3.29.2013

Conversation #191: He is MY King

Sorry for the radio silence - we have had a lot going on but I have some news to share with you on Monday so stay tuned!

In the meantime, I wanted to share this video our pastor shared at church recently.  It gave me goose bumps.  As our pastor said on Sunday, some of Jesus' last words were "It is finished." (John 19:30).  However, it was finished, but it wasn't over.  Today it was finished, but Sunday was coming, and it wasn't over.  He rose!  He redeems!  He reigns!  And I am so glad because He loves me, redeems, me and saves me everyday!!!  I really don't know how people get through one day without Him.  Watch the video - it gave me goosebumps and smiles and JOY.  I hope He is your King, and if not, He can be and WANTS to be - He desires it!!!!!!!


3.12.2013

Conversation #190: Build 'Em Up

I was so excited when I read about this new blog link-up happening.  I love Erin and Kelly's blogs, and I love the idea of women building each other up.  There is so much negative and sadness in this world and that just gets me down some days.  So let's build each other up and encourage each other!  I invite you to take part!
The topic this week is "Bringing Faith to Life."  If you had asked me to write about this a year or two ago, I would have written such a different pose.  God has opened my eyes and revealed so much of His truth to me over the last couple of years that my Faith has just grown and changed so much in such a good way.

If you are a long time reader, I shared some of my faith story a while back, but I will give a brief overview real quick. I grew up in a Christian home, became a believer and was baptized in August 1999 (between 8th grade and my freshman year), and then tried to live life following a bunch of "rules" that were probably noble and good, but I felt I was always failing.  I felt bad for not reading my Bible enough, not listening to only Christian music, not watching the right TV shows, not having a daily quiet time, not converting enough people, etc.  The list could go on.  I was sure of my salvation, but I felt a little stuck and empty.  I just felt like I wasn't doing enough or not enough right so then I could of just became complacent.  I began to grow restless at our church (married now) and so we began looking.  I knew God had stirred this desire in me, and man has He delivered.

He brought people into my life that He has used to help reveal more of Him to me and now as I spend time with Him, I realize just how amazing He is and wonder how I have missed out on this for so many years.  When I was contemplating baptism and accepting Christ, I kept feeling like I wasn't good enough.  Luckily, in one moment, the Holy Spirit (that I didn't really know until two years ago) got through and said, "Duh, that is the point, you aren't good enough, but with Jesus your are - He makes you whole and complete and righteous."  Well I guess I forgot that for the next 12 years or so.

The revelation of the Holy Spirit and who He is in my life has been transforming.  I ask for His power daily, and I have even experienced moments where I could literally feel Him guiding me and helping me.  You see, I am weak.  I can do nothing on my own.  Nothing right.  My flesh will fail every time.  But Jesus crucified my flesh on the cross.  He killed it.  He sees me as whole and blameless - He chose to do that for me.  Let that sink in.  He died for me!  He killed the "law" under which I was still living (and feel like many Christians do to).  I have freedom in Him.  This is HUGE.  This is everything!  Studying the Bible, singing praise songs, ministry - those are all great and I like to do them too, but that isn't Faith.  That comes after.  All God asks of me is to love Him.  To trust Him.  To fear Him.  I say "all" but there are days where that seems huge.  I am still learning.

However, how do I bring Faith to life?  I think there is only one way - to abide in Christ.  Every second of every day.  Again, let me say, I am still on this journey, but it is an amazing journey.  If I abide in Christ every moment, then all that other stuff just comes.  My fears go away.  My worries, my anxieties - gone.  My "to do" list is history.  No guilt at the Cross.  God forgave me.  He doesn't condemn - He loves me unconditionally.  When I abide in Him - I get to do it all of the time.  While working, cleaning, driving - I don't have to "set aside" time for it.  Now I do like to spend time focusing on just Him, but I don't have to feel guilty when that doesn't happen because I get to be in constant communion with Him.  Sure, my flesh gets in the way, and I forget.  But as soon as I remember, He is there waiting for me.

When I say all of the other stuff happens, I think about the Fruits of the Spirit.  You see, under law instead of grace, this becomes a "to do" list.  I think I have to figure out how to accomplish all of this:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23


That is all wrong.  These are the Fruits of the SPIRIT - not Sassy Engineer.  When I abide in Christ and don't get in the way of the Holy Spirit, the fruits are just there.  They are from Him.  If I try to achieve those on my own, I will ALWAYS fail.  I can't do them.  He does them in me.  So for me, bringing faith to life is this: abide in Him.

If you want to read more on this I recommend the following books:
The Green Letters by Miles J. Stanford
Problems, God's Presence and Prayer by Michael Wells
Abiding in Christ by Andrew Murray

Also - if you want to read an AWESOME daily tidbit, I recommend Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  All of these are rocking or have rocked my world!

Check out more sharing here!

3.01.2013

Covnersation #189: Does anyone else feel unsettled?

Maybe it's politics.  Maybe it's the weather.  Maybe it is the amount of stuff going on in my life.  Maybe it's the fact that I let work overtake me again this week and stopped actively abiding in Christ.  Okay, that last thing is the real reason, because that other stuff wouldn't get to me otherwise.  I just feel unsettled right now.  Like I am forgetting something or not worrying about something.  I mean you have a sickness when you worry about not worrying -  I know this.  I just feel like something is amiss, but really that just means I need to go back to God.

I stopped reading much about politics and issues facing the country (or listening to stuff about it) because God really just hit me with the fact at the end of the year that I have NO control over it.  Not that I ever do, but the decisions made in D.C. will be made regardless of my wishes at this point.  There is no election on the horizon, there is no avenue for change.  Living in Texas (which is great and I love) means that I don't even really need to bother my congressmen because they already vote how I want them to.  Anyway, in a way that was really freeing and helped me to find peace and joy.  I was able to let go of feeling like I had to worry and fix the problems of the country (doesn't that just sound crazy?!)

Now these last few days I have been listening a bit more to what is happening in D.C., and I think that is partially why I am down and just so frustrated again.  I'm sorry, but our President lies.  He is blaming Republicans for the budget cuts across the board that are about to happen, but they were his idea and his plan.  Now I think all along it was his "plan" to try and scare, bully, and force the GOP to submit to his true plan (of raising taxes), but they didn't cave so now he blames them.  I am so sick of it.  Frankly, I thought this email I got from one of my senators really summed up nicely what the across the board budget cut will actually mean (next to nothing) and really the President should just stop using scare tactics to frighten the American people.  Here is that email from Senator John Cornyn:
Putting the Sequester in Perspective
What Does it Mean to Cut 2.4 Percent?
Every year, Texas families set budgets for their households. They determine how much to spend on necessities like groceries, rent or mortgage, gasoline, clothing, and more.
For nearly four years, Democrat leaders in the U.S. Senate have failed to pass a budget for the nation. This is a basic and important responsibility that ensures our country is on sound fiscal footing. As a result, federal spending has gone up by 19 percent since 2008 and our gross national debt is now larger than the entire U.S. economy. Every child born in Texas and across the country comes into this world already responsible for more than $50,000 of our nation’s debt.
Now, a spending-reduction plan called the “sequester” is scheduled to go into effect in a matter of days. It would cut federal spending by 2.4 percent. The sequester was proposed and signed into law by President Obama, but he now wants to avert the sequester by raising taxes on hard-working Texans.
To sell his tax hikes alternative, President Obama is creating a state of alarm over cutting 2.4 percent from $3.5 trillion in government spending.
To put this in perspective, let’s look at what a 2.4 percent cut to a family budget would look like. To reduce their spending by 2.4 percent, the average Texas family would need to:
    - Run cars on 94.7 gallons of gasoline a month instead of 97 gallons per month
   - Find $6 in savings from a $250 monthly grocery budget
 - Look for ways to conserve $4.20 from a $175 monthly utilities bill
All working Americans had to figure out how to make ends meet with 2 percent less in their paychecks last month when the payroll tax expired. How is it that Washington can’t do the same?
 
So with all of that going on, today I tried to take a minute and remember a little gift God gave me a few weeks ago when I was feeling overwhelmed by the future and worry in this world.  He gave me these verses in Psalm 31 (19-22) (from BibleGateway.com):  Read all of Psalm 31 though - it is all comforting!!!
How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!
20 You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man;
You keep them secretly in a [h]shelter from the strife of tongues.
21 Blessed be the Lord,
For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city.
22 As for me, I said in my alarm,
“I am cut off from before Your eyes”;
Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications
When I cried to You.
 
He also gave me this picture of Him pulling back his robe to reveal this little table for me to sit at - this secret place where I would be hidden from the "conspiracies of man" (another version says the plots of man).  It helped me believe that no matter what Obama decides or other people in "power" God is protecting me.  It may be painful sometimes, but ultimately, HE has me.  So comforting!
 
I laugh at myself sometimes because even though I believe the Old Testament to still be relevant, I fear that I don't read it enough.  Well in searching for the above verse again, I stumbled over some other Psalms.  They are amazing!!! This one also spoke to me today and I leave you with this passage.  May you know the God of peace and power and love - I couldn't make it through one day without Him:

Psalm 91

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Security of the One Who Trusts in the Lord.

91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that [a]stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
[b]For you have made the Lord, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
10 No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your [c]tent.
11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
12 They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the [d]serpent you will trample down.
14 Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
15 “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in [e]trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 “With [f]a long life I will satisfy him
And [g]let him see My salvation.”