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Friday, July 31, 2009

Descriptive Grace

"I'm a sinner saved by grace." How many of you would agree? Go ahead, raise your hand, talk to your computer.

I raised my hand too. It's not uncommon to nod our head in agreement, shake our heads at our failings, and then raise our heads to thank God for His grace. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. It's good. It's humbling. Keeps it real. However, does anything strike you odd or out of the ordinary about that statement?

I began to look at it and I even asked God, "Do you prefer to hear 'I'm a sinner saved by grace,' or 'I'm a Child of God'? I think he just let me mull over it awhile. I came to a conclusion.

If I say and think "I'm a sinner saved by grace," then my definition of myself is "sinner." Yep, that's me. That may be true, but is that to be my identity to myself, even to others, or to God?

I believe that to continually put "sinner" on my I.D. card concerning who I am says more about what I think about myself than what I think about God.

Not that I can't recognize that I sin, but Sinner cannot, must not, be my proper name. I say this because the Bible calls the sin nature the "old man" or that which is dead in us. We were crucified with Christ, not that we live but that Christ lives in us. (Galatians 2:20) And if Christ lives in us now, how then can we make our main I.D. "sinner"? That is dead in us, it doesn't rule us and Christ went to hell and back to make sure we didn't let it define us.

If sin is so dominant, but forgiveness can trump it, the power of the Holy Spirit can overcome it, the cross shamed it, and God seated Christ at his right hand over every authority, then why give it such prominence in our description of who we are? Don't we all know we are sinners? Then why keep telling each other this?

Why not say, "I am forgiven - saved by grace."? Why ever call myself by such a name He came and died to set me free from? Jesus never referred to us as sinners saved by grace. He said sinners needed him. He said it is by grace through faith we are saved.

Ephesians 2:8 says "For it is by grace you have been saved..." and is followed up directly with "For you are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus.." not, "You are now a sinner saved by grace created in Christ Jesus..." Even in the very passage we get our phrase "sinner saved by grace," our God doesn't even say it! He calls us his workmanship. He gives us new hearts, minds, titles, positions and proper names.

Why not say, "I'm Natalie, a Child of God, forgiven, saved by grace, and oh yeah, I can struggle with such-n-such if you really want to know."

What if a dear Follower of Christ who was an alcoholic said, "I'm so-n-so, saved by Jesus who is breaking the bondage of alcoholism in me." Wouldn't that inspire more strength, more fortitude, more hope than introducing yourself as that which holds you so tightly?

And why do we only do that to those who struggle with alcoholism? Why not all of us? "I'm so-n-so. I'm a soap opera addict." I'm so-n-so I'm afraid of rejection." "...I'm plagued by bitterness." Why the proper names of addiction, sin, fear, worry?

I only wonder what would happen to us if we changed the way we define ourselves, whether we say it our loud or not. I believe those addictions are real and true, but what if we moved the statement around and stuck the truth of who we are in Christ first?

Would it disarm much?
Would we think differently?
Would we gain a greater respect for ourselves and a higher regard for the power of Christ in us?

I think I'll try this one for awhile:

"I'm a child of God, saved by grace, seated at the right hand of God, anointed by the Spirit, ready for the fight, and created to do what he called me to do when he set me free from the power of sin!"

Yeah, I like that one better. How about you?

In Him, Natalie

Join Natalie at her personal blog:

and her Bible Study blog:


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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cafe Chat

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Do not be anxious about anything… Oh that is a hard one for me, as I am prone in the flesh to worry and be anxious all the time if I don’t let God intervene. However, as we can see in Philippians that we are not to be anxious about “anything”, but in “everything” with thanksgiving we can pray to God, and present our requests to Him.

I know if I asked a question about what we pray to God about that we would easily be able to come up with our lists. However, looking at the verse in Philippians, I wonder what we don’t pray about. I know that in my own life I do not pray about “everything”, and that fact inspired today’s question.

God’s Word tells us that we can pray about “everything”; however what are some things in your life that you do not pray to God about? (You can tell about a specific situation, or give a general answer). Why don’t you pray to God about what you named above?


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I Got Caught Dirty Handed

Because when I garden, I don't wear gloves.

Maybe it's because I love the feel of the soil between my fingers. Perhaps the fact that I saw an earthworm as I was planting my tulip bulbs didn't really freak me out too much since, you know, I live in the country and all.

Even though I didn't jump up and start screamin' like a fool, I did chop his head off. And the thing just kept movin'.

The nerve.

The truth of the matter referring to gardening is that I will probably never wear gloves. I need to get in there. To feel the soil. To mesh the Oklahoma red clay with the potting soil so that my plants are full of nutrients. To get the occasional splinter from the mulch as I put it in place to protect what I've planted.

Ministry is a lot like gardening.

There can be some amazing events that are witnessed as we minister to others...saved lives, redeemed marriages, healed bodies, transformed mindsets. And these things delight the eyes of those around much like the blooms of petunias or begonias.

But we don't always realize how dirty ones hands must get to see such unbelievable things occur.

I wonder how many mothers and grandmothers prayed for those lives to be saved. I wonder how many couples have reached out to walk hurting couples through difficulties in their marriages. I wonder how many prayer warriors have stood beside a hospital bed pleading with God to bring wholeness to a sick body. And I wonder how many counselors have helped people walk in freedom from detrimental mindsets.

I wonder.

Yes, ministry is a lot like gardening.

Figure my hands will stay dirty for the rest of my days.

What about you?

Visit Cindy daily at her personal site,

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

On Hold?

This is my phone. Not my 'home' phone...but my work phone. This phone is the reason that I don't answer the phone at home. Unless Jeff is not home. If he's home, he is sweet enough to answer it---:) (whether he really wants to or not)--we never screen calls...either we are home or we are not---if we are home we pick up.
This phone can make you crazy. I should know---see---it is what makes me crazy!

Please allow me to give you a brief run-down of my day....I get there...after having driven about 42 is ringing. Walk in the door--- answer the phone. I try and remember if it is morning or afternoon (sometimes I do really well at this...sometimes not so well). Good morning "blaahby, blaahby" (attorney's names---we chose to shorten the length from 5 names to just the first two--thank you LORD!)---then while I listen---I write....most of what they say. Now the tricky part is if another line starts ringing while they are still talking...hmmmm. Please hold----Good morning "blaahby, blaahby"....yes mam, can you please hold? Go back to line number 1, apologize for asking them to hold, finish taking message, hurry back to line number two and line number 3 rings. Please hold. Take line 3 and then line 4 rings. Good morning, "blaahby, blaahby", please hold. PLEASE HOLD. PLEASE HOLD...PLEASE HOLD...Do you see where you might get a tad crazy??? Well? DO YOU?

Sorry. Got a bit out of hand there---(I didn't mention that all the while the phone is ringing...I am greeting clients---creating files, entering time/data for 4 of the 5 attorney's for every minute of the work day for them---every minute of their time is documented...yeah. right. by me---no don't feel bad. After all---this is my I'm cool with it...most of the time.---That MUST be the reason for my twitching left eye! Yikes!)

Have you ever paused to think about how many "calls" the Lord receives in a day? It is unimaginable. I cannot begin to fathom how in the world He does it! But---then He is God. He can do it. I get frustrated when someone tries to talk to me when I'm on the phone. But He doesn't. He just handles it all with such finesse. Never does He miss a call. You NEVER have to leave a message. YOU are NEVER put on hold! He is always there! Try Him. Try the line. Call Him. Call upon Him.

Psa 50:15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

Psa 55:16 As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me.

Psa 91:15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I [will be] with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

Jer 29:12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

Did you find the words..."call upon me and if I am not too busy with someone else I will answer you?"....No---you didn't. NOR will you ever. You will never call Him and get a busy signal. Neither will He ever be too busy ---nor too far away---or tied up---or have a "shortened arm"---or a deaf ear---or any other hindrances that I am missing....

We are His beloved children---His heirs. With an incredible inheritance awaiting each one of us!

Rom 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together.

Gal 3:29 And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Tts 3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Jam 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

So---if you've made that call----or if you have that problem----or have a certain need....and you don't think you "hear anything"...stay on the line. You are not on hold. You are His beloved child. He will answer---His Word says it! I believe it! That settles it!

(All scripture references are KJV)

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Mouse's Story

Please Welcome Beth Pittman back to the Cafe as today's Guest Barista!
(otherwise known as Mrs. Human)

Sometimes, God reminds me of his promises in the most surprising and unusual things…

His steely little eyes shifted back and forth as he sat huddled on the floor.

The humans had left the house and, now, in the quiet, he realized he had the whole house to himself. “What to do?” he asked himself.

He recalled the room with the swinging door that he had visited the night before. There had been something tasty in that room and the thought of it now set his mouth to watering. “That’s it”, he thought, “I’ll go back there.” He scampered across the kitchen floor and headed for the room protected by the swinging door. It didn’t close tightly so he sucked himself in and squeezed through the crack that was left as the door stood ajar. And then, he saw it! The vision of the trash can from the night before that he had pushed into the far regions of his brain was now a reality staring him right in his whiskery little face. This was too good to be true.

He had seen Mr. Human take out the trash can earlier that morning. Now, it stood before him, tall and majestic. He looked up but there was nothing bulging out of the top of it like there was earlier. That was interesting, he thought to himself. Maybe there was something that he couldn’t see still in there….but how was he going to get to the top to find out?

There on the floor beside the trash can was a broom. Mrs. Human hadn’t sat it completely back up in the corner and it was at just the perfect angle for him to crawl up and take a peek inside. His little feet quickly shuffled over to the broom and he carefully picked his way along the handle – slipping once but correcting himself so that once again he was balanced on the broom. He sniffed and shuffled, sniffed and shuffled until finally he had arrived, but then, his worst nightmare was realized! He found himself staring into the deep, vast emptiness of the trash can. He pointed his little nose down towards the bottom – sniff, sniff, sniff – nothing!

But wait!

What was that in the bottom of the can? His eyebrows raised and his tail twitched. He bent over a little further on the slippery broomstick and sniffed again and again. Yes, there was something gooey down there but he just couldn’t tell what. If he could only get just a little closer. He perched on the edge of the broomstick handle and clutched his tiny paws around it, and then he leaned in. Just a little bit closer, he thought. The scent of the gooey substance set every sense in his tiny little body on end. He strained to get a better whiff when all of a sudden the broomstick started to slide away and with that, his view of the inside of the can began to slide away as well.

What was he to do?

It was either hang on for dear life as the broom made its way to the floor or jump.


That would be like jumping off the Empire State Building. The drop would probably knock him silly but, but … he would be there in the bottom of the can with the gooey treat. He only had a split second to decide as his stomach growled. The decision was made – he made a giant leap into the can. The broom noisily fell away and he couldn’t tell if it was the sound of the broom hitting the floor or his head hitting the side of the can that was keeping such a racket. Dazed, he sat for a moment, but then he realized he had survived.

He opened one eye and then the other. He blinked and then he opened both eyes, wider this time, and there in front of him was the goo that he had risked life and limb for. He sniffed and slowly inched closer and closer. His nose was almost touching it when he realized that it no longer smelled like what he first imagined as he was leaning on the broom handle.

In fact, it smelled like…. flowers? Maybe he had died after all. He shuffled another inch forward and touched it with his nose this time. Oh, it wasn’t goo at all!! It was a fuzzy lintball that looked like yummy goo from the top of the can.

Oh, what had he done?

He looked up at the four steep walls of the can - there was no escape. He jumped, he flipped, he slid, but the sides were too slick and too steep. He jumped and he jumped and he jumped until he was exhausted. He would never get out of this mess he had gotten himself into. Discouraged and tired, he backed into a corner of the can and sat… and breathed and sniffed. His eyes became heavy and soon he succumbed to blissful, worriless sleep. He dreamed of a big block of cheese that kept moving away from him and then, suddenly, he was jarred awake.

It was Mr. Human talking to Mrs. Human. Mr. Human was looking into the can! Oh no! He had been discovered – his life was over!!

Mrs. Human said something that sounded like “flush him down the toilet”, if you can understand such things when they are squealed. Mr. Human picked up the trash can and started out of the cozy room where all the fun had began into the bright kitchen. His fate was sealed. His last moments would be spent staring at the inside of a toilet bowl.

But what was this?

Mr. Human walked across the kitchen to the door that led outside. Could there be hope?

Could it possibly be???

The door opened and Mr. Human with trash can in tow walked outside. He walked and he walked and he walked and then finally he stopped.

He tipped the trash can over and gave it a hoist and out the little mouse flew. He landed softly on the soft thick grass. He had been saved. But why?

He was just a stinky little mouse who had made a lot of really bad decisions, who had taken what Mr. Human had without even caring what kind of mess he made of things. So, why then would Mr. Human spare his life when he deserved to be flushed down the toilet? He sat and he sat, he pondered and he wondered. And then, it came to him. A tear came to his eye as he sat there in the grass. It was a wonderful, miraculous thought. Mr. Human didn’t want him to die. To Mr. Human, there was more joy in the saving than in the dying. And with that thought, the little mouse ran with glee into the comfort of the nice, safe, warm barn.

Moral of the story: Don’t let temptation cause you to wander where you think you belong but really don’t, and when you do, remember that there’s Someone much bigger than you waiting to set you free.

"But when God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior." Titus 3:4-6

In Him,

Mrs. Human

Mrs. Human, whose name is actually Beth, is a wife and mother of 3 grown children and has been married for 30 years to Mr. Human, whose real name is Steve. The mouse in this story doesn’t have a name but was actually quite real and was found in the bottom of Beth’s trash can very much alive and so the inspiration for this story. She believes that God uses the even the little things in our lives to speak lessons to us. Beth was raised in a Christian home with loving Christian parents, but it wasn’t until she was 32 that she really understood that Jesus loved and died for her and what that meant for her individually. Her life has never been the same since. She would love to have you visit her at her blog “Lifeboat Moments” at

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Purple Basil Nightmare

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.
The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." – Mark 14:38

One day, I saw and purchased a beautiful, ornamental purple basil plant thinking it just the right addition for my little herb garden. This plant grew very fast. The dark purple, frilly leaves were beautiful and it smelled wonderful. I enjoyed its beauty all summer long. When winter came, the basil plant died and I soon forgot it.

Spring came and I looked at my garden and saw little, purple basil plants coming up all over the place. I felt so proud. Boy, do I have a green thumb. Those little plants just kept coming up, and coming up, and coming up. Before long, they were trying to take over my entire garden.

Hold on there, I have some other things planted in this garden. I didn’t want to just pull up the basil but I had to give the giant hibiscus a little space. And my purple salvia and lilies were completely surrounded by basil. Then, I started noticing the purple plants in my other flower gardens.

Soon my neighbor told me she had purple basil coming up in her garden.

“Just sharing,” I told her with a neighborly wave as I backed up to return home.

It became a serious problem when my Aunt Millie, who lives in the house below me, told me that my Uncle David had taken a strange, purple plant to the city horticulturist because it was coming up all in their yard. Soon my section of the neighborhood had become a purple basil nightmare. I was even pulling it from the cracks in the sidewalk.

That purple basil plant was beautiful. I hadn’t seen any harm in it. I just wanted to enjoy its beauty and fragrance. My experience with this plant sounds like what happens in our lives.

The “purple basil” may be anything Satan puts in our path. It may be beautiful and fragrant. It may make us feel good. But before we know what has happened, it has taken over the garden of our life and choked out the things we really wanted to keep. The hazard is it may even spread and affect people around us.

I should have found out more about that basil before I planted it. The horticulturist told my neighbor that it spreads and takes over everything.

We need to be aware of those appealing, beautiful traps that Satan puts in our lives because they too can spread and take over everything. God’s word and His Spirit living in us will help us to be alert before the purple basil nightmare occurs in our lives.

I'd love to have you visit at http://www.inspirationfrommayberry

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Place of Grace

I love reality shows.
There, I admit it and I'm not even ashamed of it. But I'm not a hit show reality show kind of girl; I love the obscure, the off-beat, the nutty reality shows.

I don't watch Survivor - too many bugs and weird stuff to eat. I don't watch Big Brother, it just makes me sad. I do watch the Bachelor. I LOVE The Amazing Race and I can't wait for the new season.

Other than these here are some of my lesser known current / recent past favorites:

Groomer Has It - 12 dog groomers wash, cut, and fluff their way through 12 weeks of pet grooming drama. Don't laugh, there was actually some serious cat drama.

Here Come the Newlyweds Show -- seven newly married couples compete for weekly prizes and a shot at the grand prize. I tried to get my newlywed daughter to try out for the show - didn't work. What can you do, you try to raise them right and then they just go off and become responsible and all.

Project Runway - I've watched every season. Nothing like watching someone whip up a ball gown from left over fruit, some scrap metal, and a string of Christmas garland.

Top Chef -Another one I've watched since the very first episode. The whole cooking thing fascinates me and if I had the time.... oh, who am I kidding, if I had the time I'd just read more.

As someone who loves reality shows, I'm always shocked when Reality slaps me in the face. I assume that everyone is truly kind and honest deep down. I want to believe that people don't hurt others on purpose and I tend to forget that people are human - and flawed. Just like me.

When I find myself smack dab in the middle of a reality slap, I try to remember the words Paul wrote in the book of Romans

For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Romans 7:19

When I find myself on the receiving end of hurt, I remember that I've hurt people, too. I know just how Paul feels. I struggle. I want to do the right thing and I don't. I want to be all those wonderful Christian attributes - kind, compassionate, merciful, giving, faithful, loving and all the others. Many days, I'm not. I want to do the good, but I end up in the bad. I'm human and flawed. Most days I'm just a mess. I'm blessed because I know I'm saved by grace - and not only saved by grace, but also into grace.

Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:18

Read that verse again -- into this grace in which we stand -- amazing. We aren't only saved by grace but into grace!

It's in this grace I want to stand. It's in this grace I want to live. It's in this grace I find my reality, I find my reason for being, and it's in this grace I find my sanctuary.

I'll stand in this grace and face reality head on - slaps and all. And in this grace I will find the joy of knowing God and the hope that will sustain me, the hope of the glory of God.

It's an amazing place -- this place of Grace.

Is Reality knocking at your door? Are you facing trials or dealing with struggles? Look to God for the grace to face anything.

Are you standing in the grace that God so freely pours over you?

Remember He has a plan for your life -- stand on this promise and in His grace.

In Him,



Come by and visit my blog, Adventures in Faith & Friendship

Mary Snyder was a featured speaker at A Woman Inspired Ministry Online Conference!! Join us at A Woman Inspired to purchase the entire Ministry Online Conference in an mp3 collection!

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Clothed in Majesty

"Soak me in your laundry and I'll come out clean,
scrub me and I'll have a snow-white life."
Psalm 51:7

Busy cleaning the bathroom counter, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

Magic Eraser in hand (a miraculous cleaning tool!), Clorox wipes at attention and my yellow broom at ease against the door I was struck by the ridiculousness of it all.

Not just the ridiculous notion that I, a self-proclaimed princess separated from her real family at birth, was cleaning.

But that I was scrubbing the bathroom clean while wearing silk.

Beautiful, pink silk.

Suddenly I thought, “I shouldn’t be doing this.”

At all. And especially not in silk.

As I stared at myself in the mirror battling my new found identity crisis the Lord whispered into the deepest part of me, “Why not? I do this for you.

I stood still for a moment basking in the imagery of my Heavenly Father clothed in majesty washing me, one covered in mire, clean.

It took my breath away. It humbled me. It set my heart on fire anew with purpose and passion for His renown.

And so, in my pink silk, I scrubbed and scrubbed.

Aware of my Savior’s Majesty.

Awed at the thought of His Glorious Hands making me and you new.

The Lord reigns. He is clothed with majesty.

Psalm 93:1

Kristen writes daily at {dancing} in the margins and also at Exemplify Online. She welcomes you to stop by!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cafe Chat

(This "Chat" was taken from July of last year. I want to encourage more of our readers to participate in the "Cafe Chats". Today's question is one I think we all could answer with just a little thought. Remember to leave your answers in the comment section of this post, or leave us a link directing us to your site where you have answered the question. I want to say thank you to the readers that have answered the questions the last couple of weeks. Due to my schedule I have not been able to visit you all, but hope to do that in the near future.)

What would be the title of a book about your life?

I love this question because one simple phrase really can give you great insight into a person’s life. When I agreed to host the weekly meme at the Café I had to write a quick bio for the site. I began the bio with what I would name a book about my life. See below…

If you asked her what would be a good title for a book about her life, she would quickly reply, “Former Pharisee…A different kind of testimony”. Kim made a decision for Christ when she was nine years old in a Small Baptist Church, but honestly, she would tell you she did not have a clue about a relationship with Christ until her late 20’s. Kim could so relate to the Pharisees in the Bible. She had a lot of head knowledge about God, and she could easily rattle off her top ten lists of the things she never would do, but she was spiritually blind and dead to the life changing love of Christ.

A sinful nature and a heart full of pride would lead her toward a road she never planned for her life. After several bad choices and wrong roads traveled down, Kim hit her spiritual rock bottom, and that was the best thing that could have ever happened to her. It was at the bottom that she finally started to look up, and there she found her Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus began a work in Kim’s heart that has led her to where she is today…(to read the rest of the bio click on link above about the writers at the Café).

I can’t wait to read your titles this week...Blessings to all!

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Admonish one another in peace, joy and hope

"Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge able also to admonish one another." Romans 15:14

We believers have the solid hope on the Messiah' return. He is the solid Rock on which we stand. The fullness of joy and peace comes through believing that He is and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him alone.

Our continual belief toward and in Him fills us with peace - for He is our answer to all things pertaining to this life and the life to come.

Do you want joy and peace in this life? Then get your eyes off your circumstances and back on His promises found throughout His written word!

This very simple admonition reminds me of the chorus to a well known hymn; "Turn your eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face and the things on earth will go strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."

What kind of fruit will our seeking Him in joy and peace produce? Hope that continually overflows! (Romans 8:24-25)

This biblical hope has nothing to do with earthly ends such as retirement funds, always perfect circumstances or material gain but rather, that we will reign with the Messiah always! This becomes our hope beyond the grave too!

Our key verse in Romans 15:14 deals with admonishing one another so the we are "full of goodness and filled with knowledge." Often times, we see the work of admonishing in the light of confrontation of sin. But, in this case - we admonish each other as a reminder of what we already have in Christ Jesus!

Admonishing one another takes on a very loving aspect that produces in the hearer a peace, joy and hope:

It is parental. (1 Corinthians 4:14-16 and Ephesians 6:4)

It is historical. (1 Corinthians 10:11)

It is spiritual. (Colossians 1:28)

It is confrontational (1 Thessalonians 5:14, 2 Thessalonians 2:14 and Titus 3:10)

The whole goal of admonishing one another should always be motivated by the desire to see the hearer have peace, joy and hope!

We though, can be very opinionated and not very loving either! Sometimes, we introduce traditions into our admonishing one another instead of focusing on the goal of seeing our Lord's sweet face one day!

I had always been raised in a very conservative home where only old hymns were sung. But, as I grew older and wiser in the Lord and His word, I came to realize the peace, joy and hope I had in Christ had nothing to do with the style of music sang but rather - the overflow of our Lord's promises established in my heart!

Imagine this mind set in the light of Romans 15:13-14. People sometimes build there ministry objectives on vain man made traditions versus the building up of one's peace, joy and hop

e built upon God's spiritual admonishments!

Close and Personal:

1. Have we had to admonish someone but decided not too because you thought it was not your "calling?"

2. Are we being motivated to admonish one another in order to produce guilt or to produce joy, peace and hope?

"My dear Heavenly Father, I just want to thank you for your love and kindness to us your children! You never cease to amaze me at the longsuffering you have had towards me your daughter! Dear Lord will you give us a love for the brethren and even those that are different than us and may we keep you in the forefront of our lives! We love you Lord and I can't wait to see you! In the name of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ! Amen."

In Him,

In Him,

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Needing a Change?

From a distance ADONAI appeared to me, [saying,] "I love you with an everlasting love; this is why in My grace I draw you to Me. ~ Jeremiah 31:3

When my daughter Kierstyn was still in diapers just a few short years ago, she had a most peculiar way of letting me know she had taken care of her business.

She was in the habit of pushing me away from her every time she had ‘gone potty’ - that would be No. 2! Moms, you know the look and you are familiar with ‘all things poopy’, I am sure. (You might be interested to know that I had to add 'poopy' to my spell check.)

Now, I always knew when she was going to take care of this smelly business because she would find a quiet place...usually behind a door. When I would find her, she would say as best she could,' No, mommy...I don't need you, I have poopy!'.

And I would patiently hold out my arms to her. All the while she would wave her hands back and forth, avoiding eye contact and repeat, 'No, mommy...I don't need you, I have poopy!'

There I would remain with open arms - still confident that my patience would eventually pay off in the form of hugs.

This would play on three, four, sometimes five times.

'Kierstyn, Mommy loves you! EVEN when you have a poopy!’, I would reassure her with an affectionate smile.

Eventually, she would give in and hug me. Though a little reserved, she would embrace me and look at me with those big, brown eyes knowing that despite the fact that she was undeniably stinky, her Mommy remained PASSIONATELY IN LOVE WITH HER PAST ALL THE 'POOPY' she found herself in.

Embracing me, though not as tightly as I would like - but satisfied with her little body pressed against mine nonetheless - I would tell her, “Now, let's go change your diaper and make you smell pretty and feel better!

Having accepted my love, she now finally accepts my offer...happily. And she is ready for a change.

Today, try to see yourself as Kierstyn. Perhaps you already do! When we see ourselves in His light, we are prompted to praise our Heavenly Father because of His steadfast and immeasurable love for us.

"Here is what love is:not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the kapparah [atonement, pardon] for our sins."~ 1 John 4:10

This ‘Set-Apart ABOVE Love’ changes us when we ACCEPT it. And then our Father says, ‘Child, now love others with this love I have given you - past their performances - good, bad or indifferent. Just LOVE as I AM.’

Now, that is Heavenly and life-changing!

ABBA, open our eyes to accept this love You freely give! Give us holy vision, impart to us an understanding that will change every aspect of our lives. And be Magnified in our homes, our fellowships and in this age. Make Your Love flow from the inside out into mighty streams of Living Waters for others to drink freely from, in Yeshua’s Life-Giving Name.

Carmen would love the pleasure of your company at Women Of the Word!

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ready for a Nap?

Our Guest Barista today is Melissa Phillips!

Do you like to take a summer afternoon nap?

After lunch I always find myself getting sleepy and want to curl up with a book on my bed, read just a little and drift off in silence. I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go. It is nice and I am thankful I can do this every once in a while.

Have you ever called and called someone and even left messages and they never return your call?

Have you ever made an appointment and when you go, you sit there for a lengthy time before you even get to see the person?

It can be very frustrating when you need or want something from someone and they are barely accessible. If you are like me, patience is not always easy but has I get older it is a must. The point that I am trying to make is that when you need something, Jesus is always willing, He is there and He desires to give us what we need and even want. He desires most of all to give us rest. We don’t have to wait or make an appointment to see or talk to Him. He is accessible and is always easily reached and available.

There are some at a point in life when the constant stimulation and demands are fast driving to the “burn out” point. If you as a believer in Christ are suffering the symptoms of overload and unrest, then I hope you will take time to examine your own life in desiring the type of rest we all can obtain. To all of us Christ’s invitation is the same. It is not a commandment but an invitation for your benefit.

Jesus tells us to come to Him. He is willing to let you come and gain access into His rest and His glory. He has a gracious invitation, speaks directly to us and not someone else. Plus the invitation is to all those who are worn out, tired and frustrated from this world we live in. Millions in all ages since can bear witness that this promise is sure, He will give you rest.

The people who feel self sufficient in their lives have no need for God. The call of God is addressed to the weary, overburdened, long for deliverance and long for the help of God. God calls them and they respond. Only those who are willing to surrender everything to God, and depend on God for everything can hear God’s call and respond. “Come unto me, all who are weary and burdened, I will give you rest.”

Rest. What is this rest?

Is it like when I take a nap and wake up feeling refreshed but upon getting us you start the daily grind all over again? Yes on the refreshing state but more of peace of soul too. This rest is, a rest of grace, and comfort, and holiness. It is a rest in glory, where the people of God shall enjoy their faith, and the object of all their desires. It is a spiritual rest, in ways we don’t feel like we have to fight the battle because we know He fights for us. It is raising above all circumstances and learning to walk in the Spirit. It is walking in His shoes, the shoes of Jesus.

How come some people find it hard to obtain this type of rest?

We may be too busy in working for the Lord instead of relationship with the Lord. We tend to look at the negative in others instead of the good, showing mercy and forgiveness. Our priorities could be out of order or our minds filled with ungodly thoughts or have other discipline issues. We don’t take our cares or burdens and lay them at Jesus’ feet; instead we try to carry them to our breaking point. We may spend time in worry about the future or daily tasks, bills, or relationships instead of depending upon faith or divine intervention or the leading of the Holy Spirit.

There are more reasons why we don’t find rest than finding it. Rest is obtainable and an open door to all however we must go to Him to receive it.

God has always declared man’s rest to be in him, and his love to be the only real happiness of the soul along with faith in his promises, through Jesus Christ, to be the only way of entering that rest. When Jesus says, “I will give you rest,” he means, “I will refresh you”.

Jesus calls all those who are weary and over burdened so that they may be strengthened and refreshed for our tasks in the world. The ‘rest’ will not be idleness or inactivity but strengthening for our responsibilities. It also means that we will be relieved of our anxiety, as we trust Him.
In Jesus Christ the kingdom of God has come.

He is calling us who are overburdened with sin and sorrow, burdened with struggles of this life and who are anxious about life. He is calling us to himself so that he may relieve us of our anxiety and refresh and strengthen us for our responsibilities in this world. Will we respond to this call and invitation? If you find yourself needing rest today and want to lie in the Saviors arms, He is calling with an open request. This promise is not only refreshing but also what you may have needed for a long time.

Are you ready for a nap?

Lord, help me rest in your arms today. Lead me beside the still water, cover me with peace and your grace. I give you all my concerns today in faith so that I may rest.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you, and give you rest. Douay-Rheims Bible Translation

In Him,
Melissa Phillips

Melissa Phillips is a native to a small town in McLean County Kentucky. Melissa is a country girl at heart with creative contemporary ideas. Blessed artistically, she expresses her talent through various venues. Her paintings, photography, writings, and theatrical dramas are an inspiration to all.
Melissa is the wife of Pastor Jeff Phillips. The couple shares in ministry responsibilities at PromiseLand Church located in Calhoun KY where they have been pasturing for over ten years. They have four boys, Lyle Benjamin, Bryson Roth, Jordan Heath, and Spencer Edward.

Currently Melissa is enhancing her ministry skills by obtaining a diploma from PromiseLand School of Ministry and Associates Degree from the International School of Ministry. She is recognized as an ordained minister for Destiny Ministries. Melissa is a member of AACC and has completed her studies as a Board Certified Biblical Counselor recognized by the American Association of Christian Counselors. She also is the Discipleship Education Instructor for PromiseLand Ministries.

Melissa’s photography is award winning and is in circulation. Her work is seen across the world by her photocompositions of brochures, books, advertisements, PSAs, as well as in the entertainment and music industry. She writes a daily blog of inspiration and encouragement.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

When the Wheels Fall Off

Everything was packed.

Everything was checked off the to-do list.

We even arrived at the airport with time to spare!

That's when it happened. The wheels fell off. The wheels of my suitcase just decided that they'd had enough and popped off just in time to reach "Delta Check In." The bag was barely under the 50 pound limit and it was heavy...too heavy to carry. There was nothing to do but send it off onto the conveyor belt, hoping that it would arrive at it's destination in tact.

On the other end, the fuchsia bag appeared on the conveyor belt and I was euphoric! Damage had been done, another wheel became a casualty and clothing was hanging out, but it had arrived. It became quickly evident that I was in need of a new bag, as soon as possible. We were able to find a store and we purchased another piece of luggage, and I began to transfer the contents of the broken bag into the new bag.

I stuffed.

I pushed.

I smashed.

The new bag just wouldn't hold all of it.

It all sounds so familiar. It sounds so familiar to my faith walk.

I come prepared. I show up early and in complete control only to find that the unexpected is certain to happen, the trials in life, and before I realize it, the wheels fall off. ("Consider it pure joy, when you face trials of many kinds. James 1:2) I'm left stranded with only one place to go.

I place it all on the conveyor belt. I send that broken baggage to Him, and I hope in the promises that it will arrive and be cared for, even when I can't see it. I see glimpses of Him, at the other end, where although damage has been done, it's not all lost. Trusting isn't easy, but sometimes it's all we've got left.

Then I am given a chance to have a "new piece of luggage." What do I do? I cling to all of the things that caused the wheels to fall off in the first place. I try and stuff it into the corners, hoping that no one will notice.

Only HE does.

He won't let me shut the new suitcase. I have to let go of some things, those things that put too much pressure on the wheels. The control, the pride, the unforgiving spirit. The new luggage simply won't hold it all. I have been given this gift of a "new suitcase," and if I don't want the wheels to fall off of this one, I've got to make some changes. I've got to lighten this load.

"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:30

It's not easy, but without letting go, I will not be going anywhere. I came across a translation in The Message that just spoke to my heart. It was just so God to place it in my life to confirm the lesson He was teaching me in my broken suitcase.

"Now I'm glad ~ not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from Him. The result was all gain, no loss."
2 Corinthians 7:9

Isn't that just like God? To bring about a life lesson in a broken suitcase.

A lesson that I needed... in a broken suitcase?

What's in your suitcase?

Mine needed a bit of re-packing...

Father God,

You have given me the gift of a new suitcase. It replaces the broken baggage of my life. Help me to surrender to YOU, what I need to pack into that bag of my life. Help me to unpack those things which keep me from you and from serving as your Son, Christ taught me to serve. Thank you Father for getting my attention in the daily details of my life. Help me always keep my eyes open to you. Thank you Father for traveling always with me.
In Jesus' name,

join Lori daily at her personal website,all you have to give, where she finds herself constantly packing and repacking, with a God who never tires of traveling with her.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

An Unshakeable Hope

When I began praying about what I would share for my next Cafe devotion, little did I know at that time God would give me an opportunity to share with you a very personal story.

Two weeks ago, my son Jordan started complaining about arm and leg pains. At first this didn't alarm me. I simply gave him some Motrin and went about my day. However, as time went on it continued to get worse.

After three days, I got a call from Jordan to come pick him up from work. He was now in serious pain. His arms and legs were swollen about twice their normal size. At that point I knew something serious was going on. So, what did this woman of faith do? I started to panic and immediately called his doctor.

After bringing him to our local hospital for a battery of labs and tests, the waiting game for the results began. Thank God, everything came back negative, except for his muscle enzymes, which were elevated.

His doctor believed it was a viral infection attacking his muscles. I was relieved, and we were asked to come back in a few days to have his labs rechecked. What I didn't expect was Jordan began to feel even worse. His enzymes continued to rise and we were then referred to a rheumatologist.

In the midst of all this, I suddenly realized that God was testing my faith and calling me to put down my anchor of hope. In times like these we need to know that God wants to teach us how to hold on. He is a very strong foundation in whom we can put our complete trust.

In the book of Hebrews 6:19 (amplified version) it says:

“Now we have this hope as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whoever steps out upon it] that reaches farther and enters into [the very certainty of the Presence] within the veil.”

God has given us all we need to stand strong in face of every trial. Jesus is an anchor that is sure, steady, and unmovable. My faith was being tested even as Jordan’s counts continued to rise. In fact, I am still awaiting the results of yet another test to decide what new direction we may have to take. Still I am at peace, because I know that my anchor is in Christ, and He is completely upholding us.

Although things in this natural world are often very uncertain, God is not. He is steady, sure, and a solid rock on which we can stand. God never promised us an easy ride. He warned us that in this life we would face trouble, pain and grief. Yet He also promised to give us the tools to overcome in the midst of every trial.

We read in Hebrews 10: 23:

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Also in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NLT) the Bible says:

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

So hold on to your Hope, for it is the Anchor of your soul.

Something’s to ponder:

Are you learning to take hold of God in your time of trouble?

Is your anchor holding steady in the midst of your storms?

Think about the last time you had nothing else to hold on to but God? How did things change when you did?

My prayer for you today;

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

Join Susan daily at her personal blog,

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Runnin' on Empty

Remember the old Jackson Browne song “Runnin’ On Empty”? It was brought back into my recent memory during the last election campaign of John McCain. As I revisited those lyrics, I realized that this could be the theme song for a good many of our lives.

“Running on – running on empty

Running on – running blind

Running on – running into the sun

But I’m running behind.” *

Even as Christians, we can be “runnin’ on empty” and “runnin’ blind.” Do you realize that? We have the race marked out for us, with Christ’s help to run it unwaveringly, but so often we train our own way and race with our own resources.

As I’ve grown in my faith over the past five years, this is a topic I’ve had to wrestle with and allow the Lord to win. It came to a point where, until I dealt with this issue specifically, I’d have to take a water break from the race God had designed for me.

My poor training started in my childhood. With no one to show me how to cope with the horrible realities I faced, I ran. Between choir and theatre and cheerleading and track and student council and color guard and friends’ houses and church events and softball and running blind into wherever I thought the sun was shining, you can bet I was empty. To fill up, I’d watch my regular television programs, all with families I wished were my own. I’d stuff my face with junk food at the same time, knowing that my taste palette would be satisfied eventually. It never was, but I kept swallowing anyway.

“But you were just a kid and weren’t taught any better,” you might say. “Besides, you coped the best you could.” This is true, but I was long into my adulthood before I realized I was still running the same way I had begun many years before. Only now I had my driver’s license.

“Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels,

I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels.

I look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through.

Looking into their eyes, I see them running too.” *

All of a sudden, it occurred to me that I wasn’t the only one wearing the tread down on my tires. Surprisingly enough, I was in a great deal of traffic, with people just like me. Probably all for different reasons, but pedals to the metal, just the same.

On the race the Lord has marked out for us, sometimes we have to sprint, and sometimes hurdles are a part of our endurance training. Some seasons are busier than others, and we have no control over it. But I’m not necessarily talking about being too busy. I’m talking about running with the wrong source of energy. About becoming distracted with the audience on the sidelines. About taking shortcuts when the path marked before us gets too rocky. About going just because we’ve always gone.

Featuring Browne’s album, Rolling Stone magazine** wrote, “The title track was actually written when Browne was driving back and forth to the studio each day to make The Pretender. ‘I was always driving around with no gas in the car,’ he said. ‘I just never bothered to fill up the tank because -- how far was it anyway? Just a few blocks.’”

Wow. What a description of my life for so many years. Does this apply to you? Are you running on fumes, thinking that your fill-up is only a few blocks away?

The Lord desires that we run our races with a full tank of Him, my friends. For our own good, and also for the sake of those witnessing the race.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

No matter if we are on a city road or a country one, a road under construction or one fully paved—God designed us to live with our eyes fixed on Him and our hearts full of Him. Otherwise, we’ll keep “running behind, running on empty—running blind.” With the joy of Heaven set before us, let’s allow the One who ran the race before us to retrain us, perfect us. Let’s keep running on—running on full.

*Running On Empty—lyrics by Jackson Browne

**—Dec. 9th, 2004

Selah~ Pause. Ponder. Praise.

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