Monthly Archives: July 2013

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Shared Post: Breaking Up is Difficult but Doable by Dani Miser

Found here.

When I was single, I became involved in a relationship that lasted about eight years. In the eyes of the world, my boyfriend was a pretty good guy. I readily admit he didn’t leave me much to complain about; he treated me like a queen most of the time. I found our being together easily justifiable. Nevertheless, soon after becoming officially engaged to him, doubt crept into my heart. God began confirming he wasn’t the man for me. Eventually, I found myself craving God’s better plan for my life and tried to break up.  However, breaking up, as the song goes, is hard to do!

I’ve reminisced with numerous singles caught in the same mess. They aren’t with their boyfriend or girlfriend because they truly want to be, but because they feel stuck. Some explain that they’ve tried to walk away only to return boomerang style. I remember the seemingly endless cycle myself. It went something like this: feel conviction, break up, return to his pleading heart, crave God’s better plan, break up, return and apologize to him for ever having left in the first place, begin to doubt, break up…You get the picture.

Are you a Christian who truly craves God’s awesome plans for your life, especially in regards to marriage, but right now you don’t feel you’re capable of making the break? Maybe you’ve already tried severing ties and failed. Perhaps you’re just about ready to throw your hands in the air and settle. Don’t! Simply admitting you need to abandon the relationship is a huge accomplishment. Congratulations! I call the seed of desire in your heart, your want to. I know. I know. Some of you don’t want to break up, but you know you should. You, my friend, have the want to to want to!

By God’s grace, desire became reality in my life. I tested God’s faithfulness by abandoning what could have been a great life with a good guy, and I waited for the Lord to bring me the man of my dreams. God did not fail me. As a matter of fact, He worked such an amazing miracle to unite me with my husband that I’ve chosen to include our story in Chapter One of my book Single Woman Seeks Perfect Man: Facing the Consequences of Unhealthy Relationships. God’s amazing goodness compels me to share three not-so-secret steps to a successful breakup with you:

1.) Gratefully accept that your yearning for a better future (and a better relationship) is a gift from God.
Scripture teaches that it is God who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose (Philippians 2:13). This means that the desire (and the strength) to wait the right way for your perfect match is a gift from God alone. You must believe that the want to in your heart was put there by God’s loving, gracious hand. Humbly welcome His spirit to continue convicting you, and allow those convictions to thrust you closer to The Gift Giver. Admit that unless Almighty God continues changing your heart, you will continue blindly and foolishly trying to make something so wrong (your present relationship) feel so right!

2.) You must grow your faith.
Without faith, you’ll never risk giving up Mr. Wrong (or Mr. Right) because faith is believing without seeing that God will bring you The One He has prepared for you to marry (Hebrews 11:1)! Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).  This means, in order to build your faith, you must read your Bible. You must also pray. Why? Because while reading God’s Word is like allowing His light to shine through windows in your heart, prayer opens the front door and welcomes Him in completely.   Faith is only one of the many good and perfect gifts He longs to bring you when He comes into your life (Ephesians 2:8-9). Be completely honest and consistent in your prayers. Begin now, right where you are, increasing your faith by coupling the reading of scripture with prayer. God promises to reward those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

3.) You must act!
Faith without works is dead. You may have heard it said “the proof is in the pudding.” For you, the proof is in your actions. If you say that you believe God’s plans for your life are better than your own, but your walk doesn’t match your talk, you lie. God waits for an excuse to bless you, but He will not bless disobedience. If God is urging you to break up, you must rely on His strength and do it! The Lord says, I love those who love me, and those who love me obey me (John 14:23, Proverbs 17:8). Apart from God, you can do nothing, but with God you must do something. Obey God and all will go well with you (Jeremiah 7:23); Live for God and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). All things are possible through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). This means that for those of us who claim to be God’s children, breaking up might be hard to do, but not impossible. Wait a minute! I know it’s possible because with God’s help I did it, and you can too.

© 2011 Dani Miser, Author of Single Woman Seeks Perfect Man (Deep River Books, 2010)

Book Review: Though My Heart is Torn by Joanne Bischof

A great read!

Though My Heart is Torn by Joanne Bischof is the second book in her Cadence of Grace series.

Oh, how I wished I had read the first novel before starting this one! I was able to read through a few reviews and piece together what occurred in that portion of their story and discovered that Gideon and Lonnie were able to find love. Book two takes off with the gift of their son, Jacob, and the reader is taken on a whirlwind adventure that only life can bring in the discovery of another wife (Gideon’s). This story has so many twists and turns that you’ll want to read it all in one sitting!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multomah Publishing Group for this review.

a foundational prayer life

Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees. – Corrie Ten Boom

I once had a Sunday school teacher equate prayer to an invisible phone line that went up to heaven. It was her cheesy explanation of how prayer works. The difference being that there were no busy signals and, with today’s technology, nor would there be warnings of a battery dying or calls dropping.

I can honestly say that I’ve since learned that prayer isn’t like that at all. God does not work that way. He longs for a relationship with each of His children; one where the child is changed.

We’re currently studying a portion of the life of Daniel at my church here in the Twin Cities (Daniel 6:1-17 if you’d like to check it out) and the idea of having a foundational prayer life (living in such a way that my relationship with God is the foundation, the rock, on which I stand) was brought to light for me this past Sunday through the gift God gave one of my closest friends. (Sermon can be heard here, located under “Heroes of Faith: Daniel”.) Through this study on this particular hero of faith, we were drawn to verse 10, which ends with “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”

Did you catch that?

Just as he had done before…

Prayer wasn’t something new for Daniel. Prayer was an act he practiced each and every day.

Just as he had done before…

Prayer changed him from the inside out.

Just as he had done before…

Talk about commitment!

Daniel maintained a healthy fear of God, which kept his fear in the right place. He wasn’t afraid of what this world could do to him.

God never demanded that Daniel get on his knees three times a day. He didn’t have to – it was his delight. No government decree could keep him from praying to [God], loving Him, seeking Him, worshiping Him. He was much more committed to God’s eternal glory than to his personal survival.” – Scotty Smith

For Daniel, prayer wasn’t based on his situation; it was the foundation on which everything else was built. When the situations in his life changed, how he related to God remained constant. It never changed.

Being obedient to God also led to his safety in the lion’s den (punishment for going against the new rule King Darius put in writing). It was through his prayer life that Daniel’s faith was strengthened and he was able to face certain death to proclaim the name of His God. Oh, if I were to be that bold and daring!

Events, people and situations change, but our relationship with God stays the same. – Rick Wipf & Ben Gietzen

We live in a country where we can freely worship and pray. There are countless believers around the world who are persecuted for their faith, even to the point of death, and they never renounce the name of Jesus as Lord. I also know that we won’t have religious freedom forever…the Bible says so. We must understand that culture doesn’t dictate how we live out our faith. We live our faith out based on God. The rest is just the details.

I long for that in my own life: that consistency, both on my part and coming to the full knowledge of how constant and good God is.

Prior to my college career, I used to pray when I or someone else needed something. I also prayed out of habit before I went to bed and before each meal…that was what I was taught and I obeyed because it was expected. Now that I’ve been learning to move beyond the legality of religion and into the freedom of Jesus Christ, I still pray for blessing over my meals – but not all the time. The guilt that used to come with missing it faded away. Instead, prayer is now a constant in my everyday life. I’m constantly thinking about, focusing on and searching for God throughout most of my day. I say most because, yes, I do fall. I get distracted by the millions of things that bombard me: my responsibilities, that text message coming in, an email, the next phone call. Thing is, I get to choose to come back; to reel my focus back to Whom it belongs.

Prayer is of the utmost importance. It’s not an end even though we tend make it one. It’s the primary means by which we communicate to and relate with God. We cannot develop their spiritual life and grow in actually knowing Jesus Christ in a personal and intimate way if we don’t spend time with Him. We are given the ability to overcome temptation and grow in holiness when we continue to come before Him in prayer, day in and day out. And we become more like Him.

Have you ever heard the phrase “you become like those you spend time with”? It’s true. The more time you spend with God, the more you become like Him. Prayer allows Him to change you from the inside out.

Have you ever just hung out with Jesus?

What does that look like in your life?

For me, it’s a continuous conversation that gets picked up frequently throughout my day. It occurs when I first crawl out of bed in the morning and continues when I’m on my way to work. It happens when I’m talking to a distressed caller. I even carry that conversation when I’m at the gym. You get the idea.

Some may view this as a waste of time and would argue that you can’t “hear” God talk back to you. I’ve even been asked, “Why risk looking like a lunatic who talks to herself?”

I can’t help but laugh…and not this sarcastic laugh either. It’s the deep, joyous kind of laugh because I know His voice. I’ve heard it. I’ve felt His Spirit stir within my heart and soul.

I’ve leaned in.

Close.

I’ve discovered a thing or two about Him and how He relates to me. 

He greets me with the sunrise each morning, even on cloudy days.

He pours His love over me through His Word with each piece of scripture I meditate on to kick off my day.

He reminds of my purpose the minute I open the daily Scripture emails I receive.

He shows me glimpses of His glory when a cardinal or purple finch lands on my balcony.

He soothes my soul with the whisperings of His Spirit when I am at a loss for words. Have you ever sat in silence before God? Sure, it’s intimidating not knowing what He will do when we drop the walls on the box we tend to continuously put Him in, but in doing so, He moves in ways we cannot comprehend. It’s satisfying. It’s fulfilling.

And more often than not, He speaks to me through the music I choose to listen to; He always has. It’s through songs like “Unstoppable Love” by Kim Walker-Smith, “How He Loves” by David Crowder, “I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin and more that make me stop and think. They set my emotions on ablaze; passions stir and the next I know, I’ve got “spirit-flesh” (a.k.a. goose bumps/chills).

And as for the lunatic thing: well, I wish I didn’t have to break it to you, but with the technology of the Bluetooth and smart phones, I’ve seen my fair share of people who look like they’re talking to themselves. I should be able to blend right in! Welcome to the twenty-first century. But then, most of my conversation with God occurs in my mind and in my heart.  And it is my hope that I will choose, starting today, to be more intentional when it comes to my prayer life; to delight in Him always.

How about you? Have you experienced God today? Have you simply knelt before Him in silence, allowing Him to speak into your life; into your heart?

Don’t simply base it on your situation, depending on where you are at in life and what you’re struggling/dealing with.  Actively seek to put prayer at the foundation of your relationship with God. Pray based on where you are in this moment, and the next. Be intentional about making the time to hang out with Him. Is life good? Thank and praise Him! Are things hard? Seek counsel, wisdom and comfort from Him. And sometimes, you may simply need to “be still and know that He is God.” Take delight in your God.

 If what God thinks matters most, then you consult Him most. If what God does matters most, then you ask Him to act first. In other words, you live your life by prayer. – Scotty Smith

Shared Post: My Husband is Not My Soulmate

This post brought truth to the forefront of my mind and it is even more evident now that whether or not I have a husband or children one day, God wants me to have a full, happy life in Him and Him alone.

“Soulmates”

The term that Hollywood spins so incredibly well.

Then came Joshua Harris’ “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” which sparked a movement through Christian youth groups all across the nation. I’ve read it. And while I agree with parts of it, I don’t accept the entire book as truth. I’ve learned that relationships are not cut from the same recipe. There are multiple facets and each one is beautifully and uniquely different. That’s what makes them great.

Happy reading: My Husband is Not My Soulmate

Shared Post: 21 Things That Don’t Define You

Shared from here.

Eddie Becker sheds light on where our identity lies…in Christ alone.

——————–

Examining the many identities we take on and the only one that truly matters.

m I loved? Am I respected? Am I important?

These are questions that saunter quietly through our mind each morning as we look in the mirror. Questions that focus in on our identity: who we say we are, who we think we are and who the world perceives us to be.

You are identified by:

Your occupation. This is one of the biggest ways we identify ourselves to other people. When we meet someone, the first question we ask is “what do you do?” Be it teacher, lawyer or ditch digger, where we spend at least 40 hours of our week is a big factor in our identity.

When we meet someone, the first question we ask is “what do you do?”

Your family relationship. Are you a mom or dad? Son or daughter? Brother or sister? Many times our identity is tied directly to our family. For example, no matter what she does, Lisa Marie will always be Elvis’ daughter.

Your friends. Do you have a group of friends you’ve been with for years? Or maybe you wish you had just one friend to be close to and confide in. We’re known by those we hang out with and spend our free time with.

Your vices. These are the things we try our hardest to hide from those around us and the outside world. Ironically, these are often the things that consume us the most. Alcohol, gambling, porn, junk food, etc.

Your politics. Few things divide us in the workplace, in social circles and, sadly, in church like political affiliation. Good thing Jesus and the disciples didn’t have a (R) or (D) beside their names in the New Testament anywhere.

Your view on social issues. Like politics, these can also sharply divide us. Contrasting views on issues like abortion, poverty, affirmative action and gay rights can drive deep wedges between people, yet we use them as sole identifiers too many times, not seeing people for anything other than their stance on an issue.

Your race. This is one identifier we cannot change. Yet still keeps our love and concern for our fellow man only (pun intended) skin deep. If you are Black, White, Latino, Asian or a different race, you are that way from birth until death.

Your marital status. Are you married or single? Divorced? Widowed? We are identified by our decision to spend our lives with someone or not. And our identity as married people is linked to our spouse.

Your age. Young or old, this identifier is another one we cannot change. Strangely enough, too many teenage girls dress like they’re 25, and many 50-year-old women use various methods to look 32. Your age is an identifier as to your world experience, fair or not.

Your religion. Protestant? Catholic? Buddhist? Muslim? Jewish? Our religion identifies us in terms of who we will serve and worship. Certainly, the labels of various religions stoke the fires of prejudice and hatred too many times.

Your hobbies and interests. You identify yourself with these because you enjoy doing them. Did you spend the weekend on your photography? Or did you run some insane marathon where someone was throwing paint or mud or some combo of the two on you at the finish line?

Your ability/disability. Another unchangeable trait, our ability to do certain things is important and valuable to the world around us. The disabled around us, however, are too often treated as second-class citizens, identified solely for what they cannot do.

Your geographical location. Are you a Yankee or Southerner? Perhaps from a different country, speaking a different language? We get identified by the area we live or were raised in.

Your intellect and education. Do you have more degrees than a thermometer? Or did you struggle in school, dropping out early on? This means of identification often shows society how useful we are.

Your gender. Male or female, often we are labeled by various stereotypes as to what our gender is supposed to say and do.

Your sexuality. Your sexual preference, sexual “accomplishments” or sexual “failures” can play a large role in how others perceive you and how you perceive yourself.

Your physical appearance. Do you look like a real life Ken or Barbie doll? Do others envy you? Or are you plain, kind of chubby with a bit of acne on your face, feeling rejected by others?

Your health. Are you more fit than the crazy guy from Insanity? Or do you fit in with many Americans, obese and tipping the scales of diabetes? Or perhaps there’s a health issue you can’t control, that, unfortunately, others can’t seem to look past?

Your emotions. This identifier seems to force us to wear masks. We may be happy in our interactions with people, but deep down we’re wrapped up in deep anger, depression and regret.

Your potential. Like the five-star stud recruit out of high school committing to play ball at a big university, we all have a certain amount of potential. You have the tools and the smarts. Can you put it all together? Potential is scary, because if untapped it can lead to severe regret.

Your economic status. Does any identifier prove our success today more than money? Do you have a six-figure income with a house three times the size you need? Or are you struggling to even have a place to live at all?

These are 21 major categories we use to define ourselves and that others use to tell us our worth. But, last but not least, the only identifier that really matters: Your identity in Christ.

“In Christ” gives us the opportunity … to see people for who they truly are.

We read in Ephesians chapter 1 that Christ “chose us in Him before the creation of the world” (1:4) and that we were “included in Christ when you heard the message of truth … when you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal” (1:13). Once we have believed in Christ, our old labels from the world fall meaningless.

Our identity starts initially not in Christ, but being “dead in our sins” (Ephesians 2:1). We were all “by nature deserving of wrath” (2:3). Yet through God’s grace, we have been made alive with Christ. “Now in Christ Jesus you have been brought near … ” (2:13). “In Christ” grants us freedom, freedom from chains of being identified for anything less than being a child of God. “In Christ” gives us the opportunity to understand the identity of those around us, to see beyond the skin colors and the dollar signs, to see people for who they truly are. “In Christ” means all can come, leaving behind their sins, and join together to be identified once and for all as children of God.

the choice.

Choices-fork-in-the-road

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” Deuteronomy 30.19 NLT

Life is full of choices. Every single one of us is bombarded by any number of choices each day. Some would say that our lives are the sum of all our choices. One thing leads to another and that thing could lead to something else.

I have the choice to crawl out of bed each morning (or, in my case at times, enthusiastically greet my day by literally leaping from under the covers) or I can stay buried beneath the blankets, wishing the day would just pass me by (I have those days too). And that’s just the start. I have a vast array of choices when it comes to what I’ll have for breakfast each morning. Do I reach for the Captain Crunch, my ultimate comfort cereal, or do I scramble up some egg whites with mushrooms and spinach? Will I have coffee or tea today? Will I bike or walk to work? These, among others are just a snapshot of the plethora of choices I make each and every day.

But, among those, lies the most important choice I can make before I even open my eyes in the morning: Will I follow Jesus today? Will I choose to walk in life or will I choose to walk in death? The kind of people we are is determined by that ultimate choice.

I have searched to find
the meaning of this life
Something that would fill my empty soul
Some believe the lie
choose darkness over light
But I will stand and let the whole world know

God gave us the ability to choose. It’s called free will. He didn’t create us to be puppets, moving at His beck and call. He wanted us to choose Him, just as He’s chosen us. He longs for us to choose life.

Luke 9 reads, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (vs. 23).

Did you catch that one word?

Daily.

I choose Jesus, the One who first chose me.

I’d like to share a quote written by Michael Plemmons, a CBN Staff Writer:

“Those who choose to reject the life that Jesus died to freely give us, choose to walk in darkness rather than light. Their hearts and deeds are consumed by an inner drive of selfishness. Sin injects the human heart with the desire or lust that is the predominate characteristic of evil. We see a pattern in all who choose spiritual death over life. Life is to the spiritually dead a treadmill driven by the desire to advance our own agenda…There are others who choose a different course. There are those who long to be free from the damming influences of hell and make the choice of life over death. Jesus offers to every human soul the choice of life or death. We can [follow] Him as Lord and Savior [of our lives] or follow our own path. Those who choose to lay down their lives and follow Jesus are transformed from the inside out. It is a fact that I have observed over and over again the closer we walk with Jesus, the more “other” minded we become….True followers of Jesus Christ are moved by a very different agenda than the ungodly. They are not immune to the suffering and pain that they see all around them, but they are driven by a higher ideal than just the selfish ambitions of power or pleasure. Those who make the choice for life, by laying down their life in service to Jesus Christ, are transformed by the divine connect to Him [(the Holy Spirit)]…The more time we spend in [His] presence, the more selfless we become…”

I would also like to add that following Jesus isn’t a one time commitment statement that you make and go on your merry way. No; not at all. It’s a choice that you make each and every single day. I’d even go as far as to say that it’s a choice I make moment by moment. Will I follow Jesus and let His glory shine through me during the next call I take? Okay, I’ll admit that the question sounds cheesy, but it’s true. It’s true when it comes to every aspect of my life.

Can I be honest with you for one moment? I was baptized this past Sunday (full immersion and it was a great experience that I’ll never live to regret) and the clarity of that truth dawned on me later that afternoon.

I stand unashamed
trusting in one Name
Cause I have seen the cross and I believe
This choice comes at a cost
All other things are lost
No other love could mean so much to me

I realized that moving forward from that defining moment (which is quite possible as that moment was blended in with a few others) that I wanted nothing more than to have Jesus involved in every single aspect of my life. That means that I need to make the choice to follow Him; to allow Him to be involved in every nook and crevice in my life…especially those cob-web–covered, dark corners in my life that I haven’t touched in years and repairing the scarred, broken pieces of my heart, allowing Him to bring them to the glory they were intended to be at, by His will. What will that look like? Glorious ruins coming to life, I’m sure. Will it be easy? No. Nothing in this world is and when it comes to Jesus, He doesn’t promise easy, in the simple sense anyway. He simply states that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11.30). The beauty in that is the fact that He is with me each step of the way, whether I am fully aware of that or not. That’s what makes it bearable.

I’m left with asking myself questions during each of those moments: Will I chase after Him with all that I am, living with abandon, or will I chase after that run-away relationship or my current object of affection? Will I stand under the shadow of His wings and allow Him to comfort me in my moments of loneliness or will I turn to movies and TV to find mild fulfillment, allowing myself to be entertained for a brief period of time? Will I allow Him to woo me; to pursue me to His heart’s content (which is on-going, I’ve discovered)?

I choose Jesus, the One who first chose me, for now and eternity.

I choose Jesus.

“Serving God does make us very rich, if we are satisfied with what we have.” 1 Timothy 6.6

He chose to love me when I felt unlovable (He still does!)
He chose to reach me when I felt unreachable
He carried me out of my fear and doubt
How I want the world to know

During my quiet time last night, I stumbled on these words penned by Jerusha Clark:

“What happened yesterday and what will happen tomorrow do not matter as much as what you choose now, in this very moment, where God meets you and promises to satisfy your most intimate desires. Never stop pursuing the life you crave; the life Jesus died to give you.” Every Thought Captive

I want that. Oh boy, do I want that. Not just now, but for each moment after, and for as long as I live.

I know I will fall. I know I will fail. I also know that He will catch me when I do (and this, by the way, is not a “get out of jail free” card…grace doesn’t work that way). But, in being blessed with free will, I will choose Jesus and I will be intentional about it. That is my prayer from here on out: that He’ll teach me what being intentional in this means and what it will look like in my life. Not just today, but every day that follows, until He returns or calls me home.

My Jesus…I choose Jesus, the One who first chose me, for now and eternity.

 

The italicized lyrics are from Moriah Peter’s I Choose Jesus and can be heard/viewed here.

Prayer: The Joy of Becoming Less

Forwarded by a friend – some excellent words:

“Dear Jesus, I am not sure about a wardrobe of camel’s hair clothing and a diet of locuts and wild honey (Matthew 3.4), but I am sure I want more of John the Baptist’s joy – the joy of you becoming greater while I become less. Indeed, John leaped for joy at the very thought of you even before he was born (Luke 1.39-41). Could you, would you do the same in my heart?

Jesus, when I try to imagine this kind of joy and freedom, I get really excited…and a bit quiet. What would it be like to have a joy largely defined by people making much about you – so much, in fact, that I wouldn’t really notice them not making much about me? That would bring greater freedom from the insecurities of my pride and from my desire for the approval of others.

Jesus, what would it be like to want your name to be loved and vindicated a zillion times over mine? What would it be like to wait and listen for your voice a whole lot more than impatiently clamoring for my voice to be heard? That would bring more freedom from my need to be understood and to be in control of my reputation.

Jesus, what would would it be like to experience greater grief when people don’t “get” you than when they don’t “get” me? What would it be like to say with John, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven” (John 3.27) and really, really mean it – to accept the giving and the taking away in life equally as sovereign appointments from your throne of grace? That would bring freedom to love and serve you no matter what.

Jesus, most kind and beautiful bridegroom, bring more of this joy and freedom to my expectant heart. I pray in your priceless and peerless name.

Amen”

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What a humbling prayer! Oh, that I would speak that way to my Bridgegroom!