Tag Archive | Reflections on Christ

Book Review: The Women of Christmas

Book Review: The Women of Christmas

by, Liz Curtis Higgs

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I was looking for a book to read this Christmas season that would help me see a different point of view of the birth of Christ. I also wanted a bible study about Christmas to learn some more about the history of the time but I wasn’t able to find exactly what I was looking for in that respect and not to mention having a newborn I wasn’t sure how into a bible study I could be. This book met more of the first aspect I was looking for and I really enjoyed reading it. I’ve never read a book by Liz Curtis Higgs. Her writing is very easy to read and follow with so this was a pretty quick read. Nothing too deep but some different perspectives and things to ponder this past Christmas season.

“Though it’s tempting to praise people for their goodness, it’s better to praise the One who made them.” p.7

“What made Mary worthy of her calling was not her virtue; it was God’s virtue. That’s why her story gives every woman a generous measure of hope. God takes us as we are and uses us as he will, for our good and for his glory.” p. 46

“Clearly it’s okay – more than okay – to ask God how he will accomplish something. Even if his answer is ‘Trust me,’ we can be sure he hears us.” p. 51

Talking about Mary: “As a devout young woman, she surely knew the prophecy of Isaiah… Did she begin to tremble all over, realizing Isaiah was talking about her?” p. 56

“To say yes and not be afraid of what others may say about our dependence upon God, about our abundance of joy. If people talk, so what? People always do.” p. 72

“… the first person to hold the newborn Christ was Mary of Nazareth, and the first person to touch the newly risen Christ, however briefly, was Mary of Magdala. God placed himself in a woman’s care when he came to earth, then entrusted a woman to announce his resurrection when he came back to life.” p. 122

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“What do you want Me to do for you?” – Jesus

“As He (Jesus) went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.’ And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. So Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ The blind man said to Him, ‘Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.”

Mark 10:46-52

I went to church this week and found myself to enjoy our main service but God used my time volunteering in children’s ministry to really speak to me. Faith like a child, right? Sometimes it’s the simple messages that speak profoundly to us. This is what the children’s ministry message was about… blind Bartimaeus. Now while they focused on Jesus having power over sickness God spoke some great things to me.

I often feel like Bartimaeus. Not physically blind but spiritually blind. When God brings me a revelation about my sin or my relationship with Him and He opens my eyes I am in shock and amazed at how blind I was before. Bartimaeus knew he was blind. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t know how spiritually blind I am. Sometimes my sin is so extensive and complicated and overwhelming that I don’t know what to pray for and I’m left feeling somewhat blind to it. So I begin calling out to God to give me wisdom to see things clearly, to give me strength to persevere in victory over my sin and just like the multitudes told Bartimaeus to be quiet, the devil and my flesh and the world all tell me the same. Shhhhh. Don’t ask Jesus for something like this. He’s got bigger problems on His plate. You should be able to handle your sin on your own, after all you probably were the one who got yourself into this mess in the first place. And often those messages get the best of me and I begin to silence myself. God doesn’t want to hear me come again and again to Him with the same thing.

But Jesus stood still and called Bartimaeus to come to Him. Jesus had somewhere to go. He had people following Him who were now forced to stop and wait before they could move on. But nonetheless Jesus stood still. He stopped at the voice of Bartimaeus. Why did He call Bartimaeus to Him? Why didn’t Jesus just go to Him? Jesus may call us but if we don’t stand up and walk away from our old stuff and walk towards Him then we can’t receive what He has for us. Come to me Bartimaeus. Come all you who are weary. Come. Come. Jesus is there with an endless supply of whatever we need whenever we need it… but we have to come. This is where the victory or defeat comes. I have experienced both. I have chosen to stay put. Jesus I want you to come to me. I don’t want to take any steps and get up and do anything. Can’t you just change things from where you are and then I’ll get up and come to you? I want to be more like Bartimaeus when I am calling out to God and He answers and asks me to come to Him… “throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.” He did not want to sit back and miss his one amazing opportunity to interact with Jesus. Bartimaeus knew Jesus had the power to heal Him. He had heard about Jesus and was thrilled that Jesus was walking right past him. This was it. The moment he had hoped and dreamed about for who knows how long. There’s no way he would just sit back and let Jesus pass. He threw aside what he was carrying and came to Jesus when he called.

“What do you want Me to do for you?” Hmmm. I’m pretty sure Jesus already knew. Why did He ask? I’m sure there are many reasons and one sticks out to me for how it relates to my walk and experiences. Humility. It’s along the lines of when we ask someone to forgive us. Forgive us for what? We need to tell them what we did wrong and ask them to forgive us. Not just “I messed up will you forgive me”. When we are specific it gives power and victory over those words. It lets us and those around us and Jesus know that we know what we are asking and what our expectations are. “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” He could’ve asked for more money when he begs. He could’ve asked for a comfortable covered home. But he knew Jesus was bigger than that. Heal my blindness! Bartimaeus had never seen the light of day. How audacious of him to ask that of Jesus. But he did and he should have and I’m glad he did.

“‘Your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.” Can you imagine how Bartimaeus must have felt?!? Seeing for the first time and now a part of the multitude that had shushed him up on the side of the road. Walking in step with Jesus not even knowing where He was going and what they were going to see. Have you ever had your eyes opened from spiritual blindness? There is a power, a freedom, an excitement. I can see! I get it!

I am praying from this message that God will help me to earnestly call out to Him for my blindness and that I will shush up the world, the flesh and the devil when they tell me to be quiet and stop calling out to God. I am praying that the second Jesus calls for me to come to Him that I will throw aside what I am clinging on to and come to Him. I am praying that I will ask Jesus specifically what I want Him to do for me (according to His will) and that when He does it that I will receive it and follow Him.

The Discomfort of Grace

I don’t like to be uncomfortable.

Most of us don’t.

We try to correct situations where we feel discomfort. Pillow top mattress, a jacket in the winter, tylenol for a headache, a bigger house, a new car.

Grace makes me uncomfortable.

I try to correct that feeling. Working to earn it or refusing to accept it and rather opting for self inflicted punishment of shame and guilt. Because that’s what I know and sometimes what we know may feel comfortable just because we’re used to it. New things take time to get used to, no matter how good they may be.

Why not embrace the discomfort of grace? After all embracing the discomfort makes us all the more aware and grateful for the remedy. Once you choose to embrace the discomfort of trying something new, with time and devotion and trust that new thing will become a part of you. It will become your normal and while you may have hesitated at first because it felt awkward and you didn’t think it fit you or looked good on you, it will eventually become you and characterize you.

Think of becoming a mom or a wife. Or even a nurse or a college student. Or a licensed driver or an employee at a business. At first you may excitedly but hesitantly proclaim your new title. For me I struggled with unbelief that this was actually me now. How blessed am I?!? I still feel so young and not even worthy for these titles and this happened so fast and what if I mess something up, etc., etc. I was initially a little uncomfortable with the new title. But once I embraced it fully it changed everything. It squandered all my doubts and gave me the confidence to boldly proclaim my new title. And not because I worked so hard to earn it but because God gave it to me, allowed it for me, blessed me with it.

I want that for grace in my life. I don’t want to be hesitant to accept it or give it. I want it to be me. My new comfort. My title. I want my initial discomfort of embracing grace to become comfort and be replaced with a discomfort when I am disgraceful. When I choose in moments to not receive or extend grace and suddenly find myself uncomfortable with that and needing to find a remedy… and that remedy being the comfort of grace.

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

The Prodigal Son – Luke 15

Book Review: Beth Moore A Woman’s Heart

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This was a phenomenal bible study. Every single one of Beth Moore’s bible studies are phenomenal. God has really gifted her to teach among women it is just amazing. This is a revised study and I actually had already completed the first one about 8 years ago. A lot has changed in 8 years. There were some points that I remember really standing out to me then that really stood out to me again now but there was so much more this time. This bible study and this particular time in my life and just God doing what He’s doing in me has really changed me. I also absolutely love watching her videos that accompany the bible studies. I cry at EVERY SINGLE video. Her passion, her sincerity, her compassion is so moving. She gets it and she wants everyone to get it and God is using her. Here are some of the incredible things the Lord taught me through her and this study:

God pursued Adam AFTER his disobedience (from the Viewer Guide Introduction). God didn’t stand back waiting for Adam to suck up the courage to confess to God about his sin. No. God pursued Adam. “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9. When I sin and am afraid to come to God and think if I just ignore Him and continue on it may eventually just go unnoticed but God is greater than that. He pursues me. He pursues you. When you and I sin He comes after us because He loves us so much and wants us to repent and restore our relationship together.

“Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25 (from the Viewer Guide Session 7). Jesus always lives to make intercession for His people. Christ thrives on interceding for us. What do you live for? This is what Christ lives for. Jesus and God are talking about us. They are carefully thinking through the plan for our lives. Nothing that happens to us is haphazard but is carefully thought out. And they love us so much. “Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:28. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand.” Psalm 139:17-18.

  • In Romans 8:28 when it says “according to the will of God” the Greek word for will is “boule” which means: “will, project, intention, as the result of reflections; counsel… deliberation and reflection”… denotes the final result of inner deliberation. Her point here is that Jesus and God are reflecting and deliberating what our will is. Again she reiterates in the video that nothing that happens in our life is haphazard but carefully deliberated and reflected on and then decided on. This is profound and incredibly deepens my trust in God that He loves me and cares about everything that He allows to happen in my life.

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4 (from the Viewer Guide Session 10). She pointed out in talking about where the final tabernacle will be that when we get to heaven notice how God ordered these things. He begins with no more death… then sorrow… then crying… then pain. It is in order of worse things to more tolerable things. Of course in heaven we would expect there to be no more death… and of course we would assume no more sorrow. But there’s probably going to be some crying right? Nope. Well, then there’s going to be some kind of pain right? Physical? Emotional? NOPE… NOT EVEN ANY PAIN. How incredible is that?!?!?! If you have never longed for heaven before then that truth surely should put the longing within you. I know for me this verse and her pointing this out has significantly impacted my desire and longing for heaven. Praise God.

There are so many more amazing things I learned through this study but those were the 3 that really stuck out to me and changed me the most. I would highly recommend anybody anywhere at any time… no wait, right now, not anytime… choose now to do this study and watch the videos (or you can listen to the audio but seeing her emotion and passion in real life is so much more moving). May God be glorified in our pursuits of Him!

Can We Be Led By Our Feelings?

God has been trying to get my attention lately to do some research in this particular area of being influenced by our feelings when making decisions. I have until recently become lazy and not done the research but since our God is such a good God He continues to pester me until I listen : ) Well, this last chapter in our bible study was about this exact issue so I decided it was time to pick up the pencil and paper and do my research.

The questions I have been having are relating to the negative influence of our emotions and feelings on the decisions we make. There are a number of times when I don’t do something because I don’t feel like it and I won’t do it until I do feel like it (perfect example is what I already described above, I didn’t feel like doing research so I simply didn’t do it). This can seriously interfere with our obedience to God’s Word if we only choose to be obedient when we feel like it. This was putting an overall negative characteristic to my feelings and leaving me in a place of not trusting them for anything.

I began wondering what was behind the saying “I felt led to…” What does that mean? Is it valid? I know the Scripture that talks about “the heart is deceitful above all things” Jeremiah 17:9 so we can’t trust our heart because it could be deceptive. But there have been a number of times in my life when I know God led me to do a certain thing and if I didn’t do it I would be walking in disobedience to Him (leading this online bible study, homeschooling Amelia, etc.). I could easily say “I felt led to start this bible study” and I know it was stronger than a feeling but how can I validate and separate that from being a “feeling” vs. actually being led by the Holy Spirit? I found myself very confused. I found this great article during my research and here are some wonderful tidbits from it. To read the full article just click here.

  • we cannot flee from our feelings; therefore, we must deal with them… the management of the emotions is critical to the spiritual life
  • emotions do not authenticate truth… emotions, however, do authenticate our understanding of the truth
  • in the Bible, truth is supposed to strike the life with positive emotional force. truth without effect is an unknown within scripture
  • in some senses the Holy Spirit is the emotionally rich member of the Trinity insofar as he is the primary agent of personal interaction with us as human beings
  • it is the Spirit who directly influences our inner life… [the Spirit] conforms those who have trusted Christ to the character of Christ. Such character has a richly emotional component
    • Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17
  • the mature believer in Christ is identified by his or her ability to respond to the prompting of the Spirit. This prompting might be emotional inclinations and insights. Over time the believer learns the ability to surrender calmly and expectantly to these impressions
  • we cannot be spiritually mature without a ministry to our own emotional life … setting one’s mind on things above [Colossians 3:1-2] becomes the first step in the process of controlling one’s emotions

He also has a section where he explains what we have to do to gain and maintain spiritual health:

  • recognize or differentiate what is going on within our emotional life and in the management of our appetites (Galatians 5:16-25)
  • we reckon on how God views us; we control our imagination
  • we have to set our minds on our relationships above by controlling our thinking (Colossians 3:1-3 and Romans 8:5-10)
  • by reckoning we relate to God personally instead of to our appetites (Romans 6:11-12)
  • by reckoning we control our memories (Philippians 4:8-9)
  • as a result, we experience the primary emotions (the Fruit of the Spirit)

What I learned from this article and many of the other Scriptures I did not list here but are in the full article helped me to see the correlation of our feelings and our emotional life to the role of the Holy Spirit. In the verse that talks about the heart being deceitful implying it can lead us to make decisions from information that may have led us in the wrong direction, it is important for us to renew our minds and set our minds on the things above so that our heart and emotions are influenced by the truth of God’s Word and not other erroneous factors (our flesh, the society, etc.). This is the key truth that solves my debate. I can feel led to do something if my feelings are not being influenced by negative factors. Those feelings if they can be authenticated by God’s Word and His character and the level of my maturity as a believer when it comes to my sensitivity to the Spirit’s leading can indeed be just the Spirit leading me. Everything seems to always point back to the importance of knowing God’s Word inside and out. The more we know God’s Word and God’s character and keep that at the center of our lives then the less our hearts will deceive us and we will be led by God and the influence of His Spirit within us.

All information above was found from this article: The Holy Spirit and Our Emotions by, David Eckman

Identity in Christ and Our Self-Worth

There was a lot of conversation over this weeks online bible study reading. 2 main issues I wanted to address further are what does it mean to have our identity in Christ and does it pervert God’s original meaning of it to tell someone if they know who they are in Christ then it can help them with past hurts and to heal and move on. Also, are we worthy and valuable in God’s eyes or is this a prideful thought that takes away the worth and value to God. Here is what I have found from researching Scripture:

Definition of Identity: The collective aspect of a set of characteristics by which a thing is definitively recognizable or known

  • Our identity in Christ is the set of characteristics that make us recognizable as Children of God:
  • a new creation
  • freedom from condemnation
  • righteous, holy, redeemed
  • children of God
  • holy, blameless, redeemed, forgiven

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1

“It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31

“So in Christ Jesus, you are all children of  God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothes yourselves with Christ.” Galatians 3:26-27

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In lovehepredestined us for adoption to sonshipthrough Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” Ephesians 1:3-8

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world… But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:1-2, 4-7

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in
baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Colossians 2:9-15

I really was amazed at how Paul had the perfect balance of recognizing the power of knowing his identity in Christ but also giving the glory to God for it. I think that’s the whole pitfall to this chapter. It is possible to become free from sins and power struggles by knowing your identity in Christ, that is a part of why God made it clear in His Scripture what having your identity in Christ means. He meant to give us confidence and understanding in who we are and what we mean to Him so we can live to the fullness of who He created us to be. BUT like Paul did He meant for it to ultimately give Him back the glory. Martha must have had a lot of examples where people were not giving God the glory for their identity in Christ so she saw it abused and become a “self-centered” concept instead of a God-centered concept. Scripture truly is alive and active as I began reading these different Scriptures this concept came to light for me whereas this past week I felt in the gray not knowing what conviction to hold. I must confess here that I did what I said last week I didn’t want to do… I didn’t go to God’s Word first to form my conviction, I stuck with the book and my respect for Martha. I now realize my mistake and am thankful for God’s Word to shine light over my darkness.

All the verses were listed in this article

http://www.soulshepherding.org/2012/07/identity-in-christ-verses-in-the-bible/

Our Identity and Its Purpose

“There is a lot of discussion in our day of self-concept or self-identity. How do we view ourselves? It is an important question. And what I hope you hear this morning is that the specifically biblical angle on this question is that Christian selfhood is not defined in terms of who we are in and of ourselves. It’s defined in terms of what God does to us and the relationship he creates with us and the destiny he appoints for us. In other words as a Christian you cannot talk about your identity without talking about the action of God on you, the relationship of God with you, and the purpose of God for you. The biblical understanding of human self-identity is radically God-centered.

Who am I? Who are you? You are a God-chosen one, a God-pitied one, a God-possessed one, a God-sanctified one. The very language of our identity in this text necessitates that God be included as the one who acts. Our identity is not an end in itself, but for the sake of priestly service, which Peter defines as proclaiming the excellencies of the One who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.

God made us who we are so that we might proclaim the excellency of his freedom in choosing us. The excellency of his grace in pitying us. The excellencies of his authority and power in possessing us. The excellencies of his worth and purity in making us holy.

In other words he has given us our identity in order that his identity might be proclaimed through us. God made us who we are so we could make known who he is. Our identity is for the sake of making known his identity. The meaning of our identity is that the excellency of God be seen in us.

Therefore being a Christian and making the greatness of God known are almost identical. We can do it in church services with preaching and singing and praying and reading. We can do it in our small groups as we tell each other what God has been for us, or what we need him to be for us. We can do it at work as we tell people what we love about God and why we think he is great. And we can do it in a thousand different ways of love that suit our situation and personality.”

I thought this was a great article and again defined this concept very well. There’s more to the article if you want to read it here:

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/christian-identity-and-christian-destiny

Question: “What does the Bible say about self-worth?”

Answer: The Bible actually has many passages that tell us what God has to say about our worth and our value in His eyes. Genesis 1:26-27 says we are made in His image, the very image of God. Psalm 139:13-16 says we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and all the days of our lives were written in God’s book before we were ever born, confirming God’s prior knowledge and plan for our lives. Ephesians 1:4 says God chose His children before the foundations of the earth were ever formed, and in Ephesians 1:13-14 we’re told we are God’s own possession, chosen for the praise of His glory, and that we have an inheritance in heaven with Him as His children.

But notice the wording in each of the above phrases: “are made,” “are fearfully and wonderfully made,” “were written,” “God chose His children,” “we are God’s own possession,” and “we have an inheritance.” These phrases all have one thing in common: they are things done to us or for us by God. These are not things we have done for ourselves, nor have we earned or deserved them. We are, in fact, merely the recipients of “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Therefore, we can conclude that our worth is not really of the “self” at all; rather, it is worth given to us by God. We are of inestimable value to Him because of the price He paid to make us worthy—the death of His Son on the cross.

The Bible tells us that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). In fact, we “were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). What worth is there in dead things? None. God imputed to us His own righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21) not because we were worthy of it, but because we were unworthy, unlovable, and unable to make ourselves worthy in any way. But—and here’s the miracle—He actually loved us in spite of our condition (John 3:16), and because He did, we now have infinite worth.

John 1:12 tells us that to those who received Christ and believed in His name, God gave the right to become His children. First John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we focus on how much God loves us and the price He paid to redeem us, we’ll come to see ourselves as God sees us, and that will help us understand just how much we’re really worth as children of the most high God.

Our self-worth is too often based on what other people tell us about ourselves. The one, true authority on our self-worth is Jesus Christ, and since He gave His own life up for us by dying on a cross, that should tell us just how valuable we really are.

This last article was taken from this website:

http://www.gotquestions.org/self-worth.html

 

CHRIST-mas

 

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 I absolutely love Christmastime! I think most people do. As I sit and reflect today on what it is that is so “magical” about Christmas, I remember my Christmas in 2002. This was the last Christmas I celebrated as a person not knowing what I was celebrating. I just remember being bothered that Christmas of thinking I know Christmas is something about Jesus and something that’s supposed to be religious but I’m not “religious” I don’t really believe in God or a god or whatever and who is this Jesus anyways so why do I even celebrate Christmas… for the presents, the tree, the good food, the snow, the lights, is this okay to celebrate these things when it really doesn’t reflect the whole point in Christmas?

 These thoughts were the very beginning of God introducing Himself to me. I set off from that Christmas forward to get to the bottom of who this God and Jesus from Christmas really was and God brought me from a place of confusion, desperation and emptiness into a relationship with Him that following April! Praise God for using the holiday season for what it was inteded for… to celebrate His Son Jesus coming to this earth as a human to live and breathe and walk among us (God… walking among us… that’s crazy!) and then to be crucified on the cross so that we… everyone… I… YOU… can experience freedom from the power of sin… forever! What?!?!?! You mean I can be free? I don’t have to be bogged down by shame, inadequacy, bitterness, anger, jealousy and so many other depressing captivating emotions and places that leave me wondering “is this all to life?” but instead I can be free! I can have peace that surpasses understanding; I can speak one to one with the creator of the universe and He wants to hear from me; I can trust my life to Him and know He will direct my path and everything will have a purpose and a reason. And the best of all is that when I leave this earth I WILL meet Him FACE to FACE in Heaven and spend eternity there instead of eternity in Hell amongst darkness and evil. That’s what I’m celebrating this Christmas! That’s what Christmas is all about. So I pray that this Christmas will be so incredibly life-changing and different for you. That if you don’t know what it is you’re celebrating that you would find out. Don’t let another Christmas go by while decorating your tree, buying presents, baking and admiring the lights and not even think about wht is behind all of this… question it, investigate it and surrender your life to Him who is CHRIST-mas. He wants to bless you like crazy and He wants to give you the best gift anyone can get for Christmas… His salvation.  

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God is Alive and Active… Today

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” ~ Hebrews 13:8

 God has been doing some INCREDIBLE things in our lives recently. As I reflect back on the things He has been doing and the place He is bringing us I realize that over the past 7 1/2 years that I have been a believer, my faith has steadily been declining to an ordinary, complacent, stagnant faith. I don’t recall any specifics of how I got there but I know I was contentedly there up until 3 weeks ago when God began moving in some big ways in our lives.

I know today that I can say with full confidence that Jesus Christ IS the same yesterday, TODAY, and forever. I can believe God to be the same God who performed miracles in the Bible. He is a God who desires and WILL bring believers to a life filled with intense, intimate relationship with Him… a life filled with incredible blessings and joy that is beyond understanding. God is not a stagnant God that you read about in this storybook called the Bible. He isn’t a passive God who desires us to be content with an ordinary life that doesn’t even reflect a following and belief of Him. He wants us to live a radical life… a life that every decision we make and every experience we have is based off His leading and will bring glory and honor to Him.

I have been telling God for awhile that I have been wanting to live this life with Him but in my heart I haven’t really been wanting to. I’ve been afraid of what He may ask of me; afraid of the changes I may need to make; afraid of the vulnerability He may require of me. So… do I really want it? God brought me to a place 3 weeks ago where I had to make a choice… complacency followed by disappointment and distance from God… or present and active faith followed by answered prayers, incredible blessings and miracles from the almighty God who created the heavens and the earth.

And I chose life. I chose to walk with Him wherever He may want me to go (yikes!) and I am so thankful I have because just in these past 3 weeks I have experienced a relationship with Him on a whole new level that I thought only existed in Biblical times or amongst a few friends of mine who are “different”; friends who live and walk intimately with their Creator, who model a walk that I have desired but never thought was possible for me. Well… it is possible for me and for you and for everyone… God desires this for us and asks us to believe Him for it. I pray that all of you may know “what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (Ephesians 11:19).

 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” ~ Hebrews 11:6

 “Therfore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the wil of God, you may receive the promise: ‘For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’ ” ~ Hebrews 10:35-38
 
“Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour.” Matthew 15:28
 
“So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from Here to there”, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’ ” ~ Matthew 17:20
 

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” ~ Ephesians 3:20-21

 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.” ~ Proverbs 8:17
 
“For we walk by faith, and not by sight.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7

Oh How He Loves Us

God has been showing me lately some tremendous truths about the way He loves us. I have always known in my head that God’s gift of salvation and the blessings He bestows upon us are free gifts from His mercy and grace. I have said this a million times but I have realized in these past few weeks that in my heart I still believe that it is performance based. Not necessarily salvation because I know without a doubt in my head and my heart that there is nothing we can do to earn and lose salvation but we just simply must confess that Jesus is our Lord and that if we believe in Him we will have eternal life. I am refering more to God’s blessings once we have entered into a relationship with Him. I have realized that my thoughts have been that if I do so many things right and good then I in a way expect to get something in return and on the other hand if I think I am being disobedient and just not measuring up to God’s desires for my character then I am expecting some sort of punishment or withdrawal of God’s rewards. This is so not right! I do think there is a healthy knowledge and understanding of the results of obedience and disobedience in the sense of there being consequences to walking outside the will of God but to say in a black and white fashion that obedience = rewards and disobedience = withdrawal of rewards is just not in God’s character. (I must clarify the meanings behind the word “blessings” and “rewards”. Blessings can come through emotions, feelings, and physical things while when I refer to rewards here I am referring more to physcal things i.e. money, possessions, opportunities, etc.). I tend to pray with the position that I have done x, y and z this week therefore God should answer my requests and if I have missed on doing “y” then I must do “y” first before I think God will answer my requests. God is so much bigger than my doing x, y and z. He loves us so much that He blesses us simply because He loves us. period. He doesn’t demand perfection before He walks alongside us and blesses us with His mercy, grace and love. God has blessed me in so many ways just this week while in the back of my mind I can count my many shortfalls of disobedience. Can God provide for us financially while I still struggle with doubt of the means through which He will provide? Yes. Can God bring salvation to my friends and family while I fail daily to display His love for them through my witness? Yes. Can God give me strength, hope and joy throughout this day while my first thoughts when I wake up are a sense of looming at the tasks ahead of me? Yes. I do not have to first be perfect and then God will show up. Why would I ever want to serve a God that requires this of me? I would always be 25 steps behind. I would always long to meet that perfection He would require of me yet I would know it was unattainable… a set up for defeat from the beginning. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that HE LOVED US and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” – 1 John 4:10. Marvel today in how much God loves you and be thankful that there is nothing you can do to “deserve” it but simply find peace knowing He loves you irregardless of your performance.

There is a God

The other night while I was trying unsuccessfully to sleep I finally brought Amelia into bed with me to try to get her to sleep a little better as she had been so restless all night. She finally fell asleep in my arms laying against my chest. I was wide awake at this point (roughly 4 AM) and I was looking down just watching her sleep on me. As I was watching her I was so overwhelmed at the wonder of this created being I was holding in my arms. I just cannot believe that she’s real sometimes. And I cannot believe she was created by God inside of me! What a miracle it truly is! God has made pregnancy and the creation of his beings such an incredible thing. The fact that a placenta develops with an umbilical cord that brings life to a growing baby inside a woman’s belly without the woman needing to do anything and the fact that a baby develops perfectly with all its organs functioning and knowing what to do the minute the baby leaves the warmth of the womb and enters this cold bright world, it all just facinates me. If I ever struggled believing there was a God I definitely don’t anymore. To me there is just no way that the growth and development of a human being just accidentally happened. It is clear there is a Creator behind it. It’s just too perfect for an accident… too perfect for chance. And God cannot be mocked. This is evidence of His greatness and His glory and His love for His people. I am so incredibly thankful that He has blessed Adam and I with the experience of pregnancy and childbirth and now watching our beautiful daughter grow and develop… just the way God intended.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13

God using my womb as the location of His craftmanship

The end result of 9 months of God’s perfection

Thinking about all of this reminds me of this song by Lee Ann Womack called “There Is A God”. I tried to find it to add to my playlist but I couldn’t : ( so you can sing it to your own tune!

Try and put your arms around the 100 year old tree

Climb up on a horse and let it run full speed

Take a look down at the world from 30,000 feet on your next flight

Watch a flock of birds against the morning sun

Close your eyes and listen to the river run

Catch a firefly in your hand or a raindrop on your tongue

 

Chorus: There is a God

There is a God

There is a God

How much proof do you need?

 

Plant a seed and see what comes out of the ground

Find the heartbeat on your baby’s ultrasound

In a few years hear it laughing, and don’t it sound like a song?

Stop and think about what you don’t understand

Things like life and love and how the world began

Hear the doctor say he can’t explain it, but the cancer is gone

 

Chorus: There is a God

There is a God

There is a God

How much proof do you need?

 

Bridge: Science says it’s all just circumstance

Like this whole worlds just an accident

But if you want to shoot that theory down,

Look around Just look around

 

There is a God

There is a God

There is a God,

How much proof do you need?