September 12, 2016

The Creature's New Clothes

Photo by isobelyf at pixabay.com
Did you ever think of Adam and Eve being the first fashion designers? They were. When they disobeyed God and ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they became aware they were naked...and quickly made for themselves some little outfits out of fig leaves.

"Who told you that you were naked?" God asked them.

You see, before they ate of the tree forbidden them, Adam and Eve were naked and they felt no shame. They walked with God in the garden and there was no shame in that...naked before God. No hiding. No shame. No barriers to God.

And then they decided it would be nice if they could be like God and know everything, so they ate the fruit, and were banished from Eden...from God's presence. Without God, they were naked, ashamed, and lacked His tangible presence.

Without God, mankind is stripped of their dignity and found to be naked before God.

We have tried to be our own god, but God had a plan to cover our nakedness before Him.

Jesus, God whispers to the world. Jesus is my plan...to clothe the world in his white robes and bring back their worthiness, their significance, their dignity.

Remember when the apostles were praying in the upper room when tongues of fire lit atop their heads? They were clothed with power from on high, the power of the Holy Spirit.

Through Jesus, we can be clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit. We can walk hand-in-hand with God with our head held high because we are clothed with the power of His Son and the power of His Spirit.

God is the ultimate fashion designer and you will never be better dressed than when you are clothed by His designs.

So what are you wearing today?

***Based on John Ketchersid's sermon 9/11/2016


August 02, 2016

Is Discipleship Really About Being Like Jesus?

Photo by ntwowe at freedigitalphotos.net
The sermon Sunday was another installment in the series True or False with the statement: The goal of discipleship is to be like Jesus.

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are." Matthew 23: 15

The Pharisees were vigilant in making converts and discipling them, but Jesus denounces their efforts. Why? What was false about what they were doing? They were getting people to follow their own way instead of God's way. Tradition vs. grace. Rules vs. mercy.

This is a challenge for Christians today. What are we bringing people to? What does discipleship mean?

We aren't here to shut others down. In Mark 9, the disciples were concerned about someone driving out demons in the name of Jesus because that person was not one of them. But Jesus says whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives a cup of water to someone in need will be rewarded.

We are not to be exclusive. The kingdom of God is inclusive, wanting all to come and participate in the grace of God.

Discipleship focuses on what God focuses on. In Matthew 7, Jesus says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Discipleship is more that just saying we are following Christ. Discipleship is about doing the will of the God the Father and focusing on what God focuses on.

The Pharisees made the temple a marketplace, focusing on the correct sacrifice to bring to God rather than focusing on prayer. Jesus said that the temple was to be a house of prayer and yet the Pharisees had made it a den of robbers.

When you invest in legalism, you create more legalism in your discipleship. The focus is on what you do rather than on what you are becoming.

Focus on what God emphasizes. Ephesian 4 says:
"Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, on baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."
This is a central message of Jesus: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. This is what God focuses on and wants to emphasis.

So the answer to the True or False questions is this: True, the goal of discipleship is to be like Jesus, who lived a life worthy of the calling of God. He lived a life of love, focusing on what God focused on and followed the will of God.

Is my goal to be like Jesus? Do I daily set aside my own agenda to follow hard after him? 


***Based on the notes taken from John Ketchersid's sermon 7-31-2016.



July 29, 2016

Fun Friday Five

It's been crazy at my house, but here are a few of my obsessions this week.

Pokemon Go
Don't judge me, but I jumped on the Pokemon Go bandwagon. I did it to spend time with my daughter and walk, but alas...I have been a little obsessed with it. I have found that the new is starting to wear off, so that's good, but really....what a cool concept. I've walked more - even in the heat -  and I have talked to people I don't know, which is really hard for me. I love that it helps me connect to the world around me and make connections I never would have before. It will be interesting to see what other games pop up like this one.

Compel Training (Writing)
So it's been a long time but I have had the urge to pick up my pen and write. Not another novel, but I am feeling the call to write devotionals or articles on spirituality and the Christian walk. And it's not even to get published. I want to offer something to the ladies at my church in some form or another. I'm not sure what I will do or how I will do it, but it is something that has been impressed on my heart for some reason and I need to make sure I follow through. (That is why I am stating it here so as to be accountable.) So I signed up for Compel Training through Proverbs 31 ministries. It is training for writers, especially non-fictions, and I am excited about all that I am learning.

Sumo Wrestling
Sumo Nation Rentals

I know what you are thinking....WHAT????? No, I am not sitting around watching Sumo wrestling. I just received 2 sumo wrestling suits...you know, the kind that blows up and you put it on and wrestle with someone? I'm sooooo excited! I rented them for 2 of my boys' birthdays and we are going to have fun tomorrow night wrestling away. **Please note that these boys are 30 and 26. (Just wait for the pictures to come!)

Pedicures
I love pedicures. LOVE them. Almost as much as I love getting my hair cut, which is saying a lot. The thing is, I have been obsessing over getting a pedicure and I can't go get one! In order to do the Compel Training for Writers, I had to give up something, and that was pedicures. Can I just say that when you see me next, do not look down at my feet? I do NOT do good pedicures. Just saying.

Ice Cream Shakes
I am obsessed with Sonic's Peanut Butter Oreo shakes. It must be because I'm stressed at work and have been super busy every night with stuff, because all I want is one of those shakes. No, I don't go get one every night, but I sure do want one. They are so creamy and yummy...sigh. Delicious. The best part are the huge chunks of Oreos are the bottom that you have to eat with a spoon. All-around-goodness, I tell you.

So that are the things on my mind this week. How about you? What are you obsessing over this week?



July 25, 2016

True or False?

Photo by nuttakit at freedigitalphotos.net
True or False: The door to the kingdom of God is open to everyone.

Is this an easy answer for you? Jesus says anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. He also says it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

So is the kingdom really open to everyone?

In Matthew 23:13 Jesus says, " Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to."

The interesting thing here is that the kingdom does have a door and Revelation 3:20 says that Jesus stands at that door and knocks, wanting us to open that door and come in...and let others in as well.

Here are two ways to enter into the kingdom of God:

1.  Confess faith in Jesus. Turn away from sin, be baptized, and receive newness of life in Jesus. God's desire is for everyone to enter in.

2.  Decide to enter into the kingdom of God daily, following the leading of the Holy Spirit. It's easy to fall back into our selfish ways. We are called to be a living sacrifice, but the problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar! We need to remember to not be transformed by the world and it's worldview. We need to renew our minds daily to know the will of God and follow His leading.

It is a daily commitment to follow hard after God.

We are deceiving ourselves when we do not spend time with God on a daily basis.
We are deceiving ourselves when we do not spend time in His word.
We are deceiving ourselves when we do not spend time praying.
We are deceiving ourselves when we do not spend time with other believers who encourage us in our walk with Him.

The overwhelming influence of the world around us will deceive us into thinking that my career and making money is God's will for me and that seeking pleasure and entertainment is what I deserve. We have to combat that influence by immersing ourselves in Him and spending time with Him, getting to know Him and His will for us.

Whoever wants to be a disciple of Christ must deny himself and take us his cross daily. 

It is a daily decision. A conscious effort. We must open the door to Him each and every day. It is then that we can open the door for others. If we do not enter ourselves on a daily basis then we are standing in the way of others to enter.

Jesus is knocking on the door of the church, asking to come in. 

Do we have the welcome mat out? Or have we hung the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door?

 Are you opening the door to the kingdom of heaven? 


***Based on the notes taken from John Ketchersid's sermon on July 25, 2016.***


July 15, 2016

Fun Friday Five

This has been my last week of vacation before I have to go back to work this coming Monday and boy, I've really tried to relax, have fun, and rest. So here are my obsessions this week.

Crash Team Racing! 
So when the kids were younger, I got into playing their PS game, Crash Team Racing...a Crash Bandicoot game. I got pretty good and found that I am competitive and a bit of a mean player (i.e. I love laying little obstacles and bombs to slow my competitors down.) Well, I have access to the game now and have been obsessed with getting my skills back. Is it weird for a middle age woman to play video games by herself? I don't know, but I am having fun.



George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
I've wanted to see the Bush Library for a long time now and it is one of the few things I really wanted to do on my vacation. My husband took the day of Tuesday and off we went. It was truly an impressive display of the Presidency and was good to be reminded that each President really does want to make a different for good in this country.




The Secret Life of Pets
One of the things I love to do on vacation is see a movie! This vacation I chose The Secret Life of Pets because there has been such turmoil and darkness in the past couple of weeks and I just wanted to laugh. And laugh I did. Such a cute movie with a silly story line. Meet Buddy...my favorite. :)



Reading
This week I am reading The Gifting by Katie Ganshert. It is a YA book and is a page turner! The good thing is, it is free on Kindle! Here is the back cover copy:

In a world where nothing supernatural exists, Tess Eckhart is positive she's going crazy. After her complete freakout at a high school party, her family is too. So much that they pack their bags and move across the country, next to a nationally-renowned facility for the mentally ill.

Tess is determined to fit in at her new school, despite the whispers and stares. But when it comes to Luka Williams, a reluctantly popular boy in her class, she's unused to a stare that intense. Then the headaches start, and the seemingly prophetic dreams that haunt her at night. As Tess tries harder to hide them, she becomes increasingly convinced that Luka knows something--that he might somehow be responsible.

But what if she's wrong? What if Luka Williams is the only thing separating her from a madness too terrifying to fathom?


Nursing
Well, I have been neglectful in this 100 degree heat and haven't watered my potted plants every day. So now I am trying to nurse a few crispy plants back to health. Wish my luck...I'm gonna need it!




What have you been up to this week?

Have a great weekend!


July 11, 2016

Project Peace

In the wake of the terrible events of the past week, our church held a special prayer service Sunday morning. There was an open mike time, where people shared their thoughts and prayed, and the sermon was based upon the beatitude in Matthew 5:9:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

We were challenged to take part in several projects given through scripture:

Project Love
We are to love God, love our neighbors, and love our enemies. We are to go beyond our inner circle of friends and move outward to love beyond our comfort zone. We need to be looking for ways to love a new circle of friends.

Matthew 5: 38-48
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[a]39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[b] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Project Blessing
There is something that we owe. As followers of Jesus, we make a different kind of payment in this world. Not one of judgement or vengeance, but one of love, selfless giving, and blessing.

Romans 12:17-21

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[b]21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Project Pursuit
People are being targeted for bad. As followers of Jesus, was are pursuing a different target...a target for good...a target for peace. We are challenged to find others who are different from us. Target a specific person or groups of people and develop relationships with them. Be a bridge builder across barriers that divide us from others.

1 Peter 3:8-12
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,“Whoever would love life    and see good daysmust keep their tongue from evil    and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good;    they must seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous    and his ears are attentive to their prayer,but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Project Plant
What kind of seeds are we planting that will yield a harvest of righteousness? A successful harvest is not one of prosperity and power. It is one of good spiritual fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. We need to be planting seeds of peace, grace, and mercy in this world. So take time to contemplate and visualize what kind of harvest we want, and then act on it in love.

James 3:13-18
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Project Peace....it is a call to be the peace in the world we want to see. It is a call to bridge the barriers that divide. It is a call to love in spite of differences.

It is call to be a peacemaker.


***Based on the notes taken from John Ketchersid's sermon on July 10, 2016.


July 09, 2016

It Is Finished....Before and After Mixed Media Painting

One of my goals for my summer break was to paint a large 3'x5' canvas...an intimidating, massive task to be sure. But I try to be brave these days and am happy with the end product. My inspiration for this was from the work of Flora Bowley who teaches about intuitive brave painting, which really appeals to me. So here is my before and after photos, with a few photos in between. 






My soul's desire...to live with Him all my days,
 to behold His beauty..." from Psalm 27

The prodding of my heart leads me to chase after You.
I am seeking You, the Eternal One...from Psalm 27




What brave thing are you attempting this week?


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