Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Good morning all! What a cold crisp morning it is here in central IL. It's cold in my house too since we woke up to no heat. The propane people are on their way since the smell of gas is so strong around our furnace and the furnace people should be headed here too. So, hopefully I can get this post done before I freeze! (I guess that's probably not possible since it's still 53 degrees, but that's what I feel like!) or I guess the other option is, until my house blows up.

But don't worry about me, just prepare yourself for a wonderful time of enjoyment with friends and family tomorrow! I'm so excited to have a four day weekend but unfortunately my hubby has to work. The kids and I are planning on decorating for Christmas while he's away. What fun we will have!

I ask that you please pray for my granny. Tomorrow would have been her and my gramps 65th wedding anniversary had he lived just a few more months. I know that it will be a hard day for her and it's one of those times that you just don't know what to say or how to bring comfort. I pray for God to wrap His loving arms around her and give her peace as she thinks on so many wonderful years together with her husband.

I pray that you will be especially thankful tomorrow - no matter what is happening around you - God is enough to give thanks for. Take the time to write all the things you are thankful for and give praise and glory to our Father.

Have a great day, a great Thanksgiving and a great weekend

Living fearlessly in Christ

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It was a rough night last night. Our daughter's basketball team lost in the 2nd round of regionals. The game went back and forth - staying tied the majority of the time. It was a very intense game but in the last quarter the other team pulled ahead and won. Oh how they cried. They all had worked so very hard and had a really great season at 21-4, but only saw the result of the one game that ended their 7th grade season.

How true is that for us so many times? We get so enthralled with our current circumstance that we easily forget the faithfulness of our God throughout our lives. When times are tough do you wallow in now or do you remind your self of what God has got you through? This is where journaling comes in as a great tool. When you have a record of God's faithfulness, you can easily look back and remember. Now, journaling is not something that I have done but I have found that by blogging, I'm doing something very similar. I have taken the opportunity to go back at times and read my past blog posts to remember God's faithfulness. We so easily forget - use whatever tool works for you to remember.

James 5:7-8 "Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near."

How are you at being patient? I can say that I'm better than I used to be but still have a long, long way to go. My patience is tried everyday in my profession of a daycare provider - some days my responses are better than others. I also, can be patient on waiting for some things that I desire, but very impatient on others. Patience is a virtue and something that God desires us to have. The farmer cannot rush his crop just as we cannot rush learning patience - it's a process.

We must look forward to our future reward as we use this time of patient waiting to further God's Kingdom. Our patience will pay off when our King has returned for us.

Have a great day

Living fearlessly in Christ

Monday, November 24, 2008

Yesterday, we attempted to take the picture that would be on our Christmas card. After many tries, with uncooperative puppies, we finally got the shot that I think we'll use. I definitely don't want to continue trying.

The other night, my husband and I drove separately to our daughter's basketball game because we each came straight from work. Afterwards, we all met at a restaurant for supper. Even though I was tired and wanted to go home, I let them all know that we needed to get groceries when we were done eating. My husband, son and daughter all said that they didn't want to go so they would go home while I went. I asked the question: "why is it that I still have to go even when don't want to, but none of you do?" The response from all: "cause your the mom!" So true, I'm the mom, so I'm expected to do even when I don't want to.

I thought about this in regards to my Bible study. In our small group, we are studying the book of Hebrews. In the past, I skip over Hebrews because it is hard for me to understand. Not only Hebrews, but other books of the Bible have been avoided by me due to their difficulty. When I explained to our pastor that leads our small group, that I'm really intimidated by these difficult books and wonder how I'm going to understand them when I start Christian college in February.

I was reminded of the "cause your the mom" story. Even when things are difficult, I can't shy away. Even when I don't want to, I have to. How can I raise children who take risks and trust in God to reveal Himself to them, if I'm not willing to set the example?! I will do hard things not only cause I'm the mom but also because I'm a child of the Most High God.

On to our study of James. 5:1-6 "Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Saboath. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you."

What a great reminder of the worthlessness of money! Now, we all of course, need money to survive. Money in itself is not the problem, it's the love of money that James is warning about. People who have alot of money, are not worthless, in fact that can do much for the Kingdom with the money that God has blessed them with. It's all about what a person does with their money.

You may be like me and be thinking, well I definitely don't have alot of money, so I don't have to worry about these "rich" warnings but we certainly must. It is so tempting for us to put money over people especially when we don't have much and think that more would make us happier. Have you ever considered changing jobs for the money even thought it would take your time from your family or doing something dishonest just to make some extra money for yourself? The love of money is something we must all guard ourselves from. I think that is why God warns us so many times in His word about money.

Where is your love? Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Have you ever worried that someone was hopeless in finding Christ? I have to admit that I have. There are people in my life that I have prayed for, for years, because they reject everything I have attempted to tell them about Jesus. Well, yesterday was the end of my prayers for some one's salvation. A man that I often wondered if he would ever get it, got it!!! My husband and I and many others had been praying over the last 5 years and our prayers have been answered! God is so good! God is so faithful! I continue to thank Him for never giving up on us and I also continue to do a happy dance over one more friend that I will spend eternity with.

Now, on to our study of James. 4:17 "Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin."

O.K., you may be thinking that only what you do, causes sin, but James explains that what you don't do can also be sin.

Has someone that you don't really like, told you about their difficult life and you show no compassion for them or help in what you are able?

Have you known the truth about something and not or only partially share about it?

Have you kept your mouth closed when you wanted to speak badly about someone, only to continue the thoughts in your mind?

Have you seen a need and not fulfill it, when you are able?

Have you been prompted by the Holy Spirit only to reject the calling?

What we do or don't do can equally hurt our relationship connection with God. Keep your mind open today. Realize what it is that God wants you to do or stop doing. It is only through a closer relationship through studying His Word, prayer and quiet time with Him that will steer us more clearly.

Have a great day and a great weekend

Living fearlessly in Christ

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. Have you ever had to keep reminding yourself of this. There have been many days that as I get to the point of complete frustration/melt-down-point, that I have to stop, get my bearings, pray and then force myself to sing "This is the day". Now, this doesn't take everything away that is happening, it doesn't really change anything, but my attitude. I believe attitude is key. Do I naturally want to have a good attitude when everything around me is falling to pieces? Absolutely not - but praying and singing of God's goodness, brings the reminder that I don't have any control, anyway. I helps me to focus on Him instead of my circumstances.

No matter how your day has been going, join with me today in singing "This is the day" because it just may give you new perspective.

James 4:13-16 "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.' But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil."

How many times have you heard the saying "life is short"? How many times have you heard "just do it" because "you only get one chance at life"? Why is it that when it comes to doing something that we know we shouldn't do, we justify it with these words?

When its doing the right things: obeying God, spending time with your spouse our children, loving others, etc., we tend to lean more towards "I'll have plenty of time for that when _____"?

Remember God is in control. It doesn't matter how many plans we make or why we make them - God is in control. Are you living your life and then asking God to bless it or are you living your life to be a blessing?

You and I are but a vapor - a vapor that can be sucked away at any moment. Are you ready?

Have a great day
Living fearlessly in Christ

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yesterday, our dogs were in BIG trouble! We have been trying very hard to contain our dogs in our "yard". We allow them to run free on about 6 acres and then on the fields to the east and west of our house but they know that they are not allowed to cross the street in front of our house. For the most part, they do a good job at staying where they are supposed to. Well, I caught them not just once, but twice in the field across the road. Their punishment for crossing the road is being tied up to a tree in our back yard. Oh, how they hate to be tied up but as we all know, there must be consequences for our bad decisions.
If you look very closely at the pictures, there is a squirrel on the side of the tree. We don't see many squirrels around here, but there just happened to be one yesterday. The dogs went crazy being tied up and not able to chase said squirrel and he antagonized them most of the afternoon. Just one more example to me of making good choices makes life so much more enjoyable but the consequences of the bad ones, is enough to drive me crazy!

James 4:11-12 "Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?"

Who am I? Who are you? God knew how we would struggle with loving others. In many scriptures, God tells us to show love. Why is it that we think we know so much better? Why is it that we allow our emotions to override God's commands to us?

PRIDE and SELFISHNESS. Those prideful thoughts of "I'm better than you" "You can't make that mistake on me" "I deserve better" "Do you know who I am?" "I give, give, give and I get nothing"

Any sound familiar to you? Me, too. We will only be able to control our sinful tongue, heart and mind, when we fully humble ourselves and submit to our Lord. It's only His love and mercy that can shine through us to be a blessing to others. Will you let Him shine through you today?

Have a great day

Living fearlessly in Christ


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

God accomplished something very big in me, yesterday. See, I have this tendency which is really dumb. A tendency in which is very difficult for me to overcome, but praying throughout the entire day, I did it for the first time. I have this tendency to get angry at someone who is angry at me. I know, it doesn't really make any sense, but when someone is upset with me, I get very defensive and become angry at them for being angry at me. This is especially true when it comes to my husband. I knew when he left for work, that he was angry over a misunderstanding - a miscommunication. As my defenses began to rise, I decided to stop and pray. I prayed that I would only respond in a way that would be pleasing to God. I prayed this and much more throughout the entire day as the situation would arise in my head. When he came home last night, I was able to keep a positive and non-defensive attitude throughout our entire discussion. I was amazed at what God had done. Because I know myself so well, I knew this was definitely not something I could have done on my own, so I have continued to thank God ever since. Our God is an awesome God who is willing to help us in any and every situation!!

James 4:8-10 "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you."

How can we draw near to God?
Submit to God
Commit your life to God
Recognize satan's lies and defeat him
Replace your desire to sin with leading a pure life in Christ
Have sincere sorrow for committing sin
Humble yourself before God

Those sweet words, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you" have brought me much comfort. The thoughts of the God who created and sustains our universe, drawing near to me is an unfathomable idea but an amazing experience as I feel it happening.

Praise God for His goodness
Living fearlessly in Christ

Monday, November 17, 2008

Good morning and happy Monday! Hope your weekend was good to you! My husband and I went to a marriage seminar on "the time starved marriage" by Les and Leslie Parrot. During that session, we were recommended to go to and take a "time-style" assessment. This proved, once again, that opposites attract as my husband and I are at opposite ends of the time-style spectrum. I encourage you to also check out the website which is filled with lots of good marriage helps.

We also went to see "Fireproof" which I highly recommend. It was a realistic and moving movie. My husband and I's reactions were different to the movie. For him, it was discouraging because it brought up reminders of the past struggles in our own marriage but for me, it was a great reminder of the power of God to do amazing things in our lives. If you have seen it or when you do, let me know your reaction.

Today, I would like to stick with one verse. James 4:7 "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

Although, submitting to God is not an easy thing to do, resisting the devil is sometimes even harder for me. I have allowed satan to conjure up some great lies in my head. I have allowed feelings to make decisions for me. I have not submitted to God at times, but to satan. The desires of our flesh can so easily be fallen to. They "feel" so right - how can they be wrong?!!

Resisting the devil is hard, but I've found from my own life experiences - it is so worth the fight! Even though giving into satan may give me temporary pleasure, when I resist and submit to my God, I gain a connection with Him that surpasses any earthly pleasure - a connection that I know will last for eternity.

God never said that following Him was going to be easy but we have to remember that the reward is so great, we can't even wrap our minds around it.

You and I will face temptations today. Will you resist satan or succumb to his lies. The choice is up to you and you alone.

Have a great day
Living fearlessly in Christ

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy Friday!! Last night, we watched our daughters basketball team beat their rival school, Pontiac. What was even more exciting than winning, was the fact that their coach had made a deal with them - if they won the game, there would be no practice on Saturday. Guess this means, that mom gets to sleep in tomorrow. Yeeee Hawwww! Our son doesn't have a game until 1:15 so that leaves me with a whole lot of relaxing time - I'm loving it!

Tonight, my husband and I are attending a "Couples Night Out" on a time-starved marriage topic. I'm excited to have a date with him and to make things even better, we are going to see "Fireproof" tomorrow with some friends. It will be a wonderful weekend for our marriage adventure.

Now, on to our study. James 4:1-6 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

Oh, such good stuff!! Remember when we talked the other day about selfish anger that erupts when our egos are hurt and how it doesn't help anyone or anything. Many of our problems with others arises from our own selfishness. We want what we want, any amount of neglect or inconsideration throws us into a hissy fit. Looking out for number one is the source of many of our connection problems with God, too.

What kind of prayers are you lifting up? Are they filled with what you want and desires for God to bless what you are already doing? Instead of always living for our own pleasures, we need to submit ourselves, including our selfishness, to God and then truly seek what it is that He desires. This is not easy and will take moment by moment discipline, but it can be done.

It is our pride that makes us so selfish, so humility is the cure. "God is opposed to the proud", means that if we continue with our pride, God will have no other choice but to humble us. I don't know about you, but being humbled by God is not something I want to endure.

Again, I think the advice of Lysa Terkeust, yesterday, applies. Take the time to pause. Think about what it is that you truly desire. Pause, consider God's will over your own selfishness. Pause.

Have a great day and a great weekend
Living fearlessly in Christ

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hope yesterday's motivational thoughts got you thinking about the question - Am I living a life that requires much faith?

In addition to that wake up call, I got another - on Tuesday, we read about controlling our tongue from James 3:1-12 and then when I checked Lysa Terkeurst's blog for the day, this is what I read:
The very last good nerve
In the South we have a phrase that appropriately describes the way one might feel after returning home from a wonderful trip to many demands of many people:"I only have one good nerve and you are about to get on it!"You see when mama is away, the little people tend to play. Chores sometimes only get half done. Wet laundry gets left in the washer for days and stinks to high heaven. And the drying rack that mama treasures because the dryer sins against all things with shrinkage possibility, gets broken into six pieces.Not that I came home and started complaining or pointing these things out or letting any of this get on my VERY LAST GOOD NERVE. Or anything like that. For all three of you that can identify with getting frustrated with those you love the very most in the whole wide world, there is hope.I'm learning there is a silver lining to every frustrating experience. Every time I'm pushed to the point where I want to raise my voice and let my head spin around three times, I have to see it as an opportunity to let God interrupt my natural way of responding. These can be a growth opportunities, if I chose to react God's way instead of my way. But oh what a battle this can be! My feelings say, "Yell! Scream! You should be stinkin' mad over this!"God's spirit in me says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath. No good can come out of losing your temper."But then my feelings say, "Oh no ma'am. It will make you feel so much better to just have a little hissy fit."God's spirit in me says, "What might feel good in the moment will just pile more turmoil and yuck on this situation."Ephesians 4: 29 tells us, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the holy spirit with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, and slander along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as Christ God forgave you."Why is this so hard to do?I remember seeing June Clever on the TV. Nothing got on that woman's nerves! She was always responding so gently with, "that's okay dear."I'm convinced June had none of the Italian blood that I have coursing through my veins. But I'm also convinced that with God all things are possible. And even if you have fire cracker blood like I do, there is one thing that has helped me more than anything in the staying calm department...pausing.When something happens that triggers an instant rise in my frustration, if I can pause just for a second or two, God can interrupt my natural response and redirect me.If I respond instantly, my natural reaction can be so ugly sometimes.Pause.It's a wonderful thing.Pause. God will you help me?It's a redirecting thing.Pause. God will you show me?It's a growth thing I'm slowly learning.Pause. God will you grow me into the woman I so desire to be?Pause.

I think God is trying to tell me something. I think I need to do alot more "pausing" before I open my mouth for any reason. Most times it's open before my brain begins to work so maybe the pause will give my brain and God, an opportunity to intercede.

Now, on to James 3:13-18 "Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."

Do you know people who are really book smart but have no common sense whatsoever? Well, just like being book smart, we all can gain worldly wisdom but godly wisdom, comes only from God. Godly wisdom and understanding produces more than prestige in this world - it produces fruit in us. When we have godly understanding, we act in a way that represents our Lord. Our character is what shows our wisdom. Are we making the right choices? Are we setting a godly example? Are your motives for gaining wisdom pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy?

Don't allow others perception of what wisdom is to alter yours. Remember, God's wisdom can only come from Him - not what this world describes as wisdom.

Have a great day
Living fearlessly

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy Wednesday all my bloggy friends! Since I have very little free time, I am still reading the same book I've been working on for about 2 months - "The Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne. I was reading while I waited for my son's basketball game to start last night, and came across some very true words that I wanted to share with you.

"I had a college professor who said, 'All around your, people will be tiptoeing through life, just to arrive at death safely. But dear children, do not tiptoe. Run, hop, skip or dance, just don't tiptoe.' In my youth-group days, I had seen all too many wild would-be Jesus radicals fall by the wayside because they had never been trusted with the adventure of revolutionary living. When I was a youth leader, one of the high school kids who had 'given his life to Jesus' got busted only a few weeks later for having acid at school. I remember asking in disappointment, 'What happened, bro? What went wrong?' He just shrugged his shoulders and said, 'I got bored.' Bored? God forgive us for all those we have lost because we made the gospel boring. I am convinced that if we lose kids to the culture of drugs and materialism, of violence and war, it's because we don't dare them, not because we don't entertain them. It's because we make the gospel too easy, not because we make it too difficult. Kids want to do something heroic with their lives, which is why they play video games and join the army. But what are they to do with a church that teaches them to tiptoe through life so they can arrive slowly at death?"

"I'm not sure where we get the notion that Christianity is safe or that Christians should play it cool.....the more I get to know Jesus, the more trouble He seems to get me into."

"Some Christians take so few risks, it's no wonder folks have a hard time believing in heaven."

"While the ghettos may have their share of violence and crime, the suburbs are the home of the more subtle demonic forces - numbness, complacency, comfort - and it is these that can eat away at our souls."

"Perhaps the most dangerous place for a Christian to be is in safety and comfort."

"It's not hell that makes me shudder but God, because I have no idea what in the world God's going to dare me to do next."

"I heard that disturbing whisper of Jesus telling me that even pagans hang out with their cool friends, that instead we are to be extraordinary and hang out with the not-so-cool, the people sitting in the lunchroom alone, folks who talk to themselves and have distinct aromas. In fact, Revelation warns that we must be either hot or cold, because if we are lukewarm (an old-school way of saying 'cool'), we will be spit out of God's mouth (Rev. 3:16) The end of cool - left in the smoke of people set on fire by God. I started to think maybe I should beware of things that are cool and normal, because Jesus didn't seem to be either of those."

I think this has given you alot to think about today - we'll continue our study of James tomorrow. Think - change - act.

Have a great day
Living fearlessly

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Well, our girls have done it again! They won their last conference game last night which meant that they were undefeated in conference games. The Prairie Central Jr. High girls basketball team won the conference title. Yea!! We're so excited and proud of them!!

OK, enough excitement - we've got some SERIOUS business to take care of - our tongues. OUCH! This next section in James is about controlling our tongues. Here we go, are you ready?

Gossiping, putting others down, bragging, manipulating, false teaching, exaggerating, complaining, flattering, lying, cursing, angry words, etc. - anything sound familiar to you??!!

The Bible heeds many warnings about what comes out of our mouths. In James 3:1-12, he devotes almost a whole chapter on it.

It talks of how just like a bit in a horses mouth, it controls it's entire body; like a ship's rudder, it controls the entire ship; like a fire, that destroys much; the tongue defiles our entire self.

We cannot control our tongue on our own. We must allow the Holy Spirit to aid us in overcoming this great temptation. I cannot tell you how many times, I have been in the middle of a conversation and felt the strong pang of the Holy Spirit telling me to close my mouth or change the subject. There have been times that I've so desperately wanted to share some juicy information that would fuel a disagreement but again feel that pang of the Holy Spirit to keep it to myself.

Now, I say that I've felt it, I didn't say that I always obey the notion. Many times, I have continue to run my mouth like nothing ever happened. Most times after the situation is over or things have gotten worse because of what I've said, I find myself wishing I had done otherwise.

God has our and others best interest in mind. Even though it would immediately feel so good to say those words that are on the tip of your tongue - it will not later as the Holy Spirit brings conviction to your heart.

Before opening your mouth, ask yourself; "Is what I want to say true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?"

If the answer is no or I don't know to any of these - keep your mouth shut. You'll thank God for it later.

Have a great day

Living fearlessly


Monday, November 10, 2008

Good morning and happy Monday! Just wanted to share a little from my weekend before we get started on our study. When my grandpa died this summer, I took a plant home from his funeral. It was one that will not come back next year, but I planted it in my flower garden anyway. I noticed last week, the beautiful yellow blooms it was producing in November. I can't really explain why, but these blooms were a sign to me of God's faithfulness and that my grandpa was waiting for me in heaven. Even when skies are gray and temperatures are cold, God is blooming all around us. He is faithful and never forsakes us.

On Friday, my daughter decided that it would be great fun to "do" my hair. Here's what she came up with. She dared me to wear this beautiful style more often and in front of people so I'm thinking that it would be most appropriate when her friends are around. She always is telling me how embarrassing I am, so I figure I might as well make her statements true. Do you think it would be too much for one of her basketball games??? :) :)

James 2:14-26 is where we're headed today. Again, because of the length, I will not write it all out for you, but you still need to read it. If we're going to do this study together, you need to read what we are discussing so that you can understand it completely. So, get your Bible out and bring it on over to your computer. I'll wait...........

O.K. now that you have read the Scripture, let's get started. This section is speaking of faith and works. If someone has no clothing and food and you tell them "be full and warmed", it is no good to them. It takes action by providing for them to satisfy their needs. Faith without works is dead.

Now, is it the works that gives us salvation? Absolutely not. The works come as a desire to obey God because of our faith in Him. As a Christ Follower, we want to obey and please God as the Holy Spirit prompts us. We do not work to receive faith but working, as we rely on God, will increase our faith.

Vs. 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Ask yourself if there is fruit coming from your faith. Are you growing closer to God? Is your faith increasing? Has your attitude, reactions, thought process, or actions changed since you accepted Christ?

These are all good ways to see if your works match up with your faith? What are others seeing in you? I hope faith and works because one without the other leaves you dead.

Have a great day

Living fearlessly in Christ


Friday, November 7, 2008

O.K., I think I may change the name of my blog to "Dog Rescuer". Once again, yesterday, I retrieved my dog from a hog pit. Not Cooper this time, but his sister, Grace. When I saw Cooper in the backyard by himself, I knew I was in trouble. I went out and called for Grace but she didn't come. I needed to go out and look for her but couldn't leave my daycare kids, so I loaded them up in the car and drove our yard, the abandoned pig farm, and the roads around our house looking for her, calling her name, and praying like crazy. With no avail, I called my husband and told him the situation. He was going to finish up a few things at work and then come home to look. I decided to drive around the pig farm one more time and as I drove by the first pit, I saw a little white head bobbing in the middle. I ran over and saw my girl swimming for all she had. I carefully walked across the grates and in order to try and reach her, I laid down on about 3 inches of pig poop and reached down as far as I could. Now, this was not dry pig poop, but wet since I had been raining all morning. How lovely it was!! I was not long enough to reach her so I ran back to the garage and got a ladder. I set the ladder into the 3-4 feet of water and went in and saved my puppy. This was only the beginning as the kids and I spent the next couple hours washing, warming, and petting her dirty, stinky, shaking, afraid and cold body. She is now just as crazy as ever! Oh the joys of being a pet owner in the country!! :) :)

Our study of James today covers 13 verses so I will not write them out for you but I do want you to read James 2:1-13. This is a requirement, so don't try to get out of it!! :) I'll be watching you! It is so good!

First, I want to start out with my Bible's commentary on vs. 1-7 cause it just takes the words out of my mouth. "James condemns acts of favoritism. Often we treat a well-dressed, impressive-looking person better than someone who looks shabby. We do this because we would rather identify with successful people than with apparent failures. The irony, as James reminds us, is that the supposed winners may have gained their impressive life-style at our expense. In addition, the rich find it difficult to identify with the Lord Jesus, who came as a humble servant. Are you easily impressed by status, wealth or fame? Are you partial to the "haves" while ignoring the "have nots"? This attitude is sinful. God views all people as equals, and if He favors anyone, it is the poor and the powerless. We should follow this example."

Reading this makes me want to confess - I like to hang out with people who are like me. I usually do not make an effort to hang out with people who are very different than me.

This is wrong and does not please God. This is something that I will attempt to apply in my life and keep my eyes open to all.

When you think about Jesus when He lived on this earth - He was homeless after He left His boyhood home, He didn't have money, He didn't have prestige, He had power but didn't use it in worldly ways. He would have been one that many looked down upon in today's society.

Vs. 8-10 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself, " you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

You are no better than anyone else. I am no better than anyone else. We are all sinners. We are all the same. Your sin is not worse than mine and mine is not worse than yours. It's all sin. Don't compare, but love.

Vs. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.


Have a great day and a great weekend
Living fearlessly in Christ

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Good morning my bloggy friends!! Yesterday, out of the corner of my eye, I saw our dog Cooper jumping up and down in the backyard. Wondering what he was doing, I looked out the window to see that he was utterly terrified by a large tumbleweed blowing through the yard. His sister, Grace, was sleeping and right in its path. He immediately started barking at her until she woke and saw this strange thing that neither had ever encountered. He stood guard and watched it until it blew through the yard and out into the field.

I thought about how this is probably how God views us at times. He can see the big picture - He knows that the things in front of us are going to work out and that we have no reason to be afraid. Just like I laughed at our puppies for being so afraid over a tumbleweed - I'm sure God shakes His head over our fears. God is in control - we have no reason to fear!!

James 1:21-27
Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in the mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetfuul hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

These 6 verses are more than we have been studying, but they all go together and have an abundant amount of meat to them. Here's my thoughts:
The Word of God is able to save our souls - when we realize that Jesus died for us, that His pain and suffering was caused by me, in thankfulness and devotion to Him - we must hear and do His will. So many times, we pick and choose what portions of the Bible we follow and obey by what we think we can and can't do. When we obey - we are blessed. Blessed by a strong spiritual connection with our Lord and Savior. It doesn't get any better than connection with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. I am so unworthy - but so thankful.

In the last verse, James gives us more direction: religion = loving on others and being unstained by the world. Amen and Amen. Like I said the other day - why do we make it so difficult when God makes it so simple??!!

Have a great day

Living fearlessly in Christ

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Today I am posting for the 300th time! Wow, time sure flies - it seems just like yesterday that I was asking my pastor about blogging because I knew nothing about it. I remember my first post - it said something like: I am blogging for the first time and I don't know what to say. Well, I've come a long way because now, I usually have to cut myself off because I have so much more to say but figure that people dont't want to read my ramblings for more than a minute or two.

Now, on to another very important lesson from James. 1:19-20 "This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of a man does not achieve the righteousness of God."

For myself, I struggle with the quick to hear and slow to speak. It sometimes depends on who I'm conversing with. It is especially difficult with my children and husband but I have been working on listening without interrupting with whomever I'm talking with. I am naturally a talker and always want to help, so I have the inclination to speak but I have found that not everyone needs an answer but sometimes just someone to listen.

I would like to share what my Bible's commentary says about the last verse - it was quite convicting to me. "These verses speak of anger that erupts when our egos are bruised - "I am hurt;" My opinions are not being heard." When injustice and sin occur, we should become angry because others are being hurt. But we should not become angry when we fail to win an argument or when we feel offended or neglected. SELFISH ANGER NEVER HELPS ANYBODY."

OUCH! This really hit me between the eyes! How easily I get angry when my feelings are hurt, when I'm being ignored or words offend me. This anger is wasted - wasted time by thinking only of myself and how hurt I am. These verses tell us that we should only anger for the injustice of others.

What do you get angry about? How easily are you angered? Is it more for the "benefit" of yourself or is it for others?

Let's allow God to be our guide in everything we do, say, think or feel today.

Have a great day

Living fearlessly in Christ

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Tuesday! After the wonderful weekend I had, life is beginning to get back to normal - kind of. I had shared with you a couple of weeks ago that I was going to register for some college classes at Moody. My brother-in-law is a professor at Lincoln Christian College and wanted me to attend the Linc-Up program there instead. The difference is that at Moody, I would take only internet classes, which is what I thought I wanted but then I found out more about the LCC classes in which I go to class one night per week and then do the homework over the next week at home. After getting all my information, I have decided to attend LCC and will begin Feb. 23, 2009. My feelings are mixed between excitement and fear. My admissions counselor told me that for people "my age", the biggest hindrances for college are fear and finances - AMEN and AMEN!

Here is the coolest part: I knew that God was prompting me to further my Bible education, but at first I wasn't sure how. Over time, He has made more clear His calling for me. Yesterday, I sat down with a notebook and began writing my questions to God about the whole situation. His answers came so clear to my heart as I wrote. I feel confident that I had made the right decision by His answers to my prayers. Now, I will rely on Him to give me exactly what I need for everything else. No more FEAR!

Please be praying for my brain to learn how to work again! :)

Now, on to our study of James. 1:16-18 "Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the Word of Truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures."

Do not be deceived - there are no coincidences! Everything that is good, comes from God. I use to use the word coincidence to describe those situations where things happened in amazing ways but then figured out that I don't believe in coincidence - only in the divine power of our God. He connects people, He works amazingly in situations, He makes all good things happen.

God created us - He formed us - He imagined us - why would He not be totally capable of taking care of us?! By His will, He brought us forth by the word of truth - His actions are not coincidences but acts of love and faithfulness to His children.

See the good around you. Look for it and then give praise to God.

Have a great day

Living fearlessly in Christ

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy Monday all my bloggy friends! What a wonderful weekend I had! I told you on Friday that I was anticipating a date with my hubby that night but I didn't know what he had planned. To my surprise, he wisked me away to a very nice dinner and then when we got back home, I was surprised again at lit tea light candles lining the ledge of our 4-seasons room and a lit fireplace. How romantic! He's still got it after all these years!! :) :)
Then, on Sunday morning, he woke me with an idea. It had been a long time since we spent an entire day having fun with our kids so he suggested that we take them hiking which is one of their favorite things to do. We got up, had breakfast and left for hiking (yes, we skipped church - shhhhhhh, don't tell anybody :) ) Here's a couple pictures:

What a great time we had! When we returned home, we got on the 4-wheelers and continued our day together with a ride. We stopped at a few bridges in the country and went underneath to see what we could find. Our biggest discovery was some very large cow bones in the creek. It was fun just to horse around. Family is such a wonderful blessing from God and I'm so glad that we took an opportunity to soak up His goodness.

Back to our study of James. 1:12-15 "Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death."

Life is hard and consists of many many decisions that we must make. Does God tempt us to do evil? No, but He will test us in our faith. God does allow satan to tempt us. Notice that in vs. 15 it says that when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin. Just being tempted is not a sin but giving in to the temptation is sin. When we are tempted, we must act quickly to release the temptation. The longer we play with it in our minds, the closer we are to allowing it to become an action. When we consider the act for too long, we begin to justify why we can do it, why we deserve it and what excuses we can convince ourselves of so that we don't feel that nasty old guilt.

When tempted, ask God for strength to remove it from your mind and make the choice to change your thinking each time it rears its ugly head. The choice may be difficult, but the results will be well worth the effort as you grow closer and closer with our Lord.

Check out the "I'm not who I was" video on our pastor's blog

Have a great day

Living fearlessly in Christ