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Verse of the Day
Wednesday
Dec242014

Seeing His Way

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
 
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." -Romans 12:9-21 (emphasis mine)
 

A friend recently shared with me how she asked God to give her a glimpse of what He sees when He looks at a particularly difficult student of hers. God granted this gift to her and it changed everything. She had a renewed vision for how God saw this child and how she could relate to her in God's love and not purely by what she saw in the outward actions and words of the child. 

Do you find it difficult to look beyond what you see in the people around you? I do. Just keeping it real.
In fact, I find it much easier to see the way God sees when I interact with teenagers or kids than when relating to some adults, who I often thought should be nicer, more refined versions of people. When really, adults can have many of the same insecurities, emotional challenges, and everyday difficulties as teens do. Often, it is just submerged or camouflaged.
 
The apostle Paul wrote, 'Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." -Romans 12:9 Cling to the good. God created people; His creation is good. It is also fallen and sinful by choice. It wasn't part of God's original plan for us to be sinful; our ancestors chose sin out of disobedience to God. So here we have people that were created to be good, but with the free will that allowed Adam and Eve to choose to start the cycle of sin.
We have beautiful possibilities running around behaving badly. We need help to look beyond what we see in the natural.  
 
We can do both...see a vision of the fullness and freedom God has for a person, while hating the traps, entanglements, and disfiguring sin that is ravaging God's ultimate plan for the person. Treating the person harshly or indifferently doesn't help. Getting a vision for what God has in mind for the person and of His vision for his son or daughter's potential changes everything for me.
I am praying that we would see each other differently, that we would see His way.

Beth

Wednesday
Dec172014

Unclogging the Christmas Sink

"For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." -Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

Our utility sink that is attached to the washing machine is pretty rustic. The lint filter attached to the water hose doesn't catch all the lint that separates from our clothes and towels. Often this lint forms a grey, icky mess that clogs the drain at the bottom of the double basin. If I don't check it and clean it out periodically, it overflows dirty, sudsy water all over our basement floor! Yesterday, I cleaned it out. It was a gross, stringy mess. But necessary for the water to flow freely and allow more laundry to be done.
 
Christmas can become a time of clogged loyalties. In talking with other women, conversations of overwhelming amounts of decorating, cookies, cards, and cleaning abound. Is this what Christmas is? The right decorations? The right foods? Now don't get me wrong, special traditions to bless others by celebrating the birth of the One True King, Jesus, are precious and to be savored. However, are we clogging the drain with the many additional requirements we place upon ourselves and on others at times?
 
Christmas can be simple, beautiful, meaningful if we simply unclog the flow of the Holy Spirit and ask:
*What is most important this season?
*What are good, simple ways to celebrate the birth of Christ?
*How can I bless someone today?
 
Here's to a Christmas filled with simple blessings and knowing that you are loved so much by the God of the Universe that He sent His son to earth for you and for me. You are loved this Christmas and every day. You are loved deeply and richly. Merry Christmas!

Beth

 

Monday
Dec152014

Just Hanging Around

Last summer, my family invited me to join them for a week at the beach.  I was packed before the day was out.  I have always loved the ocean and have grand memories of vacations with my Mom and Dad, body surfing, lounging on a raft, or just bobbing up and down with the waves.  Gosh, I hadn’t been in the ocean for decades!  I was excited and marked off the days on the calendar.

Finally. Decked out in a cute little (okay, well, not very cute and definitely NOT very little) suit, smeared with sun-protection and laden with a colorful variety of towels, umbrellas, magazines, and snacks, I made my way to join the other sun and water “worshippers.” 

Ahhh.  The smell of the ocean; the feel of the sand; the sound of the waves crashing over each other: the beach! 

After claiming my territory, I set up camp, and then eagerly joined the family members who were already in the water.  I waded out as far as I could, and within thirty seconds, found myself on my back, upside-down-turtle-style.  As I struggled to roll over to get a foothold somehow, BAM, another wave hit, and I was now belly-down in the frothy water. 

Family hurried to my rescue as I staggered out of the water and turned to figure out what had just happened!  My daughter Shelley suggested I hold onto her hand as I made Attempt #2. Again, I was swept off my feet (and NOT romantically) and brought Shelley down with me.  I quickly realized that I no longer had the strength or balance to stand against the waves.  (Bet you know where I am going with this, eh?)

I settled for walking ankle deep along the shoreline picking up shells, hoping for a piece of sea glass.  I still soaked up the sun and the general ambiance, but body surfing took on another, less artistic meaning for me.  

I have reflected often about Christ’s commands to us to stand.  What does it take to stand?  Nothing, right?  We just, well, stand. 

After my salt-water plunge, I have a slightly different perspective.  I wasn’t able to stand: I wasn’t prepared for the force of the waves; I over-estimated my abilities; I was out-of-shape and maybe even a little overweight. 

One of the most intriguing passages about “standing” is found in Ephesians 6: 11, 13, 14:  11 ”Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your STAND against the devil’s schemes.” and 13 ”Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to STAND your ground, and after you have done everything, to STAND.  Verse 14 begins, “STAND firm then...” 

 

Paul makes references to “the devil’s schemes,” and “when the day of evil comes...”  Sounds a lot like today, and yesterday, and I’m betting tomorrow, too.  The devil attacks, and he is smart; he has schemes.

Look what is written in I Peter:  “...Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  Insert YOUR name for someone

So, what are we doing when we stand? We are persevering. We are thwarting the plans of the enemy. 

How?  By standing on the word; by standing on the truth; by standing in faith, by showing steadfastness, by raising our shields to fend off the fiery arrows. 

Don’t kid yourself; standing takes some spiritual muscles!  And when those waves begin to roll over us--those “schemes” and “those evil days”--we will be able to stand, to stand as if we were standing on a rock, THE Rock.

Myra   

Monday
Nov172014

The Master MTO Specialist

Last week I walked into Sheetz and stepped up to the MTO (Made To Order) kiosk to place an order.  As I checked off my requests for different items, my mind began to wander, “What if we could do this for our spiritual lives?”  

  •  Love
  •  Joy
  • Peace
  • Longsuffering
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-Control

I trust that when I pray to the Lord, the Master MTO Specialist, to help increase these things in me…He will do it! When I submit my requests, He hears me and goes right to work to bring about His very best for me.  

 

Once our prayers have been answered, we must do our part.  If we order our item from Sheetz and never ingest it, it has no benefit.  Therefore, while He is faithful to always answer these prayers…we must internalize and practice what He has graciously handed us.  We need to ask Jesus to help us live out this new gift!  He will show us every step of the way.  We are never left alone to figure it out! 

My list, of course, is much longer than just the Fruit of the Spirit.  But without the Lord working inside of me, I would surely find that without Him, my checklist is worthless garbage.  He makes the difference.

Let us forge ahead with confidence that when we ask, He goes right to work to build inside of us a woman of faith that looks an awful lot like her Daddy.  

Your MTO Specialist is standing by!

Braelene

Monday
Nov102014

Skunked!

About two years ago our family adopted a new member.  He was a pet and friend for my son.......a Cairn Terrior.  Since that time, Max has befriended each member of our family in a slightly different way.  To my son he is a rival, always wanting to chase and play, always wanting to win.  To my husband he is another pet on our list of several who he diligently cares for.  Since my health struggle began in March, Max has become my constant companion, my shadow, my "Furry Friend", if you will.  But to the critters who live outside of our house, he is a twenty five pound Cairn "terrorist".

Each morning before daylight, I open the garage door to allow Max to "charge out" into the 
yard .  Every morning it's the same routine.  I open the door.  He runs as fast as he can, loudly barking and looking for any animal he can find to begin his day of chasing terror.

All fun and games until the morning there was something else waiting in the yard for Max besides the usual "kitties".  All fun and games until Max met his terrorist nemesis, the skunk.



Now terriers have a kind of "natural odor" that is unique to them.  Terrier scent mixed with wet morning grass and skunk makes for a not-so-aromatic mixture.  And so the animal games began.  Every morning for at least a week, Max met his "smelly friend" and so blessed our house with stinky smells.

How does this apply to us?  I was spending time with God one morning very early before Max went outside.  He wanted to cuddle up in my lap so that I could love him.  But even though I tried many ways to get the stinky smell out of Max's fur, nothing completely erased it.  So here I had a stinky pup who loved me so much and just wanted my love in return.  It was then that I realized that to God I am the stinky pup.  Each day he tells me, sends me, commands me to go out into that "stinky world" that He loves, and love them back.

When I go out there, I am not immune to the stink.  Just like Max, I oftentimes may start to smell like the company that I keep.  But if I don't go, how will they ever see, feel or experience God's most precious gift, his unchanging, undying love for us.  One thing is different though.  Whenever I want to "snuggle up" and spend time with my Master, He takes that worldly stink, and blesses me with a divine fragrance that only He can give.  And guess what?  That Divine Fragrance draws more people with "stinky situations" who want what they see and hear and smell in our lives.

Let's be more like Max and seek ways we can get "skunked" for God.

Lisa