A Way Out

Our current sermon series at church is called “Casting Shadows”.  The basis for the series is talking about living in the shadows/darkness and how that keeps us separated from God.

I understand that life. I have lived in my share of shadows.

There are many ways that we can be living in the shadows and there are many shadows that pull at us from all directions, as the picture shows.  It can start at a very young age, where we are in the shadows of our parents and their authority, which can stem from fear or shame.  Or it can come at us from our peers in school or our careers, because of the desire to fit in or your drive to climb the ladder.  The shadows can overcome us from an abusive or over bearing spouse.  Regardless of the source, the shadows have the same hold on us.  From sexual impurities, alcohol, drugs, gossip or anything else that doesn’t come from God, these shadows can hold us down and strangle us with tight ropes around our soul.   But as we were reminded yesterday morning in church, there is ….

A Way Out

Proverbs 4:25-27 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.  Do not turn to the right or the left;  keep your foot from evil. 

 Proverbs 4 – FULL CHAPTER CLICK HERE 

Jesus is our way out.  He came to this earth, to show us a way.  He died on the cross and suffered great pain for us to be free of the shadows/darkness.  Guiding us straight into the light.  And Yes, He is not here with us in person but He gave us the Holy Spirit to walk with us daily to keep us on that path, fixing our gaze, steadfast and guiding our feet away from evil.

We have no excuses because He has removed them all.

Below is the link to yesterdays sermon, which was lead by our youth.  The same youth that wrote the series for our church community.  The same youth that are themselves breaking free from their own shadows and following in the steps of Jesus.  I invite you to watch the sermon/lesson and if you are interested  you can watch all the previous sermons.

“Casting Shadows” sermon series @ Calvary Christian Church

Lord thank You for breaking me free from the shadows of my life.  I pray Lord that I will fix my eyes on You and avoid living in the dark.  I pray for those who are living in the shadows of their lives.  The pain associated with it and redemption from the past that got them there.  I pray that You Lord will wrap Your arms tightly around us.  Amen!

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Friday’s Question

How do you know that the decisions you make are the right ones?

Ouch this is a hard one!  I have had many decisions to make in my 56 years and believe me when I say, “I did not always make the right one”!  Some of them had lasting consequences.  But the one thing I can tell you is this………………

James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

I have found that the more I dwell on the Lord and His will.  The more I ask Him for wisdom over a particular situation.  The more I pray for Him to give me the right words to say.  And the more I trust in His guidance.  Is when the more my soul is at rest with the decision I have to make.

DWELL     ASK        PRAY       TRUST        REST

IN        THE

LORD

Lord, I trust You!  You have given me Jesus to set firmly my path with examples of how to live.  You have given me the Holy Spirit to walk with me, nudge me and speak for me.  You have provided everything!  I will trust you with my decisions as I ask for You to make them clear to me.  Amen!

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Appointed

Disappointed before Anointed and Anointed before Appointed

Let me tell you, I have experienced a lot of disappointment in my life.  The world will do that to you.  For years I simply thought that was a way of life and no way to avoid it.  Something that just happens and you have to endure it. But then I started walking a little closer with my Lord and experiencing the gift of anointment.

An anointment is the application of oil in a religious ceremony. You don’t anoint your pasta with olive oil, anointment is usually performed by a religious leader on a person being blessed. You’re most likely to come across the noun anointment in a religious text or discussion.  ref: Vocabulary.com

No HE didn’t come down from heaven and rub oil over my head but the anointment that came from HIM was poured over my soul.

1 John 2:20  But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.
1 John 2:27  But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.
2 Corinthians 1:21  And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us,

I started seeing and paying closer attention to Him and His blessings, moving farther away from dwelling on the disappointments.  I began utilizing the greatest blessing of Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 61:1  The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

So no more bondage to disappointment, I am being freed from the disappointments of life.  This is also freeing me to love others better.

John 15:16   You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
Ephesians 1:3-4  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
Deuteronomy 14:2  For you are a people holy to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

He chose me, can you believe it?  Nothing special to the world but spectacular to Him!  He chose me and has appointed me to walk on His path and carry out His will.

To be appointed is to be given a task or job. ref: Vocabulary.com

I am so excited for my eternal appointment.  As I walk this earth awaiting the most important meeting of my life.

With this God appointed future I must follow in His steps.  I must reach out to those who do not know Him and are still living the life of disappointment.  I must walk beside those who are seeking His guidance and encourage them through their path.  I must love as He has loved me.  I must not stop and allow my worldly self to get in the way.  I must pull my strength from Him and Him alone.  I must continue to trust as I remember my past to see how far He has brought me.  I must continue down the path of my appointment, knowing He is with me all the way.

Lord, I trust You and I have seen You work in me.  I draw my courage from You and I let You wipe away the fear of my mind.  I will walk as You walk with me.  Amen!

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One of Imperfection

Becky Winburn……. That is a mouth full and for those who know her, you understand what I mean.  She is as determined in love as she is in life.  She gives with her full heart and gives without question.  She loves people and cares beyond but is okay just being okay.  No frills or pretension is coming from this girl.  She’s a down to earth as I know.  I moved to KY, new home, new state, new job and no “friends” and she was my first.  The first week I started my new job she befriended me and it’s been a blessing ever sense.  If you don’t know her, you should!

20170529_113042Like others who have told their stories I also was born into a Christian family. I was born Becky Sue Sams to Danny and Cecilia Sams and a big sister.  Although the nurse at the hospital insisted my mother could not name me Becky because it was a nickname my mother was victorious and I am Becky.  I was brought home to a small white frame house that sat just yards from the four mile marker on Muddy Creek Rd.  It was a safe haven and I was surrounded by Christian family and friends. My first memories of church were when we attended Antioch Christian church just a short distance from here. I loved bible school, Sunday school and Jesus at a very young age. When I was about nine we started attending church at Mt Olive Baptist down on Jackson Ferry. I remember having vacation bible school classes in a picnic shelter in the back. During that time was when I felt the call and gave my heart to Jesus Christ. I was baptized in the creek under the second bridge on White Conkright Rd., the one that is between where the old Allansville building stood and the house where Gilbert Wilder lived. My life was normal. Dana and I went to the pool and played outside all day in the summer and rode sleds and built snowmen and snowforts with our cousins in the winter. We attended church Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday nights. My favorite thing of all to do though was to sit at my grandparent’s store that was directly across from our house and listen and watch. When I was twelve my dad bought a farm on Dry Fork Rd. Around that same time was when we started attending church here.  At first the move to the farm was not much of a change. We were still just a short distance from where we had lived and my grandparent’s store was within walking distance. My other set of grandparent’s moved into a trailer on the farm. Life was good. Well that is until my dad started raising burley. We had always had a garden and mom canned. Shelling peas and lima beans and breaking green beans seemed like work. Suddenly I found out compared to raising tobacco that that had been child’s play. We had a few cattle and two pigs, cut and burned cedars but nothing was work like the tobacco. That is where I learned hard work. I tell people that all that hard work and fresh air is what has me so hardy. As the song goes I was country when country wasn’t cool. Then oh my then, I became a teenager. I never missed church and truly loved the Lord with all my heart. I was a fairly obedient child, well at least I think I was, but my parent’s may disagree. I was involved in Sunday School, Acteens, I sang in church accompanied by my uncle Jimmy and many times sang with my cousin Rhonda Slucher. I read the missionary moments every Sunday morning at the beginning of the service, it was just a paragraph or so about one of our missionary families. I graduated from high school at sixteen. This would be where my story becomes one of imperfection. Like the scripture says…the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. That summer at sixteen I helped teach my first VBS class with my mom. The five year old class, and boy were they ever entertaining. But little did I or anyone else know that long before MTV made the show “Sixteen and Pregnant” so popular I was in fact sixteen and pregnant. I started college that fall and on September 3 1983 I walked down the aisle in this very church as a child bride and married my high school sweetheart and became Becky Winburn. I had many imperfections in my life to this point but never one that would soon become so public. So it was that I delivered by c-section a daughter Whittney Dawn Winburn on January 6 1984.  She had delivery complications and her lungs collapsed and she had multi system organ failure. She was taken to UK hospital and after 21 hours of struggle she just couldn’t fight any longer. She died January 7 1984. My world stopped.We had no medical insurance and my husband and I were faced with a mound of debt that was shadowed by a mountain of grief. If my church family had been disappointed in me for getting pregnant before marriage none of it showed. They gave money to help pay the medical bills, they purchased Gideon bibles in her memory, they sent me a sunshine box so that I would feel their love for me. I clung to God like never before in my life. Even in such a dark time my farm girl raising kicked in and I picked myself up and moved forward. There simply was no other choice. I found strength in King David’s words 2 Samuel 12:20-2320 Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshiped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.

21 Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.

22 And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live?

23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

So like King David I picked myself up knowing that one glad morning when this life is over I will again see my precious Whittney. I found a job, finished college and after more than two years after her death, I was pregnant again. Three would come over the course of the next seven years. Kellen, Coleton and Ashton. Healthy, happy, handsome and beautiful. I would get up on Sunday’s and fight the fight, find the lost shoes, or other lost clothing and  get them all three dressed and ready and we would make our way to Allansville for  Sunday School and church. Somewhere in those crazy years between Coleton and Ashton I began teaching Sunday School for 1-3 and 4-6 grades. Over the years and in spite of my imperfections I have taught SS, VBS, children’s church, mission friends, been in church plays and so on. As life would have it the days turned to weeks turned to months turned to years and the babies grew up. Through fevers, runny noses, three broken arms, a broken ankle, a broken thumb, a couple of cases of pneumonia, numerous broken hearts and one gunshot wound, any questions on this can be directed to Coleton, they were raised. My sons have given me two beautiful daughter in laws one of which is named Whitney. It is amazing how God works. He has given me two Whitney Winburn’s to love. My other daughter in law Anna allowed my son Kellen to give their first born daughter his older sister’s middle name, so she is Kailei DawnWinburn. She is one of four amazing grandbabies, there is Grayson, Mckenna and Easton. They are gifts that I could not even dream of in my younger days. He has blessed me with a front seat to see what a great mother my own daughter Ashton has become. God has been faithful even in my imperfection. And as life would have it another very public imperfection was on the way. After 29 years my marriage failed. I gave my resignation as a Sunday school teacher and continued to come and sit quietly in the back row. The week that the divorce was in the local paper I noticed during the time of fellowship there were those who generally don’t make it back to where I sit had made their way to the back corner  just to shake my hand and ask how I was doing, never mentioning that they knew a thing. Although I felt unworthy and told him as much a very persistant preacher by the name of Ray Coates continually asked me to help with the children’s ministries again. So last summer I relented and accepted a position as a VBS teacher. Although attendance was low I realized how much I had missed teaching. When fall came around he ambushed me with reasons I should teach a Sunday school class again and I accepted. Yes as I said my story is one of imperfection but even more than that it is a story of grace and mercy extended to me by my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. My story can be summed up in this one scripture from Romans 3:23-24…. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. So if someone asked me if God can use imperfect people to expand his kingdom I would first have to reference scriptural people, King David, Jonah, Moses and Paul come to mind. Then I would say that these walls that stand to each side of us would still only be mortar and brick, their would be no roof and the steeple would not be set in place for all to see who this building belongs to if not for imperfect people. There would be no hymns in the hymnals, no people in the pews to sing those missing hymns, without imperfect people the choir loft would be empty and collecting dust and cob webs and there would be no need for the baptistery that sits behind me. Yes I would have to say God can use imperfect people to do His will. I hope my story can encourage someone who thinks they are too imperfect, or sinful, or unworthy or bad for God to use. When we repent and believe all of our stories of imperfection can become this story from II Timothy 4:7-8 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness. Thank you Lord for the reminder of your goodness through friendships. Amen!

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It is Well with My Soul

It’s is well with my soul.  Just saying it, relaxes me.  How do we find that place where we can truly say, It is well with my soul?

So, “In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From His temple he heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached his ears.” Ps 18:6

The last couple of years have been an extremely emotional time for me.  You would have thought after living through a divorce, hard marriage, a sick child and a rebellious child that I would know how to find that place easily.  But it seems that this world/Satan doesn’t give up easily, wanting to drag me into the darkness of anxiety.

And I cry out to Him, “To you, o Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust” Ps 25:1-2

It has been proven to me in a big way, that even during the times of my divorce, hard marriage, sick child and a rebellious child that God was working in my life to put me where I am today.  He has allowed me to be in certain situations that were going to grow me emotionally and spiritually.  I didn’t realize that he was intimately working at the time but now that I look back he definitely was.  He knew what I needed now even then.  He knew the pain that I was going to be facing now and has taught me how to find the strength to endure through smaller/less painful situations.  He knew what I was going to have to face 2 years ago and at the perfect timing he brought my birth father back into my life, after 49 years, to fill a void and make the pain easier to bear.   He knew the things that I needed to learn so that I would be open to allowing this man, a stranger, enter my life, who would ultimately be a blessing to me and my family. HE KNEW ALL that I needed.

And I remember, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”  Ps 27:14

So now I have found that place, where even in the pain, disappointment and sorrow, I can say, “It is well with my Soul”.

And my faith grows, “He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. “ Ps 23:3

I pray that yours will grow also and you can say, “It is well with my soul”

Click here “It is well with my Soul” by Matt Redman

Lord, You have always been with me and showed me your grace and love.  You have always known me and my needs, carrying me through my days.  You have been faithful to me and I am grateful for You.  I trust that you will continue to show your goodness to me and my family.  Keeping us safe.  I pray Lord that I will continue to walk down your path for my life and I pray that I will be willing to say “YES” to your calling for my life.  I pray Lord for those who know you but may still be walking in that darkness, unable to have peace in their soul.  I pray for those who do not know you yet and I pray for those that  you are preparing to put in their path.  Amen!

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Live even in Death

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.   It’s our choice.  Do we live this life as if we were dead?  Thinking with evil minds and acting with a dark heart? We don’t have to be literally dead in body to be dead in soul.  Our thoughts and our words will control our actions.  What sort of things do we let into our minds, things of evil or things of a spiritual nature.  I was with some friends and we got on a topic of a  “Slenderman”.  I had never heard of it.   Unbelievable!  Well, actually not.  This world has been over come with “self”.  Desiring control, excitement, mystery, power and any other word that would describe our self interest.  We must start somewhere, someone has to be the first in line, we can’t wait around for the other person to step up and show the world the way to Christ.  We (You and Me) have been chosen to head up the team of warriors of Christ and lead this world back to Him.  But we can’t do that if we’re living death in this life, living for self and exhibiting hatred instead of love.  We have all the power we need.  Not our power but His, our Saviors.  Let’s take that first step together.  Showing the world that it’s better to live life in this life.  A life of love and gratitude.  If we choose Him, we will eat the fruits of Life even in Death.

Dear Lord father, I am so thankful to You for sending Your Son to us.  Giving us a living example of how to live life.  I pray that I will look to Him to show me how to love those around me,  how to love myself but not live for myself and how to have a grateful heart even in the darkest times.  Because of Your sacrifice and His, we have Hope for today and eternity with You.  I pray Lord that as I walk this life today, I will release myself to You and speak only with love and humility.  I pray Lord that Your saving grace will be over my family and friends.  I pray that they will choose to live this life with You and rid themselves of the darkness of this world.  Amen!

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