Category Archives: Transforming

God’s Kids

What a simple blessing and promise to know God has chosen us to be His very own children. As my mother-in-law used to say, we are all “God’s Kids”.

Everyone lives in the darkness of sin, but because of God’s gift of Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, we are filled with God’s light and given eternal life.

Praying you enjoy this wonderful promise ~ Faye

God Grant Me the Serenity

These are precious words to many in our world today. As many addicts know, we need God’s grace to grant us the serenity to accept what we can’t change, courage to change what we can and wisdom to know the difference between the two.

I have had several people in my life who have struggled with addictions from alcohol and drugs to pornography and abuse. It can be easy for the outsider to point fingers and judge those who struggle with these types of addiction. However, what about the addiction to food, gossip, or the need for acceptance?

I like the rest of the prayer as it focuses on realizing life will not always be easy. It encourages us to realize hardships are part of the path to peace. It means surrendering to God and His Will that life is not always easy; but it wasn’t easy for Jesus either. He even asked God to take away His death on the cross that He was going to have to face. Yet He surrendered to God’s Will. He knew He must die on the cross, be buried and then rise from the dead. He needed to do this to save each and every one of us who believe in Him as their Savior.

Usually someone gets into an addiction as a bandaid, a way to find comfort from some pain or trauma in their life. Why do you think they call mac and cheese or roast beef with potatoes and gravy – “comfort food”? Sometimes we want to medicate the pain away. Sometimes we want to forget. Looking at the rest of the prayer, if we realize everyone’s journey will have difficulties and trials, but also remembering God will walk with us through the trials, trusting Him we can overcome our addictions when we surrender our lives to Him. I’m not saying it will be easy. I’m not saying it can be done without professional help. I have seen someone who prayed out to God and he has been free from his alcoholism for over a year. I have seen someone who has gone through many counseling session to work through an addiction to pornography that started from an early childhood trauma. If you are struggling with something, seek help. There are many good Christian counselors. There are support groups. Talk to your pastor, church leaders, people who are safe to you (ones that won’t gossip about your situation) and most of all surrender to God your struggle.

Praying you are surrounded by God’s abundant love and grace. ~ Faye

Come. Rest.

There are so many hardships, trials, pain and difficulty in life.

  • Typhoon in Philippines creates horrible damage …
  • Murder, abuse, assault, theft …
  • A friend is waiting a week of unknown as test after test is performed …
  • Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, Heart Disease …
  • Depression, anxiety, fear, worry …
  • Separation, divorce, children in the middle …
  • Abandoned children and families …
  • Confusion over health care, politics, finances …

The list goes on and on. It’s hard not to spiral downward in hopelessness, worry and defeat. But Jesus reminds us of His continual love and care in Matthew 11:28:

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11 28 webThe invitation is clear – Come.

It’s given with open arms ready to receive you. It is filled with unconditional love and abundant grace – Come.

The invitation is for those who are weary, tired, worn down, burned out, sad, depressed, brokenhearted, those who carry heavy burdens, great trials, overwhelming circumstances – Come.

The invitation is given by Jesus, our Lord and Savior – Come.

The promise – Rest, Calm, Peace, Serenity, Tranquility – Rest for your souls.

Take a moment to stop and breathe in that Rest.

Be filled with God’s PEACE.

Let the burden be lifted off of you as you Come and Rest with Jesus.

Praying you are filled with God’s abundant grace and rest, rest for your soul, as you Come to Him and give Him your burdens ~ Faye

Let the Holy Spirit Work

Quench not the Spirit

It’s the 5 year anniversary of a life-altering event in our lives.  In 2008 the small town I live in had 423 homes, all of which were flooded but ten, by the worst flood our area has ever seen.  We recovered from the devastation over time. And through it all saw the hand of God providing through the love, generosity and kindness of His people and resources. Looking back I realize the many difficulties we had to deal with and the emotional trauma caused by the devastation. Two weeks ago brought everything back as we prepared for potential flooding that could invade the homes and businesses of people we have come to know and love following the flood. The memories of mud and muck, the sickeningly sweet smell left behind by the flood waters, the mountains of wet, moldy trash on the streets, dinner from the Red Cross and Salvation Army, homes torn down because the damage was so great … I found myself exhausted from the energy of preparation and emotional trauma.

Exhaustion is a difficult thing for some to give in to. In the busyness of the urgent one often keeps pushing ahead to get whatever needs to be done done. This is where I found myself two weeks ago. Already tired from several weeks of the Spring rush at work and then faced with the reality of potential flooding and having to give more of myself when I was already tired. We were spared any damaging flooding, but then there was the energy to put things back together after we had pulled it all apart. While I was so tired, I let Satan enter into my thoughts and he wore me down with many destructive thoughts.  Soon I found myself wallowing in self-pity, feeling all alone. As many of you know, this is NOT a good thing to do. I oddly found it easier to stay in this depressed state than pick up God’s word and spend time with Him. This went on for about a week and each day I found myself getting more and more depressed and surly. I was not fun to be around. I was moody, tired and complaining. I could have written a Psalm entitled “Woe is me” very easily.

Fortunately I listened to God’s promptings (and a very-wise daughter) saying get back into spending time in God’s word. Every time I sat down I picked up the Bible or a devotional book on Hope, Joy, dealing with difficulties – anything that gave me glimpses of God’s joys and encouragement. I turned off the television and absorbed Christian music. After several days of this I was reminded of the joy I have through Christ’s death and resurrection. I was reminded of the many blessings God has showered my life with. I was encouraged to remember and be filled with JOY all the time, in all circumstances. I saw God’s hand working incredibly around me in how different people crossed my path at just the time I needed them. I intentionally got out of my car before work on Monday and made a decision to be filled with JOY despite any circumstances going on in my life. When asked how I was doing, I responded, “Great, it’s a beautiful day.” I allowed the Holy Spirit to flow to every part of my thinking. And the more I did, the more I felt changed from the inside.

1 Thess 5_19 Quench not HS small1 Thessalonians 5:19 says “Quench not the  Spirit.” The New Century Version says, “Don’t hold back the work of the Spirit.” The New International Reader’s Version says, “Don’t put out the Holy Spirit’s fire.” The New Living Translation says, “Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.”  When I allowed my anxious and depressed thinking to take hold, I didn’t allow the Holy Spirit to be my encourager, guide, comforter, or wisdom. John 14:26 says, …the Comforter  which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”  Allow the Holy Spirit to work in your lives, kindle the flame of the Spirit to fill you with all the fullness and joy each day so you may reflect God’s love to others.

My circumstances have not all improved, in fact, some things have gotten worse, but my perspective has thanks to an attitude adjustment from the Holy Spirit helping me refocus on God’s unconditional love, grace and abundant blessings. Praying you see God’s hand at work today in your lives and are incredibly blessed ~ Faye

I’d love to hear you share some ways God has been blessing you.

Am I Really Blessed?

There are days where I get so distracted with the details of life I forget to really think about the abundant blessings I have been showered with. I have a warm home and it is DRY this year despite some heavy rain days. I am able to work full time because of medications that keep my R.A. in check. I have a wonderful family and two blessings that come in the form of granddaughters with their giggles, smiles and hugs. I have the assurance that I belong body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. I have a husband who loves me through the good and bad of life. I have financial resources that help me live a comfortable life where all my needs and many of my wants are met. I have the ability to sit quietly with God and just enjoying BEING in His presence. I have wonderful friends and co-workers.

Blessings

With all the pain from the past week of the bombings in Boston, fire in Texas, earthquake, flooding, people finding out the cancer they thought they had is more invasive, people struggling with relationships and so much more. I look at the story of Job once again – everything was taken from him but his wife and his life. His cattle, oxen, and donkeys were stolen, his servants were killed or died, sheep burned, camels were taken, and all 10 sons and daughters were killed in a storm. Yet He remained faithful to God and God abundantly blessed Him with so much more than Job had before. Take the story of Joseph who was thrown in a pit by his brothers, sold into slavery, ended up in jail and then ends up as the Pharoah’s advisor in charge of helping with the famine. He ends up being a blessing to all of Israel in this position.

Where we often see trials, God often uses it as incredible provisions of His grace, mercy and blessings. In James, God’s Word reminds us to, “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” I have to say that in most of the trials of my life I have NOT seen them as blessings or faced them with JOY. But God tells us in many places that He is working through our trials to help us grow deeper in our relationship with Him.

One of my favorite songs these days has been Blessings by Laura Story. It serves as a very real reminder that the trials of life are God’s abundant mercies shaping us for what lies ahead.

Praying you may be filled with God’s abundant grace, mercy and blessings in whatever trials you face ~ Faye

The Master Gardener

It’s that time of year where we walk around the property and clean up the shrubs and gardens that are done producing. It means pulling up the frost-bit tomatoes and the browned sweet potatoes. It means reshaping my evergreen before winter so the Christmas lights will look nice on it.

I love God’s incredible timing because I’m just reading through a daily devotional a page or two at a time and I started midyear, so I’m not on the correct date in my reading. However, that seems to let God bless me more in very intentional words needed at just the right time. In Abundant Life Day Book by Nancy Guthrie, she looks at the Bible verses in the photo. Then she shares how God knows how to specifically nurture me into a faithful branch in God’s vineyard. Working in the garden center, I’ve watched how some of the staff has learned over the years to read the individual plants. They know which ones need more water or less, who needs to be repotted because it has become pot-bound and is no longer taking in the nourishment needed. And they know when and what plants need fertilizer and which ones don’t. When I compare that to Guthrie’s comments, I am stunned at how closely God pays attention to the details that surround me. If I need time with Him, He may cause a slow-me-down (often one that I’m not willing to take the time to deal with, but so necessary in hindsight). He may have to prune me to shape me into what He wants me to be now and in my heavenly home. He knows what activities are sapping my energy and He will trim it away.

One of Guthrie’s comments rang very true, “God may cut out some of the activities you enjoy so that in the stillness you can hear My voice.” I cannot tell you how true this is, but many who face chronic illnesses definitely know the truth of these words. For me, that was the enjoyment I had in working with teens in youth group – teaching, encouraging, worshiping, fooling around with, attending activities … it was what seemed to be the one way God allowed me to worship and serve Him. God changed that and told me it was time to step down after about a year of dealing with RA. It was hard. I argued with God and struggled with the let down. But God in His infinite wisdom allowed me to grow during the period after working with teens. He had a lot to teach me about BEING with Him. And the more I am with Him, the more I realize I want to be with Him even more. But I struggle with “finding” – no really with “making” time for Him. I know that if I don’t He’ll have another slow-me-down to help prune me and shape me into what He wants me to be.

Pruning and cutting hurt. Sometimes pruning is a simple snip from a clippers, other times it is a hard snap from a loppers or sometime it takes a hacksaw to cut away the dead growth. Whatever it takes, I need to remember that God’s pruning is with purpose, it is never careless or just because. He has learned to read me like a book and knows whether I need water, fertilizer or pruning.

By the way, again in God’s infinite wisdom and timing, I’m working with young people in a totally different perspective by helping them as they learn how to lead others in worship. I get to spend good time with them, hearing how life is going and encouraging them in their relationship with God.

Incredibly blessed by God’s incredible timing and careful pruning ~ Faye

Conquer Evil by Doing Good

Elie WieselI recently spent a few hours touring a Holocaust Museum.  Holocaust is from a Greek origin meaning “sacrifice by fire.” I’m awed, humbled, and grieved at the atrocities that occurred. We heard a female survivor speak. She was only 5 years old when she was taken to Dachau and later moved to Ravensbrück and Bergen-Belsen. She was 7 years old when Liberation Day came. When the troops came across her emaciated body, they thought she was a baby because of her size. She shared how she survived those difficult days by allowing her mind to be creative and imaginative. She remembers not having energy to move for anything and lying among the dead and dying. She was interned with Anne Frank who died a month  before Liberation Day. Her main reason for sharing her story is so that people don’t forget the injustices. So people remember to treat each other with respect and dignity. She realizes that when we forget what has happened in the past, we will be prone to repeat the atrocities again.

I left with many questions – “Why does God allow such wrongs?” “Why don’t I stand up for the person ridiculed?” “Why can’t we stop bullying?” But I was blessed by the strength of the speaker when she told of how her father, who also survived, became a devout Atheist, while she gained her strength to go through life from her belief in God. She reminds me a lot of Corrie ten Boom, who shares the story of meeting one of her concentration camp guards years later and all the anger and hatred came back, but then God reminded her to love and forgive.

In Romans 12, God says,

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord. Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them.If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.’ Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”

Seeing history like this is painful and part of me didn’t want to go, but I’m really glad I did.  It is a good reminder to Love One Another with God’s Abundant Love and Grace.  It’s a painful period of history, but one that teaches us a lot about how to treat others. If you want to learn more, check out these links:  United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Holocaust Museum St. Louis, or Corrie ten Boom’s story.

I am greatly blessed by God’s amazing gift – the gift of forgiveness and grace. Enjoying His love ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

Leave Quietly to God …

Leave Quietly to GodI have talked with several people this week who are concerned over loved one’s behavior and choices, or facing serious health issues, or decisions about their future employment or move. I’ve spoke with a parent who is beating themselves up about their child’s lifestyle and how they could have changed things somehow, maybe …   I’ve been in conversations about the mistakes – no, let’s call it what it really is – sin – we as Christians make daily and how that is observed from an unbeliever. Over the span of a few days I’ve found myself wanting to fix problems that were out of my control. I’ve found myself wanting to be bolder in my faith to have answered when someone challenged about someone calling themselves a Christian and yet spent time gossiping. And I’ve struggled with God trying to find the wisdom to know what I should do in certain situations.

We all want do-overs in life. There’s a part of us that wants to live a perfect life, but sin is ever-present in this earthly world. I’ve enjoyed reading The Quest for Serenity by G.H. Morling and Ruth Graham Bell several times over the past decade. Morling wrote the chapter, Leaving It All Quietly to God, based on portions of Psalm 62. Bell included a poem that reminded me not to live life with regrets but to give them over to God so that I may live a life filled with serenity that comes from God alone.

Leave quietly to God ~ My mistakes.  The sins and shortcomings of others.  The mistakes of others.  That which is none of my business.  Politics and world affairs.  That which I cannot get done.  And that which I cannot get undone.  The un-understandable.  That for which I am not remotely responsible.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands.  Psalm 138:8

Praying you will be blessed with God’s serenity ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

 

Getting Dressed for the Day

God's armorWhen flowers develop on the plant, they often grow in a tight bud. They’re the most vulnerable at this point. God’s given them a source of protection/armor as the delicate petals develop. When a baby grows within its mother, the mother is the protection and nutrition for the baby. I am grateful for the reminder from Ephesians 6:10-16 which encourages us to get dressed each day, ready to face whatever faces us.  How? By putting on the FULL armor of God.  Satan is out trying to destroy God’s kingdom, one person at a time. He is relentless in his pursuit, but God gives us full body coverage.

Paul begins Eph 6:10 with such encouragement – Be strong in the LORD and in His mighty power.  I immediately think of the song “Be strong in the LORD and NEVER GIVE UP HOPE. … God’s got His hand on you so don’t live life in fear … take your time to pray and thank God for each day.  (The Words I Would Say by Sidewalk Prophets)

I know I can’t get through the day without His protection. I can’t just put on the belt of truth and expect to be fully protected against the evil in this world. In order to be protected, well armed and ready to fight, I need to PUT ON THE WHOLE, COMPLETE ARMOR OF GOD.

I’m just finishing book 3 of The Hunger Games.  It’s an easy and fun read. When they get ready to head into the games, they aren’t fully protected or armed. Their “controller” wants to see them die. Satan wants us to die. He wants to conquer us and destroy God’s Kingdom. We live for our LORD who wants us to live FULLY for Him and so He prepares us for the battles ahead. Katniss (The Hunger Game’s main character) is excellent with bow and arrow. She can make them appear in places no one expects. They are aimed, focused, and deadly. She even finds the chink in the armor that takes down an empire.  Can Satan do that? Oh yes he can – when God allows it. What? God allows it!  Oh yes, He allows it so that we will run to Him, depend on Him, trust Him for each day. He wants us to get prepared for battle daily by putting on the full and complete armor of God that WILL protect us from the devil.

Most things that know the arrows are coming take flight, trying to outrun the arrow’s deadly point. God tells us that when we put on the full armor we will be able to resist our enemy. We will be bold and confident to stand our ground because we are covered with the armor of God. When those beautifully delicate fern peonies open their blossoms …

So grateful for the blessing of God’s full armor. Once again – getting dressed for the day!  Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

Worshiping God

I’m just back from another worship rehearsal. I thoroughly enjoy the team God has put together for me to serve with.  We enjoy spending time working out the kinks before Sunday and not taking ourselves too seriously. We enjoy who God created each of us to be. I recently purchased a beautiful calla lily and had fun taking photographs of it. When I got it home I realized that one of the blossoms was actually “deformed” with a second petal. I had spent about 1/2 an hour taking photos and never saw the flaw. Why? Because I was so captivated by the beauty of the plant from its multicolored leaves to it’s inviting blossoms. God doesn’t care if we sing off key, hit wrong notes on the piano, can’t get the sound system to pick up the guitar, or miss the timing of a slide. God doesn’t care about the little details. God just wants our worship. We were made to serve an Audience of One. Just enjoy praising God with your heart today! I was searching for some quotes on worship and came across these two:

“As John 4:23 says, Its time, as worshipers of God, to give him all we have. For when he is exalted, everything about me is decreased. So many times we stand in the way of really stepping into the secret place of worship with God. Just abandon tradition and the “expected” ways of Praise & Worship and get lost in the holy of holies with the sole intention of blessing the Fathers heart.” Jessica Leah Springer

“When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.” Lamar Boschman

Praying that your heart may be blessed with the fullness of God to lift up your hearts in praise to worship Him! ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

God’s Love Is Too Wonderful to Fully Understand

Ephesians 3:19a May you experience the Love of Christ

6:00 AM

“Then you will be MADE COMPLETE with all the FULLNESS OF LIFE AND POWER that comes from God.”  ~ Ephesians 3:19b

Just think of what it is like to FULLY EXPERIENCE a sunrise. I’ve gone out to take photos at 5:30 in the morning. The anticipation is incredible as I stand there and watch the sky changes hues. It is amazing how I can be drawn into the beauty of the colors, thrill at the changing reflection on the water and in the clouds, and then I’m filled with peace, joy, calm, beauty, and a sense of God’s splendor. These 4 photos of the sunrise were taken over a period of 20 minutes. Amazing how the colors change. It is truly difficult to describe.

6:05 AM

Paul tells us to FULLY EXPERIENCE the LOVE OF CHRIST. And then he tells us – imagine it, but you can’t fully understand it because IT IS TOO GREAT!

 

6:17 AM

I’m reminded of a simple little song:

God is so wonderful, I can’t explain, But I can say, Glory, Hallelujah! Praise His Holy Name.
It’s wonderful because He saved me. It’s wonderful that He forgave me. It’s wonderful, wonderful, So very wonderful, wonderful that He is mine.
I cast on Him my every burden, Lay at His feet my every care, It’s wonderful, wonderful, so very wonderful, Wonderful that He is mine.

Virginia Marshall  © 1964 Word Music, Inc.  CCLI song# 10525

6:19 AM

I looked up the word “wonderful” beyond what is ordinary or usual; highly unusual or exceptional or remarkable; extraordinary; excellent; outstanding; tremendous; magnificent; superb; sensational; awesome; stupendous; terrific; sovereign; remarkable; amazing; fantastic; incredible; astonishing; phenomenal; marvelous; staggering; astounding; miraculous; awe-inspiring; jaw-dropping; mind-blowing …”. God cannot be described simply with one word. Who He is. What He does. His resplendent glory. His unconditional love. His amazing grace. And yet, that indescribable God, loves each one of us and promises that we will be MADE COMPLETE in God. We will be filled to all the FULLNESS OF LIFE AND POWER that God gives us, and it will be enough, sufficient.

Chris Tomlin sings Enough. I won’t put the words here since they’re under the video on the YouTube link. We need to stop and think about the amazing, awesome, wonderful love God lavishes on us. We are so blessed with the knowledge that God’s love for us is not just when we’re good, or just to give us happiness. It is to transform us, to grow us into being like Him. During this season of Lent, when we particularly think of the sacrificial love of Christ and are filled with wonder and awe of His gift, we must realize God’s love is penetrating into the depth of our soul. He’s working to change us from the inside out.

May you experience the blessing of basking in the sunshine of God’s love ~ Faye

Filtered Through the Blood of Christ

I last wrote about us being masterpieces made by God. Then I got to thinking about the old analogy:

When we look at the back of the work of art, we see all the knots and paths to get to the next color area. However, God sees the entire piece from the front and sees the beauty and value. We can easily compare that to our lives. The back shows the imperfections and sins in us. Yet God, knowing we are sinners, still sees us as beautiful, priceless masterpieces. He looks at us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ dying on the cross. He sees the individual He created. He sees our inner beauty. He sees our value. He sees very clearly the plans He has for us.

I think we wonder how God can look at us as perfect masterpieces. How can He see selfish, sinful, imperfect people as precious, valued and prize? God uses the filter of the blood of Jesus Christ to look at us.

Here’s an example of what a filter can do. In photography, and particularly in Photoshop, one can use different filters to change a perspective. This is a photo of something I took that is common, but I applied a chrome filter to it:

When looked at, most people say they see water or ice, but they don’t come anywhere close to what the actual object is.

When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, it means Jesus died in our place on the cross. When God looks at us, He no longer sees the imperfections and sins. God sees us through the filter of Jesus’ blood. Our sins and imperfections can’t show up through the “blood filter”, and God sees us as perfect as He is.

Ephesians 3:12 says that through Jesus we have confident, bold access to God. We are encouraged to approach the Father confidently and boldly because in His eyes we are perfect. We no longer bear the evidence of sin or imperfections before His eyes. Why? Because we act perfectly and do what is right all the time? No way! Because God sees us through Jesus’ “blood-filter” which has made us perfect us forever.

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. – 1 John 1:9

We used Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 23, Q&A 60 this Sunday –

How are you right with God?

Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.  Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them, and even though I am still inclined toward all evil, nevertheless, without my deserving it at all, out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me. All I need to do is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.

Praying you will be blessed with the knowledge that through the blood of Jesus Christ, you are made perfect ~ Faye

Here is the original photo I took:

Linked to Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory

Love Lifted Me!

God's love lifted me!My husband and I enjoy a walk along the river near our home. However, since God has blessed us with a very nice winter so far, the ground is sometimes not frozen. This has left us sinking in the mud and slipping around on the trail. The mud clings to our boots making it much harder to walk. My husband lovingly takes a stick once we get to the rocks and scrapes the majority of the mud off our boots so our walking is easier.

I woke up singing a mix of a few old songs – “He lifted me from the pit and from the miry clay, He set my feet on a rock establishing my way. … From sinking sand He lifted me, with tender hand He lifted me, from shades of night to plains of light, O praise His name, He lifted me. … Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else would help, love lifted me!” Those songs mixed through my mind and heart causing me to contemplate what God was trying to tell me. Two thoughts seemed to come from those song lyrics:

1) I am a sinner. Too often I turn my back on God. I let anger, jealousy, rejection and worry fill my mind instead of surrendering completely, trusting God to guide me and fill with His peace. No matter how many times I break God’s heart, and get stuck in the mud and mire of sin, He lovingly comes along and draws me close to Him. He tenderly, yet firmly scrapes off the mud of sin that is stuck to my heart and makes it easier to follow Him closely each day.

2) Relationships.  During Christmas we focus on the blessing of Christ’s birth to give us the gift of salvation through His sacrificial death. It seems that the need to tell others of Christ’s love is even stronger. However, with broken relationship and others who don’t want to hear of Christ, it isn’t always easy to share who God is. It seemed like God was reminding me as I walked that He is working tenderly, gently in the hearts of the people I care about who don’t know Him personally or aren’t living lives that put Him first. Instead of worrying over a lost loved one, I kept hearing – When nothing else will help (not my nagging, impatience, anger or worry), it will be God’s love that lifts them to Him. God seemed to be challenging and reminding me I need to be a reflection of His love to those in my life. I also need to be available to be used by God to gently help scrape away the mud and miry clay if He so leads.

3) Also, in my worrying over the absence of a loved one, He reminded me of His ways of turning around a heart filled with despair through David’s Psalm 40

 1 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. 3 He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.

4 Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord, …

5 O Lord my God, You have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all Your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.

11 Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. Let Your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me. 12 For troubles surround me—too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage. 13 Please, Lord, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me.

16 But may all who search for You be filled with joy and gladness in You. May those who love Your salvation repeatedly shout, “The Lord is great!”

May you be filled with the abundant blessing of God’s love lifting you from your cares ~ Faye

Transformation

New BeginningsWe are so blessed!  We are filled with “the surpassing riches of God’s grace” in His kindness to us (Ephesians 2:7). God loves us. When we turn around and love God and believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are given an incredible gift.

1 Corinthians 15:51-57 tells of this gift:

“But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have the incredible blessing of receiving this gift, but also the important responsibility of sharing this gift with others. The Advent season begins this Sunday. We are remembering Christ’s birth and anticipating His Second Coming.  Share this wonderful news with others around you, so they too, may enjoy the blessing of being transformed through God’s grace.

Enjoying God’s abundant blessings ~ Faye

A Benefit of Believing

I had the privilege of teaching the high school Sunday school class this Sunday. We looked at an introduction to the Apostle’s Creed. I was reminded that this was and is used as part of our baptismal form today. The pastor says, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” And an adult member says “I believe.” There are many churches and many denomations of believer throughout the world that confess the Apostle’s Creed:

CreationI believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended to hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

*that is, the true Christian church of all times and all places.  © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. http://www.crcna.org. Reprinted with permission.

I was reading 1 John 5:1-12 this morning and was once again blessed by John’s reminder that, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God.” We BELONG to Him. Is there anything more comforting? This world is full of stress and concerns. But we have this assurance: no matter what we may face out in the world, we belong to God. We are held in His grasp and nothing can snatch us away from Him.

I am so blessed by the Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 1 in a statement – My only comfort in life and in death is that I belong, body and soul, to my faithful Savior,  Jesus Christ.

Praying you feel the blessing and comfort of belonging to God ~ Faye

Anticipation and Unconditional Love

I was reading 1 John 4:7-21 which focuses on – God is love, God’s unconditional love. When we are filled with His love, we have to share that love with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we can’t keep it to ourselves.

As I was reading and reflecting on verses 17 and 18, I was filled with thoughts of what a wonderful blessing to even think of let alone imagine being the bride of Christ. When I read, “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear.” All I could picture was a honeymoon night where a couple comes together for the first time – somewhat shy, with anticipation but fully in love. That love overlooks the body faults and blemishes. Being the bride of Christ, I will be able to BOLDLY and CONFIDENTLY approach the judgment day because God sees me through LOVING EYES and the GRACE of Christ’s blood shed on the cross. He doesn’t see my sinfulness. I can’t imagine what it will be like to be in the ultimate experience of unconditional love, but I am SO READY! Come, LORD Jesus, come quickly!

The real focus of those verses are very challenging, at least to me. Mark 6:31-35 tells of Jesus talking to a crowd of people when His someone said His family was outside to see Him.

Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then He looked at those around Him and said, “Look, these are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and my sister and my mother.”

After reading that, I have to admit I have a large family in Christ that I need to be loving unconditionally. That includes loving some who have hurt me deeply. I need to surrender to God, seek His forgiveness, follow His will and leading. Then filled with His unconditional love, turn to others and love the people who are my family in Christ. I’m so grateful through God’s grace, forgiveness and love, He can change any heart – including mine.

In just a week and a half we will begin the Advent season. The anticipation of celebrating Christ’s birth and looking forward to His coming again are exciting. These thoughts fill me with longing. But then I look at verses 20-21 – “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And He has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.” I realize it is really easy to get excited about anticipating Christ’s return, without looking at the responsibility of changing me. I love God! I can get lost in worshiping and glorifying God. But if I really LOVE GOD, I need to be showing this openly to my brother and sister in Christ.

I like the notes from my study Bible on our love grows more perfect  (v. 17).  It doesn’t mean flawless, but mature and complete.  It doesn’t mean I will be able to love perfectly and completely unconditionally as God. However, as I mature in my relationship with God, God’s love transforms me into the person He wants me to be.

Praise God as I grow in my love of Him, my fears are set aside for judgment day. I mature in my love for my family in Christ, and I eagerly anticipate the day I am taken as His bride in heaven.

I ENJOY singing And Can It Be by Charles Wesley, particularly the last verse: 

No condemnation now I dread, for Christ, and all in Him, is mine! Alive in Him, my living Head, and clothed in righteousness divine, bold I approach the eternal throne and claim the crown through Christ my own. Amazing love, how can it be that You, my LORD, should die for me?

Enjoy the wonderful blessing of knowing we can BOLDING approach the throne of God through His Grace and LOVE!

God’s Abundant Blessings ~ Faye

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20john%204:7-21&version=NLT

God of the Impossible

My heart has been heavy for my beloved son. You see it was his birthday recently, and we couldn’t even get in contact with him. He’s made some decisions to put other things in his life and family hasn’t been one. His parents grieve over a lost relationship. So do several others in the family, no one more so than his daughter who doesn’t understand his choices at all. So I continue to pour out my heart and soul to God who seems to remain quiet. I KNOW that’s not true, but from a mom’s heart, I want to SEE the answers right now and alleviate the pain for everyone.

With the holidays coming, I know many people dread the reminder of losses or the dramas of broken relationships that are likely to occur.

  • There’s the issues regarding children with split custody and visitation dates.
  • There’s the lost loved one and the absence amid the memories brings a deeper pain and reminder of the loss.
  • There’s a prodigal son, daughter, brother, sister, parent, friend who have turned their back on God and all He has to give.
  • You might be the one who will sit alone every day during the holiday. No one comes to visit. It seems no one remembers you anymore.
  • You might be the one who longs for the time you could make handcrafted gifts, wrap presents, go out shopping and stand in long lines with dexterity, energy and without any pain.
  • You might be the one who wishes she had the energy to bake holiday goodies with her grandchildren.

Many of us face these types of hurts and loss during the holidays and special occasions. I am learning it’s not about me changing my son during these struggles. Oh yes, I regularly pray that God will continue to work in his heart and bring him back to God and his family; but really my struggle is about me. Instead of worrying and dwelling on the loss, I need to pour out my heart to God. I need to praise Him and tell others what He has done for me. I need to remember God’s faithfulness throughout my life and especially in the difficult times of the past. This helps give me the assurance that God IS with me. That God cares about my son. That God hears those who grieve the loss of their physical abilities or relationships and carries them through the deepest pains.

Psalm 66:5 – “Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles He performs for people.” Sometimes the miracle isn’t healing the losses as much as it is dealing with us in our loss. You see we are creatures who too often tend to focus on the negative, worry about tomorrow, or dwell on our grief. Verses 9,10, 12b say, “Our lives are in His hands, and He keeps our feet from stumbling. You have tested us, O God; You have purified us like silver. … but You brought us to a place of great abundance.” Be filled with the precious knowledge that God knows intimately your suffering. That even though God is allowing you to be in the refining process, He will bring you out so that you may go forward and say to others,

The God of Hope

“Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He did for me. For I cried out to Him for help, praising Him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the LORD would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw His unfailing love from me.” (vs. 16-20)

It may not be the answer I was looking for, but focusing on God’s abundant love for me has filled me with His peace. The knowledge of His great love for my son fills me with His hope. The knowledge of His sacrificial gift of His Son fills me with His love.

May God abundantly bless you as He answers your prayers ~ Faye

Forever Grateful for God’s Call

What an incredible blessing of assurance – we HAVE the Holy Spirit at work within us, fighting for us, keeping us from temptation, helping us understand God’s word and helping us to discern truth from evil.

I have been reading I John 4:1-6 this week. At the beginning of the week I was concentrating more on how we can see false prophets by testing the spirits to see whether they were confessing that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh and is from God. But I had a problem with that because in James 2 it say, “You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” So if it is just stating the words it wasn’t enough. So I realized the implied part is that this is GENUINE, heart-convicting and changing confession, not just saying the words.

I had some time today so I listened to John Piper’s message on Test the Spirits to See Whether They are of God, and I received some great insights into this passage that I want to share. http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/test-the-spirits-to-see-whether-they-are-of-god

This isn’t just about discerning false prophets, but seeing who is a true believer/child of God. Verse 2 says we must hear them genuinely confess with their mouths and in their hearts, that Jesus Christ is LORD. Verse 6 encourages us to test people by seeing how receptive they are to allow sincere and truthful words to go into their heart.

Not one of us will hear the message of Christ’s salvation unless the Holy Spirit softens our heart and opens our ears to hear.  Not one of us will confess – sincerely and genuinely – from the heart that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh unless the Holy Spirit prepares our hearts and humbles us to accept the free gift of God’s grace through Jesus Christ, our LORD.

What a blessing to know that God loves us so much He calls us to Him. He gifts us with the Holy Spirit to work in us so that we can hear God’s call and receive His grace. I like how Piper concluded, “If this type of listening and confessing could be explained any other way, they would not be sure signs of the Spirit’s presence and power at work in us.”

Thinking of all this reminds me of the song – I’m Forever Grateful © 1985 Mark Altrogge.

You did not wait for me, to drawn near to You,

but You clothed Yourself with frail humanity.

You did not wait for me to cry out to You,

but You let me hear Your voice calling me.

And I’m forever grateful to You.

I’m forever grateful for the cross.

I’m forever grateful to You,

that You came to seek and save the lost.

What a wonderful blessing to know that God is at work in us so we can hear His invitation to come and worship Him, believe in Jesus Christ our Savior. What a great reminder of a way to pray for those who haven’t heard – that God will soften their hearts and open their ears to hear the words of TRUTH.

Enjoying the wonderful truth of the Holy Spirit’s continuing work in me and you 😉

God’s abundant blessings ~ Faye

Contentment

I seem to be surrounded with this topic this past week from Bible study, to worship planning, to family questions. So thought I’d share what I think contentment means to me. A quote from Dr. Billy Graham reminds us that we can be content within, even when everything seems to be very difficult:

The happiness which brings enduring worth to life is not the superficial happiness that is dependent on circumstances. It is the  happiness and contentment that fills the soul even in the midst of the most distressing circumstances and the most bitter environment. It is the kind of happiness that grins when things go wrong and smiles through tears.  

The Apostle Paul says he has learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11-12). Those words sound simple, but look at Saul/Paul’s life. He spells out some of many things that have happened to him (2 Corinthians 11:23-30 – imprisoned, beaten, left for dead, stoned, shipwrecked, always in danger, hungry, sleepless), yet later he says he’s learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

But is it always that easy? My nephew asked a questions this morning on Facebook, Why doesn’t God heal amputees?” There is no easy answer. God does what He decides in His timing. But when we rely on Him, we are filled with a calm assurance He is in control. He knows the bigger picture about what is best for us. Not necessarily what we want or desire, but what we need to help shape us into the person He wants us to be.

I think too often I focus on me, my pain, my discomfort, my fatigue. I don’t step back and look at the bigger picture – my faith has grown during my life, but it has really GROWN during the deepest trials.  I’m not content with the trial, but I am content knowing that God is with me. He’s living in me, guiding me ahead each day, giving me strength for what comes next.

My husband is a men’s quartet fan, and so we have listened many years to the Cathedral Quartet. Years ago, George Younce read this poem by Red Foley

 

Today, upon a bus, I saw a lovely girl with golden hair,
I envied her….she seemed so gay….and wished I were so fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle.
She had one leg and wore a crutch; but as she passed….a smile!

Oh God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two legs. The world is mine!

I stopped to buy some candy. The lad who sold it had such charm.
I talked with him. He seemed so glad. If I were late, t’would do no harm.
And as I left, he said to me, “I thank you. You have been so kind.
It’s nice to talk with folks like you. You see,” he said, “I’m blind.”

Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two eyes. The world is mine.

Later while walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play. I stopped a moment,
When I said, “Why don’t you join the others, Dear?”
He looked ahead without a word, and then I knew he could not hear.

Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two ears, the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I’d go, with eyes to see the sunset’s glow,
with ears to hear what I would know….

Oh God forgive me when I whine.
I am blessed indeed. The world is mine!

After the poem, they would end with We Are So Blessed, by Bill and Gloria Gaither

We are so blessed, by the gifts of Your hand we just can’t understand why You loved us so much. We are so blessed, we just can’t find a way or the words that can say, “Thank You, Lord, for Your touch.” When we’re empty You fill us ’til we overflow. When we’re hungry You feed us, and cause us to know. We are so blessed, take what we have to bring, take it all, everything, Lord, we love You so much.

We are so blessed by the things You have done, the victories we’ve won and what You’ve brought us through. We are so blessed, take what we have to bring, take it all everything, Lord, we bring it to You. When we’re empty You fill us ’till we overflow. When we’re hungry You feed us, and cause us to know. We are so blessed, take what we have to bring, take it all, everything, Lord, we love You so much.

A lot of contentment is just about perspective. Take time to see how God is pouring out His abundant blessings on you today. Have you seen Him? Please share, I love His divine appointments, encouragements, acts.

God’s abundant blessings ~ Faye

Love One Another

Love – what a simple and precious word. 

What a blessing to have been in the fellowship of believers yesterday. I say that mostly from hindsight. I started the day so tired, the cold weather affecting my body with fatigue. I was on the worship team and usually have an increased energy that only comes from the Holy Spirit, but yesterday I was drained. I was grateful we had planned another leader and the pastor to take the majority of the service, because I couldn’t get my mind out of the Fibro fog. Yet I ended leaving the church filled with the blessed love of God’s grace given to me by others.

When love happens in the framework of Christians, an amazing thing happens. God’s presence flows from one person to another. It may be with a look, a hug, laughter, or tears. Encouragement comes from people who are listening through God’s ears. Even people that we don’t always get along with, that we’ve had major disagreements with, can be seen through the eyes of love. Because as a Christian, we are looking at others through Christ’s eyes of compassion.

1 John 3:11 & 12 (NLT) says, “This is the message you  have heard from the beginning:  We should love one another.” My first thoughts were,  “I agree. Love One Another. Good words.” Then I read vs. 12 – “We must not be like Cain, who belonged, to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous.” I found myself thinking, “I’ve never killed anyone. So this doesn’t apply to me.” WRONG! Ok, I’ve never physically taken someone’s life, but how often have I struggled with my temper, anger, or a desire to get revenge. I have caused pain to others by what I’ve said or done. I’ve torn hearts apart by not looking at someone with the eyes of God’s love.

I have a card I keep posted in my office. I wish I would remember these verses more often:

Perfect Harmony

“You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the LORD forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”  Colossians 3:13-15 NLT

Living in Harmony

I was recently out taking photos of the changing leaves. I came across a park where the differences of colors blended and added a beauty that seemed to enhance the other trees in the area. As I reflected on yesterday morning’s blessed friendships with other believers, I realized that’s what I was seeing in my fellow Christians. When we are reflecting God’s love to someone, we help God’s love shine through them to us as well. We live in a harmony of colors.

One of the best things that happened yesterday was seeing how God has been at work in a relationship where there was hurt in the past. Once we opened our hearts to forgiving each other, God poured out His love and grace on us. We have been able to encourage each other and laugh with each other.

Love One Another – three simple words with such important meaning.

Praising God for His blessings from my sisters and brothers in Christ ~ Faye

The Transforming Process

I talked yesterday about being transformed at Christ’s return and in our daily walk with God. This morning I was challenged with a situation where my attitude needed to be transformed by God because anger, bitterness, frustration were some of the things that were taking control. God’s timing is always perfect – this morning  was no exception when I was reading 1 John 3:4-8. John talks about being pure when God dwells in us and being sinners when we let Satan have a foothold. I definitely needed to have some transforming work done on my attitude.

My husband’s hobby is blacksmithing. He’s shared with me the process that happens to form metal through fire.  Iron and steel can be formed into something when they are really hot. First he has to have something in mind and creates a design.  Whatever he makes, it is always a one-of-a kind object, even when it’s laid over a pattern.  Then he has to prepare the fire. He adds the coal, cleans out the clinkers that won’t burn, and uses the blower to breathe oxygen into the fire to bring it to the temperature he needs.  He watches the flames as they change color and knows by that color when the fire is at the temperature he needs for the type of metal he is using.

Next he puts the metal into the depth of the fire. He also watches the color of the metal to tell when it is ready to be worked. Once the metal reaches the temperature he wants, he takes it out of the fire and puts it on the anvil, but that doesn’t shape the metal alone. Only when he lifts the hammer and starts to pound does the metal begin to give way to the shape it’s intended to be. But a blacksmith doesn’t just bang away at the metal. It is often a very gentle and intentional strike of the hammer to create the desired effect. After the initial hammer blows, slag begins to flake off of the metal.

What happens next is often like our walk with Christ, the iron being out of the fire begins to get cold and won’t form easily. The blacksmith can actually hear, as well as feel, the change in the temperature of the hammer’s ring on the metal and anvil as the metal cools. So he puts the iron back into the fire to heat it to the color needed then brings the iron to the anvil and hammer again. This process is repeated many times before the desired shape occurs. After the forming process, the remaining slag is brushed off. The metal is set aside to cool, or is quenched to cool more quickly. Depending on the use of the formed metal, a wax coating may be added after it is allowed to cool and then rubbed in to bring out the color of the steel and bring a soft luster to the finish.

The blacksmithing process reminds me of what God does daily in our lives to transform us to be like Him. It’s a long process and it’s not easy, it takes work, fortunately He is patient. Often God takes us to the heat of the fire. He’s always there watching the heat of the fire and the metal to make sure it’s just enough and not too much. Then He begins the process of gently shaping us by the pounding of the hammer. As we are gradually shaped into what He desires us to be, He has to regularly brush the remaining slag off. He inspects us to see how we are growing to be like Him. Occasionally He has to quickly cool us off so we don’t become too brittle if we are too hot.

What a wonderful heavenly Father we have who lovingly takes us through the fire, but won’t let us be consumed. He molds, forms and shapes us to what He wants us to be. How much more quickly it would happen if we would willingly surrender to His molding hands.

God’s abundant blessings come from Isaiah 43:1-3a as an encouragement as well as Psalm 139:13-14

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the One who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

Celebrating God’s abundant blessings ~ Faye

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