Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Second Chances...Not Guaranteed

Photo Credit: Dew Photography

Did you know that second chances from God are not guaranteed? This week while reading "Surprised by Grace" by Pastor Tullian Tchividjian this is exactly what I learned. Pull out your Scriptures and it can be seen where second chances did not happen. A prime example is Ananias & Sapphira. It is funny how God reminds us of these things. Even though I wrote about Ananias & Sapphira on this blog back in April, it was like a "DUH!" moment when I read they did not get a second chance from God. 

We always point to Jonah and state, "God is a God of second chances." Yet, the problem is we our living with an attitude of "we deserve and are guaranteed second chances." Would we live our lives more obediently if we understood second chances are not guaranteed? Is it just me or does it depress you that second chances are not guaranteed? Personally, I blow it often and am grateful for when given second, third and at times fourth chances to get it right. 

 Delayed obedience is disobedience. This is a truth that I have heard and even have taught many times. I propose this includes our attitude. When we begrudgingly complete a task with the wrong attitude it is an act of disobedience. 

When our daughter was younger and she was asked to clean her room. She could have two responses: 1) go and clean her room as requested or 2) storm off to her room end clean it with a great commotion of stomping and slamming as she cleaned.  

Photo Credit: 1234RF


In our household, our daughter would be disciplined for response #2 even though the room was cleaned. Why? Because of her attitude. 

I was questioned about this concept of disobedience recently. Someone gave me the following example: She had been invited to do something she knew God would say no to if she took it to Him. She felt that even though she didn't participate her attitude was not the greatest while she abstained from the activity. The question: Was this disobedience because of her "not right" attitude while abstaining?

While pondering this Sister in Christ's question and reading "Suprised by Grace," God has opened a new realm of thought for me on the concept of His grace:

 even though "delayed obedience is still disobedience at first, it can be replaced by true obedience, through God's relentless mercy and grace" (Tchividjian, pg 85).  

I propose, this is the same concept when the disobedience is based on our attitude. Just reword the statement, "A bad attitude is still disobedience at first, however it can be replaced by true obedience, through God's relentless mercy and grace."

Thank you Lord for your relentless mercy and grace!

After pondering, here is my thought:

Maybe at times we start out doing the 'right thing' because we know it is the 'right thing' even with a 'not so right' attitude. Yet, as we continue our walk with Christ and through God' transforming grace become more like Christ, what starts out as "disobedience at first is replaced by true obedience."  

There is one more side to the proverbial coin we need to acknowledge... there are consequences for disobedience. Jonah sat in the belly of a big fish. Even when we have sorrow for our disobedience there will be consequences. As we come to terms with the facts, second chances are not guaranteed and disobedience has consequences one could get depressed and want to give up.

Be encouraged dear Sisters. Yes it is true, we will stumble. We will have times of blowing it. But we have an intermediator who has accepted full responsibility for all of our sin.

His name is Jesus. 

Have you blown it this week? Lost your temper? Hollered at your spouse? Bad attitude? Screamed at your children? Been just plain ugly to everyone?

Run to Jesus ask His forgiveness. Then thank Him for accepting full responsiblity and "living the life we couldn't live and dying the death we should have died," (Tchividjian, pg88).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Forgiveness: Ask for it and Give it...

Photo Credit: Dew Photography

 "You were always one of the strongest and most well-grounded Christians I knew. What happened to you?'

That was basically the statement & question spoken to me after I had been through one of the worst times. That statement hurt me. Today, I am being transparent. Some of this has been alluded to along the way with this blog. I have told you all that we have moved to another state. Even told you, I had been disobedient and it not only hurt me but others in my life.  As Paul Harvey would say, "Here is the rest of the story..." Well, not the complete story for out of respect and privacy to my Sweetie’s request "some things will stay close to the chest."

Last August, an incident brought me to my knees (not in prayer either) that most would consider an annoyance.  Per honoring Sweetie’s aforementioned request, this is all I will say about the actual incident. What I need to share is how this incident affected me? I became extremely ill. I couldn't eat or sleep. Even lost 25lbs in 10 days. My doctor said normally she would have been happy about me losing 25lbs but not this way. I was in a bad place. My doctor put me on one medicine for the anxiety and another to sleep. I would have times of crying uncontrollably. I wasn't able to think clearly or even function. Basically, I was a wreck or as some of younger friends would say "ONE HOT MESS!"


I even went to a counselor and her response was she didn't think she would be of much help for my situation. However, if I wanted to pay $90.00 per visit we could schedule more visits.

Too many people, my response was not appropriate or expected of a Christian. Much less a Christian involved in ministry and holding leadership positions. That hurt me. Who gives us the right to determine what is the proper response? Confession Time: In two separate instances in my past, I had thought the same statement, which had been made to me about other Christians.

 I couldn't explain, at the time to my friends, family, church family or ministry partners, why I was responding the way I did. In retrospect, I can and have explained on this blog (read the list on the related blog's link) how disobedience can affect one's life and what God revealed to me. I have asked God to forgive me for my disobedience. Thank you Jesus for being there for me with open arms. 

Why tell you all this? Because it is important for others to realize those in leadership and ministry are human. We can be hurt. We are fallible. We need love and grace. God has and is healing me from my hurt. I love and have forgiven. In my heart, I believe those involved would not hurt me intentionally.  Also, I pray He is healing and helping those hurt by my actions. 

Have you hurt or been hurt? Take it to God. Ask forgiveness and give forgiveness. 

"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you"
Matthew 6:14



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Write and Speak One Time with God...

Photo Credit: Dew Photography
Wording (slightly modified): Beth Kinder


"I would rather write and speak one time with the power of God to touch thousands, 
than to write and speak thousands of time and impact no one"---Beth Kinder, Remade Ministries


The above statement rocked my world last week upon reading it. Many of you know, I am attending a writer and speaker conference at the end of July. What some may not know is I have been writing to complete and then edit, edit, edit and re-edit my book proposal and sample chapters. By the way...did I mention there is some editing happening during this process. :-)

During all of this writing, I came across the information a non-fiction book is normally 25,000-50,000 words. I was stressing a little....ok it was more than a little. The reason, my book currently is at 7,000+ words with 5 of the proposed 8 chapters having their first draft complete.

Then Beth's weekly "ReMade" blog email came. God opened my eyes. Yes, I understand there is an industry standard on word count. However, if I am not writing with His power than it will not matter if my word count is 100,000 for the impact will not be there.

It is amazing how a simple email at the appropriate "God appointed time" can have loving discipline, encouragement and focus from my Savior.

Beth's blog can viewed here. Go and check it out and give her some encouragement in the comment section. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Association to Participation to Assimilation...


Write it girl


ASSOCIATION~PARTICIPATION~ASSIMILATION

"Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possession were so great that they could not dwell together"


In Genesis 13:6, we find Abraham and Lot in a position where separation became necessary. Both men had become prosperous and the present land could not handle all the livestock. Abraham did not want a dispute with his nephew. Therefore, he let Lot choose what land he would take. 


"And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it [was] well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar" Genesis 13:10


It is interesting that Lot thought of himself and not the Uncle who had taken care of him. The Uncle who treated him like a son. Instead, Lot saw the better land and grabbed it with no thought for his elder. He did not consider his family bond with his Uncle when his eyes saw something better. Lot went towards the land of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot associated himself with Sodom and Gomorrah.  In Genesis 14, we see Lot living in Sodom. This results in him being captured when Sodom is attacked by other Kings. Abraham did not forget his nephew. Upon hearing of his capture, Abraham went with his men to retrieve Lot. Abraham brought back not only Lot but all the goods, women and the people of Sodom (Genesis 14:16). We see here that Lot's association (living near Sodom) lead to participation (living and fighting the war of Sodom against other kings.) 

We are so like Lot. 

We start associating, which leads to participating in areas marked "Do No Enter". Areas, we know that are not good for us. 
It could be reading books (certain popular erotica titles) that produce lustful thoughts.

We must be careful for participation normally leads to assimilation.
Hop on over to Genesis 19 with me. 

"Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom."
Genesis 19:1a

We find Lot is no longer only living near Sodom (Association) or fighting Sodom's battles (Participation), but he is among the leadership (Assimilation). Leadership of an area would be at the gate of a city. Proverbs 31:23 shows the proverbial woman's husband sitting among the elders of the gate. It is not stated whether Lot is a part of  the leadership or just amongst them. This is not the point. The point is Lot has progressed from association with Sodom & Gomorrah to participation and now to assimilation. 

What exactly is assimilation? 
Whenever I hear the word, my first thought is The Borg in "Star Trek: Next Generation." 

You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile. 
Yet, I digress. 

Bing.com's definition is "integration into a group, the process in which one group takes on the cultural and other traits of a larger group."

What does all of this have to do with you & me?
 It is imperative that we see the slide from one step to the next is a slow progression. A former client would always say in her testimony, "I didn't wake up one day and decide to be a drug addict." 

Do you see association, participation or assimilation in your life? Don't despair. The great thing about God is He made a way for Lot to be saved when Sodom & Gomorrah were destroyed. And He has made a way for you too. Run to Jesus today & let Him bring you back to where you belong...

In loving fellowship with Him 

Now, Lot's wife...that is a story for another day.

Thanks to Pastor Dale Hewitt @ Grace Church of Fredericksburg for introducing the concept of "Association~Participation~Assimilation" in his June 3rd sermon. You can listen to his sermon on the church website: www.gcofonline.com

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Thanking God for Fellow Writers...


This week I want to take a minute to say, "Thanks" to all my fellow writers out in the social world. Each of you has truly been an encouragement to me the past couple weeks. 

Everyone from Jeff Goins with the "Great Writer Challenge" to Beth at Remade Ministries. Plus, there is Josh Kilen, Veronica at SimplyMe~My Walk, Tracy Steel and Michelle Lazurek to name a few. Many of us are new friends and I look am grateful to God for bringing each of you into my life. However, this list would not be complete without adding my long time friend, 
who is also a writer and has finished his first book ("Darker Shade of Gray"), Eric Voliva

As each of us knows writing can be a lonely endeavor and it blesses me greatly to have other writers cheering me on. :-) I encourage everyone to check out their links and show them some love.


"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."---Galatians 6:9 & 10



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day 6: Great Writer's Challenge...

Today's challenge was to "steal" as Jeff describes it and write about it. In natural Jeff Goins' style, steal does not have the connotation we would normally think of the word steal. He is showing us how we spend so much time trying to be creative that we never create. In Ecclesiastes, it states there is nothing new under the sun. Once we grasp this we can move forward with God's plan. 




Currently, I am writing a non-fiction book. I have done what Jeff describes in his post for today. How you ask?  I have been doing my job for 5 years. During this time, I have read many articles and a book or two on the subject of my book. While writing, I have given credit where it is due, but have also put my own interpretation on what has already been said. As a Christian in this field of business, I am further showing the Christian viewpoint. 

Are you creating or stalled while waiting to be creative?




Monday, June 11, 2012

Playing Church (Updated from 2007)....

I was looking over some of my older posts and thought I would share a few over this week. I have done some editing & updating before reposting (mainly grammar, spelling & adding some pictures):




Playing church not being the church
I talk with young people (no, I am not one), good, honest, wanting to serve God teenagers. One thing, I see, happening is these young people are getting fed up with the organized church playing church and not being the church! They want to go outside the four walls and minister to people, and tell them about Jesus.

We the adults in their lives would learn a valuable lesson from these young people....they are open and honest with each other about their struggles....none of them put on the "I'm fine" persona. Come on we all know what I am talking about....

A typical Sunday morning or for that fact any morning when we see someone we know (however, Sunday morning irks me the most):

"Hi! How are you?"
"I'm fine."
(When you are not fine)

This response is so automatic that last week, I was out and someone saw me and all I said was "Hi." The person responded, "Just fine, thank you for asking." That is the response I got for merely saying "Hi"!?

The thing that scares me is somewhere along their college years something happens to these young people and before they know it these same young people start stuffing and hiding the hurt inside. They question: why do they not tell someone how they really are doing? Do we see the disservice and sad thing happening to our young people? They are turning into us.  Is that what school teaches them or is it what they think is suppose to happen when they graduate and grow-up!!

I, for one, am going to tell all the young people around me that becoming responsible and maturing DOES NOT mean to start "playing church" and to no longer be the church.

We should wake up and learn from our young people...some of them have it more together than the rest of us so-called grown-ups.  

I have been guilty of playing church instead of being the church. Your challenge is to search your heart and see if you have been playing church or being the church?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Day Three: 15 Habits of Great Writers...The Why Behind It All



This is a continuation of the posts I will be writing, while participating in the "15 Habits of Great Writers" Challenge. 


Day Three required us to write a secret filling in the following: “I am a ______”. Then we are to pull it out everyday and read it. The object of the exercise is for us to choose ourselves. (Jeff admits this exercise could sound a little hokey to some.)  Nonetheless, the idea’s premise is we have the tendency to choose everyone else in our lives and never choose ourselves.

We put what we need on the back burner. Confession: I do have a tendency to do this but am getting much better. Long story short, we went through some major adjustments in the last seven months including me having a total hysterectomy on May 2nd (my birthday) requiring 6 weeks of recovery. During this time, I have come to realize that my identity is not in what I do but in whom I belong. 
I will be the first to admit this is not a new concept for me. As a Christian for the last 12 years, I have heard before my identity is in Christ. However, just because we have heard something repeatedly doesn’t mean we fully comprehend what is being said or how it looks. 



Before, we moved last October my life consisted of being a business owner, deaconess, bible study teacher, CBS assistant teaching director trainee, GROW Team Volunteer, and church media director. Also, don’t forget Child of God. We attended church three times a week. Sometimes more, if there were events or ministries we participated in meeting such as, Ladies Fellowship or GROW team. In one year, I had planned or participated in a College & Career Conference, Ladies Retreat Planning, VBS, and a youth mission camp.

Please hear this:

It was never expected of me by my church leadership to do all these things. The pressure was from myself. At the time, I thought I was being obedient and serving the Lord in all of these positions.
   
Then an incident happened that totally crumbled my world. What happened is not the point. Even how others or I reacted to the situation is not the point. Why it happened is the important part: Disobedience. 

Then God started to reveal things to me after He had removed everything:
  1. God requires obedience (He may let us walk in disobedience for a time but there will be consequences)
  2. We are not the only ones hurt in our disobedience
  3. There are things that can you can do to cause people's feelings for you to change...even if neither party wants to admit it
  4. Participating in church activities does not reveal or confirm our identity in Christ
  5. I don't have to be at the church every time the doors are open
  6. I am susceptible to being to deceived
  7. I am a witness for Christ
  8. God does not want me overworked, stressed out and frazzled
  9. God gave me my marriage
  10. My husband & daughter truly love me unconditionally
I was finding my identity in these activities instead of my relationship with Christ. I am not telling everyone to quit their involvement in their local church. What I am asking of you is to search your heart and see why you are doing the activities?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

GONE, GONE, GONE....


Wow! I can't believe what just happened. My blog post totally disappeared. I started by hitting the back button and it wasn't there. I had saved it while working and wasn't concerned. Nonetheless, it is GONE!!! 

Therefore, I am starting from scratch. One good thing out of all this:
I will have definitely meet my writing goal for today. 

My whole other post was how I wanted to declare that I am a writer. It is part of a lesson in a  book called, "15 Habits of Great Writers" by Jeff Goins. There was stuff in there about Jesus being my passion and how I am going to write everything for Him. Yet, it is all GONE, GONE, GONE. 
Did I mention it is gone? 

So, instead of the other post which apparently wasn't meant to be....I am going to tell you the story of the blue heron in the picture above. It reinforced the lesson for me that things happen in God's timing, not ours. 

A while back, I took some graduation pictures for my friend's daughter. We met at the duck pond in our Central Park (no, not the one in New York). Upon my arrival, I saw this blue heron fly across the pond. I didn't get a shot of him. Ever since that day, whenever I would go to this particular spot to take pictures my eyes were searching for the blue heron. This all happened before my surgery on May 2nd. 

In the meantime, during my recovery my Aunt got some awesome shots of blue herons in the area where she lives. This fueled my desire to find the blue heron here. Plus, my Dad told me there were more herons in another part of our town. Alas, I was still recovering and had to wait before I could go out and take pictures. 

Then on Tuesday morning, my nephew sent me a picture text of a blue heron. I asked him where he saw it and he told me at the Central Park Pond.  

"When did you get the picture", I inquired. 
"Yesterday around 1:30pm", he text back. 

I was excited Mr. Heron was still around. As part of my continuing recovery, I am allowed to go up and down our three flights of steps from our apartment building twice per day. Well, I asked my daughter if she would like to go run an errand, which just happened to be in Central Park. Of course, I took my camera and we went to the pond. We were walking down the pier when my daughter said, "Mom, look there he is."  Mr. Heron was standing in the middle of a boatload of Canadian Geese and Ducks that were being fed by an older gentleman. It was so amazing. I kept snapping the camera. We were trying to figure out why he was standing in the middle of the other birds. It became clear when he walked a few feet forward and then snatched up one of the catfish in the pond. 

God provided not only for me to see and photo the blue heron. He let me see him have his lunch/dinner and to photograph part of it. God's timing is not ours, but His timing is perfect. 
Therefore, I realize when it is God's timing last night's disappearing post will be recreated. 

The following are the pictures I took of Mr. Heron yesterday (including the one at the top): 





Remember God's timing is not ours, but His timing is always perfect!

What are you waiting on God's timing for?

Day Two: 15 Habits of Great Writer...

Do you see the face?

“And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, 
Your young men shall see visions.” 
Joel 2:28

I am a dreamer. Literally. At night, I dream about photography and writing. The problem with dreaming about these at night is one wakes up exhausted. This past week, my subconscious (dream world) has been extremely busy. Consequently, I have been rather tired the last couple days. This is not a good thing while one is still in recovery for it causes one to snap easily at loved ones. Needless to say, there has been a lot of apologizing in our home. My family greatly loves me and has been so forgiving. I am truly blessed.


As mentioned in my last post, I am participating in the  “15 Habits of Great Writers” Challenge with Jeff Goins. Today’s assignment, Day Two, was to get up two hours earlier than normal and write. Two hours earlier, for most, according to Jeff is 5am. However, we work night shift in this household and that is not the case. Two hours earlier here is between 8-9am. It is currently 9:30am and I am completing our assignment with no coffee. This is a dangerous avenue for coffee is my morning vitamin.  In case it slipped by you, I didn’t make it between 8-9am. But in my defense,  I have been awake on and off since 7am. In hindsight, probably should have gotten up at 7am completed the assignment and then gone back to bed…maybe and that is a slim maybe I would have fallen back to sleep.

The idea of the assignment is that one would be willing to sacrifice for their desire to write. This is a true statement but we all don’t fit into the 9-5 world and for me getting up and writing before my time with the Lord (and some coffee) is counterproductive. Rachel Olsen talked about a writer in her last post that wrote from 1am-5am everyday. My desire is to meet my writing goal each day but God made each of us differently; therefore our writing routines may not look the same.  .  

I encourage you to check out the “15 Habits of a Great Writer” Challenge (it is not to late to join) but remember God created you to write in His way and His timing. Search Him today to see what He wants. Just remember to keep writing. 

P.S. My Sweetie is not editing these 15 Habit posts. 
Therefore, any grammatical errors or weird stuff is fully mine. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Challenge to my writer friends....

I signed up to do this challenge and am inviting my writer friends to join me...

There was an error in this gadget