Monday, March 28, 2011

Breaking Free from our empty places

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14

Notes from Breaking Free – March 28th


Day 3 – The fullness of Unfailing Love


Benefit #3 of our covenant relationship with Christ
To Find Satisfaction in God


No matter how long any of us have struggled, God is not giving up on us. He may allow the life of a captive to grow harder and harder so she will be more desperate to do what freedom in Christ requires – but He will never divorce her!


As I type this, I realize that I didn’t read that this morning. This is from Day 2. But isn’t it perfect!?

To live victoriously, every day we must learn to pour out our hearts to God, confess sin daily, acknowledge every hollow place, and invite Him to fill us fully! Then we need to continue to fan the flame of His love by reading Scripture, listening to edifying music, and praying often. We also need to avoid things that obviously quench His Spirit. Beloved, when you make a daily practice of inviting His love to fill your hollow places and make sure you are not hindering the process, God will begin to satisfy you more than a double cheeseburger!

If we’re not experiencing satisfaction, a hindrance exists and we want to identify it and ask God to remove it. Ordinarily, the primary hindrance to satisfaction in our lives is refusing Him access to our empty places.

Beth Moore

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stay

From Proverbs 31 Ministries

"May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you." Psalm 33:22 (NIV)


Stay through conflict.
Stay through struggles.
Stay through suffering.
Stay through discomfort.
Stay through misunderstanding.

Mary Magdalene is a beautiful example of a constant heart. Because of her great love for Jesus, she stayed.

She stayed after He set her free.
She stayed as He traveled.
She stayed through His torture.
She stayed at the cross.
She stayed at His burial.
She stayed to pass on the news of His resurrection.

Mary Magdalene is a picture of steadfast faithfulness. But sometimes I have trouble staying.

Dear Lord,
Sometimes it's not easy to stay when conflict, disagreements or differences get in the way. Would You give me the power to love people unconditionally and the wisdom to know how to love them well?
In Jesus' Name,
Amen.

Amy Carroll

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tame Your Tongue

Today's Truth

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver" (Proverbs 25:11).

By Mary Southerland from Girlfriends in God

Friend to Friend

Fruit is one of my favorite foods. When I go grocery shopping, it always takes me longer to get through the fruit section than any other area of the store. I spend what some might consider a ridiculously long time picking out what I hope will be the juiciest apples, the plumpest grapes and sweetest bananas. Experience has taught me to quickly discard any piece of fruit that is bruised, mushy or discolored. I shake cantaloupe and thump watermelons. Ripe strawberries have a unique sweet scent and only the reddest cherries will do. Plums and tomatoes must be firm to the touch, bright in color and wrinkle-free while the more wrinkles the better when it comes to choosing passion fruit.

On a recent trip to the grocery store, I was carefully making my fruit selections when the thought occurred to me that I spend more time choosing fruit than I spend choosing my words.

Words are power tools that can build and encourage. Words can also destroy and cause confusion. We have all been hurt and even defeated by words spoken in anger or words rising out of a wounded and bitter heart. I have been guilty of speaking damaging words with the ulterior motive of flaunting power or demonstrating control. It is so easy for my mouth to be in motion before my mind is in gear and the result is rarely good or godly.

The words we speak can clarify or complicate a situation. I have watched my husband diffuse an emotional bomb and avoid a potentially explosive situation with a few carefully chosen and quietly spoken words of wisdom. I have also observed him in the art of confrontation - and with Dan, it really is an art. In fact, one person told me that he was halfway home before he realized that Dan had just confronted and corrected him.

Solomon offers great wisdom concerning the use of words, "Whoever controls his mouth protects his own life. Whoever has a big mouth comes to ruin" (Proverbs 13:3 GWT). If we do not learn to use and control our tongue, it will use and control us. While it is true that we need to choose our words carefully, it is just as true that the tongue is a spiritual thermometer that reflects the condition of the heart.

I am not a good patient and tend to think that most medical rules apply to everyone else in my life - but not to me. After all, I am a woman and I am a Southerland. According to my husband, it doesn't get much tougher than that. Several years ago, I was slammed with a high fever and blinding headache that sent me to bed for days, something highly unusual for me. I called my doctor. When he heard my symptoms, he told me to come in immediately and even though his waiting room was full, he would make room for me in his already crowded schedule. His urgency was not encouraging.

The minute I walked in his office, the receptionist waved me back to the patient area where a nurse promptly escorted me to an examination room, hurriedly recorded my symptoms, took my temperature, glanced briefly at my throat and quickly left the room. Minutes later, the doctor and a nurse walked in and stood on the opposite side of the room, almost smiling at me. At this point, I realized that whatever I had was evidently highly contagious and probably fatal. I felt so awful that the latter was definitely appealing.

"Mary, I am almost certain you have viral meningitis," the doctor said. Seeing the blank look on my face, he explained, "Your abnormally high fever of 104 and severe headache are classic symptoms of meningitis, but we need to run some tests to verify my suspicions. Oh, and by the way, how long have you had the solid white coating on your tongue?" I was stunned! What coating? Why is the color of my tongue even important in determining my illness? The doctor continued, "The health of the tongue is a very strong indicator of the health of the entire body."

The same is true when it comes to the words we speak. "The mouth speaks the things that are in the heart. Good people have good things in their hearts, and so they say good things. But evil people have evil in their hearts, so they say evil things" (Matthew 12:34-35, NCV).



I really wanted this part to stand out! This is a heart check for me and you.




If my words are boastful, my heart is insecure. If my words are filthy, my heart is impure and if my words are critical, my heart is filled with pride and anger. In other words, the problem is not really my mouth, it's my heart.

The words I speak reflect the true condition of my heart. Careless words can cause such grief. Unless strained through discipline and holiness, words can convey false perspectives and untruths. However, the right word, spoken at the right time and in the right way can bring order in the midst of confusion and light on a very dark path. I believe God gives us spiritual "radar" so we can assess a situation and speak the right word for that circumstance. We just need to check the "radar screen" before we speak.

Let's Pray
Father, I can be so careless with the words I speak. Forgive me. Please help me learn how to control my tongue. Create in me a clean heart, God, so that I can speak words filled with grace and love.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.


Now It's Your Turn
Read Colossians 4:6. "Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone."

How would you describe words that are "gracious?"
How can our words be "effective" in the lives of others?
What do you think Paul means when he says that we can have the "right answer for everyone?"

More from the Girlfriends
The subject of taming the tongue is a hard one. Since communication is a gift from God, He has a plan for the right way to use it. My problem is that I tend to think my plan is better. I know. I can be arrogant ... and stubborn. Someone recently sent me this prayer: "Lord, keep Your arm around my shoulder and Your hand over my mouth." Amen!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why am I awake?!

Here it is. Sunday night. I am always in bed early to get some extra sleep before I start my work week at 5 am. I am talking early, 8:30 or maybe even 8 pm! But tonight I can't sleep. It is 10 pm. I've been laying in bed listening to snoring for an hour. WIDE AWAKE. Why did I drink coke this afternoon? I am never drinking soda again.

I miss Dad.

So after I inventory my upcoming weeks events, I think "just get up!". And in my email is this devotion from Thursday. After I start reading it, I realize that it's not the soda keeping me awake. It's the Holy Spirit prompting me, convicting me, to change my heart.

So I am sharing what I learned tonight.


When I Am Free - 17 Mar 2011

Lynn Cowell


"You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another humbly in love."
Galatians 5:13 (NIV)


“Mom, the dog won’t come! I think she has run away again.”
Uggg….This was MY time. Why should I have to take care of the dog? I never wanted her any way! These were the stinky thoughts in my brain at 9:30 one evening after spending the day doing the “have to’s.” I was enjoying my few minutes of “want to’s.” I didn’t want to be interrupted!
As I got up off the couch, my daughter asked, “What is wrong?” It felt as though the Holy Spirit Himself was asking me. What is wrong with you?
What was wrong with me was me.
Do you ever suffer from Me Syndrome? You know, that time of the day or the month when you feel that now is the time for me? I sure do; often in fact. If it doesn’t help or benefit me, I don’t want to do it! I guess that is why Galatians 5:13 jumped off the page when I read it recently.
“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” (NIV)
Ouch! That really hurt! Freedom is given so I can serve. Okay, Lord, so where do you want to free me so I can serve?
Here is the short list of what was downloaded to my heart in a mere two minutes of journaling my response to that question:
When I am free from ambition, I am free to serve with a joyful heart.
When I am free from selfishness, I am free from irritation.
When I am free from jealousy, I am free to rejoice in the good of another.
When I am free from judgment, I am free to pray from a pure heart.
When I am free from expectation, I am free to enjoy whatever comes.
When I am freed from controlling others, I am free to see the miraculous.
When I am truly free, I will see the Kingdom of God in my life.
That is what I want to see –the Kingdom of God come in my life. What is that going to take? It's going to take tearing free from my own selfish thoughts and feelings. It's going to take looking at things from God's perspective. It's going to take God's help. In order to be free, I have to be free of me.
Do you want to be free too? Free to find total and utter completion in Jesus? What steps will you take this week to make that freedom a reality?

Father, when I don't get my "to do" list done, I am irritated and frustrated. When I am tired and one more person needs me, I feel angry and annoyed. Only You can free me of me, Jesus. I give You permission to do it! In Your powerful Name, Amen.


It's not my prayer, just my thoughts. Coincidence? Never! Thank you Lord for reminding me that I truly want to be free and only You can provide that freedom!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Music to our ears

Today was the 60th Annual Bucks County Music Festival. Approximately 500 students auditioned, but just 120 students from various middle schools gathered to sing seven songs. The concert lasted only 40 minutes but we were truly WOW'd!





Only seven students from Amanda's middle school were selected. Forty five Altos tried out and Amanda was number twenty seven of the thirty selected.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Parade Photos



Amanda is in the second row...from the left she is the second girl.






Birthday Food

Cap't Crunch French Toast










Bowtie Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes and Crab Recipe

Grocery list:

Bow-tie or pasta of your choice
Half pound to one pound of Snow Crab legs (Dungeness will work, but harder to de-shell)
Sun-dried tomato alfredo sauce (2 jars)
Hand-full of Julienne sun dried tomatoes (buy in bag or slice yourself) Fresh Cilantro
Lemons (2)
Chopped garlic
Scallions (optional)

Steam the crab legs and de-shell.
Cook the past (add some olive oil to the water) til done and drain. Heat the sauce.
Mix together all ingredients, adding sauce to desired consistency. Chop up some cilantro and mix in (make sure not to add too much…..fresh cilantro can be strong) Top with lemon zests and some parmesianna reggianno

And voila!! Bon Appetite!!

The Devil's Tools

Girlfriends in God Devotional written by Mary Southerland

Today's Truth
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart" (Proverbs 3:5, NIV).

Friend to Friend
It was advertised that the devil was putting his tools up for sale. When the day of the sale came, each tool was priced and laid out for public inspection. And what a collection it was. Hatred, envy, jealousy, deceit, pride, and lying ... the inventory was treacherous. Off to one side was a harmless-looking tool priced higher than all the rest, even though it was obviously more worn than any other tool the devil owned. "What's the name of this tool?" asked one of the customers. "That," the devil replied, "is discouragement." The customer asked, "But why have you priced it so high?" The devil smiled and explained, "Because discouragement is more useful to me than all the others. I can pry open and get inside a man's heart with that tool when I can't get near him with any other. It's badly worn because I use it on almost everyone, since so few people know it belongs to me."

The valleys in life are lined with disappointment and discouragement. Some people seem to thrive on adversity, emerging from their valley with greater strength and deeper faith. Others stumble and fall, giving in to discouragement and dropping out of the race. The difference in outcome is determined by the way we choose to handle discouragement.

We must respond to each valley with trust and faith. The word "trust" means "to lie helpless, face down" and is the picture of a servant waiting for his master's command or a soldier yielding himself to a conquering general. "Heart" refers to "the center of one's being." In other words, to trust God completely means that from the very center of our being, from the very core of our existence, we trust Him, totally abandoning ourselves in childlike faith to Him and His plan. We come to God, holding nothing in our hands, with one word in our heart - "whatever!" Whatever You want me to do, Lord, I will do. Whatever You want me to say, Lord, I will say. Whatever You want me to think, Lord, I will think. Whatever path You have for me, Lord, I will walk."

If you are like me, you sometimes think you don't have enough faith. The amount of faith is not nearly as important as the right kind of faith - faith in God alone. Faith does not rest on what we have done, but on what Christ has already done on the cross and in our lives. Faith builds on the victories of yesterday to help us face the valleys of today and the storms of tomorrow. Faith does not bypass pain. It does, however, empower us to deal with pain. Faith steps up to the bat and invites the opponent to throw his best pitch. Sometimes faith strengthens us, and other times, surprises us. Great faith is forged in the deepest valleys, beginning where our strength and power end.

I love the story of a missionary family, home on furlough and visiting friends. When it was time for dinner, the mother of the missionary children called her kids in. When her son burst through the door, she took one look at his hands and said, "Son, go wash those hands. They are dirty and covered in germs." With a scowl on his face, the little boy headed to the sink muttering, "Germs and Jesus! Germs and Jesus! That's all I hear about and I've never seen either one!"

While we tend to say that seeing is believing, faith says that believing is seeing. Doubt creates mountains; faith moves them. Faith produces trust that shatters fear and leaves no room for discouragement.


Let's Pray
Father, I am so discouraged. Life is just not turning out like I thought it would. I have had so many disappointments and it seems like I face one valley after another. I need You and the hope that only You can give. Help me to trust You will all of my heart - not just part of it. Teach me how to walk by faith and not by sight. Today, I come to You with a "yes" in my heart for whatever You have planned for my life. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
Read Hebrews 13:6 "We can say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'"

• What valley are you facing today?
• What has been your response to that valley so far?
• Are you willing to recognize God as the only source of true peace?
• Are you ready to surrender your valley to God and trust Him to deliver you?


More from the Girlfriends
I know that many of you are discouraged and in pain. My first reaction is that of a mother - to do whatever I can to make that pain go away. But then I remember how God has taken the most painful parts of my life and used them for good. He really has. And I can tell you that no matter where you are, no matter how deep the pit may be, your God sees you and will deliver you. Don't quit! Don't give up! God is with you ... and so are we!
Mary Southerland

Monday, March 14, 2011

Undo Me, Lord

March 14, 2011

“truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even – tempered”. Proverbs 17:27 NLT (Klove)

I went to bed feeling like a failure. It was such a nice day. How did it go from peace to screaming and crying? As I sit here at 5:20 am, I think how tired I am, tired of the constant challenging of my authority. Everything turns in to a debate or an argument. What am I doing wrong? Why am I not given the same respect that Daddy receives? Why am I not given the same respect that other adults receive? I want to be that “other adult”…the teacher, the friend’s parent, etc.

Sometimes I feel like my purpose around the house is to pour a drink or wash the clothes. Mommy can you?

I am frustrated. I feel that my home life is unsatisfactory. I look forward to going to work. I dread coming home. I’m not saying that I don’t love my family. I am just saying that I receive the respect that I am looking for from strangers. They are not “strangers”. They are my co-workers, my friends, my students. They treat me better than my own family.

What do I do? I hate the person that I am at home. I want to be that person that everyone else sees…the calm, gentle, peaceful one. The very thing that I hate (screaming and fighting) is what my home life has become, is the mommy that I have become. I just want it to stop.

Where do I turn to? I know the only One I can is God. The two verses are the encouragement for today. He knows my heart. He knows what needs to change.

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” - 2 Peter 1:5-8 (bible gateway)


I just feel so defeated. Something has to change. Help me, Lord, Come Undone

Father God,
Thank you for allowing me to wake for another morning on this earth to learn how to love You and others like You love me. Thank you for placing me in yesterday's bible study. Growing in Christ is exactly what I want to do. Change me, Lord. I know that it is going to be a hard process. I know that it is going to be a long process. But I also know that the entire process is for you to "UNDO" me and my sinful ways. Have Your way with me. Jesus, how do you want to live through me today? Remind me of those words throughout my "moments" and throughout my day. Give me a heart that reflects Jesus. In Your Precious Son's Name, AMEN.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Which topic shall I post?

It's already 6:50 on Sunday night!? Where did the week go? My last post was on my birthday (March 7th). I like 43 already.

I've spent very little time on Facebook and here in the last week. I love it here. So you know that I've been either really busy or really in to my reading. It actually is the second. I was the only one at bible study who completed all 5 days of reading. The topic was rebellion. LOL. God Know!

Here are all the ideas that have been floating through my head in the last six days

1. Rebellion (Breaking Free with Beth Moore)
2. Moving to Hershey
3. Getting a kitten
4. Amanda and our continuing frustration
5. Obedience (or me fighting it)
6. Home improvements
7. Gossip
8. Peace
9. photos of the birthday food and the Irish Dance parade

On Wednesday March 2nd, we received a voice-mail. The next day my love received the actual call...from his former boss. On Friday, we received a call from a doctor who works in Hershey. We knew it was serious. We were 90% sure that a move was in our future. We even started looking at real estate in the surrounding areas.

I thought about all the things that would change. No more Irish Dance. Change in cub scouts, little league, school districts, place of worship. Would I work? I have the dream job now. I can't imagine working anywhere else!

The doctor had a phone interview with my love for over an hour. They decided that a face-to-face meeting would not happen until the end of the month. Several days of stress and trying to work out all the details, only made me pray more. I finally settled on the idea around the end of the week.

Friday afternoon I received a text..."Hershey is a no. Talk to you later". I was disappointed. LOL. When the pros and cons list was made, the cons list was larger than the pros. The decision was made. OK. "But can we take the design to sell money that we were going to use to fix up the house to get it on the market and actually fix up the house?" I ask. So we are going to have a kitchen make-over in the next couple of months.

I though about how heart broken Daniel would be to leave his one and only best friend Eric, so I though that we would probably have to get a kitten when we moved in the new house. His heart got excited and then disappointed, so it looks like we will get a kitty after we return from our cruise.

Today was the most peaceful day of the week. I took the children to A Church of Living Hope (our new name). We left at 9 am. We returned at 12:30. I went to a wonderful class for second hour called "Roots". I then came home, ate a salad and met two girlfriends at Panara for tea. Then I dropped off bags for the clothes swap and swung by my "Handy Mom's" house to discuss renovations. After that, I came home to steak and asparagus. (Grocery shopping was fit in there somewhere). Now it's almost time to put the children to bed so I can have alone time with my favorite man. This is how I want to spend every Sunday!

I guess that God has a plan. No, I know that God has a plan. So we stay put here on Hope Road. And I couldn't be happier!

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” - Romans 8:28

Monday, March 7, 2011

Breaking Free (once and for all!)

Breaking Free with Beth Moore
The Potter and the Clay
Week 7


Rightly responding to the Word of God is our ticket on the freedom train.

God desires to change us from the inside out – renewing our minds, starving our self-destructive tendencies, and teaching us to form new habits. These results come only to those who learn to walk all over again, this time with their Deliverer.


Isaiah 29:16
You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be considered of no more account than the clay? Shall the thing that is made say of its maker, He did not make me; or the thing that is formed it, He has no understanding?


In essence, God was saying, “you’ve got things turned around. Let’s get this straight: Me, God. You, human. Me, Creator. You, creature. Me, Potter. You, clay. You obey…not for My good but for yours.”

A rebellious child of God:

1. doesn’t act like a child of God
2. isn’t willing to listen to the Lord’s instruction
3. prefers pleasant illusions over truth
4. relies on oppression.

Sometimes we’re unwilling to listen to God because we’re resistant to being corrected, redirected, or challenged to change. That’s rebellion.

We were created to attach and depend so that we would migrate toward God and find safety. To entice us, Satan offers us alternate attachments masquerading as fulfillments to our inner needs. Any attachment other than God is a fraud. Please understand that the word attachment in this context differs from healthy relationships with things or people. The key word is reliance. Wrong attachment means growing dependent on something other than God.

Any place we have to hide is not safe!


Did you click the part that says Me, Potter. You, clay? I love the part in the song where Caedmon's Call says "Lord, when you listen for the song of my life, let it be, a song so sweet, let it be."

Music changes my mood immediately. There is bad music. There is good music. But there is better music. Any song that Glorifies my God, is BETTER music!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Get Out of The Boat

This devotion is dated March 4th. I had received it and ignored it. Of course I was too busy with something else to make time. As I read it this morning, I know why. God's timing. I needed to read it this morning.

I went to bed last night with a headache that started in the late afternoon. I had worked it into a major one by the time the night was over. Worry. Of course we were all out of pain relief.


I went to bed hoping to sleep it off. I woke at 2 am with an unmerciful pain in my head and shoulders. Tension headache from stress! I had Britt Nicole going through my head. I prayed that God would take the pain away. I considered going to Redners and getting Ibuprofen. I clung to my verse..."Be still and know that I am God." I woke this morning at 6 and went to Redners for Excedrin Migraine. The headache is gone!

As I sat in my quiet spot, God spoke to me. He let me know that He was in control and I didn't have to work out the details. He said He is working them out for us. I felt peace. "Rest. For my burden is light".

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:29-30

We are dealing with something that I am unable to share at the moment. When I read this devotional, I knew immediately that God is reaffirming my words (rest & still) in order to bring me PEACE. I just had to share this with you. You, too, may be going through a storm. Jesus is the only one who can calm it.


Today's Truth

"Between three and six o'clock in the morning, Jesus came to them, walking on the water. When his followers saw him walking on the water, they were afraid. They said, 'It's a ghost!' and cried out in fear. But Jesus quickly spoke to them, 'Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.' Peter said, "Lord, if it is really you, then command me to come to you on the water." Jesus said, 'Come.' And Peter left the boat and walked on the water to Jesus. But when Peter saw the wind and the waves, he became afraid and began to sink. He shouted, 'Lord, save me!' Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught Peter"(Matthew 14: 25-31, NCV).

By Mary Southerland

Friend to Friend

Jesus and His disciples fed more than five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. Now that is what I call a miracle! The disciples not only saw the miracle Jesus performed but were the ones Jesus actually commissioned to distribute the bread and fish. Witnessing the miracles of Jesus was not a new experience for these men. In fact, I am sure they considered themselves mature, devoted and unshakable disciples. But when Jesus sent them out onto the water in a small fishing boat while He went up into the hills to pray - their faith was put to the test.

Everything was fine - the disciples' faith in tact - until the storm hit. It is easy to believe God when the skies are blue and the nets are full of fish. How strong is our faith when we are clinging to the side of a rocking boat in the death grip of a brutal storm? The disciples cried out in fear and Jesus came - at the right time and in the right way. Like the disciples, we often question God's timing and His ways. When they don't translate into methods that we can understand, we surrender our faith to the tyranny of fear. Fully devoted followers of Christ are willing to forsake the known for the unknown.

YES!

They choose to trust God and walk by faith - not by sight or human logic (Our blog verse!)

The response of Jesus to the disciples' fear was encouragement and a call to step out in faith and obedience. The only taker in the boat was Peter.

Matthew 14:28-29 (NCV) "Peter said, 'Lord, if it is really you, then command me to come to you on the water.' Jesus said, 'Come.' And Peter left the boat and walked on the water to Jesus."

Faith demands a willingness to give up what we can see in exchange for what we cannot see. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV). This verse indicates a persuasion or conviction in response to unseen evidence. But just because we can't see it, does not mean it isn't there.

John Paton and his wife were missionaries in the New Hebrides Islands. One night, hostile natives surrounded the mission headquarters, intent on burning the Patons out and killing them both. Paton and his wife prayed all night, asking God to strengthen their faith. At dawn, they were amazed to see their attackers simply turn and leave.

A year later, the chief of that tribe became a Christian. Paton asked him what had kept him and his men from killing them that night. The chief answered with a question, "Who were all those men with you?" Paton answered, "There was no one with us. My wife and I were all alone." The chief said they had seen hundreds of men standing guard, big men in shining garments with drawn swords. God is not only able to answer our prayer of faith, He delights in doing so. The problem is that we don't always like His answers.

As a fisherman, Peter knew all about boats and storms. However, I feel safe in saying that Peter had probably never tried walking on any kind of water, much less tempestuous water. It didn't matter. Jesus said, "Come." Jesus wrapped a world of truth in that one word. Strength for every trial, faith for every storm, courage for every conflict, the promise of His presence and absolutely everything we need to obey is promised to those who are willing to leave the safety of the boat and "come" to Jesus. God never forces us into obedience. He invites us to obey and leaves the choice to us.

The above (in bold) is my favorite part of the devotional. This is God's Truth!

Peter chose obedience when he slipped off his sandals, hitched up his robe and climbed over the side of that boat. Peter left the "known" behind and stepped through his fear in a radical faith that pleased God. Peter then did what we all have done at some point in life. He took his eyes off Jesus. And when he began to sink, Peter cried out in fear. I love the fact that Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed the flailing hand of Peter. I would probably have let the doubting disciple sink like a stone to teach him a lesson. Not Jesus. Grace covered it all - the storm, the sin and Peter's plea for rescue. Love heard Peter's cry. Mercy saved him.

What about you, friend? Are you trapped in a storm, clinging to the sides of a rocking boat and wondering where God is and why He is silent? Is your heart in the grip of fear and doubt? Cry out to God. Take one step of faith, and He will meet you there.

Let's Pray

Father, my heart is filled with doubt and I am afraid. I want to believe You, Lord. I want to step out in faith, trusting You to meet me at the point of my greatest need, but I am so weak. Please teach me to listen for Your voice above the crashing waves of fear and the deadly whispers of human logic. Give me the strength to keep my eyes on You - no matter what my sea of circumstances may be.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Read Psalm 56:3 (NIV) "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." What do you think it means to "put" your trust in God?

Read John 14:27 (NIV) "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

I was hanging on to this truth this morning. This is the verse that we will be learning for Chapel. I was teaching it to the Good Apples this week. I love God!

Does peace help us control emotions or do controlled emotions produce peace? Right now, take a step of faith by making the choice to let peace rule in your heart.

Amen

More from the Girlfriends

Peace is not the absence of conflict, a lack of trouble or scarcity of problems. Peace is not a feeling. Peace is a Person - Jesus - and when we know Him, we can experience true peace.

This is not the song I had playing in my head, but it is the song that goes with the scripture about Peter. When I hear this song I think of Jeannette. I even call it "Aunt Jeannette's Song." Love it!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Simple Life - Part 1

I just finished a 324 page book that I started on February 11th. I highly recommend "Simple Life" by Thom and Art Rainer.

Here is the last two pages of the book for your viewing pleasure.


How to get closer to God

Clarity:

Devise a brief mission statement for a highly intentional plan to have a closer relationship with God. We mean it. Write it down. And make certain that the mission statement is a process you can actually do, not some wordy and unattainable prose.

Here is mine:

I will move closer to God by starting my day by reading the Bible for at least fifteen minutes, by praying more with the children, by reading one devotional by myself and sharing one with the children.

Notice the simplicity of the statement. Notice how attainable the goals are. Notice how the mission statement is also a process or plan.

Movement:

Conceptually, movement is easy. It's getting rid of the congestion and the obstacles that hinder the progress of your mission statement. Focus is getting rid of the good stuff, but movement is getting rid of the bad stuff. You know what the bad stuff is. And you, with God's help, can begin to clear the congestion.

Alignment:

This step requires an honest look in the mirror. It means that we accomplish the mission statement by aligning our mission statement with our personality, demeanor, gifts, and abilities.

Focus:

So we're back to the topic of this chapter. Focusing on what really matters means that we often have to eliminate some things from our lives, even if those things are good things. It is a sin to be good if God has called us to be great.

God longs for a deeper relationship with us. But we often let stuff get in the way. The Bible is clear on this relationship in James 4:8 "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you."

That was the first Bible verse Daniel learned when he was just a Cubbie in AWANA.

"Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people."

The simple life is not a double-minded life but a single-minded and focused life walking with God. And tat's the foundation upon which everything else is built.

The simple life will simply not work without God.

I will be writing three more mission statements regarding Time, Relationships and Money. But I made Part 4 MY Part 1 because God is most important in Simplifying my Life

Simple Life - Part 2

How to make your time really count.

Chapter 1 - I want to Spend More Time Doing Things That Matter
Chapter 2 - The Barriers of Time
Chapter 3 - When the Priories of Time Match Who We Are
Chapter 4 - A Matter of Time

Clarity...Movement...Alignment...Focus

What do you think deserves the most attention in your day? It might look something like this:

1. God
2. Family
3. Health
4. Friends
5. Work

My mission statement:

In order to make the day reflect my priorities, I will limit my computer time to thirty minutes in the morning and thirty minutes in the evening. I will spend at least an hour doing something that will move me closer to God whether that is reading my Bible, doing my Bible study, reading a devotional or praying. I will allow my children to be involved in only two activities and have one date with my husband each month.

It's a good place to start, making a mission statement. Clarity.

Simple Life - Part 3

How to Create and Keep Healthy Relationships

Chapter 5 - I want to Have Healthier Relationships with Family and Friends
Chapter 6 - Moving to Healthier Relationships
Chapter 7 - The Five Hindrances to Healthy Relationships
Chapter 8 - Focus, Relationships, and Sacrifice

It's really simple, Jesus said. The most important thing that matters is our relationship with God. And the second most important thing that matters is our relationship with others.

In this section, we have shared with you the hopes and struggles, the dreams and disillusionment of making relationships work. Jesus knew it best. When our lives are done, what really matters is not the things we have accumulated or the positions we have attained.

What really matters is our relationship with God. What really matters is our relationship with others. We need to focus to give attention to these things.

That's the simple life, and that's what really matters.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Willingness to Be Imperfect - W.O.W

"We are all sinners. And our sinning doesn't stop after we become Christians. And while our sin nature doesn't give us an excuse to sin, we do have the promise of forgiveness, even as Christians.

While we should strive to draw closer to God, we also need to understand that amazing thing called grace. Because of what His Son did for us, God loves us unconditionally. We don't seek to please Him so that He will love us. We seek to please Him because we desire to respond to His grace and love."

Art & Thom Rainer, "Simple Life"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What would I do without them?

"... he loved him as he loved himself."
1 Samuel 20:17b (NIV)


I am a little behind on my devotions. I get two in my inbox each day. But when I was sick over the last two weeks, I became lazy. I am now going back to read them. But God knew that. He knows everything! This one is specific for today.

As I read Facebook, I see my sister struggling. Suffering. Grieving! We are all grieving in our own way. Sunday was my parents anniversary. They would have been married 46 years. My mom told me last night that she cried all day and finally she called her sister who came over and comforted her. I had a Saturday where I cried all day (I'm sure I mentioned that here). We all grieve. It's good to cry. But it's important to have someone to lift you up. Jesus will lift you up but I mean someone physically...like a friend.

Over the last four months I have met a few new friends that God purposed in my life because we are walking the same road. Maryann and Maria are closer than people I have known for twenty years. We share a common bond. I don't know what I would do without them.

Denise and Bonnie are my mentors. They know exactly what to say, when to say it and how to say it with Truth to back their words. I don't know what I would do without them.

Laura and Tina are my blog friends. We have never met but they encourage me so. Tina and I are Facebook friends and we comment on each others blog. Laura sends me notes and encouraging emails. I don't know what I would do without them.

Shay too is a blog friend but she is also a neighbor. She makes me laugh when I just think I've got nothing to laugh about. I don't know what I would do without her.

Debbie is my "church" friend. Well that seems like when we spend the most time together. We sit together. We encourage each other. We hold hands. I don't know what I would do without her.

Carolyn is my co-teacher. She let's me cry on her shoulder. She listens to my complaints and I to hers. We build each other up. We laugh together. We sing together and we pray together. I don't know what I would do without her.

And Jeanniehopes, of course...

My sister and I are walking another road that only we know what that feels like. She makes me laugh. She builds me up. I can cry to her and she can cry to me. I don't know what I would do without her!

So, this is the message I received this morning after reading a very difficult Facebook message from Jeannette. We all want to ask "why" questions but in the end, it's not going to matter. In the end, we are just going to fall to our knees and sing Hallelujah . I can only imagine.

Proverbs 31 Ministries - A Recipe for Relationships (February 15)

My mother use to tell me to count myself lucky if I had just one "close friend." That's because close life-long relationships are hard to come by.
So many people today are looking for meaningful relationships, yet so few actually find them. We are becoming an increasingly private society, and it seems fewer people than ever have life-long intimate friendships. Still, the desire for this kind of relationship is not only sought after, but necessary.
Women are naturally drawn to other women. In fact, a girl's first experience with heartache may have been over a lost "best friend" rather than a "boy friend." Women value friendships. When they are lost, we grieve; not just over the friendship itself, but also for the secrets shared, the trust given and the acceptance enjoyed. If betrayed, the pain runs deep causing us to wonder if intimate friendships are really possible.
When I think of a biblical example of real friendship, the story of David and Jonathan, found in 1 Samuel 19, always comes to mind.
Jonathan, son of King Saul, was David's closest friend. But his father, the king, despised David because he was growing in popularity and because God had anointed David to be king. These facts enraged King Saul, so much that he commanded his aids and Jonathan to assassinate David. But Jonathan loved David, therefore betrayal was impossible.
Love isn't the only fruit of true friendship. A real relationship consists of sacrifice too.
Jonathan stripped himself of the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his armor, his sword, his bow, and his belt. Jonathan was the potential heir to his father's throne, but we see him sacrificing his future for his best friend as he literally gave David his place as king.
You and I can learn from this action that true friendship means a willingness to sacrifice for each other in love. It's the ability to put another's needs, desires, and wishes above our own.
Loyalty is also a mark of true friendship. We're told that Jonathan went to his father and spoke well of David. Jonathan also stood up to his dad and essentially said, "Dad, you're wrong about David. He hasn't done any wrong to you; in fact, everything he's done has helped you." A true friend is a loyal defense before others, one who won't talk about you when you're not around. True friends stick up for each other.
Finally, intimate friends give each other complete freedom to be themselves. In an intimate friendship, you don't have to explain why you do what you do. You're just free to do it.
When Jonathan gave David the news that things were troubled in the palace and that his dad was going to kill him, the two were forced to say goodbye. The text tells us that they wept together.
When your heart is broken, you can bleed all over a friend like this and she'll understand. She won't try to dismiss your misery or tell you to straighten up. Intimate friends let each other hurt and they weep together. If your friend needs to talk it through, you will listen. Intimate friends don't bale; they stay. They allow you to be yourself no matter what "self" looks like in that moment.
If you're looking for a godly recipe for relationships, look no further. Mix together love, sacrifice, loyalty, and freedom and you can create an intimate friendship that lasts a lifetime.

Dear Lord, help me to be a friend like Jonathan. Then, bless me with the same. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Micca Monda Campbell