Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Godly Home





Family

Family is defined as: The basic "unit" of society. A unit is a group of individuals that together constitute a "whole". As individuals, we are weak... but as a unit, we are strong. It is true that there is strength in numbers. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, "Two people are better than one. When two people work together, they get more work done. If one person falls, the other person can reach out to help. But woe to those who are alone for when they fall they have no one to help them".  



A strong, Godly family can accomplish great things. Satan knows the value of the family, how it is the fabric of a good solid society, the foundation of vibrant growing assemblies, and the future of God's work on earth. If Satan can be successful in tearing down the structure and substance of the family unit, then he will be successful in damaging what is dear to God's heart. 



Satan's initial attack on mankind and the family occurred in the Garden of Eden. Remember, man was created in the "image & likeness of God" (Genesis 1:27); therefore, Satan hates us. It was in the Garden that Satan worked his deception and destroyed the harmony of the first marriage. In disobeying God, Adam and Eve plunged themselves into slavery in the "kingdom of darkness". 
Notice the serpent "between" Adam and Eve in the picture above? Satan's tactic has always been to "Divide and conquer"

Satan's attack on the family continues today. There are signs of his handy-work all around us. He is very busy trying to bring to pass divorce, marital problems, sibling rivalry, division between parents and children, and family strife. 


Divide 
&
Conquer!


'Divide and conquer' is a classic military strategy, one in which Satan utilizes himself in spiritual warfare. The concept is to separate a larger force into smaller pieces making the enemy weaker and more vulnerable to multiple attacks; thus, making it more manageable to conquer! 
Gods word says, "It is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18). Isolation is key in war. Satan likes to cut off/separate and isolate us... that way it's easier to weaken us and claim victory.

We must be alert and watchful for Satan's tactics. A strong, Godly family that walks in love is a major threat to the enemy. God's plan is agreement, harmony, and unity - a family joined together as one whose purpose is to do the will of the Father. Mercy needs to be abundant in our homes. Minor issues should be overlooked.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta said, "A family that prays together stays together. If they stay together, they will love each other... just as God has loved each one of them. And works of love are always works of peace".



Allow Jesus to be the Head of every area of your home. Have some house rules that get everybody involved in keeping the home a place of peace. Here are some tips from Joyce Meyer on peaceful living:

1. Speak in voice tones that bring peace. Avoid being harsh.
2. Build each other; don't tear down. Be positive.
3. Work together to keep order.
4. Have fun together on a regular basis. Laugh - it's good medicine!
5. Be merciful, freely forgiving because God has freely forgiven each of you.
6. Be slow to anger, slow to speak, and quick to listen.
7. Be slow to take offense.
8. Judge not.
9. Arrange your schedule so you don't have to hurry all the time.
10. Don't worry!

If there is conflict in your family - forgive one another, pray for one another, and leave it to God to transform hearts! There is nothing our God cannot do! Satan would love you to forever hold on to offenses. He loves to nail grudges, bitterness and resentment on the doorway of our hearts. But don't let him... Instead, follow God's word...




Father,

I pray for your love and grace to fill the hearts and homes of every family in the world. Wherever there is conflict, I pray you rain peace. Wherever there is cruelty, I pray you rain kindness. Wherever there is hopelessness, I pray you rain hope. Wherever there are wounds, may you mend them with your love. In Jesus name, I pray you protect every family from the attacks of the evil one and bring them all to the knowledge of the saving grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Amen.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Celebrate God's Creation






Abba...

All of creation celebrates Your glory and dances with a heart of joy in Your presence. I watch in awe from this window, at the breath-taking beauty created by Your word. 
"By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible" 
- Hebrews 11:3
Even the trees know your love for them. Your whispering wind gently cradles each delicate branch with care.  They sway ever so gracefully to natures lullaby, which is delightfully sung by a multitude of praising birds. 

Even they can’t stay quite in Your presence! How their heavenly melodies seem to carry away the heavy sorrows of this world.

Oh, How You don’t miss a thing! How You care and provide for all things! Nothing is of insignificance to You... nothing.


I gaze across rolling fields of lustrous green. My eyes are drawn to a colorful bed of flowers, arrayed in deep purples, shades of blue, and a hue of yellow. The sweet fragrance of Your presence envelops every flower. Not one petal is left untouched by Your radiant glow.


Basking in Your glory, one by one, they desperately reach upward towards You, seeking Your face! If only we would emulate these flowers, and constantly look upward to heaven… seeking only You… we would shine with a similar blinding radiance.


Help me to remember Father, that those who shine brightest are those who spend the most time in the light. Teach me be a beacon of light; to walk with You daily, spending all my waking moments with gratefulness, and always contemplating on Your greatness. How I love You and pray to live a life that glorifies You like all of Your creation does!


And a fine finish to this glorious day... 
A beautiful bouquet of flowers from my son, Jayden. I am so grateful for my family.




Wednesday, May 29, 2013

GPS: God's Positioning System


We are exactly where God intended us to be 




The place in which you find yourself, is exactly where the master desires you to live your life. "Thou cam'st not to thy place by accident: It is the very place God meant for thee."There is no haphazard in this world. 

God leads every one of his children by the right way. He knows where and under what influences each particular life will ripen best. One tree grows best in the sheltered valley, another by the water's edge, another on the bleak mountain-top swept by storms. There is always adaptation in nature. 

Every tree or plant is found in the locality where the conditions of its growth exist, and does God give more thought to the trees and plants than to his own children? He places us amid circumstances and experiences in which our life will grow and ripen best. We may think we would ripen more quickly in a more easy and luxurious life, but God knows what is best; he makes no mistakes.


There is a little fable which says that a primrose growing by itself in a shady corner of the garden became discontented as it saw the other flowers in their beds of sunshine, and begged to be removed to a more conspicuous place. Its prayer was granted. The gardener transplanted it to a more showy and sunny spot. It was greatly pleased, but there came a change over it immediately. 

Its blossoms lost much of their beauty and it became pale and sickly. 

The hot sun caused them to faint and wither. So it prayed again to be taken back to its old place in the shade. The wise gardner knows best where to plant each flower, and so God, knows where his people will best grow into what he would have them to be. Some require the fierce storms, some will only thrive spiritually in the shadow of worldly adversity, and some come to ripeness more sweetly under the soft and gentle influences of prosperity whose beauty rough experiences would mar. He knows what is best for each one.


When God chooses a home for us, he fits us for its trials. He adapts his grace to each one's necessity. For rough, flinty paths, he provides shoes of iron. He never sends any one to climb sharp, rugged mountain-sides wearing silken slippers. He gives always grace sufficient. As the burden grows heavier, the strength increases. 
As the difficulties thicken, the angels draws closer. 

As the trials become sorer, the trusting heart grows calmer.

Jesus always sees his disciples when they are toiling in the waves, and at the right moment comes to deliver them. Thus, it becomes possible to live a true and victorious life in any circumstances.
Instead, then, of yielding to discouragement when trials multiply and it becomes hard to live right, or of being satisfied with a broken peace and a very faulty life, it should be the settled purpose of each one to live, through the grace of God, a patient, gentle and unspotted life in the place and amid the circumstances allotted. The true victory is not found in escaping or evading trials, but in rightly meeting and enduring them.

The tree that grows where tempests toss its boughs and bend its trunk, often almost to breaking, is more firmly rooted than the tree which grows in the sequestered valley where no storm every brings stress or strain. 

The same is true in life. The grandest character is grown in hardship. Effeminacy springs out of luxury. The best men the world ever knew have been brought up in the school of adversity and hardship. 

Besides, it is no heroism to live patiently where there is no provocation, bravely where there is nothing to perturb. Not the hermit's cave, but the heart of busy life, tests as well as makes character. If we can live patiently, lovingly and cheerfully amid all our frets and irritations day after day, year after year, that is grander heroism than the farthest-famed military exploits, for he that ruleth his own spirit is better than he that taketh a city.

Yet we must keep through all a brave heart, an unfaltering purpose and a calm, joyful confidence in God. Temporary defeat should only cause us to lean on Christ more fully. Heaven is on the side of every one who is loyally struggling to do the divine will and to grow into Christ-likeness  And that means assured victory to every one whose heart fails not.


"If only we strive to be pure and true,
To each of us there will come an hour
When the tree of life shall burst into flower,
And rain at our feet the glorious dower
Of something grander than ever we knew."

-unknown author



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Glorifying or Gratifying?




If you take notice, the description under my blog title reads: 
"Learning how to bring glory to God as we live our lives together one day at a time". 
As a Christian, this is my life goal - but what does this look like to the average person? A few things may come to mind such as,  A+ church attendance, volunteering for community outreaches, Sunday school teaching, attending bible studies, witnessing, being nice to people, reading your bible everyday, going on mission trips, etc. Basically, a lot of things the public mostly sees... right? While all these things are great, God has been shifting the focus for me lately.

I have been contemplating different ways I can bring God glory - with my 'private life' being the focal point. Our private life is an accurate gauge as to where we are spiritually vs. where we may 'appear' to be publicly.  God cares more about what we do and think in secret than we know. Matthew 7:21-23 is a good lesson in the importance of our private life vs. our public life. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the person who does what my Father in heaven wants. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name? Didn't we force out demons and do many miracles by the power and authority of your name?’ Then I will tell them publicly, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you evil people.’ These people 'publicly' confessed their belief that the Lord was their Savior, along with the public display of miracles; however, look how the Lord responds to them on judgement day. He says, "I will tell them 'publicly' I never knew you." The problem with these people is that their works were not a true reflection of what was in their hearts. While they had an 'appearance' of righteousness, their hearts were far from Christ. Only He knows our hearts. "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve" (Jeremiah 17:10). 

I don't want to be partially, yet *fully* committed to the Lord, in that my private life matches my public life. To truly have a heart for God, you must realize that every little decision you make affects your walk with the Lord. Every sinful choice means we have to override our conscious *every* single time. Ultimately, our decision will either Gratify our Flesh or Glorify our God. 

Speaking of decisions -  a few nights ago, my husband and I wanted to see a movie. We made the decision to glorify God and not our flesh by looking up the contents of the movie before viewing it (this counts for redbox/rentals as well). *Note* MPAA ratings are a worldly perspective as to what is/isn't acceptable. I have seen plenty PG/PG-13 movies that had inappropriate material. God's word tells us exactly what is acceptable and non-acceptable to Him. A movie does not have to be a 'Christian' movie for us to view it; however, the contents should meet God's standards based on His word. Here is God's MPAA rating scale as to what we should watch and listen to.



Let me ask you a question - what movies have you gone to see recently? What TV shows have you been meditating on? Was everything in it pure, honorable and praiseworthy? Would you have taken Jesus to see that movie or invited Him over to watch that episode? Obeying this concept really limits what my husband and I watch - and I will admit - it's hard at times. When we do see something inappropriate, we turn our heads. When I think of the grand scheme of things, it is extremely selfish to whine about sacrificing something so simple compared to Christ sacrificing His life for us. It's just a movie - we can't keep it or take it with us.




I don't know where you live, but currently playing in our theaters are: Epic, fast and furious, The Hang over part three, Star Trek into darkness, the great Gatsby, and pain and gain.

I want to share a site we use as a guideline for movie viewing: www.IMDB.com There are many others, but we use this the most. I encourage you to type your movie in and scroll all the way down to where it says:

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Parents Guide:

  »
You may be surprised at what you find and... if you are serious about having a closer walk with God, this is a decision that will glorify Him. 

Continuing with decisions... I do not always make good ones! Today my husband and I fell short when we got into an argument over something so ridiculously, trivial. Are you ready for this? It was over a spot on the backseat of our car! Yes, I told you it was stupid! Out of anger/frustration, we both said something to one another that definitely was not glorifying to God. Pray for me (and my husband) because I want to have more control over my tongue and emotions. If anyone else struggles with *SPEECH* here are some good verses to mediate on:


Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up others according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Matthew 12:36
But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the Day of Judgment.

It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
  1.  Our speech shows are heart.
  2. “Unclean” refers to anything that Moses’ Teachings say is not presentable to God.
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
a.      If displeasing, unclean things come out of our heart/mouth, then we do not love God completely (with all our heart, soul and mind).

Psalm 39:1

I will watch my ways   and keep my tongue from sin; 
I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.

John 14:26 

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Lastly, to touch on a few more decsions... we glorified God by praying and giving thanks for every meal. Also, while on our way to Knoebels Amusement park - praise God - my husband turned his head away from a few girls who were dressed inappropriately! I also made the decision to glorify God by dressing modestly - instead of becoming a stumbling block to the men around me. I didn't always do this, but as my relationship with Christ grew, He placed this on my heart. 


Do you feel God calling you to change anything in your life that will bring Him glory?

I thank the Lord for today! I really a had a wonderful time with my family. We ate and rode rides to the glory of God :o) 
Here are a few pictures and a video...













Thursday, May 16, 2013

Road to Damascus




Saul of Tarsus

After the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Saul of Tarsus (a Pharisee in Jerusalem) swore to wipe out the new Christian church called, "The Way". Early Christians referred to themselves as followers of The Way, a term occurring in Acts six times. It connotes the idea of "the true way of God" or "the way of salvation".

Saul was a malicious persecutor of the church. He is seen in the above picture commending the stoning of the Apostle Stephen, who was falsely accused of blasphemy (Acts 7). The intensity and ferocity of Saul's hatred towards the church compelled him to seek out and destroy the Lord's disciples. He went to the chief priest and asked for letters of authorization to the synagogue leaders in the city of Damascus. Saul wanted to arrest any man or woman who followed the way of Christ and imprison them in Jerusalem.

If you are a true disciple of Christ, you too will encounter *persecution*. Persecution proves you are walking with the Lord and it's Satan's attempt to stop your influence for the Kingdom of God. 

Saul's Conversion



On the road to Damascus (one of the world's oldest cities - located in Syria) Saul and his companions encountered a blinding light from heaven. Saul was immediately struck down and the Lord spoke to him saying, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:4)

When Saul asked who was speaking to him, the voice replied, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do" (Acts 9:5-6).

The men with Saul heard the sound but did not see the vision of the risen Christ that Saul did. Saul was left blinded and led by the hand into Damascus to a man named Judas.


What do you suppose the significance of the *three* days represents? Think about it this way... Saul was in complete darkness for 'three' days as Christ was in a tomb of darkness for 'three' days. Jonah was also in the belly of a whale for 'three' days.  I believe Christ gave   them that time to reflect on their foolishness and disobedience. Up until that point, they were living for themselves and not doing the will of the Lord. 

Can you imagine what they both must have been thinking while in complete darkness? Saul for instance, went from persecuting Christians to becoming completely dependent on them (and the Lord). He had to "entrust" himself to those he sought to murder. Imagine the fear that must have fallen upon him. He encountered the God of the universe (the one whom he was persecuting) and now was subject to whatever the Lord willed for him. Would Christ hand him over to the Christians to  be stoned? Would he be blind forever? The darkness must have been terrifying!

Sin will always leave us in darkness, but the moment a sinner will give his heart to Christ, he will find peace and 'life' as he continues in the light.  Saul's state of darkness was necessary to humble him and fit him for his work.  God was transforming his heart. Jesus told Ananias, referring to Saul, "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name" (Acts 9:15)



On the road to Damascus, Saul's life changed forever. God stopped him dead in his tracts and opened his eyes to the way he was living. Before his conversion, he was an enemy of Christ and we were too before our conversion! At one point in our life, we were all on the road to Damascus... living in "rebellion".  And if *you* have yet to come to the Lord and trust in Him as your Savior, you are still on the road to Damascus. God tells us where that road leads to...
"For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it" (Matthew 7:13).
No one can see they are traveling the wrong way when in darkness. No one can recognize the sin they are wading in, until the light of Christ is shed upon them, exposing their iniquities. Ephesians 5:13 says, "But everything exposed by the light becomes visible--and everything that is illuminated becomes a light." When Christ struck Saul down in light, his heart was exposed, then it was transformed. Saul then became that very light that lead others out of darkness. How about you...


Are you being a light for others?


The dictionary defines The Road to Damascus as: 


A sudden turning point in a person's life (similar to the sudden conversion of the Apostle Paul on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus of arrest Christians)

On the road to Damascus, Saul experienced this  dramatic conversion, a "turning point" in his life. He went from being the most viscous persecutor to the greatest missionary! He is responsible for writing nearly half of the New Testament! When you  encounter Christ, He never leaves you unchanged! Saul's conversion is so encouraging because no matter what your past may have looked like, Christ can use you for His glory! Satan likes to remind people of their past mistakes to make them feel *unworthy* of spreading the word; however, when he does this... remind him of his future!




After the scales had fallen off Saul's eyes, 
he was given new eyes. He had become a new creation... in Christ. 



Saul even changed his name to Paul. During the *three* days of darkness in which he experienced, Saul died to himself

Have you died to yourself? 

Colossians 3 says:
"Since you were brought back to life with Christ, focus on the things that are above... Therefore, put to death whatever is worldly in you: your sexual sin, perversion, passion, lust, and greed (which is the same thing as worshiping wealth). It is because of these sins the wrath of God is coming. You used to live that kind of sinful life. Also get rid of your anger, hot tempers, hatred, cursing, obscene language, and all similar sins. Don’t lie to each other. You’ve gotten rid of the person you used to be and the life you used to live, and you’ve become a new person."
Are you a new creation? 


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

So Long, Insecurity!

A blinking cursor, an empty page, and a heart full of concern. This is my release... so I  type away! Thoughts somersault in my mind like a circus. I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel like life is one big circus with all the crazy things that unfold day to day.

Today my heart is heavy with so many things. To start - I have been reading a book about insecurities. An insidious enemy to both men and women. While we don't like to admit we have them, if we are honest with ourselves, we will realize most of us do! From the perfectionist and overachiever - to the slacker and underachiever, both have insecurities - even though it may appear otherwise. They just compensate for them differently. 

This book had some great insight. For instance, it talked about how women use men as a mirror to confirm their self-worth. I pictured snow white saying, "Mirror, mirror on the wall". She wanted her mirror to validate how beautiful she was. We do this all the time when we fish for comments from our significant other. You know you do! We are constantly searching our environment for some type of approval. Some even go as far as searching for their identity in partners... or others in their job or success. I've learned our identity is in Christ and in Christ alone. Lecrae has a good song that goes something like this... 

For the Men: 
"Hair check, shoes check, brand new fit looking cool check, looking in mirror like "Ooooh yes!" Cover for an insecure dude 'check'. She won't feel me and they won't like me if I ain't in them J's or them brand new Nikes. But lets dig deeper inside my psyche. When it's all said and done - even I don't like me. He live in the gym and his hair stay faded. Late model car so they think he made it. But he's Christian, he gave his life, but he still ain't satisfied in the savior Christ. Still finds his identity in looks and cars... if he only knew that he ain't have to look so hard. If he looked in God, though it may seem odd, he'd be so satisfied... he could leave it all."

For the Women:

"Got her hair done, toes and nails... is that Her? well it's hard to tell cause she's caked up in so much make-up. It's like she's tryna 'make up' for what she ain't, but she's a saint... but so confused cause she's been rejected by all these dudes that tell her on a scale of 10 she's a two - but that ain't true. If she only knew In Christ she is loved - she's secure and accepted. She'll never be rejected by God who's elected her. Her beauty is her Godliness. And she ain't gotta try to flaunt it cause it's obvious."
Sound like you, anyone? I know I've been there. God has taught me so much about this. Isn't it crazy how we let the world creep into the cracks and tell us we have to look a certain way or act a certain way to be 'accepted' or to be beautiful? The world tells us, "Oh just one more degree, a little less weight, a newer car, a bigger house, a couple more friends, this name-brand, that outfit, a few more church activities, etc. The list goes on. How very sad! They have missed the BOAT! Jesus is the prize guys - Jesus.

While reading this book, something the author said stuck out to me like a sore thumb. I read the following, deliberated on it, prayed about it, then I slammed the book in anger. Follow with me:

"I flashed back to another recent communication with a magazine-cover-beautiful thirty-year-old woman who mentioned- almost in passing-that she has to dress up in costumes in order for her husband to want to make love to her. I'm not knocking her pink-feathered heels, but I wonder if she is paying too much for them. I'm just sad that she can't feel desirable as herself."
Notice the last sentence highlighted? There's a reason for that.  Here we have a woman who obviously has a heart for people with insecurities (God bless her). But as I slammed the cover of the book, I saw her picture blown up on the front page. I studied it intently. As I gazed at her eyes, I saw a  set of fake eyelashes. I saw pearly white teeth (veneers?). A head full of highlights and an airbrushed face. Either this woman is unknowingly dealing with vanity issues or she is not being completely honest with herself and is still in bondage to insecurities. I pray I am wrong.

How can you write a book on insecurity and tell women that it's okay to be yourself and feel desirable with the way God has designed you, when you appear to not be okay with your natural self? How can you tell a woman that you feel so sad that she has to dress up to feel attractive, when you yourself are dressing up... putting a costume of make-up on. I feel very upset about this because I see this everywhere. Preachers teaching God's word, but appearing so worldly. I prayed about it... hard... and I checked my heart to make sure I wasn't being judgmental - but I cannot take a person seriously when they tell me it's okay to be myself when they obviously do not  feel okay about themselves. Why the need for all the falseness? Is she caving in to society's standards of what an author should look like? Am I the only one that sees this as a concern? I have to ask myself, is this woman really free from insecurity? This may seem very trivial to you, but I see this everyday in my circle of friends and in the world. People constantly trying to find approval in the world from others and from things. Something is very wrong.

Another thing that bothers me about authors is when they plaster pictures of themselves all over their books. I can't help but think about Psalm 115:1 that a very dear friend shared with me a few years back. It IS NOT about US! While this book contains such helpful information and great insight, God tells us in Job 12:13 - "To God belong WISDOM and POWER. COUNSEL and UNDERSTANDING are HIS"! We are just a vessel guys, the insight and counsel we offer others is not ours, but God's. Not soley speaking of authors here - but how dare we 'ever' take credit for His work in any task. We are just pvc pipes that carry blessings to others who need deliverance and guidance. I feel so very strongly about this. And hear me out - I am not perfect. I have struggled with perfectionism, with taking the glory and credit for many things, when I shouldn't have. But God has taught me this so that I can teach others. It isn't EVER right to exalt yourself, your spiritual gifts, or your works! Remember, it's the motive behind the deed that makes it great in God's eyes. If your motive is to display your greatness, your works become worthless in God's eyes. Only He is great, guys. We are just blessed that He loves and cares for us. That He even trusts us at all to use us.

As for insecurities and finding our identity - the chorus in Lecrea's song sums it up:
"I'm not the shoes I wear, I'm not the clothes I buy. I'm am not the house I live in, I'm not the car I drive. I'm not the job I work, You can't define my worth. By nothing on God's green earth, my identity is found in Christ".
Well, I got a lot of my chest. I don't know if this will be helpful to anyone... or hurtful. But I pray it's truthful and glorifies God. I had in it my heart for so long... now you know.


Lecrae-Identity Ft. Da T.R.U.T.H and J.R with Lyrics