuel. However, the later fulfillment is the Christ child Immanuel who would save us and reign forever (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:21).

Chapter Eight
Because Ahaz has rejected God, He will use Assyria as an instrument to take Israel and Syria into captivity and Judah will feel it too. They suffered much destruction.

Isaiah is told to name his next son Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz which means quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil; and added to this name is Immanuel. God will be with His people still through this judgement.

There is much politically going on here. Also, the point that I see is that the Lord is in control of the rising an falling of nations. His hand can control it all. He saves those that are His and punishes those who refuse to repent. It is amazing to see all of this happening. God will accomplish His plans. Period. He is sovereign so we need not be afraid ever.

I look at the state of my nation of America and well, morally it is on a rapid decline. It is so sad to watch, yet I can trust God and His greater plan. It makes perfect sense that a nation that turns it back on God will be disciplined. The reason for that discipline is to drive us closer to HIM. There will remain a remnant from all the nations that belong to Him. He saves those who are His and fulfills all of His promises to them.

The people of Isaiah's time were trusting in mediums and wizards and speaking to the dead. All these things in darkness instead of seeking the Light of God. He is the only one who can truly save. Sometimes we need to be redirected to that.

One thing that really stood out to me in this chapter was this verse 18, "Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion."

I love that God used Isaiah whose name means The Lord is Salvation, and His sons whose names mean a remnant will remain and quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil, the Lord is with us. These would be reminders the people would remember anytime they were out and about. Though God's anger and hand is on them it would not be forever. He is true to His covenant promises and a coming Savior would save them and "all the nations of the earth would be blessed" as God promised Abraham through the coming Christ.

Chapter 9
verses 1-7 tell of the coming Savior in Jesus. This prophecy fulfills the Davidic covenant as well. It is a very beautiful passage. It contrasts the darkness they were in to the great coming light. The people may have thought, how will this be accomplished so the verse ends with "The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this." 

God is jealous for those of us that belong to Him. He will stop at nothing to win our hearts to Himself. He sent His Son to die on our behalf on the cross taking all of our sin away so we could be forever in His presence. That is some amazing love! Christ willingly came because of love, He came and humbled Himself to a dependent infant and walked in skin like us to end in our salvation that was promised from the beginning. None of this was a mistake or back up plan. In the beginning this was planned out. God knew we would need a great Savior and Jesus would be that for us.

verses 8-21 are speaking of the anger of the Lord. Arrogance is never excused before the Lord. 

Chapter 10
This can be a hard chapter because it deals with the sovereignty of God. Either God is in complete control of all things or He is not. He cannot be a little bit in control here or there. The way He rules is hard to understand but we must always remember that He is good. He gave plenty of warning to the Israelite s before this as well.

Verses 5-11 speak about God sending the nation of Assyria to be a rod to Jerusalem. Remember Jonah? Assyria was where he was sent then to speak repentance to a wicked nation. Assyria was wicked still at this time period of Isaiah and God was going to use them to "discipline as a rod" His children Israel. Now ponder this.

verses 12-14 state that Assyria who God will use to discipline His children will then in turn be punished for its pride. God is not evil nor does he tempt us to evil however He allows things to accomplish His greater purposes. Now ponder this.

verses 15-19 states Israel gets itself back again with God and the enemy is destroyed.

verses 20-23 states that the remnant will return and never again rely on another other than the Lord. (This will be a great day!)

verses 24-27 states that Israel need not be afraid of anyone again but instead remember what the Lord has done in the past for them.

and finally God wins, He conquers the arrogant.

Chapter 11 and 12
These chapters focus on hope after this coming storm. God gives them a glimpse of the final days when the earth is restored. In this coming day all will know Christ is King. All the remnant will gather to plunder their enemies. It is a beautiful picture of praise and hope.




Specifically verses 1-5 describe the coming Christ! I love how many times we see a glimpse of Christ through this book.


Psalm 119- Week 20

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I cannot believe we have almost made it through this long yet beautiful Psalm. I am thankful to you sticking through it with me. I have loved God's word even more as we have studied this together.

ר Resh

153 Look on my suffering and deliver me,
    for I have not forgotten your law.
154 Defend my cause and redeem me;
    preserve my life according to your promise.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
    for they do not seek out your decrees.
156 Your compassion, Lord, is great;
    preserve my life according to your laws.
157 Many are the foes who persecute me,
    but I have not turned from your statutes.
158 I look on the faithless with loathing,
    for they do not obey your word.
159 See how I love your precepts;
    preserve my life, Lord, in accordance with your love.
160 All your words are true;
    all your righteous laws are eternal.

Honestly I look around and see so much suffering all around us. The Psalmist here is seeking out God's attention. Of course God is always near. He never leaves or forsakes us  but there are times it seems He does not see us.  However, we have not forgotten His law. His word, it tells us clearly that we can expect trouble in this world. God is acquainted with all of our sorrows and grief. He understands more deeply than anyone else can. He is our Savior and will bring us home soon.

It would seem right to plead with God to defend our cause and redeem us, for only He can. We must believe that His persevering power is what holds us tight. Our number of days are already written in His book and He will bring them to completion.

Salvation does not belong to the wicked, those who do not see a need for God. What a sad position to hold on to especially in the midst of trial or suffering.

The Psalmist remembers God's unending passion. He will remain holding us tight. Though we have a real enemy here and now and those who do his bidding turning away from the law of God, God will hold us tight. We must hold tight to His promises.

It is hard not to look down on those who disregard the word of God for we know the greatness it holds. The Psalmist reminds God how much he loves his precepts. The Psalmist is confident that God will preserve his life according to His love for him. He then ends this section affirming his declaration that God's words are true and eternal. God is never changing, either is His word. It is enough for us to cling tight too. Are you holding on?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Looking for Someone to Blame After the Horrific Elementary School Shootings

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Immediately after sin entered the world we see Adam then Eve blame others instead of taking responsibility for their sins against God. Blame is part of our sin nature as human beings. We want to know why. We want justice. Then we operate in fear. We become self-righteous and forget to see our own sin.

This is not okay. There are simply some things we will never understand or know the answers.

One thing I can tell you is that because the shooter was white, that does not make all white people evil.

Because he had has been labeled as aspergers that does not mean those with autism are like him.

Because he had access to multiple fire arms does not make fire arms wrong or bad.

Because he walked into a public school does not mean that kids must not go to school.

I have seen many statements floating around out there in cyberspace. The fact is that since the fall this world is full of trouble and evil. There is not a thing you can do to avoid it. Pulling your kids out of the public school system is not a guarantee of safety. Banning all firearms is not a guarantee of safety. Keeping away from those who have mental illnesses is not going to keep you safe. The fact is we cannot be a society that operates on fear.

I get it America wants someone to blame. But do not let fear rule you. We must pull together and move forward. We must weep with those who weep. We must pray for comfort. We must use the knowledge gained the best we can to try to keep our families safe but random evil lurks and attacks when we least expect it. I hate that and it is one of the things that helps me remember that this earth is not our home. We have a better place waiting for us that evil will not exist in. Are you in Christ? If so Heaven is your true home, this stop over is just temporary and all the pain experienced here will end. The ultimate joy will be experienced then and I believe and trust those precious babies are there now in the complete rest and joy of God.

While their families remain grieved and broken we mourn alongside and pray for comfort. This has been a great tragedy for our country as a whole. Lord, heal us all. Help us to remember the families and continue to help them through our prayers. Help us to remember we have a Savior who is acquainted with our grief. Don't waste your time on the blame game instead run into the arms of our Savior who weeps alongside, who knows what this grief feels like, who is not afraid of our questions, who holds us tight.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Help Us "Bring Dakota Home"

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As you know, those of you following our journey with Dakota, we are now in the adoption phase. An adoption, even privately done like ours can cost a lot of money. We wondered if you would considering partnering with us on this portion of our journey.

We are trying to think of creative ways to raise the funds for this. Right now this is what I have in mind. I will keep updating this with ideas as they come. To read all the posts about this journey just search adoption on this blog and they will all show up for you.

1-First please just would you consider praying for us on this journey daily. God needs to move some mountains. We are confident that God will bring the work to completion in His way and time. I would be forever grateful if you partner in prayer with us. Please let me know too so we can be encouraged along this path.

2- My two books are available for purchase through Amazon via the kindle store. I get 70% of the proceeds if you purchase them! That would be a way to help where you get a good resource for yourself and help us in the process. Abundant Grace is a great study geared for adults. It points you toward Jesus as you study his earthly family line, the family line he was adopted into. It has always been my favorite and stirs my heart toward Christ. Girl Power God's Way is a study for teen and up age girls that helps them grow in biblical womanhood.

If you have a prime membership you can borrow the title for free but I still get something for that.

You can get a free kindle reader app for your PC or phone or tablet to read these. If kindle is not your way you can purchase these via Sunday Scholar or Currclick where you get a PDF file that you can print or read off of your computer. I also get a good portion of these purchases.

You could give these as gifts to people. They are reasonably priced and help grow you in the Lord. A win win.

3-You could book a speaking event through us and take up a love offering. We would love to share our story and encourage others in adoption and in the Lord. We love meeting new people and encouraging them in the Lord.

Would you pray about partnering with us to meet our goal? We would love it and be so appreciative! We are all called to help the orphans, maybe helping us in this way is a way for you to help.

I should clarify what I mean by "bringing him home." We have had full guardianship of him since January of this year. Bringing him home means giving him a forever family so he does not have to live in limbo anymore. Bringing him home is giving him the security of a permanent and solid unmovable home. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Isaiah Chapter 6 - An Amazing Redeemer, A Tough Calling

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I love the sixth chapter of Isaiah. It is one of my favorites scenes in the Bible yet it is conflicted. It has a bittersweet tone to it. You must read it all. It is incredible really!

In the year King Uzziah dies...
The state of Israel was at an all time economic high. They were thriving in many ways. They were very prosperous in this time period. As with many nations when in a great and extended time of prosperity they tend to take their focus off of God and onto themselves. Unfortunately this had happened to Israel.

Do you see any parallels with this wisdom regarding your country and leadership?
If yes take heart because as we continue to study we will see that God is in control of all things. He has a plan and purpose and He will see it through. He is continually at work bringing those that will belong to Him to repentance.

Isaiah then gets an amazing and rare glimpse into the very throne room of God. We get a description of his robe and some creatures who continually worship before Him. What was Isaiah's response to this amazing sight?!

Isaiah is undone! As we should be if we get even a glimpse at God in all His amazing glory. Isaiah realizes he is unclean, he should not be in the presence! Upon Isaiah's confession one of the creatures gets a live coal from the altar. With this he touched Isaiah's lips making Him clean by forgiving his sin.

Immediately after this confession and cleansing Isaiah can hear the voice of the Lord. The Lord is asking whom shall he send? and Isaiah is happy to volunteer. God then tells him to essentially prophesy to a people who will not hear him. They will not listen to what he is saying!

Now this could be very discouraging yet it exposes our motivation for service unto the Lord. If I know that I am to speak to a people who will not respond I may be tempted not to follow the call because I want to see fruit. However, the true motivation should be to accept a call God gives because we love Him and want to follow through in obedience to Him. It should not matter how man responds to us.

That is a good word for us to remember. Often we will go out spreading the seed of the gospel but it will fall on deaf ears. Yet we must be obedient in the task. God moves in people directing their response. And if they respond as verse 10 says they will repent and be healed.

Isaiah asks a great question, "How long, sovereign master?"

The Lord responds by giving Isaiah insight into the coming exile. So basically it will last Isaiah's entire life and ministry.

Now we can be encouraged by this, it does not depend on us how people respond to the word of God we just must be obedient in spreading it around.

The Lord has a plan and we must trust it even when we do not completely understand.

The Lord has everything under His control and will fulfill His promises.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bible Study Review: Chase by Jenny Allen

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I received a copy of this complete Bible study at no charge for the purpose of an honest review.

It was an amazing pleasure to review this title. I have really liked this author since I read her book titled, Anything. That book greatly challenged and encouraged me so I was greatly excited for the opportunity to review this set.

The Bible study Chase retails for $39.99. It includes 1 Study workbook, 1 Leader guide, a box of discussion cards, and the teaching dvd. Comparatively it was very reasonably priced for an entire Bible study kit. I have done many of these over the years in women's ministry and they are much more expensively priced. This one is definately worth the cost.

Jennie Allen, the author, takes you through 7 weeks of Bible study centering on scriptures from the life of David. The seven weeks cover the topics of identity, courage, obedience, belief, repentance, surrender, and being chased down by God. Overall the focus is how God reaches down to us to rescue us.

In a Bible study group each participant would need a study guide. Each week they have a Bible passage and some questions to answer. Each week includes a few "projects" that can be completed to practically live out what is being taught. Essentially this leaves it open for the student to do as little or as much work they have time for meeting the need of many different participants with different time allowance and commitment levels.

When groups meet together each Dvd lesson is around ten minutes or less so they  can be easily viewed while allowing enough time for community discussion. The included discussion cards will help facilitators lead these discussions while keeping them connected to the lessons learned. Again, compared to other studies I really like this format of a short video so more community time can happen between the women. It is very well balanced.

The material is Christ centered and focused. This was a very good study that did challenge me and grow me. It was a great joy to review. To get a copy at a great price right now from Amazon go here.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Book Review: Cracking the Covenant Code by Kay Arthur and Janna Arndt

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I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

I think it is safe to say when you purchase a resource from Precept ministries it will be of the most excellent quality. This particular study for kids was no different than that. I did this study with my children as their home school Bible curriculum. It was a wonderful study on the covenant God made with those who believe in Him by faith through Christ.

We all found our hearts being stirred toward Christ and His great love for us. This study was also very exciting because it covered the adventures again of the fictional yet lovable characters Max and Molly as they traveled this time through Israel. We learned some great things through this about the geography of Israel as well. Also, this book has many puzzles through out to keep it interesting for the children as they process the information.

I love these studies. They are challenging yet not too difficult for kids with an average reading ability. They keep us all in the proper depth of Scriptural study. Most importantly they stir our hearts toward Christ as I stated above. You can get your copy from Precept here.



Friday, November 16, 2012

Psalm 119- Week 19

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Qoph

145 With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord! I will keep your statutes.

This is a cry of a man who does not keep the Lord's statutes out of obligation but instead out of love. Do you follow His word because of love or obligation? I have recently been pondering what does "with my whole heart" actually mean? Oh to engage with God in that way continually. What bliss!

146 I call to you; save me, that I may observe your testimonies.

When in trouble of any kind what is your first response? Do you cry out to God in prayer? David was a man who intimately knew he could cry out to the God who would save him and he did often. Then as God saves us we get to share His amazing grace and love with others. 

147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.

When we rise in the morning who do we go to for help? Who do we put our hope in? Often times I put it in myself. Oh Lord, may my hope and cries be directed to You alone!

148 My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.

I was awakened last night. I found it extremely difficult to return to sleep. I was thankful for the quiet of the night and the meditation it gave me on His word. How often do we get this quiet before Him and His word? Let us pause more to just be with Him.

149 Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, according to your justice give me life.

I love that we have a Father who adores us so that He delights to hear our voice. He never tires of hearing us speak to Him. I love that! He is the One and Only who gives life and life to the full.
 
150 They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose; they are far from your law.
151 But you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true.

Though the evil one would have us forget who we are or who we belong to he is indeed far from God and His truth. We must not believe those lies. God is near and all His words are true. Let us hide them in our hearts.

152 Long have I known from your testimonies that you have founded them forever.

Hands down God does not change. His ways are eternal. His word is forever. We can be thankful for this!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Aspergers is like Wall-E

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Or at least that is what my sweet young nine year old asperger child tells me. I love the sweet look on her face when she can relate to someone else. It is the most precious thing. She excitedly told me that Wall-e was a lot like her.

Here is her list:
1-He is very curious.
2-He finds it hard to make friends.
3-He is exploring a world that seems foreign to him.
4-He is afraid of loud sounds and shakes when he hears them.
5-He is nice.
6-He is fun in his own way.
7-He collects things that look cool to him.
8-He can record stuff and that is kind of how she can remember things.

I always find it so interesting how much she is reflective of her own abilities and characteristics. She is so good at understanding what she can and cannot do. What she will find easy or difficult. I love this because it helps me know how to best approach certain issues with her.

She is beautiful and wonderfully made. I rejoice in that! I love how she lights up when she identifies with someone like herself.

On a serious note though and since I have not written a post on aspergers in a while I wanted to add an exciting development for her. Last year I was so afraid she would not learn how to read fluently and with accuracy. I went back to basics and taught her words by using pictures. Since her mind works in a visual way that does not forget I knew this would help. So now she can take those words she learned along with the pictures and recall them when she sees them with no corresponding pictures. It is amazing how well it worked. Of course we could not cover every word or do pictures with abstract words but something clicked and she can now work those other kind of words out. So much so she is reading currently "The Hobbit" which is on a seventh grade reading level. It brings tears to my eyes the vast difference. I am so proud of her hard work and determination. I also believe one reason she is reading "The Hobbit" so well is due to her intense interest in the story. I have heard this often about helping kids with aspergers but only experienced it now. Our next books may have to be "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

I write this to give you hope. If you are working with a struggling reader like I was, keep working and keep searching until you find what works for them. Each child is an unique individual and with encouragement they will finally get it. It will just click at the proper time for each individual child.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Book Review: The Secrets of Intercessory Prayer by Jack Hayford

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I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no charge for the purpose of an honest review.

I have to be honest, I want to read any book I can find on intercessory prayer so of course I was interested in this one. One interesting thing I find is that many books on this topic are written by people outside my normal denominational line of thinking. However, I like to read them anyway because they challenge me to see things at different angles. The most important thing is that Christ remain the center and I believe this author succeeds in keeping Christ first and in the center of all.

It was not exactly what I thought it would be when I first read the title. I guess I thought it would be a book more about creative prayer ideas or strategies but this was not what it was about. Instead the book talks about how, why, and when we are invited to partner with God in prayer for others. It takes a look often at community and how to pray for those in the community at different places. It gives many Scriptural examples.

I did find the chapters, Comforting On Another in Prayer and Praying for Someone You Don't Want to Pray for very helpful and healing for my own life. They are very insightful and filled with the love of Christ. Overall this was a decent book on prayer for those in community.

To get a copy of this book from Amazon you can go here.Secrets of Intercessory Prayer, The: Unleashing God's Power in the Lives of Those You Love

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Took My Daughter On Her First Mission Trip

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Besides our day to day ministry my oldest had a chance to "go" outside her everyday culture and serve alongside me this week. We went to work in the projects with the kids there for a music camp. I was a bit afraid making the decision to take my girl but she has always wanted to go on a trip so I could not think of a better way to start.

I explained to her on the way that she cannot expect the same behavior from these kid as she would her peers. She must be able to love them in and among their dysfunction. She must be the hands and heart of Jesus (though I realize we all should be this way around whoever we encounter). She was ready not knowing what to expect.

Now this child of mine has the propensity to try to hold on to rules because rules are safe. She is uncomfortable when rules are broken. I was not sure how this was going to go for her because I knew going in that rules would be broken here. I have worked with kids in this environment before. Kids desperately need clear guidelines and relationships with the authority in their lives that is firm but loving. Many homes are single mother homes lacking a positive male influence in this environment. Many of the mothers are working hard to support their family alone. Many of the kids are at risk for gang involvement. What they need is Jesus. How wonderful it is that people are lead to go into their culture and love them to Jesus declaring His praise.

We were helping some kids make some crafts and they were pretty unruly. We were with a 3rd and 4th grade group. A girl said, "He was screaming like someone being raped." My heart crushed when I heard that. This is something that 3rd and 4th graders should not know about let alone it being a common off the cuff comment. My heart broke for I thought I may have just been given a small glimpse into her world. A world that is not safe and the sacred involved with sex is not respected here so much so that children know about violent things like rape. It opened my eyes so I can pray better for them, for their purity.

It was a blessing to serve them. They need people who will care. People who will not leave them. People who will be there long enough to break through the tough exterior. My daughter loved this work. She wants us to go back. I know we will. I was thankful for that. I wonder if you just take a moment to look around, what kind of ministry might you find in your own city? What other cultures are present right in your "backyard?" Will you go? Will you take the gospel to them even when it may be uncomfortable? What things are you doing right where you are? I would love to hear! Let us encourage one another in our work for the sake of the gospel.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Book Review: The Radical Question, A Radical Idea by Platt

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I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

This hardcover gift book was a very easy read. It is basically taking parts of the books Radical and Radical Together condensing the main points and putting them into this little book. Not sure the need of an additional book like this unless it may help those who do not like to read longer amounts of material when this could give them a bite sized taste of both books together. You miss so much this way but this small book would be a good coffee table book.

I enjoyed reading the ideas of both books again but to get a better review of the entire books I wrote one earlier for Radical here and Radical Together here.

You can get a copy from Amazon here.



Friday, October 26, 2012

An Article from Sherri Shepherd Rose

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We Are on the Same Team and Fighting the Same Enemy
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)

By Sheri Rose Shepherd
Bestselling Author and Bible Life Coach

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Think about what makes your heart melt when you watch a great love story. It's not the hero's physical strength or his beloved's beauty, is it? No, you and I are drawn to the power of true love and its inexplicable ability to prevail over tragedy and adversity. The greater the conflict, the stronger the love must be in order to resolve the issue. When the hero does whatever it takes to save the relationship, our hearts soar with renewed hope. Likewise, as we seek to truly listen and understand our men when differences between us create friction, we set ourselves up for more satisfying and loving relationships.

The Author of love and life and the Designer of our differences knew there would be conflict between men and women. The real problem comes, though, when we get accustomed to seeing relational problems solved in the time it takes to eat a bag of popcorn. Our hero and his beauty have less than two hours to defeat the dragons and overcome unspeakable challenges. You and I are not going to magically resolve deep relationship conflicts in our own wisdom and definitely not in less than two hours.

When I met my husband, Steve, I was sure we were a match made in heaven. In fact, we have had the privilege of being in ministry together for most of our marriage. I wish I could tell you it's been an effortless, wonderful life for the two of us, but I would be lying to you.

I learned to fight loud and strong by watching my parents. My brother and I would hide together in my bedroom as our parents tore into each other during arguments, often screaming and throwing things. Because of my broken family, when I first got married I was sure that every conflict between me and Steve would end our marriage.

Steve was raised by parents who had stayed married, so it was impossible for him to relate to my fears and worries. He was raised in quieter surroundings. His parents dealt with conflict quite differently from mine. There was no rage. No yelling. No broken furniture. His parents rarely fought—and never in front of their children. But his family also had no system to resolve conflict. That meant issues went unresolved—though not unnoticed.

Steve's and my fighting techniques were drastically different. However, neither of us had been equipped to deal appropriately with marital conflict. That led to major challenges early in our marriage whenever we attempted to resolve a disagreement. To make things even more difficult, when I married Steve I was a new Christian and had not yet learned how to channel my anger properly.

I tried everything to get him to react or resolve conflict with me, and as I waited, I became more bitter and he became more distant. One day I couldn't take Steve's calm, cool responses anymore. From my perspective, he obviously needed some lessons on how to fight for our marriage. I'd had enough of his "let's work it out peacefully by ignoring our problems" act. In my mind, he was being polite only to annoy me.

"Why don't you ever show some emotion and prove to me you care about our marriage?" I yelled.

Steve stood there quietly, shaking his head and looking down at the ground. Then suddenly, he turned toward the mirror on our bedroom closet door and kicked it as hard as he could, smashing it to bits.

Wow, I thought, what a performance. He sure learns fast.

Suddenly I began to laugh hysterically through my tears. I was so shocked I wasn't sure if I was relieved or ready to run from what I saw. His toenail was jutting out at a bizarre angle as he asked me, "Is that enough emotion for you? If it would help, I could probably throw myself on the floor and work up a good cry." We both began to laugh together as we attempted to pick up the glass fragments scattered all over our bedroom floor. In that moment I realized how much we had shattered each other just because we were different and had not been trained on how to resolve conflict. Our marriage was not the problem; it was our hearts. Neither of us had a teachable spirit.

It took several years, a lot of tears, and one expensive closet door mirror to repair the damage inflicted during those early years. We still have conflict, as all couples do, but we now understand that we are on the same team and that it's okay not to agree on everything.

After twenty-five years of marriage, we've decided it's worth letting go of the little things and fighting to understand one another. Conflict comes no matter who we marry. We may be fighting about different things with different men, but there will always be major differences between men and women. I once heard a pastor say that if spouses agreed on everything, only one of them would be needed. Let's not allow our differences to divide us any longer!

For a sneak peek of Sheri Rose's Your Heart's Desire Group Experience, or to learn more about her ministry, visit www.biblelifecoaching.com.

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Book Review: Contend by Aaron Armstrong

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I received a digital copy of this ebook at no charge from the publisher Cruciform for the purpose of an honest review.

The words, "don't judge a book by its cover" ring true in this review situation. When I had the opportunity to review this book I said yes not because of the picture on the cover but because of the subtitle which is, defending the faith in a fallen world. I was very intrigued because I was interested in growing stronger in my defense of the faith but I was a bit afraid this book may have been directed mainly for men. I however, have not let that stop me because I desire strong doctrine and deep Bible study. At times the more masculine titles can fulfill that need. However, don't let the cover fool you, this is a wonderful read for women as well as men.

This book is a short, easy read yet balanced with a good punch of Scripture. I liked the way the authors words flowed and how his writing was very ordered and researched. The basic gist of this book is taking a look at how we are to defend our faith based on the book of Jude. It is written in a loving non-threatening way which I appreciated.

The author took time to state why this is important. He argued why we must guard right doctrine and warned us that there are errors today that have been allowed to seep into the church. This is so dangerous and can lead many astray. He took us through how we can address these errors, how pastors and leaders should respond as well as lay people.

This book was just broken into five chapters yet I found myself well informed and inspired to make sure correct doctrine is in place among my influences. I liked too how he addressed that there are the important issues that are completely necessary to the Christian faith that must be defended then there are various preferences that we do not have to all agree upon but agree to disagree. The important non negotiable truths are those regarding the gospel and must be protected.

I do recommend this book across the board to all Christians. It is always a good thing to remember that defending the faith in truth and love is of utmost urgency in our day. So important that Jude dedicated a book to it that God included in His inspired word. It was not only true in his time and culture but in ours as well. This is a great companion guide as well to one who is studying the book of Jude.

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Psalm 119 - Week 18

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צ Tsadhe

137 You are righteous,Lord, and your laws are right.
Do you generally think this way? Do you believe God's ways are best or your own?

138 The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.
God our Father is good. He has the best in mind for us so therefore we can fully trust His word. Do you trust Him? What are your struggling to trust Him with now?

139 My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words.
Are you passionate for His word? How do you respond to those who do not respond well to His word? Or those who mock it? The Psalmists zeal was stronger than opposition. We must have that same zeal. His word is truth and we must be passionate about truth. 

140 Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.
Do you love God's word? Has His word been true to you as you tested it?

141 Though I am lowly and despised, I do not forget your precepts.
No matter what anyone thinks of His word and you because you love His word, do not forget His precepts.

142 Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true.
His law is truly truth, all that is good and right. His righteous ways are never ending!

143 Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight.
When trouble visits you do you delight in His word? Do you trust it in times of need? 

144 Your statutes are always righteous; give me understanding that I may live.
We must rightly understand His word because it is the way to abundant life. He is trustworthy and His word is trustworthy. 

Father thank you for your word. May we love it and trust it fully. In Jesus name. Amen.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Tantrumed Heart - Lessons from My Three Year Old

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My three year old son is throwing a long tantrum. Too long for my taste really. He is choosing to sit in his sinful choices rather than obey my voice. He has consequences and a light pointing him in the proper direction to lead him out of his mess however he chooses tantrum. It breaks my heavy heart. How much I want him to chose the right way! How much I want to alleviate the sabotage he is choosing for himself. Yet I cannot.

I cannot be a good parent and allow him to continue in sin. In fact I think that is what is wrong with many today. They have been allowed to feel entitled to things. They have a sense that the rules do not applying to them. We are doing ourselves a disservice as parents when we do not rightfully and in love discipline our children helping them to chose the right path.

He is three so he cannot see why obedience is important. He only wants his selfishness satisfied completely at this moment. He will not look beyond himself. Oh how I sit and wait for him to see. How I long for his heart to grieve his sin. I cannot force him to chose the right way. That I imagine is how the Father looks at us.

I am like that three year old son. I look at God and tantrum when I cannot see why He allows pain in my life. I want comfort, I crave it intensely. It is an idol. I cannot worship comfort over God's plan. That false god must die. Yet I tantrum kicking, screaming and bawling my eyes out because I want things to be different. Not taking the time to trust God in all of His authority and wisdom. Oh how I grieve His heart. He sits and waits. He is in control of the discipline until I am ready to turn back to Him. In fact He leaves everything for just one little lost sheep.

Sin is serious. So serious that Jesus had to have it all poured on Him at the cross to remedy us. This action made us forever right with God if we believe what He did. This act freed us from sins grip if we are in Him. There is always provided a way out we can chose. Yet God does not force us. Oh how grateful I am for HIS grace! I am so thankful to be His. I know who I belong to so I will remind my stubborn heart and soul to trust in His ways no matter how extreme or painful they may seem to me.

8 "If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." ~Hebrews 12:8-11

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Life is Short, Celebrate Now, A Birthday to Remember

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to remember that our lives are but a vapor. We are here one day and gone the next. Really we must make the most of each opportunity! I find myself more thankful and grateful for my sweet daughter, a gift from God. She turns 11 tomorrow. I cannot believe how fast time flies. Yet yesterday I felt helpless as I was watching her sleep scorching away with incredibly high fever. Her life was in the balance and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

I waited and watched for any movement of body temperature on the increase because I was ready to rush her to the emergency room. I sat silently pouring my heart out to God for her life. Her fever would not break for hours. There was nothing else wrong visibly except aches and fatigue that come with that kind of temperature. This kind of thing does not happen to her.

I waited and watched and remembered she belongs to God. He is the One who has numbered her days. He is the One who holds her in His hands. He knows what is happening, it is no surprise to Him. Though it is hard to find the good in such situations for one I can say how much more I realized I appreciate her life. I am ever thankful for the child He gave me to raise.

Any day can be our last. We do not know how long we have and though we tend to think our children will be with us until we are old and grey it is not a guarantee. I thought of how it must have felt to God the Father when Jesus was being given up for us. It broke His heart but it had to happen for the salvation of our souls. What love! I know He is the giver of all good gifts and has every right to take them when it is time. Thankfully that was not His plan for my daughter and I can celebrate with her these precious 11 years!

I am so proud of her and how she has learned through many trials how to cling to Christ. How obedience is learned through suffering. How her heart is concerned for His ways. For how she is drawn constantly to HIM. She encourages us all. When we are down she reads us Scripture. She has a precious heart of depth. She has perception most people do not possess. I am amazed at the things this girl can do. I love her for who she is. I am blessed beyond means to be her mother. I am thankful. May I enjoy many more years with this sweet sister in the Lord!

Book Reveiw:A Sudden Glory by Sharon Jaynes

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I received a copy of this book at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

A Sudden Glory, God's Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More is a wonderful book that promotes intimacy in your relationship with Christ. I was inspired by the writing and it has helped me move deeper into my relationship with the Lord.

Overall it is a book that addresses our busy culture and how that has negatively affected our walk with the Lord. Many women find themselves running on empty and are too exhausted to find time with the Lord. Then guilt sets in and we are not living fully in Christ.

Christ desires relationship with us. As with any human relationship we want to flourish we must slow our pace down, we must invest in this relationship. She focused on the verse that comes from Acts 17:28, "in Him we live and move and have our very being." In all things we do in this life we can stay connected to Christ and we must.

She admonishes us to keep our eyes open for "sudden glory" moments which are little glimpses of His love through out the day. When we are busy and not focused on HIM we easily miss all of these sweet gifts. She shows us examples and fills this book with Scriptures that point us back to Christ.

I really enjoyed this title and do highly recommend it to you if you have a desire to slow the pace down and connect better with Christ. He is desiring relationship with you, don't miss those moments of connection.

To get a copy of this book from Amazon go here.

Inspired by this Young Man's Spoken Poetry

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You should watch this and be inspired. This young man is from and working with the program Wow kids in the projects here in Chattanooga. It is a wonderful ministry that I hope many will get involved in. Check the ministry out here.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Reluctant Evangelist Makes Some Headway

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I have come to realize that I need to simply approach evangelism how Christ did. No I will not be healing people or doing any great miracles but the most important thing He did was take the time to just be present with the people.

He did not say to each person, Believe in me I am the Christ. He met them right where they were. He went to them, walked with them, shared with them as opportunity led. He was a perfect reflection of the Father and was perfectly connected to Him.

What I have come to realize is that people have to be the most important thing. No matter my schedule or agenda for the day, as I go God puts people in my path. How I approach them can be opportunity to spread His aroma. I need to make the best use of every opportunity.

At times this will look like living the gospel in how I love my family or speak to others. I always will have an opportunity to pray for each person I meet. On those great God-appointed occasions I will be able to freely share the message of the gospel. It will not have to be forced. I must trust that kindness, walking in the Spirit, and prayer will be enough and then when opportunity presents itself to share the message, faithfully.

I realize people are watching. They are longing for something more and as I frequent places and see the same people over and over they will eventually question why I live the way I do or comment on how I do something. That is opportunity to give God the glory and talk about the hope of the gospel. These people see us in many different moods. We are not perfect at all but we do show love and forgiveness. We are real and live this thing out the best we can and we only can hope it encourages the world around us.

People were intrigued by Jesus. They saw something different in Him. That is how I hope we can appear as well as disciples of His. As we walk in the Spirit we will be aware of the people we are to share the message with. We must walk in step with Him. This is how to be an evangelist wherever God plants you. No more guilt just walk faithfully.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Hope for Christians Struggling with Depression

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It comes on you like a blanket, it drapes its darkness and lies over you. Sometimes you feel like you cannot breathe. Other times you feel so heavy it is hard to move. It sneaks up unexpectedly. It is not fair, it is hard and hurts like nothing else. It is called depression.

The darkness of depression is so scary because it seems hopeless. You think you will not find hope again, you desire fellowship but are trapped in a place where you cannot bear to experience it, the lonliness and isolation it carries feels so desperate. You may even feel like God has abandoned you. It is a vulnerable place.

It is a place where you need to know truth because the easiest thing seems to be to just get out. Many are tempted with thoughts of suicide. Others may be tempted to run to mind numbing substances or activities. It is the most horrific feeling that lingers. Unlike most physical pain which can be hard but managed the depressive person is trapped, at the mercy of the darkness until it lifts. You cannot run away, you cannot escape it. You cannot read enough Scripture or play enough praise songs. It can persist for a long time. So what is the point?

Though we cannot understand fully (because there are many things that can cause depression and it can vary in many degrees), it is something that God has allowed, we must remember that He is sovereign over all things. The enemy of our souls cannot bother us any more than God permits. If we are thinking lies or believing lies these do come from the enemy because Scripture calls him the father of lies.

Keep reminding yourself of the truth you know, the promises that are ours in the Scriptures. Christ can relate to this, He felt it. His soul was anguished to the point of death in the garden while He was praying and pondering the cup He had to bear. Yet He chose obedience. No one will ever experience the pain and emotional turmoil that Christ endured. He understands and is with you through this. We must believe He is and persevere in faith.

If we want to take our life it is a ploy or temptation from the enemy because he comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Don't fall for his traps in this time. He will hit you and not play fair though you are in a dark pit with no protection it seems. Remember the truth that God loves you. He is the only rightful person that can give and take life. He has written all your days out in His book. He will fulfill His promises. Remember all He has done.

Depression is not fun. It is a hard type of suffering to endure. I get so exhausted when I am struggling with it. You must keep your mind disciplined to take any wrong thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. It is exhausting but necessary. Do not hide it from others, request help of friends who will send you Scripture to encourage you. Enlist friends to pray for you. Talk to someone who you consider safe about what is going on in your head. This will help you not be alone and help you stand accountable with someone. Don't feel bad if you need medication to help you. We live in a broken world and our bodies are broken as well. Sometimes we need additional help through medicine. It is nothing of which to be ashamed.

One thing that depression does for me is enhance my longing for Heaven. It reminds me that this is not my home. I was made for a perfect place that one day will become a reality. I do not get to chose when that day is, my body was bought at a high price by Christ on the cross shedding His blood and tears for me. So as I live I am to live for Christ. He has plans and purposes for us with each breathe He gifts. Fix your eyes on HIM, remember it will not last forever. Hang tight to His promises and believe this temporary trial will show your faith of greater worth than gold as you endure and trust and in turn will bring Him much glory.

If you are walking alongside someone who is depressed, be patient. It is a hard road to walk and walking it alone is even more difficult. Walk with them, patiently love them, endure it with them. DO NOT tell them to get over it or determine the end time of their suffering. If a depressed person could just get over it they would. No one would chose this kind of suffering. Love them and encourage them in the gospel. Remind them of His promises. Remind them of His great love. Point them to the cross. Pray like crazy. Don't give up on them. Endure like a good soldier. Your support is cherished though a depressed person may not be able to express that at the moment. Love without expecting anything back. Be an example of Christ to them.


Psalm 119 week 17

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I decided to continue on in our study of Psalm 119. I stopped it for the 30 day Sibling Challenge and never got back to it. So here we go! I do pray you are loving the word more than ever. I pray as we continue on we will love it even more so. May it be a very part of us like the air we breathe.

Pe
129 
Your testimonies are wonderful;
therefore my soul keeps them.

Do you truly believe His words are wonderful? Or do you view them as restrictive? That is the difference of legalism and trusting the One who gives loving boundaries. Do you keep them out of obligation or love?

130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.

His word is so illuminating it does give understand to the simple. Even little children can understand. Can you give an example where you have seen this?

131 I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments.

Do you pant for His words like a dog does water in the scorching summer heat? or do you read it out of obligation? or do you not desire to read it at all? Let this verse be the prayer of our hearts!

132 Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name.

Oh what joy it is to be a friend of God!
 
133 Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.

He does keep us steady as we walk in His ways, may sin not rule over us!

134 Redeem me from man's oppression, that I may keep your precepts.

 Oh keep us from man's oppressive ways, keep our minds fixed on your ways!
 
135 Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes.

Oh may His glorious face shine brightly upon us! May He open our hearts to learn His ways!
 
136 My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.

Do you hurt when you see others breaking His law? Or does it not bother you?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Isaiah 1-5, A Trial, Guilt, and Guilt Crushing Love

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                                              (Picture taken from Wikipedia)

The conversation with my daughter went like this; "Mom, does God yell at me?" I replied quizzically, "No, why?" She lamented, "Well, sometimes I hear yelling in my head to do something. I was wondering if that is how God talks to me." I strongly added, "Sweetheart, God absolutely does not yell. He will make things uncomfortable for us to draw us back to Him when we stray but He does not force or yell."

It would be good to remember this through our study of Isaiah. I often want to read this as God yelling, but He does not. In fact God's character is best seen through Christ. Hebrews 1:3a states this about God's character, " He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature." God the Father is the exact imprint of Christ's nature. When we look at Christ in the Scriptures it is the best picture we get of the Father. What love, grace, and truth we should see. The Father, Son, and Spirit are One. And in our day we are blessed to have the Spirit live in us if we are believing by Faith what Christ did for us. What a great view we have in studying Isaiah.

Isaiah is so timely for addressing the days we currently live in. The children of Israel were being disciplined for straying from God. He was supposed to be supreme in their lives. He loves them so much that He will discipline them as far as He must for them to return to Him.

During the time period of this book we observe that God not only sent Isaiah but He continued to speak through many other prophets, sending them to warn of impending judgement. As much as a loving Father desires for His children to listen and turn away from sin, He loves them more so to follow through with discipline if they chose to forsake Him and His teachings. His love is too great to let them continue waywardly.

We will learn much about God's character. He loves so deeply and richly that He cannot just turn His head from our sin. God is complete holiness and sinless, He cannot have sin in His presence. So in the days of the cross He sent Jesus to take our sin upon Himself making us clean in God's eyes once we accept Christ's sacrifice. Signs of Christ are all over the book of Isaiah. It is beautiful to discover. Though we deserve judgement and wrath God was pleased to send Jesus to restore our relationship by taking the wrath upon Himself.

We see the prophet Isaiah pointing us to Christ and though God seems harsh in judgement we must know He is only being a loving Father, and/or a Faithful Husband to His people.

In Isaiah 1-5 we see it as God bringing forth His judgement on His people. It is like a trial but the jury is the Heavens and the earth (v.2). God is declaring His people as sick with sin. They are worshiping God with the motions but do not mean it in their hearts. God can see directly in our hearts.

I wonder if we are ever guilty of this kind of worship?

God calls them to repentance. to go back to doing what is right. He then tells us about the coming Messiah. In Chapter 1, v. 18 we see this pointing, "though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." They did not know this then but we know it now this is talking about Christ who takes the stain of our sins away when we trust in Him as our Savior.

God then tells His people that this judgement comes with a cleansing purpose. What grace it is when God loves us this much to not let us get away with sin. He draws us back through trials. He doesn't force our hand in choosing Him but woos us back through trial. That is what He was doing with His people.

In chapter two the word talks about in the last days how God will reign. There will be peace and no more war. Those who are prideful will be brought low. There is only room for ONE to be exalted.

Chapter three discusses how since God's people would not listen God is taking away all of their security and support. His men and women will lose protection. There will be no good leaders. These people are sinning and are proud of it (v.9). Yet v. 8 tells us they brought this sin on themselves "because their speech and deeds are against the Lord, defying His glorious presence."

Chapter four gives us some hope again, it talks about the day "the branch of the Lord" which refers to Jesus, will be beautiful and glorious. How God does leave a remnant of His people because He is faithful to His promises not to wipe them all out. It ends with God protecting them.

Chapter five is a sad chapter that starts with a parable to explain what they have done to God. Then ends with many woes lamenting their many sins. It ends with God summoning the nations that will take them captive because of their refusal to turn from their sins.

Yet the next section we study we will see that though His wrath is great, His grace is greater still.

Things to think about:
Can you see the amazing heart of God through this?
What do you learn about God's character?
Would you say that God is a patiently enduring God?
Has this opened your eyes to seeing God in a new way?
How have you been like a stubborn child? Know that you can always turn in repentance. He is waiting.
What can you learn from these passages that you can apply to your life today?
What similarities can we see that exist in our society today?


Book Reveiw: Everything by Mary DeMuth

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I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the sake of review.

This book was written by one of my favorite authors so I am already going in biased. I love the way Mary DeMuth uses words in a way that is intelligent yet easily readable. This book was no different. You can be sure to feel like you are visiting with her over coffee as you read this. You can really get a feel for her heart. I love that about her writings.

This book in particular is a challenge to surrender all to Christ. It is summed up as stating our world "needs  Jesus-- full of outrageous grace, unconditional love, and hope-filled pardon. And it needs Him this moment."
Throughout this book the author shares her personal life stories and examples to help us as we grow in this process of sanctification. The process of laying our lives down to make Jesus our all.

This book is broken into three sections. The first discusses how we can make Jesus our everything in how we think. The second section discusses how Jesus can be our everything in our heart. Section three discusses walking out Jesus as our everything. All chapters were greatly informative and filled with information pointing to Christ. It was very practical.

This book was definitely one of my favorites this year. I only like to recommend to you something that will lead you closer to Christ. I found this to be true of this title. I often found my heart in spontaneous worship as I was reminded of God's goodness and His desire to be everything in our lives. Go out and get this one, it will be worth your time.

You can get a copy of it from Amazon here.

 
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