Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Roots of Faith

“These commandments that I give to you to day are to
be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children.”

Deuteronomy 6: 6-8

"God, God, a God of mercy and grace, endlessly
patient—so much love, so deeply true—loyal in love for
a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. Still, he doesn't ignore sin. He holds sons and grandsons responsible for a father's sins to the third and even fourth generation."

Exodus 34:4

The other day as I was combing my hair and I was gazing into the mirror, I realized that my hair color needed to be touched up; my roots were showing. I have been coloring my hair for a while now to combat the gray. This task is something that must be done repeatedly, if not then I live with the effect that I noted in the mirror; the roots of my natural color peeking through at the scalp. This need for ‘touch-up’ was making me look old, worn and tired.

I relate my hair needing a touch-up to my need to keep myself spiritually glowing and renewed. To do this I must stay in touch with Jesus through reading the word and through frequent prayer.

I, like all sinners, have a great need to cover my less-than-desirable behavior with the love of Jesus. However, for this cover-up to take effect and hold, I cannot just spend a few minutes once every six or eight weeks reading His Word. Rather, learning to glow for Him requires that I spend quality time in His presence every day.

Remember when Moses spent time on Mt. Sinai with God? When he returned to camp his face glowed. This glow came not because of anything Moses had done, but simply from being in the presence of God. That is a most humbling thought.

As I thought more about my roots I realized a parallel between the roots of my hair and the deep faith that comes from being blessed to have an extended family of Christ followers.

I was raised with a built in support system that was ready and willing to keep me focused on following God. This support system came from an extended family of prayer warriors, teachers, encouragers, and ministers. Each one of these people, Uncle’s, Aunt’s, Mother, Father, brothers, sisters, cousins, etc., have held me up and have supported me along my faith journey. I realized what a rare honor it is to have such a rich history godly family members.

When I look around today I see so much dysfunction in families. Children are living in broken homes and are missing out on the blessings that can come from being a part of large Christian family.

One of the members of my extended family was my Uncle Locke. Uncle Locke was a minister who loved the Lord and served Him all the days of his life. It was he who introduced me to the Lord on April 13, 1974.

My Uncle Edgar was also a minister. I cannot name one of my Aunt’s or Uncle’s who did not know the Lord and each one strived to serve Him all the days of their lives. Some were vocalists and sang in their church choir, others were Sunday school teachers, and others worked in the private sector yet lived their lives in such a manner that God was given praise, honor and glory.

My mother and father were Christians who lived life using principles developed through their personal relationship with the Lord. My dad was a deacon and served in our church for most of my life. My mom served on many committees and was always practicing hospitality. It was a rare occasion when we did not have an extra mouth or two around the table for Sunday dinner.

Growing up I could spend time in the home of any one of my extended family members and my parents were assured that I would be flooded with wise counsel that is only developed through a deeply intimate relationship with the Lord.

Unfortunately having this rich and wonderful family of faith could not keep me focused and bound to the Lord. For many years I walked away from the faith. I lived a life characterized by sin. I had allowed earthly challenges, hurts, anger, and disappointment to cloud my vision. The evil one was all over any negative circumstances that came into my life. I began to listen to his lies rather than reaching deep into the foundation of my faith and turning toward God and the big roots of my faith. I began to think that the only way I could survive was on my own.

For many years I believed that God had forgotten about me. I believed that my profession of faith in Jesus had not been enough. I could see no other reason why I had been subjected to the pain and devastation that I secretly lived with. I could not understand how a God of love would allow so many hurtful attacks to come upon one life and rather than face my pain I chose to burry it under more bad decisions and sinful practices.

As I look back across the years and pages of my life, to those many years where I was not living out a life characterized by the love of the Lord, it was then, when I was the most venerable that He was carrying me.

Now with a life fully dedicated to service of My King, I can honestly thank God for the blessings of family life. As I attempt to show my boys what a godly mother looks like I draw from the rich well of memories that those who have gone before have left behind.

It is my greatest desire in life to live each and every day expectantly waiting for my God to show me where I am to be at work for Him. That my witness will leave a lasting imprint on the ones I love and that one day they too will look back and praise God for deep roots of family faith.

Thoughts to Ponder:

How did your family impact your life?
If there are Christians among them do they know how their witness affected you?
What legacy are you leaving for the next generation?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Just One Step

“That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you – every time I prayed I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask – ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory – to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him – endless energy, boundless strength.” Ephesians 1: 15-19 (MSG)

Today I stood on the edge of a cliff. Although the drop from the edge to me looked perilous, I held tightly to the hand of another who reminded me to keep my eyes focused and clearly locked on him. He assured me that all would be okay as he urged me to just step off the edge; on faith alone.

Great preparation has gone into this moment in time. Many things have taken place to bring me to this point in my journey. I keep thinking to myself, “I’m not ready. This can’t be happening. This can’t be how it all ends.”

But the man beside me keeps urging me to just step off the cliff. He assures me that he knows what is best for me. He tells me that if I trust in him all will be fine.

So, knowing that I have done all I can to prepare for this day. Knowing that I can go on no longer as I have been, and being encouraged to learn to fly . . .

. . . Today I turned in the keys to my desk and left a job that I really enjoyed. I will no longer be associated with the title of “Administrative Assistant,” “Human Resource Manager,” “Medical Assistant,” or any of the other titles that I have worn during my employment career.

Today I stepped from the solid ground of employment off the cliff into the unknown future of applying for Social Security disability. My title will now be “Disabled due to Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease.” My future ability to provide financial assistance to my family is no longer under my control. (Nor has it ever been much to my argument with God of said point at times.)

Monday morning I will sit in the waiting room of a Social Security office, with a little white three-ring-binder in my shaking hands and pray that the documentation I will be providing will be carefully reviewed and then my application for disability benefits stamped “APPROVED.” My fate will be placed in the hands of a stranger. The only information that they will have to rule on my application for disability will be what is provided by my doctors and what they see going on in my body for the few minutes that it will take to process my paperwork.

Of course I know that my God has the situation under His perfect control. I must trust Him to work out the details and in the interim trust in His provision and grace.

Yes much has led me to this day; first and foremost being diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease in February of 2006, second, the very rapid decline of health with correlating rapid increase in symptoms. These two things have created many physical, emotional, and psychological challenges. Once my doctors began to speak about disability I realized that soon my life would be changing. I went into prayer mode. I knew that no matter what the future held, I could not make it through even one day without the guidance of my Savior.

I poured out my heart. I gave Him my fears, and my concerns. I specifically prayed that I would not have to apply for disability until our financial picture was such that the loss of my income would not cause missed payments, the need to sell off assets, go into debt, or sacrifice our outstanding credit score.

God answered that prayer and worked out the details in some amazing ways. I could no longer use that excuse. I knew that He was speaking to me telling me that the time had come for me to trust Him. I knew that He was calling me to stand on the cliff edge and jump off on faith in Him alone.

Today I begin this new journey; but I know I will not be alone for He continues to hold fast to my hand! He has blessed me with intelligent decisions and discernment of my situation. Therefore, today with my eyes focused and clear, I know that He is calling me to a life of even greater faith. He wants me to grow in faith in Him as He bestows upon me His utter abundance, so that I might do His work and teach others about His love, through His supply of endless energy and boundless strength.

Today I trust and I will not fall!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

And the winners are. . .

Yep, yep, yep!! I said winners, plural. I know the contest was only supposed to have one winner, but I have had so much fun with this contest that I decided to have a grand-prize winner and a runner-up.

So, thanks to the random generator here are the winning numbers:

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers: 25 7
Timestamp: 2008-12-13 19:26:46 UTC

That makes New Every Morning the winner of the Disciple's Cross Necklace and "The Shack" book.

And, Spring Fricks, as my runner-up you will also receive a Disciple's Cross Necklace.

Thanks to one and all for playing along! I hope you will stop by and join me again sometime!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 5, 2008

I am oh so excited about this whole Christmas give away that Lysa TerKeurst has put together. There are so many opportunities to win some great prizes, but the best part has been that I am getting to meet other bloggers and read what they are posting about. Now that is what Christmas is all about; sharing the Christmas season with some new bloggy friends!

BUT now what I want to share with you is that one of these sweet bloggy sista's is a graphic web designer. The blog designer is Edie and her blog design company can be accessed by clicking here: Edie is offering to help with the blog design of the winner of her contest as part of the contest that Lysa started this weekend. Oh how I would love to have the services of a professional blog designer. So, check out RichGift Graphics!

One Cool GiveAway Day!!!

Greetings to all who have jumped to my blog via Lysa TerKeurst's blog and the "Cool Christmas GiveAway."

I have two items that I will be giving away. The first is a hand-crafted "Disciples Cross."

The second item is a copy of "The Shack," by William P. Young.

If you would like a chance to win these items, please click on the word “comment” below and make sure that you include your email address or a way that I can contact you to get your mailing address.

Oh, and don’t forget, once you have entered my contest, click on the Christmas tree at the top of this post to take you back to Lysa’s blog and surf some of the other awesome contests being offered today.

Thanks for stopping by, and good luck!!

BTW, I will leave this contest open until next Friday December 12th. I will notify the winner by Monday the 15th and will post the winner and a link to your blog (if you have one).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

People Passion

“Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it – because it does.”
I Corinthians 14:1 (MSG)

I have been pondering my proclivity for seeking to honor God in the way I love others. If I am to be honest with myself, and you, I must say that I have not been overly zealous in seeking out relationships with new people.

My natural bent is not that of “social butterfly.” I am usually the shy, quiet one who ends up playing with the children, when given a choice, at gatherings, parties or social events. This allows me to protect myself from putting my feelings out there and allowing for opportunity to be hurt. It also prevents me from utilizing my spiritual gifts to minister to the heart of those around me, and blocks me from receiving some of God’s best gifts.

So lately, when reading God’s word, He has impressed upon my heart a need to emerge from my cocoon of safety. It is time for me to become what God intended me to be all along; an approachable, caring, compassionate woman of God. A woman who humbly shares the rough places of life that God’s grace has carried me through.

Last year at the annual conference “She Speaks,” hosted by Proverbs 31 during one particularly moving session, each lady in attendance was asked to take any person, possession, task, item, or “thing” that was holding them back from surrendering to God completely and name the “thing” on a slip of paper. The paper with the “thing” spelled out on it was then to be carried to the front of the room and laid at the foot of a cross that had been set up for this purpose.

Participants were instructed that as they placed their constraint down they should retrieve another slip of paper from the foot of the cross. These “replacement” papers displayed various scripture messages. We were all told at the beginning of the invitation exercise that each verse had been prayed over; the Proverbs 31 team had prayed that each woman in attendance would receive the exact scripture that God would use to speak to hearts and open doors.

During that invitation the scripture verse that I received was, “for you are a chosen (woman). You are a royal priest, a holy (daughter). God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” I Peter 2:9

Oh my, what an impact that verse has had on my life. I keep it tucked into my bible and I read it often. I realize that I have been “chosen” to “proclaim His truth in everyday speech.” I Corinthians 14:3 (MSG) I am not to speak with an offensive, I’m better than you attitude, but from a humble servants heart.

I am trying to live out my status as “royal priest” by sharing what God is doing in my everyday life. I am utilizing my God given gifts and talents as an “adopted daughter of the King God Most High.” I utilize this blog space to share the things He teaches me, I pray and study His word and then teach others what insight God imparts to me by leading bible studies, and I am beginning to embrace face-to-face, one-on-one interaction with my wonderful sisters in Christ as I share my stories and experiences.

However, I am not doing any of these things on my own; I am only capable of these acts of service through His well-spring of love. The thing I am learning through all of this is that you cannot out give God. The more I surrender to His will for my life; the more I walk down the path He has laid out for me, the more I experience His love and grace.

His blessings are new each morning. I am developing friendships that I once longed for. I am being allowed to share the love and acceptance that God extended to me to others. I feel more fulfilled and alive than at any other point in my life. (This coming from a woman with a progressive neurological disease, pretty impressive what God can do, eh?)

My God is so good! It is my desire to share His love, goodness and mercy so that others may experience the joy that only He can provide.