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What Does Being in His Presence Look Like?

Looking through some previous blogs that I posted and thought I’d update this one today from 2013. I hope it encourages you!

One of my favorite worship songs is “Here in Your Presence” written by New Life’s own, Jon Egan. I’ve attached a link below so you can hear it. At the very opening of the song, I’m immediately drawn into His very presence. I’m reminded of How much He desires me to be with Him, talk to Him, laugh with Him, and even cry with Him. I’m also reminded of how much He loves me, how much He delights in me, and how much He wants to bless me; His creation, His daughter. By the end of the song, I’m completely undone. My heart is swollen, full and overwhelmed that He would create such an awe-inspiring place for me in His presence.

We have all failed at some point in our journey with God. We have left our heart unguarded, or let fear creep in and take root, or yes, even sinned; however, we can still enter into His presence in spite of all that…through earnest and sincere worship. Worship does not just happen on Sunday mornings at church. It should happen every day, throughout the day. Worship can be through prayer, studying His word, an offering of your time and/or money, fellowship with other believers, and retreating to your quiet place alone with Him.

Being in God’s presence:
1. Helps us to please and obey Him
“God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:13

I know that when I’m in my fleshy, selfish ways that I’m not at my best. I am a much better person when I succumb to His presence.

2. Refreshes us with rest, peace and strength
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. Psalm 23:1-3

There’s nothing like getting in His presence when I’ve experienced loss or grief. I feel enveloped in His arms with an overwhelming peace and strength to get through whatever has caused me pain or heartache.

3. Gives us lasting joy
“I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.” Psalm 16:8-9

I am grateful that He reminds me that He is indeed with me at all times, good and bad.

As I reflect on an unbelievably hard week in constant prayer for my loved ones, friends and family, my faith has been strengthened more than I could have ever believed. You see, that’s what being in His presence does for us. I cannot imagine having to go through this life not having the hope and the strength of the Lord to carry us.

May we never take for granted the privilege that is ours to enter directly into the very presence of God. He desires our company. Let’s open the door and let Him in.

A Heart of Peace

There is nothing that compares to the peace of God.  At the heart of peace is harmony.  Peace of mind and heart comes from inviting God to live with us, helping us understand the world is only temporary. Only then can we navigate through any chaos because we know that God is ultimately in control.

This is just one example in my life right now, raising two teenagers…who can now drive…requires much peace.  Much more peace than I ever imagined.  You know those words your parents told you back when you were a teenager: “You’ll understand when you have kids of your own.”  Well, I find myself telling MY kids that more often than I thought I ever would.  I don’t think we will ever stop being parents.  Our parents haven’t, and we probably won’t either.  The older we get, the more our prayers for peace increase…especially when our kids leave our home and have a home of their own.  At some point though, we will realize that we have raised our children well and yes, they will make mistakes; but making those mistakes will be perhaps the greatest lessons they could ever learn.  I remember some of the mistakes I made taught me so much about myself than my parents could ever teach me.  It was through those mistakes that I became a better person and my walk with Jesus wasn’t surfaced, but richer and stronger.  Mistakes increased my faith.

Humility before God brings peace because God blesses the humble.

Psalm 37:11 The lowly will possess the land and live in peace and prosperity.

Humility gives us a realistic view of ourselves, balanced by the knowledge of how much God loves us.  This is one characteristic I honor greatly.  I have very few close friends and I value their humbleness immensely.  We never compete with each other. We see each other as equal and work hard at maintaining healthy relationships.

Peace comes from knowing and living according to God’s Word.  His wisdom and direction guide us into safety and lead us out of conflict, compromise and deception.

Psalm 119:165 Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.

Peace of mind comes as the Holy Spirit guides us into God’s purpose for our life, giving us eternal perspective. Peace of heart comes as the Holy Spirit guides us into productive living and comforts us in times of trouble.

John 14:27  I am leaving you with a gift- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Peace is not the absence of conflict; it’s confident assurance in the midst of conflict.

Matthew 5:19 God blesses those who work for peace.

May we all rest in that overwhelming peace at all times, no matter what life brings us.

Hurts and Disappointments aka Offenses

We all get offended at some point in our life. In fact, Jesus said it is impossible to NOT get offended in Luke 17:1
“Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!”.
Offenses usually happen when you see, hear, or experience a behavior that is so different from what you expected that it causes shock and/or disappointment. We all have been on the receiving end of offenses and most likely, the source of offenses, whether intentionally or not. Many times our offenses are just a misunderstanding or something that we’ve dreamed up in our mind of what ‘probably’ occurred.

I’ve experienced many offenses throughout my life and have been the source of a few to which I was horribly astonished and apologized profusely. Three years ago a friendship was restored after many years of holding on to offenses each of us weren’t willing to let go and have an honest conversation about. I still thank God every day for redeeming our relationship! Just recently, I was offended at a long-time friend’s decision to make a change in her family’s life, where it seemed to me that my counsel or input was unimportant or insignificant. I cried out to God, “Here we go again, Lord. How many times do I have to go through this? I’m so tired of letting those close to me, hurt me.” And I even questioned the Almighty God, “Is it all worth it?” Immediately, without hesitation, He answered, “Pam, do YOU think I am worth it? Do you think a life with some disappointments and hurt is worth spending eternity with Me? Remember, I did not promise you a life full of sunshine, puppies, kittens and all things that make you happy. Let me help you get through this…again.”

I don’t know why we keep letting others offend us. After all, it is up to US, right? After it happens, we say, “Ok, that is the last time I ever let someone hurt me.” We try so hard to develop thick skin and let the offenses roll off our back. The truth is, we are human, and as humans, we have emotions, we get hurt, and other humans disappoint us. Our response to these feelings is so critical in our walk as followers of Christ. I do not have it all figured out, and believe me, I’m still a work in progress after almost 30 years of following Christ. Through this last offense, I have learned that we must strive to communicate positive messages to one another and about others. Second, we must do everything in our power to bring healing and restoration when these offenses occur. Third, we must bury the offense and make it our goal to obtain peace.

And so, after spending some alone time in serious conversation with my Savior, He restored my soul, healed my broken heart, and gave me peace that was so incomprehensible that when I woke up the next morning, my offense seemed insignificant. I do not know if what I imagined happened, actually really happened. If I find out what I imagined, did truly happen, I know this person well enough to know that it was not intentional and she never meant to hurt me and I must let it go.

I never want to stop learning and growing in my walk with Christ. It’s the heartbeat of who I am and everything I aspire to be…which is more and more like Him. ☺

Your Perception of You

I wrote this note back in October 2009 and felt that I should re-post it to my blog site. I hope you, too, find a new perception of yourself.

Do you say horrible things about yourself? Do you speak well of yourself or are you hyper-critical of your appearance, your weight, your intelligence, your talents, your skills, and every other aspect of who you are as a person?

I’m a huge fan of Rick Renner and his book Sparkling Gems from the Greek. He states in one of his enlightening devotions that he used to be so hyper-critical of himself that once the Holy Spirit spoke to him and said, “How dare you continually talk so badly about yourself after the good work I’ve done inside you. Don’t you know how marvelously I created you to be in Jesus Christ? Quit speaking so negatively of yourself, and start acknowledging every good thing that is in you.”

Most people don’t even realize how negatively they talk about themselves. When the Holy Spirit brings it to your attention, you’ll find out just how bad it is and how often you do it. Our own mouth can become our greatest enemy!

That’s what happened to me back in September of 2006. I went on a personal HeartQuest with 15 other ladies and a leadership team from TX. During my 6 day quest, I found out a lot about myself that I didn’t even know was there. The Lord spoke to me so profoundly and directly about this one issue. He brought to my attention the negative things I would think about myself and even sometimes say to close friends. After that revelation, He assured me that I was created in His image and He has never created a ‘mistake’. His creations are intentional and for a purpose. I have purpose and He has deposited good things in me. With His help I have grown by leaps and bounds and will continue to walk in that purpose for the rest of my life.

In Philemon 1:6 Paul said, “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” So, even though God has done great things in us, it is up to us to activate His blessings in our life! The word ‘effectual’ is the Greek word energo. It’s where we get the word energy. In this verse, the word energo means to become energized or activated. So Paul’s words could be translated as “That the communication of your faith may become energized and activated…”

So let’s apply this to ourselves. Paul said that “every good thing” has been placed in you by Jesus Christ. Think about it – He saved you, He healed you, He redeemed you, He protected you, He has given you a sound mind, He has given you the mind of Christ, He has imparted gifts and talents to you, and He has planned a future for your life that is simply glorious! You are loaded with phenomenal potential that is just waiting to be activated!

Renner compares this to a car filled with gasoline but won’t go anywhere until we get in and turn the key and push the gas pedal. You may ‘feel’ like you’re worthless, you’re defeated, you have nothing to offer; but remember that you have potential, though you can’t see it until you ‘activate’ it.

So how do we ‘turn the key in the ignition’ so that the great work God has done inside us is activated and released? Paul said, “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” The word “acknowledging” is the answer to the question. The Greek word is epignosis which describes a well-instructed, intensive, deep knowledge of the facts. No one becomes this knowledgeable accidentally. It requires study, meditation, digging deep into truth and applying oneself to know the facts inside and out. The result of this hard work is a thorough knowledge of the facts that a person has a strong confidence in what he/she says.

We are to confess the truth about ourselves, but before we can do that, we must know the truth. We must possess:

•A knowledge of exactly who we are in Jesus Christ.
•A knowledge of what Jesus has purchased in our redemption.
•A knowledge of every good thing that God has placed in us by Jesus Christ.
•A knowledge of all these truths that is so concrete and so unshakable that we are immovable in what we think and believe.

The truth in our life is no good unless it is spoken. The moment we open our mouth and start confessing the good things that are in us by Jesus Christ, a supernatural connection is made between our faith and all that Jesus has deposited in us. At that moment, the gifts and treasures God has placed in us become supernaturally activated. The confession by our mouth – our acknowledgement of the truth – is what sparks these spiritual blessings and causes them to become operative, activated, and manifested realities.

Let’s review how to make these truths real in our life:
1.Thoroughly know the truths through diligent study.
2.Put the key in the ignition switch.
The key is the Word of God
The ignition is our mouth
3.Turn the ignition by opening our mouth and speaking the truth.
Good things in us are activated the moment we start confessing the truth.

The recognition of these spiritual treasures that reside within you will pick you up, lift you high, and carry you over into the realm of victory you desire!

Now…take another look in the mirror and speak out/confess all of the good things that are in you by Jesus Christ. Let’s live victoriously!!

(Excerpts taken from Rick Renner’s Sparkling Gems from the Greek)

The Blessing of Joyful Giving

Do you find joy in giving? Are you a cheerful giver? Giving is sharing something you have with others like time, money, skill, or possessions. It really comes down to this: giving is sharing yourself. Giving originated in the heart of God. He blesses us more than we expect or deserve. The gift of life, the gift of love, the gift of salvation, the gift of eternity in Heaven…are all priceless. What we have in possessions may be a tangible result of how we have invested our time, energy, and talents; but who we are -our character- is a result of how we have invested ourselves with God and others.

In our early years of marriage, Brady worked 3 jobs, I worked during the day and went to college at night to get my bachelor’s degree. Our first house we bought was a tiny 1100sf dream home for us early 20-somethings. I remember a few days after moving in, sitting in the middle of our living room on our mauve- pinkish carpet weeping and thanking God for blessing us with our cozy first home. We always gave our first and best to God. It was non-negotiable with us and still is today. He desires to bless those with a cheerful heart. He doesn’t care how much we give as long as give from our heart. We have never once felt ‘obligated’ to give. We give because that is what God commands and it is a joy for us to give. God wants to give us His best if we give our best to Him.

We have seen the blessings God pours out on those that give with their heart. We have received those blessings countless times. Our thoughts on giving monetarily has always been ‘it’s not ours to begin with, it’s all His’…and yet, He only requires a tenth of what He gives us. That blows my mind! We serve an extraordinary generous God. We should all strive to be that generous, just like Him.

1 Chronicles 29:14 says, “Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!”

We give because God commands it. We give because it demonstrates that He is first in our life. We give because it reminds us that the things we have are gifts from God. We give to others so that God will be glorified.

 

What’s the Rush?

How many times have we wondered, “God, what’s taking so long. Why haven’t you done that yet. I told you about that months ago?” It’s our human nature to question things, right? I’ve certainly had many questions in my journey with Him and I really don’t think God is put-off by our questions. After all, He desires our conversation, our talks with Him.

God does indeed want to give us the desires of our heart; however, His timetable is so much better than ours. It’s so hard on the flesh while we wait; yet, it’s actually the mercy of God at work. During that time of waiting, the imperfections that would have ruined us are exposed so God can remove them. Those imperfections could be pride, greed, selfishness, arrogance, insecurity, and the list goes on and on.

Don’t be discouraged or lose sleep if it takes time for your dream/desires to become reality! God never gets in a hurry because godly character is more important to Him than gifts, talents, or temporary success in the eyes of others. He does want to use you, but He also wants you to be ready to be used.

Right now you may need some time to prepare, change, and grow. That way when God finally promotes you or gives you your desires, you’ll have what you need both naturally and spiritually to STAY established in that God-ordained position or role as you fulfill your assignment with excellence.

*excerpts taken from Sparkling Gems From the Greek*

My Motherhood

Another Mother’s Day is here! This is my 13th mother’s day and I couldn’t be more thrilled! I had always dreamed of becoming a mother one day. My dream was not too far off from what God had planned for me.

1. I’d always wanted a boy and a girl. Just two children would be perfect if one was a boy and the other a girl. Guess what? God did just that! I have a handsome son and a beautiful daughter.

2. I wanted my children to be at least 2 years apart in age so that they would grow up close in their siblinghood. Guess what? They are 25 months apart!

3. I didn’t necessarily ‘desire’ to give birth to my children, as I have always wanted to adopt at least one child. Guess what? Both of my children are adopted!

4. I wanted to have children 2 years into my marriage. Guess what? That didn’t happen. I waited 9 years for my son!

I know deep in my heart that I could not have planned my motherhood any better than God’s best for me. I am in constant awe as to how He has blessed me with such two amazing, smart, beautiful children. Yes, the journey was long and hard at times, but I wouldn’t give up any part of that journey because I learned so much about God’s love for me and my love for Him. There is nothing on earth that compares to that!

My prayer for you is that if your desire for motherhood has been put on hold for now, allow yourself to dive deeper than ever into God’s love for you. Enjoy daily conversations with Him about your desires. Grab hold of what He’s called you to do now. Make every moment count for His kingdom. Your season of motherhood will come soon. You are in the palm of His hand…and, there’s no better place to be as you wait on God’s best for you.

An Invasion of the God-Kind

Have you ever awakened in the middle of the night and not known why? Maybe you’ve been out running errands by yourself and suddenly someone’s name comes to mind. You’re perplexed as to why that certain name popped in your head at that time. When these interruptions happen in my life, I believe it’s the Holy Spirit speaking to me, telling me to pray for that certain someone or something. I was out earlier this evening going to gas up my ride. Ok, confession time, first time in a long time I let it get down to 15 miles left before empty. I’m not sure why I let it get so low but nonetheless, I prayed for grace all of the way to the gas station and thank God, I made it! You see, on the way there my focus was ALL about actually making it there without running out of gas. However, on the way home, the Holy Spirit abruptly caught my attention. I was thinking about the elk hamburgers that my husband Brady was cooking at home for dinner. Then, I was thanking God for blessing me with such a godly man as my husband and a father to Abram and Callie and then, I thought how rare it is these days to find such a man. My heart began to break for my single friends. I was urged to pray for them right then and to remember them every day in my prayers.

The world is becoming more and more dangerous and treacherous. So many times I hear of Christian men and women seeking love in the wrong places. This kind of love is a short cut, a quick fix and will never be everlasting. This is not the kind of love our Father in Heaven desires for us. As Christians, we should desire the things of our God, right? God desires to bless us with His very best. It may take 5, 10, 15, 20 yrs or more waiting for His very best; therefore, we can’t give up. We can’t surrender to a quick fix that is not His best. God cannot bless when He’s not the provider.

My prayer for my single friends and singles everywhere searching for the ‘right one’:

May you stay strong and disciplined. May He give you the patience and courage you need to wait on His best and not give in to a quick fix and may He overwhelm you with peace while you wait. Most importantly, may you understand the undeniable, everlasting love your Father has for you and that your joy comes from Him and no other can fulfill all that He has for you.

The Game of Pretend

Most of us have pretended at some point in our lives to be someone or something that we are not. As children we most likely pretended to be someone great like a superhero or an astronaut or a schoolteacher or a doctor. I remember watching the Miss America pageant growing up and afterwards, I would find something that resembled a crown and walk through the house smiling and waving pretending that I was the new Miss America. I also remember getting a notebook that I made into a grade book for my pretend students in my class. I’d pretend to teach math and English (my favorite subjects) and then I’d grade pretend papers from the students. I thought I was the best teacher in the world. As much as I enjoyed pretending during my childhood, I am thankful it was not my reality. I had the opportunity after Brady and I got married to actually substitute teach in the elementary school where I worked in the office. I can honestly say that I am so glad that I did not pursue the career of a teacher. They truly have one of the hardest jobs and I am thankful for those that have that calling.

Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, the innocence of pretending is lost. Somehow, it turns into a destructive way to hide the parts of us that we are ashamed of; therefore, we pose as someone greater than ourselves. God warns us against pretending to be something we are not-especially when we pretend to be spiritually great. True authenticity comes from finding your real value in God’s eyes and being honest with yourself and others. It is better to be honest about your failures than to lie about your successes.

Why do we pretend to be something or someone we are not?

1. Pride – we all want to look honorable and important in the eyes of others.

2. Embarrassment – when we are embarrassed to admit what we did, we may be tempted to deceive others into thinking that what we did was right.

3. Flattery – we may use flattery to pretend we like someone in order to get something from them.

4. Selfishness – we may disguise our true motives in order to get what we want.

If we continue to go down this path, we eventually fool ourselves into thinking our motives are sincere, and worse yet, we think that God does, too.

Proverbs 20:23 “The Lord detests double standards; He is not pleased by dishonest scales.” God is opposed to hypocrisy! Hypocrisy shows the heart of dishonesty. “1 Peter 2:1 “Get rid of all…deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.” Much of pretending grows out of deceit, which is incredibly harmful to your spiritual growth.

After awhile, a habit of deceitful pretending becomes common and even acceptable to you, dulling and even killing your conscience. Eventually deceivers deceive themselves, cutting them off from truth.

Take off the mask and stop pretending! Psalm 119:29 “Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.” We must be diligent in studying His word. It illuminates deceit and teaches us how to live honestly and transparently. Psalm 120:2 “Rescue me, O Lord, from liars and from all deceitful people.” Watch the friends you keep. Deceitful friends will lead you deeper into deceit. After having personally walked through a few deceitful relationships, I am very cautious of who I let in to share life. That’s why I am not a person who needs a ton of close friends. Give me two close friends and I’m content. Romans 12:3 “Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” A good start to conquer pride is to ask honest friends to give you a realistic account of your life and actions. Be ready to receive criticism without making excuses or becoming defensive. Be ready to make the change to becoming the real you!

(Excerpts taken from Life’s Questions by Beers and Beers.)

Stay on Your Toes!

Distractions interrupt every part of our lives, including our spiritual lives. As Christians, we have a purpose: to be in a personal relationship with God and live that out in our daily lives. Many things can distract us from doing that. As wonderful and cool social media has become, it can also be a major distraction in our life. From Facebook to Twitter to any gadget that begins with the little letter i, let’s face it, our ‘face-time’ with another human, or more importantly-our God, can become extremely limited. I’m not saying that these things are bad or evil, but I do believe that too much of ‘anything’ can be harmful. I pray that I keep my priorities straight and recognize that it could be a potential stronghold in my life if I let it.

Many other things distract us from our spiritual walk with God – our busyness, our stuff, our problems, even the good things in our lives.  Christmas shopping is upon us and I love to buy gifts for my family and friends, which is a good thing, right? However, if I focus all of my time (and money) out shopping for that perfect gift, and I neglect ‘face-time’ with the One and Only Reason we celebrate Christmas, it is not a good thing. We must constantly be aware of God’s presence and His workings in our daily lives. If we are aware and stay on our toes then we can try to minimize the harmful distractions so we stay on course as we follow God.

While there are some distractions that are harmful for us, God sometimes uses distractions to get us to stop thinking about what we think is right and start thinking about what He says is right.  Saul believed that persecuting Christians was the right thing to do. He thought God was pleased with his actions. God had to get his attention with a dramatic distraction that changed the course of his whole life (and the lives of many others!). The more stubborn and passionate we are, the more dramatic God may have to be to get our attention.

Some distractions are clearly bad for us because they take our focus off what we should be doing. We need to discern between a distraction that should refocus our attention and one that should not.  If a distraction is mainly about us (it tempts us to do wrong or to disregard a commitment), then it is not a good thing.  If a distraction is mainly about others (it allows us to help someone in deep need or it provides a teachable moment), then it is a good thing.  If we set clear goals for how we will serve God and manage our day and then we focus on those goals, we will be less likely to get sidetracked by harmful distractions.

Distractions bombarded Jesus all the time. But He didn’t see them as distractions; He saw them as opportunities to save the lost and to help someone in need.  A distraction can become a divine opportunity to show someone the love and care of God.  Sometimes God interrupts us for good reason.  Don’t miss a chance to help the people God brings to you. Stay on your toes!

(excerpts taken from “The Complete Book of Life’s Questions with Answers from the Bible”.)

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