Ballast for my Soul

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I am a little bit on a Spurgeon kick today. Yesterday I was able to watch a biography of his life with a couple of very sweet women. I was truly blessed and realized that I don’t know a whole lot about this wonderful servant-of-a-man.

Spurgeon used the word ballast in one of his sermons and I had to ponder on it for a bit. The ballast is the weight to keep the boat stable in the water.  I found on spurgeongems.org something that he said.

“We are warned by the Word both of our duty, our danger, and our remedy. On the sea of life there would be many more wrecks if it were not for the divine storm-signals which give to the watchful a timely warning. The Bible should be our Mentor, our Monitor, our Memento Mori, our Remembrancer, and the Keeper of our Conscience”.

The Bible should be our Mentor and our Monitor!!!

The Bible is our ballast!!! It keeps us stable in the rough seas of life!!!

I love the Word of God! It is my mentor and my monitor. Oh forgive me for repeating that over and over again but please just meditate on that for a few. I can add nothing to it!!!

A Ballast for my Soul

That tosses to and fro,

But God’s Word will ever be

A ballast for my soul.

By its truth I’ll be held fast

Til I reach heaven’s shore

Where I will be home at last

And sail life’s sea no more!

Perry Boardman

What does the Word of God mean to you? Let’s talk about it @ Living by GraceImage

Praying in my Meeting House

 

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In my meeting house sits my spirit. While I wait for Christ to arrive, I start to ponder. What kind of person does God use to change the course of history?

God uses those to whom He can entrust the deepest things of His heart through prayer. Prayer releases our lives to the Father and gives Him unhindered access to use us to accomplish His will.

But…what if we don’t know how to pray? If God is instructing you, He’ll come to you and guide you. I think of Charles Spurgeon; what a servant of God and at such a young age. He started his service for the Lord in a small meeting house. At seventeen years old he was preaching three times on Sunday and five times a week. He was not ashamed to be a follower of the Lamb of God.

I ask myself, what goes on in my meeting house? In my meeting house, God sets the pace, then chooses and calls me to walk with Him so that He can complete His purpose through me. I know that by prayer what God’s will is for my life and as I begin to obey Him, He accomplishes it through me. In turn, my world and my generation are hopefully affected by my love of my LORD.

In my prayer life I try to release myself to the will of the Father, so Almighty God can use such a plain person such as me to reach out to the hurting and confused people. God desires to shape the prayer lives of His people every day and He wants us to realize that His ways are right and be convinced through prayer that He is in control                                 .Image

To continue in this kind of prayer please enter into your meeting house, follow the obedience of God’s will then you will hear these words from God, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21.

 

Luke 19:46a My house is a house of prayer…

 

New Glasses

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          His glasses are nine years old. Trying to get my husband to go to the eye doctor is impossible. It’s somewhat comical when I watch him try to focus on the television; his head moves from side to side then up and down. I often ask him, “Wouldn’t it be easier if you just got a new pair of glasses?” To that he responds, “One of these days.

          We all have to focus during the day on several tasks. Whether we need to focus on a recipe or focus during a friend-to-friend conversation; we have to give our attention to the task. If you are like me, you have to turn your attention toward one thing at a time. I can’t focus unless I’m staring it straight on and am100% tuned in.

          Focus or foci, formed from the Latin word is hearth, fireplace, flame, central point and center. The word “focus” was introduced into mathematics by Johannes Kepler in 1604 with the meaning of any “central point. Therefore, to focus, so to speak, is to pay attention to the hearth: the floor of a fireplace which is made of sturdy material such as stone and or brick.  Proverbs 4:25 tells us to let our eyes look directly forward, and fix your gaze directly before you. (NIV)

          Okay, practical application here, when you sit in front of a fire, looking straight ahead at the sturdy hearth you are focused on what is in front of you. There is something about gazing straight into a fire and being lost in the awe of its beauty. Christ is our focus. He is our sturdy-as-stone hearth and we can get lost in His beauty if we gaze upon Him at all times.  Please know that you obtain the tools to FOCUS on GOD during times of uncertainty. When we focus on Christ we begin to pay attention to what’s going on inside which brings us to a more calm state during the uncertain storms of life.

          If you are struggling now, be reminded of past times when God was your sturdy-as-stone hearth.

Philippians 3:12-14

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which  God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

Weaving Words and Weaving Fabric Become One

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            I have decided to take on sewing again. I have not sewed since I was a child so this task is a little challenging to me; however, I’m finding it fun. I find it fun as long as I remember to only work on a project when I’m in the mood. If it sits at my desk where I write and starts to get on my nerves, I just move it aside until it’s time to stitch.

            I wish sometimes I could do that with my writing. I HAVE to write. I can’t put it aside. Even though it is very challenging at times, I have to do it; and thank God that most often I do find it fun.

            Due to lack of space in my home, I’ve been forced to share my writing desk, my beloved sanctuary where weaving of words happens with my new sewing hobby.  I didn’t want to give it up but I had no other choice. I refuse to put it on the dining room table because that is where we share our meals.

            I’ve gotten used to it now though. I just put the sewing machine down when I need to take out my lap top. I slip the lap top down when I want to sew. It’s actually working out well. I was able to take what I thought would be an impossible compromise and make it work.

            God is so much like this. He takes the fabric of our lives where we don’t want to compromise and turns them into beautiful weavings. So often I’ve stomped and kicked at the dirt arguing with God about something that He wants me to do. I don’t want to compromise my income. I don’t want to compromise my time and I don’t want to compromise my lifestyle. I want to stay right where I am and not have to take one inch of compromise off of my desk.

            If we don’t allow God to weave our being into FOCUS with His being, how on earth are we going to grow? How can we serve God when we don’t want to compromise? He desires to take ever part of our lives and weave it into a beautiful masterpiece.

James 1:4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything! (Even sewing)!

 

What does compromise mean to you and are you afraid to be asked to compromise something for God?  

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FOCUS on Happiness

 

 

          Is it true that happy women live better? I don’t know if I would be an expert on the subject but I do believe that when we walk in joy; we personify happiness.  Am I always happy? No! It takes effort and is a decision I wrestle with often.  Have you ever found yourself struggling with happiness? You want to be happy and realize that you have so many blessings around you but that “happy-feeling” doesn’t reside in you.Image

          I know what causes my unhappiness at times; it’s my doubt. Let me explain. I get an idea to write a on a topic and procrastinate because I don’t think I’m qualified enough, smart enough or good enough to produce a crisp article. Why do I allow Satan to do this to me? I know I’ve been called to write but he gets into my head every time I sit before my computer. He gets a hold of my thoughts and antagonizes me.

          I read about a woman who was such a procrastinator with her writing that from time to time she has stop and put a plan-of-action into place. When she is totally unnerved, she books a hotel room right down the street from her house and writes without any interruptions. She figures it’s worth wasting the money if she can finish a project without distractions. She realizes that she is a recovering procrastinator with a tendency to relapse. I can relate! I have to establish some sort of schedule and try not to veer from it.

          The very first thing that I do when I sit at my computer is pray. I ask God to keep my FOCUS on Him and not allow the enemy to rob me of any joy in writing. Also, at least once a week if not twice, I slip off to a café to write. I have to get out of my own home; the sounds of the washer going, the howling of my dog (although it’s cute) and the never ending sound of the television playing in the background. I admit it! I have a short attention span.

          I do find myself energized and very happy when I can be alone with God allowing Him the time to talk to my brain and guide my words. What do you do when you know the enemy is robbing you of your joy; distracting you from a calling from God? Maybe God has been calling you to have lunch with an unsaved neighbor. Maybe God has been calling you to lead a Sunday school group. Maybe God has been asking you to host a luncheon in your home. Whatever it is that He has called you to, don’t allow Satan to rob you of your joy in your calling.Image

You reveal the path of life to me;

In Your presence is abundant joy;

In Your right hand are eternal pleasures.

Psalm 16:11 HCSB

 

Survivalist Mentality

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            Unfortunately, when we have a survivalist mentality, we become so caught up in surviving, that we forget that there is another way of living. We forget about the joy and the gentleness of the journey. We forget about communication and intimacy. We forget that in the process of living we must remember to be gentle and kind to others.  Challenging? Absolutely!

            Why do you think we struggle so much with being kind? We aren’t rude by nature, well; hopefully we aren’t; especially if we claim to be Christians.  Jesus said, “In this life, you will have trouble” (see John 16:33). I believe that I am rude or somewhat snobbish towards others at times because I’m busy in thought. My mind might be on my own struggles that I can’t focus on someone else’s issues. I am not a snobbish person by nature, I used to be but I have come a long way with Christ. How? By keeping my FOCUS.

            We always seem surprised by our own struggles. What really happens during our trials is Jesus shows us the potential to unite with Him. In uniting with Jesus, we unite with one another. Pretty simple!  How do we know all of this? First of all, God’s Word tells us that even though there is trouble in this life, we can take heart because He has overcome this world. He has overcome this world by giving us the gift of forgiveness. We don’t have to live in fear of what we’ve done wrong or will do wrong.  We often feel isolated in our difficulties, but we don’t have to feel that either. Embrace the truth; life is hard but you are not the only one suffering and just as you get to discover the gift of grace, other sufferers do as well. Oh thank you Jesus.

FOCUS: Faith on Christ under stress; keep your focus on God. Keep your focus on what Jesus did on the cross for you. You are free!!!

1 John 4:10 This is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Mop My Own Mess

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            Her 21st birthday! Where did the time go? It was like yesterday when I was holding her tightly against my chest all swaddled in her soft baby smelling blanket. Time goes by so fast and as you age it goes by even faster. I wish I had understood this more when I was a young mother. I was so concerned about the floors being mopped, the bathrooms being cleaned and the dishes being washed. I didn’t dare have a dirty house or an unwashed load of laundry on the floor. 

            Why? Why did I find that all so important? In exploring this question, all I can say is that I was wired that way. I had to be perfect. I had to have my children clothed in perfectly clean clothing (not necessarily new) but clean. I had to take them to every function at the church. I had to serve on every committee and invite everyone to my neatly presentable home. I could not have any flaws in any of this. If I did, I felt inadequate and unable to serve God.

            Oh my, what bondage. I’m not staying in bondage though. I was a good mother, good wife and good Christian. I just had my priorities very twisted. I look back and say, “If only I tossed around the ball a little more with my son. If only I played dolls more with my daughter. If only I just laid there in the grass looking at the clouds with my kids just a little more.”

            I have made some terrible mistakes in life but the only one that is punishing me is myself! God is not in the business of punishing. He disciplines but He does not punish. How can we avoid this kind of mentality? We can avoid it by putting all of our FOCUS on God. I was so focused on what the church was thinking, what my friends were seeing and what the community was hearing about me and my family that I forgot the opinion of the most important person in my life; the person that mattered the most; God!

FOCUS: Faith on Christ Under Stress….Living a life where you feel you have to be so perfect only causes stress. It causes you to keep one-upping something and before you know it; your ability to one-up yourself becomes impossible to do.  Determine what you need to trim out of your life to make time for God. Make an agreement with God so that you will rest in Him knowing that it’s okay to veer off of your schedule from time to time.

 

For you serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:24

The sweetness of the lips increases learning. The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips. Proverbs 16:21;23.

 

What is it that you need to put down to gain more time with your children; your husband; your friends or family? Can’t the dishes wait?

Pills Upon Pills

           

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Oh Lord, what in the world are all of these pills for? I can’t stand it! Every time I think that I am getting better, my body tells me differently. I had to go to my kidney doctor last week and unfortunately my protein is back up so I am going to have to start another round of some sort of immunosuppressant. The medication that he will start me on will no doubt have its side effects. If I don’t take them, I could go into kidney failure. What’s worse, the side effects or kidney failure? Of course; the kidney failure would be so much worse.

            I also went for my yearly physical last week and low and behold, I have another sinus infection. It was so bad that I was getting very dizzy. All I can say is Jesus, what is happening to me? Why are these things happening to my body? I eat fairly well. I walk daily. I am a good person. I go to church. I pray and I serve. Why oh why?

            Sometimes we just don’t know why we have to go through things. We may experience a death, a divorce, a loss of a job or loss of our health. It’s all part of life. It’s what we do with the losses in life that counts. As I am working on writing my own Bible Study entitled FOCUS I can’t help but think about where I allowed the enemy to take my thoughts this last week. He was trying to trick me into the pocket of fear. He wanted to keep me tightly wrapped up in the emotions of fear and doubt. This is easy for me to do. It takes me a long time to master what I’m learning. I am not an easy A+ student. I have to do the tests of life over and over again to get it. And…then when I get it, I have to remind myself that I didn’t do anything to cause this. It is life and God is in control.

            FOCUS…Keep you faith on Christ under stress. Stress will manifest in many ways. Keep looking straight ahead at your Kinsman Redeemer.

I will not set anything worthless before my eyes. I hate the practice of transgression; it will not cling to me. A devious heart will be far from me; I will not be involved with evil.

What are you dealing with today that might be causing you stress or causing you to take your FOCUS off of Christ?

Dioxins of the Mind

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            Got any idea what dioxins are? Dioxins are pollutants that linger in water and soil that take years to disappear. Manufacturers often release chlorine bleach, for example, into local water bodies, where it can create persistent organic pollutants such as dioxins. These dioxins are found throughout the world in the environment and they accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals.  Where do we get our exposure? Our exposure comes from our food and dioxins can cause developmental problems and damage our immune system. Haven’t you noticed the increase in auto-immune diseases over the last several years? I’ve become keenly aware of my own autoimmune disease because I’ve personally witnessed behavioral and physical changes within my own body when I’ve eaten something wrong. With all of this information, it has caused me to take a more radical approach towards my eating habits and now I’ve become even more concerned about what I’m using in my household to clean and disinfect germs.  

            Call me the germ-free radical of my home. I want to recycle everything. I want to eat only organic and I want to start making my own house cleaners. I don’t desire to do all of this because they are the “thing-to-do” but rather I want to make sure all of my grandchildren have a cleaner environment to live in. I have a strong desire to put only good things into my body. As a matter of fact, this week I’ve bought a big supply of vinegar and Baking Soda and lemon juice. You should see how much these non-harmful things can be good for you. For example, vinegar is a whiz at cutting through grease and grime. You can easily get a sparkling toilet by pouring a cup of vinegar in there and letting it sit for an hour. Use your toilet brush and the rings will be gone.  

            What do I mentally pollute myself with.  I had a lot of time to think about this because I was sick with the stomach flu. Yea! A stomach flu in the spring; I had plenty of time to just lay around and think.  Am I putting Dioxins into my mind causing my thoughts to ruminate on evil, offensive and hatred? These are very pollutant thoughts.

            That is exactly what we do when we do not think about what we are saying, or even thinking. Satan is very canny and will find any way that He can get into our lives. Where does He start? From our thoughts.  He takes every thought of ours and twists it to meet His plan. However, God’s Word tells us that we should take every thought captive. II Corinthians 10:5 … We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (NIV) How do we do this?

            Saying we are saved does not make our thought captive towards Christ. It is a daily battle because we are flesh of this world. We were born sinners and we are prone to sin. However, the good news is that Jesus died for our sins and we don’t have to walk in defeat.  I was reminded this past week during Bible Study that the evil spiritual world cannot utterly destroy us because Satan is not God’s evil equal. But there are demonic forces that would enjoy nothing more than to derail us from making God’s name great in this world. Stay in the Word; connect with other Christians; get involved in ministry and most importantly, pray against the evil one.

            Dioxins! Dioxins of the mind and of the earth are prevalent every day all day.  What lies does Satan tell you to keep your mind polluted with dioxins? You’re ugly, fat and useless? You’re divorced, single or had an abortion? You smoke, drink or have had an affair? None of these things can keep you from the love of God. God’s word tells us to put on the full armor so that we may be ready for battle.   

                                      I John 4:4 you, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

            How do you struggle with Satan’s eerie tricks? How do you stay grounded? Come and join us as we discuss practical ways to keep Satan out of our lives…Image

What is Love?

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               What is love? Is it an emotion? Is it a verb? If you asked people on the street to define love, they’d probably tell you that it’s an emotion. Is it like an overwhelming feeling when a parent stares down at their newborn child’s face? Is it the butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling when you get in a serious relationship? What is this word we toss around without thought?

               The Bible tells us that the word love is neither emotion nor verb. Love is God and God is love. Love is defined by the character and actions of God.  God’s nature is love and His every action is loving.  We are all called to do as God instructs us to do. If we are called to love others just as Jesus loves us then we need to show that we know God when we love one another because that’s who God is.                         

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               Unfortunately so many have not experienced God’s love nor grasped the depth of his love for them. They believe God’s love is like the love other people have shown them. What a dangerous comparison. I came from very loving parents but I know just by the relationship that I have with God that He loves me so much more. I can’t imagine being loved more than my mom and dad loved me.

               If you’ve come from a home where love was not prevalent, please don’t compare that love to God’s love. Human love can be fickle, unpredictable and even vengeful. People, especially those struggling with their own hurts and emotional damage, can warp the meaning of love, causing themselves to struggle with accepting God’s love.  God’s love is unconditional. You can’t earn it. You can’t work for it. It comes to you by His grace.  Can our human minds understand this concept?

               In Ephesians 3:18, the apostle Paul attempts to measure the immeasurable by conveying the breadth of God’s love in human terms. It’s wide, long, high and deep enough to reach everyone everywhere! I just can’t wrap my brain around that. There are no hopeless situations where you can’t be loved by God!!!

               God’s love is universal. Psalm 145:17 says, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.” (NASB) No matter what you are going through; no matter what darkness lingers over your head; you are still loved by God. Please don’t give up! I remember Elisabeth Elliot always starting and ending her radio program with, “You are loved with an everlasting love.” I didn’t understand that when I was a baby Christian but now that I’m older, more ripe and ready for ministry, I get it. No matter what I do, I’m loved and so are you.