Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
(Part 2 of the message I heard Sunday is further proof that my Pastor is sneaking a peek at my notes.)
As my Pastor stated Sunday morning, there is a diminished presence of God's Spirit in the church today.
"And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved." ~Matthew 24:12-13 NKJ
The Spirit of lawlessness has invaded the last day church. The King James uses the word iniquity. The transliterated word for iniquity in the Greek is anomia which means the condition of without law; because ignorant of it; because of violating it; contempt and violation of law, iniquity, wickedness (source). The sin that separates us from the presence of God is anything in violation or contradiction to God's Word. There are a multitude of things that have become common and acceptable in the world that are completely contradictory to the Word of God and they have found their way into the church, a blending of values.
Jesus is speaking not to unbelievers, but to the church in Revelation when He says, "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth" Revelation 3:15-16.
A blending of cold and hot...make lukewarm. A blending of the world's normal with bits and pieces of the truth of God's Word ....makes one lukewarm. Jesus said He would rather we be cold. Halfheartedness is not pleasing to God but rather like a cheating spouse, an extramarital affair, a breaking of covenant, a betrayal.
The church as a whole is operating at minimal capacity. Although some would appear to be thriving, they are void of the Spirit of God. Building earthly kingdoms that will not stand, bound by legalism, religion and the traditions of man and operating in criticism, judgment and condemnation. I have been there and this is not God.
Blended Christianity, accepting of popular opinion while rejecting Truth. This is not God.
God is love.
And He is calling His children back to Himself. Everything He does in relationship to us is done in love. Even in chastisement and correction, He loves. We must turn from our sin, be bold in our faith, immerse ourselves in His presence and begin to walk in the authority that has been given to us. We must seek Him, not man or man's opinions or ideas or approval. We must seek Him and hear His voice.
The Israelites wanted to go back to Egypt because they didn't have a vision for their future. Sunday evening, our guest speaker, Bob Griffin, explained it so well. Because of sin, their vision was clouded. They could not perceive what God was wanting to do. They were in a place of non-perception. Sin and religion cut us off from seeing God's plan, from hearing His voice and will cause us to shrink back from the great things He is wanting to do in and through us.
In John 20:22 after Jesus was raised from the dead, He came and stood in the midst of His disciples and breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit... the same breath that breathed life into man in Genesis 2:7. It is the Holy Spirit in us that empowers us to live... empowers us to live the life we were created to live, to walk in the authority we've been given, to accept the task before us with confidence.
God is in pursuit of His children. He is calling us to a higher place of obedience, faithfulness and love. Let us see and hear. Let us not shrink back, but advance in the power of the Holy Spirit, ready to conquer ground yet to be conquered.
When the call seems too great, allow God to breathe into you the breath of life and empower you with the Holy Spirit. There are big assignments waiting to be completed. There is a path waiting to be chosen. There is a door waiting to be opened.
I refuse to go back.
(If you missed Part One: God's Holy Pursuit, click here to read)
Today I am linking with Jen at Finding Heaven for Soli Deo Gloria.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Either that, or we are listening to the same voice.
Remember my Hebrew study of Genesis 1:1-2 for a section in one of the chapters of the book I'm writing?
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:1-2
Before man was even created, the Spirit of God was hovering (brooding, fluttering) over the very thought of Adam and Eve. He was in pursuit of man before man was even here.
In Deuteronomy 32:11, the same word is used by Moses to compare God's hovering over the children of Israel in the wilderness to an eagle hovering over its young. The side notes in my Bible call it a divine overshadowing.
As my Pastor spoke during the morning service, this word was confirmed in my spirit. God- the creator of the universe- is in continual pursuit of His children... of me, of you. He is not only watching over us, He is watching for us. Watching and waiting in anticipation for us to accept His invitation, reciprocate His love, and pursue Him Who is pursuing us.
In Genesis 3:8-9 the Spirit of God again pursues Adam and Eve for an evening stroll in the garden. Ready for a time of fellowship, an intimate conversation, a strengthening of their personal relationship, He enters the garden and searches for His children.
"Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?'" ~Genesis 3:9
Instead of meeting God as they had before, Adam and Eve were separated from His presence. A breach in their relationship occurred because sin had entered their lives.
How many times has God had to call out to us?
He desires to manifest His presence in our lives continuously, not just a moment here and a moment there. He wants to take up residence in our lives. In order to experience the continual manifest presence of God revealed in the Holy Spirit in our lives, we must reciprocate the love He lavishes upon us.
The evidence of our love is not found in what we say but in what we do.
"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments..." ~1 John 5:3a
Do not misinterpret this as meaning we have to earn our salvation by works. But are our actions reflecting what we believe? (Click here to read a recent post on Believing, Speaking, Living).
God pursues us because He is madly, passionately and completely in love with us, His children.
As we walk throughout our day, the Spirit of God is hovering over our lives. Even now.
Can you hear the sound of God hovering? Can you feel the breath of His Spirit? Can you sense His Holy presence?
Is He searching, calling out to you...Where are you?
Or has He been met by your own pursuit of Him?
(Part two of this sermon and more evidence of my Pastor tampering with my notes...coming soon.)
Linking today with Michelle at Nebraska Graceful:
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
(Linking a past post with Emily for Imperfect Prose)
Head on our pillow, our body rests but our mind cannot.
Unrest and worry attempt to grip our soul.
Tempted to give in, our mind wanders and begins to doubt.
Suddenly there seems less air to breathe...squeezed and emptied, our faith becomes small.
Uncertainty and fear take root.
Reeling from the events of the day - the month - we become servants to our circumstances and the thoughts they provoke.
In those times when we feel there is nothing else, no one else, no place to turn, our head hangs low, our feet stumble...fingers groping in the dark we long for something to grab on to.
But when we find the courage to look up - we see that there is a hand reaching out - arms open, waiting to pull us up...
...waiting to embrace us.
In our surrendering, we find Him.
In our brokenness, we are able to heal.
In our healing, we find that every suffering, every valley, every disappointment serves a greater purpose.
With all the uncertainty in this imperfect world - in our life - He is the one thing that remains constant. His love for us is certain. He is unchanging - the same yesterday, today and forever.
And in our weakness, His power is displayed and made perfect.
But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
I can't do it alone.
And I don't have to...
No matter my circumstances, His grace is sufficient for me. For you.
I hold on to Him.
The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11
I will trust in Him.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path. Proverbs 3:5-6
I know that He has a plan.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
Posted by Shelly at 5:28 PM
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I am on a journey. I am learning. I am growing. I am being confronted with self. I am changing.
"People change when the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the pain of changing" (John Maxwell).
Although I have always had a love of words, it was not until recently (within the past year) I gave in to what I feel is part of my calling in ministry. It required releasing some of my plans and dreams and surrendering to God and His purposes for me by acknowledging and embracing what He has placed in the very core of my being. He pursues me still, and I am being overtaken.
For the next couple of weeks, I am cutting back on my social media outlets (fb, twitter, and even some blogging) to focus and finish an important writing project and a few smaller ones. I have found that the art of writing - no matter how much God is in it - requires one to be disciplined. I am naturally undisciplined. But I'm growing and changing, remember? ;)
Now...about what I heard Sunday.
My spiritual parents have arrived from Australia for some meetings in the US and I was able to attend one this weeked. I was challenged, encouraged and empowered by what God spoke through them.
Briefly...(because I'm on a mission...)
God has placed gifts - made deposits - within each of us. We must guard the deposits and stir up our gifts so that they are used for the purposes God intended.
"O Timothy! Guard what was commited to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge (false doctrine) - by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith..." I Timothy 6:20.
"Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of hands" II Timothy 1:6.
We must know and firmly believe what the Word of God says about us. Remove self-imposed ceilings and limits and dare to be who you were created to be.
Let us stir up our gifts. Let us guard our deposit so that we can give it away, influencing all who cross our path. (We cannot do this if we are sinning, walking in unforgiveness and not pursuing the presence of God.)
Don't let anyone define who you are outside of what the Word of God says about you.
Is there something I can pray with you about today?
Linking with Jen at Finding Heaven, Michelle at Graceful and Shanda at A Pause on the Path...
continuing to count my gifts with Ann V.
#46-55 of graces embraced and gifts undeserved but given anyway...
46 words that fill
47 gifts placed on the inside
48 deposits made by the Creater
49 growing, stretching...changing
50 strength to confront and overcome obstacles
51 first day of school jitters
52 waiting in car pick-up lines and seeing my first grader's eyes light up when he sees me
53 imperfect teenagers who love God
54 fluffy white comforters and air conditioning set on 69
55 a class full of third and fourth graders hungry for God's Word and ready for a challenge
Posted by Shelly at 10:37 AM
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Posted by Shelly at 10:50 AM
Another challenge I received this weekend while reading beautiful posts from friends around the blogosphere was to consider this question from Kyndra Steinmann:
In other words, am I giving action to the words I write and speak, or are they just lip service? Do I truly believe what I say and live what I post?
Are my actions toward those around me a confirmation of the words that come out of my mouth (and off my page)?
I must constantly check my motives and my heart (which is deceitful above all things - Jer. 17:9). It is easier to hold resentment than to forgive. It is easier to be prideful than to remain humble. It is easier to think about my own needs and neglect the needs of those in front of me. It is easier to be selfish than to be self-less. It is easier to say it than to live it.
I have encountered many "Christians" who weren't so Christ-like. And truthfully (and sadly), I have fit into that category more than once.
I pray that I not only speak and write words of truth, words reflecting Christ, Christ who is the Word...but that I live those same words. That people see Jesus when they see me.
I am completely imperfect and adorned with faults. My righteousness is as filthy rags (Is. 64:6). If left alone, I would be swallowed up by self, indulging my flesh and not giving thought to my actions. But...He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (Jesus) (2 Cor. 5:21).
He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me n a robe of His righteousness...Isaiah 61:10.
I can live the words I write. We can live in this world, this temporary place, and be separate. We don't have to give in to selfish desires and lusts of the flesh.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind...Romans 12:2a.
I pray that this life I live, this life that is quickly passing, would bring glory to my Father in heaven now, in this moment, whether in church, in the grocery store or in the privacy of my home. I pray that others would find Christ not only in the words He chooses to speak through me, but the life I live in Him.
Let us be mindful of our words and actions. Are what I say and how I live a reflection of the very nature of Christ in me?
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Soon of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me (Gal. 2:20).
Continuing to count my gifts with Ann Voskamp
46 an old aluminum boat and a homemade raft tied to a tree on the river bank at the back of our property
47 smooth, shiny river rocks colored with the fingertips of God
48 sweet ice tea
49 tangerine shower gel that smells good enough to eat
50 parents who live next door
51 my computer running slow, but running
52 an unexpected card in the mail
53 new school supplies
54 the sweet innocence of a certain six year old
55 triple word tiles in words with friends
Monday, August 15, 2011
What is this proverbial inability to remain confident in Christ in me and who I am in Christ?
Girls, I know you know what I 'm talking about.
Things are fine and then suddenly, out of nowhere, something happens and we feel rejected, disappointed, let down, discouraged, deflated, unworthy...not enough. We forget to Whom we belong.
Why do we (I) look to other things to make us feel important, give credibility to and validate who we are? For example...the number of facebook friends or twitter followers or blog subscribers. Or why is it so easy to feel neglected or left out when someone doesn't meet our expectations or fulfill certain unwritten rules of friendship?
I have to (and hate to) admit, I notice the number of followers on my facebook writer page and blog, especially since recently trying to learn about building a platform, increasing traffic and expanding reach. Somehow this is supposed to confirm my calling or validate that I am a real writer? I feel a certain accomplishment when I have snagged a new face or added a new name to my audience or friend list. Someone likes me. But what happens when that number decreases? Someone doesn't like me anymore? I immediately wonder who and why and what did I say or do that could have offended someone. Silly, especially reading the words now.
A common trap set to complicate our journey. A root of rejection from our past. Insecurities and fears of being unloved and misunderstood. Pressure to perform and succeed and be something some one else thinks we should be. Envy and jealousy causing us to look at what others have or do or are...and what we don't have, can't do and are not. Lies that whisper we are not good enough and cannot measure up.
Yesterday I took advantage of being in bed all day with strep and read some inspiring blogs. Jean from Healthy Spirituality spoke to my heart. She said, "Lord, I always think some of your spiritual giants - Abraham, Moses, David - were born with deep faith....yet in today's reading, Abraham first believed in your promise, then his faith grew." Abraham never wavered in believing God's promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger and in this he brought glory to God (Romans 4:20).
It is in our believing God's promises that our faith is strengthened. Abraham, like us, was born with the potential and ability to believe and become what he was created to be...he was not born complete. He had choices to make and voids to fill. Moses, too,had to decide where to put his confidence. He had to choose even in the midst of his doubts and fears and insecurities. Traveling an imperfect and messy journey, he often paused to give ear to what he was not capable of doing, what others could do better and at times gave in to weaknesses begging to be recognized. But ultimately he chose to believe what God said and promised to do.
We, too, have to make that choice. No matter how messy or imperfect our journey may be, God has a plan and has promised that He will be with us. He has also promised to provide the tools and equipment we need not just to finish the tasks before us but to finish our race well.
He longs to heal our wounds and fill those empty places crammed with things that will never satisfy.
It doesn't matter how many "likes" we have (except technically for those of us pursuing publication it does matter in that sense), how many events we are invited to or not, how many times our words are rejected or at how many venues we are asked (or not asked) to speak. Our circumstances, trials or hurts do not define us but they can serve as a prod to push us closer to God, refining us and molding us into a vessel that will bring Him honor and glory.
We are daughters of the King. He loves us unconditionally and perfectly. He thinks good thoughts toward us. He chose us.
Let us put our confidence in the One who will never let us down. The One who never changes. The One who empowers us to love and speak and write anyway.
Let us choose to believe His promises, increase our faith and bring glory to Him.
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man...(Psalm 118:8).
For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught (Proverb 3:26).
In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge (Proverbs 14:26).
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1a).
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrew 11:1).
Linking with Jen at Finding Heaven Today...(Jen's link will go live at 8 PM Monday)
and counting gifts with Ann V.
#36-45 of counting my gifts, unending...
36 quiet moments to bask in God's presence and study the Word
37 unexpected opportunities to grow
38 our family of five
39 unconditional, perfect love
40 great fathers in the faith who have gone before us
41 refining, even when it hurts
42 raindrops on a sun scorched land
43 food on our table
44 laughter in our home
45 grace which abounds
Sunday, August 14, 2011
As the title and tag line of my blog suggests, God is indeed always speaking, if we only have ears to hear. I find that - more often than not - whatever I'm learning in the physical usually parallels something spiritual God is trying to show me.
One of my recent status updates on facebook said this:
- ONE space after a period. ONE space after a period! Anyone else have a hard time with this? Man, my age is showing.
- Old mindsets that refuse to embrace what I was finally able to confess: "I am a writer."
- Old mindsets that continue to tell me I'm not good enough and this is it.
- Old schedules and routines not conducive to productive writing.
- Priorities that need to be re-evaluated.
- etc, etc.
I will also continue renewing my mind with the Word and choose to believe what God says about me (a few scriptures from the Amplified Bible...because sometimes I need the volume turned up...).
- Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. ~Romans 12:2
- And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], ~Ephesians 4:23
- Therefore, my beloved brethren, be firm (steadfast), immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord [always being superior, excelling, doing more than enough in the service of the Lord], knowing and being continually aware that your labor in the Lord is not futile [it is never wasted or to no purpose]. ~1 Corinthians 15:58
- Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God's image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness. ~Ephesians 4:22-24
- I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who [a]infuses inner strength into me; I am [b]self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency]. ~Philippians 4:13
Do you have some old habits holding you back?
What changes are you implementing to help you move forward?
Friday, August 12, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
today i am linking up with emily for imperfect prose on thursdays
and i leave behind capitalization, punctuation and fluff
choosing instead unedited thoughts and transparency
because sometimes we just need to talk
no walls, no rules, no expectations
i must confess this type of post scares me more than any other
words written are not forgotten and do not disappear
what is it that frightens one in sharing, in being open
i ask this question and know there are many answers
fear being the root of all combined
rejection, judgment, condemnation, misunderstandings, opinions
but when i think of all these, and then Him
the others seem to lose importance
silly and irrelevant to this space i now occupy
once lost in what seemed a found place
bound by the unworthy and untrue
tangled and alone and thirsty
even now should i accept all things
i might travel that road once taken
but forgetting those things behind i press on
keeping my eyes on the one who saves me
when hard days come and clouds threaten
i remember he never changes
i remember his words and they are true
i remember he still speaks
and i listen
what is this all for if not for him
no longer interested in this thing created by man
i choose him
brought into a large place
i choose him
rescued and redeemed
i choose him
forgiven and set free
i choose him
Posted by Shelly at 12:19 AM
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
Saturday was an incredible, intense day of worship, repentance, praise and prayer. Over 30,000 people attended The Response in Houston, TX and I was honored to have been a part of it. Over 100,000 others joined online via live-streaming video (that number is probably much greater given the churches who hosted the event only counted as one hit on the internet although there were many in attendance at each location).
an unrelenting God
Friday, August 5, 2011
Linking with the Gypsy Mama on this Friday...
I don't always feel whole. Sometimes there's empty, sometimes there's lack, sometimes it feels like there is something missing. I can imagine I am not alone. Brokenness would seem to chip off pieces here and there, leaving some out, losing some, forgetting others. How can one be whole when one has been broken?
When the One doing the repairing is the One who formed the world and fashioned our being, the One whose own perfection knows exactly where the pieces fit perfectly together...yes, one can be whole when the Master Creator touches His masterpiece once again.
When this world leaves me broken, I cannot repair myself. When people wound and dreams die and bubbles burst, I don't have to remain shattered. I can be whole. When I realize I am complete in Him no matter who, no matter what, no matter why...when I give myself to Him without hesitation, without reservation....when I become wholly His, I am whole.
For more impromptu five minute posts on the topic WHOLE, visit THE GYPSY MAMA.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Posted by Shelly at 3:36 PM
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Today I am linking with 5 Minutes for Mom on Wordless Wednesday.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
I am studying Genesis 1:1-2 for one of the chapters in my book.
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." KJV
I'm trying to study further the phrase MOVED UPON at the end of verse 2. What does this mean exactly? Why move over the waters, why hover? Was he waiting, thinking, planning, resting? How long was he there?
Sorry, my brain just thinks like this. And I'm no biblical scholar or master of Hebrew studies so thought I would ask for some input.
I found a post by Jeff A. Benner (anyone know anything about him?) on Hebrew translations titled, "The Poetry of Genesis Chapter One," and he said that actually verse 2 is restating verse 1, implying that they are not separate chronological events but instead saying the same thing in a different way. He went on to explain that the word "and" in Hebrew is not used as we would use it (to combine multiple, separate and individual things) but to link two statements as one. So, according to Him, verse 2 is just expanding God's initial creating of the heaven and earth in verse 1. He has a quick reference Hebrew dictionary that looks like something I might want. Anyone have it already or another tool you think I might like?
I often visit biblestudytools.com for studying Greek or Hebrew translations. For the word move in verse 2, it gives two other scriptures that use the same word with the same Hebrew meaning.
"As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taken them, beareth them on her wings" Deuteronomy 32:11, and
"Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord and because of the words of His holiness" Jeremiah 23:9.
Considering these two verses and the implied meaning of the word in study, I can see the Spirit of God moving over the waters, hovering, shaking, fluttering, with us on His mind. He had a plan of creation which included us and His thoughts about us were about to manifest into existence.
I have some ideas (and personal opinions, of course) but wanted to hear yours first.
What are your thoughts?
Monday, August 1, 2011
Ann Voskamp spoke these words in our meeting last Saturday night and I am forever changed:
"Not only do we open our hands to receive the gift, not only do we become gifted because of the gift, our very lives become our gift back to the Giver."
This is living. This is ministry. This is worship. This is loving.
We were challenged at the end of the service to write down things that were holding us back, things keeping us from courageously giving our lives as a gift, from living open handed. Laying down my paper at the base of the tall, wooden cross on the edge of the stage, by faith I released the fear of failure, the fear of man and surrendered to His will.
It is not about what we can do that might impress someone or make our name great. It is letting our lives become a beacon flashing and pointing to His name which is great and greatly to be praised. It is about sharing and loving and helping and healing and gathering and encouraging and telling. It is about Him and what He has already done.
Simple yet one of the most difficult things...prying our hands open to receive His gifts and leaving them open so they are given back. Living transparent and exposed, trusting, hoping, waiting.
We have been given gifts. Take a moment to see what you've been given...that which has been put into your hands.
Let us be bold in our sharing, selfless in our living... open handed.
"The gospel is not about what we grasp, but about what we've been given......We (our lives) are to be a trailer (think book or movie trailer), a foretaste of the Kingdom of God..." Ann Voskamp.
Today I am linking with Jen for Soli deo Gloria, Michelle for Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday and counting my gifts with Ann V.
8. refreshing moments of quiet
9. falling stars under an open sky at midnight with girlfriends
10. a husband who never complains about working to provide for our family
11. Kindle (for Android) book downloads on sale for $2.99
12. deep breaths inhaled, exhaled
13. birds singing early, reminding me to praise
14. eyes that see His majesty and a heart that feels
15. our house that's too small because it's full
16. unexpected visits at a roadside gas station
17. feeling my child's heartbeat when he hugs me just because
18. opportunities on airplanes that allow my gifts to become my gift back to the Giver