Joy and Suffering

We are almost at mid-year and I am excited about the things God is doing in my life.  It has been almost 3 years since I decided to leave my church family of 3o years.  The journey has not been easy and it is demonstrated by the emotion I felt as stood I before God’s people on Sunday, May 15.  We don’t always know the path we will have to take to complete the call that God  has placed on our lives.  However, it is important for us (children of the most high God) to maintain our joy and exemplify Christ in all that we do.   I pray this message blesses you!

Allowing God to Work

I am sure many of you have heard the phrase “Let Go and Let God”.  This morning God laid it on my heart to go and read through one of my journals.  I do this from time to time because it allows me to see God’s handy work in my life.  Within these journals are quotes, poems, and inspiring exhorations from men and women of God.  On August 25, 2004, this poem spoke to me.

Let Go and Let God

As children bring their broke toys with  tears for us to mend. I brought my broken dreams to God because he is my friend.  But then, instead of leaving him in peace to work alone.  I hung around and tried to help with ways that were my own.  At last, I snatched them back  and cried “How can you be so slow?”  My child he said, “What could I do?” you never did let go.

Author unknown

Life is fluid. What I mean by that is that it is subject to change.  Change can be expected or unexpected.  Often, it is unexpected change that brings the most challenges.  For me, it is during those times that I focus on God’s promises and his faithfulness.  As I flip through my journal, I can see he has never failed me.  And I know he will never fail you.

 

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Phew! My Daughter is Married

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Mom Knot Daughter

I am an empty nester for the second time.

The first time was when Keturah moved into her own place after college.

To be honest with you I am not sure how I thought I would feel after the big day, but I can say that the year passed quickly. And let’s not talk about the last two months. There were times when I didn’t know if I was coming or going. I can only imagine the emotions that were stirred in Keturah’s heart.

Can we talk about the people who approached me and asked “What will you do now”? First of all, she got married, she did not move to “Zimbabwe”. These are not my words but this was the analogy from the bride to be. I searched my heart many times this past year and there was no room for sadness because this is what I prayed for.

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Birthday Surprise

Birthday Surprise Audio (select, stop, listen)

DJ, Marilyn, Denise
DJ, Marilyn, Denise

It has been awhile since I’ve written a blog post.  This past month has been filled with love and laughter.  It started with me having an unction to surprise my oldest sister on her “Birthday”.   When we were children we shared everything.  It was not like today.  When parents take their child and friends to “Chuck E Cheese’s” or have a “Bounce” house in their backyard and all their friends would come over.  I was raised during a different era.  Yes, I said era.  Our birthday celebration consisted of my Mom cooking us our favorite dinner and making a huge sheet cake.  Why? Because both of our names had to fit on it.

Happy Birthday

Jocelyn and Marilyn

My sister and I are exactly 2 years and 3 days apart so we shared every one of my birthdays since we were children.  I can only remember twice when we actually went somewhere for our birthday (Sea World and The Indian Reservation). I guess that translated into our adult life because for a number years we traveled to Las Vegas annually.  I still recall that feeling when we both first walked into a casino.  No, it is not what you think.  We went to shows and did all the tourtesy sites.  Okay, maybe we played some Keno.  Oh, and I ate a lot.   Then life became busy, although, we have tried to make each birthday special we had not set aside any special time to celebrate in a long time.

The sad part is as it got closer to that time I began to flip-flop back and forth. Was I really going to drive 4 1/2 hours to share the evening with my sister?  I reasoned that it was a long drive for only a few hours visitation. Then I began to think that I would regret not following my heart if something unexpected happened. So I packed up my car and off I went.  The drive was quiet and I had my favorite person rolling with me, Jesus. I drove thinking how forunate I was that I have two sisters, and although none of us are perfect, we love each other dearly.

I reflected on what my grandparents taught us – that there is nothing like family.  We should always stand by each other inspite of our differences.  My heart was and still is filled with gratitude.  There are some things that are irreplaceable.  Can I say that the expression on my sister’s face was priceless?  I quitely sat in her room (in the dark) with ballons tied to my chair.  I forgot to tell you that my youngest sister was in on the plan.  We had talked to my sister a hundred times that day trying to convenience her to come straight home but as my baby sister would say, “she was being slow on purpose”.  All I could hear her saying was “I thought people are suppose to do what they want to do on their birthday”.  We heard her car pull into the driveway.  I could hear her talking and then she slowly began to open her door.   You know how you are waiting for someone to do something in anticipation but they are taking their time (zzzzzzzzzz). Then she realized there was person in her room.

She saw me but she didn’t see me.

She hesitated and step back then something clicked in her brain.  She said, “What are you doing here?” “How did you get here?”  I must admit I am a good surpriser.  I hid my car across the street at one of her friend’s house.  All she could do was laugh, in fact, she was so discombobulated. She was walking in circles. It was so much fun seeing the joy that we brought her.  She was ready to celebrate!!  We had so much fun I extended my trip for two more days.

This is the kicker, I headed home the day before my birthday.  The next day (my birthday) I sat at the resturant with my family, trying to understand why we were at a table of 8 instead of 6, and guess who strolled in smiling?  My sisters. My oldest saying, “I got cha” and my youngest carrying a bouquet of balloons.

Life would not be the same without them.

I Can’t But God Can

nintendo64

What does it mean to have Faith?  John Piper stated that “Faith is the currency of the kingdom”.  In my last post, we learned how faith comes.

Roman 10:17 says, ” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

The first time I ever heard the word “faith” was in a little church in the back woods of Louisiana.  I sat on the front pew with my grandmother singing at the top my voice as the choir rocked the church to ” We’ve Come This Far By Faith”.  I had not gone very far because I was only five years old.  It would be years before I recognized what faith looked like and there would be times when I would have to be reminded about exercising my faith.

In the New Strong’s Expanded Dictionary of Bible Words state that, “Pistis (faith in the Greek) is used of belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence) whether in God or in Christ, springing from faith in the same. ‘Faith’ means trust, confidence, assurance, and belief” (p. 1315).  When I translate that in my heart it means I am entrusting something or someone over to God to allow Him to change, fix, solve, or transform a situation.

The Bible also defines Pistis in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

It seems I have been meditating on faith a lot and it is probably due to the “Faith Life” sessions that I’ve been studying at church this summer.  I know that faith comes before a prayer is answered by God.  If we have received what we asked for then it is evident that faith is not needed.  One of the  most memorable faith lessons  I learned occurred in December 1996.  It was not a life or death situation.  It was a mother trying to fulfill her daughter’s Christmas wish. I want to paint a picture so let me give you some details.

In September 1996, the Nintendo 64 was released and it was in high demand.  In fact, Time Magazine called the purchasing interest “that rare and glorious middle-class Cabbage Patch-doll frenzy.”   According to Nintendo 64 sales data, the console sold 350,000 of 500,000 available units in the first three days of sale.  If you have every seen the  movie “Jingle All The Way” with Howard (Arnold Schwarzenegger) running around frantically trying to find Turbo-Man for his son Jamie, well, you get the picture.

Here I was running around frantically looking for a Nintendo 64.  I would search the newspaper looking for stores that had shipments coming in, I would leave work during my lunch break and go to various stores and/or on the way home to find this evasive console.  It got to a point where I began to prepare my daughter (Mom Knot Daughter) for the possibility of not getting this particular gift until after Christmas.  Then one Sunday morning, after Sunday morning worship, I leaned over and told my sister that I was going to the altar for prayer to ask God to help me get a Nintendo 64.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: I am going to the altar for prayer and ask God to help me find Keturah a Nintendo 64.

DJ: You are going to pray for a Nintendo 64 (disbelief)

Me: Yes, God knows my heart.  Keturah doesn’t ask for much and just like the Father gives good gifts to us.  I want to give this gift to her.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! -Matthew 7:11

As small as it might have seemed, I headed to the altar with my petition. If I was going to have any chance at getting this console I had to rely on God.  My Pastor prayed with me and it was settled in my heart.  From that day forward,  I didn’t run around frantically searching for the console.  Christmas was quickly approaching, in fact, it was one day before my company shut down for the Christmas Holiday (my company shut down for two weeks at the end of the year).  There were Christmas spreads (food), gift exchanges, and hugs and happy wishes.  It was almost time from me to go home when someone told me that Bobby (co-worker) was looking for me.  I went in search of Bobby and this is how the conversation went:

Bobby:  Marilyn, Are you still looking for a Nintendo 64?  It was no secret everyone new I was looking for one.  

Me: Yes

Bobby:  OK, this is what happen.  My nephew’s parents bought him a Nintendo 64 and my mother bought him a Nintendo 64 (Chills were running up and down my arms).  If you want it, I can bring it to you tomorrow, she has the receipt and bought a warranty.  Do you want it?

Not only did God answer my prayer but he brought the Nintendo 64 to me; that is the kind of God I serve.

Me: Of course, I want it.  I knew it was GOD!  I was to excited beyond words.  God demonstrated his love for me and my desire to do a good thing for my child.

I can’t say after God answered this prayer that my faith was always on point.  But he showed me and my sister that there is nothing that God can’t do and there is nothing that we can’t ask him for.

Have Faith in God – Mark 11:22

A Heart Change

Let know your thoughts……

Looking Beyond Yesterday

heart

What does it mean to have a heart change?

There is one thing I am sure of, unless, there is a heart change (which only God can do) change will not be manifested in our life.

In Ezekiel 36:26 it says, “moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

The summer I accepted Christ, my grandmother told me that something about me changed. That summer would be like none other. The sheer gratitude that I felt for what Christ did for me filled my heart.  In the past several weeks, I have had friends and family members vent to me about fellow believers behavior.

Here’s the rub – how can a person be a Christian/Believer and treat someone badly or be indifferent to others.

The…

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A Heart Change

heart

What does it mean to have a heart change?

There is one thing I am sure of, unless, there is a heart change (which only God can do) change will not be manifested in our life.

In Ezekiel 36:26 it says, “moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

The summer I accepted Christ, my grandmother told me that something about me changed. That summer would be like none other. The sheer gratitude that I felt for what Christ did for me filled my heart.  In the past several weeks, I have had friends and family members vent to me about fellow believers behavior.

Here’s the rub – how can a person be a Christian/Believer and treat someone badly or be indifferent to others.

The answer.

There’s still some work that needs to be done on their part. The scripture tells us in Philippians 2:12 that we have to work out our salvation with awe and reverence. The Greek verb rendered “work out” means to continually work to bring something to completion or fruition. The “trembling” is the attitude that we should have in pursuing this goal.  When we work to apply the practical applications that God has given us in the scripture then we are working to bring his work to completion in our lives. There are number in things in this life that we place our focus on that has no impact on our eternal destination.

I am not sure why but every time I reread Philippians 2:12 I hear the words “walk it out”. We know that we walk by faith (II Corin. 5:7)and faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). As I’ve grown in Christ (by studying and applying his word) my desire to be more like him becomes more prevalent. It seems that when our loved ones accept Christ we believe all their quirky ways, actions, and thoughts are going to fall away. To let the truth be told when our old man is buried, in Christ we go back and dig him up when things aren’t going according to our liking. There are certain behaviors that we will have to work out, otherwise, we will be saved by grace but living a defeated life.

There are no magic formulas.

“Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.”
― Jonathan Edwards

Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that God can’t do it. I know he is more than able. If he delivered us from every situation, how would we grow. Just meditate on that for a minute.

You know how it is when you gain weight?  It is a gradual process. One day you notice you have gained one pound and the next thing you know you are 15 pounds up. Well, it going to take some effort on your part by beginning with eating right and then exercise. You are going to do whatever it takes to met your goal and bring it to a satifactory conclusion.  Even when I think about blogging, we write, we join blogging groups, social media post, for the ultimate goal of accumalating followers so people can read what’s on our hearts.  We work to build that network of followers. Well, your spiritual life is the same way. One minute you are on cloud nine because of what God as done for you and the next thing you know you are in a different place wondering how you got there.  You have to work out your salvation by appyling the scripture to whatever situation you are facing in your life.  Then we won’t become frustrated and we will walk in love and be kind to one another.

I think what we need to remember is we are imperfect people dealing with imperfect people. Remember, if we could have done it on our own Christ would not have to had die for us. I am so thankful that God loved me so much that he was willing to let his only begotten son die for me. The same compassion Jesus showed us, let’s show that same compassion to others.

‘I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.

Jeremiah 24:7

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