Love for Christ

Sometimes I’ll hear a song or read a devotional or a scripture that will bring a wave of pure devotion to my heart.

I’ll get hit such an intense feeling of love for my Savior I won’t even know what to do with it. It’s pure joy and leads to spontaneous, sincere worship.

It has occured to me that this is a reflection of His love for me. A pale, dull reflection, sure, but a reflection nonetheless. The thought that His devotion, His love and affection, is about a thousand times brighter & more intense than mine for Him is humbling to say the least.

I rejoice in knowing this, in knowing Him.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us!”

Romans 5:5

How I Defeated Worry

With God’s Help

I used to worry myself into panic attacks, thinking about my circumstances, my future, hating the kind of person I was. I’d beg God to help me. But I’d never listen or wait long enough, I never put my stress in His capable hands.

I knew He was faithful, I believed He could change everything, but I didn’t know how to ‘cast my cares’. I didn’t know how to let go of all my worries so He could handle them. I didn’t know I was supposed to let go of them!

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

NIV

He finally got through by leading me to Joyce Meyer’s book ‘Battlefield of the Mind’. I’ve read it half a dozen times. It has helped me so much. God has shown me, through scripture and through Joyce’s books how to let go and how to find my balance, peace, and joy separate from my circumstances.

John 10:10(b) “I came that they may have life, and have it to the full”

NIV

Forgiveness

There was an incident with a neighbor last night. It really wasn’t a big deal. Or shouldn’t have been, anyway. I found myself feeling very indignant and angry. I was feeling like I had every right to be angry and indignant. I was right and he was wrong. I was going over and over the whole thing in my head, just dwelling on it. I played the what if game, what if I’d said this, what if I’d responded like that. And in all those imaginary scenarios, I made him look stupid, I had the upper hand, my replies were witty and biting. He realized what a jerk he was being and crawled off to bed like a whipped dog.

Then I started plotting how I could get back at him, how I could teach him a lesson. After all, someone needs to show him what it feels like to be on the other end, right?

That’s how I spent my night.

This morning, in the light of day, I’m bleary eyed and tired, and I have no one to blame but myself. The actual incident itself was over in a half hour. My thoughts of retaliation and revenge kept going for another 4 hours.

It reminds of the saying that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. The neighbor went to bed, got a good night’s sleep. How fair is that?

I started thinking about forgiveness.

I went onto a bible study site I like and clicked on a study called ‘Getting Along with People’. The first scriptures it uses are Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” and Proverbs 17:14, “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.” It says “Being a peacemaker is necessary to get along with others. When our words and actions are peaceful, we are on the right track to getting along.”

My first thought was ‘they don’t have to live next door to xxxx’.  The teaching goes on to Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” and 1 Peter 5:5 “In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’” It draws this conclusion: “Humility is important in getting along with others. When we focus on others and their needs, and not just on our needs, good relations will follow.”

So this is my thought life after reading this.

Seriously? With xxxx? Be the peace maker? Avoid strife? Peaceful words and actions? I was so sweet to him when I spoke to him, it gave me a toothache. I was so nice and polite it was disgusting. He trampled on it. He sees kindness and manners as a sign of weakness. And focus on his needs not just my own? Are you freaking kidding me? Lets see, what were his needs at the time? More alcohol maybe, louder stereo, for sure he needed a neighbor who wouldn’t bother him when he was partying and disturbing the neighborhood. My needs, let’s see, quiet, sleep, to NOT be screamed at.’

Yeah, this wasn’t working for me, all it did was get my panties in a knot. I needed something to help me get past the feelings of the flesh and to bring my thoughts into obedience to Christ. I’m big on that scripture and try to remind myself of that several times a day.

2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

I went on my walk and spent some time in prayer and then listened to Tim Mackie’s podcast, Exploring My Strange Bible. (I highly recommend it. Brilliant, in depth, informative, it’s awesome.)  I’m listening to the series he does on the book of Matthew. I listened to part 26, called Forgiveness. Tim teaches on Matthew 18:21-35. Now THIS spoke to me. The parable makes sense, it’s exactly what I needed.
Forgiveness isn’t a feeling. We don’t have to love the person or have soft fuzzy feelings toward them. It’s a choice we make. They don’t have to deserve it, they don’t have to be grateful for it, they don’t even have to ask for it.

Forgiveness isn’t reconciliation. It doesn’t make us best friends. We don’t even have to ever see that person again. It doesn’t mean we become doormats.

Forgiveness isn’t even always for the person who has wronged, insulted, hurt, or offended us. It’s a command from God. It’s also for ourselves. It enables us to let go of all those toxic feelings that go against the teachings of Jesus. Jesus died so we could I forgiven for the things I did that don’t deserve forgiveness, how can I hold forgiveness from anyone?

joshtin powers
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Our Redemption (Good Friday)

He became sin for us. He took every burden, every pain, every choice, every mistake on His shoulders

This is one of the deepest, realest, most touching descriptions of the crucifixion I’ve ever read, so I had to share it. It’s amazing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.   

A Light in The Darkness

We are interrupting the regularly scheduled programming, for a blog post about Easter. It seemed wrong to have a blog mainly focused around Jesus, and my walk in faith with Him, and not speak of the colossal event that defines our salvation and the true love of God.

I thought instead of exploring the true meaning of Easter itself, as we know it is Jesus’ death, that I would instead almost do a story. If you have read any of the Gospels, you have heard the tale of Jesus’ birth, life, and death.

This true story starts in a Garden. The Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus and His closest disciples went to this garden together. Jesus left their side to go in personal and quiet reflection and prayer with God. In this time, Jesus spoke with God. Interrupt story time for a moment here.

I really do wonder whether people doubt…

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Count Your Blessings

When you’re ready to pull your hair out because your child is ‘testing his boundaries,’ count your blessings.
Your child is healthy.

When you’re screaming silently at the traffic that’s going to make you late for an appointment, count your blessings.
You have a running vehicle.

When you’re so angry at your boss you’re on the verge of tears, count your blessings.
You have a job.

When you’re at your wits end because your mom STILL treats you like a child, count your blessings.
Your mom is still here.

When you’re frustrated because they raised your property taxes again, count your blessings. 
You have a home.

When the prices of fresh produce or seafood is cost prohibitive, count your blessings.
You have enough to eat.

No matter what your circumstances are, you can wallow in them and be miserable, you can fight against them and be frustrated, or you can thank God for what you DO have and live the life Jesus died for you to have.

My Favorite Psalms

God Saved Me

Once upon a time I was in a very dark place. My view of reality, wasn’t. I became someone I didn’t recognize, someone I didn’t even like. I was broken. There were times when I should have either lost everything important to me or died. p

God rescued me. He led me back to the place where I had left my true self. I don’t yet know why He protected me from myself. But He did. He pulled me out of the fire and threw me back into the pan more times than I care to remember.

When my vision cleared and I looked back and saw the times He kept me whole and alive, I surrendered completely to His Will. I embraced Him fully. I finally found the thing that I had been searching for all that time. I read the gospels and fell deeply in love with Jesus.

I couldn’t express in my own words what I felt for Him so I started reading the Psalms. I’d like to share my favorites.

Psalm 18:1-6, 16-19
For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord. He sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said

1 I love You, Lord, my strength

2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield and the horn] of my salvation, my stronghold.

4 The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
5 The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From His Temple He heard my voice;
my cry came before Him, into His ears.

“I want to shed Christ’s light on this new generation” Yongsung Kim

16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
He drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
He rescued me because He delighted in me.

Psalm 86
A prayer of David.

Nole Me Tangere by James Tissot

Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
    for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am faithful to You;
    save your servant who trusts in You.
You are my God;
have mercy on me, Lord,
    for I call to You all day long.
Bring joy to Your servant, Lord,
    for I put my trust in You.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
    abounding in love to all who call to You.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
    listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to You,
    because You answer me.

Among the gods there is none like You, Lord;
    no deeds can compare with Yours.
All the nations You have made
    will come and worship before You, Lord;
    they will bring glory to Your name.
10 For You are great and do marvelous deeds;
    You alone are God.

11 Teach me Your way, Lord,
    that I may rely on Your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear Your name.
12 I will praise You, Lord my God, with all my heart;
    I will glorify Your name forever.
13 For great is Your love toward me;
    You have delivered me from the depths,
    from the realm of the dead.

14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
    ruthless people are trying to kill me—
    they have no regard for You.
15 But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
    slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
    show Your strength in behalf of Your servant;
save me, because I serve You
    just as my mother did.
17 Give me a sign of Your goodness,
    that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
    for You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Psalm 116:1-16

I love the Lord, for He heard my voice;
    He heard my cry for mercy.
Because He turned His ear to me,
    I will call on Him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me,
    the anguish of the grave came over me;
    I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “Lord, save me!”

The Lord is gracious and righteous;
    our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the unwary;
    when I was brought low, He saved me.

Return to your rest, my soul,
    for the Lord has been good to you.

For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living.

10 I trusted in the Lord when I said,
    “I am greatly afflicted”;
11 in my alarm I said,
    “Everyone is a liar.”

12 What shall I return to the Lord
    for all His goodness to me?

13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
    and call on the name of the Lord.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all His people.

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
    is the death of His faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
    I serve you just as my mother did;
    you have freed me from my chains.

Fasting

Why I Want To

In Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13 and Luke 4:1-13, Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. There, He fasts for 40 days and 40 nights before being tempted by the devil.

Every time I’d read those verses, I thought that had to be a supernatural feat. What human body can go that long without food and water? Just going without food that long can be detrimental, right? Only Jesus could fast that long. Miraculous.

I also knew, though, that His followers fasted. Were expected to fast. In Matthew 6:16, Jesus said ‘when’ not ‘if’ you fast. That tells me that it’s expected.

I’ve been struggling with some things lately, feeling a little distant from God, among other things. I do NOT like that feeling. At all. With the weather being what it is I haven’t been able to walk consistently, which is when I pray and fellowship with God. So I need to find a different way to connect with Him again. Fasting popped into my head, so I did some reading about how to fast correctly. Well, I was so wrong! You DO drink water AND you drink fresh fruit juice. I was right about the body needing hydration and nourishment. I always thought fasting was just a 2 or 3-day thing at the most because of that. A fast, done properly, absolutely can be a week or longer. 40 days for someone used to it is very doable.

I found a lot of sites full of advice but two really stood out to me.

The first one I really like is https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/fasting-for-beginners written August of 2015 by David Mathis, Executive Editor. The thing that moved me from curious to serious was this: “Fasting is for this world, for stretching our hearts to get fresh air beyond the pain and trouble around us. And it is for the battle against the sin and weakness inside us. We express our discontent with our sinful selves and our longing for more of Christ.” (emphasis mine)
I urge you to take a look at the whole article. It’s an informative description of why we should, and has some really insightful points about the reasons most American’s DON’T fast.

The other article I really liked and intend to use as guideline is https://www.cru.org/us/en/train-and-grow/spiritual-growth/fasting/7-steps-to-fasting.2.html by Dr. Bill Bright. He lists all the specifics. It’s a step by step guide to fasting. How to prepare oneself spiritually and physically, what to put into your body and when, when to pray, to meditate, etc. It’s all there.

Bottom line, I’m going to sit down and make a real plan for this. But I won’t be telling anyone when I’m doing it. After all, Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:16-18 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” The only reward I’m really after, though, is just getting closer to Him.

timwade94 DeviantArt