September 15, 2014

  • Meet Your Coach

    exercise coach

    If your body has what you might call a “problem area” you can go to the gym and ask for a coach. This person will observe those areas of your body and develop and exercise program which targets the problem. Let’s just say, if you are carrying a bit more in the …..er…. derriere area than you would like, your coach might have you doing lunges and other such exercises that will tighten up the muscles in your buttocks. There seems to be specific exercises for certain parts of your body.

    It is also so in the spiritual world. The Holy Spirit is our coach. If He observes that you are having trouble with a certain area of your spiritual life, He may well provide some “exercises” to work on those areas. For instance, if you have a problem with submission, you better believe God is going to put you in situations time and time again where you will be required to submit! I have had some personal experience with this one, trust me!

    If your problem is being selfish and stingy, you may find yourself faced with areas of need over and over again where you will be given an opportunity to open up your wallet and give. You see, God is working in our lives to make us like HIM! He wants His image to be reflected in our lives, and He has a “exercise program” specifically designed for each of us.

    Maybe your problem is telling lies. If so, God is getting ready to call you to accountability. He is going to reveal things that you have hidden and give you a chance to make things right.

    When you invite God’s presence into your life, you need to be prepared for change. Why does He do this? Because He loved you too much to leave you the way you are. He believes the best of you, and He wants you to reach your highest potential. Maybe you weren’t all that serious about it when you prayed and ask God to take control. But, GOD is serious about it. He will never force you, but if you have agreed to let Him be Lord, than He is going to take you up on that.

    (Col 3:10 MSG) Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with His label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.

    My husband likes to work with wood, and sometimes I have been handed a piece of sandpaper and ask to help smooth off rough places. It is hard work, and I am sure if the wood could talk, it would be screaming, but the finished result is beautiful!

    So…. are you ready to let the Holy Spirit go to work in your life? Are you willing to begin the process of being refined and “toned up” in your spiritual life? I promise you, although it may be a bit painful, the end result will be beautiful! :-)

    (2Cor. 3:18 NLT) So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.

September 5, 2014

  • On My Soapbox

    soapbox

    How can we ever think, as Christians that the message of the gospel only requires that we INVITE people? How can we possibly think we can get by living for God without becoming INVOLVED?

    How thankful I am that Christ was willing to get INVOLVED for me. Nails through your hands? That’s getting involved. Beaten until your back is raw and oozing? That is involvement! Thank you Jesus!

    The Good Samaritan got involved, didn’t he? He took time to help someone. He spent his own money to do it. What a great example of someone who did what a Christian should do.

    But most of us stop with the invitation. There is not risk to inviting someone to church. “I invited them, but they didn’t come. Not my fault.” Oh COME ON! If we are not willing to involve ourselves in the lives of the lost, we are never going to do what God asks His church to do! Don’t just INVITE people to church — offer to pick them up! And, while you’re at it, let them know they are coming to your house for dinner after the service is over. How many of us are willing to go that extra step from invitation to involvement? Or, are we too worried about something messing up our plans and putting too many demands on our time? Last time I checked, it isn’t about US anymore. If you gave your life to God, it becomes God’s life.

    It is so easy and safe to say, “I will pray for you.” It’s much harder to say, “Let me come over and watch your kids for you so you can get a break. Let me stop at the store and do your shopping. Let me help. Here’s my phone number. Call if you need me, and I promise I will come.” Most do not want that level of commitment. Most of us are too busy. Most of us think of OUR time, and OUR space and OUR comfort and OUR needs and pretty much forget about the needs of others. And, we have all these reasons lined up why we SHOULDN’T get involved. Yeah…..

    But Jesus stopped. He got involved. He saw needs and He did something about them. He didn’t just speak a quick word to Zacchaeus, He said, “Come on, let’s have dinner together.” He didn’t just promise to “remember the lepers in prayer,” He TOUCHED them, and He made them whole. Honestly, I can’t find anywhere in the Bible where Jesus just invited people to church.

    Whether we feel comfortable about it or not, the “Great Commission” is for the whole church; ALL of us, not just a few missionaries. All around you there is a world that doesn’t know Jesus. All around you are those who are hurting, lost and alone.

    (Mark 16:15 MSG) Then he said, “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all.”

    GO is an action word. GO requires us to get ourselves out there and become involved with other people. How do we think they are going to hear the Good News? How are they ever going to understand the love of God if we do not demonstrate it to them?

    (Matthew 7:12-14 MSG) “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get. Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life–to God!–is vigorous and requires total attention.

    Thank you. I just had to get that out there! Now, can someone please help me down? :-)

August 27, 2014

  • I AM NOT NORMAL

    not normal

    One of the young folks at church Sunday was wearing a T shirt that said, “I’M NOT NORMAL.” I can relate. There are so many times and situations when I feel the same way. What IS normal, anyway? It is defined as: “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. the usual, average, or typical state or condition.”

    If the condition I am to be compared to is the world, than I am quite sure I am not normal. I am quite sure I do not WANT to be normal. The world’s standards are not the ones I wish to conform to. The only standard I want to conform to is that of the Lord Jesus.

    It seems OK for many these days to complain a lot. I have not found that to be very helpful. I try to be positive and count my blessings. So, another strike against me for “normalcy!” It seems normal these days to use a lot of bad language – especially the “F” word. I do not do that. I consider it to be rude, un-Christlike and vulgar. It seems that many people struggle with fear. They worry constantly about the job, the kids, finances, neighbors, appearance, health, the future, you name it. Nothing constructive or useful comes from worrying. I used to be really good at it, but it wasn’t worth it, so I try to avoid it and trust God instead. WOW! I keep sounding more and more weird, don’t I? :-)

    Perhaps the biggest reason I am not normal is because I passionately, sincerely want what Jesus wants. I do. Oh sure, I have my moments of wishing this or that could be different, but my highest desire is that my life would be glorifying to God, and that His will should be done in my life and the world. I am convinced that knowing Jesus is the cure for the ills of mankind. Loving Him is my purpose. Sharing Him with others is my delight. I pray for God’s Kingdom to come, and for His will to be done.

    Because of this, when others hurt me, I forgive. I choose not to be offended. I choose not to get even. I choose to live simply. I do not need possessions to make me happy. I appreciate what I have, of course, and God is good to supply all my needs and also to spoil me with His goodness! That’s good enough for me.

    I value peace. I value joy. I value God’s goodness and wisdom in my life more than anything money could buy. I know I am not perfect, but I want to be as close to Him as I can.

    So, it is OK if I am not normal, as the world sees normal. Are you with me?

    (1Peter 2:9 NLT) “ …You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light.

August 19, 2014

  • Spiritual Dehydration

    water 2

    The experts say most of us do not drink enough water. Some say that by the time you start to feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Water is important to maintain life. It cleanses and balances the body. It boosts the immune system. It helps relieve fatigue, and can prevent headaches. It’s just a good idea to make sure you get enough water. My husband always gets a headache when he gets dehydrated, so we always have water with us when we travel. Did you know that in really severe cases of dehydration you can even experience delirium? You can imagine things are there which are not there at all. You lose touch with reality and your mind can go all wonky!

    (Jer. 2:13 NLT) “For My people have done two evil things: They have abandoned Me—the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!

    (John 7:37-38 AMP.) Now on the final and most important day of the Feast, Jesus stood, and He cried in a loud voice, If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink! He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said, From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs and rivers of living water.

    I think some of you don’t feel right in your spiritual life. Some of you have been living in confusion and distress. Some of you may even be imagining things that are not actually true. Your emotions are all over the place. Why is that? You have not been drinking enough of the LIVING water!

    Just like our physical body needs water every day to function well, our SPIRITUAL life need the living water. When did you last spend time with Jesus? When did you last sit with Him and tell Him how much you love Him? Sometimes after I pray a while, I just like to sit and be still. It is often then that God will speak to my heart, and it is such a blessing! Time with Him deal with spiritual dehydration! As spiritual beings, we NEED communion with Him every day!

    Are you spiritually dehydrated?

August 13, 2014

  • Rescued and Repurposed

    Hello, Folks!

    Sorry I have been AWOL for so long. Does it count that I was thinking of you? :-)

    Our church is having a flea market August 23 to raise money for our relief organization to Romania. (NTC) I have been sewing, painting, crocheting and crafting away to make stuff to sell. There will be other vendors there as well. Please pray the weather is perfect, and that we sell LOTS!

    Here are a few pics of some of the things I have made. The hats and rag rugs are all made from yarn and fabric I scored at the second hand shops. I also get thread, elastic, buttons, ribbon, seam binding and no end of other bargains there. The signs are made from old, wooden cutting boards, or the ends of little crates you buy fruit in. I have no idea what prices to put on things, so I have asked a few friends to help me with that. I have 24 rugs, beaded rag bracelets, pot holders, hair bows and headbands for little girls, circle skirts for girls with matching head bands, bow ties for men and boys, wreaths and signs. I also make play food sets for Barbie dolls from clay that you can bake and paint. The clay and paint are the only things I couldn’t find at the second hand shops!

    Here are just a few pics of some of the stuff I make.

    Rugs - shades of blue, with pink, cream, mint

    sale 1

    sale 3

    sale 4

    sale 6

    sale 8

    sale 2

    sale 10

    I love crafting from second hand goods. I feel like I am rescuing them and giving them a new purpose … kind of what God did with me! There’s a song I like that says, “He saved me. Rescued me. Just a moment there set me free…” I celebrate His love and my freedom every day! He is so good.

    Once this sale is over, I will have a lot more free time! Of course, then it will be time to start making Christmas presents! :-)

    Here in Denmark, school has started, and the days are getting chilly. We had a lovely summer, though, and it had to end eventually. I hope all of you have had a nice summer. Did you make some lovely memories?

    Blessings!

July 25, 2014

  • Intimacy with God

    draw-near-to-god

    Many of us read the word “intimacy” and get embarrassed. But intimacy is not always about sex. The word is defined as: closeness, togetherness, rapport, attachment, familiarity, friendliness, friendship, affection, warmth, confidence. So, when I talk about intimacy with God, I am talking about coming closer to Him – knowing Him, sharing life with Him.

    So many of us hold God “at arm’s length.” I suppose there are plenty of reasons why we do that. Some of us may be afraid that if we come closer to God, we will be exposed. Yes. That is a part of intimacy, too. But, you have to understand, we are talking about GOD here! He already knows all your business, and He chooses to love you in spite of it.

    Often I observe the behavior of Christians, and I am amazed that they do some of the things they do. One conclusion I have come to about this is that they lack that closeness with God which would change how they act. How much do they honestly love Him?

    I know in many ways, you and I am free to act any old way we please. We are adults. We have a free will. We can make our own choices, right? Ah, yes, but my Lord has bound me to Him with cords of love. We are so close that anything I do or say, or even THINK is laid bare before Him. Knowing how much He loves me should influence the way I act. Knowing the price that was paid so I could have this sweet intimacy with Him helps me to make choices that I know will please Him. If there was no relationship, it would be different.

    If some stranger on the street came up to me and said I was a big jerk, I doubt it would bother me much. They don’t know me. We have no connection. What they think is not my concern. I don’t live to please them. It is easy to brush off their words. But, if someone I care about –someone I love – tells me I am a big jerk… well! That is a different story. Love changes everything.

    Yes. Love. Amazing love. Perfect love.

    Sometimes I hear Christians say that they feel God wants them to do this thing or that thing, but THEY JUST CAN’T. Hmmmm. Why? Could it be because they just don’t love Him enough? Could it be that there are other things in life that are more important to them than their relationship with God? Do they choose fear over Him? Do they choose the opinions of others over Him? Do they choose a comfortable, easy life? Does their pride come first?

    Lest you think I am some kind of “holier than thou” type, I have said no to God a time or two. But, the terrible feeling that weighs my heart down is not worth it. Usually, after a bit of struggle, I find myself running to Him and asking forgiveness and for another chance to obey.

    If you truly love someone, and they ask you to do something, no matter how hard it is, you will try to find a way. You will do everything in your power to grant the request of this one you love. Say, for instance, one of your children becomes ill and needs a kidney transplant, you would PRAY you were a match! Or, suppose your dearest friend is in a desperate situation and needs help. You will try your best to be there for them, right? You LOVE them.

    OK, so if you, as a believer who loves God, is asked by Him to do something – something hard and a little bit scary– will you do it? Will you step out and trust Him? Will you make excuses, or will you take a deep breath and say, “Yes, Lord”? I believe this is the true test of our love for Him.

    (1Jn 4:7-8 NLT) Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

July 18, 2014

  • What my Heart Desires

    balance 2

    To be honest, sometimes I struggle to find the balance, you know? I read the verse that talks about not piling up treasure here on earth, and while you could hardly call what I have treasure, I do like what I have.

    (Matthew 6:19 – 21NLT) “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

    A lot of things I love are right here on earth. Well, not so much THINGS as PEOPLE. I do enjoy my life. I enjoy the beauty of nature, working hard, and laughing with my husband. I adore my grandchildren, and love all of my family and friends. I am happy to be used by God here in Denmark. I love seeing people grow and change. I think of these things as “treasures,” but I don’t think this is what the verse means, either.

    Is there some possession I have that I totally love and could not live without? Hmmm … I do enjoy my possessions, such as they are, but they are just THINGS. I had a bottle of really nice perfume, and I dropped it on the floor. It broke. I felt bad. But — stuff happens. I like perfume. I don’t need it. As missionaries, we certainly do not have a lavish lifestyle. We rent an apartment in government subsidized housing. Our furniture and other furnishings (even most of our clothes) come from second hand shops. But life is good.

    Then sometimes, I look through those glossy magazines, you know? — The ones that show lovely homes, perfect gardens and all that, and if I am not careful, I can feel dissatisfaction trying to rise up in my heart. It can happen so easily. You can find yourself coveting something and resenting where you are and what you have. It’s a dangerous place. It’s a place where you take your eyes of the Lord. When I feel that happening, I remind myself that “stuff” has no eternal value. Living to accumulate nice things is a shallow dream indeed. Owning all that may be nice, but the pleasure that comes with it is fleeting, because soon you find yourself discontented and needing MORE! It is knowing Christ, really knowing Him, that is the great reward! It is living in peace and contentment of His sweet presence that truly satisfies. My heart longs to know Him more. I want others to know Him, too.

    We do not need to feel guilty if we have nice things. We just need to be careful that the nice things to do have US! We need to be sure what matters above all else is the Kingdom of God. We need to remember that while this life is enjoyable, it is a mere eye blink compared to eternity. This is not all there is, but the choices we make here will prepare us for what comes after this life. We have a short time, really, to make a difference in this world.

    So, where is your treasure? What holds your heart? What do you long for?

July 8, 2014

  • Why Do You Do It?

    why we do it
    How many of us do the right things for all the wrong reasons? What are some of the wrong reasons?
    1. Doing things so people will like us.
    2. Doing things to impress others.
    3. Doing things because we are afraid to say no.
    4. Doing things because we like to be in control.
    5. Doing things out of guilt.
    6. Doing things because we are too proud to delegate or ask for help.

    God is looking at our hearts. God is interested in what motivates us. He sees the pride. He sees the fear and guilt. He wants so much more for us than the small life that comes from letting the wrong things rule your actions.

    What are some good motivations to do what we do?
    1. We enjoy it.
    2. We love God and know He has asked us to, and we desire to please Him.
    3. We want to be responsible and set a good example.
    4. We see a need and feel called to help.
    5. We know it is right.
    6. We know it will bring us joy.
    7. We feel compassion.

    The other day I was thinking about how many things people do with fear being the motivation. For example… taking vitamins. Do you take them because it seems like a good idea, or because you are afraid of getting sick? Even things like cleaning the house or washing the car can be motivated by worry of what others might say if we don’t. My mom used to clean the house before the cleaning lady came to clean the house! Kind of silly, isn’t it?

    We worry a lot about what people will think. We really should be most concerned with what GOD will think, but too often, He is pretty far down the list. We try to impress certain people with what we wear, what we drive, etc. How hard to we try to impress GOD?

    I believe if we want to enjoy this life God has so graciously given us, we need to do things for the right reasons.

    (Eccles. 12:1 NLT) Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor Him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.”

    The problem with doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is that after a while, you start to be resentful. You feel used and unappreciated. You feel stressed, angry and trapped. There is no joy in that.

    I have found that if I have the proper motivation, I am able to do really difficult things with a good attitude and outcome. If I know it is the right thing for me, the commitment is there, and God gives me wisdom, grace and strength. If I feel pushed or “guilted into” what I am doing, I do not give it my all. I do not try to do my best, and I don’t have the support of the Lord, because He never ask me to be there in the first place!

    So, my friend. What are you doing, and why are you doing it? Have you lost your joy? Are you are feeling burdened and stressed? Resentful? Maybe you are doing things God never ask you to do. Maybe it is time to examine your heart and ask yourself some hard questions.

July 1, 2014

  • Such Joy!

    Joy 3

    Sunshine makes me happy. Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream makes me especially happy. But I can’t be happy every minute. I would weigh 300 pounds! :-) Happiness comes and goes. Some mornings you wake up and you feel good. Some mornings… not so much. That’s life.

    But joy! That is another thing entirely. My joy does not come from possessions, weather, food or circumstances. My joy is a result of knowing Father God, and that can never be taken away from me. It is a constant in my life.

    The dictionary defines happiness as: “the result of a pleasurable or satisfying experience.” Yep. But I see joy as something deeper; something more lasting.

    I suppose, all things considered, I was not a “terrible person” before I gave my life to God. I never killed anyone. I didn’t vulgar language, and I had never been in jail. But, inside I felt sick, dirty and confused. Inside I felt lost and afraid. All of that changed when Jesus took over. All the guilt left. All the sin-sick confusion and shame were gone. Oh! The JOY was incredible!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h89-3_kIRDA Keith Green wrote a song that describes it well. The song is called Your Love Broke Through.

    Like a foolish dreamer trying to build a highway to the sky
    All my hopes would come tumbling down, and I never knew just why
    Until today, when you pulled away the clouds
    That hung like curtains on my eyes
    Well I’ve been blind all these wasted years, and I thought I was so wise
    But then you took me by surprise

    Like waking up from the longest dream, how real it seemed
    Until your love broke through
    I’ve been lost in a fantasy, that blinded me
    Until your love broke through

    All my life I’ve been searching for that crazy missing part
    And with one touch, you just rolled away the stone that held my heart
    And now I see that the answer was as easy as just asking you in
    And I am so sure I could never doubt Your gentle touch again
    It’s like the power of the wind

    Even when things are not going well, I can feel that deep joy singing in my spirit. Sure, I cry sometimes. Circumstances in life can be painful and frustrating, but in the midst of it all, there is an abiding joy. When you read through II Corinthians 4, you hear a bit of what the early disciples of Jesus endured. Many were beaten, stoned, hunted down and tortured for their faith. But they considered it a small price to pay for knowing Jesus.

    (2 Cor 4:8-9 AMP) We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.(V 16-17) That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

    I have never had to suffer what these men and women of God suffered for their faith. I find it uplifting and incredibly wonderful that they were sustained through all their trials by hope and joy. It gives me peace to know this same joy is mine for every situation I must face.

    (1 Peter 1:8 AMP) You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.

June 24, 2014

  • No More Muddy Puddles!

    Pig-Pen-447970

    Jesus told his followers to make disciples. That should be a priority for everyone who believes in Jesus. Being one of His own is a privilege, and it comes with responsibilities. It’s kind of like having a driver’s license. There are certain things you may and may not do.

    (Mark 8:34 AMPLIFIED) And Jesus called [to Him] the throng with His disciples and said to them, If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself [forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his own interests] and take up his cross, and [joining Me as a disciple and siding with My party] follow with Me [continually, cleaving steadfastly to Me].

    Deny himself. Uh, yeah. I confess I find this difficult at times. Our society and culture promote selfishness. “You deserve it. Live the good life! If you want it, just put it on your credit card!” We are encouraged to spend plenty of time and money doing what makes us “happy.” The idea of giving up any of our comforts and pleasures make us feel a bit…. squirmy. The idea of denying ourselves…. well, for many, that is just not an option. We have become hardened to the hardships of others. We rarely feel the need to deprive ourselves anything on behalf of another.

    We seem to forget that as Christians, we are not our own any longer. We have been bought and paid for by Christ’s precious blood, so our goals should be His goals; our desires His desires. That is not extreme. That is simple gospel.

    (1Cor. 7:23 NLT) God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world.

    Jesus says, 1.) deny yourself 2.) pick up your cross 3.) follow Him. We view crosses as heavy. Crosses are not so comfortable to drag around. They are a symbol of sacrifice, death, shame. The cross is a symbol of laying your life down. Most of us think about this stuff, and we are afraid. Admit it. It just sounds horrid.

    Yes, that’s just what the devil wants us to think. Yes. The cross is hard on the flesh. But, there is so much more to it than that, although most of us never see past the denying part.

    (Mark 8:35-36 AMPLIFIED) For whoever wants to save his [higher, spiritual, eternal] life, will lose it [the lower, natural, temporal life which is lived only on earth]; and whoever gives up his life [which is lived only on earth] for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it [his higher, spiritual life in the eternal kingdom of God]. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life [in the eternal kingdom of God]?

    What it all boils down to is, where is your treasure? Where is your heart? If you are totally committed to the Lord Jesus, you will follow. You will be willing to lay down your desires and take up His cause. You will be joyful in the surrender of yourself to Him and His will. You will find the peace and satisfaction that only come from truly serving Him. You will be able to sing, “It is Well With my Soul” and really mean it.

    (1Peter 1:8-9 AMPLIFIED) Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy. [At the same time] you receive the result (outcome, consummation) of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

    You see, Jesus is not trying to hurt you. He wants to perfect you. He is not about ruining your life and taking away everything you enjoy. He wants to give you more than you can imagine! But, somehow we have this warped idea that it will be awful. Silly us. Imagine that all you knew was dirt. See yourself sitting in a big, mud puddle with both hands filled with gooey, smelly dirt. Now see Jesus, with His eyes full of love for you, standing there holding out His hand. He wants to lift you out of that filthy pit and show you a whole new life! An exciting life! A life free from selfishness and small thinking. A life of joyful service. A life of purpose and peace. In order to receive it, you have to be willing to deny yourself that dirty puddle. Is the choice really so hard?