Monday, November 30, 2015

Forgive Me

You know those days you go to hear the Sunday message, wanting and expecting God to speak to you, and you walk away with the feeling of "Ouch!"; your toes were stepped on? Well, after yesterday's message, I didn't just feel like my toes hurt, I felt like a freight train mowed me over.... and it was exactly what I needed.



For far too long, I have been "wallowing" in my past failures. Saturday night, I allowed the enemy to speak the same old junk into my mind. When I wrote the post, "Disqualified but Through Him Qualified", I ended the post with a pause in my thinking. My thoughts began to wonder as I sat alone at my computer. I think that is when we are most vulnerable to the voice of the enemy... when we are alone and not focused. In my mind, I started worrying. I began to question my ability to be used by God to do His will and His great works. Then my past flashed in front of me. Ya'll, (Sorry, country girl speak) I went into the bedroom and cried! I fell to my knees and prayed that God would relieve me of the feelings of doubt and help me find peace. I finished the blog Saturday with questions that I posed to the reader. Questions that I, not only posed to the reader, but to myself as well. I am convinced that the enemy will attack when you are on a mission to do God's will. I believe that is what happened to me Saturday night and I failed to see it.

Our pastor has an uncanny way of speaking truth into your heart by way of the Holy Spirit. We laugh with our Journey Group (Bible Study Group) that we always feel like he is talking directly to each one of us. Sunday, Paster B, spoke some truth that I needed to hear. I needed that conviction from the Holy Spirit to slap me around and remind me that JESUS IS ENOUGH! The price that Jesus paid on the cross covered my sins... all of them!

So, I want to ask your forgiveness; for unloading my doubts and for allowing the enemy to convince me that I was inadequate and didn't have business writing about Jesus. That is wrong and I believe thinking that is a sin in itself for not being able to accept the full and complete grace of forgiveness that Jesus offers to those who believe in Him and accept Him as their Savior.

I went back and read some Bible versus that affirm the Holy Spirit's conviction on my heart yesterday. I want to share them with you. 1 John 1:9 states, 
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."  
He is faithful to forgive and purify us! Not only that, but a little further on in chapter 2 verse 1 and 2, it says, 
"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father - Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."
If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are forgiven... It is finished, done, finito past, present, and future. If the enemy can keep reminding us of our sins and make us think we aren't good enough, we are allowing him to get a foothold and hold us back from doing God's work. And worse than that, as Paster B put it, if we can't accept our forgiveness and keep asking over and over, we are in essence denying the work of the cross! What we are doing is asking Jesus to die on the cross over and over again. -- and -there -is -the -train... BAM!

Digging through scriptures, I found and fell in love with 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24..
"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and HE WILL DO IT." (emphasis mine)
He is faithful to forgive! He keeps us blameless until the coming of our Lord! 

So, I am writing this post, for one, to ask for God's forgiveness for not being able to LET IT GO, and two to help anyone else who has a similar struggle. I'm sure there are others out there like me. God answered my prayer and the Holy Spirit destroyed my doubt. Today, after much reflection, I am declaring here and now that I am done. I will not longer allow "the accuser" (Revelation 12:10) to distract me from what the Holy Spirit calls me to do. I refuse to think about my past any longer.

Satan looks for ways to trip us up in our spiritual walk. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, 
"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 
If we do not root ourselves in the Word, Satan will try to keep reminding us of our worst failings and sins and keep us distracted by them so that we forget about the grace and forgiveness we've been given by God. I hope you will join me in the mission to become rooted. There are many Bible reading plans out there so that you can start reading scripture and filling your heart with the Word of God. This is one I started 42 days ago: Read the Bible in 6 Months

So, going back to answer my own question from the last post...

I'm throwing down the staff. My past is not my identifier. I am qualified! My God qualifies me through the work of the cross and the grace of Jesus Christ! AMEN!





Saturday, November 28, 2015

Disqualified but Through Him, Qualified

Grace Wins
Some fisherman are loading their boats getting ready to go out for the morning catch. They have done this their whole lives which meant their education was somewhat limited. In fact, their family has been in this trade for generations. They were unlucky that morning, until a strange man came and showed them something they had never seen before.

A shepherd, tending to his flock, was leading the sheep to the far side of the wilderness. He didn't know much about his past except that he grew up as an adopted son in the palace. He knew he was different and that he was spared a life of slavery, but he had to leave before someone found out about his secret. Now, his job was taking care of his father-in-law's sheep. A lowly position, with little benefits.

A man, doing his daily duty collecting taxes, was despised by many. He knew the town's people wanted nothing to do with him and he learned to accept it. He didn't have many friends because others considered him their enemy. All he wanted to do was his job, but on the inside, he longed for acceptance.

She knew why the two strange men were in her house, but it wasn't for the reason that normally occurred. She heard stories of what these people had been doing in the lands and was afraid for her family. Although she lived a life of questionable morality, she made the decision to trust these strange men and made sure they were safely hidden from the officials in the city.

There are lots of stories in the Bible that parallel our own. Stories of failure, weakness, feelings of inadequacy...sin. You know what though, despite the way we may feel about our pasts, God still desires to use us. A few uneducated fisherman, a man full of excuses with a secret and a speech impediment, another man with a job that everyone in town despised, and a woman who lived a tainted life; were all used by God.

I don't know if any of these stories mirror your own. I know my life fits in there somewhere. So, like many others I often question my qualifications to do what I know God wants me to do. Like me, you may question, how or even why, would God use me? I can say right here and now, I am NOT qualified! If we are all honest with ourselves, none of us are qualified. We have ALL fallen short of God's radiant glory. But, God can use us ~ anyway.

There is the story of Peter, being taught be Jesus himself, who watched Him heal the sick, and witnessed miracle after miracle; the one Jesus called "The Rock", also fell short.

I think we all feel as though we fall short in more ways than one. We all feel disqualified for God's work.

Can you imagine how Peter must have felt after he heard the third rooster crow? At that very moment, it hit Peter. He looked up at Jesus and met his loving and merciful eyes. I'm sure Peter's heart sunk. I would imagine that he was so consumed with guilt and shame that all he knew to do was go fishing.

I'm sure there are many of us that have also experienced that shame and guilt. I have. There may be things you have done in your past that keeps you from stepping out and doing the will of God. The enemy used my guilt and regret as an attempt to make me believe I'm not qualified to share God with others. But, you know what? Jesus called Peter anyway. He calls me anyway. He calls you anyway.

Moses was used despite his speech impediment and excuses. Matthew was used by God although he was considered scum to everyone else. Rahab, a prostitute, and one who I'm sure other women constantly gossiped about was used by God anyway. Despite our obvious flaws, problems, and disabilities, God can use us anyway.

So what is stopping us? Why do we consistently hesitate to be used by God? Is it because we don't feel we know enough? Is it because we fear what people would think about us because they know our assorted pasts? Or, is it because we can't seem to find the "chutzpah" to step out against the status-quo, to get out of our comfort zones and step out in faith trusting God will provide for all of our needs?

There are many of us that want to be used by God, but we have gotten so caught up in our day to day lives that we miss our opportunities. We have to be willing to take the first step.

Moses had to take the first step and throw down his staff. He had to throw down the security of his job, where he found his identity. The two fisherman, whose lives depended on their trade, trusted the man and had faith that their needs would be provided. They left their family and threw down their nets. Rahab, feared the Lord so much that she wagered hers and her families life to hide the men that agreed to spare them. And then, there is Peter, who was so ashamed for what he had done, but found the strength to press on because of the love, grace, and mercy of Jesus.

Even now, as I write the blog post, I am struggling. I feel very inadequate. (I just had to step away from the keyboard for a while to reflect on why I am writing this in the first place.)

Just to be completely honest with you; I am just an ordinary average woman who loves Jesus. I still have my challenges, my struggles, my qualms; but for some reason I feel compelled to write. Maybe this is to help me as much as it is to help anyone else. It may not seem like it to you, but this is getting out of my comfort zone. I only just started reading my Bible on a regular basis. I have only really been living the way I should for a few short years. There is a part of me... and maybe it is the Holy Spirit, that is calling me to something. I don't know what that is yet, but maybe that will be revealed in time. So, when I ask the questions that follow, I am asking myself as well...

Is God calling you (me) to step out in faith? How can you (I) be used by God? What is your (my) first step? What is the staff you are (I am) holding onto so tightly in your (my) hand that is keeping you (me) from God's will for your (my) life?

What do you see as your disqualifications that God will qualify through His grace?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Give Thanks in ALL Circumstances

Food, football, pies, and naps; all a part of the day we call Thanksgiving. It amazes me that I can spend four hours preparing a meal that takes 15 minutes to eat. I love this holiday, mostly because I love to eat, but second because we can just rest, relax, and spend some time together with family. This year, time with family is limited to just the husband and kids, and although I love this time dearly, I do miss being around a large family for the Thanksgiving Holidays.

Historically, this holiday is meant to reflect on our blessings; what we are thankful for, all the good things in life that make us feel good about who we are and what we have. Today, I started thinking about the things I am thankful for that weren’t so good. There were times in my life, things that I experienced, that I would hate for someone else to go through, but you know what… they made me who I am today and I thank God that he got me through.

thanks in all circumstances


The Bible tells us to “Rejoice always, pray continuously, and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) I really didn’t understand how someone could be thankful in ALL circumstances, especially while in the midst of situations that challenge even the strongest of people. Looking back on some of those times in our lives that, at the time made us wonder how we would get through them; it is hard to think about being grateful.

My husband’s favorite verse in the bible is in the book of James. He always recites it to us when we are feeling challenged or aggravated about something or having difficulty; “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (James 1:2) After I roll my eyes at him, I do remember the next verses that follow, “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” (James 1:3-4)

I am thankful for the battles I faced; all of them. Although we don’t like thinking about them, I believe it is when we come to realize that our identity isn’t found in the past that we begin to see how it make us who we are in the future. Perseverance builds character. Hebrews 12:7 states, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father.”

“Suffering through hardships produces perseverance; perseverance produces character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:4) And where does that hope come from? God brings it through His great love; His unending grace and relentless mercies. Our hope comes from the Father that disciplines us through the sins of our past, the hardships of difficult situations, and trials that challenge our faith. It is through all of these that the Lord builds us up and refines us to use for His glory later.

This Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for discipline. I am thankful for God’s mercy and grace. Most of all, I am thankful for Jesus who reconciled all of our sins to Himself when He died on the cross and rose again. 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! May you be blessed this holiday season and remember the One who gives the blessing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Too Little, Too Late

I remember walking through the house. It was very dark and there was a somber atmosphere. Many people were around but it was eerily quiet. I walked through the entrance to the kitchen with my head down. Aware of my surroundings, at the time, I couldn't understand why everyone was so sad. The whole time I was wondering around, I felt a familiar presence around me. Someone I loved was there walking with me, but I was too concerned about other things to acknowledge him. Everything was a blur. My eyes were swollen, tired and full of tears.

I was searching for something. I was rather dazed and confused as I moved from room to room. I couldn't find what I was looking for. As I walked into the master bedroom, it hit me. I fell back against the wall and slid down until my knees hit my chest. I couldn't catch my breath as I tried to let out the anguished scream that was trapped in my gut. All of a sudden the familiar presence of my husband was gone!

I don't know how long I sat there, but somehow I got from there back to the kitchen. My body felt as if it was weighed down by the weight of the whole world. I heard her come from behind me. She was a familiar face. I remembered the sweet lady that always brought a wonderful breakfast for us at the church. She came up beside me to drop off an aluminum foil wrapped dish on the corner of the counter. As she set it down beside me, she said, "You knew it would be too little, too late."

That is the moment I rapidly sat up in bed; heart racing, chest pounding... I. was. bawling! I turned over grabbed my husband and held him tightly. It was a wake up call and I knew exactly what, "too little, too late" meant.

I hardly ever sleep all through the night, much less have as vivid a dream as that one. Most of the time I don't dream. So I knew, when I woke up from that dream, God was trying to tell me something. It rocked me to the core. God was revealing to me what it could have been like to have lost my husband. As hard as it was to come to that realization in my dream, it would have been much worse had the dream been as descriptive in what happened to him. I believe God spared me of that.

Even now, as I type this story, I am in tears. That dream was a revelation, an awakening, that I am afraid too many other people don't have until it is too late. That little four word statement, was about LOVE.

Greatest is Love

God gave us the greatest gift; to love and to be loved. I have been married 21 years. Unfortunately, it took me so long to realize that much of that time, I have wasted loving more of myself than I have him. I was far too concerned with other things; putting other priorities in place of loving others. It took that dream to wake me up and realize I have wasted so much time not loving others enough; husband, kids, family, and friends.

Some people don't get the opportunity to make things right, change a trajectory, and live happily ever after. Many people have to wake up and turn over to face an empty indention beside them. An empty space filled with a lifetime of memories not lived. Accidents turn opportunities to forgive into regret and moments to make amends lost. Unfortunately, sometimes a tragedy is what has to take place for us to come to the end of ourselves and realize this life is not about us. There is more. There is a greater power that exists beyond ourselves.

God gave us the precious gift of marriage. A sacred covenant made between a man and a woman to love until death, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better or worse; for richer or poorer; in sickness and in health. Too many times, couples forget that vow. The sanctity of marriage diminishes and the love once shared between them vanishes in a fog of selfish worldly priorities.

If I can leave anything with you, it is to remember that life is short. We don't always get the opportunities tomorrow that we do today. There is a common quote I want to remind us of, "Live well, laugh often, and love much." Don't wait until it's too late to show people you love them. Open your heart to Jesus to allow him to fill in the broken spaces with all His love so that you can in turn love others as much as He loves you.

I read this verse in 1 Corinthians 13:12-13. Paul says, "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain; faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love."

For too long, I lived for myself. I loved myself more than any one else. I lived as though I was the reflection in the mirror; an imperfect image of what God intended me to be. As I have drawn closer to God, He has turned me around to see Him face to face; to see how broken I am. I have come to the end of me and now know my Father's unfailing love. Now, I know in part... one day I will know more fully as I am fully known by God. I know I am loved by the Father and His love never fails. Let us remember His love so that we can be that love for others.

"Love the Lord your God with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-38

Sunday, November 22, 2015

On the Sidelines, or in the Game?

For several months I have been struggling with what I think a lot of people struggle with; What is God's will for my life? I have been on a journey through studying scripture and reading all kinds of literature to help me recognize if I am directing my own path or if I am allowing God to direct my path.

In the Game

I used to pursue my own desires, successes, and goals without really searching for God's direction. So, now I am questioning myself, "Am I am where I am now because of my own selfish desires? Have a veered off the path God had initially intended for me to travel?"

Maybe. I don't know yet. But, I can say that through all of my experiences, struggles, successes, and failures, God had used them to refine my heart and turn my eyes back to focus on Him. I can see how God has used some difficult situations to refocus my attention, which may have been His ultimate plan in the first place. Through my search for my purpose and God's will I learned that:
  1. God's purpose for our lives is to worship Him and give Him glory.
  2. Leave the past, don't worry about the future, and live for today.
  3. Jesus commissioned us to go out and make disciples; to be the light of Christ so that others will come to know Him.
I began to think about my participation in the role and responsibilities Jesus commissioned to His followers. Have I made an effort to help "gather" or have I been sitting on the sidelines and letting others play the game for me? Jesus said, "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." (Matthew 12:30) When I read that verse I couldn't help but ask myself, "Am I gathering or scattering?"  That is when I starting getting a little depressed. I haven't really been gathering, then am I scattering? I have tried to reflect Christ in my daily life; in how I interact with people and serve. But, I was feeling like I wasn't making an intentional effort to "gather".

I look at my husband, a high school boys basketball coach, and I see what an amazing witness he is to his players. That is his mission field and he loves it. Part of me is envious because he knows his purpose; his mission. He loves Jesus so much and wants to be a strong Christian role model for young men that will one day become husbands and fathers. I am so proud to be his wife!

About a month ago, I started to think about how I could be more involved in sharing the gospel to others outside of my daily interaction with the few people I see everyday. One day the Holy Spirit laid it on my heart to blog again. 'If you want to share the gospel, what better platform than social media?'

Occasionally I would share a Christian quote or some scripture that moved me, but I really didn't make an intentional effort to use social media as a mission field. I thought, 'Amanda, you can share your stories and experiences online!' -  My motivation to starting Heart Java's blog, Facebook and Twitter page... is Jesus!

Did you know there are more than 3 billion people using the internet everyday? (www.internetworldstats.com) The Pew Research Center says, 72% of adults that are on the internet use social media. Over 70% of those are on Facebook and 23% are on Twitter. (http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/) What a mission field! How many of us really use social media as a way to witness to people who need Jesus?

The other day, I was reading a story in Mark chapter 5. Jesus drove out a legion of demons from a possessed man. What really got me to thinking is when the people were told about Jesus driving out the demons from a man into the herd of pigs, they were afraid and pleaded with Jesus to leave! A man, who was possessed with a LEGION of demons; that was so violent and strong that couldn't be chained up; who I'm sure terrified people; was freed by Jesus! How did these people not find this amazing? As awesome as we think it is, I wondered if they didn't because it was second hand knowledge. I wondered if they thought maybe the scared people that told them were exaggerating or they told the story in a way that made them afraid too. Then I thought, 'Is it easier to believe something when you know the person who experienced it themselves tells the story?'

The man was so grateful he begged to follow Jesus, but Jesus said no. Jesus told him, "Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how much he has shown mercy on you." (Mark 5:1-20)

So, the man goes back to Decapolis, shares his story with the people and they were amazed! He used his own story to share the mercy and love of Jesus! He was a first hand witness!

When I read this story, I thought about my own life experiences. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, being comfortable with the status-quo, I need to do my part in sharing the good news of the gospel. It's time to get out there, get out of my comfort zone and share my stories and struggles with others! I need to share how Jesus Christ has, not only saved me, but redeemed me, loved me, had mercy on me.

As I have been more intentional in studying the Word and searching for my purpose in God's will, my passions are changing. My desires are changing. I am seeing things much differently now. I pray that God is redirecting my desires to be more in line with His. I want to be obedient to His will and call for my life! I no longer have a desire to live comfortably on the sidelines! I want to be put in the game!

I love this quote by Mark Batterson, "God wants you to get where God wants you to go, more than you want to get where God wants you to go." It's a tongue twister, but I thank God that's true. What I have learned over the last few months is that we can't mess this thing up. Everyday that we have air in our lungs is a day that God will use us for His purpose. Although we may veer off track from where God intended us to go, He uses our circumstances. He uses our struggles and situations to refine us and bring us back closer to Him

As I have been reading scriptures and reflecting on the books I read, I have such a desire to get it out! Job 32:18 says, "For I am full of words, and the Spirit within me compels me." That's how I feel! I am so in awe and excited of what God is revealing to me that I desperately want to tell others!

It is hard sometimes for me to push the publish button and open my life up to all my brokenness, struggles, regrets, shame.... sinfulness. But, I pray that someone finds a connection to their own life. I pray that people who read this blog and follow on social media know that they are loved by the King. He is there to lift them up out of the waters of doubt, fear, and pain.


It may seem strange to some, but I used to pray to Jesus to let me be part of His army. Knowing that we were going to win in the end makes it a little easier...there's no chance of losing! Everyone wants to be on the team that is already picked as the favorite to win! On Jesus team, the odds of winning are infinity to one. I want to fight with Him right by His side.

You know the response I got? and I actually felt this in my spirit after praying that prayer...  How can you ask to be a solider for Christ when you struggle with the battle now? Think about that for a minute! Here on this earth, if we aren't in tune with the Spirit, we may not recognize the spiritual battles taking place right in front of us. 
What makes us think we will be ready to battle a demon face to face? I feel like, if I truly want to be a soldier for Christ, I need to be war ready now! That is my mission. Continue to learn, grow, and mature so that I will be more like Christ. Be more in tune with the Holy Spirit. I know I will never be perfect and I am pretty sure I will fail daily, but I know Jesus is there to pick me up, dust me off, and push me back in the game.

Have we allowed Christianity to be more of a spectator sport? Instead of us sitting on the sidelines and letting other people recruit the team, we need to get out there and start winning people over to Jesus's side! That is why I want to write about Jesus! That is why I want to share my life in Christ. The good, bad, and the ugly. It's because of His great grace, mercy, and love that I want to be His servant, a soldier for Christ.

It feels almost as if my spirit is jumping around like Billy Blanks, fists up and ready for Tae Bo! I don't want to be the one standing on the sideline playing it safe. I don't want to be satisfied with the status-quo! I want to be used by God. I want to stand up, step in, and get in the game!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Worship is More Than a Song

The English word "worship" comes from two old English words "worth", a value, and "ship", meaning quality. Combining the two words means to declare worth or value or to praise. If you are looking for word meaning, worship is to declare worth, adoration, praise, or reverence to God.

worship

As I grew up in church, my perception of worship was that it was more of a place. I viewed worship as being at church and singing hymns but, you did this without bringing attention to yourself. It seemed it wasn't proper to clap, raise your hand, or dance in your seat. To me, it seemed it was more about showing a quiet reverence so as not to be a distraction. It was those notions and routines at church, a lack of understanding of who God was, and my attitude that was limiting my understanding of what authentic worship of a holy and perfect God was - for me.

When I was younger, my family discovered that I had some vocal capacity to hold a tune. I would sing a solo every now and then and sing occasionally in the choir for the annual Christmas and Easter Cantatas. But, if I am completely honest with myself, those times I sang solos at church or in the choir it was more for me... not Him. I allowed myself to be more concerned with whether or not people liked my "performance" than whether or not it was pleasing to God. My pride and concern for pleasing people got in the way from understanding true worship. And I sure wasn't going to make a spectacle of myself by raising my hands or clapping to the beat of a song! I didn't want anyone to think I was weird, or anything!

My perception of worship was not honoring God. Worship is more than word meaning; more than a place, more than singing a song. It is a state of spirit - an attitude. It is our daily expression of praise and adoration through our speech and actions. Worship is an expression of how much we love the Lord with our heart, mind, and soul. (Matthew 22:37) That expression of love for God, for me, was... shall we say.. lacking.

So, if worship is an attitude - an expression of what we think, say and do, shouldn't worship be present in more than just being at church once a week and singing songs?

For a long time,  I had spiritual heart blockage (and sometimes still do), which cut the spiritual blood flow to my brain, and limited my spirit from knowing and understanding the fullness of God. I have shared some of my story with you in previous posts, so I will spare the details here. But I ask that all of us think about where we are in our relationship with Jesus. Are there things in our lives that are blocking our ability to encounter God in a way that prevents us from expressing our complete and uninhibited adoration for Him?

God had to show me how messed up I really am. The Holy Spirit convicted me and I realized that I wasn't singing for God, I was singing for myself so, I stopped singing at church for a long time. I couldn't keep singing praise and worship songs about God, when I knew I was not living the life I should. God was revealing to me that I needed a heart change first. The gift God gave me was not giving Him the glory, because I was taking it.

There is a quote I took away from reading the book, Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson. He said, "We can't appreciate the full extent of God's grace until we realize the full extent of our sin." Based off of my own experiences, I believe that is so true. It wasn't until God rocked me to the core that I really understood the love and grace of God. That is when my heart opened up and I desired to express a more authentic worship. I didn't deserve it! I realize that I am a messed up sinner in desperate need of God's love and grace - to which He offers freely to me - and to you!

One day, God opened the door for me to sing again. I was fairly worried at first about what I sounded like, looked like on stage, and if I was hitting the right notes. I started focusing on the wrong things. As I have grown in God's grace and love, that feeling of fear and doubt of my "performance" has dissipated. God is opening my eyes and filling my heart. I seek to know him with everything I have and I can't help but give all of myself to worshiping Him! Hands raised and clapping!

I have had the absolute pleasure of being able to sing with our praise and worship team at Stonepoint Church for the past three years. Some of you have had to endure my "vocalities".... and because of this, I want to offer my sincere apologies for any moments of painful auditory stimulus!

I still worry about hitting the right notes but NOW my focus is about encountering God. I used to feel so inhibited during Sunday worship time at church. But, as my love for Christ has grown, I raise my hands and sing in complete and uninhibited praise to my God and Savior who saves me from death! Jesus Christ is my redeemer who cleansed me from my sin. He has taken my place on the cross and given me life! Although I appreciate the occasional "good job" and pat on the back from my brothers and sisters, I'd rather hear praises to God. I pray more than anything that God get's ALL the GLORY! It's all about HIM! It's not about me!

My love for my Savior and my time with him during our Sunday worship time fills me with such a joy. I pray for those worshiping with me feel that joy too. Not only while we are together on Sundays, but when we all sing praises to God in our daily worship. I can't tell you the joy I have in my spirit simply "being the church" with people who are completely committed to God and confidently lift their voices and hands to Him in praise.

I love the closing statement our worship pastor says before dismissing us from Sunday service. He says, "Have a wonderful week of worship." That is exactly what worship should be; a wonderful daily acknowledgement and adoration of God through our speech, our actions, serving opportunities, edification, and encouragement of each other - all through our love of Jesus. (Thank you MJ, for reminding us of that every week!)

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:15, "I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding."

Let us remember that everyday is a chance to glorify God through our worship. It's not about us.... it's about expressing the love we have of a Sovereign God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. People express their worship in many ways. Raising hands, clapping, dancing, or jumping around doesn't make you more or less holy, reverent, or in love with God than anyone else. It's not about a performance or an outside appearance. Each individual is led to worship the way the Holy Spirit convicts them to worship.

It's about what we have in our heart and our understanding of the relationship we have with our Savior. When people who don't know God recognize the difference in our DAILY lives and how we express that love through our daily walk in worship with God, that's when others become inquisitive. That's when we are a witness... a witness through our daily worship.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Old is New Concealed and New is Old Revealed

There is a book that I find to be the most fascinating text I have ever read. It is full of incredible stories and history that when looked at with a common primer, you can not fail to see how all of these narratives fit together all pointing to the One person that will save the entire world. A mystery only understood by those who seek to understand....Yes! I am talking about the BIBLE! The breath of God formed in the combination of letters that are breathed to life and recorded as words, combined to verses, paragraphs, chapters, and books. Each coming together, showcasing the "Scarlet Thread" of redemption through Jesus Christ.



I want to share with you some of the incredible discoveries the Bible reveals. I had the pleasure of learning one of these hidden gems in a book I read last year, Learn the Bible in 24 Hours, by Dr. Chuck Missler. (If you are interested in a quick read that covers the entire background of the Bible, I would recommend this book to help you start. It is on my Recommended Book List below.)

When I was young, I was always told that we should focus more on the New Testament. "We are a New Testament Church". Although I agree we should model our lives after the New Testament, Jesus and strive to live as Paul instructs us to live, I believe there are so many wonderful correlations between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Maybe some people who have a hard time accepting that the Bible is the INERRANT Word of God, would see how it all fits together.

Dr. Chuck Missler says, The Old Testament is the New Testament CONCEALED, and the New Testament is the Old Testament REVEALED. All throughout the Old Testament are hidden clues of the redemption promise which is the entire focus of the New Testament. Learning about Genesis 5's hidden message was the first I had heard of the Old Testament revealing this "Scarlet Thread". It blew me away. How could something written around 1400 BC reveal the mystery of Christ when He wasn't born for another 1400 years?

Genesis 5 is a short little chapter that most people just quickly read over. The genealogy from Adam to Noah is outlined by the author and causes little pause for reflection. However, when you look at the meaning behind the names in the order they are presented, you will see a much more impressive story! Before I reveal the hidden mystery reflect on what Jesus said in Matthew chapter 5:
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." Matthew 5:17-18
Let's start this little analysis by looking at Adam's name which means man. As the first man, that seems straight forward enough.

Adam's son was named Seth, which means appointed. Eve said, "For God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew."4

Seth's son was called Enosh, which means mortal, frail, or miserable. It is from the root anash, to be incurable, used of a wound, grief, woe, sickness, or wickedness.

Enosh's son was named Kenan, which can mean sorrow, dirge, or elegy

Kenan's son was Mahalalel, from Mahalal which means blessed or praise; and El, the name for God. Thus, Mahalalel means the Blessed God. Often Hebrew names include El, the name of God, as Dan-i-el, "God is my Judge", etc.

Mahalalel's son was named Jared, from the verb yaradh, meaning shall come down.7

Jared's son was named Enoch, which means teaching, or commencement. He was the first of four generations of preachers. 

Enoch was the father of Methuselah, The name comes from muth, a root that means "death";1 and from shalach, which means to bring, or to send forth. The name Methuselah means, "his death shall bring".2

Methuselah's son was named Lamech, a root still evident today in our own English word, lament or lamentation. Lamech suggests despairing.

Lamech, of course, is the father of Noah, which is derived from nachamto bring relief or comfort, as Lamech himself explains in Genesis 5:29.

(Explanations from Kiononia House)

Now let's put it all together:

HebrewEnglish
AdamMan
SethAppointed
EnoshMortal
KenanSorrow;
MahalalelThe Blessed God
JaredShall come down
EnochTeaching
MethuselahHis death shall bring
LamechThe Despairing
NoahRest, or comfort.

Now, construct a sentence....

Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.

The redemption promise hidden within a genealogy in Genesis 5! Incredible! 

You will NEVER be able to convince me that the Bible is a bunch of stories just compiled together by a group of humans without any consideration for what each book reveals. There is a reason God inspired a group of humans to canonize the Bible as we see it today.

Below is a wonderful video that our church shared with us last Sunday. It is a wonderful little summary of how Jesus is the TRUE and BETTER. Share this with friends, neighbors, and relatives!
"The bible is not a series of disconnected stories. 
It is a single narrative in which every story, every character points beyond itself to one who is greater. 
The story of Adam and Eve is not just about the first man and woman... there is a true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is ascribed to us." - Dan Stevers, The True and Better Adam

Sunday, November 15, 2015

What's Your Stew?

My friends, each one of you are precious! You are fearfully and wonderfully made! (Psalm 139) When Jesus chose you and you put your faith and trust in Him, you were adopted as sons and daughters of the kingdom.
"..the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, Abba, Father." Romans 8:15b
You were sealed through God's redemptive promise! You were made in the image of God so that you could live to worship and praise a Holy Savior; the One who bore the burden of God's wrath to justify you in all your sin. We are heirs of the kingdom! But, there is one who would love nothing more than to distract you from your birthright...

Satan's job is to lie, steal, and destroy. He uses cunning and deception to distract you from the truth of the Word of God. When we get anxious, worried, and stressed, Satan tries to take our minds off of the Savior who can set us free. In the post, Not Defined by Brokenness, Redefined by Grace, I shared with you a little about how we all try to fix ourselves using methods that don't necessarily work. We use things of this world to get a "quick fix" that will satisfy us and make us happy. Later, we find out that those feelings of satisfaction generally only last a short time. Like an addiction, we set our minds on those things because we have conditioned ourselves to believing that our "quick fixes" are the only way we will receive happiness. Over time self satisfaction becomes harder and harder to fulfill because it takes more and more of those things to fill us with happiness.

Satan uses these opportunities to distract us from our birthright. But, if we take hold of our birthright as sons and daughters of God, Satan will not have a foothold! (Ephesians 4:27)

Take for example the story of Jacob and Esau in Genesis 25. Esau was an avid hunter who worked outside long periods of time. He came home one day to find his brother Jacob cooking stew. When he came in and smelled that aroma, He wanted it so bad. He was starving!

What's your Stew?

Esau was so hungry he would do anything to get a "quick fix" to satisfy his hunger. He wanted the stew and he wanted it right then! So, Jacob used this opportunity to his benefit.
"Jacob replied, "First sell me your birthright." 
"Look I'm about to die, " Esau said, "What good is the birthright to me?" Genesis 25:31-32
Esau swears to Jacob that he can have his birthright, just so he can get some of the bread and stew. All he wanted was enough to quickly satisfy the cravings he was having, but Esau undervalued his birthright.

Like me, you may have heard this story many times. But, have you ever really thought about this... Don't WE often undervalue our birthright?

How many times have we allowed Satan to keep us exhausted, in fear, and distract us from our birthright? What keeps you distracted from trusting Jesus, the author and protector of your faith? What are the things of this world that have you by the heel? The enemy will use any type of stew and distract you from everything that Jesus is trying to give you.

Here's something to ponder... Esau would have eventually gotten the stew! Instead of patiently waiting, he gives up something as precious as a birthright. God promises to provide.
"Let us be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Not Defined by Brokenness, Redefined by Grace

Two o'clock in the morning and I wake up with a tug at my heart. A question was raised in my spirit several nights ago and I did't know why. It has rattled me ever since, "What would it take to convince you to love Jesus?" I am baffled by this question. But then, I also had a single phrase repeating over and over in my head... "Write You".

I am wondering...Is the Holy Spirit asking me, "What would it take to convice "me" to love Jesus?" So, I want to turn this around and explain to you... What DID IT take to convince me to completely change my heart and fall head over hills in love with Jesus? Maybe there is someone who is experiencing the same problems I did, so let me share a little of my story...

In the blog post, "I am a COMPLETE MESS", I told you guys a little about how I did not walk with Christ my whole life. At 9 years old, you hear about Jesus and may truly believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, but to really LOVE Jesus is a little deeper understanding than I think a 9 year old can comprehend.

About 3-4 years ago I really started to pursue Jesus. But, part of me also felt there was a wall keeping me from encountering all that He wanted to give me. I kept hearing a voice in my head, "You have unreconciled secrets." I tried ignoring it thinking maybe it would pass, but it never did. God was trying to tell me, "In order to get closer to me, you need to reconcile your secrets." -- and I specifically heard.. "before it's too late."

For many years I kept the secrets to myself and it did nothing more than to compound my brokenness and inability to fully connect with Jesus. In my mind, I figured that if I just kept my secrets to myself then what people didn't know wouldn't hurt me...or them. But, let me tell you, it does hurt. It took me a decade to realize that Satan was using my sin to rob me of the ability to forgive myself and others. Satan wanted me to remember my pain, guilt, regret, and brokenness so that I would not be obedient to God's prompting and right my wrongs. Satan knew that my obedience to God in reconciling my sin would reveal a greater love of Jesus than I could have EVER known on my own.

Every time I wrestled with God and refused to reconcile my sins and brokenness, I got more bitter and resentful toward myself and others. I was under spiritual attack. You see, I believed that if I confessed my sins to the one I sinned against, there would be such horrible consequences that I wasn't sure I would have been able to handle it. I was afraid I would lose my whole world as I knew it.


Many people believe they can fix their own brokeness. They believe in their head that getting whatever they need for a "quick fix", or simply ignoring it, will make them happy. But what they fail to realize is that it will only last for a short time. Thus, causing that sin and brokenness to continue to raise its ugly head. I was never able to fully let go without God's help. He was the only way to cure my brokenness and mend my heart.

I read something recently about how humans have a tendency to try to solve their own problems which often further complicates them. "To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do - to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst - is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still." (Buechner)

We try to fix ourselves, but there are problems beyond our ability to solve, hurts that we can't heal, and memories we can't forget. For me it was regret and the pain that came with my own guilt and shame.

Jesus did not come to save the saints, He came to save the sinners. We are all broken sinners but Jesus can hold you together. It may sound like a cliche, but it is true. You may have faced many difficulties, brokenness, and addictions, "but they don't have to define you if you simply let them refine you." (Batterson)

I learned, through my obedience in reconciling my sin, it was the only way to heal my brokenness. God used my obedience as a way to "reconstruct" my mind, heart, and soul. He, after all, created me in the first place and so HE was the only medicine that would work to heal the brokenness I lived with for so long.

He can mend your heart too and set you free from the slavery of your sins. Jesus is our bridge to a Holy God if only we would put our complete trust and faith in Him. If you feel a conviction to reconcile a past sin, don't wait. You may not get another chance. You will continue to be a slave to that sin until you let it go, get it reconciled, and give it to God.

I believe that one day, God is going to use my story and redefine who I was in my sin. I have learned first hand that God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called. I was a broken sinner until I gave all of my heart to Jesus and through HIS insurmountable GRACE, He set me free. All it took was for me to reconcile my sin. Even though it was the absolute hardest thing I have ever had to do, I received so much grace. THAT is why Jesus has my whole heart. I gave my ENTIRE heart to Him. ALL of it, because of the GRACE He gave me even though I DID NOT deserve it.

Looking at where I came from....now being asked this question...."What would it take to convince you to love Jesus?" It was experiencing the unbelievable, underserved GRACE that only Jesus can give.

Because I am His daughter, "God sent the Spirit of this Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba Father. So, you are no longer a slave (to fear, doubt, shame, regret, pain, brokenness of sin) but God's child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir." Galatians 4:6-7

GRACE is what convinced me to give my whole heart to Jesus, and now I AM NO LONGER A SLAVE! - Amanda

Friday, November 6, 2015

Resolve to Finish Well

I pulled up to the parking lot one Saturday morning in January. The sun was shining but it was a cool 40 degrees which caused my exposed skin to go into pimple shock. I saw lots of people gathering in a line to pick up their registration bags. Most people had a buddy or a group with them as it is easier to attempt the seemingly impossible if someone else is by your side.

Following the lead of others, I came to the end of the line, gave my name and age, and picked up my registration bag complete with number 525 and (my favorite part) a t-shirt. I was ready... or at least I thought I was. I had prepared for months. This was a personal goal I had set for myself and I was determined to finish my first (and last) half marathon. One race, 13.1 miles.

In front of the starting line I stood ready. With my headphones, rock music, water bottle, and calorie 'gummies' strapped on, my pulse picked up; nervous but excited. With my stop watch in hand, I hear the gun, push the button and begin to set my pace.

Paul tells us to be prepared, in season and out of season. (2 Timothy 4:2) The race of life is tough and fraught with many curves, hills, rocks, and pot holes. There are times that we will have to run up rocky hills and there are times we run into a sharp curves. Situations narrow the road and crowd the runners disabling them from keeping pace. I have experienced those times in my life. Many times, in fact. Unfortunately, I failed to prepare adequately. I fell... a lot.

Training for a half marathon takes a lot of time and energy. You build up endurance for running long distances by increasing mileage in small incremental steps. The more you train, the easier it gets. Once you get past mile 5, your body adjusts and believe it or not, it seems easier. But, you can't stop and take long breaks between workouts. When you do your conditioning will regress and it is harder to get back where you left off.

Preparation to handle life's hills and curves requires adequate and intentional training. Looking back, there were seasons in my life when I would have reacted differently to situations had I been adequately trained. I read the Bible from time to time, but it wasn't nearly enough to prepare me for what experiences I faced in my past. For years my Bible collected dust on my book shelf. Instead of walking with God through His Word I'd put my 'jammies' on and plop myself on the couch. Not prepared for anything other than to watch a movie. A couch potato; not in my physical life, but my spiritual life. Looking back, this was exactly why I wasn't prepared when live's race started getting tougher.

I knew about the first half mile, of that half marathon, this race wasn't going to be easy. I started feeling some pain in my knees and I knew exactly why. The weekend before, I wanted to see if I would be able to run that distance so I ran all 13.1 miles one week before this race. BIG mistake! My inexperience in training for long distance running caused me to over train and inflame the tendons in my knees. I was in pain but I refused to stop. I wanted to prove to myself that I could run all 13.1 miles without walking. I was NOT going to give up.

For 2 hours and 16 minutes I ran with excruciating pain in my knees. The entire race, I kept thinking I WILL finish well! I WILL finish this race and beat my time! I don't know if you call that tenacity, determination, or stupidity, but I call resolve.


I am in a new season in my life now and I want to have that same resolve as I walk in faith in Jesus Christ. In the verb tense, to resolve is to decide firmly on the course of action. 

Life throws a lot of curves. There are days you may coast smoothly, but you can just about guarantee you are going to meet a wicked hill. We will experience some excruciating pain so I want to be prepared. I want to be trained up and be able to handle all that life throws at me. I want to have such resolve in my faith and trust in God that I will never waiver in my obedience or thankfulness of His work in me and through me no matter what the road of life brings.

God wrote life's training manual. Jesus is my coach and the Holy Spirit is my inspiration.

When I meet my coach, I want to be able to say....

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7
-Amanda


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I am a COMPLETE MESS!

"You seem like you have it all together.... You write a blog about Jesus. You sing with the praise and worship band at church. You even tweet scripture."

I have actually had someone say one of those things to me, thinking I had it all together. Although, I was somewhat flattered they thought that, I am here to tell you..... I am FAR from having it all together! I am a COMPLETE MESS! (as our pastor emphasized a few Sunday's ago.... I am JACKED UP! - thanks @b_bachtel)


Redeemed by Grace


I am just as broken a sinner as everyone else. In fact, I have done things, said things, thought things that would make you wonder how I could even have the nerve to write about Jesus, much less stand in front of the church and worship. Unfortunately, it has taken me a long time to figure out that without Jesus, I would not be able to stand before a perfect God the day I die.

Walking down the center aisle in a small town local church, during a crowded revival night, would probably intimidate many a 9 year old. But, I was determined to tell my pastor; I accepted Jesus! My mother walked me through the sinner's prayer the night before. I actually remember many details of that night as well as being baptized at my church soon after the revival. It's funny to me; I can't remember much of anything about my childhood, but I remember praying to Jesus and being baptized at 9 years old. Unfortunately, I can't say that I walked closely with Jesus my whole life beyond that point.

Let's just say, growing up, I was not the perfect child. It took nearly 25 years after accepting Christ for me to really begin maturing in my faith. Why is that? Some might question my faith during that time, "Did you actually have Christ in your heart?" I believe I did. Since that time, I have always believed in Jesus and believed he died on the cross for my sins and that He was resurrected from the grave. But, I didn't live my life like I believed. I knew right from wrong. I knew the things I was doing was wrong and was a sin.

So why wasn't I living what I believed? That is exactly the question that hit me about 5 years ago. My sins had begun to effect many aspects of my life. I nearly destroyed my marriage. I lost friends and I drank more alcohol that I would like to admit.

I began to see that the chaos in my life was a direct reflection of what was in my heart... or should I say, what wasn't in my heart. I was not experiencing the complete joy of Christ in my life because I wan't making Christ the center of my life. I wasn't giving Him complete access to my heart. I learned, along the way, if I really wanted to find peace, joy, and contentment in life, it was only going to come from the one who created those attributes in the first place.

I'll never forget the moment it hit me. I was reading in the book of Isaiah, chapters 52 and 53, and it was literally like a shove to the gut. As I read I understood that...

He was marred beyond human likeness. He was despised and rejected; suffering and familiar with pain. He bore the wrath of God and was pierced for MY transgressions. His punishment brought ME peace and by His wounds I was healed.

And through all of that... He didn't make a sound. He didn't try to justify Himself. He didn't beg God to release Him from the burden of carrying out the sacrifice He was making on MY behalf. 
"He bore the sins of MANY, and made intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah 53:12
He went through all of that for ME. For the sins I committed yesterday, today, and tomorrow. ALL of them. How could I possibly go on living like I was knowing that Jesus loved me so much to die on the cross for ME? He gave His life so that I would be saved from God's wrath...God's judgement. WOW! WOW! WOW!

I wanted so badly to tell you all of this because my heart is literally aching for people to feel the love and grace of Jesus that I do right now.  I want you to know that no matter what you have done, what you are doing now, or what you will do in the future, Jesus loved you so much that He gave His life.. FOR YOU!

I am desperate to now live a life worthy of that love. I want to serve Jesus, to love others, and to shine a light for Christ so that others can know the ENORMOUS amount of AMAZING grace and love He has for every broken, messed up, and jacked up sinner.

Everyone like me. -Amanda




Monday, November 2, 2015

Called Out Upon the Waters

There is a great song called Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), by Hillsong United. You may know it. If you don't, I highly suggest you listen to it while reading the rest of the story below....


I don't typically write posts during the week, but I was just reading the story of Jesus walking on the water in Matthew 14:22-36 when that song popped in my head. I started thinking about this story and I had to share the thoughts the Holy Spirit was laying on my heart.

The disciples had taken the boat and started out on the water while Jesus took the evening to pray on the mountainside by himself.

Just before dawn, Jesus went out to join them. (In my mind, I see a storm beginning to form at this point.) When the disciples saw him walking on the waters they were afraid. They couldn't see that it was Him. Jesus said, "Take courage! Do not be afraid." Peter, still not certain...even after Jesus called out to them to not be afraid, asks Jesus to call out to him to join Jesus on the water. Jesus says, "Come."

Peter gets out and starts walking on the water to go towards Jesus. But when he saw the wind, the storm, he was afraid and started to sink.... He cries out, "Jesus, SAVE ME!" Immediately, Jesus reaches for him and catches him. He asks Peter, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

Can you see this scenario playing out in our own lives? How many times has Jesus called to us and we don't know that it is Him? We can't recognize the Savior when He calls out to us even though He is right there in our midst. When Jesus tells us to not fear, we still don't trust that He is there with us. Our mighty Savior, who remains in our presence, is always right there to catch us when we begin to doubt, to fear, the walk he calls us to take. The distance is only as far from us to Him and he is right there with us, holding our hand the whole time.

He tells us to have faith, that He is faithful. If He calls us out of our boat... where we are comfortable and know we won't drown, He is right there. We have His strength, His promises, and His safety to carry us through the task He lays out ahead for us to do.

What a powerful story to keep us reminded of the power of Jesus and the promise He makes to help us carry out our purpose He lays out ahead of us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

I read a line from the book Crash the Chatterbox, by Steven Furtick. He said, "I refuse to forfeit a victory that God has already given because of a battle that I don't feel like fighting." What a powerful statement! If we are called by God to a particular task, all we need to do is remember that God has already won the battle and have faith that He is working out the details. 

Amanda


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Hearing God Above the Noise

Have you ever struggled to know God's will or to hear God's voice? I have and still do. Many times I feel like I strain to hear Him above all the other noise in my head. It took me a while to realize that I didn't need to strain to hear Gods voice. He was with me the whole time I just needed to know how to filter.



I just finished a book titled Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick. If you follow me on Twitter you may have read some of the tweets I quoted from the book. On a side note, it is a good book and it is on my recommended book list. Mr. Furtick made many good points one of which was, "God whispers because He is close." I believe that is why many of us struggle with being able to hear God. I am convinced that when we preoccupy our minds with worldly concerns, regrets of previous mistakes, with fears, anxiety, worry, doubts, shame, or guilt we deprive ourselves from allowing God to be audible above that noise in our head.

That was part of the problem I experienced. One of the reasons I was struggling to get closer to God was because I was allowing the noise of the flesh and constant spiritual attacks of the enemy to crowd out the voice of God. The enemy takes every opportunity to remind us of our fears, doubts, and regret. You can be certain that those feelings, or voices in your head, are not God. Satan's job on this earth is to lie, steal, and destroy. He will try to convince you to fear when God to telling you to trust. He will fill you with doubt and rob you of your confidence when God is telling you to step out in faith and trust in His provision. Satan will lie to you so that you will be insecure when God is telling you He loves you and forgives you.

God is with you right now. While you are reading this blog... waiting to talk to you. He wants you to release your fears, doubts, insecurities, and regrets that crowd your heart and mind from hearing His voice. That is where I struggled and still struggle at times. I allow the enemy to focus my attention away from God which turns up the volume to noise that turns my attention away from my Savior. My God who constantly tries to get my attention.

Paul tells us to focus on things above; to fix our hearts, minds, and soul on Christ. (Mark 12:30) Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2) Strain for whats ahead and press on toward the goal. (Philippians 3:13-14) What is the goal? It is to pursue Christ! To renew our lives and make our lives a living sacrifice! (Romans 12:1) When we give ourselves to God, take up our cross and follow Christ, we are a new creation in Christ Jesus! (2 Corinthians 5:17) Our goal is to live more like Jesus every day.

We accomplish the goal when we fill our hearts with the very words that were breathed by God Himself. He speaks to us and gives us revelation through His Word. Reading His Word daily is how we began to discern His pleasing and perfect will for our lives. (Romans 12:2) It's how we can "Crash the Chatterbox" of the noise that is drowning out God's voice and will for our lives.

Let's pray for God to reveal the areas in our lives that drown out God's voice and will. Pray for God to forgive us of those areas and give us a renewed heart and mind so that God can fill us to the measure with all the love of Christ. Let's ask for the Holy Spirit to speak to us through His Word as we read scripture and help us to discern the perfect and pleasing will of God our Father.

"Search me O' God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24

Amanda