Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hard Words of Love

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 Christians need to unite. Not with this world, that would entail compromise, but with each other. Maybe we’ll look at our relationship with the world, tomorrow.
We need to stop allowing our petty differences to keep us apart. Sometimes we literally alienate each other with our opinions and proclivities. Some of us reading this right now already have an opinion they want to share that argues my point. The Bible says that the world will know that we are Christians by our love for one another. Yet, so often, we don’t behave lovingly to those who are closest to us, let alone other Christians whose opinions differ from ours.

We hear the word ‘tolerance’ tossed around a lot in daily discussions, and we’re all generally pointing the finger at someone whose beliefs differ from ours and insisting that they’re the ones not being tolerant. I find myself doing the same thing, quite frankly, because “they” are the ones who appear to be intolerant.

But, why do we need to tolerate each other? Why can’t we love each other as Jesus instructed us to do? He wasn’t making a flippant suggestion. When asked what the greatest commandment was, His audience was looking for “the most important rule(s) to follow, the ones that make the biggest difference, the ones that mean the most to God, the ones that had no bending room or compromising. Jesus didn’t quibble over the numbers and randomly pick, “…oh, I think number seven is pretty important, but so is number three…” while considering the original Ten Commandments. We read: “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:34-39 (NIV)

If we don’t get that command, none of the others really matter. (1 Corinthians 13) If we can’t love like Jesus loves, we don’t have Him in our hearts. 1 John 4:20 expounds; “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (NIV)  These are some very strong words!

Those words are even harder when we put them in the context that love is not shown through mere words; but in our actions.

I challenge us to contemplate our actions. Perhaps even try looking at our actions through someone else’s eyes. Are we often judgmental and critical? Or can we honestly reflect on a loving, forgiving nature that mirrors God’s?

Some heartfelt repentance and asking direction from God will get us back on track, quickly.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” – Romans 8:1-2 (KJV)
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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

An Inspiring Challenge

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Breezing into this challenge and presuming it will be easy, but we shall see. My friend Debbie extended the challenge she was given, to her friends, and I in turn, extend it to you. Can you come up with 100 positive things about your life?

I thank God for each of these phenomenal blessings. I’m forever grateful to serve and be in love with the God Who just can’t stop blessing!
(These 100 blessings/positive things in my life are not necessarily in numerical order, I’m not ‘ranking’ them. AND, I apologize for how long this became and for how the spacing freakishly changed on me; I honestly can't explain it and I'm too tired to continue wrestling with it. You don’t have to read it all at once if you don’t want to, but be sure to come back and finish!)

1.           Jesus is my Savior, my Lord and my best friend. He loves me unconditionally and forever.
2.       Dave is my husband, my best friend in the flesh, and the love of my life. He loves me unconditionally and forever, too! (He can’t help himself!)
3.        My firstborn child is my amazing, handsome, strong, intelligent and charismatic young man who proudly serves our country as a member of the elite group of men known as Army Airborne Soldiers, and he’s gifted me with two incredible grandsons.
4.           My second born child is my beautiful, precious Princess – she’s brave and kind and has one of the biggest hearts on the planet, and has gifted me with four incredible grandchildren.
5.         My third born child is my baby, though he’s bigger than I am. He’s my Marine, my courageous, disciplined, handsome, faithful son, who’s blessed me with three more incredible grandchildren. I am blessed, indeed.
6.             My first grandson, Kyle.
7.             My second grandson, Collin.
8.             My third grandson, Johnny.
9.                         My fourth grandson, Josef.
10.                        My fifth grandson, Joseph.
11.                        My first granddaughter, Versais.
12.                        My second granddaughter, Fiona.
13.                        My third granddaughter, Abigail.
14.                        My fourth granddaughter, Temperance. (I’ve listed the grandchildren by age, not necessarily the order they came into my life.) Each grandchild brings their own unique blessings into my life and love for them is unconditional and forever, just like their parents.
15.                        I was raised by amazing, loving parents who were my first glimpse into what God Himself might be like. Have I always agreed with them? No. But I haven’t always agreed with anyone, as far as I know.
16.                        I have a gorgeous daughter in law that loves me and a wonderful new son in law who loves me – and I love them both with all my heart. If you’re going to love my children, you’ve got to know you have a special, permanent place in my heart.
17.                        I’m growing more beautiful every day, because I’m recognizing my own beauty a little more each day.
18.                               I live in a very happy home!
19.                       My wonderful husband brings home enough of a paycheck that I’m not forced to work to pay the bills. I can’t tell you how grateful that makes me. Should I choose to get a job, it will be just that – a choice.
20.                        I have an abundance of friends and acquaintances that love me. Even the ones who really know me! I don’t dare try to mention names or we’d be here many, many days….
21.                        I’m forgiven.
22.                        I’m generally surrounded by kindness.
23.                       I have many gifts and talents, some of which I’m just discovering now. Life gets better every day!
24.                        I’m learning self-discipline and the process of implementing boundaries in my life. This is VERY liberating. Sure, I should have established this years ago – but, rather than get down on myself for not yet having “arrived” in life, I’m getting there!
25.                        I love my yoga classes and my yoga instructor.
26.                        My car is paid for and still doing me proud and it’s ten years old already!
27.                        I have five wonderful siblings, whom I love with all my heart. We may not all live close together or see each other as much as we could/should, be the ties that bind us together are very stretchy!
28.                        I have a plethora of nieces and nephews who are each adorable and incredible blessings to me, whether they realize it or not.
29.                        I love to write. YOU love to read!
30.                        I love to read.
31.                        I love food. And I’m learning to recognize the real stuff from the imposters that have poisoned my body for too many years and making healthier choices every day.
32.                        I’m becoming involved in politics, learning so many new things about the ways our local and state and federal government work, and don’t work. It’s not fair to complain if I’m not taking steps to educate myself and contribute some good to the situation.
33.                        I’m stronger than I ever thought I would be, and getting stronger every day. The exciting part is, I’ve become aware of that strength.
34.                        I pray. For myself, for you, and for every stranger God lays on my heart. And I know that I know that I know that my prayers are heard and answered. And I know that God won’t compromise anyone’s freedom of choice simply because I’ve prayed. I trust Him with that.
35.                        I’m a giver.
36.                        I’m learning to be a receiver.
37.                        Now that I’ve finally taken the dive and got myself a new cell phone, I’m actually not afraid of it or the changes it represents. Gone with the old! Into the new. Do I know how to use it yet? Not completely. But I’m not afraid of the new technology. I thought I would be.
38.                        I have great hair! Is that a vain thought? I don’t care.
39.                        I’ve reconnected with cousins and old friends through Facebook and it’s wonderful!
40.                        I love the breezes God sends my way.
41.                        I love the sunshine. And I treasure it even more after a few days of gray skies.
42.                        I love TREES! And praise God, the longer I live, the more different types I get to see – and touch!
43.                        I love beaches; the warm, beautiful sandy beaches of the east coast in particular, though Hawaii has some great ones, too.
44.                        I’ve been blessed to travel with my precious husband to places I never dreamed I’d see.
45.                        I have some incredible memories. Sadly, though, I have a lot of great memories I can no longer remember, but – praise God for the ones I can recall!
46.                        I can sing, and I can do it quite well. Perhaps not as well as I once could, but I have fun with it!
47.                        Dave and I still have date nights. Often! We’re nerdy, crazy mad in love with each other.
48.                        Most of the people I know are honest, for the most part.
49.                        I have some fantastic, anointed pastors.
50.                        I trust that my best days are ahead of me!
51.                        The Sky Sox stadium is within walking distance from my house. I don’t go to nearly enough games, but I can if I choose to.
52.                        I know how to adapt, improvise and overcome!
53.                        I own a treasure of great books and a world of information is quickly and freely available to me with a keystroke and an internet connection.
54.                        My house is yellow. I always wanted a yellow house. This particular shade might be a bit bold, but hey – it’s super easy to locate my house, even from miles away. Yes, I say that with a smile on my face.
55.                        I trust easily.
56.                        I forgive easily.
57.                        My home has great city views and views of the mountains, as well. I drink it all in, daily.
58.                        I don’t dread birthdays anymore.
59.                        I don’t fear death anymore.
60.                        I am trusted.
61.                        I’m funny! It’s not always intentional, but, I can sure make people laugh. Thank God for my dad’s words of wisdom: “Helen, they’re not laughing AT you, they’re laughing WITH you.” Me: “But, Dad, I’m not laughing.” Dad: “Start!”
62.                        I love to wash my dishes by hand.
63.                        I love a good hot bath, and a soak in a nice, deep hot tub.
64.                        I’m very healthy. Sure, I have my aches and complaints from time to time, but overall, I’m very healthy. Yay!
65.                        I have great dreams. I write down the ones I see as most powerful.
66.                        I have God’s Word, both the logos and the Rhema!
67.                        On days when I can’t seem to sit still and focus on written words, my computer will read to me!
68.                        I love going for walks with Dave, and he loves walking with me.
69.                        We do it too often, but I love going out to eat with Dave, more face time!
70.                        After sitting through the rain, we get the smell of freshness that no other scent can parallel.
71.                        Just today, as I wearily drove through a drive-through for a drink, a small boy who doesn’t know me at all – blew me a kiss!
72.                        How positive and wonderful is this one? I live in a world filled with colors!
73.                        I love the birds that come to visit every day and bring joy to my yard with their songs.
74.                        I love 70s music and can listen to it any time I want to!
75.                        I have affordable health insurance. I did BEFORE Obamacare, too.
76.                        I love the sound of my children and grandchildren’s laughter.
77.                        Dave doesn’t snore anymore! I can sleep!
78.                        I have spell-check! It’s not necessary to embarrass myself publically.
79.                        I’m blessed with a wonderful Bible teacher who comes to hold Bible studies here in my own home.
80.                        I see beauty in everyone. Everyone!
81.                        Even with my eclectic tendencies, I’m learning to be more organized. Baby steps, Helen. Baby steps.
82.                        I know much of God’s Word by heart, yet each time I read it, He gives me fresh revelation.
83.                        I’m surrounded by talented, strong, inspiring people.
84.                        I don’t easily attach to material possessions.
85.                        Most days, I bubble over with joy. Perhaps not all day long – but, the joy is always there.
86.                        I’ve learned to “think on the good things”. (Philippians 4:8)
87.                        I like who I am.
88.                        I like who Dave is. And I like who we are together.
89.                        Coffee. ‘nuff said.
90.                        Oh, and chocolate!
91.                      It seems there’s always someone around to give me a hug when I need one.
92.                        We’re in our 37th year of marriage and growing stronger every day.
93.                        I have some wisdom to go with the (few) gray hairs I’ve acquired.
94.                        My heart grows larger all the time, there’s always someone new to make room for there.
95.                        Dave and I can’t dance, but we do anyways, when no one is looking…
96.                        I love a good, rhyming poem, especially if I wrote it.
97.                        I love it when a light bulb goes off in my mind, though it can be frustrating when I can’t seem to communicate what I just got understanding on.
98.                        I love that you’re still reading this list!
99.                        I love water. I have a healthy respect for it, too. But I love drinking cold water and sitting in hot water.
100.                   I love that there is so much good in my life, that I believe I could come up with another list just as long as this one, just as quickly.

Thank you for your time and attention. I hope you’re inspired to write your own list. If it lifts you up and encourages you, post it on a wall somewhere you’ll see it often, so you’ll remember to stir up the good gifts in your life and remember to rejoice, in the midst of the rainy days.

God is merciful and gracious to us. He is faithful to us. And He loves us, even when we don’t return that love. There is nothing we can do to make Him stop loving us. Hallelujah! What a very long gratimoment! Thank you, Stacy Voss for giving us the gift of gratimoments to hold on to!
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Sunday, May 18, 2014


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What if we succeed? What if – as a parent (or any task we complete, really), we’re successful at our job? Of course, we didn’t measure up every single day; no one does except Jesus Himself. But, thank God for grace!

But looking back at your seasonal job completed, there’s great news and for some of us a bit of hard news, too. The great news is we’ve raised self-sufficient, God-dependent men and women; people who will make an impact on the world - in big ways and in small everyday ways. They’ll be armed and equipped to raise their children.

As a learning, growing woman of God, naturally I want to see my children making an impact in the lives around them – for Christ, and to advance His kingdom. But, what if they’re not serving Christ – does that mean we failed? Absolutely not! God is our heavenly Father, we are His children, and do we all glorify Him? No. Is He a failure? No in every different way you can say it!

Are your children free to ask questions? Are they free to search out life on their own? Do they have resources available to them wherein they can pose their questions and argue their points, voice their frustrations? The answer to those questions, in most cases, is a resounding yes!

God is true to His Word and true to His promises. Diligently seek after His Word for your children and continue to pray it over them; His Word does not return void. We each have our own journey through this life, a journey we have to walk out on our own. We can be nurtured and taught, but we all make our own mistakes; we each trip over different rocks. Exercise your faith, see your child as God does and watch and pray, believing God for the fruit of your seeds sown.

But, what’s that hard news I mentioned?

As with any job well-done, and with any leaders who lead well – you’ll likely outlive the task at hand. Though we’ll always be our children’s parents, they won’t always need us like they did when they were little. If we were good parents (no parent is perfect), they will love us forever. Even if we were not-so-good, chances are, they’ll love us forever, even if they find along the way that they don’t actually like us.

Kissing one job good-bye and looking for another good and useful purpose can be a challenge. But when we sit and wallow in how well our children are doing, that’s a complete waste of self-pity! Realistically, I can’t think of any good use for self-pity. How many days will we throw away, never to be lived again, wishing we could cling to the usefulness we used to feel; being needed in the same ways we were in the past?

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” – Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

Not only have our children grown, we have too! We aren’t the same men and women we were when our children were young. We’re equipped to do even more, and to do it more effectively. Look at all the years of practice we’ve had, learning from mistake after mistake!

“The steps of a good [wo]man are ordered by the LORD; and he delighteth in his way.” – Psalm 37:23 (KJV)

Today is all we have. Yesterday is gone. Face it. Tomorrow isn’t promised. Don’t waste your precious moments looking back. Don’t long for what used to be, get excited about what is right now. Look up from any despair or anxiety or sorrow you may be wallowing in and experience what this moment in time holds for you. God’s plans are on-going and perfect. He knew this day would come and this part of our purposes here would be completed; He’s seen the end from the beginning. His game plan continues. It’s your choice, sit on the sidelines until you die – or jump back in the game. Our Head Coach calls the plays, not us. Seek Him today for what He’s got planned next!

And one of everyone’s favorites: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:11-13 (KJV)

Sunday, May 11, 2014


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New pondering points.

On Monday nights we host a Bible study here at the house, Alena Tvrznik teaches on the Holy Spirit and shares on a variety of other topics. She said a couple of things the other night that were just too good not to share with you.

Before I tell you what she said, let me explain quickly the difference between the Logos and the Rhema words from God. The Logos Word is the written Word; the Bible. Rhema Word is the revealed Word of God; what God shows you His Word means and how to apply it to your life or situation.

Romans 10:9 tells us that,faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Yes, reading God’s Word, or listening to it on your computer or CD builds our faith, instructs us, teaches us and reveals to us more and more about God and His character. But when He reveals the thoughts and intents of His heart to you, the written Word becomes so much more powerful. When you’re seeking a Word from God, it’s going to come from something already in His written Word.

Alena says, “The Logos must become Rhema to be beneficial to us.” Think about it, how many people read the Bible and get nothing from it, or walk away even more confused then they started out? With revelation comes the faith it takes to believe God and take Him at His Word, even when you don’t understand it completely. With that faith comes the hunger for more of His Word, which in turn, encourages and grows our faith. All of this to expound on her quote, “Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Rhema of God; His revealed Word.”

She also said, “When you ‘come boldly before the throne of God’ it’s for revelation of God’s Word and will. With that revelation we can move boldly in the Spirit.”

Hebrews 4:16 instructs us, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (KJV) When we’re seeking mercy and grace, we need God to reveal Himself to us and His will for us; we can find peace in knowing He does love us and that He does have a plan for us. We are not without hope or purpose. But this has to be revealed to us by God Himself.

When we pray, we need to pray fervently (James 5:16). For it to be effective, we need to pray using both the Logos Word (the written Word; the Bible) as well as for and with the Rhema Word (God’s revealed Word; the revelation of His Word FOR YOU.)

Definitely points worth pondering!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What Do We Hinder?

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Seventeen years ago, a young man moved from Colorado Springs, leaving his position as a children’s church minister at our church, to go back to his hometown in Illinois. Pastor Louie Reyes started a ministry he calls Sidewalk Sunday School, which is now one of the biggest and most successful children’s ministries in the nation. He was here to speak to us Wednesday night and share bits of his story. Let me just tell you; very impressive. 

They just purchased an old YMCA building which is undergoing extensive renovations. The bank wanted four million dollars for the building, but sold it to them for 1.2 million dollars - cash. By the time the ministry moves into the building, they’ll be debt free. Yes, it’s an amazing story. But, it all started in Pastor Louie’s heart, before he was a pastor. And he shared his heart with us that night.

“Why not YOU?” he asked. Then asked again, “Why NOT you? Can you believe that God can do it through YOU?”

Now, I have to admit, my immediate answer, though under my breath, was, “Who? ME?”

“It’s easy to believe in Him – but do you believe in yourself? Do you believe what you can believe; the vision God gave to YOU?”

Yes, it’s easy for me to believe in God. But, I can’t always say I believe in myself. I’m working on it, though. I’m recognizing who I am in Christ more and more with each passing day, with each passage of scripture I read and study, with each promise I receive from God. But for all the good work God can do through me, I restrain Him when I don’t believe in myself; when I don’t see in me what He sees in me – what He put there.

I’ll admit, I don’t understand the theology of it all, but yes, we restrain God. That almost sounds sacrilegious to say; as if we have power over what God does and doesn’t do. However, He’s bound by His own Word, so He honors our choices. We see it spelled out the following verses, particularly in verse 5.

Pastor Louie took us to Mark 6:1-6:
Mark 6:
Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 
When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these things? they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing?
3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.  
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.”   
He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 
He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Verse 6 points out that Jesus was amazed. He was amazed at their lack of faith. He may have thought, “How could you not believe in Me?” To which they’d have had to admit, “You’re one of us, and we don’t even believe in ourselves. Nothing good comes from us.”

Is this our attitude about the things God wants to do in our lives? The things he wants to do with and through our lives? Do we refuse to acknowledge that God can and will do great and mighty things in and through us? What are we restraining God from doing? How much of the suffering in the world is because we, and other believers just like us, don’t have faith enough to believe the incredible things God created us for?

Sidewalk Sunday School and the Church of Joy wouldn’t exist as it does if Pastor Louie refused to believe in himself and what God can do with a willing vessel.

What dreams has God put inside of you? You didn’t come up with them on your own, God put them in your heart so that your union with Him could activate them and bring them to pass.

Why not YOU?  Why NOT you?

Thank you, Pastor Louie Reyes, for unleashing dreams across the nation!

Find Pastor Louie here: Sidewalk Sunday School  and here: The New Church of Joy