This past week I attended a funeral of one of the most faithful and inspiring women I had the pleasure of growing up with in church. As I was preparing food for the family, the song “Church (take me back)” by Cochren & Co came on. If you are not familiar with it, the chorus says “take me back to place that feels like home, to the people I can depend on, to the faith that is in my bones….”
He gave it all
A few weeks ago we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus and we thought about the sacrifice He brought for all of us. Jesus was crucified and took all our sin, shame and guilt on His shoulders. He took the punishment so that we could be set free. He gave it all so that we could be free.
How many of you check under the memories tab on your Facebook? You know the one I am talking about; it will have the status or picture you posted 7 years ago on this day and even will sometimes tell you who you friended on that day.
Would you say that you have transparent relationships?
Transparent – easy to see through, understand, or recognize; without concealment; open; frank; candid
Transparency is letting your guard completely down, humbling yourself and getting honest with others, yourself and most importantly, God.
“We love because He first loved us”
1 John 4:19 is a well-known scripture. But what does this mean? Can we see examples of it in the Bible?
The Life of Mary
Well, let’s take a look at the life of Mary. The other day when I was in church the preacher shone a new light on the well known Bible story of Martha and Mary. The one where Mary sits at the feet of Jesus and Martha complains that her sister is not helping her. Jesus then said that Mary choose the right thing to do. Often this story is told to give the message that we should not just do works for God but also take time to sit at His feet. And that is definitely true. But this time we took a look closer to the live of Mary.
Worship is more than music but music has the ability to inspire your mood, attitude and shift your focus. Worship is turning your undivided attention to the subject of your desire.
Whatever has our hearts, has our worship. And we become what we worship. Someone with an alcohol problem worships alcohol and then becomes an alcoholic. Someone that commits adultery, worships his infidelity, then becomes an adulterer. When we worship God and make Him the subject of our desire, we become more like Him.
New Seasons Coming and Going
With new seasons coming and going, depending on where you live, summer represents a time of celebration and praise; autumn or fall represents harvest season as well as letting go of old things; winter represents stillness and purification, washing away the old and spring represents a new beginning. Spring is a great time to purge, clean and organize. After a time of short daylight, the sun rises and shines on all that is dark and needs to be dusted, organized and prioritized.
Springtime is a great time to prepare for Resurrection Sunday, preparing our environment and heart for the Lord. The physical is just a manifestation of the spiritual as what is going on in the inside, will always make its way to the outside.
Here are a few ways that you can create an environment and heart of worship.
- Removing the Idols: There is an old saying that we are what we eat. The first step in creating an environment of worship is to remove all of the idols. This can be anything that is toxic, tempting, distracting or something that can be a stumble in our paths. Whether it is alcohol in the refrigerator, perverted images on your computer, worldly music on your playlist or horror movies on your watchlist, negative images on our social media feed, removing them from your home and sight will create a clear mind, clean heart and space for God to do something new in your life. Start by
writinga list and then purge accordingly. Remember, our timelines are called a “feed” for a reason.
- Cover Your Home in Worship Music: Cover your home in worship music by keeping your focus and attention on God in everything you do. Play worship music often, especially when beginning and ending your day. The root word of music is “muse” which means to be spiritually inspired. This can be good or bad depending on what type of spirits are behind the music. Music saturates the atmosphere and can inspire your mood, attitude
- Cover your Home with the Word of God: One of the best things that you can do in your home is to cover your home with the word of God. You may be tempted to place statues around your home with angels and graven images but graven images can quickly become idolatry. Deuteronomy 6 instructs us to recite, meditate, hang, and adorn God’s word, scripture and His commandments around the doors of our homes, our necks, our hearts and our and our children’s minds. The Word of God is our armor against evil. It protects and covers us. Placing it around us and meditating on it will help us memorize it and we will be able to return to it when we are facing trials. The Word of God is so powerful that He created the world with a word. It was also used by Jesus to combat the offers from Satan when He was sent into the desert to be tempted.
- Cover your Home With Prayer: Prayer is talking to God and reading the Word of God is God talking back to us. When you cover your home in prayer, you commit your home to Him and accept his guidance. Create a war room or alter in your home; a place covered in scripture that you go to pray and release the burdens on your heart, mourn your losses or celebrate your victories.
- Cover Your Home With Praise: Praise is the ability to proclaim God’s goodness with words of affirmation and celebration. When we speak life, we release
powerin our lives as well as in the lives of others.
There was a study done by a scientist named Masaru Emoto called “The Rice Experiment.” He placed rice in three separate jars and labeled one with “praise,” one with “criticism” and one with neglect. Each day he would praise the jar labeled “praise,” criticize the jar labeled “criticism” and ignore the one labeled “neglect.” He found after about 21 days that the “praise” jar thrived and became white and fluffy. The second jar labeled “criticism” became green and moldy and the last jar became black. This was evidence that our words have power. But it also showed that the opposite of love
If our words have that much power over rice, imagine how it impacts our children, loved ones and our own hearts. Praise is the first jar. Speak life.
- Cover Your Home With Peace: Peace is the absence of war. Your home should be your sanctuary after going out into the world all day. When you arrive home, it should be a place free of war and conflict. Try not to invite people into your home that will bring or discuss nothing but conflict and stress, but invite others to dine at your table. In biblical times, hospitality was very important to people and was always an act of peacemaking and peacekeeping often taking place around a banquet table.
When we create an environment of worship, our attention is focused on God and we begin to think, believe and feel like Him. What used to make no sense, will begin to make sense and what was important becomes no longer important. We will then be prepared to be used by Him and for Him.
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“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
What Would Jesus Do?
Sometimes I don’t want to admit that I’m a Christian. It isn’t that I’m ashamed of Jesus. I’m not embarrassed to say He’s my Savior. I just don’t want to be identified with the hateful throngs of people who say they follow Jesus, but espouse hate, judgment and anger towards anyone who thinks differently than them. If you look at any political, social, or ecumenical issue, there’s always an angry group of people, calling themselves Christians, shouting, name-calling and claiming God hates the other side.
Can you imagine Jesus typing nasty comments on social media to someone who disagreed with Him?Kaity
Jesus never once did this, and He was perfect. Can you imagine Jesus typing nasty comments on social media to someone who disagreed with Him? Can you see Him outside of an abortion clinic with signs yelling and hating people inside? No, I imagine Jesus would walk up to those people, sit alongside them, and tell them He loves them. He would invite them to partake of the Living Water just as He did to the woman at the well. He didn’t scold her or judge her. He welcomed her to come walk with Him.
Behind Closed Doors
I have to admit, though I am not publicly berating or shaming others, I do it behind closed doors and in the caverns of my heart. I judge my neighbor, my husband, my friends. I mumble a sarcastic remark about my husband’s shortcomings. I’m impatient with my friends’ flaws. God has been gently teaching me to clothe myself in the fruits of the spirit, instead of acting out of judgment and self righteousness. It’s really hard! It’s my own natural inclination to act like the god of my little world and judge those around me.
“Lord, teach us to be more like You. Show us to show your love and mercy to those around us, instead of acting out in harsh judgment. Help others see the Light and Hope through our words and actions. Let us show a dark world what it means to be a Christian.”
Read also: Leave a little sparkle wherever you go.
One of the most beautiful trees of God’s creation that I have ever seen is The Weeping Willow. It looks so serene, peaceful and wise but it also has a haunting glow of sorrow. It reminds me of many elderly women that I cared for when I worked in nursing homes years ago.
The Weeping Willow
They have been through The Great Depression, The Civil Rights Movement and sent their husbands, brothers
Growing Solid Roots
They have witnessed and survived tragedy but through their journey, they have grown solid roots that sprout trunks and branches that sprout beautiful and
Today, many women use the term “strong” so loosely. But we women of today are just apple trees compared to these weeping willows. Yes, we have all had our share of trials and tribulations but we are still growing in wisdom, knowledge
True Definition Of Strength
These willows have been through the worst of times, yet survived and through their trials, they maintained eloquence, class and an attitude of gratitude, never whining and never complaining. They taught us that in the midst of their storm, fall to your
When they spoke, their words poured out wise instruction, encouragement and fair warning.
They despised lies, gossip, back-biting and foul language because they understood that life and death were in the power of the tongue and if you didn’t tame it, you got a switch to your back-side and a bar of soap in your mouth. You sat down at the dinner table saying your grace, and asking to be excused before you got up. School was a privilege not a burden and work came before fun.
The Anchors In Our Lives
They are the anchors in our lives, a glimpse of the flickering star of hope that we still have a chance to get it right by modeling them in their fight for faith, hope and the restoration of the family unit. They are the true definition of strength.
Let us not forget
“For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” Ecclesiastes 1:18
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A rollercoaster of emotions
I remember when I made the decision to end a toxic relationship. It was just weeks before the wedding. I was also in the midst of a new and growing relationship with God. I was an emotional wreck, riding on a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute I felt liberated, like I was set free from bondage. The next, I felt afraid and vulnerable, like I just jumped out of a boat into the ocean with no life-jacket. I decided that I would try new ways to channel my energy. I started a fitness bootcamp, took tennis lessons, bought books on faith and healing and my friend and I decided we would start taking classes on salsa dancing.
We started classes every Monday after work. The dance studio was downtown Indianapolis and sat right above a Mexican restaurant. We would go to dance class and then after, would head downstairs to have dinner. When other people were dreading Mondays, we would look forward to them. What I didn’t expect is the breakthrough that I would experience in my spiritual walk during my classes.
In partner dancing, we began learning twists, turns
“Latin dancing is like a beautiful painting. The woman is the picture and the man is the frame. His support highlights and enhances her beauty.”
I realized at that point that my dancing style was a physical manifestation of my core issues in relationships. I was always trying to lead and as a result, I attracted men who were followers.
Dancing in unison
As the classes progressed, I learned more and more about trust, submission and letting go of the need to be in control. I was also recognizing when others had trouble with their role. We switched dance partners several times each class and I often had a partner that had an issue with leading as much as I had an issue with following. They would wait on me to lead instead of taking the lead. When I would switch my partner to a man that was strong in leading, I would let out a sigh with relief because my role was much easier when I had a stronger partner. What a concept.
Marriage and relationships are much like a dance. Dancing without assuming your role makes the entire performance sloppy and fall apart. It interrupts the harmony, balance and cohesion of the pair. But when you dance in unison, it is like the melody of a bird’s song after being released from a cage.
As a result of these classes, the lessons that I learned poured over to other areas in my life. I started recognizing when I was attempting to revert back to the “control freak” and also recognized a lack of leadership in others. God is always speaking to us and through us. Understanding that we were made in His image, it makes sense that we become more like Him when we receive and absorb His wisdom through beautiful gifts such as art, dance, music and writing.
Please take a listen to this beautiful song about following the leadership of Christ and letting go of the need to fight against it by Steffany Gretzinger, called “We Dance”
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
“Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.” 1 Corinthians 11:11
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“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.”
“He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.”
Enjoying the stillness
Have you ever enjoyed the stillness? I most often find it in nature: on a beach listening to the crashing waves, watching the snow fall and gearing the hushes pelt of flakes gently landed on the earth, standing atop a mountain as the wind roars over the treetops, or standing in the woods, completely alone and silent
Stillness can seem elusive at times. We finally get a moment alone, away from work or family, and technology attacks. Dings and beeps of email, texts, and social media can keep us occupied and distracted. Even after silencing it all, are we able to silence our minds? I often have roaming thoughts, to do lists, lingering emotions and snippets of conversations coursing through my brain. I cant turn it off. I feel like there’s a constant buzz running through my mind.
Rest and be renewed
And yet the moments of stillness are when can finally hear God’s voice. I struggle with finding stillness and sometimes when I finally grasp it, I’m met with emptiness and depression, loneliness or anxiety. These are the moments when my mind says it needs stimulation or craves people. It mistakenly longs for distractions and busyness. Our flesh is weak. What our minds really need is stillness, to rest and be renew in God’s word.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Jesus often went to go pray alone. We must follow His example as we turn everything off and settle into the stillness. If Jesus can quiet an actual storm, He can certainly calm the storms in our hearts and minds.
Sometimes it’s uncomfortable; we’re so used to the noise. Sometimes it is so welcomed as the harsh din bombarding us fades away. When we enter the stillness, God’s voice becomes audible once again and we leave refreshed and renewed.
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