Shake It Off

Have you ever had a message given to you that keeps coming at you from different directions that you really weren’t expecting? Well, that is what has happened to me recently with the message Shake It Off. First, I attended the P31 Women’s Retreat in September, and the song by Taylor Swift was used as a mood setting song. Visualize 200 women in a room with hands raised shaking them to symbolize leaving other peoples opinions behind so each woman can move forward with her Best Yes decisions, and focus on who God says that she is and not what others say. Secondly, my pastor preached a sermon this past Sunday called Shake It Off based on Acts 28: 1-6, and it really hit home with me.

Acts 28 Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

Preacher Keith explained that vipers/snakes in the Bible are often used to refer to spirits that are sent your way by the enemy. We have to choose not to become a victim to the snakes, but rather to shake them off through standing firm in what the word of God says about us, and moving on. Satan knows that he can’t take away our salvation, so he will do anything that he can to rob us of our relationship with God, to take away our witness, or to steal our joy. Often he will send a snake our way to do so. Snakes can be anything that can get in the way of our relationship with God.

By nature, snakes are sneaky, self centered, self promoting, and self defending. God has called each of us to do something, and even the Apostle Paul carried wood. Don’t expect others to do things for you that you can do yourself. When snakes appear in your life, you must immediately take action and shake them off. Choose not to listen to the words that you know aren’t really true. Don’t keep carrying the past hurts and pains that have become snakes to you–the Bible says that we can walk on snakes. Reasons to shake it off: Snakes have an unchanging nature of their breed, the receive undeserved attention, they spread unwanted poison, and they cause unhealthy reactions.

The Savior Jesus Christ deserves the attention in our lives, not the snakes that we have chosen to carry around. Once you shake the snake off you have flexibility and credibility, but you need to make sure that you don’t give the action of shaking it off more attention than you are giving the cross. The very best way to handle snakes is to avoid them.

Obviously, God is trying to say something to me through two Shake It Off messages in as many months. I’ve been in serious prayer about the things (snakes) in my life that I need to shake off and move forward by dropping the snake at the foot of the cross.

Do you have anything in your life that could potentially be a snake to you? Well, it’s time to Shake it Off!

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Refreshing leisurely read

Well, I finally did it! I took a break and read a for fun fiction book, and it was wonderful!

I read A Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge, and it was a very refreshing read! The story is set in Portland, Oregon, and is about a food writer/chef. The story has a tinge of mystery, real world issues (online dating), and family drama! The book has recipes peppered throughout, and though I’m not a cook, there were actually some that  I will probably end up trying.

I read the book in a day, and am eagerly awaiting the second installment in this series. The writer leaves you wanting to know more!

Check out the author at her site http://www.hillarymantonlodge.com/blog.html or better yet–read the first chapter for yourself!

http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/SneakPeek_TablebytheWindow.pdf

“I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.” In exchange for my honest opinion of the book. This is one to check out! 

 

 

Run For God

Well, this past 12 weeks I’ve been on a journey that I really didn’t plan to embark on. Yes, it was one of those #SayWhat moments for me! Earlier in the year–I think it was April–my church started advertising a Bible Study called “Run for God” written by Mitchell Hollis. The mission statement in the book (Run for God pg 7) is “Preparing people to be better witnesses for Christ physically, mentally, and spiritually.”

I started getting the nudging in my soul to sign up, but I really didn’t want to. You see, I’m not physically fit–quite the opposite, in fact. I need to lose over 100 lbs, have a desk job, and walking for 15 minutes at a time, or up a flight of stairs was challenging for me, but that nudging just wouldn’t STOP! So, I talked to the organizer and signed up. The first meeting I was out of town, so I didn’t go, and I tried to find every excuse possible to not go to the second meeting, but…that nudging was still there, and I was convicted to go. I knew that I could hang with the Bible study part of plan, so there I was. 

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

Walking into that Bible study really changed my perspective. The leader had personally lost 90 pounds, so he understands my battle, and had very enlightening commentary, not to mention that he and his wife and children provide a wonderful example of a Christian family. Every week at least one member of the group would hang back with me, and walk our work out portion of the class rather than run their own race, to make sure that I knew I was part of the group. 

“You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” Galatians 5:7

I learned that each person in our group was at a different spot in their race, Physically, mentally, and spiritually. All of us are striving to love God with all of our heart, mind, and soul, and need encouragement from one another because it seemed that we are all our own worst enemy. The focus has to remain on God, and you have to train in order to succeed. This is applicable to both our physical bodies, and our spiritual life. “Are you expecting great things with no spiritual sweat?” Run for God pg 65

The 5k was yesterday (August 17th). It was a wonderful experience for me. I didn’t sleep much Friday night. I was very nervous and filled with many questions–Would I be able to finish? What would the runners not with our group think about this out of shape walker? Then, I don’t care–I’m doing this for God and to prove to myself that I can do it. The self doubt and correction continued until I cranked up the praise songs on the way to the race. God gave me a peace about the event. I just wanted to finish, and it would be wonderful if I didn’t finish dead last.  

Our group met as a team and prayed before the event. Prior to meeting up with my group I had the opportunity to talk to several runners, all of who were very nice and supportive. Then we were off. The course did have quite a few hills, but it was an out and back course which proved very good for me. I was the only one on our team walking the event, so the other members on my team that were running would yell encouragement and claps at me as they passed! It was SO encouraging, and inevitably came at just the moment that I needed it to keep going. The runners that I had met before the race also offered encouragement as they passed! 

Then, when I had probably 1/2 mile to go I saw our leader running toward me. He joined me in my race, and walked with me, talking to me, and offering encouragement. I get teary eyed just thinking about what happened next–as I started to round the bend for the finish line–there they were–ALL of the  Run for God team members. They joined me for the last section of the race, encouraging me, and letting me know that they are proud of me. They dropped off just at the end to let me cross the finish line on my own. I completed my first 5k in just under 57 minutes! AND…I was not the last one to finish the race, though by the end of the race–I really wasn’t concerned about that anymore! 

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The picture above is of our team just after the race. I am the one in the maroon shirt on the right side of the picture. 

Am I a runner now–no, but I’ve learned that -I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phillippians 4:13

A HUGE thank you to all of the members of my Run for God team. Each of you holds a special place in my heart! 

To all of you who doubt if you can do something–take a chance–you may be very surprised, as I was, at what is waiting for you to experience! 

 

 

This entry was posted on August 19, 2013. 6 Comments

Five Questions to Clarity

The current Bible Study that I’m doing is “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa TerKeurst. In Chapter 2 Lysa provides the following questions as a starting point to discerning if what you are hearing is God’s voice.

Before I proceed, I want to make it clear that the analysis that I am doing in this blog post is not intended as advice for anyone else as the decision was made based on my individual circumstances. I want to share my story, in hopes of helping someone else that may be in a similar situation but realize that I don’t know that outcome of what I feel that I have heard from God. I have a peace in the decision that I have made.

I have been having marital difficulties for a very long time now, and have been earnestly praying for God’s will to be done in my marriage for a very long time.  My husband has an issue with alcohol, and the issue has not been improving, In fact, it’s gotten much worse over the past few months, much to my dismay.  The atmosphere in our home was very tense–with us walking on egg shells around one another, and we’ve been living separate lives for over a year now. On the weekends he would go out drinking with friends, or have them over at the house, and my daughter and I would do our own thing like go to a park, movie, zoo, etc. Communication was minimal at best, and the closeness and friendship that my husband and I once shared has disappeared. I had talked to my husband about my feelings, with no response or results. After a particularly bad evening I determined that it would be best for us to separate, in hopes that my husband will admit he has a problem and take action. I also realize that I have healing that must take place, so I will be focused on myself and our daughter during this time. It is my hope in time, we will be able to have a God centered marriage, where all parties are benefiting one another and not hurting each other.

I have been VERY conflicted with this decision, so I decided to put the decision to the test as to whether or not what I thought was God’s voice was.

1. Does what I’m hearing line up with Scripture? 

Confirmation comes for me in 1 Corinthians 7:11 that if a wife separates from her husband, she should either remain single or be reconciled to him. It is my prayer that my husband and I will be able to reconcile after the alcoholism issue is addressed. Also, God’s word tells me that I should not associate with anyone who is among a list of things, abusive or a drunkard.

1 Corinthians 7 10 But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. 11 But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.

1 Corinthians 5:11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.

2. Is it consistent with God’s character? 

Yes--Galatians 5:22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

My living situation has not had those attributes for a long time now, and I feel that God really wants us to be able to experience his peace, especially in our home.

3. Is it being confirmed through messages I’m hearing at church or studying in my quiet time? 

Yes–I’ve actually felt that we needed to separate for a time for several months now, and had brought up the idea several times. Honestly, had myself convinced that it was the devil trying to break up my marriage, but now, I feel that maybe a separation is needed so that God can work in my husband’s life without me interfering. God could have such greater plans for my marriage than I can even imagine!

My preacher gave a sermon on Expecting Expansion. He asked us to ask ourselves what we are expecting because that is what we’ll get. He also asked us to survey our territory, and if we have unfinished business where we’re at to get it right. God is much more about changing our insight than in changing our surroundings.

Another sermon that I listened to the Monday after making my decision was from the Permission Slip series at Elevation Church. Pastor Furtick questioned “Do you need to bury a dream in your life that died so that God’s dream for your life will come alive?”  and “Until you pursue the promise of God you can’t have the victory.” That sermon also confirmed “What you did doesn’t change who God is”

Another article that I read defined leaving a marital relationship explained in 1 Cor 7:12-16 as one partner breaching the boundaries of a Godly relationship.

Yet another message that I felt really spoke to me just after my decision was Rick Warren’s First Message (Saddleback Church)  on the 6 steps of loss. His main points were that life doesn’t make sense, everything on earth is broken, and life is a battle but we have hope. CHOOSE JOY!  “You don’t need an explanation why – you need God!”

I also listened to a book by James Dobson “Love Must Be Tough” and the decision to separate for the time being is one example of tough love that Dr Dobson explains in the book.

4. Is it beyond me? 

Goodness, YES! There is NO way that I could have ever made this huge decision on my own, and absolutely no way that I would be able to get out of the bed each morning of my own accord while going through this. My husband is the love of my life-still! It pains me greatly to know that he is going through a tough time, and for me to be able to do this is completely a God thing.

Phillipians 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 

5. Would it please God? 

I think in my specific situation, it would please God. He knows my heart, and knows that I am sincerely praying for healing and reconciliation, but at this time for the safety of myself and my daughter, it is best for my husband to live elsewhere. I know that God wants me to be happy in Him, and wants to give me a peace that only can come from Him. I also feel that maybe God has great plans for my husband. I pray daily for my husband to want to know God more, and that I will continue to thirst for and seek God daily.

Please know that I am not perfect, and that I have not always responded as I should have to my husband. I will be completely honest and admit that I contributed to issues in our home through enabling the drinking and not communicating at the onset of problems that arose in the home.  My husband is a good man who has a problem and needs help.

It is not about what has happened, but about what can happen through God!

Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

This entry was posted on August 15, 2013. 4 Comments

“A Christ-like …

“A Christ-like attitude–one that stays joyous and positive even in the midst of stressful circumstances and trusts that God is working even when it seems he is absent–is gradually built over a lifetime of submitting to God’s desires over our own.” Tracie Miles Stressed Less Living Chapter 7

God is Here!

Last Tuesday morning, I was vacationing at Myrtle Beach. My husband and I had experienced a conflict, and it was very early in the morning. We decided to go to the beach. I was looking down–replaying all of the words that had been exchanged between us over and over in my head. Thinking of how things could have went so differently. Basically, feeling sorry for myself and my situation.  I saw what appeared to be a perfect shell on the beach, so I reached down and picked it up. When I did–I saw that it was broken, and quickly dropped it. Below is a picture that I took of the shell after I had dropped it back onto the beach. Image

Then I felt led to look up from the broken shells and wave soaked sand. The picture below is what I saw.

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WOW! It was an instant reminder that God is always with me, looking out for me. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 While I had been focused on my brokenness and walking head down seeing only the broken pieces of shells – God was watching over me. “Cast all your worries on Him once and for all, for He cares about you affectionately and and cares about you watchfully.” 1 Peter 5:7 AMP

My focus was changed, and my spirit was lifted. I knew that God was with me and that all I have to do is look up–change my focus from my problems to him, and things will be better. Oh, and the shell, that I initially dropped back to the beach–now resides in my home. I’m using it to serve as a reminder to keep my focus where it needs to be- on God so that I can see the beauty even in the brokenness.

Whatever the outcome of any situation that I am facing- I KNOW that it is going to be ok because God is there and He loves me. He has great plans for me, and he has great plans for you to. We must keep our focus upward, and not on the brokenness that consumes this world.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8

“I am leaving you with a gift –peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

Do Not Conform

Have you ever had a topic that keeps popping up over and over in a very short span of time? Well, that is happening to me this week! The Bible Verse for our Stressed Less Living Bible Study for the week is “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

DO NOT CONFORM–is the message that keeps repeating itself.

Preacher Keith gave a wonderful message yesterday called The Great Divide that speaks directly to this topic. 

“63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” John 63-66 

I had a revelation as the scripture was read yesterday morning when I realized that even disciples who literally walked with Jesus were not willing to accept the Truth that Jesus is the bread of life who died (in their case was to die) for our sins. I’ve read this scripture many times before, but it just didn’t hit home that people turned away from Jesus then, just as they do now. I don’t want to be one of those people! I sincerely desire to walk with Jesus daily, and not to conform to the patterns of this world. Per Preacher Keith’s message, there are 6 areas that there needs to be a great divide in my life as opposed to those who are living in the world. They are:

1. Desertion vs Discipleship–What is God doing through me for His kingdom?  If I can’t answer that question easily, then I may not be sharing the gospel as I need to be..in essence deserting God. 

2. Selfishness vs Submission – Is Jesus on the throne of my heart, or are am I? 

3. Happiness vs Holiness – Am I happy or am I holy? Happiness typically depends on what is happening around me, but holiness is letting Christ live through me no matter what the circumstance 

4. Receiving vs Giving – Am I giving to God on a daily basis? Not just money, but of myself. 

5.Wandering vs Abiding-Am I daily in the presence of Jesus or am I allowing my thoughts to wonder? Wondering thoughts will cause me to wander away from my life source- Jesus – by taking my focus off of him. 

6. Playing vs praying – Am I spiritually where I need to be, daily dying to self, or am I just playing the part? 

What did Jesus do when the disciples turned away from him? He kept going. He had ambition, and had no problem with walking alone if need be. 

” You are going to got to Jesus on his terms, not on yours. Many disciples withdrew from Jesus. They withdrew because they were not settled. They were not settled because they had not trusted and embraced the Word of God.” Preacher Keith 

 “Forever, oh Lord, your word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 119:89

Am I an acquaintance of Jesus, or a friend of God? 

Lord, it is my prayer that I be secure in your Word. Please help me, and anyone reading this post, to know that you are God and that we can do all things through the strength that you can provide us. Thank you so much for giving your son to us as our Savior. In Jesus name I pray Amen. 

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This entry was posted on April 29, 2013. 7 Comments