November 28, 2016

Not Another Fan

Photo by Naypong
at freedigitalphotos.net
I don't want to be just another fan.

There...I said it. I have been a fan of Jesus, but not always a true follower. Now I know that my friends and family would argue that, but if I truly search my heart, in some areas of my life I have been just another fan.

I saw on Facebook a book that my sister-in-law Elizabeth posted. They are starting up a study based on this book Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman and I was curious. I looked it up on Amazon and promptly ordered it. I started it this morning and am halfway through.

It's not easy reading, as I have had to examine my heart and my motives against the challenges that Jesus set forth to his disciples and the crowds that followed Him. Yikes.

You see, a fan is excited about their team until the team begins to falter. When tough times comes, the fan becomes disillusioned and becomes a fan of the next great team.

A follower on the other hand doesn't give up God when the going gets tough.

A follower counts the cost....and there will be a cost...and steps out in faith regardless.

A follower is excited about God and His mission in this world.

A follower is full of the Spirit, and is aware of His presence.

While I have been able to say yes at times to all of these, I have been lukewarm a good part of the time. I get weary. I become afraid of what others think. I get tired of Satan's attacks and give up on my zeal for the Lord.

I want a close relationship with God. I want to fear God and give Him the honor, respect, and reverence He is due. I want to live a life of love for God and for others. I want to be used by Him. I want to surrender to Him completely...wholeheartedly...unashamedly.

Oh God, the cry of my heart is I want to follow You. 

I don't want to be just another fan.


November 02, 2016

Trials, Faith, and Pushing Through

Photo by George Stojkovic at Freedigitalphotos.net
You know it's coming. It always does.

Things are going well and life seems to be rolling along with a smile on its face, but you know things are going to change. Good things can be happening...encouraging and uplifting things, and yet all it takes is one downer to make you lose sight of all the good and focus on that one depressing thing.

Discouragement hits you like a dump truck, piling the questions and doomsday
scenarios upon your head. Fear begins to leak into your soul and you wonder if you are really up for all this trouble again.

But Lord, I am following You. I've dedicated my life to being in Your service. Why does it have to be so hard?

You know the answer right? You've heard it preached. You've read it in the Bible. You've seen it played out in the lives of good people everywhere.

We are not promised an easy life. In fact, we are promised the opposite. Jesus says outright, "In this world you will have trouble." (John 16:33)

Okay, so how do we deal with all this trouble?

We focus on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)

We remember that these troubles develop our character and refine us to become more like Jesus. (Romans 5:3-5)

We recognize that these trials help grow our faith. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

We thank the Lord that He gives us the strength we need to endure. (Philippians 4:13)

Good things to remember, don't you think?

 I wrote this for me - to help me remember God is with me, loves me, and will never leave my side.

I feel better already.


What do you do to remind yourself of God's presence in the midst of hardship?


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!


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