Be the Gift

“The cells that only benefits themselves are known as cancer” Ann Voskamp – The Broken Way    #bethegift

From Ann Voskamp’s new book there is this quote. The jest of the book is about being broken and even through our brokenness we find a way to “be the gift” to others. We have an option, you know.  We can either stay buried in the muck of the brokenness or we can rise above with the help of the Lord.  We all have brokenness of some variety which stems from some past experiences. This quote is saying that we are the cells, we can make decisions that only benefits  our self and cause harm or pain to others  or we can find ways to break out of our brokenness through helping others.  Cancer cells live solely to feed themselves for their benefit of survival. Are we going to live as cancer cells or are we going to “be the gift”?

Matthew 7:12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

3 John 1:11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.

I am not unfamiliar with brokenness and I have done my share of burying myself in the muck.  The only thing  that has gotten me out of that muck is actively working to have a true and strong relationship with Jesus.  Knowing Him as a loving friend.  Understand God as the Father that loves and never causes harm. Allowing His Spirit to guide my steps and my thoughts.  Without that I would still be in the muck. Because of my relationship with Him, I choose to “be the gift” and not the cancer.

So I challenge you to actively work on relationship with Him. Let Him pull you through the muck to a fabulous life of peace and love.

Lord, I thank You for being my all.  I thank You for loving me more than I knew I could be loved.  For being a firm foundation for my steps and for guiding me through the fire and bringing me to the other side even better then before.  I pray for You to help me remember my purpose here and I ask You to give me the words I need when I need them.  Wrap Your arms around those that don’t know You yet.  Amen!

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Friday’s Question

Am I using the gifts that God has given me?  Or am I squandering them away?

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;

Full chapter – 1 Corin 12:4-11  BibleGateway.com-Logo

I’m a firm believer in spending enough time with God and being willing to step out in faith to figure out what gifts He has given you.  It wasn’t till I stepped out there in my fear and trusted Him to guide my steps that I truly understood who I am in Him.  Did my human side mess up some……. absolutely!  Do I still mess up some………absolutely!  But the difference now is I don’t get all stressed out over it.  I trust in my loving, grace giving, mercy abounding God to prepare my next step.  He has provided for me a path way to living a full-filling life here on earth and in great anticipation for when I’m with Him for eternity.

So don’t squander your gifts!  You have them, you know.  They are built into the mold that He cut you from. All you have to do is start stepping out there. Even if you have a little or a lot of fear, know this………… He will provide the way and He will teach you something new with every new step.  Don’t fear only trust!

Lord, thank You for giving me gifts that I can use to better your kingdom and helping me get over my fear of failure. Amen!

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RENEW

How am I doing after 3 months?

Psalm 51:10 BibleGateway.com-Logo

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 51:12 BibleGateway.com-Logo

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

2016 was an interesting year for me.  Started out dealing with a past hurt, then it lead me to an old hurt that is now intersecting with the new and then right into meshing the past with the present. Maybe one day I will be more specific but for now that’s it.

But how did that lead me to 2017 word being Renew?  And how am I doing with that process in the first 3 months?  It’s really not that easy.  30 year old hurts may be a thing of the past and God definitely has a way of healing but he doesn’t choose to wipe those memories away. So creating new memories to heal those old ones is where He can heal me. The renewing of the mind.  40 year old hurts that intersect with the new life can be messy and hard.  That’s when seeking His guidance in how to mesh them together, allowing the old to not control the new. Renewing of the soul.  And then we come to the 50 year old past meshing with the present and allowing forgiveness and love which God has given me so freely be my guide for the future. Renewing of the heart.  So how have I done?  I’ve sought a lot of guidance from God and the Godly people in my life and I’m learning and still leaning on Him.  The renewal of my life. There is still more for me in 2017 but I’m reminded that it’s not what is of this world that controls me.  It’s my love for the Lord and His love for me that creates in me a clean heart, renews my spirit, restores my joy and holds me up.

So with that I’m still working on the “Renew”.  Still seeking and listening to His small words and gentle nudges.  Still trusting that through all of this mess and change, He has a plan for me.

He has the same plan for you.  Your journey most likely doesn’t look like mine but His promises to you are the same. Just trust, seek and listen.

Lord, I trust.  Each day even through my tears, fears, laughter and joys, I trust!  I am grateful that You are always there for me, for us and for all the hurting and lost in the world.  Help me to continue to seek you.  Help me to feel your presence in my life.  Help me to always trust.  Amen!

#rhondagouldonline

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True Friendship with Him

Hebrews 5:12-14   For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Sitting idly by!  Satisfied with the status quo! Think you’ve arrived! Have the whole bible stoBibleGateway.com-Logored in your memory! Go to church every time the door is open! Feed the poor every Saturday!  But you don’t have a relationship with Christ! A relationship is more than simply being present, more than being satisfied where you are, more than being able to quote scripture, more than going to church and more than serving those less fortunate than you.  RELATIONSHIP……the way in which two people talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other, successful long-term relationships involve ongoing effort and compromise by both, the most meaningful element in their lives and can seem like a lot of work until you sit back and realize just how much you’ve been given.  It seems easy to have a relationship with someone here, someone that we can touch, feel and enjoy life with, some that we can see but that someone also has the ability to cause the most pain for us.  We put so much effort into relationships on earth and think nothing of the time it takes but do we put as much or more time on our God.  Just because we can’t touch him, we can’t physically feel his touch, we can’t see him or plainly hear him speak doesn’t mean that he’s not there for us.  Once we realize that he is all around us, working for our good and providing our needs, knowing that all he desires from us is to spend our time with him, we will be able to feel the gentle breeze of His Spirit, hear Him in our hearts and see His work in our lives.  Don’t be satisfied with sitting idly by, never striving for more relationship with him.  Don’t believe the lies that we should be satisfied with the knowledge we have today.  Searching to know more of His love for me, more of His sacrifices He made for me, more of what He works in my life and more about a true relationship with Him.  #rhondagouldonline

Dear Lord, I pray that today I won’t be satisfied with my relationship with You.  That my urges to know You will be greater than my urges to please people of this world. I know that You gave everything for me because of Your love so I pray that I will give everything to You.  Amen!

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My Story is not Boring

Patty Raisor: Pure in Heart!  That is what I can say about Patty.  Which means she loves God and through that love she gives.  Gives in many ways to her neighbors in America and to her neighbors across the seas.  She feels BIG, big for joys and big for sorrows.  A person will never fails to feel loved when they are with her.  I have been blessed by her presence in my life.

1780066_10203010322633219_2085411338782936671_oThere is no such thing as a boring story with God.  I use to think my testimony was boring – I grew up in a Christian home, was in church all my life, had every opportunity to know God, did all the “Christian things,” but realized in High School that I had a religion and not a relationship.  It was at a youth camp that I realized I was working to obtain and keep my salvation – it was all about me and what I did.  Once I could see the ugliness of my sin – my attitudes, actions, thoughts, words – I realized I needed to be rescued from myself.  It was at that camp I asked Jesus to be in charge of my life, to save me from myself, to forgive me of my past and be my forever friend.

What is not boring about my story is that God had been pursuing me all my life – He gave me my family, He gave me a Christian upbringing, He protected me from myself and He has continued to hold me tight.

My salvation was secure, but I had not truly made Him Lord over my life which was evident during my college days.  I went my own way and lived a life that made me look like the world around me.  I rarely went to church, I never read the Bible, I prayed when I needed something and I was surrounded by non Christian friends.  My life definitely was not boring – but it was also not fulfilling.  I was running from God thinking I was in charge of my life.  BORING.jpg

Things began to change when I met my future husband.  We had so much in common – we were both Christians, we had very similar home life and interests and he too had been running from God.  We both had the desire to make our marriage God centered which meant getting serious about our relationship with Him.  It was then I committed to making Him Lord of my life.

I began attending Bible studies where I discovered for myself the truth about God, His character, the way He operated and what He desired for my life.  I began to grow in my relationship with Jesus as I applied what I was learning.  God began preparing me to serve Him in my home, the church and in para-church organizations.  Each ministry He placed me in was a training ground for the next assignment He had for me.  My husband and I loved serving God together and He gave us many opportunities which ultimately prepared us for His call to China.  For 2 years we taught English to college students with the main goal of sharing God’s love and showing Jesus to our students.

Why is my story not boring?  Because God’s grace is never boring.  He plucked me out of my self-centered life, He cleaned me up, He held tightly to me when I went my own way, He hand picked my spouse and has kept us together, He trained me for parenting and ministry outside of the home, He enables me to serve Him and He loves me unconditionally.  What a miracle!!

Patty

Lord, Yes what a miracle.  The miracle of Your Son.  The miracle of the love that You show us. I’m grateful for Patti and I pray for the paths that cross her, that they will be blessed by the gifts You have given her. Amen!

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Child like Prayer

Matthew 6:6 –   Prayer and Fasting – Matthew 6:5-18

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep;

If I should die before I wake,

I pray the Lord my soul to take.

This is a prayer that some children are taught at an early age.  Somewhere down the line it was taught to me.  But the teaching went no further than that.  So for years prayer was not a part of my daily routine.

Now, I say that I pray continuously.  Little chats with God through out my day. Sometimes they are silent, just thoughts within my head and sometimes they are actually audible conversation. But is that what child like prayer is?

The other night I did as I usually do and crawl in bed, way more tired than anyone should ever get, and I started talking with God.  Saying my prayers as I do.  And I realized I started by immediately telling him what I wanted to happen.  So tired that I just jumped right past my praise of what He has done for me through out the day and simply getting down to business.  Not that there is anything wrong with “getting down to business” with God, but it really hit me hard that I don’t think that I had praised Him that day, not really praised and thanked Him for all He has done, is doing and will do in my life.

So I’m challenged to be more intentional in my prayers to Him.  To have relationship, conversation, gratitude and praise.  I want to have prayer with Him as a child. Thanking Him from the heart and focusing on others more than myself.  That is Child-like prayer.

 

Lord, I thank  you for having much grace on me. I pray that I’m willing to sacrifice as you have sacrificed. I pray that I will be able to show love as you have loved me. Amen!

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Friday’s Question

Making Great Relationships………..What does that look like to you?  And how does God want it to look like in our lives?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8biblegateway-com-logo

Love is patient and kind.Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!

It takes desire, intentionality, love and time. We choose how each of those things play out in our lives.

Lord, You are the greatest example of what relationship is. Help me learn. Help me be that someone.  That someone that has that desire to have relationships.  That someone that is intentional with my actions to create opportunities.  That someone who loves through the hard as well as the joy.  That someone that gives freely of her time to MAKE GREAT RELATIONSHIPS. I pray that Your love can flow through me.  Amen! signature

STRONG WOMEN

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Ruth 1:16-17  But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

The women of yesterdays were STRONG WOMEN but unlike the days of Ruth and Naomi, the women of today have a voice, they have well paying jobs, they are pillars of their communities and they bring home the bacon and cook it too.  We also are Strong Women! But sometimes in that strength, we forget a vital part of our make up.  The make up of “Needing each other”.   Just as Ruth was not going to leave Naomi because they needed each other and she was going to be with her till death, how many women do we have that would say that to us?  How many women in our lives would we say that to?  To have those types of women these days in our busy, sometimes too busy, lives, we have to be intentional and willing to give of ourselves and pour ourselves into the lives of others. Sometimes that’s easy and sometimes that’s hard, sometimes that joyous and sometimes it can be painful.

I for one know that I would not be standing today if it wasn’t for My God and the Strong Women in my life.  I have been and continue to be burdened with some pretty heavy loads and my Strong friends continue to LIFT ME UP!  The older I get the more it seems I need them.

So don’t think that because you have a voice, you have a well paying job, you have many followers and you can “DO IT ALL”, don’t think that you don’t need other women.  I encourage you to find yourselves some women that you will stick by until death.  They will be a blessing to you and you to them.

Lord, I thank you for the strong women that you have placed in my life.  I ask you to walk with me as I be strong for others.  Thank you for always providing us with just who we need until the day we are with you.  Amen!

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Friday’s Question

Hebrews 11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.  biblegateway-com-logo

I’m putting the questions back in your court today.  I found this article and thought it was interesting because it actually doesn’t tell me how to think, it puts that responsibility back on me.  I know these questions may be uncomfortable for some Christians to even contemplate but it’s a necessary process so that we can have a strong and true relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ and reap all the promises that He so wants to give us.

Footnote: I am not endorsing this writer in general. I have not read any of his other writings.

13 Questions All Christians Eventually Ask Themselves

Photo of a woman with question mark sign, Aaron Amat / Shutterstock.com
Photo of a woman with question mark sign, Aaron Amat / Shutterstock.com
During the Christian spiritual journey, followers of Christ are forced to eventually face some basic faith-related questions. Here are a few of the most common ones:

1) What is salvation? What does salvation really mean? When does it happen and is it permanent? Do you choose your own salvation or is it predestined? Is everyone saved or just a select few?

 The idea of salvation is extremely complex, and our concept of it directly influences how we live, evangelize, and interact with the people around us.

2) Do I own my faith?Is your faith the result of a cultural or family tradition — something you were raised with — or because you know it makes your girlfriend happy, or because your seminary scholarship depends on it, or because you live in a religious society where it’s advantageous to be a “Christian?”Deep down, what do you really believe? Is following Jesus your decision, or are you vicariously living out Christianity because of an allegiance to someone — or something — else?

3) Can I trust the Bible?

 This question fleshes out the simplistic “The Bible is from God” answer. How was scripture written, formed, edited, discovered, critiqued, and inspired?

Almost all Christian beliefs and traditions come from the Bible — but where did that come from?

4) How do biblical texts apply to modern society?The cultural traditions of the Bible are radically different than today’s social norms, so how do you use scripture to address current issues such as gender roles, gay marriage, abortion, immigration reform, and gun control?
5) Who is God?  We use the generic term ‘God’ all the time, but have we stopped to ask ourselves who we believe God really is? What are God’s powers, characteristics, and attributes? How do you define the Holy Spirit? A million different people have a million different definitions of God — what’s yours?
6) Why does God allow bad things to happen? Many Christians feel secure in their faith until something bad happens; then this question becomes painfully relevant. Why do cancer, famine, war, and murder occur? Eventually, all believers must tackle the paradox of how an all-powerful and all-loving God allows extraordinary amounts of pain, hurt, and evil to exist.
7) Why is God so morbidly violent in the Old Testament?Christians are great at promoting the loving Jesus of the New Testament, but very few can convincingly explain the horrific portrayal of God in the Old Testament — how do you explain it?
8) How does free will affect my faith?Believers eventually encounter the age-old question that continues to be debated today: Do I choose God or does God choose me? The discussion of free will usually devolves into a Calvinism vs. Arminianism vs. Open Theism discussion — all of which talk about how faith relates to choice, intellect, and controlling our destiny.  This question strikes at the heart of how our actions, communication, and relationship with God is structured.
9) How can you believe in something that can’t be scientifically proven?How do you explain a God that isn’t quantifiable or palpable? As the secular world often mocks people of faith, Christians must deal with some frustrating questions: Why doesn’t God obviously manifest God’s self? If God is real why doesn’t God audibly or visibly reveal God’s self to us? Why does the God in the Bible seem so completely different than today’s God?Miracles and supernatural events seemingly don’t happen as often today. Where are the miracles, signs and wonders? Why doesn’t God physically appear to us and tell us what to do?Behind these questions lies this deeper inquiry: If God loves everyone and wants everyone to believe in God, why doesn’t God simply physically manifest God’s self to the entire world?
10) What makes Christianity different than any other religion?A virgin birth, morals, ethics, rules, laws, and miracles … other religions have had similar things. So what’s so unique about Christianity? Many faiths have questions that look extremely similar to the ones listed here — why should you trust Christianity over any other religion?
11) How has my faith been influenced? How has your upbringing, life experiences, culture, and environment molded your faith? Whether we want to admit it, everything we believe has been filtered through these life variables. How have they affected your faith and theology?
12) Am I using my faith to serve another agenda?Has your faith become something it wasn’t originally meant to be? Is it being used as a tool to serve other agendas? Are you using Christianity to impress someone, increase your social status, promote a political party, get money, buttress a moral belief, or fill intellectual, emotional, and relational voids?The Christian faith can quickly morph into something it was never originally intended to become — take time to cleanse your spirituality from the things that hijack it.
13) What is the point of following Christ? What is your purpose and motivation for following Christ? Sure, it’s full of good morals, standards, and ethics, but why do you do it? It’s amazing how many times we’ve floated through our faith without asking ourselves this most basic question.

Overall, we’re continually faced with questions that challenge our belief systems. This isn’t a bad thing, and much of Jesus’s ministry revolved around asking questions. In the end, thoughtfully examining our faith promotes a spirituality that is healthy, honest, genuine, and mature.

I have questioned and You have answered me Lord. I Trust You with all my heart. Amen!

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In The Heart

Romans 8:26 biblegateway-com-logo

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

When struggling with a decision there is sometimes a heart wrenching process to go through.  All sorts of feelings arise inside  you. And you may ask yourself, “Who is controlling those feelings?”, “Who is guiding my decisions?” “Who is my Heart listening to?” “Is it Satan or is it the Holy Spirit?”

I wonder that a lot myself. Am I self guiding or am I asking God for intervention.  Satan would want us to “self guide”.  This can lead us down a very slippery slope of pain.  So when answering the questions above, if the answer is “Christ is my Guide! Yes!”, then those feelings are natural, your decisions will be Holy Spirit driven, your heart will be well in tune to the Holy Spirit.  “For we do not know what to pray for as we ought but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words”, and I will add, and through those groanings, HE WILL GUIDE YOU.

Trust! Trust! Trust!

In You Lord I Trust. Amen!

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