Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Living the Call Day 24 - Out of the Darkness

Author: Katie

Mark 12: 29-30
29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'

I have been struggling to find sleep and peace in the dark of night for the last few flesh and spirit. I have not set time aside with God due to a very busy schedule. Today, I anticipated this much needed time that has been very missed. I started by opening my most recent book of journals and reading from the beginning. It's amazing because the journal starts with the same things I am still talking about...loving God and others. I realize that, until I reach Glory, I will forever be in need of growth and transformation in this area. But, there is something in my 5th entry that jumped out at me and spoke life to me today. God speaks to me through my very words on the pages of my own journal.

So far, since I have begun "Living the Call", I have been spoken to in the most unexpected ways...

From my garbage about my garbage
From my coffee cup He lifted me up (further down the page)
From my journal about my journey
From my painted walls to my tainted heart (another blog in progress)

I know, it's corny but I am an artist and I can be that way sometimes! Perhaps these will be the chapters of my book...I can't wait to see how God will bring it all together!

Today, the above mentioned journal entry that spoke to me was dated 4/19/10.

"Note: If my life is not filled with joy and my heart cannot rejoice in my circumstances, then I have allowed my flesh to put that light out. I have no one to blame but myself."

I was speaking in regards to how I was handling different circumstances but I can definitely apply it to where my mind has been the last few days. I can NOT live apart from God. I can NOT focus apart from His Word. Every day I need Him. Every day that I don't take time out to be alone with Him, my flesh gains strength and my spirit weakens. Here are some of the fruits that come from a spirit of flesh:

1. Self-centeredness
2. Worry
3. Anxiety
4. Depression
5. Unkindness
6. Irritability
7. Sowing discord/division
8. Unwise thinking and speaking
9. Emotionally and mentally out of control (I actually wonder if I'm insane..still not sure LOL)

the list goes on...

This is how I have been over the past few days. I have NOT been loving God. I have been loving ME....AGAIN. I have had to go back and read my previous "Living the Call" posts many times...feeling like a hypocrite and quite convicted of my behavior. (Talk about holding yourself accountable.) I have sought counsel with some who are close to my heart and told them that it seems like the enemy props up a chair beside my bed at night (I have been suffering from insomnia, anxiety, cramps, nausea... and more while trying to sleep). It seems that as I start drifting off, this "enemy" starts attacking my physical body. Once I am "partially"'s as if this "enemy" starts attacking my mind, whispering in my ear...deceiving me to self-defeating thoughts that spin out of control...and cause me to doubt my faith and relationships with those I love. I begin worrying about life and digging up things from the past once forgiven...then I "un" forgive. I begin letting my emotions have control over my mind and things just go downhill from there. The deception grows. The more I listen to the lies...the more I believe them. They get nastier and I get nastier with each sleepless night filled with anxiety and despair...and I start hating life. Everything seems meaningless...a chasing after the wind. This really is true about life. It is meaningless...apart from God.

Here are the fruits that come from the Spirit of God:

1. Love
2. Joy
3. Peace
4. Long suffering (or patience)
5. Kindness
6. Goodness
7. Faithfulness
8. Gentleness
9. Self-control

These are not the fruits I have bore over the last few days. But, a precious sister in the faith spoke words of life to me last night and prayed with me. I had trouble falling asleep again (even after taking a muscle relaxer)...but I took heed to her words and did not allow my thoughts to be held captive by this "unseen enemy". Instead I held my thoughts captive to Christ. I wonder now if indeed there was an "enemy" of my soul sitting at my bedside because when I held my thoughts captive to Christ, rebuking any evil was if the "whisperer" fled. I fell fast asleep and did not wake again until morning. My heart, that had been racing (as it does most nights) settled down and I experienced the bliss of a good night's sleep. I awoke this morning singing a different tune (Heaven on Earth to be specific) as I determined to spend quality time with God...and I have been at it for hours! I can't possibly write everything He has spoken to me! Much of it was His kindness leading me to repentance. His faithfulness truly does satisfy. But my cup is not just is overflowing!

Funny, He started things this morning by encouraging me as I was preparing to have coffee. He filled me up from my coffee cup (I know...cheese). My cup reads, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles...." The remainder of that (not on my coffee cup) would be, "they will run and not grow weary they will walk and not be faint" Isaiah 40:31-32. Some versions read, those who "hope" in the Lord.

I will not grow weary of the "wrongs" I experience in life. I will not grow faint as I run this long as my hope is in God. Not ME. Not people. (Gosh how many times do I have to tell myself this before I actually start LIVING like this!!!) I can't seem to stop placing faith in people...even after seeing this I will only be let down time after time. I even think I can do things myself...without God's guidance...only to let myself down. I can't even minister to others without growing weary apart from Him or I will grow weary in doing good. Apart from God, the work will deplete me of strength. I will give up and walk away before God's work is done...leaving a mess for God to hand over to another for clean up..the "other" whose hope is in the Lord. Apart from Him I rob myself of a huge blessing and He hands it to another. I MUST NOT LET THIS HAPPEN! I have to continually remind myself that APART FROM THE VINE THE BRANCH WITHERS AND DIES. Placing hope and faith in people not only puts expectations on them that they cannot possibly live up to...but it's putting them above God. This is idol worship. I confess...I am guilty...but praise God, He has opened my eyes and revealed the Truth. His light has overcome the darkness yet again!

I cannot start my days without Him. Problem is, when I start my days in the Word...I can't seem to want to stop...which is why I have a hard time starting out that way. But, maybe, for this season in life...I need to be spending the majority of my time there until I am finally strong enough to walk away from the Word but still Walk IN it.

Love God

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Living the Call Day 14 - His Love is Amazing!

Author: Katie

Mark 12: 29-30
29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'

I'm sitting here staring at my laptop wondering where to begin. I'm not sure what I am supposed to be writing. I only know that I am taken aback by God's presence today. I'm not sure what triggered the event or if anything did. God can choose to pour Himself out on anyone He pleases at anytime. I know it's nothing I have done or can do other than make myself available. He just chooses to lavish Himself on us his own good pleasure. He pours Himself into my life and smiles as He sees me overwhelmed by His presence!

As I am really focusing on Mark 12 and loving God, more and more I am becoming less and He is becoming greater in my life. More and more I am realizing how little I have to do for Him and how much more He wants to do through me. More and more I am realizing how little I have control over and I have no choice but to surrender to Him. More and more I am realizing how much of me still needs to be emptied...and how much more of me there is for Him to fill. THAT'S IT! That's what has me fired up! I have learned not to focus on how much of me is still in need of emptying...but on how much of me there is left for God to fill! Ha! Whatsoever things are excellent or praiseworthy (Phil 4:8)!!! This is why I want to take my enthusiast self to the top of the highest mountain and shout to all the world, "What is wrong with you people? Do you know what you are missing?"

More and more I am losing touch with carnal desires and finding myself focused on the eternal. More and more I want to lay down my life for His purpose. More and more I am learning to hate the self-centered part of me...and finding myself drawn to the God focused part of me. As all of these things take place, I am finally seeing myself through God's eyes...and loving who I am in Him. I am seeing myself through Christ and in Christ and the self-esteem issues are becoming less of an issue. I keep asking myself, "Why would God call me to build up women who have a low self-esteem when I have such a low opinion of myself?" I considered myself a hypocrite and felt powerless. Apart from Him...those are my best traits! Apart from Him I can do nothing (John 15:5) but in Him I can do all things (Phil. 4:13).

God has searched the deepest places in my heart over the last several years. He has been sifting me. It has been excruciating. It has been what I have prayed for by His lead. I have asked Him to empty me. He led me to this prayer because it is necessary for these things to order that He might fulfill His purpose in me. This is the good that God speaks of in Romans 8:28.

Several years ago I was led to pray Philippians 4:10 "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death." Oh my goodness! There is so much meat right there in just one scripture! I could write a book on it! There is so much to understand! I couldn't possibly put it all in one blog! But for starters, I have pondered, what does fellowship of sharing in His sufferings mean?

God just moved in my heart to pause for a moment and read Philippians 4. He stopped me at Philippians 4:17, "Not that I seek the gift, but that I seek the fruit that abounds to your account" (another blog). As I searched the commentary for this particular verse I was drawn back to verse 11 and felt led to pray. With fear in my heart (which God had already spoken to me about in Phil. 4:6) I began to pray. I was led to ask God to teach me to be content with anything, to live above things, to be unaffected by my circumstances. After seeing what happened when I prayed to be emptied and to know Christ and the power of the fellowship of the sufferings several years ago, I was a bit nervous. But, then I confessed to Him, "My prayers will not bring about circumstances. You move me to pray about these things because of circumstances that you have already put into place. For this I praise you! You are preparing me and providing for me in advance that you might be glorified in and through what is to come! I am a cracked pot, a vessel fit for your presence. I am broken, yet You are able to remake me and fill me to overflowing!"

The truth God has spoken to my heart in this moment is that my prayers are preparation for what is to come as I become like Christ through rising above circumstances and having contentment in them. This is the fellowship with Christ I have through sharing in His sufferings. This is how Paul was able to praise God and witness in the midst of the worst circumstances. This is being emptied. This is loving God.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

911 Nine Years Later

Author: Susan L. Prince
(an edited repost from 2002 and 2004)

It's 9/11 2010. Nine years later. September 11. It used to be just another day. I mean, pick one...does November 9th mean anything to you? What about February 27th? August 18th? 

September 11th. We all remember what we were doing at the moment we heard the news. It impacted us all that day. That week. Now, nine years later...we say life isn't the same. How has your life changed? Honestly. How is your life any different today than it was September 10th, 2001? It seemed time stopped for a moment, in shock. Agony. Fear. We took a breath as we reflected on the "important" things in life. But, how are our lives different today? Maybe some things have changed at the airport, but really, my personal life is basically the same as it was September 10, 2001. I have basically the same job that I love, the same friends with some added to the treasure chest, I have the same family, I have the same daily triumphs and struggles. I know that a great many families suffered loss that awful day, and their lives are being lived without loved ones, but for most of us I believe not much has changed. I thank God for that. I thank God that I live in a country that allows me to worship Him, and a country that takes its freedom seriously.  So seriously, in fact, that we have many volunteer soldiers willing to lay down their lives to defend our freedoms. I thank God that He has taken us from September 11th, 2001 to today. I thank God that He is a Comfort to those who suffer. God has blessed America.

I challenge you to think about how you are living your life today. Is it different than it was September 10th, 2001? If not, why? If so, how? Is that a good or bad thing? 

My life has not changed in any significant way since that dreadful day, and I know why.  It is because my God hasn't changed. He is the same today as He was yesterday, and as He was September 10, 2001. My foundation is in Christ, the Word, and the Word was, the Word is, and the Word will be. Everyone had their world rocked that day the planes hit, but was your foundation shaken? Did your foundation fail? If it did, you built on the wrong foundation.

"Everything works together for the good of everybody who loves God and is called according to His purpose."

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Living the Call Day 10 - Amazing Grace

Author: Katie

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now I see." Was blind...but now...I see!!!

Mark 12: 30-31

29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'There is no commandment greater than these."

For the last week I have been writing about God's call for us to love Him. I was wondering if I would ever be able to move on to the next part...loving others. As I was focusing my heart and mind on loving God first and writing about what that means (which is a book in itself), I found myself being reminded of the past. I'm talking the way past, like elementary school past.

I confess that I struggle with self-esteem issues. This comes from a history of being the know the person who sits at the table in the cafeteria with all the other "rejected classmates"...the "un" popular table. We all sat together because nobody else wanted to sit with us...not because we wanted to sit with each other. So, there we were all developing friendships with people we really didn't desire friendships with because we wanted to be friends with those who didn't want us to be friends with them! How stupid is this?

I truly believe this is where the draw to abusive people childhood. It is the unquenchable desire to belong, to fit, to be loved, and known by others. We want to be somebody God has not called us to be. We want to be popular and well known by others. Often we make terrible mistakes in order to get the status in life we so desperately desire. Often we are willing to sell our very souls..only to our own demise. This comes from the innate desire God has placed in us to be known and loved by Him. But we are so misguided by our sinful nature and deceived by an enemy we unknowingly embrace as our friend when our true friend for life is the one we often reject..the only One who has all the love we seek and knows how to love perfectly.

One would think this self-destructing desire to be in the "in" crowd would stop after becoming a Christian. Accepting Christ saves our souls but often we trade off a healthy relationship with God and others in order to achieve status in Christian "groups" (often referred to as cliques). We desire to be friends with the "popular" Christians and to feel accepted by the "in" crowd of believers. (Ah yes...the enemy is alive and well in the church..and bent on keeping the lost out and the saved blind). After all, there isn't a human being on planet earth who can say that they enjoy rejection. We all have a desire to be accepted and loved by somebody. It is in us because the root of this desire is a need for perfect love from the Father. Yet, even in the church...even as Christians...we just keep "looking for love in all the wrong places". (Okay..I know..corny...just sayin'.)

Unfortunately, this "love" we seek is distorted and we are confused. Look at all the books written about love. One that I have read recently is, "The Five Love Languages". I have discovered that my main love language is quality time. I do not feel loved when those I love are not willing to give me quality time. I also feel like others feel loved when I give them quality time. But for some, giving and receiving gifts defines love. Sadly, since that is not my love language...too often, others who do not see quality time as love, will not understand that I am loving them. They instead may feel suffocated and want to get away from me. Then I no longer feel loved.

It's almost as if love is defined by how "I" see it. The problem I have with this is that the only part about love that has to do with me is whether or not I am doing it and doing it right. Love is not about what I get. It's about what I give...what I do. Why do so many people seek so many places to find the meaning of love. So many authors have gotten rich of of people's need to understand love.

Truthfully, there is no need for any other book to be written because God wrote the only book we need that very clearly defines love. God taught us love because He lived it. He sent His One and Only to demonstrate pure and perfect love. It is all about self-sacrifice. It's all about sacrificing your desires and your time and your comfort and your money to give to another. It's about being willing to give up your very life to answer the call of God.

So, here are a few definitions of love for those who may be seeking to understand. Love is not something you say or feel. It is something you do. Love may make you feel good and want to tell somebody about it...but if you are doing it...the words "I love you" will never need to fall from your lips for another to know that you do. In addition, you know you love and know you are loved even when it may not feel so good.
1 Corinthians 13

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I write these words from the fingers of one who has not been loving God, others, or myself. I have been impatient, unkind, envious, self-exalting (therefore not exalting God). I have been angry, keeping perfect records of all wrongs ever done to me, I have delighted in deceiving myself, therefore blinding myself from Truth. I started to lose hope, put up walls, created an inability to trust (based my trust on people instead of God), but I will not accept defeat! I will persevere with Christ in me, the Hope of Glory...perfect love.

To continue with my story...

I have spent the last week looking over my life, rekindling the pain of rejection. I have been wondering what is wrong with me that people are repelled by me? Why do I have so much trouble making and maintaining healthy friendships? I have focused on rejection by my parents, my friends, the much. I could write a book on rejection and it would probably be a best seller!!!! I began to feel hopeless and pathetic. This led to a domino effect that led me to unforgiving those I have forgiven, taking back what I have let go of, resurrecting a past that was dead and buried, and a gigantic pity party...the guest of honor..who else? ME!

This is why I have not been posting over the last few days (aside from being very busy). I knew my heart wasn't in the right place. I had to get it right and have spent the last couple days crying out for God to deliver me from my enemies...only to discover yet again who my worst enemy is...satan? No...he is no threat to me. God has made that clear. My worst enemy is myself. I deceive myself right out of loving God by not loving my enemy...not loving others more than I love myself. The funny part about that is, I'm really not loving me either when I am so selfish. I'm hurting my relationship with God and others..and as a result..I am hurting myself more than anyone.

My former pastor once said something to me that I really had a hard time grasping...but now I understand. We must be careful not to give satan more credit than he deserves. Sometimes we need trials to open our eyes to who we really are. Much of the time our trials are consequences of our own actions. And often, God sends trials our way to teach us. And even in the rare instance that our torment may be related to the evil one...he can only go as far as God will allow for His good purpose and glory...Therefore, for our ultimate good. (See Romans 8:28.)

So, now my loving, amazing, wonderful God and Lord of my life has spoken to me in the time I have given to Him today (I'm thinking His love language is the same as mine...quality time..he he). He clearly spoke through the devotions I read and His word. And He has brought into light that which was hidden in darkness. I praise Him for the darkness because His glory shines much brighter and clearer in the darkness. He has made clear that which I could not see. He has shown me the dirt and swept it away. Once again...He has made my heart clean. This, in the Christian realm is known as a filling of the Holy Spirit. I have been born again again! The old has passed away. I have been clothed in righteousness. He has made me new...again! Feels like the very first time!

"My chains are gone, I've been set free. My God, My Savior has ransomed me. And like a FLOOD...HIS MERCY REIGNS! UNENDING LOVE, Amazing grace."

Love God

Friday, September 03, 2010

Living the Call Days 3 and 4

Author: Katie

Didn't have time to write yesterday...didn't really have a serious quiet time although I did converse with my Father throughout the day. So, this is why the days are combined. It is funny how God speaks to you in the strangest things...most unlikely moments. Today, as I was walking and He was ministering to me through Rebecca St. James' "The Cradle Song"...of all songs. (I have had it for years but never really listened and it was so appropriate for the need this morning.) Here are the words..

Jesus I love You my Lord my life
Where would I be without You
Here in the quiet, the still the night
I am in awe of You

Trials may come and friends they may go
What really matters is You, my Lord

Beautiful Savior my God, my friend
I am in awe of You
Trials may come and friends they may go
What really matters is You, my Lord
Jesus I love You my Lord my life
Where would I be without You
Here in the quiet, the still the nightI am in awe of You
Why would You, Creator and King,
Come as a baby for all, for me
Beautiful Savior my God, my friend
I am in awe of You I am in awe of You

I want to be in awe of Him like that! I have suffered a huge blow in the area of relationships recently...and the pain has been overwhelming at times. But when I stand in awe of Him...I can't feel anything but ultimate joy, perfect peace, and complete love...and I can see how He has blessed me beyond what I thought I had lost.

But what I am about to write is the unusual part. As I was walking (and lost in the moment), I saw a garbage truck and remembered that I forgot to put the can out! So my walk became a run as I jogged back to the house...then walked...then jogged...then walked really fast and stopped jogging altogether because I am old and out of shape. I made it in time to add some trash to the can that I put out. As I opened the lid of the garbage can, at the very top, I found an old sermon notes page I had thrown away while cleaning my office. It was from many years ago....August 20, 1995 to be exact. On the page were written these words:

Just a reminder...I know how you are feeling and I am with you. Remember to lay down your burdens at my feet and I will take them from you. I will never leave you. Remember also as you are suffering that these trials will soon become blessings because through these trials I am making you more like Me! There is nothing material that can give you the peace that you will have through Me. Pray and read My Word. Lean on Me. 
Love, God"


At the time the note was written I was unknowingly living in an abusive situation. My children were just babies. I didn't know how bad it was or how much worse it was going to get... but I hurt so bad in my heart all the time. I am not sure what exactly was going on on August 20, 1995, but I do know this, God spoke to my hurts that day. He spoke truth that breathed life into my weary soul. He gave me love and hope. I know this because I recorded the words He spoke. If I didn't believe and didn't receive hope, I would never have written them down to remind me....little did I know the reminder would come 15 years, new heartaches, a new wonderful husband, and two amazing adult children later.

He really did bring blessings from those trials...and they have really changed me. Now, I am trying to heal from new wounds from broken relationships...relationships that I treasured. History often repeats itself in new ways with new people through different circumstances..funny how that is...but this time I am different. I know I am very blessed and I am really growing to love my new life and seeing God's hand prints all around all the time. But I really have to watch my thought life and try not to miss the blessings because I keep looking back, missing the blessings that I have before me. I keep desiring to focus on the pain that just won't seem to subside...instead of focusing on the One who is my only hope of deliverance and complete healing. Or, this may be the thorn I carry for the rest of my life to remind me that people can never take God's place in my heart.

I keep seeing other people as enemies, betrayers, deceivers. I even see myself as my own worst enemy. In a way I am...apart from God. The only deceiver is satan and I can allow myself to be deceived or I can listen to the Voice of Truth that tells me a different story. People aren't my enemies...but my brothers and sisters in Christ have the same enemy I do...working on them daily. His plan is to divide the body of Christ. His work is focused in the church. God calls me to pray for those I see as enemies....and He calls me to do this because they need it as much as I do. They fall prey to the same deceptions from the master deceiver. They face the same battle I fight daily...the battle to put self on a pedestal and to look out for number one. We battle to be looked upon well by others when we should only seek God's approval. The enemy's plan is to confuse us and turn us against each other...and he has been doing this well for centuries. I think his ultimate weapon is pride. It is in our nature to exalt ourselves and the only way to overcome is to exalt God.

In our best effort and strongest moment as humans we fail to give God the glory and honor He alone deserves. Our only hope is Jesus Christ, His Son. We must choose to receive Him as Lord of our life. We have to take off the crown of glory we have bestowed upon ourselves and place it where it belongs...on the King of Kings.

We shouldn't expect others to take notice of our good deeds...or then we have our reward. I want my reward to come from the Father. I want to hear Him say, "Well done my good and faithful servant". I want to get to a place where how others look upon me is not a concern of mine and the deeds that I do are for HIS glory alone. These trials in my life...these excruciating, difficult, heart wrenching trials...they are the key to being emptied of myself and filled with Him. For this reason I can praise Him in the midst of it all.

He takes away anything that I exalt above Him...and this is for my good. My God is a jealous God...jealous FOR me. He wants me to worship Him because He is perfect and Holy and He is Everything I need to experience an overabundance of blessing, peace, rest, joy, and love. As long as there is one ounce of selfishness motivating me...I will need trials. The fire purifies.

This is why God commands me to love Him first...and why this is the greatest commandment of all. Apart from this, I can do nothing...I have nothing. Apart from this, everything in life is meaningless...a chasing after the wind.

Love God