A Heart Change

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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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Even in MY Discomfort

indexSpiritual discomfort is something we all experience in life.  Discomfort can come with difficulties, trials, tribulation, or some type of hardship. To let the truth be told, for me, it is when I cannot see nor understand what God is doing.  I want to KNOW!   Yet, because of God’s infinite wisdom he knows what is best for me. Although, I want to know, I might not be equipped.

Do you recall in II Kings 6:15-17 when Elisha’s servant woke up surrounded by the Arameans King’s army.  That sounds like an uncomfortable situation.  He was at a loss because he had no idea how God was going to work and/or deliver them out of their situation.  He said, “Oh, my Lord! What are we going to do?” Elisha tells him to fear not because there were more of those who are with them than those who were against them.  Elisha then prayed and asked God to open his spiritual eyes.  I am sure it was more comforting knowing that there were chariots of fire that surrounded them versus trusting in his on natural abilities. God eqiups at the appropiate time.

The example that dropped into my spirit around “discomfort’ happened  when I was a little girl (six years old). I recall my teacher choosing me to be “Peter Peter Pumpkin Eaters” wife.  It stressed me out to no end.  Because as a child I was walking into unfamiliar territory.  I didn’t want to be anyone’s wife let alone have my classmates tease me. You might think how does she remember that. It left a mark.   It caused me discomfort because playing that role stretched me.  Yes, I suffered some growing pain. Did I shed some tears? Of course, I did.  I also learned the importance of being flexible and versatile.

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When my daughter and I run we extend the distance each time we hit the track.  Every time the distance is extended, uncertainties surface. Will I be able to go and extra 2 or 3  minutes?  My breathing may become slightly labored but our prior training equips us for the race.  God’s grace is sufficient for me and in my weaknesses he makes me strong (II Corinthians 12:9-11).

When God is stretching us and growing us as Christians he takes us beyond what we have already experienced.  Taking us from what we know to what is possible. If the natural realm mirrors what is happening in the spirit realm then stretching has to happen until what is manifested in the spirit is reflected in the natural. A quote from Oswald Chambers, an early 20th century Baptist and Holiness Movement evangelist, who said:

“Patience is more than endurance. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says, ‘I cannot stand anymore.’ God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly.

As I set in the Sunday morning service, not knowing what my next blog post would be these words settled in my spirit.  “Even in my discomfort, I will run to you” .  Discomfort is something that can’t be ignored but it can be overcome.  We (Believers) are overcomers by the blood of the Lamb and by the words of our testimony (Rev. 12:11).  It is in my discomfort when I learned where and who I am in Christ.  It is when my spiritual muscles grow. It is when my spiritual eyes are challenged and my faith in a trusting Father is stretched.  I don’t have to know every aspect of my life.  All I need to do is trust and run to him.

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Testimony Tuesday

The Simple Things

Each day when we wake up is a testment to God’s grace.  Yet, there are times in our lives when we want to see a special move by God.  It is those times that we testify most often concerning his goodness.  My post today is going to be around the simple things in life.  Every Tuesday at our family bible study, I ask everyone “Do you have a testimony”?  There are days when everyone is excited and talking over each other because God has demonstrated his power by answering a prayer or changing a situation in their lives.  Then there are days like last night when I just see eyes staring back at me.  Why? Probably because there was no earth shattering event that had occured that week.  Those are the times I challenge each of us to really look back and see what God has done.  Slowly, one by one everyone will begin to share.  I might hear “he woke me up this morning”.  Yes, he did.  Then I might hear “an unexpected bill came up but I am thankful that I had the money because there was a time when I would not have had the money to take care of it.”  Well, I can’t shine the light on my family if I don’t shine the light on myself.  I was having a moment when it came to writing this post because I kept going over my week but it was just a normal week.  Yet, in my normalcy I don’t want to forget how “AWESOME” God is.   So my testimony this week is:

You woke me up this morning
And You started me on my way
You put food on my table
You brought joy to my day
I’m glad Your love has never changed
And wonderful
And wonderful
And wonderful, wonderful is Your name

Hezekiah Walker

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Seeds of Trust

Mom Knot Daughter

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When I read Keturah’s post “The Ingredients that Made Us, Us”. I had to chuckle.

Mini Heart Attacks” is an understatement.

Picture me driving and listening to Keturah tell me about what was happening in school and about some of the things her friends were doing. It was challenging for me to sit and listen without thinking, OMG.  But I wanted to demonstrate that I trusted her and I was there for her. One of the foundational principles of Keturah and I having a great relationship is “I purposed in my heart that I would always listen to her.”

I believe middle-school was the most challenging for both of us.  It is a time when young people’s peer’s approval take percedent over obtaining approval from their parents.  Times have not changed that much since I’ve gone to school. In today’s society, people want others to conform to their views and…

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Love is Not Selfish

Death is one of the mysteries of life that we probably will never understand.  You can’t wish it away nor will death be ignored.  For most, it will be a defining moment in our lives……..and often comes unexpectedly.  I read a wonderful blog on BlogLovin “A Fathers Blessing” by Antoinette Frankli which inspired me  to re-blog my post about my mother’s home going.

As I stood hand in hand with my family at the close of 2012, I would have never imagined what the new year would hold.  Nothing anyone could have said would have prepared me for my five-week journey (not even the prophetic word that was spoken that “change” was coming). Today, it still feels like a dream. How will I make it in this life without my confidant, my best friend, and mother? Who is going to cheer me on when others cannot visualize my dream? The tears began to flow even before the truth was realized.  My spirit grasped what I could not perceive in the natural.

Change was quickly approaching.

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The question now is, “How did I survive it all?” As I trip through my past memories, I know it was surely by the Grace & Mercy of a loving Father. I learned many lessons throughout this journey but the one that clearly stands out is, “love is not selfish”. How do you let go of something or someone that you clearly want to hold on to?

It is a selfless act.

I Corinthians 13:4-8 took on a new meaning:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

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I have been a Mommy’s girl all my life and I could not envision or corral the thought of being separated from her even if it was only for a little while. Yet, my heart could not endure her not being the person God created her to be, healthy and whole.  In fact, one day as I watched her wrestle with her discomfort, my heart hurt to see her misery. Her response to me was, “this is my journey and I am not worried because I am in Jesus and Jesus is in me”.  There has only been a few times where I’ve witnessed such faith and courage. The wings of my heart opened up. Although, there are days where sadness engulfs me. I stand in awe when I think of God’s grace. Why? Because my Mom acted selflessly as she prepared me for her journey home. She laid aside her own concerns and planted the seed of HOPE that we would be able to continue on because of the legacy that she left us.  Many have said she was still young, and for this day and time she could have been. However, I have learned it is not about the number of days; it is about your quality of life. Who did you touch and are they a better person because of you?  I do know one thing for sure; I am a better person because of her. I surely will miss her.

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Nonetheless, her voice will forever linger in my ear. “I will always be with you; no matter what you do or where you go.”

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Testimony Tuesday

A single large pancake smothered with sautéed apples and cinnamon sugar baked to perfection. It is more like dessert.

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Some of my greatest memories are centered around meal time and this testimony is no different. Normally, Saturday’s are busy for us (my family) since my daughter is getting married this year.  Yet, in all of our busyness we always find time to slow down and have meals together.  This past Saturday we went to one of our favorite places “The Original Pancake House”.  To be honest I wasn’t feeling it because the wait is long and it had already been a long morning.  But my daughter used the “No Wait” app which put us in line while we were in route.  When we walked in we immediately were seated ( I love that app). Not all technology is bad.  I ordered a much needed cup of coffee and began to catch up on our morning activities.  Before long the food was being served and before everyone began to prep their food we prayed.  Thanking God for the opportunity to be able to serve others and asked him to help us always do his will.  As we were talking and prepping our food, the waiter came to our table with this beautiful delicious smelling  “apple cinnamon” pancake. He said, “Enjoy, compliments of the Chef”.  Ok, were we the one-hundredth customer or something?  Each of us were trying to figure out what we did to deserve such favor.  Wow, God’s favor.  Isn’t that what grace is all about.  It allows you things that you were not deserving of.  Thank you, Father for reminding us what unmerited favor and grace looks like.

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When Your Story is Rewritten

Featured image Life is not static.  We all have our own manuscript on how we believe life will play out.  However, when life changes happen, whether it is inevitable or not (sometime it is because of our choices and other times things just happen), our story must be rewritten.  John Sanford, in his book “Healing and Wholeness,” intrinsically states: “Our life must have a story in order for us to be whole.  How I translate that statement is, our life must have meaning.  We must have a vision of what we believe life will look like.

It is easy when it is a manuscript someone is writing. If you don’t like the story being told you just stop writing it or you rebuild the characters and script. You could build a story without drama or heartbreak, although, it sounds good even in a book or play, it is unrealistic.

Why, is my heart stirred around this subject?

There are two reasons.  One, I serve at a shelter where I have witnessed women whose stories have been rewritten due to some circumstance or situation.  And I asked myself how does a person pick themselves up and forge ahead.  How do  you forge ahead after a marriage has ended, loss of a job, loss of a home, or loss of a love one?  What does that look like and how can it be translated into a testimony that encourages others?  There is one person who stands out in my mind in the scripture which is Joseph.  Can you imagine what he thought life would look like prior to his brothers selling him into slavery?  Even though, God gave him a glimpse into his future. Joseph still didn’t know how he would get there.  Check out Genesis 37, 39-45.  Second, I know bad things happen to good people even when they are living for God.  Not because of something they have done but because of the world that we live in.  A few days ago I was taken aback because I received the news that a young women who recently was married and had a new baby lost her husband in an accident.  I couldn’t even image the heartbreak nor the thoughts that were coursing through her mind.  Whenever her name was dropped in my spirit I prayed.  Jehovah Shalom cover her with your peace; her story has been rewritten.

What do you do when you find yourself in an expected place? For me, I hold on fast to the horns of the altar.  It is easier said then done. Because while I am holding on I still must deal with my whys and why not.  You’ve been there.  When it feels as if life has dropped a heavy weight upon your heart.  Have you every seen a drowning person (hopefully, only in a movie)?  How they are grasping for a floatation device? From their perspective, it is the only hope they have that will ensure they get that next breath of air.  That is what the Word of God does for me.

There are a lot things about this life I do not understand.  Still, I am trusting God that out of my hardships and I pray even in yours that eventually good will come.  Several years ago, I had a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She and her husband made the decision not to have the surgery recommended by her doctor. Believe me, friends and family tried to persuade her to do otherwise. Still, she was adamant about standing behind their decision. I watched her go through radiation treatment, hair loss, and wearing a compress sleeve around her arm because of the tumor’s growth.  Yet, that is not what stands out in my mind about her.  I can still see her in my minds eye praising God (hands raised) every Sunday.  I never heard her say she regretted her choice; not even during the time when it was close to the Lord calling her home.  Her story was rewritten.  I don’t know if she had made a different choice there would have been different results.  But what I do know is that she lived five active years and I watched her faith carry her through.   She did not waver.  Yes, we may make decisions that may not seem beneficial to us and it may rewrite our story.  But I know a God who is stead fast and immovable and knowing that gives me hope.  It gives me hope to take the next step, then another, and before you know it I have begin to create a new story.

Sure my story has been rewritten a few times: divorced, financially challenged, caregiver, sickness, loss of love ones, and loss of a home (foreclosure) just to name a few trails.  There is an adage that became known in the early twentieth century by James Joyce who alluded to it in Ulysses, 1922: pull up your boot straps.

“There were others who had forced their way to the top from the lowest rung by the aid of their bootstraps”

We as believers pull up our bootstraps, rewrite our story and forge forward through the power of God.