When Things Change…

Psalm 105:4

Look to the Lord and his strength, seek his face always.

One moment you’re a beloved wife or husband and then things change…

One moment you’re a loving parent and then things change…

One moment you’re a valuable employee and then things change…

Things change. There’s an old saying that says only two things are guaranteed in life…death and taxes. I’ll add a third to that list…change. Change is inevitable. Sometimes the changes are good, sometimes not so good, and sometimes tragic.

Life can be difficult. In fact, it can be heart-breaking. Sometimes the unthinkable happens.

When things change… we have a choice.

To let the change defeat us…to become bitter…angry…the list could go on and on. Or we can choose to trust God. We can continue to seek his face.

I heard a song this week for the first time. One line in the song says God is a good, good father. We either believe this or we don’t! If we don’t believe it, that’s when we let our circumstances overcome us. If we do believe it, we overcome our circumstances.

When things change…we have a choice.

I’m not saying it’s easy, because it’s not! I know this because life changed for me in 2012 when I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors. It’s not been an easy journey, and, in fact, I struggle on a daily basis with their aftereffects. But still I can sing God is a good, good father…and mean it!

When things change…we have a choice.

Right now, one of my favorite country music acts is facing their own changes. Joey + Rory is a country music duo that has made God a part of their music and their daily life. Joey was diagnosed with cancer for the second time last year. They’ve chosen to share their journey in a very public way with their fans through Rory’s blog, This Life I Live at http://thislifeilive.com/

He’s done it with honesty, sharing their pain as well as their triumphs. But through it all, they’ve made the choice to honor God, no matter what the outcome.  They are an amazing example of trusting God—in the good times and the bad. I believe their choice to share their journey is making a positive impact on many other people’s spiritual journeys.

My point in tell you a bit about Joey + Rory’s story is that even in difficult circumstances, they are making a choice to glorify God. And isn’t that what life is really all about?

When things change…we have a choice.

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

FIND YOUR SECRET PLACE

My guest writer is Barbara Harvey Carter, an Author, Registered Nurse, Speaker, Workshop Facilitator and AODA Counselor. She enjoys Christian counseling, speaking and participating at Christian and community events. She has a passion for women’s issues and a burden for victims of domestic abuse because “it hurts and destroys individuals and families!”

You can follow Barbara on:

FB: https://www.facebook.com/barbara.harveycarter?ref=ts&fref=ts

and on her blog at www.speakerteacherstoryteller.com.

FIND YOUR SECRET PLACE

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” ——-Matthew 6:5-5 (NIV)

I set up an altar in my spare bedroom attempting to set aside a special place for me to meet with the Lord without distractions. I used it quite often when I first set it up and enjoyed lying prostrate before the Lord in front of my altar. I’m not sure if age played a part or I began to take the altar for granted and didn’t pursue God as passionately as earlier; but I didn’t get the same feeling of being in the presence of the Lord after a while. I know, it’s not always about feelings; but I do like to feel like I’ve met with Jesus and been in communion with God when I spend time in prayer.

I was surprised to discover that I felt the presence of God just as strongly when I sought Him with all of my heart in my bedroom as I did in front of the altar. To be honest, as I aged, I was uncomfortable on my knees for an extended period of time; or I was too cold on the carpeted floor during the winter; and too cold or hot (depending on if the air conditioner was on or not) during the summer.

I learned that the ‘spot’ you seek God is not as important as the condition of your heart. When Jesus said “Go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father,” He was talking about the ‘door’ of our hearts – shut out all distractions, worldly thoughts – and focus totally on God during your/our time of prayer.

I can now enter into ‘my room’ when I’m driving, cooking, washing dishes, doing laundry, exercising, as well as when I curve in front of my altar or bow on my knees at the side of my bed.

 

3 Steps to a Wonderful Year!

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone, but the calendar says it’s so. How was 2015 for you? I pray that it was all that you hoped for and even more. If not, I’ve got a few suggestions to make 2016 better. If it was, you might still benefit from my suggestions.

So how to make 2016 a WOW year?

STEP 1: W is for the Word of God. Have you ever thought that life is so confusing that it should come with an owner’s manual? Well, life is confusing and it does come with a manual. It’s called The Bible. 2 Timothy 3: 16-17 says,  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. And this is only one example, there are many more that talk about the benefit of reading, learning, and studying God’s Word.

STEP 2: O is for Obedience.  Just studying the word of God is not enough, but it’s a good start. To benefit from God’s Word we must become a doer of the Word. In other words, we must obey God. Luke 11:28 says,  He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”  And there are more verses that says the same. So if you want more blessings, become more obedient.  I know–that’s a hard one for all of us, but it will be worth the effort.

STEP 3: W is for Worship. I admit I don’t know what the definition of worship is, but I don’t really need to know. For me worship is about praise and thanksgiving. Praising God for who HE is. Thanking HIM for all that He’s done, is doing, and will do in our life. As you begin to make a list of all that you have to be thankful for, you’ll be amazed.  Psalm 50:23 “Whoever offers the sacrifice of thanksgiving glorifies me…”

I can’t guarantee that following these 3 steps will change your life circumstances, but I can guarantee that they will change your heart and soul to the point where your circumstances won’t be nearly as important as your relationship with God. And that alone will make 2016 a WOW year.

Now it’s your turn, I’d love to hear your suggestions for making 2016 a WOW year?

God Bless.

 

The Message of Mary and Joseph

Here’s another past Christmas message that’s good no matter what time of the year it is. Many people love Christmas and think of it as the best season of the year. But for some, it can be a difficult time depending on your own life circumstances. If that’s the case this message is for you.

THE MESSAGE OF MARY AND JOSEPH

Luke 1: 29-33

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

With Christmas just around the corner, Mary and Joseph have been on my mind. I think there are some valuable lessons to be learned from them.

The first two that come to mind are faith and obedience. Both Mary and Joseph proved their faith in God when they were obedient.  They chose to follow God’s will for them in spite of the difficult circumstances. Being pregnant before marriage was not just frowned upon then, it was a sin punishable by death.

That’s a lot faith and obedience.

But the real lesson I want to focus on is that in spite of their faith and obedience, God did not make their chosen path easy for them. As so many of us face adversity, whether physical, emotion, or our circumstances, we may question whether God is punishing us. Whether we are doing what God wants us to do. Whether we are living a life of obedience and faith. Whether God still loves us.

The message of Mary and Joseph clearly shows that we can be obedient to God and doing exactly what he wants us to do, but life can still be difficult for us. Surely, if anyone had a right to believe God would make their path easier it would be Mary and Joseph, but clearly the circumstances Jesus was born under show that didn’t happen.

They had to face all sorts of trials and tribulations even as they brought God’s son into this world. They had to face the shame and humiliation of Mary’s pregnancy with their family and friends. They had to make a journey that was difficult under normal circumstance, but it was made even more difficult by Mary’s pregnancy. Then they had no place to stay, Jesus was born in a structure of some sort with the animals.  Talk about a tough situation. Then as they were getting settled in a new life, they had to flee for their lives.

No, God did not make their path easy in spite of their faith and obedience.

Most of us will face adversity in one form or another in the coming year, remember the message of Mary and Joseph and know that you are still loved by your heavenly father.

Christmas is Coming!

Here’s another one of my older Christmas posts that still carries a message that all of us need to be reminded of from time to time.

CHRISTMAS IS COMING!

Exodus 20: 1-3

And God spoke all these words  “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Christmas is right around the corner and we know what that means. Shopping! Shopping and more shopping! It’s all fun until the bills start rolling in. And then the worry starts along with arguments between you and your spouse (or between you and the credit card companies). Suddenly all that peace and joy of the Christmas season has vanished!

Most Americans (and that includes me) have bought into what the advertisers tell us–WE NEED MORE THINGS! If we just had more things, we’d be happier. If we had more things, we could finally get skinnier, prettier, and richer, then we’d be happy!

Right? WRONG!

If we believe what the advertisers want us to believe then we have no freedom or peace or joy. Because we’re too busy buying all the THINGS we supposedly need. And then after we have the THING, then we have to worry about paying for them. Before we know it, we realize we bought the wrong  THING, and then we need the new THING.

And so the cycle continues.

The above verse tells us all we need to know to find freedom. Let’s look at it again. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.  Do you see it now?

If you want out of the land of slavery, then have no other gods but the one, true God. What are your other gods? Nice clothes? Cars? Gadgets and more gadgets? A lifestyle you can’t afford?

Instead, keep your focus on God, follow His principles for a godly life, and then you will find the peace and joy that Christmas promises us.

One of the things my husband and I love to do during the Christmas season is to visit neighboring churches for their Christmas plays, programs, and concerts. It’s fun and festive!  It’s a great way to focus on the real reason for the season. And it doesn’t cost a penny.

Have a great Christmas season!

A Baby Changes Everything!

I’ve decided to go back through some of my old posts that pertain to the Christmas season and re-share them with you.  This is one of my favorites. I hope you like it.

 

A BABY CHANGES EVERYTHING

 

Luke 2: 10-12

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

A baby changes everything, there is no arguing that point. Ask any parent, new or experienced, young or old, tired or rested. A baby changes everything for their family.  And that’s even more true for the baby we celebrate during this Christmas season.  Let’s take a look at the reason for the season.

JESUS–his birth, his life, and his death changed the world!

Atheists–agnostics–and some who just aren’t sure often give Jesus his “due.”  Oh, he was a great teacher, they say, but He wasn’t GOD.

Let’s take a practical look at that for a moment, shall we?

What’s the year? Oh–it’s 2013 A.D   A.D. does not mean “after death,” as a lot of people believe, but it stands  for a Latin phrase: anno domini, meaning “in the year of the Lord”—the year Jesus was born.  B.C stands for Before Christ, though now people have changed it in an attempt to downplay the religious aspect.

Wow!  Time is measured by Jesus’s birth and death. I’m impressed!

JESUS–his birth, his life, and his death changed the world!

Let’s take a look at Jesus’s life for a moment and those who knew him best–his disciples.

Without going into the gory details, ten of the original twelve apostles chose death rather than renounce Jesus’s divinity. Why? Because they experienced life with the Messiah. Some were with him the day he was baptised and they heard God’s voice come down from the heavens saying,  “this is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.”  They experienced the darkness the day he died.

They knew beyond a shadow of doubt that he was the Son of God and they were willing to die rather than renounce His divinity.  Because of that certainty, they spread the good news of the gospel throughout the world.

JESUS–his birth, his life, and his death changed the world!

But even better, Jesus changed my world. Christianity isn’t about rules and religion. It’s about a relationship with God through His only begotten son, Jesus. And that has made all the difference in my world!

Indeed, a  baby changes everything!

MOVE SELF OUT OF THE WAY

My guest writer today is Barbara Harvey Carter, an Author, Registered Nurse, Speaker, Workshop Facilitator and AODA Counselor. She enjoys Christian counseling, speaking and participating at Christian and community events. She has a passion for women’s issues and a burden for victims of domestic abuse because “it hurts and destroys individuals and families!”

You can follow Barbara on:

FB: https://www.facebook.com/barbara.harveycarter?ref=ts&fref=ts and on her blog at www.speakerteacherstoryteller.com.

Ephesians 6: 19 (NLT)

And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike

I wonder if any of you are like me – love the Lord, pray every morning and night, read and study the Bible, attend Sunday School, service, and Bible study – yet when it comes time to witness you get tongue tied. Pray for me that God will give me the right words to boldly explain his mysterious plan of salvation to whomever God directs me to.

I worked with a Jewish guy in early two-thousand. I openly expressed my views and beliefs as a Christian at the workplace. I didn’t force it on anyone but I was not ashamed to let them know that I believed in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Well, one night, the young man asked me about my beliefs and I attempted to explain (not knowing it was a trap to debate with me). I felt like he had prepared for a debate and I hadn’t because he had persuasive, disagreeable responses to all of my comments. We battled (that’s what I felt like it was) back and forth for about an hour until I got frustrated after realizing that he wasn’t really interested in Christianity but wanted to point out discrepancies in the Bible, Biblical stories, and argue that God couldn’t be real if He allowed all of the wars mentioned in the Bible.

I tell you, I went home exhausted after work; and also disappointed in myself because I didn’t think I had represented Jesus very well. I felt like I had lost the ‘debate’ and the battle. It took some praying for the Holy Spirit to reveal to me that it was indeed a spiritual battle I was in and that I didn’t lose the battle; I just lost ‘that’ war!

Keep the faith and don’t let Satan deceive you into thinking you’ve lost because you didn’t witness as powerfully as you’d wish. Or you didn’t win the other person over. Remember, it’s not our job to convince or convert. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. We’re to tell them about the work of Jesus on the cross, the mysteries of salvation, how much God loves them, and how He has changed us.

Move Self out of the way.

P.S. I still wish I could have explained to the young man that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike.

 

Thanks Barbara, for sharing this with us. I think you speak for many of us when it comes to witnessing. I know that’s true for me. I’m much better at writing about my faith than talking about it. That’s one of the reasons I have this blog! I’d love to hear how others have overcome this weakness or what you’ve learned about it.

 

GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!