Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Confident Heart Giveaway

I stood in line. I was at the end of a long line of ladies.  All of us wanted to meet her, the woman God had used to speak to our broken places that morning.  My broken place--self-doubt. 

Renee Swope was the speaker that morning.  Her talk--"Do Not Throw Away Your Confidence." 

Her talk was life-changing for me.  I stood in line that morning with eye makeup gone from too many tears.  Tears of awareness, tears of longing, tears of repentance, tears of hope.

When God reveals a broken place, it is always to bring healing.  We can rejoice in hope.  He won't leave us broken if we will let Him heal us. 

So, do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done with will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  Hebrews 10:35-36

God says that he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.  James 1:6-8 

I don't want to be driven and tossed by the wind.  When the wind comes, I want to stand strong in the Lord, confident of His love and His power.  I don't want to be double-minded and unable to receive from the Lord.

That morning was about one year ago.  God has been faithful to help me overcome self-doubt.  He has been faithful and patient with me as I discover my confidence in Christ.  

After her talk, I read her book A Confident Heart.  It is a great book.  I am excited to be starting an online Bible study with Proverbs 31 Ministries as a "Gather and Grow" Leader using this book! 

I will be starting the study the week of August 12th.  I will post the assignment for that week on Aug 12th.  Then, I will write about the study every Thursday.  Will meet on my blog and/or private facebook page every Thursday for discussion for about 6 weeks.  

If you are interested in joining the study on the private facebook page, please email me at suelovenlife@gmail.com

Space is limited and there are about seven signed up so far, so please let me know as soon as possible!  

After standing in line to meet Renee that morning, she signed my book and wrote Luke 1:45 in it.  

"Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord."   

The Lord will fulfill what He has promised!  I would love for you to join me as we study God's truths together!

Also, I am giving a copy of Renee's book away today!  To enter to win, email me to let me know you want to join the study, become a follower, or share on facebook.  Let me know if you became a follower or shared on facebook so I don't miss you!!  The giveaway will end Thursday night at midnight and I will post the winner Friday morning!!! 

Visit the link below to read more about Renee Swope and A Confident Heart

Friday, July 27, 2012

Light in the Dark

Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  John 15:13

A week ago today the unthinkable happened.  The horrific tragedy at the Dark Knight Rises theatre in Colorado was on every news station across the country and possibly the world.  Since I was away all weekend, I did not hear of the news until Monday morning. 

My Spirit grieved within me at such senseless loss and suffering. 
The psychopath responsible was getting much news attention.  My Spirit grieved  more and more as I heard the details of this monstrosity.  I wanted to shout, “STOP talking about the evil this man did!  Don’t give him any more attention.  Focus on the ones who lost someone dear to them.  Focus on the ones who gave their lives so others could live.”  

I could shout all I wanted, but the radio and television would not hear.  Today, I want to draw attention to the ones who heroically died to save others. 

Jesus said there is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend.  On a day filled with evil and hate, there was also the greatest act of love anyone could offer.  

The world tends to focus on the darkness.   The dark wins if we forget there is light.  There is light that shines in the midst of darkness. 

Three men gave their lives protecting their girlfriends.  These men are heroes.  I have no idea if these men knew Jesus, but they acted in the highest act of love…they laid down their lives for another.  Noble. Heroic.  Christ-like.

Today,  will you join me in praying for the families who lost a loved one during Friday night’s tragedy?  Pray for healing for those hurt and for the man who murdered 12 innocent people and wounded many others. 
I know it is hard to pray for a man who caused such suffering.  He doesn’t deserve prayers.  However, Jesus died for even him. 

I heard last night that the mother of the six year old that was killed had asked people to pray for the man who murdered her daughter.  That is love.   

Let love win.  I HATE what he did, but we cannot hate him or hate wins.   Let light overcome the darkness.  Jesus prayed for his persecutors.  He prayed for those who put him on the cross.   Jesus overcame the power of darkness on the cross.  Love overcomes the power of darkness.

I pray that I would act like Jesus even when it hurts, especially when it hurts.  

Will you join me in praying for those families today?

Dear Lord God,  I lift up those families and friends who lost loved ones a week ago.  I pray You would comfort them and give them peace like only You can do.  I pray for them to be aware of Your presence and love.  I pray healing and complete recovery for those wounded.  I pray for the man responsible.  He is obviously a sick deranged man.  I pray for him to get the help he needs and for him to come to know Jesus.  I pray for all who were in that theatre to draw near to You, our Comforter.   It is hard to see how, but I pray for You to take this evil and turn it around for good.  I pray for Your Light to prevail in the darkness.  In Jesus name, Amen.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Scary Dreams

Thank you everyone for your prayers last week.  She Speaks was great.  My head felt like it might explode at the end of the weekend from all the new information compressing against the walls of my brain.  However, my brain did not explode and the new  information has had a few days to download into the proper compartments for storage until use.

I went to the She Speaks Conference with my friend, Becky Crenshaw.  She has a bang up blog called “The Word of God and A Cup of Joe” at www.joyfuljava.blogspot.com Here we are together at the conference.  Isn’t she so super cute?!  She is also a fun road trip buddy and roomie as well!  

Besides us, there were 648 other women.  All with one purpose…one dream.  All these women feel led by the Lord to speak or write for His glory.  AMAZING!  And God is using every one of them.  

Can I just be honest?   That many women in one place all with the same dream and calling can be a little intimidating.  I mean there are talented women there with BIG ministries.  And then there is me.  

In light of all they have to offer, my offering can seem insignificant.  Does what I have to say matter?   

My mentor says that comparison leads to pride or discouragement.  Discouragement was knocking on my door all weekend.   I decided not to let it in, but I still knew it was there.  Lingering.  Waiting.  Whispering doubt.

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

I am thankful that my dream is in the Lord’s hands.  I am thankful that He directs my steps.   A big dream in my hands would be a complete disaster.   If it isn’t established by the Lord, I don’t want any part of it.  I don’t want to go anywhere my God doesn’t take me.

Do you have a dream hidden inside your heart?  Does daring to speak of it frighten you? 

I have a dream so big it scares me!  It should.  Any dream that isn’t big enough to send shivers down our spine isn’t much of a dream.  We should have a dream so big that it will only be possible with God.  
He gave me my dream, and He will fulfill it in His timing and according to His plan.  He will fulfill the dream He gave you also.  We just have to cooperate and do what we can do and have faith and patience as we wait on Him. 

What is your dream?  Will you give it to the Lord today?  Ask Him if it is His dream for you.  Ask Him to reveal His plans and purpose.  Ask Him to direct your steps.  

Your offering is not insignificant.  The Lord needs all of His children.  We all have a vital role to play in His Kingdom.  The Lord is the dream giver, and He has given us all a dream.  Don't be afraid of scary dreams. Let us not be afraid to dream.   No matter how big your dream is, let us not forget our God is BIGGER!

Dear Lord, thank you for the dream you have placed in my heart.   Thank you that you have a good plan.  Thank you that you direct my steps, Lord.  I pray that Your plan and purpose for my life would be fulfilled.  I pray that I would become all you created me to be. I pray that I would live my life worthy of the calling you given me.  Father, lead me and guide me in all You ways.  I want only to be in your perfect will.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

She Speaks Bound

My bags are nearly packed.  There are just a few last minute details to attend to.  I am excited and a little nervous (although I don't really want to admit it) to be going to the She Speaks Conference put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries.

It is a conference for women who feel called to speak or write for God's Kingdom.  I attended last year for the first time.  I thought I might be intimidated by all the women there who were so incredibly gifted by God.  About every person I met there either was working on a book or publishing a book or speaking regularly for the Lord.  Can you see why I might feel intimidated?  

However, surprisingly, I wasn't.  Instead I was at awe at how the Lord was working.  He continuously blows my socks off!  There were over 650 women there who were passionate about serving the Lord and the Lord was using all of them to share His Word.  Amazing!

I learned so much last year and am looking forward to what God will teach me this year.  Thank you to all of you, my readers, for your encouragement.   Every time you come back to read what the Lord laid on my heart to share, you encourage me to continue towards the mark of my high calling in Jesus Christ.

I pray that these writings bless you and encourage you in your relationship with the Lord.  I pray these writings bring you closer to Him and minister truth of His love to you.   I am thankful for everyone of you.  I ask you to pray for me as this weekend, to learn all God wants me to learn and grow in my relationship with Him.

I love you.

We continually thank God for you, our good friends--so loved by God!  God picked you out as His from the very start.  Think of it: included in God's original plan of salvation by the bond of faith in the living truth.  This is the life of the Spirit He invited you to through the Message we delivered, in which you get in on the glory of our Master, Jesus Christ.  2Thessalonians 2:13-14 (The Message)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Call Him

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3

The word "call" in the verse above is "qara" in the orginial Hebrew and it means " to call out to someone; cry out".

God wants us to "call out" to Him.

The commentary in my Bible says that this verse is "The positive assurance from God is that if we will call on Him, He will answer us in ways that will astound us."

It is true.  When we call, God will answer.  He will reveal that which was hidden.

God is the author of  "aha moments".  

We have some rental property and there have been times that our tenants will "call" on my husband, Chris.  Since he is the owner, he has to be available when they call him for help.  The tenants didn't know how to fix what was broken, so they called someone who would know how to fix it.  For example, he has had to be a plumber, put in shower heads, put in new dishwashers, and fix garbage disposals.  However, there have been somethings he has lacked the skills or knowledge to fix and then he will call a professional. 

Many times we don't know how to fix something.  We know we want to fix it, but lack the skills or knowledge needed to fix it.  We may not have a leaky faucet or garage disposal that needs fixing.  Our broken need is often times much more substantial and consequential.  The issues we face can not only impact our entire lives, but also the lives of people we love.   It could be an illness (personal or of a loved one), trouble with a child, marriage issues, a job situation, an estranged relationship, etc.  

Whatever it is, God says, "Call to Me and I will anwer you".  He says He will reveal the answer to you, He will reveal that which you do not know.

We may not know how to fix it, but God does.  He will answer. He is our Fixer.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, 
And delivers them out of all their troubles.  Psalms 34:18

God doesn't want you to stay living with a leaky faucet, He wants your life to be full of blessings and joy.  He wants to go in and fix your need.  Just "Call" Him.  

Call to Him and He will answer and He will show you great and mighty things, that which you do not know. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I'm Believing God {Part 2}

In I'm Believing God, I shared how I had received a bad report about the health of a family member and how I decided to handle what was reported.

In our lives, we will face bad reports.  We will be torn between the facts and the truth.  At first glance, these two words seem akin to each other.  However, often they are at odds. 

In the case I described in the previous post, the facts were the symptoms and the doctor's report.  We can't just ignore facts, but they don't need to be what we accept as the final truth. 

When Moses sent twelve spies into the promise land, ten of the spies came back giving a "bad report".  They said they couldn't enter the promise land due to the facts.  The facts indicated that there were "giants" that lived in the land.  The spies believed what they saw with their eyes and forgot the truth. The truth was the promise of God that they would possess the land.  Those ten spies choose to believe the facts over the truth.

However, there were two spies, Joshua and Caleb, who believed God and said, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it."  Joshua and Caleb were outnumbered and the people decided not to go.  The people were so against going that they wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb who believed they should go in and possess the land.  Joshua and Caleb were the only ones in that group who were allowed to enter the promise land because they believed God (Numbers 13:1-33, Deuteronomy 1:23-38).

Giants can come in many forms.  Health concerns, foreclosure, marital conflict, family disputes, etc., are all types of giants.  They can seem insurmountable. 

When we come across a giant in our lives, we can choose to run and accept defeat like the Israelites did. 
Or we can believe God. 

I know what the facts are, but what is the truth in this case?  What does God's Word say about this bad report? 

Back to the example of the bad report my family member received.  The facts are the symptoms and the diagnoses. 

What is the truth?

Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains, yet we considered Him stricken, smitten , and afflicted by God. 

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with His stripes, we are healed and made whole.  ( Isaiah 53:4-5 Amplified Bible)

Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His Holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, 
And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, 
Who heals all your diseases.
Who redeems your life from destruction, 
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.  Psalms 103:1-5

And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive. Matt 21:22


I'm Believing God!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I'm Believing God

Bad news doesn't wait for a convenient time.  It is void of manners.  It isn't thoughtful or courteous.  It doesn't call ahead for an appointment.  As a matter of fact, bad news is down right rude! It springs itself on someone oblivious to how it abruptly interrupted life.

We were in Texas last week visiting grandparents and Chris' brother's family.  After being there a couple of days, we decided to take the kids to Bass Pro Shop to give grandpa and grandma a break from our three energetic kids and their 2 cousins.   Yes, 5 kids!!  You know they needed a break!  Can you blame them?

While in the van, my phone rang.  On the other end was news I was not prepared to hear.  It was the kind of news that immediately transports you to the clinical stages of denial, anger, and then finally resolution.  It was a bad doctor report of a family member. 

We arrived at Bass Pro Shop moments after the call.  I went into the immense store still numb from the freshly dropped news.  While walking around observing catfish larger than my seven year old and once living animals stuffed with skill, my denial turned to anger.

I needed time.  Time to process.  Time to pray. 

God, why? I don't understand.
Lord, help me react the way you want me to respond.  Lord, show me what to do.

Then, God spoke.

"Who are you going to believe?  The doctor's report or My Word?"

The world gives its advice willingly and oftentimes without consent.

The world offers us little hope.

The world dishes out endless buffets of discouragement to feast on. 

The world serves us worst case scenarios and expects us to lap it up. 

We can go by the world or the Word.

Do we dare hope?  How could we dare not hope?  

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1

Without hope, there is no faith.

Hope that is seen is not hope: for why does one still hope for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.  Romans 8:24-25

The word "hope" in the verse above is the word "elpis" in the original Greek.  Elpis means "expectation of good." 

I love this!  I may have shared it before, but I love it so much, I have to share it again! 

Biblical "hope" is different than the world's "hope".  Biblical hope is the expectation of a positive outcome.  It is believing God will do what He says He will do! 

We have to make a decision....who are we going to believe? 

Are we going to believe the world or The Word?

I'm believing God!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Attitudes of Freedom

In this week of celebrating our independence in America and the founding of our freedom and country, I thought it would be appropriate to post an article that I wrote for www.askwisecounsel.blogspot.com in January.

It is on attitudes of freedom.  We can live in a free country, but if we do not live in attitudes of freedom, we are not utilizing our freedom to its potential.  What good is it to live blessed with freedom, but be bound within ourselves?  Hope you enjoy this post and this week celebrating our freedom and country!!  God Bless America!


Attitudes of Freedom

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.  Galations 5:1

Freedom...it is at the core of mankind's heart desire.   In John 8:36, Jesus said, "Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."   Why then are so many people living in bondage?   Why is it that even some Christians never experience true freedom in Christ?  

An answer lies in our mind and our attitudes.  The issue of freedom is settled as far as God is concerned.  Jesus paid the price so we could be free.  We are free in Christ Jesus.  However, we may not know how to walk in that freedom.  We discover how to live in the freedom of Christ through His Word, through the renewing of our minds.  

All actions start with a thought.  When we learn to choose right thoughts, it will result in living in victory and freedom.  

And vice versa, when we choose wrong thoughts, we will continue to live in bondage.  Whether that thought leads to an overt sin, or a covert sin.  A covert sin is one such as selfishness, greediness, pride, self-absorption, unbelief, doubt.  These are less obvious than overt sins, but just as dangerous and just as enslaving.  

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  Galations 5:13

Yes, Christ has made us free.  However, when we use that freedom and choose sin, we get entangled right back into bondage.  Any step out of walking according to the Spirit is walking in the flesh and is therefore, sin.    

Sin causes bondage.  When we come to Christ, He washes away all our sin.  He removes it from us as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12).  However, we have to change our thinking and how we view ourselves or we will go back to the same old patterns of sin.  Only the Word of God can transform us and lead us to victory.  

Many people sin and then justify it in their heads, "Oh, God will forgive me, after all Jesus Christ died for my sins so I am forgiven."  That is a dangerous way to live and it only results in deeper and deeper captivity.  
This justification happens often, but many times people are living in captivity by their thinking and do not even realize it is sin.   

For example, below is a list of Attitudes of Freedom vs Attitudes of Bondage.  As you read the list, it might be of value to do some self-examination to see where your thinking is leading you.

Attitudes of Freedom/ Attitudes of Bondage

Thankfulness/ Complaining
Kindness and Goodness/  Selfishness
Graceful/ Critical
Trusting/ Doubting
Faith/Fear, Insecurity
Humility/Prideful, Self-righteous
Love/Fearful, Selfish
Patience/ Quick-tempered
Peace/ Worry, Anxious
Joy/ Grumpiness, gloom
Self-control/ Self-indulgence

Many of the attitudes of freedom are on the list in Galations 5:22-23 as being fruit of the Spirit.  The attitudes of bondage could be listed as attitudes of the flesh.  

We can choose our attitudes.  We can choose if we walk in freedom or are held captive to wrong mindsets.  We may not be able to change our thoughts overnight.  It may take some time to dilute the damage accumulated through years of misguided mindsets.  However, victorious living is awaiting.  Christ died to give you that freedom.  Don't let wrong thoughts and attitudes keep you from obtaining all Jesus Christ has for you. 

Freedom is yours.