Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Gift

Leading up to Christmas, I only shared with people that we weren't "doing Christmas" if they asked such questions as, "Do you have all your Christmas shopping done?  or "Are you all ready for Christmas?"  In those instances, I would simply say, "This is our first year not to celebrate Christmas."  If someone simply said, "Merry Christmas," I would graciously respond with a simple, "Thank you."  I was in constant prayer that God would guide conversations and opportunities in His timing.

Well, I THOUGHT we'd be done after yesterday had passed but today we were bombarded with one question... "What did you get for Christmas."  So in turn, I responded again with, "We didn't do gifts this year."

As the questions have all left me even further happy with our decision... it has caused me to be in great thought.  My mind thinks about several issues surrounding this decision a lot.  And today, as I was pondering them again, I reflected on this past year, thought about the future year, and questioned whether or not I would continue to blog... or share what's going on in our life.

I had some good quiet time to think and reflect.  I asked myself why I blog.  I have done this many times before but had new motivation for the question again as one of the issues of our decision to skip Christmas came to light.  The issue is that I don't want people to think that I am spiritually better than others.  It was really brought to light that conviction and obedience can be seen as self righteousness or judgment.  And that is the LAST thing I want to reflect.

I also don't want to reflect a legalistic perception.  I was in an environment of legalism very early in life and I spoke boldly against it then (crazy to me now that that was in me even as a child).  So I am very aware of the difference between obedience for acceptance and obedience out of love and gratitude and a desire for transformation.  I have been in both boats.  It even has had an affect on my thoughts on parenting (as God parents us).

The other issue is a "Look at me" attitude.  I don't want people to think that I share things in our life to portray a "Look at me" kind of attitude.  I searched deep in my heart at motives.  And God was sweet... mercifully so.  I know that in my heart, that my constant intent is to give God glory... for anything good or blessed in my life comes only from Him.

Searching my heart for motive left me with this: God is so real and so manifests Himself in a way in my life that I can not contain it!  It is as simple as that.  It is as big as that.  It is as hopeful as that.  It is as transforming as that.  It is His power.  It is His grace.  It is His patience.  It is His presence.  It is His truth. It is His love.  It is His GIFT.  I just seek Him and strive to let Him have His way with me.  And when He shows Himself to me in such a REAL way, over and over and over, I LONG for everyone to know He is that real and active.  That is what motivates me... a desire to share how ALIVE God is and how intimate we can be with Him.

I am reading this amazing book that I totally recommend called, "The Beautiful Fight," by Gary Thomas.  His book, "Sacred Marriage," spoke to me earlier in my life as well.  I am reading the last three chapters today and they spoke to me so boldly and timely.  Thomas says, "If we focus only on God's forgiveness and speak of grace only as "pardon" we will diminish the Scripture's call for actual transformation; on the other hand, if we teach transformation apart from forgiveness, we'll inevitably lead our hearers into frustration and desperation....  Some people talk about grace in such a way that they appear to view God's commands as our enemy, as if Jesus came to save us from "them" rather than from judgment and disobedience.  God didn't stop commanding us when He sent Jesus; instead, He now gives us the power to obey these commands, as well as the will to surrender to them.  Not only are we set free from the guilt and shame of not living up to God's laws; we are given the power to finally walk in love and as transformed people to walk in obedience."  I think he puts that together beautifully.  It's not an "either or"... (grace verses obedience)... it's an "and". 

He also goes onto to say:  "Transformation will wear us out if it becomes our duty in order to be accepted by God; but transformation is a life-giving force when it becomes God's gift."  And that is what it is to me... a beautiful gift.  And I want more and more and more.

There was a time in my life when I wanted to walk away from my marriage.  It pains me today to even remember that time, to type the words.  I am so saddened to the core at the pain I caused my husband.  I am so saddened to the core at the selfishness that motivated me.  I could have given you a laundry list of reasons why I wanted "out".  I even tried to console my thoughts with, "Grace will cover me and I won't go to hell."  But I am so so so thankful that something echoed louder in my heart... it was a desire to be obedient.

At that time, that was the ONLY reason I stayed in the marriage.  Abby was our only child then and so I also rationalized that she would be ok.  Being the child of a divorce... I also knew better to believe that thought (although God's grace and healing has mended those wounds as well).  My prayers turned from "Make Don blah blah blah... and help him to blah blah blah" to "Lord, I am broken and I am choosing to obey you... because I love you so so much... please Lord, please help us.  Change my heart.  Change what I see.  Change what I think.  Change how I feel.  Help me... I can not do this... please... help me."  I was inspired to seek God in a real way.

And you know what... HE DID!  I am so humbled when I think of this time.  God started changing my heart, changing my thoughts towards my husband, changing my thoughts on what marriage was for ("Sacred Marriage," had a lot to do with this!) and healing our marriage.  Our marriage is not perfect today.  We still have our moments.  We are male and female for one.  And we are both imperfect for two.
But here is what God did... those years ago.  He showed me that HE would be faithful to His word and He would transform me and change me... if I surrendered to Him.  He could not change me as long as I was fighting Him and bent on having my way.  I also have the continual reminder of the blessing of my obedience every day when I see my husband bring me coffee, or love our children, or have a tender moment with him.  God has shown me that with HIM as my focus, my marriage is better, deeper, and richer than ever before.  And I have to include this.  I was destructive with my marriage during that time.  I didn't want Don to love me anymore... that might have made it easier for me.  I was not unfaithful... but I said hurtful things.  And God showed me unconditional love... in the flesh...through my husband.  This brings me to tears today.  My husband may not meet my expectations all the time (as I do not meet his) but he loves me in a mighty way... he loves me in the flesh for God.  I could have missed that.  I could have missed our other children.  I could have missed another opportunity to give God glory for being alive in my life.  I could have missed God showing Himself to me through that time.  I could have missed life with an amazing man.  I would have missed so so much.

As I searched my heart today, I was shown boldly that I struggle with being harsh.  I hate it.  I hate I have that behavior in me.  I want it gone.  I also let expectations affect my behavior.  I want to surrender this too.  And there are many more... many more flaws and sins that I need to find, confess, and bury under the cross.  I never, ever want to come across as being spiritually arrived... I do always want to come across as seeking and growing.

So do I want to share anymore... my journey... our journey... our life?  Do I want to make my transforming and growing public at the possible expense of being thought of in a negative light?

I'll rewrite it from my journal entry today.  "When people see transformed lives, they are given hope, encouraged, and inspired.  I know I was today at church as two couples shared beautiful testimonies of what God has done and is doing in their lives.  They are left with hope, encouragement, and inspiration because they see God.  They see God alive, moving, and evident.  I want no praise or admiration for anything good in my life.  I share my life in hopes that God and Christ can be seen and one may be inspired to seek Him.  My life is a testimony to, "Look... see... HE IS REAL and ALIVE!"  Because if He wasn't, I'd be a mess.  My life would be a mess.  But I am not a mess and neither is my life.  I and my life are not perfect.  And my life is tainted with my flaws and sin.  But it is in the hands of God, it is learning to surrender more and more, and it is desiring to reflect Him more and more.  It is touched by Him, indwelled by Him, and being used by Him.  It is His. 

Until He tells me differently... I will continue to share it and continue to give Him praise and glory for it.  It is a gift.

Friday, December 24, 2010

I found this on another blog I frequent.  I thought it was pretty cool. 
 I think it would be super cute framed.
Trying to explain it to Taylor was pretty funny... :0)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Response to Christmas Post Comments

My sweet friends, I am so happy and grateful that you have been so bold to share your thoughts, responses, and comments on my Christmas post.  I also thank you for your reassurance of your love... I hope so!  While we are not celebrating Christmas anymore, we certainly have no plans to stop loving or being friends with those who do celebrate it.  If anyone decides they don't need my friendship anymore because we do not celebrate Christmas anymore, well, that is just simply sad. :0(

I am responding here because it would take me probably 5 or more "comments" to respond there!  It is no way an effort to argue or start a fight.  My blog has been a place where I share God's work in our life for years and several people have been asking about our not celebrating Christmas.  It was the time to make our conviction and choice a part of this blog as it would be something obviously "missing" as it was present for the years before.

We have disagreements with people about all kinds of things.  I do not take it personally... (major growth from the Lord alone!) but I have also learned that I can not nor do I need to please all people.  I ONLY strive to please the Lord... and love everyone else.  I can love others without agreeing with them.  I go to parties at friend's houses who are nonbelievers and where more than half the people are drunk.  However, we do not get drunk.  We remain who we are and remain true to our conviction even in the middle of that environment.  And our prayer is that our "difference" will be seen as a light and draw people to Christ... we have no desire to blend in with that world.  And when dirty jokes are being told, we leave the room.  We do not participate and we do not laugh.  We don't call them on the carpet in front of everyone either.  We are just an example of not participating... but we still can love them.

 I do feel very strongly we are called to be "different" from the world.  Jesus was different from all the sinners He taught.  He was the light.... and sinners were drawn to that light... to that truth.  He was in the middle of sinners but He never tried to blend in... He could do nothing but to stand out.  He presented truth in love and without apology.  When He was with sinners, He presented truth to them, forgave them, AND told them to sin no more.

Another thing I feel strongly about is that we are called to be obedient.  Just as I feel "grace" is highly misused... I feel that "freedom" is also greatly misused in the Christian faith, culture, community, church... whatever we Christians are or how you want to say it.  Over and over we are told that IF we are a child of God, we will be obedient. (Luke 15:10)  IF we "know" God, (1 John 1, 2) love God (1 John 4,5) we will keep His commandments.  Jesus even said "If you love me you will keep my commandments."

We are called to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh anymore.  This means there is change after you are a believer.  You come to Christ as you are but you leave the encounter with Him transformed.  And the transforming (dying to yourself, spiritual growth, spiritual walk, spiritual maturity) continues until you die.  We are told we were once part of darkness but now we are light.  Darkness and light are total opposites.  And we are total opposites because we no longer live for ourselves but for Christ... or we die to ourselves and allow Christ to live through us is a better way of putting it.  That is total opposite.  Change would be seen if we, in fact, died to ourselves.  Freedom in Christ does not mean do whatever you want to do.  It means freedom from law and freedom from the control of sin.  Paul strongly says:  "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but certain, fearful expectation of judgement, and fiery indignation which will devour adversaries."  Hebrews 10:26

We are called to be one body, in one faith, and one mind.  Paul says: "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel..." Philippians 1:27  This makes me think that Christians are to look very much alike, especially since we are all supposed to be reflecting ONE.. Christ. 

John says: "Do not love the world OR the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For ALL that is in the world-- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world." 1 John 2:15

Paul says: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." 2 Timothy 4:3,4

Paul says: "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:3

Paul says: "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principals of the world and not according to Christ."  Col 2:8

Paul says: "This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who being past feeling, have given themselves to lewdness, to work all uncleanliness with greediness." Ephesians 4: 17-19

Paul says: " Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with a nonbeliever?  And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For you are the temple of the living God.  As God has said: I will dwell in them And walk among them.  I will be their God, and they shall be My people."  Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty."  2 Corinthians 6: 14-18
And- "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all the filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 7:1

Not loving the "world" (culture, traditions, influences, sin) does not mean you don't love the sinners drowning in it.  Jude 20 tells us to have compassion and with others, "save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh."  It doesn't say jump in there with them.  "Hating EVEN the garment defiled by flesh."  This is a strong statement.  Sadly, the church today has softened sin.  But God HATES sin... can not associate with it, have anything to do with it... it is not soft.  And that is why there is Christ.

Now, we are called to be separate but not withdrawn.  We are given the great commission as the "to do" list after accepting salvation.  But just as Daniel was taken into Babylonian captivity and did not take on the culture... we do not.  He did not bark and yell how everyone was wrong, but he was an example by being different and God used him in mighty ways!   And boy do we live in a modern day Babylon!
Many people stop going to church because they see nothing different once going.  Then they think we are all hypocrites.  Some even think they were better off before "accepting Jesus."  Being a christian does not stop at receiving salvation.  There is much, much more to that walk and intimate relationship with God and Christ and the Holy Spirit.

We are choosing not to celebrate Christmas for many, many reasons.  But we still love everyone who does.  We are not participating in a holiday but we are very much still active in the world.  We are going through December with no tree and no presents and no Santa... but we are not going without Christ.

We have made many other decisions that don't go along with our culture.  We do not wear booty shorts and clothing that our breasts hang out of, but we still love our friends who do.  And we are an example of dressing more modestly... out of our desire to be obedient to the Lord... that's it.  I am trying to be an example of and teach my girls their bodies are not sex objects to be used for their gain but they are temples of Christ and the Holy Spirit.  This is very counter cultural in our culture.  We turned off our cable two years ago.  We still love our friends who watch tv.  There is nothing wrong with "tv" just 80% of what's on it... including commercials.  We don't walk into people's houses who are watching tv and tell them they should not be watching something.  But we are an example of having that out of the house and several people have "tried" it due to seeing it in our family and love not having it.  Others often talk about trying it.  We don't listen to various popular secular songs because the lyrics are trash.  We have also changed some of our eating habits after learning how animals are treated and what is in the food (it's counter culture to not frequent McDonalds!) but we don't expect everyone else to do the same.  (It would be nice and might force some change... but we don't expect it.)

I could have a Buddha statue in my house on a bookshelf for a decoration because I think it's cute.  I may not worship it, but it doesn't change what it stands for.  Three generations from now, my great grandchildren may have no idea what it is... it was just in Grammy's house.  But when they find out what it is and what it stands for... they would have to make a decision... "Do I want it in my house or not."

That is what we have done with Christmas.  We have made the decision not to celebrate it for many reasons.  It will have NOTHING to do with the opportunities we have to reach people with the love of Christ, as we do this all year.  It will have NOTHING to do with the opportunities we have to serve people, as we do this all year.  It will have NOTHING to do with our love for people who do choose to celebrate it.  It will have EVERYTHING to do with our desire to please and obey our Father.  We will not remove ourselves from people who do not agree, if they remove themselves, then it is their choice. 
A rich man walked up to Jesus and said he wanted to follow him.  Jesus knew his heart, "loved him" anyway and told him to sell everything he had and follow him.  The man left sad.  Jesus did not say, "OK... I know you're only in it a little bit, and you don't really want to die to yourself... but come along anyway."  No.  Jesus told him what to do and the man chose not to do it AND JESUS LET HIM WALK AWAY. But verse 21 says, "Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him..."  I think that is an incredible example.  He loved him, but did not compromise for him.  If people decide to avoid me because I do not celebrate Christmas, then that is sad.  But I can love them anyway.

It's ironic to me that Christmas, in fact, is seen largely as a non-religious holiday by the world. According to USA today, 89% of people give gifts, 86% hang with friends, 80% put up a tree, and 58% encourage belief in Christ as Savior, 38% encourage belief in Santa Clause, and 28% read about Christ's birth in the Bible. 89% of agnostics celebrate Christmas as well as 55% who have no religious identity at all. Christmas, according to the world, is more about gifts and friends than Christ. It's more about being with family than about Christ. One author says, " It's solstice with friends. It's Saturnalia at the office party." It's ironic to me that Christmas started out having nothing to do with Christ and it's Christians who are trying to put Him there. It should be "Put Christ in Christmas" rather than "Keep Christ in Christmas."

The Christmas story is a story of the Roman Empire and it's relationship with the Roman Catholic Church to try and maintain political gains, influence, and power.  It was an effort to gain people for power and political gain and control.  There is no example of anyone celebrating Christ's birth in the Bible.  But there is a commandment and are examples of believers celebrating His death.

This is our personal decision and we force it on no one just as we force none of our other decisions on anyone.  Just as we can not force Christ on anyone.  Everyone has their own personal walk with the Lord.  I share because I am called to share our life and what God is doing in it.  I share because I have a blog I have been writing for years that has also documented our own personal growth in this "Beautiful Life".  I share because several people were asking.  I do not judge others.  But I also will not compromise what I believe because everyone else is doing it.

Thank you again, for letting me share and for caring enough to comment.  Whether or not we celebrate Christmas or whether or not you agree doesn't have to have anything to do with our relationship.  I love you all.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to look after orphans  and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27~

And that is all of that!

D and T returned last night from the LAST adoption trip to Latvia!  It is DONE!  I can not believe it has been just days over a year since we met... since we embraced her as "strangers" in the airport and quickly became family.  She became a United States citizen last night.  She has been our "daughter" since before the beginning of time!  Very cool.

She amazes me in so many ways... almost daily.  And what is even more amazing... there are thousands upon thousands out there... just like her... waiting to be found... waiting to be wanted... waiting to be loved.

I have a friend just days away from her precious baby son arriving from the Congo.  I have another friend waiting for her court date to go and meet her daughter in Ethiopia.  I have another friend in Latvia with her daughter now... just days away from returning... together.  I have other friends one week into the hosting of a sibling group of three children from Latvia... I can't wait to see what unfolds there.  I have another friend anxiously awaiting a court date for her daughter waiting for her in the Philippines.  I have another friend who just started her adoption journey for a little girl in Kazakhstan.  I have many more friends... and many more hopes for them!  I am a very lucky girl to have such friends. 

Life gets more and more beautiful when you let HIM live it!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Psalm 119- the entire chapter... really
"I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws." vs. 7
"I will seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands." vs. 10
"I will rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches." vs. 14
"Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.  I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me." vs. 18,19
"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." vs. 32
"Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.  Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word." vs. 36,37

Here we go... Paganism, Rome, Saturnalia, and... "Christ Mass" or Christmas

I have to start off by saying a few Pre-Scripts!  This will be one of the boldest posts I have written.  It will also be one of the most careful.  And it will also be the most thought provoking!  It is also important.  And that is what I hope to do... cause you to think... to wonder... to question.  The rest... I leave to Him.

This will be our first year to not celebrate Christmas.  I thought it would be hard.  It, very surprisingly, is NOT.  It is, however, hard for Abby to grasp.  And that makes it one of the hardest sacrifices I have ever made out of obedience of conviction.

I also want to state, way early on, that I do not judge or look down on Christmas celebrators.  So please don't think that I think or will think any differently toward you.  This is something we have decided as a family.  I share it because I have been called to share what God is doing in our lives.  It is a joy beyond joy to share God's presence in our lives and give Him praise and glory.  It also humbles me that it has encouraged others.

As I have mentioned before, my life has changed dramatically this past year.  God became VERY real and personal by manifesting Himself through the Holy Spirit and it sparked a hunger in me for His word, truth, and His presence like I have never known before.  This opened up conversations and searches for me and I was given a cd on pagan holidays by a friend.  This cd opened pandora's box and led me into three to four months of researching things like, "Pagan roots in Christmas," "Why Christians don't celebrate Halloween," "Where Easter Sunday came from," "Where traditional holidays came from," and so forth.  I would print and read articles and that would lead me to more searches.  I simply have to say I was blown away... shocked... angered... and convicted.

Now I could just stop here.  I could just say, "google it".  But I won't.  There is much more to say.  There is a far greater issue at stake.  And it's not found in the popular crowd.  And it's not found in the tolerance crowd.  It's greatly found in the Christian crowd.  The problem is "conforming" instead of "transforming".  We, Christians, are called to be separate from the world.  We are told not to conform to the world's culture but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  That transforming leads to change.  We are called to be light in darkness.  Very early on, way before we were here on earth, Christianity did not conquer paganism... it blended with it... meshed with it... absorbed it... conformed to it's rituals and traditions and has sadly gotten very lost in it.  By getting us to conform, satan has taken away much opportunity from us to transform.  It is no accident. 

There is an author, Jesse Hurlburt, who wrote a book called, "The Story of the Christian Church."  He talks about how when Constantine became Emporer of Rome, he became a "kinda" Christian.  He was concerned about his Roman Empire.  He greatly merged paganism with the Roman Catholic Church.  It was political.  It was power driven.  It was number driven.  "The services of worship increased in splendor, but were less spiritual and hearty than those of former times.  The forms and ceremonies of paganism gradually crept into the worship.  Some of the old heathen feasts became church festivals with change of name and of worship." (Hurlburt)

Sound familiar?  How many churches do you know that are so worldly they are no different than a local social club... or even worse?  It's been one of my biggest complaints for a long time.  Many churches are too busy conforming to the world as much as they can, (in hopes to attract and gain people who want nothing to do with changing) without crossing a line... although many do cross many lines, to be transforming anyone.  And THAT is exactly what the enemy is so tickled about.  It's one of his greatest attacks on the church.  We are too meshed with darkness.  And by being so meshed into the world... we have lost the very power to transform it.  We have lost much of the light that makes us "different". 

Have you ever wondered why millions of non-Christians celebrate Christmas?  Do you know how many people step foot inside a church twice a year... Christmas and Easter.  Why?  Why bother?  Have you ever wondered where December 25 as Christmas Day came from?  It's certainly not in the Bible.  "Christmas" is not in the Bible either.  There is no "Christmas Story" in the Bible.  There is the birth of Jesus story.  But the word "Christmas" is not there.  The word came from the Roman Catholic Church who started "Christ Mass" and it evolved into "Christmas".   And there is no example of early Christians celebrating it.

"Christmas" is nowhere in Bible, but a "Christmas tree" is.  Trees were worshiped hundreds of years before Christ was even born.  They were cut down, brought inside homes, and decorated to be worshiped.
"Do not learn the way of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them.  For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.  They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols can not speak..." Jeremiah 10:1-5

This caught my interest for sure and led me to find that the religion of Mithraism celebrated the birth of their god, Mithras, on December 25th.  They used these trees.  It also was all tied to sun god worship and the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year... the day with the least amount of light.  December 25th, or the winter solstice, was also the day to celebrate the birth of other gods like Osiris, Horus, Hercules, Bacchus, Adonis, Jupiter, Tammuz.  Basically, this time of year was MAJOR sun god worship!  It was MAJOR pagan festival time.   And it was being celebrated way before Christ was even born.

This led me to learning about Saturnalia... yes, based on Saturn... also a god.  It was a HORRID Roman festival during the time of winter solstice that lasted for days!  Orgies were held under mistletoe and holly and ivy as they worshipped the gods of fertility.  Drunkenness was rampant.  Crime was allowed and overlooked.  It was HORRID.  Google it!  And THIS is THE pagan festival Rome blended, meshed, and conformed with Christianity and became Christmas.  Seriously.  THIS was enough for me.  I was totally saddened to the core of my being.  I had been ignorant... never asking where or why?  I was floored.

But then I searched the origins of the symbols and traditions of Christmas.  Further shocked.  Again.  Never asked why these things were used for Christmas... just did it because everyone else did.

Then I did the same on Santa.  Same result.

Then I researched "When was Christ really born" and found MUCH biblical, historical, and astronomical information on a fall birth... and some on a February birth... but ALL saying not a December birth.  Many Christians will agree they don't think His birthday is December 25... so why celebrate it then?  Because the world does. 

Then I went to scripture.  Because I was SOLD that I was no more to be a part of what I felt was the biggest lie ever pulled over on mankind.  I was about to give up my second favorite holiday (Thanksgiving being my number one).  And this what I saw:

1. I saw that God is very specific about how he does not want to be associated with idols and other gods.
2. I saw how God struck 3,000 dead when they came to worship Him with a golden calf.  Moses had just been given the Ten Commandments and the people (Israelites) waiting at the bottom of the mountain saw Him, saw His presence, and they made a golden calf to offer Him in worship.  THEIR HEART was to worship Him.  Their HEART was in it for Him.  BUT HE WAS NOT PLEASED.  This convicted me greatly.
3. I saw one of the most prominent images of Christmas (tree) spoken against in Jeremiah... the ONLY thing close to "Christmas" being in the Bible.  Actually, there is scripture in Revelation eluding to the largest Christmas celebration being during the reign of the anti-Christ. 
4. I saw how God is HOLY and can not be associated with sin.  I saw a holiday that places the celebration of the birth of His son right in the middle of many other pagan gods.
5. I saw numerous instances when the Lord said, "They worship me in vain."  God does not accept all worship.  It doesn't not matter how we want to worship God... it matters how God wants to be worshipped.  Over and over again, people worshipped how they wanted to and God was not pleased. 
6. I saw numerous accounts of where we are told not to follow the "traditions of men".
7. We are told to remember and observe his death on the cross (for THAT is what brings life to us) and that is all.  We are given examples of the early church observing this... and that is all.  It is one of the most sacred and intimate parts of worship.
8. I also saw, after learning how the biblical feasts in the Old Testament (God's Holy Days with specific dates!) correlate directly to Christ in the New Testament, that winter is silent.  There is NOTHING during winter.  Winter was the time for rest.  ("Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts")

In addition to this... I see clearly what Christmas has become.  It has become an idol.  There is no other way to put it.  People spend money they don't have on things they don't need.  Christmas is now in the stores before Halloween (another horrid holiday) is even out... begging you to buy... spend... purchase... get more.  It is concealed in glitter, bows, beautiful colors, and other distracting and appealing makeup.  But it is consumerism.  It is greed.  It is discontent.  It is excess.  It is waste.  And the money Americans alone spend on one Christmas day... could solve the world's clean water problem... several times over.  One country.  One day.  One major world problem that kills children every four seconds.  THAT is distraction from the enemy. 

Then there is the argument that "so much good happens during the Christmas season". "People are in the Christmas spirit."  Here is my answer.  If we were centered on WHO we should be centered on... we would be in THAT spirit, the HOLY SPIRIT, all year long and would not need a pagan holiday to get us in the mood.  We would be doing what many do just during this season... all year long.  We would be making a major impact on this dark world.  We would be drawing people to Christ like bees to honey!THAT is another ploy and distraction of the enemy.  THAT is an excuse.  Many people who do not know or live for Christ do great things during this season and we all get lumped together.  "Christmas" gets the glory... not God.  Wow.

I was reading a book the other day.  There was a man who had been struggling with pornography.  He had been praying for God to help him with this sin.  And he had a dream.  A naked and beautiful woman was standing right by his bed... taunting him, tempting him, seducing him.  He could not understand why he was having the dream and cried out for God.  In that instance, the beautiful naked woman turned into a horrible ugly demon... right by his bed... seducing him.  His eyes were finally opened to what was REALLY alluring him... seducing him... tricking him... beckoning for him.  He never struggled with that sin again.  His eyes were opened and he saw it for what it was.  Satan.

This is how Christmas looks to me now.  I know that is a strong statement.  It was the same with Halloween... it all just changed before my eyes.  I see past the lights and paper and bows.  I see it all as a HUGE distraction (and lie) that occupies our entire winter.  I see it as a way Satan has lumped Jesus in with other pagan gods.  What greater way to belittle the one and true God... the I AM.  Sometimes I see a pretty tree and my heart has a moment of missing my tree... but that is what it is... missing the tree.  It is the feeling I miss... and it has nothing to do with Jesus. 

Don and I became convicted on the commercialism and consumerism of Christmas a few years ago.  We changed how we celebrated it greatly.  Gifts were greatly reduced and giving was greatly increased... giving to the needy... not our friends who have more than they need anyway!  But I also was convicted a few months ago that we need to become a family of purpose and be "giving" and "serving" each month as a family.  We would pick something (World Vision, Children's Hope Chest, local food bank, ect...) and pray for that organization each day, learn about it, volunteer and give to that as a family.  I see this ALL as the foundation to what we have just been convicted to do, give up the holiday of Christmas.  I see God preparing our hearts years ago and it just blows me away.

We are celebrating winter.  We are celebrating this season of rest God created.  We are celebrating the birth, death and resurrection of Christ every day of ours by dying to ourselves and letting His resurrected life live through us.  We are celebrating and loving Him by seeking Him, being with Him, obeying Him, and seeking His will... not ours.  We are learning to walk in the Holy Spirit... and none other.

If you want to read some articles about this, is one of the most inclusive ones I have found.  It is 27 pages and so I highly recommend printing it.  There is also another good one at  But as I mentioned early, just googling questions will give you MANY links to many articles. 

It is not my intention to offend anyone with anything in this post.  I pray you know my heart.  My heart is SOLD OUT to live for Christ, to continue to learn how to die to myself (daily), and to give Him glory and praise for everything in my life.  It is also to share what He is doing in our lives.   This is a huge thing we are doing, according to the world's view... but really it's not that big.  We are not celebrating Christmas but we will ALWAYS celebrate CHRISTWe will always love others, we will always give, and we will strive to ALWAYS be in HIS SPIRIT... letting His light shine all year long.

I love you all very, very much.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done.  The things you have planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. " Psalm 40:5

It is simply beautiful, ornate, detailed, and awing... the way the Lord orchestrates our lives... if you let Him.  The more I learn to rest in Him, trust Him, rely on Him, obey Him and surrender to Him... the more He can take control and... well... show off!  And be glorified!

It is so divine that He impressed upon my heart the word "rest" for this winter.  See, I was searching for Him and, well, a theme for the winter since we won't be celebrating Christmas.  Yes.  You read that right.  We are not celebrating Christmas.  More on that to come.  So I kept hearing Him tell me "rest" over and over and over again.  Boy... He was trying to prepare me for sure... as well as give me the instruction I need to get through this winter.  When I see Him do this sort of thing, the intimacy I feel with Him grows so much.

We have just weathered a storm with Abby and her illness.  I want to post fully on that later.  But in a nutshell, she had almost 80 seizures in two weeks.  Needless to say, it was very emotional.  But I have to say that God was here... there... everywhere in this past storm and I am so thankful for the encounter.  I am blown away and strengthened by it in the depth of my quiet places.

I have been sick twice.  And I have listened to my Father and stayed in bed... rested.  Marc is getting sick for the second time and I am praying protection over Abby with everything in me.  I guess we are just going to have to stay at home all winter.  Seriously.  It's really ridiculous!

Taylor and Don are in Latvia for the LAST trip of this adoption.  When she enters into the United States this time with her daddy, she'll become a U.S. citizen.  Very cool.  She amazes me.  She is so special.

My husband had a big birthday this month.  We came home from the hospital with Abby on his birthday.  We'll have a "do over" for that milestone soon!

We also just had our 11th wedding anniversary.  I totally forgot it.  That's how fried my brain is.  I was writing in my prayer journal that morning and wrote the date and said to myself, "I think today is some one's birthday."  Just five minutes later, Don walks into the room and sits on the end of the bed and says, "Happy Anniversary honey."  I almost sucked my tongue down my throat.  I was stunned.  Have I really lost my mind that badly.  I am still heart broken... but do feel better as he confessed he had just remembered it the day before.

I feel turned inside out sometimes.  But I think that's how I need to be.  For now, I am going to blog again, a little.  I HAVE to share and give glory to God for HIS presence in this past storm.  And there are a few other things on my heart to share.  Thank you for waiting... for checking in on me... and encouraging me to take a break as long as I came back! 

Monday, November 01, 2010


Well, I just googled, "My toddler won't play alone" and saw, thankfully, that I am not alone in my (one of many) problem and frustration.  Mine sits in the middle of a pile of toys and cries or doesn't move... won't even pick one up.  Or he just lies down and goes to sleep.  I think 5 day preschool next year may have to be discussed.

I am posting to say I am going on a break.  I do not know how long, but I won't be here for a while.
There are many things I need to do right now and I am pulling way back from the computer.

Hope you all have a wonderful fall and fabulous winter.  I was just thinking yesterday... about winter... and about how it is a season of rest... hibernation... nestling in... renewing... and preparing for Spring... and it inspired me.  I love winter... and I am going to embrace it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I have been on a spiritual high for a while now. 

I should have known an attack was coming.  I have been discovering so much in God's word and sharing it... that's when you should REALLY know the attacks are going to come.  Usually an attack comes, I see it, I speak against it, and confess my faith and truth over it... and there is relief.  This latest attack has come on strong... and I don't mean to give the enemy any credit as he IS DEFEATED and it is my duty to remind him so and be sure he stays in his place of defeat... even though he fights and fights to convince me otherwise.

I won't list the full force of this attack as it would give him too much credit.  But I will say it is emotional, physical, and spiritual and involves me, one of my daughter's and my marriage and some others close to me.  Not that my marriage is in jeopardy by any means, but the enemy attacks it often.  My marriage gives glory to the Lord and gives glory to obedience and the enemy HATES it.  And he is relentless.  He attacks it most by attacking my heart.  But he is defeated.  My daughter's very life gives glory to the Lord as does her healing and the enemy hates it.  And he is relentless.  But he is defeated.

I am tired. 

Today, I was bemoaning my tiredness to my husband and my sadness that there are not many people I can pray with about this or share it with.  Not too many people who "get" it.  I feel alone.  EVEN THOUGH I KNOW the Lord is with me and won't forsake me... the enemy wants me to feel alone and stop moving forward.  But the enemy is defeated.  Anyway, I was bemoaning how alone I felt, (which I should not be claiming but denouncing instead and speaking truth over it!), and God had two friends, reach out to me... about the very thing I was struggling with.  One emailed me and gave me back scripture from one of my past posts!  Thank you!  I'll take it back anytime!  And the other spoke words of encouragement and prayed scripture over me on the phone!  I'll take that anytime.  God is giving me the very living proof that I am not alone!  I am so very thankful for it.  I really needed it.

So I continue to stand on the truth against this attack.  I stand on the belief God is growing in me and the truth and power of His word and in the name of Jesus.  I continue to claim truth over my life and over my children.  Today, one of my children spoke truth back to me... praise the Lord!  I was telling her how I was hurting somewhere badly and she said, "Mommy, you need to say you are not hurting there in the name of Jesus and speak truth over it... and it will go away."  Praise you Lord for that affirmation!  I smiled.  I started claiming God's truth, "I am not hurting, I denounce this attack and I reject it in the name of Jesus.  I am healed by the wounds of Jesus and he took my sin and sickness to the cross and I claim that over me in the name of Jesus.  I am healed.  I am healed in the name of Jesus."  Five minutes later she asked me, "Are you still hurting?"  I started laughing as the pain had completely gone.  A pain that had me on the sofa much of the morning and almost doubled over at the grocery store... and it is still gone!  "No... it's gone," I replied in pure delight and thankfulness.  And we both laughed as she said, "See... that's what you do Mommy... the name of Jesus!"  I praise you Lord!  Out of the mouth of babes!  Oh the belief of a child... that God so treasures and admires!  This was the third time He reached out to me in such a tangible way today.

A few minutes ago, I saw a tube of toothpaste in my kid's bathroom that is just mangled.  I thought to myself, "Hey... that's what I feel like!"  There I was, standing all mangled on the bathroom counter top!  Squished on all sides, crumpled over, and not pretty... but still standing, still usable, still with a purpose, and still effective!  I am a tube of toothpaste!

I am anxious for this attack to be over.  I am anxious for rest.  I know it will come and in the meantime... I am diving into His word for truth, answers, help, guidance... and praying to feel His Spirit move upon me again soon!  And I'll wait... knowing He is here, carrying me, enjoying my hunger for Him, enjoying my heart to discover Him and to please Him, fighting for me if I can only stay surrendered to Him and His power, and ready to show me more!

This is why we count it as joy when we are tried and face trials!  Because when we go through it, and we learn more, and we see Him more, and He is given the chance to do more in us and with us... our faith and belief grows!  What the enemy throws at us to damage our belief... and destroy it... God uses as another opportunity to SHOW HIMSELF and we are drawn closer to Him and our faith grows!  Praise Him!!!!!!!

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  James 1:2-4~

Edit:  Last night, as I was lying in bed, thinking about the day and praying, I was reminded that my Lord reached out to me through a card that arrived from a friend that afternoon.  Four... four hugs, four "I am here" signs, four "I love you" whispers, four types of encouraging words.  He also awoke me at 5 a.m. to be with Him and blessed me with the fullness of His presence and peace.  It doesn't get much better than that!  Thankfulness overflows today and I am renewed!  PRAISE HIM!  PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME!

Monday, October 18, 2010

This is what is important.
My family and our Lord God who brought us all together.

I have spent the day in anger... more anger than I have felt in a long time.
Anger from an attack from the enemy that has left me "trying" to justify my words.
Anger that has kept me from even being able to approach the throne.
Anger caused by evil, darkness, greed, impurity.

I have repented of this anger and am praying it's hold on me to be broken in the name of Jesus Christ.
I do not answer to anyone except my Lord.  I do not fear the attacks of the enemy.  He has been defeated.

God spoke to me through a friend today.  A friend I have never met.  A friend who called a couple times
to check on me and reminded me that this is an attack of the enemy.  This is an attack against a company that helps people, an attack against me, and an attack against my blog.  "Do not stop blogging or shut it down, your blog ministers to people and that is exactly what the enemy wants," she sweetly reminded me.  It helped me snap out of it (anger) and get refocused.  Thank you C.D.

My husband took the family on a surprise trip to the beach this past weekend. The trip was made even better by the company of my sweet Campbell who took this beautiful picture.  The house we stayed at was offered to us as a gift by sweet friends at church.  The Lord gave us perfect weather and some great memories.  He also gave me the wisdom not to check my email the entire time! HA

I pray God restores my soul tonight and I lay this attack at His feet.  I denounce this attack from the enemy in the name of Jesus Christ.  And I praise God for what He has done and continues to do in this family!  He is our EVERYTHING.  To Him be all the Glory and Praise!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Fullness of Faith

More reunion pics!

I am enjoying the gift of a perfect Fall morning today.  The windows are open throughout the house, there is a perfect crisp chill lingering in the air, and a gentle light breaking through the clouds!  When I took the girls to school this morning, there were scattered glowing pink clouds all over the sky.  I love to see God's beauty in creation each day... especially in the morning when the day is so fresh, new,
open to possibility, and waiting for me.  I love it when God tells me, "Good morning."

"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:22,23~

I also love that each day gives me another opportunity... another chance... another try... to SEEK Him, to FIND Him, to BE with Him, to HEAR Him, to FEEL Him, to SERVE Him, to SHARE Him, to PRAISE Him, to GLORIFY Him, to ENJOY Him, to TRUST Him, to LEAN on Him, to RELY on Him, to FALL into Him, to DWELL on and in Him, to WALK in Him, to be USED by Him.

Wouldn't that be great.  Wouldn't that be great if it were that easy to just have the above each day!  Yes, yes it would.  And that is what we are made to do.  That is our purpose... that is the reason we are here.

But the challenge for me lies in "doing" all the above WHILE: trying to be patient with Abby through her challenges, her attempts to control and manipulate, her irrational behavior and squealing and whinning; trying to be patient with Marc through his current lack of emotional control and manipulation and trying to teach him it is not acceptable and to "grow" him through it (all the while trying not to pull out the small amount of hair I have); and trying to balance/prioritize/line up my "physical/worldly life" with everything God is showing me and my walk in my "spiritual life".  It's no easy task! :0)

I am finding that everything is changing.  The way I see things, people, situations is very different than the past.  The pain and sadness I feel about the above is greatly increased.  The way I relate to things, people, and situations is different.  My desires are different.  My interests are different.  My conversations are different.  My conviction to be different and set apart is growing in rapid fashion. 

One HUGE desire I have been given is to become a family of purpose!  I'll go into that more later... soon... but I am very excited about what God has shown me here and SUPER excited to share it with my children.  One part of this is going to be setting aside money each month to give to the Lord's kingdom work.  Then we will be purposeful in praying for that, learning about that, and sacrificing to give to that specific thing (for example World Vision, the Bible League, the local food pantry and such).  I can't wait.

OK.  Now onto verse 12 in Ephesians 3.  By the way, thank you for your comments, emails, and face book messages about this look at Ephesians.  I am so excited to share such a RICH passage with you and humbled, thrilled, and motivated that it is speaking to you!  That HE is speaking to you through it!

"in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith by Him." Eph. 3:12~

We are focusing on this one verse (although it will take us to MANY others).  The verse is part of the previous verse and is talking about Jesus Christ our Lord.  We have talked previously about how Christ is IN us after we believe and receive salvation through Him.  It is that very fact, the fact that Christ is IN us, that we can have BOLDNESS AND ACCESS to the throne of God.   "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."  Romans 4:16

This is such a privilege that we so often look over, take for granted, fail to use, fail to believe, fail to understand and grasp.  What if someone gave you the telephone number, the cell phone number, of the President of the United States and said, "Here it is, use it whenever you want, he'll always answer, he'll always listen, and he'll give you the desires of your heart."  Would you be excited?  Would you use it?  Would you use it often?  Would you share it?  Would you think about everything you could think of that you wanted to tell him, ask him, share with him?  Would you have an agenda?  Would you call him with the requests or concerns of others?  Or would you just toss it in the trash?

We have the access to the God of the universe.  THAT makes me stop in my tracks.  THAT excites me.  THAT humbles me.  THAT motivates me.  THAT makes me thankful.  THAT makes me bold.  THAT makes me careful.

But why can we relate to having the phone number of the President more than we can to having the ear and attention of the God of the universe?  Because we can't see Him.  Because we don't always hear Him.  Because we don't always believe... believe what He says He'll do, what we can do in Him, or that His presence is really with us.  Simply, because of "unbelief".

That brings us to another part of the verse... "with confidence through faith in Him."  There is the answer to our problem... FAITH.  But that seems so easy.  You may think, "I have faith".  I have learned and am continuing to learn that faith in salvation is only the beginning, the tip of the iceberg... and it is not enough.  It's not enough.  Yes.  I said that.  It's not enough.  It "may" be enough for salvation.  But it's not enough to live this life we are called to live.  So this takes us on a journey to look at "Faith".   

1.) What is faith?  "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  Hebrews 11:1  Faith is confidence in the trustworthiness of God.  It is the conviction that what God says is true and that what He promises will happen.  It makes things hoped for as real as if we already had them.  Faith provides unshakable evidence that the unseen spiritual blessings of being Christ's child are absolutely certain and real.  It makes the "invisible" visible... it makes the "unseen" seen. (taken from Beliver's Bible Commentary)

Faith is the essence of the believer's walk in this world.  It is the core of everything we do, say, and believe.  "For we walk by faith, not by sight."  2 Corinthians 5:7  This is a big one.  To walk by faith and not by sight requires us to reject our five senses sometimes.  It requires us to TRUST bigtime!  It requires us to look at things, people, and situations with spiritual eyes and listen with spiritual ears and stay spiritually minded.  It requires constantly realigning ourselves with the Spirit... the Holy Spirit, who enables us to do this through His power.  It requires us to remain surrendered to the Holy Spirit, to the Lord God, and to Christ our Savior. 

2.) We have been justified by faith"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."  Romans 5:1,2  So as a result of our faith, we have peace with God and access into grace through Christ Jesus.  That means, because we accepted Jesus as our Savior (by faith... we can't see Him and we can't "see Him" save us), we have peace with God and access to His grace... the grace IN which we stand.

3.) Faith pleases the Lord!  "When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!"  Matthew 8:10~
"When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, "I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!"  Luke 7:9~

So what made Jesus marvel and who had such great faith?  Both passages are about the same situation and the same person.  It was the faith of a centurion officer that made Jesus marvel.  Can you imagine making Jesus marvel?  The officer had a servant, who was dear to him, dying.  He knew the Lord could heal him.  He believed the Lord could heal him.  He asked the Lord to heal him.  But there is more... much more.

The Lord says He will go and heal the servant.  Then this is where FAITH is stepped up a notch... many notches... and it is a screaming example for us to notice, meditate on, and immitate.  "And Jesus said, "I will come and heal him."  The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof.  But only speak a word and my servant will be healed.  For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me.  And I say to this one, 'Go' and he goes; and to another 'Come' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this' and he does it."  "When Jesus heard it, He marveled..."  Matthew 8:7-10

Do you see it?  Do you see what made Jesus marvel?  Do you see what he called out to be the GREATEST faith He'd seen... even in Israel?  Do you see what caused exclamation points in the Bible!?  The centurion believed not only in Jesus, not only in who He was, not only in what He could do... but believed IN HIS AUTHORITY.  "But ONLY SPEAK A WORD and my servant WILL BE HEALED."  That is the faith that we should be striving for, praying for, longing for, and using in our lives!  WOW!  PRAISE HIM!

4.) Faith varies in amount.  "And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."  Luke 17:5  What a humble request.  What a powerful request.  What a wise request.  So simple... yet so deep.  But it shows us, without a doubt, that faith can vary in amount and we should be desiring for an increase in ours at all times. 

In Matthew, the disciples had been trying to cast out a demon and could not.  Jesus rebuked it and it came out.  "Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" So Jesus said to them, Because of your unbelief;..." Matthew 17:19, 20~  In other words, because of the lack of their faith.  The power was there but they failed to appropriate it.  They were right there, walking with, talking to, and seeing the Lord Jesus and ALL He was doing... and yet they still had unbelief.  Let that be a glaring warning to us that our unbelief affects our walk in this world.  It affects our heart, our mind, our deeds, our effort to fight the spiritual battle all around us, our prayers, our use of authority in us, our work for the kingdom, our witness, our testimony, our relationship with the Holy Spirit, our relationship with Jesus, our relationship with God!  2 Corinthians 10:15 speaks of faith increased as well.

Jesus goes on to talk to them about faith.  "So the Lord said, for assuredly, I say unto you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you."  Matthew 17:20~    A mustard seed is the smallest of seeds.  Jesus is making a point.  We may think we have faith... but REALLY NOT BELIEVE IN IT.  Jesus is saying that if you have the tiniest amount... but it is REAL... there is POWER in that FAITH.   People are healed ALL OVER the New Testament because of their faith!  Jesus says it over and over and over... "because of your faith" when He healed someone!  It is the conduit for God's power!

"Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."  2 Thessalonians 1:11,12~  Faith and power go hand in hand.  There is no power without faith.  Without faith there is no power. 

 "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly..."  2 Thess. 1:3~  The faith of the church at Thessalonica was growing "exceedingly".. However, they were encouraged in their faith by Paul in First Thessalonians.  He sent Timothy to help them.  "to establish and encourage you in concerning your faith," 1 Thess. 3:2~  "For what thanks we can render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?" 1 Thess. 3:9,10~  How beautiful to be given an example of the growth of faith in a church.  How?  Paul sent Timothy there in person to help them.  How?  Paul and Silvanius (and probably Timothy) were praying night and day that there faith would be perfected.  Paul says they were praying "exceedingly"  Then later in 2 Thess., he says their faith was growing "exceedingly"!  So sweet.  So powerful.  So insightful.  So encouraging.  So needed today!

5.) Where does faith come from?  "So faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God."  Romans 10:17~  The word of God is the written word of God.  Hearing does not just mean "hearing"... it means "to receive".  To hear the word of God, you have to be in the word of God, you have to believe the word of God, you have to be convicted by the word of God, and you are changed by the word of God.  And faith GROWS and GROWS and GROWS as your knowledge grows, as your life changes before you!

6.) Faith is tested.  "that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen... you love.  Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith--- the salvation of your souls."  1 Peter 1:7-9~   Our faith is contrasted to gold... a very precious metal.  Faith is said to be more precious than gold.  When gold is tested in fire, it does not perish, it withstands the heat.  Faith, when tested by fire, (trials) withstands when it is real, grounded, rooted faithBy our faith, we rely on God, we call on God, we trust in God, we claim God's truth against our trials and situations, we use the authority to call on the power of God, AND GOD SHOWS UP!  And when we do these things, and when He shows up, and when the unseen becomes seen in our lives, when we stand against these things IN HIS POWER... FAITH GROWS AND GROWS. That trial becomes yet another opportunity for us to call on God, trust God, obey God, rest in God, claim God's truths, be used by Him and our faith GROWS AND GROWS AND GROWS!  That trial becomes yet another opportinuty for God to show up and DO HIS THING!  IF WE CALL ON HIM... IF WE TRUST IN HIM... IF WE OBEY HIM... IF WE SEEK HIM... IF WE BELIEVE IN HIM!   When your faith is tested... does it grow or fail?  Do you go into action, try to remain idle or do you just lie down defeated?

Do you see how all of this is tied together?  Do you see the PURE BEAUTY in all this and how it glorifies the Lord!  Do you see our part in this?  Our part is the FAITH... THEN GOD DOES THE REST.  But faith is not passive.  Faith is not stale.  Faith is active, living, and if it is not growing... it is dying.  When we have trials (attacks from the enemy who wants to destroy our faith because that is the conduit of the power of God) or when God tests our faith (to refine it, grow it, perfect it) we don't just sit back and say, "Oh... I have faith God will handle it," and do nothing!  NO WAY.  THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THE ENEMY WANTS US TO DO... NOTHING!  That is not faith.  That is laziness and blindness and ignorance.  We put our faith into action with the word of God!  We pray, we claim God's truth over the situation, we put on the whole armor of God, we put our trust in Him, we call on Him, we surrender ourselves to Him, we are obedient to Him, we are convicted and repent, we seek Him and focus on Him!  Faith without action is dead!

7.) Faith in what...?  Faith in God.  Faith in God's word.  Faith in God's power.  Faith in God's Son.  Faith in the name of God's Son (faith in the name is a WHOLE other post! Acts 3:16)... Faith in the name of Jesus Christ.  Faith in God's word.  Faith in God's Holy Spirit.  Faith in who we are as believers.   

Because of all of this... through this, we can approach the throne of God with boldness and confidence.  It is a beautiful treasure and precious privilege.  I stand amazed. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We are back from the family reunion in VA.  I will try and get another Ephesians post up tomorrow!

Yesterday was a MAJOR cleaning day and I did something pretty cool in the kitchen.  I'll share that too!

We have a friend who hosted a 13 year old from Latvia getting ready to go to Latvia in December and bring her home for good.  Wow.  I am amazed and inspired.  She still needs more money.  If you want to help her, please email me at

We have other friends, a couple from our church, who just sent in their application to host a sibling group of THREE this winter and are thinking they will be adopting them!  PRAISE the LORD!  Wow.  I am inspired.  They are already being attacked by the enemy through friends and family who are not being supportive.  This is a very painful hurt.  Please pray for them.  I am heart broken but focused.

I have another friend who is about to go to the Congo to get her son!  Wow.  I am thrilled.

I have another friend waiting to get her referal from Ethiopia!  I am anxious.  I am excited.

We were asked questions by a family member at the reunion who wanted to know about the hosting program and adoption.  Wow.  I am hopeful.  I am excited.

Wow.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Hidden Treasure

In response to my questions I started the last post with, I want to share this: 

As a believer...

You are loved:   1 John 4:9-11
You are adopted:   Ephesians 1:5
You are accepted:   Ephesians 1:6
You are a child of God:   John 1:12
You are a joint heir with Jesus, sharing His inheritance with Him!   Romans 8:17, Ephesians 3:6
You are united with God and One Spirit with Him:   1 Corithians 6:17
You are a temple of God, His Spirit AND His life live inside you!   1 Corinthians 6:19
You are a member of Christ's body:   1 Corithians 12:27
You are a saint:   1 Corinthians 1:2, Ephesians 1:1
You are redeemed and forgiven:   Colossians 1:13,14
You are delivered from the power of darkness!   Colossians 1:13
You are a new creation because you are in Christ!   2 Corinthians 5:17
You are God's co-worker through belief and faith in Christ's name!   Mark 16:17, John 16:23,24, John 14:13-14
You have DIRECT ACCESS TO GOD!   Ephesians 2:18, Ephesians 4:16

And we are told/commanded/taught/reminded/warned: "Do not be conformed to this world, but BE TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2 

Please reread "who you are" again.  Please take time to look up the scriptures to SEE that God has said this about you AND that it is true.  Is this how we feel about ourselves each day?  Is this what we talk about when we gather as family and friends?  Is this what we strive for?  Is this what fuels us?  Is this what occupies our thoughts and time?  Is this what we praise and thank Him for?  Is this what we work for... to find "promotion" in?  Is this what makes us feel whole at the beginning and end of the day!?

And you have to know this:  As I share this with you... I am "resharing" it with myself!  The enemy tries to lie to me and take away my JOY in knowing WHO I REALLY AM!  He tries to "steal my joy" by telling me lies and distracting me away from the above truths!  He tells me I am "just a maid, just a house wife," and I can "choose" to accept those lies or I can denounce them and stay focused on the truth!  John 8: 31, 32  Speaking truth against the enemy, Satan, the devil, makes him run!  James 4:7

All of this ties into Ephesians 3!  "... that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ through the gospel... " (verse 6)  "and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery... to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the prinicipalities and powers in the heavenly places,"  (verses 9 and 10)

How many times do we just read over things and move on?  Often.  God's word is alive. (Hebrews 4:12) God's word is active.  God's word speaks to us.  God's Holy Spirit reveals mystery and knowledge from God's word to the one seeking it. (1 Corithians 2:10-13)  God's word is what builds our faith... grows it... secures it... empowers it.  (Romans 10:17, Micah 3:8)  God's word is the Holy Spirit.  (Ephesians 6:17)

This scripture says we are "fellow heirs."  That should stop us in our tracks!  What does it mean to be a fellow heir with Christ!?  What does it mean to be "partakers of the promise in Christ?"  Who is a fellow co-worker?  Who is a fellow brother at church?  It's the one you do something with... the one you work with and the one you worship with... you are in it together!  So we are heirs with Christ!  What is Christ an heir to...?

For one, Jesus, after he was crucified and resurrected, is seated at the right hand of God.  Mark 16:19, Romans 8:34
2.) Christ is an heir over all things and all things have been put under his feet: Hebrews 1:2 & Ephesians 1: 22
3.) He is head over all things to the church: Ephesians 1: 22
4.) He obtained a more excellent name than any other name: Hebrews 1:4 & Philippians 2:9
5.) At the name of Jesus every knee will bow: Philippians 2:10

How are we then fellow heirs to all this?  We look back to Ephesians 2. 

"1.) And you (believers) HE made alive (God made us alive), who were dead in trespasses and sins, (spiritually dead, seperated from God )in which you once walked according to the course of this world (worldly concerns, wordly goals, wordly identities, worldly pleasures), according to the prince of the power of the air, (Satan) the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience... we were "just as others" (verse 3)

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, (full of sin) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised up up together(with Christ), and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (we are seated with Christ)..."

So we are alive with Him, raised up with Him, and seated with Him, in the spiritual world.  Remember, there is a spiritual world all around us that our human eyes can not see.  (Ephesians 6: 12)  We can forget we are in it.  We can forget we are heirs with Christ in it!  We can forget to walk in it, pray in it, worship in it, LIVE IN IT! 

And you know what else...?  This is the part that thrills me beyond capacity!  We also inherited the NAME OF JESUS AND THE AUTHORITY TO USE IT!  This is when the "fellow" takes on all new meaning!  This is when "new creature" takes on all new meaning!  This is when "Life IN CHRIST" takes on all new meaning!  This is when Christianity takes on all new meaning!

Matthew 28:18  "Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them IN THE NAME of the FATHER and OF THE SON and OF THE HOLY SPIRIT... And surely I am WITH YOU ALWAYS, to the very end of the age."   The disciples were told to USE THE NAME... and there is AUTHORITY in the NAME.  By the disciples USING THE NAME... In this passage, God's power SAVES THE ONE ON WHICH IT IS USED!

Mark 16:17  "And these signs will accompany those WHO BELIEVE: IN MY NAME they will cast out demons, they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."  Those who believe are again given the authority to USE THE NAME OF JESUS and HE will do mighty things through that!

Acts 3:6 "The Peter said, Silver and gold have I none: But SUCH AS I HAVE I GIVE THEE: IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH rise up and walk."  What did Peter have?  Not spiritual power.. not healing power... HE HAD THE NAME... HE HAD AUTHORITY TO USE THE NAME and IN THAT NAME IS POWER AND HEALING through CHRIST!  He also had the FAITH and BELIEF in the name.  He didn't just throw it around. He BELIEVED IN THE NAME AND THE ONE WHO IT BELONGED TO!

Where is Christ?  He is seated at the right hand and He dwells inside the believer.  Remember, put your spiritual eyes on and let your physical eyes die.  Christ is IN US!  Remember, we have been born again... into the spiritual world... God's world, Christ's world!  2 Corinthians 5:16, 17  1 Corithians 2:12

Galatians 3:27  "For as many of you have been baptized INTO CHRIST have PUT ON CHRIST."

I leave you with these promises today... statements... declarations... TRUTH.

John 16:23, 24  "And in that day (after Christ's death and resurrection) ye shall ask me nothing.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsover ye (believers) shall ASK THE FATHER IN MY NAME, HE will give it you.  Hitherto(before) have ye asked nothing IN MY NAME:(because Christ was here physically on earth, they were not using His name yet!) ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." 
This is asking the Father IN THE NAME OF JESUS... prayer.

John 14:13-14  "And whatsoever ye shall ask IN MY NAME, that will I DO, that the FATHER MAY BE GLORIFIED in the Son.  If ye shall ask anything IN MY NAME, I will do it."  This is "asking in the name" or "using the name".

Ephesians 3:20 "Now to Him (God) who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,(Christ) to Him be the glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

These powerful statements, these powerful truths, these powerful treasures are changing my life... they are "tranforming me by renewing my mind"... it's becoming a spiritual mind and less of a natural mind.  That is the key... the hidden treasure... we are spiritual beings, walking in a spiritual world, fellow heirs with a spiritual savior, standing against spiritual battles against a spiritual enemy, doing spiritual works and living by the power of the Spirit.

That's all for today.  I know it is a lot.  Did you see that in verse 10 of Ephesians 3, "the manifold wisdom of God" is being made known to the "rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms."  The angels are watching us live this out... and learning the "manifold wisdom of God"!  I couldn't help but mention that! 1 Corinthians 11:10 also mentions the angels... present at worship... learning our place and role... and the role of grace.  WOW!

Here is another one of my New Favorite Books:  If you want to know more about the above... I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU BUY IT!!!!!!!

I want to say again, this is what God is revealing to me... through His word and by books that bring all those scriptures together... written by people walking in this truth and transformed by it.  The two books I have mentioned are BASED ON SCRIPTURE and SCRIPTURE IS EVERYWHERE in them.  I check everything against the Word of God.  I research it even more.  I am by no means an expert... I am just sharing the amazing words that are changing my life.  I am being obedient to share it. How could I NOT!  But my views are yours to do with what you want... what God leads you to do.  I challenge you to study the scriptures and pray over them.  Stop between commas and ask the questions... then find the answers... they are in the WORD OF GOD.  I promise you... you will be changed... your prayer life will change... your view of the world and what's in it will change... your life will change, lives around you will change... you will be transformed!