Monday, April 1, 2013

God Has Moved into the Neighborhood

Revelation 21:1-4

"I looked again and could hardly believe my eyes.  Everything about me was new.  Everything below me was new.  Everything around me was new because the heaven and earth that had been passed away, and the sea was gone, completely.  And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride on her wedding day, adorned for her husband and for His  eyes only.  And I heard a great voice, coming from the throne.  See, the home of God is with His people.  He will live among them; They will be His people, And God Himself will be with them.  The prophecies are fulfilled:  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  Death will be no more;  Mourning no more, crying no more, pain no more, For the first things have gone away." (VOICE)

I don't know how anyone can read that and not be affected.  When the end of the world comes, there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth.  And most exciting of all, God will be living with us.  We will not be separated.  Like Adam and Eve walked in the garden with God in a perfect environment, We will have the same opportunity.  We will get to live with God and if God is there, it will be a perfect environment.  No pain, mourning, tears, or death.  I can't wait to change neighborhoods.

Changing Neighborhoods--Big Daddy Weave

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Carry Your Cross

Luke 14:25-35

"Anyone who won't shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can't be my disciple." (Luke 14:27 MESSAGE) This passage talks about leaving family members to follow Christ. Does this necessarily mean we will leave our family here on Earth behind. NO! What it does mean is that we better be willing to. We better be willing to follow Christ no matter the cost and leave behind those who don't want us to do what is necessary to be His disciple. Following Christ means putting Him first above all other relationships in our lives. We are asked to carry our cross. The VOICE adds "as if to your own execution."

Carrying a cross is not all fun and games. It is not something to be taken lightly. It is a decision that needs to be made understanding the devotion is requires. I have been wearing a "Not a Fan" bracelet ever since I read that book. That is my reminder to pick up my cross and make a decision to be a real follower daily.;postID=2721078444334986316
Carrying your own cross was the Roman way of showing submission to the Roman government. So, if you carry your own cross daily, it shows submission to Christ.

The Life Application Bible says, "Following Christ does not mean a trouble-free life. We must carefully count the cost of becoming Christ's disciples so that we will know what we are getting into and won't be tempted later to turn back."

Help me to remember what the Message Study Bible says: "Discipleship, you see, is not so much a matter of exhortation and bluster, of pep talks and cheerleading. It's a matter of intelligent deliberation. It is sitting in on a long strategy conference with Jesus Christ and finding the resources I need to live obediently and act redemptively." That is exactly what I am trying to do with these "40 Days Retreat with Jesus" and will continue to do after my 40 days are finished.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Don't Worry

Matthew 6:19-34

Sometimes in a long passage, there are just too many thoughts and I have to narrow my focus to just one.  But, I think I got all of this one boiled down to one concept--Worry.  I'm not positive, but I think that was the intent behind the entire passage.  What do you think?  In fact, in the VOICE verse 25 says, "Here is the bottom line: do not worry about your life."  That seems pretty clear to me.  We are not to worry.  We are to obey God and follow His commandments and trust that He will take care of us.  Of course, this makes sense.  You never know what tomorrow will hold.  Just focus on doing what you are supposed to today.  Now, this does not mean never make plans.  Making plans often eliminates stress, and frees up time to follow God.  But, we don't make plans on our own.  We let God be in the driver's seat of our lives and make plans according to His will for us.  And, we are flexible when plans change.  That is a hard one for me and one I have to work on every day.  I don't like change--never have, but after my brain injury it is even harder to adjust.  But, that's what we are called to do.  We need to be willing to adjust when God changes our plans.  We need to remember to follow His plans, not our own.  This requires constantly being in communication with God through prayer and Bible reading.  It requires putting His will before our own. 

Besides, we don't know what the future will hold, so there's really no point in worrying about tomorrow.  I could never have planned for the accident that changed my life.  I could never have imagined the opportunities that lay ahead in my life.  If I had planned out my life in my 20s, I never would have imagined the people I have met, the opportunities I have had, and the places I have been.  There is no way for us to know how one event or one day will impact our entire future.  But, God knows.  So, let Him be in charge and lead us where He wants us to go.   Worry does nothing but negatively impact our lives and our health.

I am so glad verse 34 says, "So do not worry about tomorrow.  Let tomorrow worry about itself.  Living faithfully is a large enough task for today."  (VOICE)  So, all I have to do and focus on is living faithfully today.  When I start to fret about tomorrow, remind me all I have to focus on is today.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Act in a Suprising Way

Matthew 5:38-42

How often have you heard people say, "an eye for an eye" when they plan to get back at someone who just hurt them.  Well, here's yet another example of Jesus saying, "But I say . . ."  We are not to necessarily treat someone the same way they treat us.  We are to respond with kindness and respect no matter what.  In fact, Jesus asks us to respond in a way they won't expect.  "If someone you on the right cheek, you are to turn and offer him your left cheek.  If someone connives to get your shirt, give him your jacket as well.  If someone forces you to walk with him for a mile, walk two instead.  If someone asks you for something, give it to him.  If someone wants to borrow something from you, do not turn away."  (Matthew 5: 29-42 VOICE )  Does this mean we let people walk all over us?  No.  It means we treat all with kindness and respect.  It means when someone hurts us or treats us with disrespect, we don't react in kind.  We aren't mean and disrespectful to others.  We treat them with love.  We don't react the way they expect and that will hopefully make them question what is different about us.

An interesting tidbit I learned while studying this.  The concept of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" was not created so we could have revenge on those who hurt is.  It was established to hopefully prevent revenge that was over the top.  It was an attempt to help make the punishment fit the crime.  It was never meant to be used for personal vendetta.  It was a rule of punishment for the courts to follow.  When did we think we could make it our own personal rule of judgment?  When did we think we have the right to judge anyway?

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Thanksgiving for today
Green in the yard
No jacket needed
Community Good Friday service
Timely arrival of personalized items
Getting through the phone book

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Say What You Mean

Matthew 5:33-37

Say what you mean.  Let your "yes" be "yes" and your "no" be "no."  Why do we even have to promise to do things.  Shouldn't our word be enough to stand on it's own.  Unfortunately, we have too often said something and not followed through.  Often enough that those in our world expect a promise to ensure something will happen.  But, why does that help?  I've heard it said often enough, "You promised!!!"  as if saying that will make it happen.  And, often I haven't really promised.  Often, I say, "We'll see" but to a child that seems to be a promise of whatever they want to do.  When you break a promise you are called a liar, but if you say something will happen aren't you a liar if it doesn't whether it is connected to a promise or not.  I think that's what Jesus was reminding us here.  Don't swear, or make an oath, or promise because you should tell the truth all the time.  A promise is not necessary.

The Message says this passage in a whole different way:
"And don't say anything you don't mean.   This council is embedded deep in our traditions.  You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, 'I'll  pray for you,' and never doing it, or saying 'God be with you,' and not meaning it.  You don't make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace.  In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true.  Just say 'yes' and 'no.'  When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong."

Just say what you mean.  Don't try to sound more pious by flowering up your words--especially if you're not going to follow through.  Don't tell someone you'll pray for them and not do it.  Do it. Better yet, do it right then.  Say what you mean and follow through with what you say.

Easier said than done.  When do you struggle with this?

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Thanksgiving for today
Walking weather
Using the bank drive through in my powerchair
Learning about local events

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Stay Away From the Line

Matthew 5:27-30

Here is another passage when Jesus says, "You have heard it said . . ." and then "But I say . . ."  So, is He telling us that we don't need to follow the law?  No.  He is telling that not only do we need to follow the letter of the law, but we need to follow the Spirit of the law.  It is not about how close can we get to the line without crossing it and still be OK.  It is really about getting as far away from the line as we can.  It is not about seeing what we can get away with.  It's not about seeing how close we can get to sinning before it turns into a sin.  We should turn and run away as far as we can in the other direction when we are tempted.  What do you think?  How do we do that?

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Thanksgiving for today
People willing to make seating adjustments
Word of mouth
Well-behaved dog even when people are not
Successful search
Knowing your size
Friendly cashier and grocery carry out
Opportunities to Share
Cell phones
Weather warm enough to not "need" a jacket

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Words Kill

  Matthew 5:21-24

Every time I read a familiar passage in a different translation, it strikes me just a little bit different.  So, for those of you who don't have access to the VOICE translation, I'm going to quote 21-22 here: "As you know, long ago God instructed Moses to tell His people, 'Do not murder;' those who murder will be judged and punished.  But here is the even harder truth: anyone who is angry with his brother will be judged for his anger.  Anyone who taunts his friend, speaks contemptuously towards him, or calls him "Loser" or "Fool" or "Scum" will have to answer to the high court.  And anyone who calls his brother a fool may find himself in the fires of hell." Now who can honestly say that they've never called someone one of these names.  Maybe not out loud, but at least in their hears, to themselves.  OUCH!!   Jesus just told us this is the same as murder.  It reminds me of the saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."  I have always said BALONEY!!!  Words hurt and it often takes longer to heal from words that from a physical wound.  The Message says, "The simple moral fact is that words kill."  So, we should all be aware that our choice of words has an impact.  Choose words that build up not tear down.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Keep Your Eyes On Jesus

Matthew 14:25-33

Would you have the courage to get out of the boat and head toward Jesus?  Would you have the courage to walk on water?  I know Peter was watching Jesus do it, but other than Jesus he had never seen it done.  And, I don't know about you, but I tend to doubt that I can do things humans don't normally do, even when Jesus tells me to.  Why do I doubt the miracle?  Why don't I always completely trust in Jesus?  He has NEVER let me down and NEVER will.  Why don't I trust that?

Peter trusted enough to get out of the boat--which I'm not sure I always do.  His problem came when he didn't keep his eyes on Jesus.  He looked at the waves and got scared.  How often do we do that--if we have courage to get out of the boat, how easy it is to not keep our focus on Jesus.  We look at the difficulty swirling around us and get scared.  We look down.  Peter did the right thing when he started to fall.  He refocused on Jesus and asked for help.  He knew where His help could come from.  He knew who was more powerful than the storm.  Help me always look to Jesus when I start to fall.  The storm cannot overtake me when I focus on the One more powerful than the storm.

"As long as Jesus is one of many options, He is no option.  As long as you can carry your burdens alone, you don't need a burden bearer.  As long as your situation brings you no grief, you will receive no comfort.  And as long as you can take Him or leave Him, you might as well leave Him, because He won't be taken half-heartedly."--From The Applause of Heaven by Max Lucado

We Aren't Alone

1 John 5:1-6

I love the idea that "You see, to love God means that we keep His commands and His commands don't weigh us down." (1 John 5:3 VOICE)  That means we should know His commands and in order to do that, we should stay in close connection with Him through prayer and reading the Bible.   It does not mean we won't ever get tired.  And, it does not mean we won't have moments where we feel down and discouraged.  What it does mean is that we aren't alone.    After all Matthew 11:28-30 says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Put My yoke upon your shoulders--it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves.  Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.  When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest.  For My Yoke is easy, and My burden is light." (VOICE)  We are not expected to walk this life alone.  We are not expected to follow God's commands with our own strength.  He is there to help us all along the way.

The other part of this passage that really struck me was the fact that we are brothers and sisters in Christ.  "Everyone who trust Jesus as the long-awaited Anointed One is a child of God . . ." (1 John 5:1 VOICE)  That means we are all siblings.  Do any of you know siblings who get along 100% of the time.  I sure don't.  But, I do know siblings who eventually grow up to learn to treat each other with love, kindness, and respect even when we disagree.  We can do that as Christian brothers and sisters.  We can love each other and respond with kindness and respect even while disagreeing.  But, I do think it requires some maturity and growth.  We spend time teaching our children what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior and don't expect them to automatically know everything.  But, it seems we do expect our Christian brothers and sisters to  automatically know how to behave.  Perhaps we should remember that they don't and help them learn and grow.  What do you think?  We are siblings and siblings don't always see eye-to-eye. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

You've Got to Do Both

1 John 4:7-21

Here we are again at another passage about love.  Why do you think that is?  Maybe because love is important to God.  Maybe because as we learn to be more like Christ, we must learn to be more loving?  I love the way the Message puts verse 21: "The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people.  You've got to love both."  That is a tall order. 

It's not enough to love God and spend time with Him and in His word learning and growing.  It is important to share that love with those around us.  And, I think it is impossible to truly love others without loving God and accepting His love in return.  We need to be so filled with God's love that is spills out on those around us.  We need to be so loving that those who come in contact with us can't help but be impacted by love.  It should be splashing off and touching all those we come in contact with.  That is my prayer for life, but especially this year as I have the opportunity to meet more people.  May I be so filled with love that all those I come in contact with can't help but get splashed on. :)  Keep me accountable.  Let me know if anything else comes splashing out.

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Thanksgiving for today
Finding comfy, professional, travel worthy clothes
Spring Kick Off Show
Loving your Passion
Photo Booth Fun
Working side by side with my daughter
Moms Meals

Love Others

1 John 3:17-24

"If a person owns the kinds of things we need to make it in the world but refuses to share with those in need, is it even possible that God's love lives in him?  My little children, don't just talk about love as an idea or a theory.  Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love."
 (1 John 3:17-18 VOICE)

I know I don't really believe someone loves me if they only say the word, but don't really act that way.  They can't tell me they love me and then treat me poorly and say horrible things about me.  I don't think life works that way.  So, if we as humans don't believe people love when their actions don't line up why do we think we can live that way?  Why do we think we can say we a loving and love God and others if we don't act like it.  We don't do a great job of tricking other humans if our words and actions don't match up.  Why do we think we can trick God?  He already knows our hearts and knows what we're really thinking and feeling. 

I think it really all comes down to selfishness.  Really, the only reason we don't give to others is that we're thinking of ourselves.  We are not living like God wants us to live.  We are not being humble.  We are being selfish.  You cannot truly love others while being selfish and thinking of yourself above others.  What do you think?  What prevents you from loving?  What prevents you from giving to others?

I think in order to love others, we must first understand how much God loves us.  We must stay in constant connection with Him and receive daily portions of His love and mercy.  We cannot give what we have not ourselves received.  But, we can't help but share when it is pouring out of us.  I realize I'm probably jumping ahead of myself here because this verse is in my next reading, but it is a perfect verse for how we can love and share.  "We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19 VOICE)

We must recognize just how much He loves us and then share that love with others.

Friday, March 22, 2013

We Are His Children

1 John 3:1-3

We are adopted children of God.  Not when we get to Heaven.  But now.  We are His children and He is our father.  Now, I know that may not excite everyone who reads that.  Some have not had the privilege of having loving parents here on Earth.  That breaks my heart.  How can you understand just how awesome it is to be adopted by God when you've never truly experienced the love of a parent for their children?  I for one am fortunate to have experienced a loving, healthy relationship with my parents.  I have experienced a loving, healthy relationship with my children.  I can see this from both perspectives--sort of.  Not a one of us can really see it from the perspective of God's love for us.  He is perfect.  We are not.  Earthly parents will have moments of frustration and will sin and not always have the perfect relationship with their children.  This is not true of God.  He will always show perfect love.  I wish I could say the same, but I am learning and growing one day at a time.  I am not perfect and never will be on Earth, but I hope my children and my parents can respond with forgiveness and grace when I mess up.  I know God does. And, I am so thankful for that.

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Thanksgiving for today
Open doors
Communication with total strangers
Being remembered
Making an impact
Music store close to home
Planning ahead
Forecast changing
Finding what you need when you need it

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Don't Fall in Love with the World

1 John 2 15-17

I am so convicted by this passage.   Please help me live my life really doing God's will and not falling in love with this world.  Verse 15 says: "Don't fall in love with this corrupt world or worship the things it can offer."  Keep my eyes on Jesus especially as I have great opportunity to travel the state and come in contact with lots of new people this year.  Any great ideas on how to do this?  Any great ideas on how to keep my focus on Christ?

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Thanksgiving for today
Knowing how to use technology
Excited students buying new books on vacation
Buying used
Finding anything on Amazon
Knowing rest will come

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Love Your Brother and Sister

1 John 2:7-11

I am glad that love is a choice and an action.  I do not have to feel loving towards someone in order to act loving.  Loving my brother and sister does not mean I always have warm, fuzzy feelings for them.  It does mean I treat them with kindness and respect.  I treat them as I am commanded to treat others.  I may not always agree with someone, but I can always treat them with love and respect.  Wikipedia says that "hatred it often associated with feelings of anger and a disposition towards hostility."  My MWKS platform talks about when you are giving thanks, your heart is full of thankfulness and peace and there is no room for negative feelings like anger.  I don't think there would be room for hostility either.  What do you think?  What does loving your brother or sister mean to you?

Our High-Powered Defense Lawyer

1 John 2:1-6

Isn't it great news that we have an advocate (or as the VOICE says, "high-powered defense lawyer") to defend us before the Father?  I for one am certainly glad to have Jesus in my corner.  My sins are covered.  But, that doesn't mean I can just go on sinning.  Verse 5 in the VOICE says, "But if someone responds to and obeys His word, then God's love has truly taken root and filled him.  This is how we know we are in an intimate relationship with Him."  That is what I am really attempting to do through this blog.  I am "searching for the truth." But, it's not enough to intellectually find the truth.  I must act on what I discover.  When God reveals truth to me, I must be ready to be obedient.  Easier said than done.  It's much easier to file new information away in your brain as an interesting fact.  It's much harder to put what you are learning into action.  That often requires change and  face it--change is hard!!!  But, I want to be obedient, so I am trying.

Verse 6 tells us to "walk the path Jesus walked" (VOICE) or "live the same kind of life Jesus lived." (MESSAGE)  How do we do this?  First we need to learn about Him so that we know how He lived and can live that way ourselves.  Does this mean to literally do everything He did?  I don't think so.  How many of us can raise someone from the dead? or perform many of His miracles?  It does mean to follow His commands and live a life of loving God and loving others. 

Right now, I am struggling to understand the concept of fasting and whether I should make it part of my life.  When we are commanded to "live the same kind of life Jesus lived," does that mean fasting?  What do you think?  This is something I'm really trying to work out, I would value your insight. 

I'm excited to read a book that came in the mail this weekend: Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved by J.D. Greear.  It seems to me it will go right along with this passage,  Jesus is our Advocate, but we need to live the same kind of life He lived.  Keep watching.  I'll let you know what I think when I get it read.

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Thanksgiving for today
656.  Enthusiasm
657.  Energy
658.  Sharing good news
659.  Technology
660.  The right people at the right time

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Go and Sin No More

John 8:1-19

This is the story of the woman caught in adultery and brought before Jesus.  First of all, I had never noticed before that at this time, Jesus was teaching a crowd in the temple.  Then, an angry mob bursts in dragging the woman caught in adultery and interrupts the teaching.  I have often wondered why only the women was brought in.  Doesn't take two to tango?  Well, when reading the Life Application Bible, I realized the Pharisees were breaking Moses' law themselves.  They were trying to get Jesus to break Moses' law, but they were doing it themselves.  Maybe that's what Jesus was writing in the dirt.  We will never know.  The law of Moses stated that both parties in an adulterous relationship were to be stoned.  Why did they not bring the man?  This weekend I am at an event celebrating strong women.  I find it interesting that in this passage the man involved was not mentioned.  But the good news is Jesus offered compassion and forgiveness to the woman in front of Him.  May I always remember that no matter how the world treats people because of race, religion, gender, disability, or other differences, Jesus sees the person.  He loves the person and treats everyone with dignity and respect.  May we all do the same.  May we first show love and kindness and respect to everyone and lead them to Jesus, who also loves everyone.

But, no one was willing to throw the first stone and say they were without sin.  Because no one was without sin and they knew God knew the truth.  We should learn a lesson from this.  None of us should condemn others, because we are not without sin ourselves.  We should reach others with love and compassion.  Condemnation should never be our response.  Notice Jesus' response here.  He said, "Well, I do not condemn you either; all I ask is that you go and from now on avoid the sins that plague you."  He did not offer condemnation.  He offered forgiveness.  But, He expected a change in behavior.  "Go and sin no more."  When we are offered forgiveness and grace, we should have a change in behavior.  We should not continue the sinful behavior.

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Thanksgiving for today
628.  Kindness
629.  Ability to share with strangers
630.  Strangers willing to take a few minutes to listen
631.  Strangers willing to share their heart
632.  Passion
633.  Open discussions
634.  Willingness to handle differences with respect
635.  Love and support
636.  Strong women in wheelchairs
637.  Sleep

Friday, March 15, 2013

Don't Get Distracted By the Crowds

Acts 13: 42-52

This passage tells us all about the Jewish community's reaction to the gospel.  I find it intriguing that it talks about them being jealous.  It does not talk about them feeling their belief was right and not wanting others to be misled.  It talks about them being jealous.  They were not concerned about the crowd hearing the truth.  They were not willing to listen to the truth themselves.  They were prideful and "jealous" of the crowds following someone else.  They were willing to let their pride stand in the way of receiving the gift of salvation. 

It was also intriguing that Paul and Barnabas did not let this deter them.  In fact, verse 52 says, "The disciples weren't intimidated at all; rather, they were full of joy and the Holy Spirit."  They were in close relationship with God and knew they were expressing the truth.  They didn't let the opposition deter them or keep them quiet.  They just "shook the dust off their feet" and took their truth somewhere else.  May I always get my confidence from God and be willing to tell His truth even when those around me try to shut me up.  May I continue in joy and continue telling what I feel God wants me to tell.  May I always keep my focus on Him and not be distracted by the crowds around me. 

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Thanksgiving for today
623.  Safe travel
624.  Giving back
625.  Confirmation
626.  Seeing old friends
627.  Sharing hope

Thursday, March 14, 2013

List for Christian Growth

2 Peter 1:5-11

What a list of things we need to be working on.  And, I believe we need to be working on them simultaneously.  It's not a matter of "oh, faith, I've got that one down.  No need to work on it anymore."  I don't think we can ever feel completely satisfied with where we are this side of Heaven.  Perfection is coming, but not until we get to Heaven.  That doesn't mean we beat ourselves up, but it does mean we keep working and striving to be what God calls us to be.  When we are saved by grace, it doesn't mean we get to sit back, live however we want, and coast through the rest of our lives here on Earth.  Salvation is a free gift of God's grace, that's true.  We can't do anything to earn it.  However, receiving the gift of salvation makes us want to follow God and obey His commands.

The Life Application Study Bible says:  "Faith must be more than belief in certain facts: it must result in action, growth in Christian character, and the practice of moral discipline, or it will die away (James 2:14-17)  Peter lists several of faith's actions: learning to know God better, developing perseverance, doing God's will, loving others.  These actions do not come automatically; they require hard work.  They are not optional; all of them must be a continual part of Christian life. We don't finish one and start on the next, but we work on them all together.  God empowers and enables us, but He also gives us the responsibility to learn and to grow.  We should not be suprised at or resentful of the process."

Here is the list from the VOICE Bible:
Affection for others as sisters and brothers

It's important to be continually working on all of these.  But, if you don't have at least a grasp on the first ones in the list, can you successfully practice those at the bottom of the list like love?  Maybe we have trouble having affection for each other or showing love because we haven't begun to work on the ones above.  What do you think?  Which causes you the most trouble?  Any great ideas on how to continually work on all of these?

This happened to be my verse of the day from Bible Gateway.  I'm convinced there are no coincidences and that God must want me to focus on this right now.  It was yet another great reminder that "We are not passive observers of God's saving actions.  We must receive His grace, grow in knowledge, and join Him in this work of redemption."

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Thanksgiving for today
616.  Sunshine
617.  Great walking weather
618.  Slowing us down long enough we didn't get to the intersection at the exact time as the car
619.  Empty lunch dishes
620.  Less shedding
621.  Time alone
622.  Feeling prepared

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

We are Not Alone

Luke 11:29-36

OUCH!  That's really all I have to say about today's reading.  If Jesus called His generation "evil" what would He say about ours?   And, if He thought they had no excuse because Ninevah had listened to Jonah with no "proof" and the Queen of Sheba had traveled miles to see Solomon, what is our excuse? 

We have: 1. The written New Testament  2.  Stories from eye witnesses to Christ's resurrection  3.  the Holy Spirit.  And yet, we still do not always believe.  We ask for "signs and spectacles".  And, often we are quick to follow those who provide signs rather than Christ.  Often, we overlook the miracles around us and explain them away.  What is our problem?  The had God (Christ) walking among them.  We have God (the Holy Spirit) living within us.  I've often heard it said and probably said it myself that I would have liked to live when I could see some of the Old Testament miracles.  But, that is not really true.  I would much rather live when I can have the Holy Spirit living within me and guiding me.  I would much rather have the Bible as a guidebook for life.  Is it easy to live in this generation?   NO WAY!  But, I am not alone.  In John 16:33 Jesus told me, "“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  We are not alone!!  Quit acting like it.

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Thanksgiving for today
611.  Accountability Partner
612.  Finding a better time to work out
613.  Shellac manicure
614.  Teachers willing to address parent concerns
615.  Being able to easily solve a problem

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Wardrobe of a LeadHer

Colossians 3:12-17

I was absolutely delighted to find out my time with Jesus was to be spent going through this passage today.  This happens to be the passage we are working on in LeadHer this year.  We are building the wardrobe of a LeadHer  This is a passage I have been working through and will continue to work through all year long
The Life Application Study Bible says: "Paul offers a strategy to help us live for God day by day:  1) imitate Christ's compassionate, forgiving attitude  2)let love guide your life  3) let the peace of God rule in your heart 4) always be thankful 5) keep God's word in you at all times 6)  live as Jesus Christ's representative."  I am working on these items and will keep working all the time.  Right now, I find myself focusing a lot on 4&5.  What are you focusing on?

In our LeadHer chapter we are going through this passage this year.  So far, we have talked about putting on mercy as undergarments.  Not only are they foundational to everything else, but they must be new every morning.  We only have mercy to give to those around us when we stay in constant communion with God and receive His mercy.  I don't know if you've ever done the object lesson where you make a pyramid of cups and pour water from a pitcher into the top one.  It is only as the pitcher (representing God's love and mercy) pours out on the first cup that that cup can get full enough to spill over and start filling other cups.

Next, we talked about Kindness gloves and the importance of being the hands and feet of Jesus.  We even took time during our second meeting of the month to do random acts of kindness.  Check out this blog our family used at Christmas time and I brought out again during Kindness meetings:

This month we're focusing on Humility and wearing LeadHer bracelets to remind us to be humble.  It's all about His plan, not ours.  I'm going to need a lot of extra prayer to practice humility this month, especially when I am experiencing a weekend celebrating self.  Pray that I will be able to exhibit strength of character, confidence, and disability pride while still maintaining an attitude of humility.  May I never fail to recognize that He is my strength and may I always follow His plan for my life.  I even found a substitute item to wear with my formal wear.  I didn't think my pink bracelet would exactly match.  :)  It's going to be hidden, but I will know it is there.  It reminds me of the concept of Katniss' mockingjay pin in the Hunger Games.  It was hidden, but she knew it was there.  My pin will be hidden, but I will know it is there and hopefully it will remind me to practic humility.

I can't wait to spend time working on the other qualities throughout the year.
If you've been involved in any LeadHer trainings, what have you taken to heart?
What has changed your life?
If not, come join us for the rest.
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Thanksgiving for today:
605.  My hairdresser
606.  Finding someone who understands me curls
607.  Packages that arrive on time
608.  Someone to bounce ideas off
609.  Finding seasonal recipe ideas
610.  Almonds

Monday, March 11, 2013

3 Types of Resurrection

Colossians 3:1-11

We are in the middle of Lent, or 40 days before Easter.  So, we are focused on the resurrection of Christ and we know that when Christ returns there will be the resurrection of the dead.  But, this passage talks about another resurrection.  "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." (Colossians 3:1 NIV)  

When we have accepted Christ, we are raised with Him.  We need to live like it.  We need to keep our focus on Heaven which is our home.  The Message says, "So, if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it.  Pursue the things over which Christ presides.  Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you.  Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ--that's where the action is.  See things from his perspective." This world is not our home.  So, we need to quit acting like it is.  Focus on Heaven.  That is our true home.  This is temporary anyway.  

The Message study Bible reads:
"People who live this way find that the resurrection doesn't remove us from the sweat and tears of our humanity into some paradise where the gritty quality of our ordinary daily lives is left far behind us.  We would like that.  Sometimes we think this happens to other people.  But it doesn't.  When people talk that way, they aren't telling the truth.  When people talk as if being raised with Christ has removed them from doubt, pain, difficult responsibilities, and trying relationships, they are only fantasizing.  Paul never did that.  When he wrote about being raised with Christ, he was talking about a miracle.  But the miracle isn't that we're delivered from our present circumstances; it's that we're transformed  by them."

We have been resurrected with Christ.  Now let's act like it.

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Thanksgiving for today
599.  Identifying reasons for panic
600.  Melted snow and ice
601.  Listening to the prick on my heart
602.  Kindle
603.  Finding inner strength
604.  Having children that are not followers

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Stay Attached to Your Head

Colossians 2:16-23

We must be careful not to get caught up in a "religion" that is focused on following man made rules and traditions.  We need to be focused on relationship and staying connected to our Head--Christ.  I just saw a picture of self drawn by a woman struggling with anorexia.  She had drawn her head disconnected to her body.  Obviously, that is not a picture of health.  With her feeling of head disconnection,  her body was ailing physically.  She was killing herself.  When we are disconnected from our head, we are killing our body (the church).  It is only when the Head (Christ) is connected that the body is healthy and working as it should.  Growth of the body can only happen when we are connected to the Head.  If someone tells me something I should observe or should be doing, may I always test it through the Bible and prayer and see if it's truly from the Head.  

My study of humility this month, led me to really focus on verse 18: "Don't be cheated out of the prize by others who are peddling the worship of heavenly beings and false humility." What is false humility?  I think it is pretending to think less of yourself and look down on yourself.  It is talking down about yourself so you can appear to be more spiritual.  But, it is really the opposite of true humility  It is really focusing attention on yourself and how great you are with this whole humility thing.  I don't think if we are truly humble, we will say how humble we are.  What do you think?  True humility is between you and God and always trying to keep Him first before our own agenda.  Easier said than done.  And, I don't believe it is something we will ever accomplish fully until Heaven.  So, it is something I will always strive to work on.

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Thanksgiving for today
594;  Yummy breakfast appreciated by all
595.  Smart decisions that allowed us all to stay safe and warm
596.  Popcorn
597.  Everyone knowing what's coming next while watching The Bible
598.  Silent Auction

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Depend on God's Strength

Revelation 3:8-11

Reading the letters to the churches in Revelation is quite an interesting experience.  And, it does what it is supposed to do.  When I read them, I for sure want to act like the churches that are praised and avoid behaving like the churches that are being warned.  What I get from this letter to Philadelphia is that keep enduring and obeying His word.  He is coming back--just hold on and keep doing what you know you should be doing.

I was especially encouraged by verse 8: "I know your deeds.  See, I have placed before you an open door, which no one can shut.  I have done this because you have limited strength, yet you have obeyed My word and have not denied My name."  I personally feel week and with limited strength much of the time.  But, I try to keep obeying His word and not denying His name.  It boosts my confidence to know that God opens the door and will not let the enemy shut it regardless of how week I am.  It is His strength that will keep the door open.  I need to learn to obey His word, not deny His name, and lean on His strength.  I don't have to be strong on my own.  I need  to learn to depend on His strength.

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Thanksgiving for today
589.  Google
590.  Girls trip
591.  Dressing up for a movie
592.  Theater 8
593.  Uneventful trip to movie

Thanksgiving Brings Peace

Philippians 4:4-9

This was a great reminder of what I have really been learning this year.  "
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7 NIV)  If I fill my heart with thankfulness, God's peace will fill my heart.  When you are giving thanks, peace and thankfulness fill my heart.  There is no longer room for worry and fear.  This is what I've been trying to do and can testify from experience that it works.  It is not easy to be thankful when the world seems to be falling apart around me, but if I am, God will give me peace.

And this passage tells us once again to put what we are learning into action.  Head knowledge is not enough.  Verse 9 of the VOICE says "Keep to the script: whatever you learned and received and heard and saw in me--do it--and the God of peace will walk with you."  Don't just read it or learn about it--DO IT!!!

Somehow I got off by one day, so I will be posting again today so my 40 days with Jesus will end on Easter.  My thankful thoughts for the day will be with that post.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Press On

Philippians 3:12-16

"I'm not there yet, no have I become perfect: but I am charging on to gain anything and everything the Anointed One, Jesus, has in store for me--and nothing will stand in my way because He has grabbed me and won't let me go."  (Philippians 3:12 VOICE)

This is my desire and my goal in life.  I want to charge on OR "press on."  I want to keep moving forward and not only searching for truth, but pressing on and living what I'm learning.  It's not enough to have the head knowledge, it's important to use what we learn.  We are to use what we know, but keep pressing forward to learn more and more.

 The Life Application Study Bible says, "Those who are mature should press on in the Holy Spirit's power, knowing that Christ will reveal and fill in any discrepancy between what we are and what we should be.  Christ's provision is no excuse for lagging devotion, but it provides relief and assurance for those who feel driven.  Christian maturity involves acting on the guidance that you have already received.  We can always make excuses that we still have so much to learn.  The instruction for us is to live up to what we already know and live out what we have already learned.  We do not have to be sidetracked by an unending search for truth."

In order for God to reveal the truth to us, we have to stay in communion with Him.  It is impossible to press on when we do not have an ongoing relationship with God.  In order to "sprint toward the goal" we need to stay in touch with God.  Keep you eyes on the finish line and always move forward.

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Thanksgiving for today
583.  Power chair
584.  Shared excitement
585.  Surprise visitors
587.  Inter library loans
588.  Delivery

Wake Up

Revelation 3:2-5

This post has taken me a little longer to get to because I realize there is some controversy here.  Not everyone who reads this will agree with my interpretation.  That being said, I don't want you to get all mad and huffy and refuse to talk about it.  I want you to comment (respectfully please) and ask questions and give your thoughts.  I want to have open, respectful communication about this.  In fact, I'm hoping you all ran to get your Bibles to read this passage for yourself and see if you can find the controversy.

This is a letter to the church in Sardis.  The passage begins by telling them to "wake up" and "remember what they have received and heard."  They already know what a relationship with God is all about and they know how to live the Christian life.  They are just not doing it.

Verse 4 tells us there are some who "don't have the stain of evil works on their clothes."  They have not forgotten and are living the Christian life.  Verse 5 in the VOICE says, "The one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death will be clothed in white garments and I will certainly not erase that person's name from the book of life.  I will acknowledge this person's name before My Father and before His heavenly messengers."  Why would it say that his will "certainly not erase that person's name from the book of life" unless the name can be erased?  Why would he warn the church in Sardis to "wake up" and tell them if they do not wake from their sleep "I will come in judgment--I will creep up on you like a thief--you will have no way of knowing when I will come."?  Why would they fear judgement and the second coming if their names are written in the Book of Life and cannot be erased?

This passage tells me that it is possible to have your name erased from the Book of Life.  Now, salvation is not earned--it is through grace, a gift of God.  But, once we're accepted the gift, we are to stay in communion with God and do our best to follow His commands.  None of us are perfect and none of us will follow the commands perfectly.  But, God knows our heart.  He knows when we are really trying and when we are listening to the heart prick of the Holy Spirit.  He knows when we listen to the Holy Spirit and "wake up" and make changes.  And, He knows when we ignore His prompting and won't turn back.  That is when we need fear His judgment.

What are your thoughts about this passage?

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Thanksgiving for today
579.   Walking weather
580.  Power chair
581.  Cell phones
582.  Moms in Prayer

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

He Ran to Me

Luke 15:11-32

Every time I think about this story, I think about this song.  It was introduced into my life during a choir tour in college by a good friend.  For me, the lesson that grabs at my heart when I read "The Prodigal Son" is that the father ran.  He was watching for the son and waiting for him to come home.  And then he ran!  No scolding, no putting the son at arm's length and making him earn his place in the family.  It was an immediate show of love and affection.  He ran and welcomed him home with a celebration no matter what the son had done.  I'm so thankful that is how God responds to us.  When we turn away, He watches and RUNS the minute we head home.  We are welcomed with open arms and embraced back into the family immediately.  All we need to do is turn to Him.

What are your thoughts about "The Prodigal Son" parable?  Which part jumps out to touch your heart the most?

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Thanksgiving for today
574.  Lent breakfast
575.  Quick shopping
575.  Sonic
576.  Planning ahead
577.  Seasonal items
578.  Libraries

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Act Like Children of the Light

Ephesians 5:6-20

I have never read verses 6&7 quite this way before.When I read about "empty words" I've never really thought about this in the context of religious leaders.  However, the Message reads: "Don't let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk.  God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with Him.  Don't even hang around people like that."   So, we need to be careful when people talk religious talk to us.  We need to be familiar with the Bible and in constant communication with God.   Verse 8 of the Voice reads: ". . .Act like children of the light."  I definately want to act like a child of the light, but in order to do that, I need to know how to do that.  That is why I am searching for the truth.  I want to find it for myself in God's Word and not have some religious leader fill my head with empty words.  I want to live verses 9 & 10: "For the fruit of the light is all that is good, right, and true.  Make it your aim to learn what pleases the Lord."

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Thanksgiving for today
569.  Good books
570.  People thinking about my welfare
571.  Clothes all fit and work together
572.  New students
573.  Instructors who care about safety

Monday, March 4, 2013


Ephesians 5:1-5

How do we really learn anything?  How do we learn how to do what we do?  We imitate those around us.  We may be able to learn through books, but then we are imitating the author.  How do we imitate God?  We must spend time with Him and read His word.  To imitate Him, we must learn what He is like and what He would do.  True imitation cannot really be done without spending a lot of time studying someone.  Can you be a true Elvis impersonator for example without watching Elvis films and video of him on talk shows?  Could you learn his  mannerisms from being told about them?  Not really.  You might be able to come close, but it wouldn't be as close an impression if you spent time observing him yourself.  You could even do a better impression if you had met and studied him in person.  It is the same with God.  We can learn somewhat from listening to others, but true imitation cannot happen until we study and spend time with the source Himself.  This passage gives several ideas on how we are to live,  Of course, there was one part that just stood out to me.  In verse 4, it is talking about our speech and the Message sums it up: "Thanksgiving is our dialect."  This is exactly what God has been teaching me this year and a lesson I have to continually work on learning every day.

What has God been teaching you this year?
How do we imitate God?

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Thanksgiving for today
561.  Bread Maker
562.  Encouragers
563.  The Bible mini-series and conversations it creates
564.  Good travel weather
565.  Naps
566.  Surprises in the mail
567.  BBQ smells from down the street
568.  Flowers

Sunday, March 3, 2013

God's Gift

Ephesians 2:4-10

Salvation is a gift from God.  It is not based on what we do.  In fact,  we could never possibly do enough to erase our sins and "earn" our way to Heaven.  It is because of God's love, mercy, and grace.    None of us "earned" our salvation and none of us have the right to pride or to brag about what we have done to "earn" this.  It was a gift--pure and simple.  We should be thankful for the gift and recognize the Giver, not think we earned it by what we do.  In verse 7, the Voice says, "He did this for a reason: so that for all eternity we will stand as a living testimony to the incredible riches of His grace and kindness that He freely gives us by uniting us with Jesus the Anointed."  It should be our response to this gift to point others toward the Giver and tell them about the gift that is available to all.

What do you think our response to the gift should be?

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Thanksgiving for today
557.  Women getting together and loving God
558.  Making new friends
559.  Celebrating miracles
560.  Excitement about new clothes
561.  Packages

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Prayer for God's People

Ephesians 1:15-19

Paul put into words what I hope others are praying for me and what I am praying for myself.  I've been convicted to pray this for people in my life.  Here's the VOICE translation of the prayer in verses 17-19:

"God of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, 
Father of Glory: I call out to You
 on behalf of your people.  Give them minds 
ready to receive wisdom and revelation.
so they will truly know You.  Open the
eyes of their hearts, and let the light
of Your truth flood in.  Shine Your light
on the hope You are calling them to 
embrace.  Reveal to them the glorious 
riches You are preparing for their
inheritance.  Let them see the full extent of
Your power that is at work in those of us
who believe,  and may it be done according
to Your might and power."

This is what I pray for all of us.  Those of us who have accepted Christ are not waiting for His power.  It is at work within us.  May we all realize that and not have fear that we are doing things on our own.  Christ is within us and it is His power that gives us strength.  Please pray this for me and if you would like me to specifically pray it for you, let me know.

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Thanksgiving for today
551.  Kids desire to help others 
552.  Dog's hair regrowth
553.  Maintaining a relationship with an old friend
554.  Register rewards
555.  Ship to store
556.  Finding the perfect item

Thursday, February 28, 2013

I'd Rather Be a Stomach

I Corinthians 12:12-27

I've considered this passage many times.  In fact, it is a standard to come back to when talking about people working together in the church.  I think it has gotten so familiar, I've stopped really looking at what it means.  Of course, it always helps when you read a passage in several different translations.  You can't just zone our while you're reading a familiar passage when the words are so different.  It does help you catch the meaning differently when you read with different words.

In the VOICE, there was use of the words whine and pout.  This time, as I read this passage, I realized we tend to react sinfully in two polar opposite ways when we are not reacting appropriately in the body of Christ.  We are either self-critical and whiny and pouty OR we are prideful and act superior.  Which do you tend to do?  I find that people think they are being humble and obeying God if they do not act prideful.  I think this passage would say whining and being self-critical is not true humility either.  It is also a sin.  True humility and working well in the body of Christ is accepting where God has placed us and acting to the best of our ability in that roll--not trying to take anyone else's and not saying "we're not worthy."

Every time I've read this, I skim over I Corinthians 12:22  "On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,"   (NIV)  What are the weaker parts of the body?  I've never really stopped to think it through.    Well, the MESSAGE gives me a different way to think about it:  "As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way--the "lower" the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary.  You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. . . If you had to choose, wouldn't you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?"  There is no part of the body more valuable than others.  I have had difficulties with various parts of my body and am so thankful when they work like they should.  Any body, including the body of Christ works best when all parts are working like they should and not just taking up space or trying unsuccessfully to take over the job of another part.

Verse 25-26 really struck me this time.  You don't think about all parts of your body being mutually dependent on one another while they are all working smoothly and doing their job.  My physical body is a testimony to the truth of these verses:  "That way there should be no division in the body; instead, all the parts mutually depend on and care for each other.  If one part is suffering, then all the members suffer alongside it.  If one member is honored, then all members celebrate alongside it."  (VOICE)  How true this is and how little thought we put into it.  The left side of my body functions like it should, but since the right side "suffers" it effects my whole body.  I am in a wheelchair, my balance is terrible, my temperature control is off, my vision is double, just to name a few.  "When one member is suffering, then all members suffer alongside it."  This is true in your physical body and true in the body of Christ.  When one member suffers, we are all impacted and should work together to help restore them to health.  When one member is honored, we should celebrate, not try to cut them down and harm them which will in turn harm the whole body.  

I looked at this passage in a whole new way.  What about you?  What are your thoughts?

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Thanksgiving for today
547.  Balance
548.  Cooking Smells
549.  Leftovers requested for school lunches
550.  Apologies with suggestions for improvement

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Humility Part 2

Luke 18:10-14

This is a parable I've heard or read multiple times in my life.  You'd think I couldn't possibly learn anything new.  Well, that is not how the Bible works.  And, especially now that I'm studying humility, it spoke volumes.  I'm sure the Pharisee thought he was doing his religious duty and doing what God wanted him to do.  I'm sure he never considered himself having a problem with humility.  After all, he was focused on religion and following God's laws, right?  He was only stating the truth that everyone there already knew.  He was prideful and self-righteous and really not praying to God.  He was verbally listing what was so great about him for the benefit of anyone close enough to hear.  He was not humbling himself before God and asking what God wanted him to do.

How many times do we get like that?  Romans 3:23 says, " for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (NIV)  All means all.  There is nothing we can do that keeps us out of that ALL.  Fortunately, God will forgive us and give us grace if we but ask.  But, that is God doing the work.  God is Holy and Just and Perfect.  We are not.  Our focus needs to be on Him and His plan, not on ourselves and our plan.  Let God be the driver, not merely a passenger as we carry out our own plans.  Let God make the plans.  You will never be disappointed.

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Thanksgiving for today
540.  Willingness to change plans
541.  Getting responsibilities done early
542.  Dog hair getting soft again
543.  Break time
544.  Knowing limits
545.  Women's ministry opportunities
546.  Finding resources I need