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Archive for the ‘Discovering Jesus’ Category

Church was cancelled for the foreseeable future. We are facing restrictions again due the spike in Covid 19 cases in Indiana. It seems like it will never end. We live in fear for ourselves and our families. It has been a tough year, but God has NOT left us!

Thanksgiving is next week! We usually do a community Thanksgiving meal for the family, neighbors, homeless, those alone and we deliver to those who can’t get out, but this year we can’t do our dinner. We will be doing a smaller version for our kids and their families. Last year we served 101 people. As much as we are disappointed to be giving this up, we are also weary and ready for a smaller, simpler holiday.

This has been a year of changes and transitions. We are finding ourselves having to do things differently and re-think the way some things have always been done. We have had to find a new normal. There is goodness. In the midst of the negativity and sadness, we have to choose to find the goodness. God is good. God is love. We have to choose to find the positive in life or we will die. Maybe not physically, but our hearts and our spirits will gradually die from the negativity and harshness of the world. We have to choose to unplug from the negativity and plug into what is good.

GOOD NEWS! I found a local non-profit that is willing to work with me on creating my single mom ministry (L.I.F.E Discipleship program and Blessing Boxes) in the new year. I am really excited about this! I am also very nervous! God is pushing me out of my comfort zone and it scares me. Will I have the knowledge and skills to develop a full fledged ministry? Taking it one step at a time I can do this. With God by my side, I can do this.

Remember always, choose faith over fear. Choose God over the hate in this world. Be blessed my friends!

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This week has been a tense one as we waited impatiently to see who our next President would be. We are a nation divided over which man will save us from ourselves. We are asking a lot from one person. We expect one man to become our savior that will make this nation a utopia. It would take a lot to make it what it never was. From this nations birth, we have struggled with racial tensions. We pride ourselves for being a nation of immigrants, but we stole land from the Native Americans and forced them onto reservations where they have lived in poverty and deal with generational issues like alcoholism. We forced them to assimilate to the white culture that began to surround them. We brought Africans over to become slaves on plantations. They were treated horribly and forced to segregate because of color. The Japanese were forced into internment camps in the West. Those with Middle Eastern roots are ostracized because of our fear of radical Islam. Those from Mexico and South America work 7 days a week in the fields struggling to feed their families and forced to live in squalor. This is our history as a nation.

We have a history of division. North against South, Christians against non-Christians, Christians against Christians, whites against every one else. Throw in a pandemic on top of all of it and we become a nation of exhausted and weary citizens. We are tired of fighting oppression, fighting a pandemic, fighting racism, and fighting each other, but we refuse to embrace the only answer to our problems.

1967 Detroit, 5 days of violence, burning, and looting ended in 43 people dead, 342 injured, nearly 1,400 buildings burned and some 7,000 National Guard and U.S. Army troops called into service. Racial tensions were high, along with tensions with the police. Same scenario, different decade. We repeat history, fighting the same issues, the same way and we expect different results.

There is an answer.

His name is JESUS.

We keep fighting hate with hate and it doesn’t work. Why don’t we try something different? Why don’t we try love? Why don’t we try compassion? Why don’t we try to find unity instead of finding reasons to hate each other? Why don’t we give Jesus a chance?

If we want change in this nation it is time to start fighting differently.

We need to start fighting the hate with love…

JESUS!

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The last 2 weeks have been about the 10 Commandments and community. I have officially become a member of the First Baptist Church of Terre Haute. I am excited about this and I can’t wait until the Covid restrictions are lifted and church life and fellowship can resume.

Commandment #3: Thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain.

Pastor John gave me something to think about on this one. He said that it is not just “using the Lord’s name in a blasphemous way” that is a sin, it is also living in such a way that brings disrespect or dishonor to the Lord. Anything that we as Christians do that would give God a bad reputation can be included under this commandment. I had never thought of it that way.

Commandment #4: Keep the Sabbath Holy.

This is a tough one and one in which I have heard Christians say isn’t valid anymore. I believe it is. God rested on the seventh day. He knows that in order to be healthy and perform at our peak levels that we need to rest. I think we have flexibility in that, but I think we need one day a week of rest and moments every day where we can rest our bodies and our minds. If God rested and I’m sure that Jesus rested than why would He expect anything different for us?

The Fall is upon us and the wind is blowing and their is a chill in the air. A wonderful time for family and community. God is around us always and I see Him in everything I do.

 

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Matthew 6:24

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

This past Sunday, we started a sermon series on the Ten Commandments. Commandment #1 is: Thou shalt have no other gods before me. It gave me something to reflect on this week. Do I have other gods before the ONE true God? Do I serve 2 masters?

Honestly, I have to ask myself if my worry, anxiety and fear is a god? Do I have more fear than I have faith? Does my worry outweigh my faith? I have to answer yes to both. I can not serve fear and step out of my comfort zone to do God’s will. I can not worry about tomorrow and have the faith that God will provide. I can not seek the approval of man (or woman) and also seek the approval of God. It is one or the other. It can not be both.

In other news, I became a member of the First Baptist Church of Terre Haute, Indiana this past Sunday. It is the church that Cherokee, Chris and their 5 kids attend. It has been exactly 10 years since we made the difficult decision to leave our family home church of 7 years. I attended other churches on my own, but none of them felt right. Churches are NOT one size fits all. I like a church that is in a traditional church building. I like a traditional sanctuary where light pours in through windows and there is no darkness to be found. I felt uncomfortable in the churches where the sanctuaries were dark and painted black. I felt like it was sacrilegious to have spot lights, smoke and treat a worship service like a rock concert. Sanctuaries are supposed to be filled with light, not darkness. It bothered me. I like the traditional church experience and sense of family/community. That’s just me. The most important thing is that I have to feel Jesus. It was not easy to make a commitment, but when I moved back from Georgia I knew that in order to move ahead, I needed to make that commitment. I needed to find that church home. I feel at peace with my decision. I am putting God first in all things and I am trusting Him with my life.

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Psalm 139:23-24

23 Search me God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. 

Isaiah 7:9

…If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.

 

God continues to refine my character. I’m sure that will always be the case, since I am human and will continue to make mistakes and sin. These last 2 weeks, God has given me these 2 verses in my Bible study time to reflect on.

Search me God, and know my heart – I can not hide anything from God. He already knows my secrets, my sin, my hidden skeletons that I try to keep from everyone else. God knows it all! I don’t want to keep anything from God and I don’t want to live in a way that would make me want to hide things from God. I want to live with a pure heart. I want to live in such a way that God is glorified in everything I do.

Dear Lord,

Search me and know my heart. If there is any sin lurking in the dark recesses of my heart, reveal it and give me the strength and courage to confront the sin that separates me from you. I don’t want to live a lie. I want everything laid bare before your throne. Forgive me for those things that do not please you and purify my heart.

Test me and know my anxious thoughts – The Word of God says that we are not to be anxious for anything. When we become anxious about a situation, the devil wins. When we allow anxiety to creep in, we are disconnecting ourselves from God, because we are believing that God can not work in the situation that we are facing. I have written before about my anxiety. God knows every anxious thought that I have. He knows what causes me to worry. I want to live a life free of the anxiety and worry. I want God to test me and find the faith that I write about. I want God to find me faithful in living my Christian life.

Dear Father in heaven,

Test me, Lord, and find me faithful and not fearful. Help me to face my circumstances from a faith-filled perspective and not a fear-filled perspective. I know that you are all powerful and are more than capable of performing life changing miracles on my behalf. Help me to live that out in my Christian walk. Faith over fear. 

See if there is any offensive way in me – Sin keeps me disconnected from God. He will not answer my prayers when there is sin in my life.

Dear Father, 

Convict me of any sin that is living in me. Despite the discomfort, prune me to bring about the fruit of the Spirit that will glorify you. I don’t want to live a life disconnected from you. I don’t want sin in my life. I am willing to do the hard work. Transform me. Purify my heart. 

Lead me in the way everlasting – I want to always be on the narrow path. I don’t want anything to lead me astray. It isn’t easy. I get distracted by the shiny things in life and need the Holy Spirit to redirect me and bring me back to the path of life.

Dear Abba Father,

Guide me down the narrow path. Please don’t allow me to be distracted by the things of this world. Those things keep me from obeying your commands and doing your will. You are my #1 priority and my focus needs to be on you always. 

If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all – I want to stand firm. I don’t want my fear of man to keep me from standing firm in my belief in God. I do not want to be the person who spouts her Christianity, but then falls to the world when push comes to shove. That possibility bothers me and it is something that I wrestle with.

Dear Holy of holies,

I want to stand firm in my faith. Give me that courage to stand firm in my relationship with you. I know that you have covered me with your wings and that you are my refuge in the day of trouble. Help me not to give in or run, but to stand against those who challenge your name. YOU are the ALMIGHTY, the ALL POWERFUL, ONE AND ONLY GOD and no one will ever change that. 

Amen

Sometimes, I like to break a verse down and pray it back to God or apply it to my life. The Word of God is ALIVE and can transform our lives if we allow it too. I love my Bible study time and my prayer time. Whatever brings me closer to God is a good thing!

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I have been reading You Are The Girl For The Job, By Jess Connolly. In the book she talks about overcoming the fear of not being good enough to pursue whatever God is leading us to pursue. She reminds us that throughout the Bible God chose the unequipped, uneducated, every day, ordinary people to accomplish His goals.

Moses had a stutter and had murdered a man

David was a shepherd, had an affair with a married woman AND had her husband killed so he could have her as his own

Rahab was a prostitute and is now in the genealogy of Jesus

Paul killed Christians

Peter denied Jesus 3 times

The disciples were known to bicker and argue about who was the most important of them

The disciples were also known to lack faith at times

Matthew was a tax collector (a job that was looked down upon in Bible times)

The women in Luke chapter 8 who traveled with and supported Jesus and the disciples had all been healed of some ailment/demon possession

The list goes on…

None of these people or any other person in the Bible was perfect, besides Jesus Himself. God can and does use people of all skill levels, walks of life, social status, education level, etc. It doesn’t matter who I am. It doesn’t matter who you are. God has a purpose that is tailor made for me. God has a purpose that is tailor made for you.

I need to let go of the I’m not good enough mindset and remember the God who created me does NOT make mistakes. I have to quit listening to voices around me that say that what I am pursuing is a waste of time. I need to tune out those who tell me that I need to get a real job, because that is the only way to have an income, that somehow I am lesser than because I am choosing to pursue God’s work instead of joining the others on the hamster wheel of life.

I choose to put my faith in the God of all resources. I have faults, idiosyncrasies, quirks, and imperfections. I also have certain skills, passions, and gifts that make me who I am. God challenges us sometimes. He pushes us to do what we feel we are not equipped to do. And we doubt our own ability instead of focusing on HIS ability.

Maybe that is because the Church itself judges us and our abilities instead of letting us serve where our passion lies. We can not serve on the worship team unless we are a good enough singer/musician. We can not be a speaker unless we are eloquent and do not stutter. We can not share unless what we are sharing fits in with the agenda of the leaders. Jesus chose those who were willing to follow Him. The Church of today says that if we are to serve then we need to at least appear to be perfect. A willingness to serve is not good enough. A passion for a specific area is not good enough. For all intents and purposes Paul was an enemy of Jesus, but God used him anyway. God chose Paul to be the role model of the apostles.

Never let anyone tell you that you aren’t the girl for the job! I may not have a paying job right now. I may be socially awkward and I get tongue tied when in public, but I don’t care. I am 100% focused on God and what He says He needs me to do right now.

I AM THE GIRL FOR THE JOB!!!

YOU ARE THE GIRL FOR THE JOB!!!

Don’t let anyone tell you differently. God’s opinion is the only one that matters.

*I started doing these Discovering Jesus posts to discuss what I am learning on a weekly basis as I grow as a Christian. Life as a Christian is a process and we are ALWAYS growing and learning new things. These are posts from my heart and may seem fragmented at times as I am working through and trying to grasp issues myself. I hope that they help you as well.

 

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I have shared about having a partial tear in my rotator cuff. I had an MRI in February in Georgia and the result was a partial tear. It caused me quite a bit of pain for several months and I have not had full range of motion. I did pray for it to be healed. It was not an every day consistent prayer, but I threw it in there a few times when it really bothered me. In July, I was able to go to an orthopedic doctor and I had another MRI on July 20th. The results for that MRI showed that there was NOT a tear in my rotator cuff.

WHAT???

That’s right NO TEAR AT ALL!!!

What was my reaction?

Instead of praising God for healing, I assumed that the Georgia doctor had lied about the results of the first MRI. I assumed that I never had a partial tear. Not until a couple of days ago did I give God any credit at all nor did I even once think it was a miracle.

Did God heal my shoulder?

I now believe He did. There is no other explanation for it. I deeply regret that that was not my first assumption. I missed the opportunity to use this testimony of God’s healing powers. I missed the blessing of praising Him for the miracle. I missed it and I can’t go back. It really is the worst feeling ever. Why did I not immediately jump for joy? Why did I assume the worst of someone else? I can only say that I am human and I make mistakes. I am now praising God for the healing and for answering my prayer. It’s still not 100% but the shooting pains are gone. I still don’t have full range of motion, but I can use it a lot more than I could a couple of months ago. I still have some arthritis, but the partial tear is gone and I thank God for miracles.

God is good! I can’t even begin to tell you how He has provided for me in my life time. I am eternally grateful that He chose me to be His child. I am horribly imperfect, but He loves me just as I am.

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Last week I talked about my feelings of being luke warm and hoping that I am not. I have my moments of doubt and that bothers me. I am not alone in that though. Many men of God throughout the Bible had doubts and were still used by God in some awesome ways.

I know that God has worked in miraculous ways in my own life. So, why do I doubt? Human nature, I guess. I have one testimony in particular of God’s provision and protection that keeps me encouraged. It is the story that brings me back from the edge of doubt every time.

It was May of 2010 or 2011. We had all gone to Indianapolis (about an hour drive from our home) to see Kiowa run her 2nd Half Marathon. She was a freshman in high school at this point. After the race, we went to breakfast and then headed back home. My ex-husband, Howard drove one car with his wife, Tami along with our sons Talon and Ty. Our oldest daughter, Cherokee, who was a Junior in high school drove her 1996 Ford Ranger extended cab truck with myself, Kiowa and our other daughter Cree, who was in 7th grade.

The girls and I took another highway home and separated from Howard, in the other car. Indiana highways are for the most part rural, unless you get near the bigger cities. We were about 1/2 an hour outside of Indianapolis in a very rural area. Houses were few and far between and the truck starts to over heat. Even back then, Cherokee has always been level headed and doesn’t panic. I immediately started to pray. We saw a dirt road up ahead with a handful of houses on it, so we decided to turn there. I thought we would go to the first house, but Cherokee past it. She said she didn’t feel that they would be able to help us. She turned into the second drive and drove back to where a big red barn stood open. A couple of guys came out to see why a woman with 3 teenage girls was pulling up to their house. They looked like they were in their 20’s maybe. Cherokee told them the truck was over heating and they popped the hood to see what was going on. They saw the problem right away. The seal on the radiator cap was rotted out and caused the cap to allow the water in the radiator to escape. While the one guy took a hose and cooled the engine down, the other guy went to find a radiator cap. BY CHANCE he had gone to Auto Zone the day before and just happened to pick up the exact one we needed for our truck!!! He told us that he NEVER gets that type, but for some reason he picked it up. The radiator cap was the perfect fit and as soon as the engine was cool enough and filled back up with water, we were back on our way. It never over heated again.

Coincidence?

I think not!

A Miracle?

I believe it.

Cherokee was led to that house.

The guys happened to be mechanics.

The regular run to Auto Zone just happened to include picking up a radiator cap that they never would have used any other time.

They had bought the cap the day before.

The issue was fixed for good.

God answered my prayer.

 

I KNOW that it was God! So why do I doubt? God has shown us His ability to provide and protect in miraculous ways. Why doubt?

All I can say is that I am a work in progress. I am grateful that God is a God of grace and that He reminds me that He is still a God of miracles.

I hope that this testimony has encouraged you. God can and will work miracles in our lives. We need only to believe!

 

 

 

 

 

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I have been doing a study of Revelation. It is not an easy book to read and it has taken longer than I anticipated. There have been passages that have made me reflect on my own Christian walk. Today’s question I have to ask myself is:

Am I a lukewarm Christian?

It is a hard question and deserves a brutally honest answer. So, here goes, in some ways, yes I guess I am. I pray continually. I read and study the Bible. I create faith based content for this blog. I live simply. I am attending church as much as I can in this current pandemic situation. God and His will are always on my mind.

BUT

All of that doesn’t mean anything if I am not putting feet to my faith. 

Do I share the Gospel? Ummm, yes through my blog, BUT in person I fall flat. I let fear of rejection keep me from being that vessel that opens the door for the Holy Spirit to walk thru.

Do I follow where God leads? Yes and No. I do as long as where He leads is still in my comfort zone, I am happy to follow. It is when He ventures out of that zone (and He does often!) that I tend to falter. In my fear, I take my eyes off of God and I start to doubt MY OWN ABILITY. On my own, I WILL fail, but with GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE FOR THOSE WHO BELIEVE! 

Do I obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit?  Again, it is a Yes and No answer. I do as long as my feet are planted firmly on the ground and I am not challenged in any way that may cause my fear and anxiety to kick in. Take me out of my comfort zone and Moses’s arguments can’t hold a candle to mine! To my own detriment, I am afraid. Moses wasn’t allowed to lead the Israelites into the promised land. How many miracles have I missed being a part of because I allowed my fear to surpass my faith?

Where is my faith?  Honestly, it comes and goes. God has done so many miracles in my life and He has brought together answers to prayer that have left me with my jaw dropped, so why do I still doubt? Good question. I guess that I let the negative voices of my people get in my head, Satan gets that foothold and fear and doubt follow close behind. GOD IS TRUTH! As long as I am stepping out of my comfort zone FOR HIM, He will have my back.

Our Christian walk is a journey. We will have days where our faith soars and we will have days where we will cower in fear. Look at David and Elijah. They were both strong men of God, but as soon as their was a bounty on their heads, they headed for the hills. They ran away and hid in caves. If these two Godly men ran from their opposition, where does that leave me? It leaves me on my knees, in complete submission to a God that is in complete control of all things.

I am a work in progress. It is a journey. I have grown. I am growing. Will I fully attain it? Probably not. But as long as I continue to grow, God is good to meet me where I am. Am I lukewarm? Possibly. I hope that doesn’t get me spewed out of God’s mouth. My desire for God, Jesus, and the Word of God grows every day. God sees my heart and hopefully it is acceptable to Him.

ARE YOU LUKEWARM?

I encourage you to reflect on this question and answer honestly. What changes need to be made for you to be on fire for God?

 

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I know that I have written about my struggle with the Church in previous posts. I have visited a hand full of churches since our departure in January of 2011 and have gone periods where I didn’t go at all. I have grown immensely in this time, but I have missed the fellowship with other believers. I have missed the community.

I am going back! I started going to church with Cherokee and her family before I moved to Georgia, but did not get to go on a regular basis because of my work schedule. When I returned from Georgia, I was determined to make a commitment to a church. Of course Covid-19 through my plan off a bit and I had to wait until the church reopened in late June. I have gone with Cherokee, Chris and the kids and it is good. Some things are strange like having to make reservations, wearing masks and no other classes or services right now, but it is good to be able to go.

I felt God leading me to make a formal commitment and so I emailed the pastor and will be going through the process to become a member. This pastor was completely welcoming and he has only met me a couple of times in the past. It was a change from a past church that we attended as a family for 6 years. The church we left in 2011 and were fully involved in. I began the process to become a member there, but was then ignored. There were other issues that led to us making the tough decision to leave the church, but it hurt me when we had been actively involved for 6 years and I was overlooked for membership when others were welcomed as members at the same time. The pastor and I had been in communication about membership and then I was ignored, while others became members. I was crushed. So it is, I guess healing in a way, to have a pastor welcome me into a church family without knowing me personally.

It is good to be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It brings peace. Even though my relationship with God has grown in my years away from the Church, I still felt lost. I have felt a restlessness, a disconnect of sorts that I can only assume comes from not being connected to a local body of believers to share life and faith with. It is important. I tried to fool myself into thinking it wasn’t, but it is. It is vital to have other believers in your life. I have felt a peace since I sent the email to the pastor. I have felt like I have finally found my “home”. I belong. I can’t wait until we can resume classes and other programs. I can’t wait to get to know other people who attend there.

Life is full of blessings! Some hardships, but many many blessings!

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