Bibles in September

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September is one of my favorite months, and yet also one of my saddest.  My beautiful momma, Helen Marie,  passed away five years ago, this September 19th. This month has always been so full of new beginnings, fresh fall air, pumpkins and fairs. And I love them all!   But deep in the recesses of my mind and heart, there is always this twinge of pain, beauty, nostalgia and want.  I truly miss her every single day. And I don’t think there is a time when I am not thinking of her, her laugh, her beauty and her love of God.  She taught me how to read, study and love the Bible, and I have several of her bibles filled with notes and journaling.

This week, I decided to buy a new Bible. Not that I needed one, but I wanted the one I gave to someone so that when we read together, we are reading the same version.  And I realized that I didn’t have NIV.  I probably have every other version, haha, but not NIV.

So while I was reading yesterday morning, and turned to the front of the Bible and put my name and date in and then stopped.  I heard God say look at the date again. September 2018.  Then look at the bible you bought last year. September 2017. Now go to the next one. Guess what it said? September 2016.   I realized that every September I had been buying a new bible.  The same month my mom passed away.  Then I felt the Spirit tell me ever so sweetly that it is honoring of my mom. That every September as I have been buying a bible, it was building on the foundation of my mom’s love of the Word and my love of the Word. She would love the bible I just bought, filled with flowers, colors and study notes

I sometimes have felt so guilty for not getting to her graveside much, or putting flowers on for every occasion, But this was so much better.  A bible that keeps us connected through God’s word. A Bible that is the Living Word that she now sees everyday, and I read everyday. Instead of empty vases, I now have Bibles that are marked and highlighted, just like hers.

I hope I am explaining this correctly.  It was such a powerful AHA moment for me, and I wanted to share so that maybe, just maybe it would bless someone.

This is the Bible I purchased. The NIV Women’s Study Bible. Isn’t it a beaut!

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Art in the Word

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Lately I have been experimenting with being creative. I always say I can’t do something – but I met a sweet friend Wendy that showed me, to just be you! Let your own creativity come out!

So – I am sharing with you!

What I have learned is washi tape is awesome!

Gesso and a napkin, and watercolors are awesome!

And, anyone can do this!!

How many times?

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Forgiveness.

Such a hard topic because we all think we walk in forgiveness, but then we still have this twinge of ….something when we see that person. Am I right?

I have walked many seasons in my life, and in each of them I have learned much about forgiveness. Not that I am an expert, but I have really been pondering it lately.

I had a really hard situation several years back and really wanted to not have the noose of unforgiveness binding me or the other person.

When I ran into this person that really hurt me several months ago {not having seen or talked to her since ‘the hurting’} I genuinely smiled, asked how she was, didn’t have any of that white-hot ugly in my heart, and wished her a great day. As I walked away, God told me {yes Joy Behar, God does talk to us, and only His sheep hear His voice} “that is what forgiveness feels like, this is what is feels like to be at peace with someone”. Not that the situation was right, or we will ever be best pals again, but I was free of the bond of unforgivness.

How do you know when you have forgiven someone?

I get asked this all the time. In the past, I would answer, until you don’t hurt anymore, or until you can bless the person who hurt you. But now, I answer until it’s complete in you and you have peace.

Many times we rotely quote “seventy times seven”, and offer it a very unsticky band-aid. It is in the bible, but what does it mean? Do we multiply the numbers? Do we look into the Greek or Hebrew and have a discussion on it?

I would like to suggest something I think God has shown me.

Peter asks Jesus, do I need to forgive seven times? And then Jesus responds, seventy times seven.  So here is what I think it could mean.

Seven in the bible is the year of Jubilee, completion, the year debts are forgiven. What if Jesus is saying I want you to forgive until it is complete in you. That you are totally completely forgiving and at peace. Not that what was done to you was right, but you deserve to live free, at peace, complete. Completely at peace with them.

Not a multiplication problem, but a numbers game if you will. Forgive until your heart is totally in jubilee, until the forgiveness is complete and you can look at that person and feel nothing but peace, compassion and completeness.

So, is it possible Jesus is saying, forgive until it has been completed in your heart and that my peace completes you.  That forgiveness has been completed in me.

How many times? until it is complete.

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Divorce.

Divorce is painful, hurtful and sometimes needed.

Wait, before you panic, I am not getting a divorce from Brian. But, I think a divorce is needed.

The Bride of Christ needs a divorce from the world.

From Genesis to Revelation there is a marriage trail.

I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. (Hosea 2:19}

In the context and custom of the Bible, once you were betrothed, or engaged, it was a done deal. You were married.

For your Maker is your husband– the LORD Almighty is his name– the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. {Isaiah 54:5}

The trail in the Old Testament talks of this husband, bride: us and God and how many times we walk away.  When a bride walks away from her husband, and puts another in his place its adultery.

Think about this for a minute. We are ‘married’ to God, and the final act of marriage will be when we see him face to face, but for now, we are to act like his Bride.  This isnt’ just showing up for worship nights, or church services. Its how we are to live. As his wife.

For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. {2 Cor. 11:2}

He is jealous for us. We are betrothed. He desires us to be pure.

So just like Israel spoken of all the way through the Old Testament, who kept leaving her husband for other things, other people, other idols, we too have walked into an adulteress lifestyle with the world. We worry more about our houses, platforms and jobs than we worry about our relationship with God.

We need a marriage retreat with our Jesus.

Let’s read from Isaiah 54 – I made you. I am now your husband. My name is The LORD Who Rules Over All. I am the Holy One of Israel. I have set you free. I am the God of the whole earth.  You were like a wife who was deserted. And her heart was broken. You were like a wife who married young. And her husband sent her away. But now I am calling you to come back,” says your God. 

He is calling us to come back. To come back where He is our one and only. Where we listen to what He says. Where He speaks our identity, our destiny, our future. As a loving husband He loves us purely and wholly.

There is nothing in this world that can compare to Him. Yet we try don’t we. But its time. We need to end the relationship with a lesser thing and renew the relationship with our Bridegroom.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.  {Rev. 19:7}

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Take EVERY thought {a Monday Musing}

2 Corinthians 10:5New King James Version (NKJV)

casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

How often do we take EVERY thought captive?

We often sling this verse around negative thoughts, or bad thoughts, or to push blame on someone who is struggling with any thought other than our own.

But here is what God has been teaching me, and hopefully it will help you also.

This verse tells us to take EVERY high thing (thought) that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Now most of us would never think that we are thinking thoughts against God. But I want to challenge you with this. If I can think of a thing, and do it in my own power and strength, was it a God thought?

We can have very good, smart and intelligent thoughts, but is it a God thought?

Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Bring EVERY thought captive. Notice what it does not say. It doesn’t say take all negative thoughts, or take any sad thoughts, or take any mean thoughts. It says take all thoughts. ALL of them.

I have had many thoughts and plans, dreams and visions, and I take them all captive and give them to God.

I had a vision that I would lead worship. And I was leading worship at a local church, and it was good. Then God asked me; “did you think you would be sitting here at this keyboard til you died leading worship here?”

I guess I did. But you see, my thought was to lead worship, and I thought that it was finished and complete, or tied to that one location. That was my thought. God’s thought was for me to lead worship, any where. If I held God captive to my thought, when I left that church, my worship would have been finished. But God’s thought was to worship every where. My thought: worship at one location all my life. God’s thought: worship every where I take you.

I had a vision to begin a prayer room. One location. God’s vision was to take that prayer room and multiply it to many locations.  My thought: establish a place. God’s thought: establish many prayer rooms.

What am I trying to say?  I take every thought captive. I take my dreams, plans, and visions captive. I so want anything to be obedient to God’s thoughts and not my own.

If I can accomplish my thoughts without God, then I make my thoughts exalted above God’s thoughts and I hold God captive to my thoughts.

If I take ALL and EVERY thought captive and give it to God, when he gives the thought back to me, it is all about Him.  It is his thought, and it is always way better and bigger than my thought. And it is usually something that I could never do in my own strength.

Father, today I give you all my thoughts. All my plans, vision, dreams. I give you my thoughts, my sad thoughts, my hurting thoughts and my growing and building thoughts. I ask you to hold them til you want me to move on them, because I want you to be exalted, not me. I want to be amazed by You.

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I was robbed.

I was robbed. I had a vivid dream last night that left me wide awake. In this dream my purse was laying on the ground, and my wallet was next to it, laying open. “NO” I screamed, with that sinking sick feeling in my gut. When I picked up my wallet, by license was gone, all my credit cards and my debit/bank card. All gone.

In my dream my first thought was to call police, my husband, all the companies, so when I reached for my purse, I saw that my phone was also missing.
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Tears.

Panic.

All my photos, my contacts, personal info. I saw in my mind’s eye, the apps like Venmo, square, photos and things I use daily, now gone into the wrong hands. All my vacation photos, pictures of my grandson, our vacation, my friends – all gone.

Trying to remind myself this was a dream, my first response was to pray protection over myself, family and to break fear and intimidation from the enemy.

As I was trying to calm myself and fall back asleep, I heard God ask me, “What do you think that dream was about?”

Me, “to be careful and not let my purse lay around?” God smiles as my sleepy response but then tells me the meaning:

People are at risk. They are being to casual with my presence, their identity and relationships.

The license speaks of identity. People are at risk of losing their identity.
The Credit Cards speak of resources. People are at risk of losing resources.
The phone speaks of contacts. People are at risk of losing connections.

We lose our identity when we give to it away to the wrong people. We are so easily swayed by the next popular person or swayed into a way of thinking that is contrary to the mind of Christ. We are to be thinking on the things of God. Philippians 4:4-9. Our identity needs to be rooted and grounded in God. Many of us think we are the prodigal son coming home, but we are the older son, already home and not realizing we have as much of God as we want. He is the one who speaks our identity. The more time we are with him, the more we know who we are.

Our finances and resources need to be stewarded with the guiding of the spirit, and not to be used for foolishness. Going back to the prodigal son, we so easily squander money on empty items. God has the finances and the resources of the Kingdom at hand, but how many of us go to God first? How many times do we waste the resources that God has provided or complain that we still need more. Is is possible we don’t know what we have?

Many think, I don’t need anyone, or a fellowship family, or teaching, but that is a mistake. No one can be isolated to function in the relational Kingdom. Thinking we don’t need each other is just going to leave you lonely. Are there times when God draws you away, yes. But it isn’t a lifestyle. The older son in the parable could have spent as much time with his Father as he wanted, but he was always to busy working. Everything the Father had, was already his, but he worked by himself as if he had nothing. His complaint and anger to his father wasn’t about the younger son coming home. His complaint was you are spending all this time and energy on the younger and I was here the whole time. But the Father responds, with I was here all the time also. If we feel like we aren’t close to God, it isn’t on his end. He is already there.

Guard your Identity.

Guard your Resources.

Guard your relationships.

Don’t let yourself be robbed.

 

Peace isn’t listed.

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Did you ever get stuck on a word? Like an easy word that is common to us and we use it all the time? We even quote it like a band-aid, but what does it really mean.

I have been studying the book of Ephesians for a beautiful group of women that I am teaching, and I came to the word peace. Verse 1, Grace and Peace to you. How many times do we say “I’m praying for peace, or I need peace”. As I read and stopped, I asked, what really is peace? How do you describe it?

I was able to easily look it up in the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, and in my Keyword Study Bible:

1515 eirḗnē (from eirō, “to join, tie together into a whole“) – properly, wholeness, i.e. when all essential parts are joined together; peace(God’s gift of wholeness).

Thayer’s Greek Definitions defines peace as: exemption from the rage and havoc of war

Holman Bible Dictionary defines peace as reconciliation with God and salvation in the fullest sense.

So when we are saying or asking for peace, we are saying or praying God’s wholeness. Doesn’t this put peace in a whole new level for you? It isn’t about a warm feeling or being happy all the time. It is about wholeness. Peace to you is reconciliation with God to you, and stop warring within.

Wouldn’t you like to have the war within you to stop?

Paul was praying for the church in Ephesus to be in God’s wholeness. To hae the fullest sense of salvation! What a great prayer we can be praying for our family, spouses, leaders. etc.

But it made me think and ask, what does it mean in English?

I looked it up in my new favorite book: A Concise Etymological Dictionary of the English Language. But on page 336 where the word should be defined, it says – Peace: see Pact.

The word peace isn’t in our English Language. Let that sink in for a bit.

Peace began with God, not in our English Language.

So we had to find a word that meant similar; Pact.

Guess what the word “Pact” is defined as?

It has Latin origin meaning a contract. an agreement, to agree, to fasten, fix; to bind

Hold it! Did you see that?

Let it sink deep into your spirit and heart.

When Jesus is telling us “My peace I give to you”, He is saying “I am making a contract and binding my “peace”, my wholeness, my completeness, my salvation in the fullest sense to you. My reconciliation with My Father to you. Peace.

My prayer for you today is that you experience His wholeness, completeness, that you feel the binding, the fastening of His salvation to you.

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unglued.

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Have you ever felt like you are coming unglued? unhinged? In other words, becoming broken. Again. I use the word unglued because God has glued my brokenness many, many times, but for some reason it feels like maybe the glue isn’t holding.

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Now I know that sounds bad. Like what God has fixed isn’t holding. But in truth, God fixes and it is finished. Unless.

Unless we begin to pick at the glue.

The enemy is such a sly little bugger that before you know it, your glue starts to lose its effectiveness and you feel the effects.

Jennie Allen in her latest books Nothing to Prove talks about “If I were the enemy, I would” and then she list many things. Good things, but things that slowly over time cause us to feel unloved, alone or distract you with good things, social media or even ministry.

Then little by little you begin to feel and long for the times when you felt accepted, important or loved. Every photo that pops up on your feed causes you pain and confirms that “they like them more than you”, or “you will never be as good as her”, or “you have nothing to say”

A piece of glue begins to peel away leaving an exposed crack.

The enemy is very good at seeing that peel and he begins to rip away at it.

And we let him.

He is such a jerk!

But this is me.

Over time when we neglect any relationship, it will go away.  I remember an old poster in the dentist office “ignore your teeth and they will go away”.  It’s the same for our relationship with people, family and most importantly God.

When we try to keep the glue holding by ourselves and not allow our relationship to turn the glue into a sold adhesive that will never crumble, we begin to feel the same issues that cracked us in the first place.

It’s always hard to admit or to even realize that it all comes down to “In the beginning God…”. God spoke and it was finished. God breathed and it was created. God fixed His gaze on you and said I will complete what I started in you. But we have to let him. We have to take our vessel and all its cracks and broken pieces and let Him glue us.

How? The only way I know to have relationship is to be with someone. We have to be with God. Intentionally spending time with Him so he can reveal and heal at the same time.

How? Being honest. Admitting that we are lonely or we have used Facebook as our God.

We find time for everything else that is important to us, but we neglect the One that is omnipresent in us. Who alone can only heal and bring wholeness to us.

For most of us, it isn’t even a sin issue that causes the glue to dry and peel. It’s those little distractions that the enemy tricks us into believing so easily, and we convince ourselves and others that we are fine. Nothing is wrong. We are just fine. But we aren’t. Deep inside we are hurting.

Today I feel a little unglued.

But I know who holds the bottle of glue.

 

 

 

My Testimony: A Story of Unrelenting Pursuit

This is from my friend, who encourages me by her life and her love and trust in God.

Family Beginnings & Running Dreams

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I was born to an addict, both drugs and alcohol. My childhood was sprinkled with periods of sobriety and relapses for my mother. My father and mother never married, and I didn’t even meet my father until I was 14. He entered my life for 5 years, only to choose to walk out of my life again at age 19. I was raised in a house living with my mother, half-brother, 2 uncles and my grandmother. My mother fought with everyone, usually about her lack of money and demanding my grandmothers financial help, or about her lack of care for my brother and I. Our home was usually a very volatile place. My mother would also disappear for periods of time, and I never knew if she would come back. I had terrible separation anxiety, and when she was home I was always afraid she would leave me. I was neglected…

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