31 Days of Worship and The Word: Day Two: Start A Fire

I don’t know about you, but I sure found it helpful yesterday starting my day off with worship and some scripture. I literally danced around my kitchen yesterday morning while doing chores.

If you are just joining us today, we are on a 31 Day Challenge to worship the Lord and study at least one scripture each and every day (the month of October).  Now, while it may seem best to start your day off with worship and the Word,  I know it is not always practical.  And, if you think about it, worship and the Word are beneficial no matter what time of day it is done.  So, please join in on our praise fest, no matter the day or time.

Today I want to encourage us all to keep on keeping on. In order to have the relationship with God that we need, and in order to do the work we are called to do, we must have passion. Passion for Christ is our fuel (actually Holy Spirit is our true fuel, but I think you get my point.) We need to have passion.

In an interview about a year or so ago, Building 429 said that they viewed themselves as church cheerleaders as they enjoyed writing and singing songs that encouraged believers. I like that concept. Let’s face it, this life is hard and we all need a little cheer now and then. Today, I want to be your cheerleader. I want to get you excited about doing the work of the Lord. I want you to get excited about being a child of God.  I want you to want to worship.  I want you to long to know His word.

Over the last month or so I have been captivated by the song Start a Fire by Unspoken. It excites my soul and stirs my desire to give my whole life to the Lord. No, it is not exactly a “worship” song, but I think it will stir something in your heart and bring you back here tomorrow for some more worship.

This world can be cold and bitter
Feels like we’re in the dead of winter
Waiting on something better
But am I really gonna hide forever?

(I mean seriously, what are we waiting for? There is work to do now!)

Over and over again
I hear Your voice in my head
Let Your light shine, let Your light shine for all to see

(Chorus)
Start a fire in my soul
Fan the flame and make it grow
So there’s no doubt or denying
Let it burn so brightly
That everyone around can see
That it’s You, that it’s You that we need
Start a fire in me

(Yes, Lord, it is you that we need, and it is you in me that everyone needs to see!)

You only need a spark to start a whole blaze
It only takes a little faith
Let it start right here in this city
So these old walls will never be the same

Over and over again
I hear Your voice in my head
They need to know
I need to go
Spirit wont you fall on my heart now.

(Can you hear His voice?  Is He calling you?  To what is He calling you to?)

Woo Hoo! Doesn’t it just make your heart sing? Doesn’t it make you want to just lay everything down and just worship God?  Love it!

Okay, time for the verse of the day:

Romans 12:11 (NKJ)- Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Walking in the Spirit, serving the Lord, walking in the ways of Christ are not easy.  Yes, the Holy Spirit is there and gives us the power to live for Christ, but we still have to make the choices.  We have to choose what is right and what is Godly.  Some days are easier than others.  Some days we get it right; other days we miss the mark.  However, every day we need to pick up our cross and protect our passion (spiritual fervor).   What works for some may not work for others, but I have found worship or Christian music to be most helpful in fueling my passion.  Christian talk radio and internet sermons are great tools as well.  And as always, nothing beats reading our Bibles.

What do you do to ignite or protect your passion for Christ?  Come on, don’t be shy, I would love to hear from you.  In the meantime, keep on praising!

God bless,

Missy

31 Days of Worship & The Word: Day One: Praise Him!!!

GETTING

Today begins the  31 Days Challenge (f/k/a Nester’s 31 Day Challenge).  For more information on this challenge, please visit http://write31days.com/.

As I shared yesterday, I feel like the devil has been getting the best of me lately.  My eyes seem to be on me, my problems, and my enemies.  Satan has succeeded in the last few weeks in rendering me ineffective for the cause of Christ by keeping me distracted.

I know that in order to overcome Satan, my own selfishness, laziness, and ignorance, I must keep my eyes on Christ.  In order for me to keep my eyes on Christ, I must take time to worship and study His word.

In Lysa TerKeurst’s book Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl, she shares that where there is praise, there is God, and where there is God, there is no Satan.  So, when we feel the “grumpies” coming on or we feel under attack, we should just stop and praise.  Praise God, it really is that simple.  For those of you doubting, I ask you to try it.  I think it will surprise you just how fast this works.

It is my hope that you will read a post in this series every day this month.  I want you to wake up praising God.  I am curious to see what God will do in my own life if I wake up everyday and first sing His praises.  If you join me, I would love to see how it works in your life.

Today I chose Praise Him by The David Crowder Band.  This one may be a little older, but it still speaks to my soul.  Wherever you are, I ask that you stop and take the time right now to worship in song.  Right now, stop reading and start praising!

Okay, now that our souls have been awakened, let’s look at another great weapon against Satan(and our own selves): The Word.  If you recall, Jesus used to scripture to fight off Satan’s temptations.

Luke 4:1-13 (NIV):

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted[a] by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’[b]

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’[c]

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you carefully;
11 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[d]

12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[e]

13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

I know memorizing scripture is tough, so we will do it in little doses.  Since “praise” seems to be the theme of the day, I say we start there.

Psalm 117: 1-2: Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples.  For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.  Praise the Lord.

Add a little bit of body text

 

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Missy

31 Day Challenge Preview

Tomorrow I will start my 31 Days Challenge (Nester’s 31 Day Challenge), in which I will post every day in October  regarding a theme of my choosing.

I had a few ideas going in yesterday and I was pretty set on my topic, and then I read something on Facebook that solidified it:

“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24) This is the day God is calling us UP — UP to a higher standard of righteousness.He is calling us UP out of our comfort and into confrontation. NOT into contention, into confrontation. He is challenging us to know what we believe and why we believe it.

This is the day of standing sure upon the mountain of God and declaring His word. We are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God to everyone that believes!

This is the day the Lord is drawing us UP from being fixated upon ourselves and our own concerns to where we seek out others to fix — to administer the truth in love, to become a healing house. He is calling us UP to the place where we are not afraid of confronting a lie with the truth for by mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil. (Prov. 16:6)

This is the day the Lord has made!

‘Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.’ Colossians 4:5-6″-Sr. Pastor Jeff Johns, White Horse Christian Center, West Lafayette, IN

We need to treat every day as a day that the Lord has made, rejoice, and then do the work we are called to do.

It sounds easy enough, but oh to often we get boggled down with the everyday mundane tasks of life , and we get distracted and pulled from our purpose.

We can get so focused on ourselves, our walk, our growth that we are of little use for the Kingdom of God.

We let this world and this life, steal our joy for the Lord and render us ineffective in the lives of others.

Many believe that this is “such as life, but that is a lie straight from the pit of Hell.

It is time to take our eyes off ourselves and put them where they belong, on Christ, and start living our lives (every day) for Him.

So, starting tomorrow, I will be sharing one worship song for the purpose of entering into praise for our Lord and Savior and one scripture verse to memorize so that we can build our artillery against Satan.

GETTING

Where praise is present, God is present, and where God is present, Satan is not.  Let us dedicate the month of October to stomping out Satan with Worship and growing our knowledge and weaponry with the Word so that we may wake up every day knowing this is the day that the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it, and go on to do the work of the Lord.

Can’t wait to see you tomorrow.

God bless,

Missy

My God is Greater

I’ m not going to lie; this week has been ROUGH!

My daughter got her first broken heart.  Let me just say,  those who say your first broken heart is the hardest are not telling the truth.  Your daughter’s first broken heart is the absolute hardest.  I don’t think I have ever felt more useless.

On top of that my daughter’s childhood best friend was involved in a car accident involving a fatality.  Now, the best friend is doing much better and is expected to make a full recovery, but her passenger lost his life.  Two families forever changed.  Words here would do no justice to the situation and I ask for continued prayers for both families.

It is our natural tendency in times such as these to pull away from God, but He wants just the opposite.

Bring your tired; Bring your shame; Bring your guilt; Bring your pain; Don’t you know that’s not your name; You will always be much more to me.

Our hurts matter to God.  My daughter’s heartbreak matters to God.  The loss of child matters to God.  Right now I know He is holding my daughter’s broken heart in His hands,  and He is carefully putting the pieces back together.  I know He is at Nicole’s  bedside right this very minute.  I know He has his arms around the family of AJ and he will not let go.  I may not understand it; I may not ever understand it.  But I do know my God has got this.

I am learning to run freely, understanding just how He sees me, and it makes me love Him more and more; He’s greater; He’s greater.

Learning to trust in God when our circumstances shout otherwise is not easy.  But scripture does not  tell us there won’t be hard times, it just says God won’t leave us during those hard times.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. Isaiah 43:2

Yes, the world would have me believe that after the week I have had,  I should be wallowing in hurt and pain.  But just as the song says,

There’ll be days I lose the battle; Grace says that it doesn’t matter‘; Cause the cross already won the war; He’s greater ; He’s greater.

My God is greater than ANYTHING.  Yes, there will be bad days.  There will be hurt.  Their will be pain.  But God will always be there and that is reason enough to sing and praise Him!

So , yes, today I will sing.  Today I will worship.  Despite all pain, despite all circumstances, I WILL PRAISE MY GOD!!!

Have a blessed day,

Missy

 

 

My Holy Spirit Experience

Yesterday, we talked about how God wants to be the center of our lives.  He doesn’t want to be at the top of your list, he wants to be the list.  I also shared my belief that in order to live a Christ-centered life you must have an on-going relationship with Him and have Holy Spirit.

Yes, Holy Spirit, the Uncle Eddie (Cousin Eddie) of the Trinity.  You know what I am talking about; the uncle you love but are not so sure what to do with Him.  Unfortunately, too many Christians today are not even aware of the power of Holy Spirit.  Sadly, it is mostly because churches are not teaching it.  Church doctrine over the years has simply turned Holy Spirit into our conscience.

I am not going to bash other church doctrine.  This is not what this is about.  I can and will do nothing to dissuade you from the teachings of your church.  All I can do is share my  experience with you.  All I ask is you keep an open mind and do your own seeking.

Let me start off by saying that I attend a Methodist Church, this was the last place I expected to be taught about Holy Spirit.  [I thought only "snake-holding" churches believed in this kind of stuff.  Now, I am not bashing Pentecostal churches, I love Pentecostal churches, but before I knew Holy Spirit, those kinds of churches scared and confused me.]  Luckily for me I had a pastor who is lead by God and willing to cross religious boundaries to make sure her people are too.

Anyway, when I first started going to my church, my pastor and a group of believers would meet for a bible study.  A few of them were “spirit-filled,” and the topic would come up from time to time.  I didn’t know much about it, but I became curious and begin to study and seek.  The more I learned, the more I wanted to know more, and the more I loved my God and my relationship with Him grew and grew.  I couldn’t get enough.  Then obedience began to take shape in my life, and I was ready to give it all to God.

About a year into my new-found relationship with Christ, I went to a church conference.  Days before I was due to leave, the attacks against me were something fierce.  I was very close to not even going.  The first night of the conference, I wasn’t even speaking to my husband.  But within a short time of being there, I knew God had something for me; however,  I was also on guard because the church holding the conference was Penecostal and the last thing I wanted was to fall for any false doctrine.  I prayed and prayed that first night:

“Lord, if this is real, I want it!  Protect me, my ears, and my heart from anything not of you.  I want all you have to give me, but I only want what is of you and you alone.”

I walked away that night knowing before I received what God had for me, I had to make things right with my husband.  I did just that (the conference was only 45 min from home).  I cannot tell you the great relief I felt inside when I let go of all I was holding against my husband.

The next day of the conference was great.  You could feel something special going on.  One by one I began to let go of pains and hurts that had held me captive for so long.  I began to say over and over:

“Lord, I’m ready now.  I don’t want to live like this any longer.  I want to live solely for you.  Everyday I want to wake up praising your name and lead others to you.  I want to give you my life just like you gave me yours.”

I couldn’t die to myself fast enough.  I literally laid at the alter and had the most awesome time in the presence of the Lord.  It was nothing my ol’ baptist heart could have ever imagined.  I didn’t want to get up, I didn’t want to move.  I also spent a great deal of time repenting of my past.  I had asked for forgiveness on most things, but there were deep secrets I had yet to bring to light.  I just opened my heart to him and let everything out.

On the last day of the conference, my big moment happened.  I was worshiping to How He Loves by David Crowder and all of the sudden gibberish started coming out of my mouth and wouldn’t stop.  Now, I had  heard something about prayer language, but I was skeptical.  I looked at my pastor, and she looked back at me, and she just burst into tears.  She let me go on with my new found prayer language for a bit and then she taught me how to control it a little better.  Honestly, I didn’t want to control it.  It was something so glorious, I didn’t ever want it to stop.  And, I was a little afraid if I stopped it, it wouldn’t come back.

Thus began my “spirit-filled” life.  Now, it wasn’t the “magic” of the conference that awakened Holy Spirit inside of me; it was the “dying to self” part that did it.  In order to be “filled” there needed to be room inside of my heart.  Once I got rid of me, Spirit had more than enough room.  I will also add that I believe truly repenting of all my sins played a role as well.

[Don't get caught up in water baptism and spirit baptism/one or two baptism.  Terms are not important.  What is important is that we are given Holy Spirit the day we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior; however, it is more like seed form.  As we grow in Christ, that seeds gets bigger and bigger.  As it gets bigger and bigger it needs more room, so we have to remove all of "us" to make room for Holy Spirit.]

Now, for my fellow believers who are unsure of Holy Spirit, I know how weird this all sounds and I ask you to look into it more.  Seek the truth for yourselves.  Below you will find verses that will help, but please, please don’t blow me off.

We cannot have a complete relationship with God, if we don’t know a third of Him.  Holy Spirit is real and vital to our walk with Christ.  It is only by the strength of Holy Spirit that we can do anything.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NIV)

It wasn’t until the disciples were filled with Spirit that they went out and preached and taught without doubt or fear.  Even while Jesus walked with them they were a hot mess.  But after they had Holy Spirit they began to lead effectively.

John 16:7

 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.  (NIV)

Jesus was saying that Holy Spirit could only come if he (Jesus) left and it would be better for the disciples to have Holy Spirit.  Holy Spirit actually lives inside of us, making it far easier to walk in the ways of the Lord.  Again, the disciples were doing it previously on their own strength (and not very well mind you.)

Acts 2:38-39

 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (NIV)

Did you hear that?  Repent and be baptized and you will receive forgiveness and Holy Spirit.  We get both at the same time.  It is also important to note as verse 39 indicates, Peter’s message was just not for his audience, but for those who have yet to come (us)!

John 14:25-26

“All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (NIV)

Holy Spirit talks to us; guides us.  Holy Spirit is what the world has termed “conscience”, but so much more.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit . (NIV)

When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we get the Holy Spirit.  So then, why do some use the term “filled with the Spirit?”  Refer back to the seed illustration above.  Once the seed is fully grown-we are filled.

You, however, are not controlled by the sinful nature but are in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. (NIV)

Since we get Holy Spirit is given once we believe, if we don’t have Holy Spirit, then we aren’t believers and do not belong to Christ.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (NIV)

This is the prayer language mentioned above.

I encourage all who don’t know Holy Spirit to seek, seek, seek.  To those who already do, I pray you will continue to walk in the Spirit and help others to find him.

Have a blessed day,

Missy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Get a Christ-Centered Life

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I am listening to the audio version of The Shack by William P. Young, and one concept from yesterday’s reading (listening) really got me thinking. [Yes, I realize that it is a fiction book; however there are some great insights in there.]  God doesn’t want to be the top of our hierarchy pyramid, he wants to be the center of our carousel.

“I don’t just want a piece of you and a piece of your life. Even if you were able, which you are not, to give me the biggest piece, that is not what I want. I want all of you and all of every part of you and your day.”
Wm. Paul Young, The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity

When we think about our relationship with God in a hierarchy sense, (God first, husband second, kids third, etc.) we tend to treat it like a checklist. I did my half our devotion, I’m good for the day right? No! God wants to be a part of everything we do. He wants to be the center of everything we do. When we go to the grocery store, he wants to be there. When we go to the PTO meeting, he wants to be there. God is not an item on our checklist to be crossed off; he is supposed to be a part of us, an essential part of who we are. When we treat him like an item on the checklist this is more like religion than relationship.

I don’t follow Christ or walk in obedience because I have to, but because I want to. I really want to. Why? Simply, because I love Christ more than I love myself. I don’t do it because I want to please him (even though I really do); I don’t do it to make Christ love me (he can’t love me more than he already does). I don’t do it for rewards or blessings (although I do enjoy these). I do it because I can’t help but do it. My relationship with Christ is that important and that encompassing. Now, do I always get it right? No. I make plenty of mistakes; however, God’s grace is right there to cover them all.

It hasn’t always been this way for me. For many, many years I sat in a church pew on Sunday mornings waiting for something to happen. I knew there was something more. I felt it deep in my soul. I knew that Sunday morning Christianity wasn’t enough, but I couldn’t see how it was possible to live for Christ.   I wasn’t willing to give up my life, my wants, or my pleasures.  Yes, on Sunday mornings, there were times I was inspired to do so, but by Sunday afternoon my selfishness had returned.

Come on, we all know the scriptures:

“I have been crucified with Christ…” (Galatians 2:20a)

“…and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20b).

“… and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20c).

But it is one thing to know and another thing to live.

I wish I could put together an easy “how to” post on making God the center of your life (i.e living for Christ).  But as such with life, it is anything but easy.  What I can do is share where I started.

My transformation began with building a relationship with God.  I did this by seeking him.  I was kind of like a stalker.  I started talking to him all the time, throughout my whole day. In bed, in my car (I started to think I needed a bumper sticker that said “I’m not crazy, I’m just talking to God”), at the park. I began telling God all my secrets, even the ugly ones. I was just honest with Him.

I also started reading the Word. I know someone of you are rolling your eyes at such a cliche answers, but I can’t help it; it is the truth. If you want to know God more and have a relationship with Him, you must read His Word. Once I was in His Word, I began to really know Him and my desire to know Him more grew and grew.

I also surrounded myself with people who were just as excited to know God as I was. I would have been at my church 24/7 if I could have.  I cannot emphasis enough the importance of surrounding yourself with a supportive community.  If you don’t have this, contact me privately.  I would be more than happy to be your community. (missybaroff@gmail.com)

Then, I began  putting things in action. I began to apply what I was learning in the scriptures. That sounds like obedience you say? Why, yes, I started to walk in obedience (I just love when I can throw that in there).

There is no doubt in my mind that having a relationship with God is vital to making Him the center of your life, but it is not the only thing.

The relationship makes you want to live your life for Christ, Holy Spirit gives you the ability to live your life for Christ.

Once I established a relationship with God, it became easier and easier to want more. I couldn’t get enough and God became an essential part of me. However, I was still missing a key element, Holy Spirit.

I wish I had more time to go into that today, but I feel like I would do Him a great injustice by trying to cram Him in, so I will continue on with Holy Spirit tomorrow.  [Yes, I realize I don't usaully post on Fridays, but that is the beauty of not working anymore, I have lots more time to write.  I also have more time to finally figure all the ins and outs of word press and finally know how to do block quotes and add colors.  lol.  It only took me a year and a half.]

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Missy

Beyond the Book Review: Not a Fan: An Open Invitation

I know it has been a few weeks, but I haven’t forgotten about our open study on Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman.

For those who are new to my blog, we are currently discussing the book Not a Fan. As the title indicates, it is more than a book review but far from an official book study.

In Chapter 8, Kyle takes a long hard look at who Jesus wants as a follower.

Many, many non-believers and Christians alike seem to think that Jesus only wants the “good ones” or “perfect ones.” But the truth is, the invitation is open to anyone, and anyone means everyone.

Let me digress a moment.

John 3:16-For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

“There is a reason why that is the most often quoted verse of the Bible. In that one verse we read that God loves us, Jesus died for us, and that we can have eternal life through him. It it not unusual to go to a sporting event of some kind and see someone holding up a sign that says ‘John 3:16.’ But I’ve never seen someone hold up a sign that says ‘Luke 9:23.’ Quick say that one without looking. That may be a little tougher. But Luke 9:23 also records the words of Jesus. In fact, unlike John 3:16, Luke 9:23 is recorded in 3 of the 4 Gospels.” (p. 116)

Luke 9:23-3 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Oh, how I love those words right now. I know crazy right? But, no worries, I am not going there today. (Yes, I did hear that collective sigh of relief.)

Luke 9:23 will likely never win an award for most appealing advertisement for Christianity or be used in promotional literature for recruitment. But it is crucial to an accurate understanding of the Gospel.

John 3:16 emphasizes believing; Luke 9:23 emphasizes following.

Both are necessary; there is no believing without following and no following without believing. (p. 116)

“Jesus begins his call to follow him with these two words, If anyone….. Anyone is significant because it makes it clear whom he is inviting. He is inviting anyone. Anyone is an all-inclusive word. Anyone means everyone. Jesus does not begin with a list of pre-qualifications. His invitation to follow is addressed to Anyone. Many people don’t realize they have been invited to follow. They think, ‘Not after what I’ve done. He wouldn’t want me to follow him. I would never make the cut.’ They assume they are not qualified and as a result never take seriously what it means to follow Jesus. After all, what is the point in filling out an application if you know you won’t get approved?” (pp 116-117).

Anyone means everyone. Did you get that? I just wanted to make sure you didn’t miss it.

We all have stains; we all have pasts. But nothing disqualifies us from following Jesus Christ. Don’t believe me? Well, take a look at the disciples. Talk about a bunch of messed up people. Wait, also look at Paul (you know the one who used to be Saul and persecuted all those Christians).

One of the disciples, Matthew was a tax collector. In Biblical times, that was about as low as one could go seeing as he stole money from his own people. The lowness of Matthew’s status equates to something like a child molester today. Think about, a child molester following Jesus! But it is possible. Jesus forgives. He is the King of Second Chances. Jesus will use anyone who follows him. Nothing you or anyone else has done prevents them from repenting and following Jesus Christ.

Imagine your reaction if you had overheard Jesus telling a child molester, “Follow Me, ” just as he did to Matthew.

When Jesus invited Matthew to follow, he was making it clear that this is an open invitation extended not solely to the religious elite, the morally upright, and those who have their lives together. But it is an open invitation to all of us who are hiding some stains.” (p. 122)

Kyle also points out that people mistakenly believe that the open invitation to follow Jesus has an asterisk beside it like many car commercials. You know the ones, “Anyone can buy a car here,” but at the bottom of the screen there is an asterisk followed by, “With Approved Credit.” There is no asterisk to Jesus’ open invitation to follow him. And CHURCHES NEED TO TAKE NOTICE! A lot of our church signs say “Anyone and Everyone Welcomed,” but we don’t really mean it. No, unfortunately, a lot of our churches mean that anyone who looks like us, seems to have their lives together, and look real pretty dressed up, are welcomed. If someone has gone through a divorce, has no money, or has a drug addiction, would they be welcomed at your church? Would they be welcomed to take communion?

People, we need to open our eyes and stop trying to determine who is allowed to come to Jesus and follow him.

“Who is allowed to follow Jesus? Anyone.

Sexual past? Anyone. Ex-con? Anyone. Recently divorced? Anyone. Republican? Democrat? Anyone. Alcoholic? Anyone. Pothead? Anyone. Addict? Anyone. Hypocrite? Anyone. (p. 125)

I don’t know where you are today. I don’t know if you are struggling to believe you are worthy to follow Jesus or you’re struggling to accept that anyone can follow Jesus. But what I do know is that God is speaking to all of us today, no matter where we fall of the spectrum. He is calling us to not only accept the truth, but he wants us to start living the truth; start living like your worthy of falling; start accepting one another just as we are.

Have a blessed day!
Missy

My Sheep Hear My Voice

sheep

Well it is official; I am currently a stay-at-home mom and wife. While it may not make sense to some around me, I know the time was right because God called me to it.

Actually I had felt and heard God tell me to quit my job long before I ever did it; I was just too confused to follow through.

If I heard God’s voice, why was I so hesitant to quit? After all, this is something I had been wanting to do for a long time. One word: doubt.

I started to doubt it was God’s voice I was hearing. Because leaving my job and spending time doing ministry was something I was longing to do, I was afraid my voice was getting in the way.

I looked all around me for confirmation. Yes, there was some confirmation; however, it was not the means I was expecting, which made me doubt a little more.

Let me elaborate:

I would be studying a passage in the Bible and I would pray for confirmation. I would get the verse I needed and just when I was feeling pretty good about the situation, I would read a verse somewhere else (Facebook, Author’s website, another blog) that made me doubt once again.

In another instance, God told me one Sunday that someone had a word for me (that has never happened to me before) and out of the blue, a church member who I have never been able to get a good read on (my discernment does not seem to work on him-nothing good or bad) said he felt called to share what God has laid on his heart. It went something like this:

“Sometimes, if we fail to act when we know God is calling us to do something, we can miss our blessing.”

Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Then why did I still doubt?

I was still unsure because I would have preferred the message to come from someone who I could actually read seeing as one of my spiritual gifts is discernment. It is very rare for me not to be able to get a good read on someone.

[Now, some believe that because I cannot get a good read on a person, the person must be protected by an evil force. I don't necessarily agree with that blanket statement. Sometimes this may be true; other times it is not. I have found it best in this type of situation to look at the fruit of a person's life. Yes, fruit can be faked, but I believe if you pray to God, God will open your eyes to real fruit or fake fruit. I have seen both. Yes, it took me a while to see the fake's true colors, but God did open my eyes. As for the person in question, there is good fruit. Not perfect fruit, but good fruit that is getting better each day (kind of like me).]

Anyway, you can see why this was not the perfect confirmation I would have liked. There are many people in my church, who when given a word, I would have believed instantly, so I couldn’t understand why God would use the one person I could not read to give me a word. I began to really doubt what I was hearing wasn’t really from God and failed to see that two of Satan’s greatest weapons are doubt and confusion.

You see, just as soon as God gives a little bit of confirmation, Satan wants to get in there and mess things up. We must be careful with our expectations and demands. God is not a little monkey who dances on command, He will not necessarily give you the confirmation in ways you’re expecting or wanting.

A few days after the “word” from the person at church, my spirit spoke to me and said, “Wasn’t it the same voice that has been guiding you all along that told you now was the time?”

Uh oh spaghettios!

Now I really have a problem. Have I been hearing God’s voice all along or have I just been hearing mine?

It only took me a minute or two to get a grip. I was confident that I had been following the voice of God since being filled with the Spirit one and a half years ago. And once I was able to stand firm on that, I got it.

John 10: 14 (NKJ)- I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.

John 10:27 (NKJ)- My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

You see, I got so caught up trying to get outside confirmation that I missed the importance of hearing God’s message directly. I know the voice of God. I know when my Spirit is talking and when I am talking, deep down I know.

The lesson here for all of us is that we are the sheep. We know our Shepard’s voice. We don’t need our best friend to confirm what God has directly spoken. If everything was laid out in black and white, why would we need faith? Why would we need trust?

Now, don’t get me wrong confirmation is important, especially when you are not hearing God’s voice clearly. But we can drive ourselves crazy and miss our blessings if we rely more on outside confirmation than the voice of God.

Lord, train our ears to hear your voice clearly and teach us to act faithfully and promptly upon command. In Jesus’ almighty name I pray, AMEN!

Have a blessed day!
Missy

ISIS Simplified

Below is an article I am preparing for my church newsletter. Please understand that I am not an expert of any kind in this field. I struggle to understand the complexities of these types of issues, which is the reason why I have to simplify it. Some co-workers commented it helped them get a clearer understanding, so I thought I would share it with you all.

Understanding the situation in Iraq can be quite difficult as it is easy to get overwhelmed with the many different terms and the mass volume of information. It is past time to simplify the matter.

What is the difference between ISIS and ISIL?

ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. This is an Al Qaeda splinter group of approximately 15,000 soldiers. They are responsible for thousands of deaths in the Syrian civil war and in Iraq.

ISIL is just another name used, mostly by government sources, as ISIS is now gaining more influence and expanding its borders. It stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (which references the expanded region the terrorists want to occupy).

In short, it is the same group, just different abbreviations.

What do they want?

The goal of this terrorist group is to build a new country consisting of Syria Iraq, and a few other Middle Eastern countries, for the Sunni Muslims.

In their quest to gain control they are attempting to wipe out perceived enemies, such as the Iraqi government, American forces, Shia Muslims, and Christians by means of extreme violence, including suicide bombings and beheadings.

Thousands of Christians are being forced to flee from their homes in order to live as ISIS is calling for their conversions or death. Men, women, and children, no one is spared. In simple terms, ISIS is conducting a “religious cleansing,” meaning any religion other than Sunni Muslimism will not be tolerated and all will be put to death.

What time in history does this bring to mind?

Why should we care?

These Christians may be far away, but they are all brothers and sisters in Christ. They need our support. They need our prayers. Christians across the world need to unite and stand against such evils.

Furthermore, two American reporters have already been beheaded and threats against the U.S. Continue to escalate.

Think this can’t happen in the United States? Think again! In Mr. Obama’s Presidential Address on September 10, 2014, he stated there was cause for concern that Americans helping ISIS overseas now would try to return home to start attacks in the U.S.

On August 9, 2014, someone posted a picture of the ISIS flag unfurled outside the White House. The message attached, “we are in your state, we are in your cities, we are in your streets.” (Gil Kaufman-MTV News)

What can we do to help?

1. Get and stay informed-the situation is constantly changing and evolving.
2. Pray-pray earnestly and without ceasing. Fasting would be a great addition.
3. Raise Awareness-social media is a great outlet. Facebook users are changing their profile pics to the symbol of the upside down “N”, for a show of solidarity. Blogs and newsletters are another great way to get the word out.

nun

4. Write to local and federal government officials.
5. Give-Christian Aid and Open Doors are just a few organizations collecting.

James 2:16-17 (NIV): If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Other Sources: http://www.kgwn.tv/home/headlines/Whats-the-Difference-Between-ISIL-and-ISIS;
Islamic State’s “Convert or Die” Demands Unchallenged-Global Society by Carrie Dedrick

Are you a Christian or a Disciple?

Yesterday I shared:

John 13:34-35 (NIV)-“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

I further shared that this verse meant that the world will know we are disciples by our love. If we are truly disciples, we will love.

That got me thinking, is there a difference between a Christian and a disciple?

The term Christian is found in the Bible three times, the first time being in:

Acts 11:26-….. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

The term Christian was used to mean “Christ follower” or “little Christ.” As the name implies, a Christian was someone who believed in and followed the teachings of Christ. While at first the term was used as an insult, believers embraced it as honor because the term implied they were Christ-like.

Disciples were those who followed the teachings of Jesus Christ. To be more exact, disciples were considered to be students or apprentices of someone.

John 8:31- 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

Luke 6:40-A disciple is not greater than his teacher, but everyone when fully trained will be like his teacher.

In short, in Biblical times, the terms “Christian and Disciple” were interchangeable. I am not so sure the same applies in today’s times.

While most dictionaries still define “Christian” as someone who follows Christ, I think most people use it for those who believe in Christ, or even worse, those who attend church. It is like any other category of religion: Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.

There are many who believe in Christ, but few who actually follow Christ by following His teachings. I equate this with the “fan or follower” in Kyle Idleman’s book Not A Fan.

You can believe in Christ and go to church (today’s Christian) and still not be a disciple (those who are trying to follow the ways and teachings of Jesus Christ).

To be a true disciple, I believe you have to make an effort to live your life according to the Bible. As we learned yesterday, in John 13: 34-35, Jesus states we are not disciples of Christ if we don’t love. Why? Because loving each other is a command from God and if we refuse to try to fulfill this command we are not truly following Christ.

Yes, there is room for grace here as we all fall short, but we must be careful not to let the gift of grace keep us from trying.

Luke 9:23-24 -Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

The greatest realization of my life (next to my free gift of salvation) was that the day I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior I died. A new life was given, not for my own purposes, but for God’s purposes. I am to live each and every day for the glory of God.

Now, in order to be real, I must share that this realization took years. I honestly did not believe it was possible to want to live for God. This sounded so boring. I couldn’t imagine a life not centered around my wants, needs, and desires. It was my life after all, I wanted to enjoy it!

I failed to see that true, lasting satisfaction could only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ and following in His ways. I have since found that true satisfaction. Furthermore, I want to live for God. I am not doing it because I am required to do it (that would be legalism-the Law). No, I am doing it because I want to do it. Yes, I want to please the Lord, but I also want the comfort and peace that comes with being in the will of God.

To many that may seem far-fetched, maybe even rose-colored, but I swear it is the absolute truth. I wouldn’t have believed it either, so I encourage you all to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ. Try taking a step in obedience and just see what God will do.

Blessings,
Missy

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