A Network-Challenged Blogger’s Plea for Help

I joined Compel, a division of Proverbs 31 Ministries (for writer’s/bloggers), a few months ago and I have yet to participate in one group chat or discussion.

I have been writing this blog for over a year and a half now, but I have made very few connections.

Why?

I’m network-challenged.  I am computer shy I guess you can say.  I know it is not typical, but I can connect a lot more easily with people in person than on-line.  I’m not sure why that is.

Am I alone?  Does anyone else have or had this problem?

Everything you read about “blogging” will tell you it is vital to make connections with other bloggers.  I realize this, I’m just not very good at it.  It takes all the energy and time I have to keep up with my writings.  Yes, I take time everyday to read blogs that show up in my reader or ones that I have grown to like over the years, but I rarely comment.

Why?

Everything I write sounds stupid or superficial.  I don’t want others to think I’m just trying to get them to my blog.  I want genuine relationships, not business connections.  Or at times I feel intimidated.  The really good bloggers don’t need my lame opinions.  They have hundreds/thousands of followers already.  Why would they want more?

In writing these excuses or thoughts sound lame, real  LAME!  But I’m not sure how to fix it.

So, I thought I’d go to the source.

What are some networking/relationship building tips you can give me.  Remember, I’m network-challenged, so give me some baby steps first.  What I am really looking to do is connect to other like minded bloggers who can support one another in the “blogasphere” but in our walks with the Lord as well.

( I really hope I’m not the only one who struggles in this department.)

Blessings,

Missy

Beyond the Book Review: Chapter 9: Come After Me

Just when you may have thought I’d forgotten about this series……..

In Chapter 9, Mr. Idleman has us take a look at Luke 9:23:

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 

Now, when I read this passage, I normally focus on the “take up his cross” part of the  scripture; however, here, Mr. Idleman would like us to take a closer look at “come after Me” portion.

“Come after” is often a text used in romantic relationships.  When you “come after” someone, you chase them; you pursue them; you seek them.  Jesus wants us to pursue Him with the same passion and enthusiasm as we pursue someone we love or want to love.

Think about it a moment.  What crazy things have you done for love?  How did you win your current love?

Now, tell me, what crazy things have you done in the pursuit of Christ?

Now, not all of us are terrible romantics and don’t have a lot of “crazy” stories, but I’m betting you put a lot of time and effort into pursuing your romantic love.  Why?  Well, because building a romantic relationship takes time and effort.  The same goes for our relationships with Christ.

“Followers should have some come after Jesus stories that make people say, ‘That’s crazy.’  “

On the contrary, most fans don’t understand this concept. Following Jesus has been about going to church whenever it is convenient and dropping a few bucks in the offering plate. Fans can’t understand the need or want to do or have anything more.

But as Mr. Ideman points out, that is not the kind of relationship Jesus wants.

In the parable of “The Pearl of Great Price” found in Matthew 13 Jesus illustrates the relationship he desires:

Matthew 13:44- The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

“He is desperate to buy that field so the treasure will be his. That evening he liquidated his assets. He sells everything-his home, oxen, cart.  Friends and family begin to talk.  They think he’s lost his mind.  It just doesn’t make sense.  But the truth is, this is the best investment he could ever make.” (P. 133)

When we find Jesus, with great joy,we are to give up everything to pursue Him.  We are to do this because we know it will be worth it in the end. Our lives will be so much better following Jesus than following the world.

Fans, those who are walking on the fence, would rather play it safe and not get carried away.  It is kind of like cohabitation (living with a boyfriend/girlfriend), in which you try to reap the benefits without the commitment.   You want the relationship, but you don’t want to miss out.  What if something better comes along?  You want the fun, not the responsibilities that come with a commitment.

It is not that we don’t want a relationship with Jesus; we do.  We just don’t want it to cost us very much.” (P. 134)

Jesus’ words of “come after” are an invitation, not a command. The choice is ours. Actually, it is more accurate to say we have the choice each and every day to pick up our cross and follow  Him.  A onetime decision to follow Christ with out action to back it up is not enough to build the kind of relationship Christ is seeking.

Just as our romantic relationships take work, so do our relationships with God.  Our relationship with God can grow stale, boring, etc. if not tended to. Many marriage counselors advise couples who are struggling to go back and do what they first did to pursue one another in the beginning of their relationship. The same can be said if you have “lost that lovin’ feeling,” with God.  Go back and do what you did when you first fell in love with Christ.

Don’t think this is necessary?  Remember the warning given in Revelation 2:4-5:

I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do things you did at first.  If you do not repent I will come to you and remove your lamps tan from its place.

While I would love to say that I’m always a follower of Jesus Christ, the truth is sometimes my life looks more like a life of a fan.  I thank God for books like this and writers who are willing to put cold, hard truths out there.  The point of this chapter, and book as a whole, is to not beat up fans, or poke fun, but rather open our eyes to our shortcomings and lead us to repentance.

Where do you find yourself today? Is your walk looking more like a follower or more like a fan?

Blessings,

Missy

 

Chicago Bound

I’m writing this on a train. This is the first time I have ever been on a train. I know I am kind of old for this first, but I have never been one to travel. I am more than content in my sleepy, small town.

We are on our way to Chicago for a college visit with my daughter Kennedy. We will be looking at Moody Bible Institute. We are all excited and ready for a new adventure. We ask for your prayers for safety as well as wisdom.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

This year has been full of life changing decisions. My husband’s  new job, my leaving my job, and having two seniors.

Grateful to know someone who has all the answers.  Grateful always for my God.

Blessings,

Missy

I Say a Little Prayer for You….Standing in the Gap

Sometimes the messages God gives me come from the most unexpected places.

Yesterday, God laid on my heart words about prayer.  I’m not even studying on prayer, so  this seemed to come out of left field.  Today, I was surprised yet again as I was preparing for my Sunday evening class in the book of Joshua.  In the midst of battles, in the midst of utter chaos, is a short but sweet message regarding prayer.  It is not hidden but can be easily overlooked (I did actually miss it the first time I read it).

In Joshua 10, we find that 5 kings have joined together to attack Gibeon because rather than stand up and fight the Israelites, the Gideons had surrendered (or rather tricked Israel into an alliance/slavery).  When Gideon realizes they are under attack, they quickly call on Israel for help.

And Israel comes to their aid…quickly.

Here’s the part I almost missed completely:

Joshua 10:12-14: Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel:

“Sun, stand still over Gibeon;
And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
13 So the sun stood still,
And the moon stopped,
Till the people had revenge
Upon their enemies.

Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 14 And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel.

Not only did Joshua respond to Gibeon’s cries for help by sending out warriors, he also  offers up his prayers.

 He stands in the gap for Gibeon and the Israelite warriors.

Joshua has been assured of the victory, but he also knows the battle is going to be a long, hard one.   In praying for the sun to stand still, he is simply asking for more time for the Israelites to annihilate their opponents and for God to demonstrate His greatness.

Above is what I see in the physical realm of things.  Now, I would like to look at this situation with spiritual eyes.

Joshua and his warrior stand in the gap for Gibeon through battle and prayer.

Joshua knows Gibeon is weak and does not posses the strength, knowledge, or abilities to stand against 5 kings and their armies.  

This is symbolic of our spiritual lives.  Think about it.  Israel has just defeated Jericho and Ai and now 5 kings have attacked Gibeon to punish them for their surrender and to try to block Israel’s advances.  Compare that to what happens when we start to move and do things for Christ.

I don’t know about you, but when I start to move, so does Satan, and I’m attacked, attacked, attacked.  Similarly, a new Christian is a lot more vulnerable to the attacks of Satan, and as “seasoned” Christians it is up to us to stand in the gap for them, just as Joshua and the Israelites did with Gideon.  

We can do this through discipleship and intercessory prayer (in which we pray for and on behalf of our family in Christ).

It is not just new believers that need our prayers.  Even seasoned Christians can get overwhelmed, discouraged, and beat down.  I find that one of the greatest things about a church family, is knowing their is always someone there holding up your hands when you can’t find the strength to do it yourself.

Today, I encourage us all to lift up our brothers and sisters in prayer.  Let us ask God to stop the moon to give our fellow believers time to conquer their enemies.  Nothing is impossible with God and it all starts with prayer.

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Missy

 

Pray Without Ceasing

I had a great birthday yesterday. My husband got me some new gadgets so I’m a little behind this morning as I have been playing around and setting everything up.  My husband really does need a shout out as this is the first time he has gotten me a present I really wanted but never mentioned. This is seriously some answered prayers.

Prayer works!

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV): Pray without ceasing.

I know some teach that if we are to truly follow this scripture we must walk around praying all the time. Now, I’m no bible scholar, but I don’t think this verse means were to spend all day on our knees or walking around reciting ritualistic prayers.

Rather, I think ceaseless prayer refers to two things:

1.  A relationship with God with open communication and continual dialogue; and

2.  Repeated prayers.

God wants the kind of relationship with us where we talk to Him throughout our day. When faced with a question or problem we first turn to him. Don’t get me wrong there is a time and place for devout prayers, where we hit our knees, the alter, but we can’t spend all day, every day there as we have lives to live.  We can spend our time in prayer and then build on those prayers by communicating with God throughout our day.

I have a tendency to pray for something once or twice and go about my business. A month or two will go by and I will say to God, “Hey, what about that prayer I sent up, where are you on that?” Not good. God wants us to keep praying and keep praying. Now sometimes what we are praying for is not in His will (sometimes the answer is no), but until you get an answer, keep on praying.

Lately my husband has been giving me the attention I have longed for forever. As I mentioned above, this is clearly answered prayer. However, probably not mine.  GASP!!  I am not great at praying without ceasing. I am easily discouraged and quick to give up. This time I called in reinforcements and I am sure her ceaseless prayers are behind the answered prayer (not to play down my husband’s role).

And, yes, I know it is time to step up my game.

Where is your prayer life? Am I alone in my struggle or do you too need to step it up?

Blessings
Missy

Yes, Virginia, There Is A Devil

If you have been following my blog lately, you may have noticed a little distance, a little discouragement, maybe even a little wining.  Yes, I have been in a little funk.  I have let circumstances around me come in between me and God.  My circumstances , although a little rough right now, do not give me a reason to pout.  The only one who gains anything from that is Satan.

It is easy for us (at least me) to believe in God, but it is a lot harder for some to believe in the devil.  Some view the devil as some Halloween character, horror movie ideal, or some other make-believe figure, when in fact he is just as real as God.  I sometimes struggle to see my battles as spiritual warfare because I am a “realistic” thinker and seem to operate best with things I can physically see.

John 10: 10 (NKJ): The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Satan is out to steal and kill our faith; he is out to destroy our lives.  Satan is real;you best believe it.

I get so frustrated with myself when I fall into Satan hands, when I believe Satan’s lies, and act (react) in the flesh, just as he wanted.  Yes, we do have personal responsibility for our actions as Satan can’t make us do his work as we are children of God, rather we allow Satan to use us when we go along with his agenda and not God’s.

Luke 10:19 (NKJ)- Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

That being said, we must know how to use our power in order to defeat Satan and our own selfishness.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Yah, on paper it sounds easy, not so much in real life.  I don’t know about you, but I am so sick and tired of my own wining and complaining.  I’m tired of playing victim when it was me who allowed Satan to use me.  So, now, what do I do about it?  How do we use our God-given power to defeat Satan?

James 4:7-Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Ephesians 6:11- Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

I don’t know about you, but the times I am most likely to be the devil’s aide is when I am distant from God; when my relationship with God has been weakened.  This happens of course when I fail to read my Bible, write my blog, spend too much time on myself, etc.  I know this.  You know this.  Now, we have to be preemptive and not let ourselves grow distant from Christ.

It all goes back to the relationship we have with Christ.

If our relationship is strong, we will be strong and be able to resist that darn devil.  Why?  Because our wants, wishes, and hearts are tied to Christ.  We want to do what is right in Lord because we love Him and want to follow His ways.  Furthermore, if our relationship with Christ is strong that means we are reading His words, and…..

His words are paramount to our victory in Christ.

How did Jesus defeat Satan?

He remained faithful and always kept his relationship with his father in the forefront of his mind and he answered Satan’s questions, accusations, and temptations with scripture.  Yes, scripture.  Scripture memorization has seemed to take a back seat these days as it has become “too religious”, but scripture is what combats Satan’s lies and therefore is vital in spiritual warfare.

Matthew 1: 1-1:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:

‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and,

‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’

Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”

Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you,Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”

11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

A strong relationship with God, gives us not only a relationship with the Father and the Son, but also Holy Spirit.  For all of you who may not believe much in the terms of Holy Spirit, I encourage you to go deeper.

Holy Spirit is also paramount in our victory over Satan.  

Holy Spirit is Christ in us.  How much better does it get?  However, when we neglect our relationship, we neglect Holy Spirit, and the quieter His voice becomes.  We need Holy Spirit’s voice to help us walk in obedience and to be our spiritual eyes.  Spiritual eyes help us to recognize spiritual warfare; helps us to know when a spiritual battle is ongoing; helps us to know who our real enemy is: Satan. [I'm not all that knowledge able in spiritual warfare, but I am learning.]

Yes, Virginia, there is a devil, but the good news is that there is a God who is better, stronger, and has given us the power to stomp the devil out.

We have nothing to fear as God has given us power over Satan; we just have to act on said power by protecting and maintaining or relationship with Christ.

Be conquerors today,

Missy

Do Not Be Dismayed or Discouraged

You ever feel like this Christian life is too hard?  Do you ever feel like you’ll never get it right or your just not enough?  Are you sick of the attacks and think this is not how Christianity is supposed to work, therefore you must be doing something wrong?

If so, you are not alone.  We’ve all been there at one time or another.  However, I have found  unexpected encouragement in Joshua.

I don’t know about you, but when the Bible talks about the Promised Land, I pictured paradise.  I pictured another Garden of Eden so to speak where the Israelites’ lives were going to be easy-breezy once they got there.  I think many of us view Christianity that way as well.  We think that since we now have God, everything is going to be easy and when it isn’t, we often think we are being punished or God is just plain unfair.

Sound familiar?

Well, one thing is for sure, as found in the book of Joshua, life in the Promised Land was anything but easy.  Yes, they had God on their side, but they still had to lay their own agendas down and be obedient to the Lord.  They still had to fight in battle after battle.  God never promised them or us it was going to be easy, so quit being shocked and disappointed when trials, tribulations, and battles come.

I want to leave you today with a scripture that is repeated several times, in many different ways throughout the Israelites journey into the Promised Land:

Deuteronomy 31: 8-And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”

I believe this sentiment is repeated so many times throughout the Bible because God knows we need it.  He knows the Christian life is not full of roses and sunshine.  He wants us to know, and I mean, KNOW that He is always there no matter where we are on our journey (just like he was with the Israelites).

Have a blessed day,

Missy

 

Silence is Golden

Well, I enjoyed the 31 day challenge, but it is good to be back to normal business.  I am still struggling to find a good system that works since I left my job as a paralegal and become a stay at home mom who subs from time to time.  It is crazy, but I definitely have less time to write now.  It is so easy to get distracted at home.  I have also been very bad at keeping up with communictions and visiting other blogs.  Please forgive me as I keeping working on a solution.

Anyway, I am currently doing my own study in Joshua and God really just showed me something big (well, at least it is big in my life), and I thought I would share it with you all.

In chapter 6, verses 2-5, of Joshua, God is letting Joshua know exactly how the Israelites are going to take down Jericho:

And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all youmen of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, andwhen you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”

Later in verse 10, you will see that Joshua added something of his own:

10 Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout.”

Now, while Joshua may have added this to make the “shout” more sensational, I think there is a deeper meaning.

We must remember that Israel is just coming off their 40 year punishment  as a result of whining, complaining, unbelief, and vocal doubts.  I don’t think Joshua wanted a repeat.  He learned from history, so must we.  When facing great hardships or challenges, we must not speak words of unbelief, wine, or complain.  Words do have power, thus the directive to be SILENT!

If we prohibit ourselves from speaking words of complaint, doubt, unbelief, and fear, we are more likely to focus more on God and what He can do instead of what we cannot do.

And, yes, if you are wondering, the Israelites followed Joshua’s instructions and were silent.  I know, I was astonished too.  I think this may mark the first time the Israelites did anything without complaining.

Blessings,

Missy

 

 

31 Days of Worship:Day 31:Open Up the Heavens

What a fitting way to end this series.  I hope you have enjoyed the worship and His word.  Next week things will get back to normal around here.

Yes, it is Halloween, but it is just another day to praise the Lord for me. Let us worship and praise with open hearts and without abandon.

Ephesins 3:20-21 (NKJ):

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Missy

31 Days of Worship: Day 25: Just Say Jesus

Well, I’m glad I got things off my chest yesterday.  I am even more glad that I was able to call out “Jesus.”

The very moment I called, Jesus showed up and began to work everything out.  First in my own heart, growing my desire to want to push forward and hold on to my faith.  Then he began to work on the other stuff.

I am very fortunate to have  pastor, who truly pastors, and is willing to help us walk through the yuk, make senses of it all, and draw us closer to God.  PRAISE GOD FOR PASTOR CATHY!!!!

As I was scrolling through my Facebook page I noticed so many people hurting.  Some who know God, some who have walked away from God, and some who don’t even know God.    My heart goes out to each and everyone of them.  While I may wish to be the kind of Christian where nothing in life phases me, where my faith never falters, I realized yesterday that sometimes it is those stumbles, questions, hurts, and feelings that others can relate most.

Let me never be so “heavenly-minded” that I am of little good to those I have been called to help and serve.

James 1:1-8 (NKJ):

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.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.

Clearly, I have some work to do in this area.  No, I’m not perfect.   I was too close to doubting God as I was struggling to hold on to His promises.   But I did hold on.  I did call out to God and ask for His strength.  And he gave it to me.  Did you hear me?  I called out to God and He heard me.

He will hear you too.  Call out. Call out.

Today I’m going to repeat Just Say Jesus as the worship song because I know without a doubt there is someone who needs this today.

Blessings,

Missy

 

 

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