Wednesday, December 30, 2009

His Grace....It STILL Amazes Me

Your Grace Still Amazes Me ~Phillips, Craig, & Dean

This song has been in my head 3 days now. I've been falling asleep thinking about it, as well as waking up to the though of it in my mind.

A friend that I've know my whole life was visiting my church on Sunday. I didn't even know that she was there until the person leading the service (my friend's uncle)asked me to step out into the foyer to watch her baby,a beautiful baby less than a month old, that I had yet to get to see in person. Needless to say, he didn't have to ask me twice. :o) I quickly relieved my friend so she could go sing a special..the song she sang was "Your Grace Still Amazes Me".

As I sat there, holding her adorable baby for the first time, while listening to her sing those words, I began to think about the blessings God had brought her way the last few years. A Godly husband. A job in which she is able to help people in which she has a burden, a burden derived due to her own personal life circumstances. She is also a youth pastor's wife and now mother of one of the cutest babies I've ever seen.

Through the years we have randomly shared our hopes and dreams. Many of which, have been very similar, other than the location of our callings. As I sat there, I realized I could have felt jealous, that many of her dreams are already coming to pass & most of mine are still in process. But I wasn't. This same friend is the one that had shared words of encouragement with me about this same time the year before and had been one of the greatest sources of encouragement I had received in a long time. No I wasn't jealous at all; I was just very thankful for her.

Not long ago I was talking with another friend. One of the best girls I know. One who hasn't had luck on her side lately or for quite a while it would seem. Many of the circumstances she has faced and has to face I can't imagine going through. However, the one we were discussing that particular day..that she was going through at that moment, I not only could imagine, but had experienced. She began to say things such as "It's not fair! I deserve better. WE deserve better!" Though I wanted to be her friend and shake my head and say, "Yes, you're right! You're absolutely right!" I had to tell her the truth..that WE don't "deserve" anything. Every blessing we receive is a gift; we don't nor can we "earn" God's blessings.

A line of one of my favorite songs, whose lyrics I believe I have already shared on here, says:"Every good & perfect gift that I possess was sent from the Father above." And that's exactly how it is. We were born sinners; we were born undeserving. BUT, thanks to God's grace, He still chooses to bless us.

Do I have any idea why some people seem more blessed than others? No. I've seen some of the most dedicated people I know go with out many desires and some of the least committed people I know squander blessings those dedicated ones would have given their right arm for.

However, as I sat there holding my friends baby, thinking about God's blessings in her life, I thanked God for grace. Grace for her. Grace for me. Grace for anyone who will accept it.

The words of another favorite song say:
"Where would I be, if not for your grace?
Carrying me, through every season.
Where would I be, if not for your grace?
You came to my rescue. And I want to thank you
For your grace.

Yes, His grace STILL amazes me. Past. Present. Future. And I thank Him for it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A New Year...

When I started this blog earlier this year I wasn't sure who, if anyone, would end up reading it. All I knew was God was speaking to me, showing me things I had never understood, or realized before, and that maybe, just maybe, others could also benefit from what I was learning as well.

Blogging like this is not always easy. Sometimes, in order to write about certain subjects of which I might feel to write, I have to be more transparent than I would otherwise normally desire to be. However, over the last few months I have had various people...from family, to friends, to acquaintances, to complete strangers comment regarding various things they have read and encourage me not to stop writing. I now see that what started out as me feeling a subtle tug from God to do something with all the thoughts crowding my head has turned into an opportunity to minister to others. I am thankful for this and look forward to sharing this coming year with you as well!

I plan to also change things up a bit, maybe sometimes writing a little more "blog like" rather than "devotional like". I feel only one side of me has been shown thus far through this blog, and it has been a side even some people who know me personally may not have been familiar with. In general, I am a bubbly,outgoing, yet randomly timid person who loves to laugh and find enjoyment in the small things in life. I never meet a stranger (trait adopted from my Dad no doubt) and try my best to be a person who welcomes both advice & criticism equally. I have a huge heart, which sometimes seems like a good thing & other times like a bad thing. I have amazing friends and family both near and far..soon to be mostly far. This saddens me; but I also welcome the opportunity to develop new friendships with new people of which I haven't been blessed to know yet.

In the past, some of you have felt to email me for advice or requesting prayer for certain situations you may be facing. Feel free to continue to do so. I may not always have an answer for you, but I am definitely always willing to join you in prayer.

This next year is going to be a major adventure. New place. New people. New Challenges. I welcome you to join me while continuing this Journey called life...the Pilgrim way.

May God bless you & yours abundantly in the year to come!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Godly Heritage

When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. - II Timothy 1:5

Last night as I was sitting on my pew at church, listening to my parents sing one of the hundreds of songs my dad has written, I lost it. Literally lost it. The tears began to flow nonstop. The emotions I was feeling were a mixture of earthly and heavenly. A pinch of pain, quickly engulfed by the peace & love of God. And thankfulness. Lots of thankfulness.

I have listened to my parents sing more times then I can count. I have probably listened to them sing the same song they sung that night more times than I can count. So what, you may be wondering, made the difference this particular night? The song they were singing was about God turning the tables around. The chorus goes "When it's God's time He'll turn the tables around. When it's God's time He'll turn them upside down. There's no power can prevail, none on earth, nor in hell. When it's God's time He'll turn the tables around."

The reason I "lost it" so to speak is because I know my parents. I know what they face day in and day out. I also see day in and day out their Godly character and faith in God shine through, no matter what the circumstances may be.

What began as one of the best years of my life turned into one of the worst years. It has also been one of the worst years for my family as a whole. However, I am thankful to have such a Godly heritage...parents that truly believe, and are an example of Job when he said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him."

My mom was raised up 3rd generation Pentecostal, her grandfather having helped build the church with his own hands in the tiny town where she grew up. My dad was 1st generation; his family came to truth when he was a teenager. His step-father being healed of cancer at a local tent revival brought the whole family to truth.

Many years later,after my parents had been married for a short while, my mom who had always been raised in church, but never received the Holy Ghost or been baptized, did so during a 3 week revival that took place despite a snow storm. My dad had been quite involved in singing for the country music industry up until then. At this time he also recommitted his life to God, leaving the industry behind.

This was all many years before I was born. All my life I have known that, if I walk down the stairs around 6 in the morning, I will either see my dad praying or reading his Bible. If I'm still home an hour after my mom has woke up, I will no doubt hear sounds of praying coming from their bedroom....A Godly Heritage.

As a little child one of my strongest memories is visiting nursing homes, going door to door inviting kids to Sunday school, and playing outside during Women's prayer...

Every other Saturday: 3 different nursing homes. I loved it! They loved my squeaky voice. And, of course, always wanted me to sing. I remember us all laying hands on many of them in prayer.

Door to Door Visitation: Dressing up in cartoon characters costumes and having random kids bring carrots on Sunday to my dad..who had been dressed up like Bugs Bunny.

Women's Prayer: Every week coming in after playing outside with other church lady's kids to see a group of consecrated women standing in a circle, hands joined, praying....for the lost child of the lady who stood next to them, or for the sick mother of the other lady, or for the one whose finances were in crisis....Sometimes I would walk in and a tongues interpretation would be going forth...
A Godly Heritage.

After moving to Arkansas, when I was 10, I have also learned many other things due to my parents. Through my participation in Bible quizzing for 9 years I have learned what commitment, discipline, support, and teamwork really mean. My mom was assistant coach, in charge of fundraisers, the person I quoted my verses to daily, and, of course, at all my tournaments. My dad also found a way to be at all the important ones as well...A Godly Heritage.

As I've grown older, my parents have been a huge source of support to me in regard to my calling and all the preparation I have felt necessary to go through because of it. They are, indeed, my greatest cheerleaders and most dependable prayer warriors. Most of all, they are my greatest example of faith. Pure and Simple Faith. If through the years I have managed to glean half of their Godly spirit and attitude, I consider myself very blessed.

A Godly Heritage. If you are blessed enough to have this, count your blessings and please, whatever you do, don't let it go to waste. Pass it on yourself. It doesn't have to just be passed to your physical children; those who are babes in Christ need Godly examples as well.

If you haven't been blessed with a Godly Heritage, it's never too late to find a mentor and glean from them all you can. But when you do, whatever you do, don't let it stop at you....A Godly Heritage. Pass it on.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Want to Be a "Giver"

New Year's Resolutions are an interesting thing. Some people swear by them; others make fun of them. I've realized through the years that the ones that swear by them are usually the ones that accomplish them. The ones that make fun of them...well, they tend to make fun because they haven't been quite so successful at fulfilling them and perhaps have stopped trying all together.

I personally fall somewhere in between the two. For one thing, I don't think it takes a new year starting out to decide to make a commitment to doing/ not doing something. Also, some years there is something I really feel to focus on...other years I'm more set on general improvement, rather than something that specifically is standing out screaming "work on me!"

This year I have decided to focus on one. This year I want to become a better giver. I want to give of myself to others like I have never gave before. As the baby of my family, this is not something that comes very naturally to me, but it is a trait I want to pursue.

In part, to fulfill this goal, I want to stay more connected. Not connected as in being on every networking site out there. But rather as in realizing who those people are that I want to make sure I stay more connected with and being the type of friend/ family member that they deserve. I'm referring to those people that years from now when I'm possibly living in Timbuktu (figuratively speaking I hope:o) I won't find myself thinking "I wonder how they're doing?" or "I wonder what ever happened to them?" But rather that I will know and will have been in enough contact with them to have rejoiced with them when they have rejoiced and have been there for them when they have gone through trying times as well.

A few years back a dear friend of mine, who knows way more people than myself and is one of the busiest people I know, decided he was going to do this. He told me he was making a list of all the people (including people like his grandma) that he knew he needed to talk to more often. In this case he was even going to assign certain days a month to call them. While I don't intend to go to this extent, I have seriously been thinking about who those people are that I should be putting on my "list".

I've been asking myself questions such as:
Who have been my closest friends in the past?
Who am I closest to now?
Who would I like to grow to know better?
Who do I feel I can learn from?
Who do I feel may be able to learn from me?

While this is my New Year's resolution, due to choosing to spend this year in a job position/ ministry that consumes a lot of my time & energy, I have already started off a little off track. Talking all day for one's job makes one less likely to want to talk once he or she goes home...and thus less likely to pick up the phone. However, I am determined. I have some awesome friends and family members who deserve my time. And, if I don't feel like talking sometimes, who cares? I can always listen. Listening's good..Listening's better anyway.

So, dear friend, if you haven't heard from me in a while, feel free to call me and remind me of this fact...I won't be offended and will be glad to hear your voice. And once you confirm to me that you fall into one of the list categories above I will be glad to call you back. (Kidding ;o)

Hope you're having a blessed New Year!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Godly Fear...

..."For Our God is a Consuming Fire".

When one hears the phrase "Godly fear" various thoughts may run through his mind: Godly reverence; Being in awe of God; Literally fearing God (He is after all "The Judge"), and so on...

To me,though,this phrase has taken on a new meaning as of late. A while back I confided in a friend about some serious decisions I felt to be making and if she would simply pray that God would take away any fear, due to my not wanting it to affect my making the right decisions. She shared with me how due to the environment in which she lives, fear had been a major battle in her life and how it is important to never let it creep in and that it must be conquered through prayer and not have place in my life.

It's easy to become fearful...
Fear of leaving family
Fear of being misunderstood
Fear of being alone
Fear of change
Fear of failure
Fear of disappointing others
Fear of the unknown

The list could go on and on.

These are all earthly fears.

Revelation 21:8 says, "the fearful...shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone."

Now, I'm not trying to give you yet another reason to be fearful. However, it is true that God does not accept or appreciate His children living in fear. He hates it. He wants you to trust Him and realize He has your best interest at heart. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows the desires of your heart. His thoughts are above your thoughts and his ways above your ways. When you feel a close friend doesn't really trust you, how does that make you feel? Now, imagine being their Savior, the one who created the universe, and knowing that....Are you getting the idea? I think it's safe in saying that God finds it offensive; therefore we shouldn't do it.

That's not actually what this blog is about though (took a detour :o)...

Sometimes you know that you know that you know that you've heard from God. You know it's God's will for you to do a certain thing, say something, go somewhere, not to do a certain thing, etc. ---At times like this Godly fear should be so strong within you that it overrules all else...all other earthly fears.

You see, to me "Godly fear" has came to mean fearing God more than earthly circumstances. It means having a greater fear of disobeying God and therefore removing myself from under His umbrella of protection (aka: stepping out of his will), than a desire to stay within the familiar, within my comfort zone.

God's not always going to be telling you to move or to do anything drastically different...BUT, when He does, and I believe everyone encounters times like this,..when He does, I pray you'll let Godly fear order your steps, and cast earthly desires and fears to the wind.

And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire. - Hebrews 12:27-29

The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. - II Samuel 23:3

But the former governors that had been before me were chargeable unto the people, and had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver; yea, even their servants bare rule over the people: but so did not I, because of the fear of God. Nehemiah 5:15

The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. - Psalm 36:1

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God - II Corinthians 7:1.

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. -Ephesians 5:21

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55:9

Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. - Psalms 37:4