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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.

 

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!

Are You Sure?

Psalm 34:16

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

But the Lord delivers him out of them all….are you sure? What exactly are we supposed to think about this verse? It promises that the Lord will deliver us from all of our afflictions. And yet people stay sick, people die, and our troubles continue or even get worse.

So it doesn’t seem as if that verse is true. But I believe the Bible and I believe in the truth of the Bible so…then what? Jesus told his followers promised that we would all have troubles but that just as he overcame the world so would we. He overcame the world, but not when he was in this world as a man.

God has a different perspective than we do.  One verse tells us that God’s way are not our ways. And that’s what we need to remember as we experience difficulties in this life. We see things differently than God does. For us, to deliver or to overcome means having the problem go away–to resolve in a way that is positive.

That’s what our prayer is.  “Make it better!”

But that’s not always going to happen. Sometimes deliverance can come in the form of acceptance, in the form of learning, in the form of moving forward in spite of, or in the form of being an example for others.

This is something we all need to be reminded of from time to time. At least I know I do.  The treatments for my brain tumors are “done.” So I want to feel better NOW, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. And I don’t mind admitting I’ve been rather irritated about that this week.

When I read the verse this morning, I was instantly reminded that God’s ways are not our ways, but His way is perfect for us–even when it doesn’t seem so. That’s what faith is all about–believing in God’s love and in His promises even when we aren’t getting our own way.

A good parent knows that it’s not good for their children to always get their own way. Well, God is the perfect parent. His way is the right way–even when we don’t like it.

So am I sure that the Lord delivers the righteous from all their afflictions?

YES I AM!

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson 5-Have a Little Faith!

Hebrews 11: 6 (NIV)

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Way back in July I posted Listening Lesson Four from GOD, LIFE & HULA HOOPS. So yes, I’m a bit behind. If you want to read more, or find out what hula hoops have to do with it you’ll have to buy it! Click here for the link. Now without further ado…

 

HAVE A LITTLE FAITH!

 

Our spiritual journey begins with faith when we take that very first step to believe and to become God’s child, then faith continues to grow as we mature spiritually, and finally our faith will be fulfilled on that glorious day when we will reunite with our Creator.

But until that day—faith can change your life more than you can imagine.

So what exactly is faith? We need look no further than the Bible for the definition of faith. Hebrews 11: 1 tell us: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. In other words, faith believes without seeing. Faith is believing God’s words and promises before they happen. Faith is praying and then believing it has already happened—even before you see it.

That is the kind of faith that pleases God and the kind of faith He honors.

Believing without seeing!

Believing when it doesn’t make sense!

Believing as long as it takes!

Faith is the key to miracles!

In Matthew 13: 58 it says, “And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” No faith equals no miracles. More faith equals more miracles.

 

It’s not always easy to develop more faith, but it’s well worth the effort. God uses our circumstances to help our faith grow. If we keep our eyes on Jesus during the difficult times, our faith will grow. As our faith grows, our spiritual maturity will too.

 

 

Want a different life? Start thinking differently, start speaking differently, and start acting differently. Then wait and see what happens.

Have a little faith—and God will do the rest!

 

Lesson 3: I DIDN’T EXPECT THAT!

I recently released a short non-fiction book entitled GOD, LIFE & HULA HOOPS: SPIRITUAL LISTENING LESSONS. It’s meant to be light-hearted but with a serious message. Throughout the summer, I’m going to share some of the book with you. Only some–if you want all of it, you’ll have to buy it! Click here for the link.

LESSON 3: I DIDN’T EXPECT THAT!

Proverbs 16: 9 (NIV)

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.

 

After finally gathering up my courage at age 58 to buy a hula hoop, the next morning I went down to the basement all excited about it I slipped the hula hoop over my neck and positioned it on my waist and I whirled it and…

It fell to the floor. Plop! Just like that.

I sure didn’t expect that!

I stepped back inside the hula hoop a second time and twirled it and that thing just dropped to the floor like a bag of rocks—again. So, I picked it back up and tried again and again.

I knew it wouldn’t be easy relearning to hula hoop. I didn’t expect it to come to me as naturally as it did when I was ten years old. I thought it might take a week or even two before I was hula hooping, but even after a month or so, I wasn’t improving.

I didn’t expect that.

Life is like that as well. The unexpected happens—just when we don’t want it to, right? We don’t mind the unexpected as long as it’s a good thing. But that’s called a surprise, a lucky break; or a blessing.

It’s the unexpected problems that usually throws us for a loop.

Bad things happen.

That is a fact of life. Jesus even promised that we’d have troubles in this life in John 16: 33. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we won’t have bad things happen to us. But what it does mean is that when they happen, we have a choice.

A choice to react in such a way to honor God or not?

I’ve been thinking about choices lately. As Paul said, the things he wants to do, he doesn’t; and the things he doesn’t want to do, he does. We’re all like that at times

We’re all spiritual beings but we’re also a physical being. Our physical self doesn’t necessarily want the same thing our spiritual self wants. In fact, most of the time they are at war with each other. That’s the source of much of our conflict.

So when they found brain tumors, I had a choice to make. Live out the spiritual principles I’d been learning or give into the fear and self-pity? Walk the walk or fall apart?

Most of us know the story of Peter walking on the water. Just to refresh your memory, you might want to read Matthew 14: 22:33. When Peter walked on water it wasn’t during calm times at sea. It was during a storm. When he kept his eyes on Jesus, he was able to walk on the water in spite of the turbulence all around him.

When he took his eyes off Jesus, he sank.

It’s the same for us during a storm. We can’t always determine our circumstances, but we always have a choice how to react to it.

Keep our eyes on Jesus or sink!

Share a time when you had to make a choice to trust or to sink? What was the result? What did you learn from it?

Until next time… GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

 

 

GOD IS SOVEREIGN!

BAD NEWS-GOOD NEWS 

SESSION 2

So last session we talked about the bad news–just because we are Christians doesn’t mean we are immune to difficulties in this life. So today we’re moving forward with the good news–thought it may not seem that way at the beginning.

Do you know what sovereign means? According to Dictionary.com it means  to have supreme power or authority. Another one of the definitions I really loved is  being above all others in character, importance, excellence, etc. Between those two definitions is a fairly accurate description of God.

supreme power-yes

supreme authority-yes

above all others in character-yes

above all others in importance-yes

above all others in excellence-yes

above all others in etc…..yes

Let me just fill in the etc. part just a bit–above all others in love; in goodness; in holiness. (NOTE: Help me fill in this list. What would be some other characteristics that describe God?)

Supreme–above all others. That means God makes the final decisions about….well everything. Only God decides the who, the what, the how, the when, the why, and the where of miracles. He can choose to give us a miracle or not, no matter what we do or don’t do.

It’s HIS decision and his decision alone.

And…and here’s some GOOD NEWS… because of HIS goodness, HIS wisdom, HIS love, it is ALWAYS the right decision.

Whether we like it or not!

Whether we agree or not!

Whether it breaks our heart or not!

It’s easy to have faith when life is good, but we honor God when we choose to love him, to trust him, and to continue to serve him no matter what circumstances come against us. And when we make that choice, we begin to mature spiritually.

In Mark 14:36, Jesus said in the Garden of Gesethmene the night before his crucifixion,  “Abba”, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

YOUR TURN:  Don’t forget  to help me fill in this list. What would be some other characteristics that describe God? Next time, I promise more good news!

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

 

Any Grinches Out There?

Proverbs 23:7:

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

I pray that everyone had a wonderful Christmas, but I know that not everyone did. Some because of circumstances out of their control and some because they chose not to.

WHAT???

Who would choose not to have a wonderful Christmas? Probably not many of us would choose to do that consciously. Though there might be a few. But just because we’re unaware doesn’t mean we didn’t make that choice just the same.

Count me among the unawares.

I’ve beein going around telling people that  I love the Christmas season but not necessarily Christmas Day. I mean really! Talk about a bad attitude. I’d already planned to not have a good Christmas.

And I didn’t mind talking about it either. Talk about being a Grinch. That was me! Just because I’d had not perfect Christmases the past few years, I’d decided I would never have another one.

Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.

My attitude and my words were ensuring that I wouldn’t have a good Christmas—this year or any other one.

But God is good!

God’s Spirit spoke to my spirit a week or so before the big day reminding me that everything’s not all about me. I know! Shocking as it was, it was exactly what I needed to be reminded of. I decided to smile and enjoy the day for the people around me—because it was their Christmas, too!

And…. I had a good Christmas! And everyone around me seem to have one as well.

It’s amazing how when you focus on making other people happy, you get a little more happy as well! Well, actually, it’s not all that amazing. That’s another one of God’s principles–you reap what you sow. If you sow grinchiness, then all you reap is more grinchiness. If you sow Christmas joy, then you’ll reap more Christmas joy.

And I’m already excited about next Christmas.

An interesting point is that Proverbs 23: 7 has been one of my anchor verses these past few years as I dealt with my brain tumors. I would remind myself over and over that my thoughts had power when it came to my health. But somehow I seemed to forget all about that principle when it came to Christmas, and especially my attitude about Christmas.

Mmmmm…. I wonder what other unaware attitudes of mine need adjusting….

So, what have you been grinchy about lately?

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!