Sometimes we have to learn things the hard way.  That’s where I find myself right now.  Oh, if only I could just hear what God says and believe it and act on it immediately — life would be so much easier!  But, no, I tend to go the route of having to experience it for myself — learning it the hard way.  God has told me time and time again that I am significant, valuable, and of great worth, but I just can’t seem to grasp that.  Praise God for His patience and grace to keep working with us when we just don’t get it!!!!

God gave me a gracious “do over” opportunity a couple of days ago.  Through this experience He opened my eyes to the futility of seeking value and worth from other people.  It just doesn’t work — believe me I’ve tried, tried again, and tried harder.  Most of the time, I end up hurt and empty.  In a broken world full of imperfect people, we’re going to be treated as if we’re insignificant and worthless.  But being treated that way doesn’t make it true.  In fact, it’s far from the truth.  We have incredible value and worth because our creator has given it to us.  He displayed this in His willingness to suffer great pain & agony on our behalf.  He was willing to give His life in exchange for ours.  When you look at the cross, there is no doubt that we are loved and valued, that we are important and worth a great price.  The value that God has given us is greater than what we could squeeze out of people over an entire lifetime. 

I have concluded that continuing to exert so much emotional energy in such a futile endeavor is just foolish.  Especially since God has already given me what I need in great abundance.  It would be better to spend my energy meditating on and remembering God’s great gift.  Oh, that I would choose wisdom over the foolish ways of the world!


My Everything, cont’d

It’s amazing how the same scripture continues to speak to us over and over again.  You may remember a blog I wrote several months ago about Ephesians 1:22-23, Jesus filling us in every way.  Well, God used that same scripture to meet me in my time of need again.  He is continuing the work He began in me (Phil 1:6).  This past week I had one of those rough days where it feels like everyone is against you.  That evening I had a full blown pity party and just cried.  I felt soooooo empty!!!!  As I was pouring my heart out to God, telling him how empty I felt, that same verse (Eph 1:22-23) came to my mind again.  I realized that I am not empty.  I am full of Jesus.  He fills me in every way.  He lives in me and fills me up.  As I focused on all these true thoughts, my empty feeling began going away.  I chose to believe what God was saying and not what my emotions were saying.  God worked a miracle in my heart that night.  God’s Word is truly alive and active!  (Heb 4:12)


Your Love Never Fails

Here are a few words from a song we sang at church last weekend, “Your Love Never Fails” by Chris McClarney:

I know I still make mistakes
But you have new mercies for me everyday
Your love never fails
And when the oceans rage
I don’t have to be afraid
Because I know that You love me
Your love never fails

As we were singing this song, I began to think about the contrast of how I fail quite often, yet God never fails, and His love never fails.  Normally I am very fearful of failure and try my best to avoid it.  This usually results in being indecisive because I’m so afraid of making the wrong decision.  It’s been my experience that people reject you when you fail, and I dont’ want to be rejected.  The good news is that God is not like people.  He does not reject me or withhold His love from me.  His love never fails.  As I thought about this, I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of safety.  It’s okay if I fail because I’m safe in God’s love.


1 Corinthians 13:8
Romans 8:35-39

Why We Worry

Recently, I have been reading Max Lucado’s book, Fearless.  This part really caught my attention, so I wanted to share it with y’all.  It’s really good insight on why we worry and a great example of the conflict & frustration created when we depend on ourselves. 

Seek first the kingdom of wealth, and you’ll worry over every dollar.  Seek first the kingdom of health, and you’ll sweat every blemish and bump.  Seek first the kingdom of popularity, and you’ll relive every conflict.  Seek first the kingdom of safety, and you’ll jump at every crack of the twig.  But seek first his kingdom, and you will find it.  On that, we can depend and never worry.

Matthew 6:25-34

Cease Striving

Cease striving and know that I am God;  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10 (NASB)

Last weekend, while at a Casting Crowns concert, God spoke to my heart in a special way.  Near the end of the concert, the question was asked, “Is there anything God wants you to lay down?”  He said to lay down my pursuit.  I thought of the verse above.  God wants me to quit trying so hard to get what I think I need and let Him give me what I need– recognizing that He is God, and I am not.  It wasn’t long before I had an opportunity to practice giving up my pursuit of significance and my pursuit of doing things just right.  A few days later, when I took a lunch break, I found myself very stressed—about feelings of insignificance & unfairness, finding a location for a Bible study, and making decisions about auto insurance.  I realized that my trying to figure things out only made it worse.  I wrote out this prayer “casting my anxiety on Him, because He cares for me.” (1 Peter 5:7)  What relief!  Thank you, Jesus!

God, I give you these concerns, these burdens.  I lay them down, surrender control over to you.  I will let you bear my burdens, and I choose to trust you to do things your way–the best & most loving way.


Forever Connected

But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 

~1 Corinthians 6:17

As we get to know who God is and who we are in Him, we move through three levels of knowledge:

1.  Factual Knowledge–knowing what is true; often referred to as head knowledge
2.  Revelational Knowledge–when the Holy Spirit reveals the meaning of something to us; like an ah-ha moment or a light bulb coming on
3.  Experiential Knowledge–learning something through experience; practical application of the truth; this is when it really sinks in and changes us

Over the past several months, God has spoken to my heart in all 3 ways about being connected.  This is one of those deep internal needs that I find myself struggling with quite often.  I long to feel a close connection with others.  When that is missing in my relationships with friends or family, I feel a painful emptiness and loneliness.  God has been teaching me that this is a God-given need that only He can sufficiently meet. (John 4:13-14; Phil 4:19)  He wants me to come to Him so that He can fill me.  Trying meet this need through connection with other people is like digging my own cistern that can’t hold water. (Jeremiah 2:13)

Reading these scriptures and hearing about this truth through a sermon gave me the factual knowledge.  Then, one day as I was sitting with God and listening to a song, He revealed this truth to me in a special way.  The song talked about how Jesus’ work on the cross was finished/done.  I began to ask God & mull over what that means to me.  He showed me that I am forever forgiven, forever loved, forever accepted, and forever connected.  This was revelational knowledge. 

Several weeks later, I found myself in a social situation where I didn’t feel connected with the people around me.  I felt far away, disconnected, alone.  Even the next day, I couldn’t get this feeling out of my mind.  I tried to analyze why I felt disconnected, wondering what was wrong with me that prevented me from being accepted/connected.  (lies, lies, lies)  I sat down to spend time with God and told Him all of my feelings.  And then, I heard that same song.  I remembered what God had said to me last time:  I am forever forgiven, forever loved, forever accepted, but I couldn’t remember the last one.  I felt compelled (Holy Spirit’s leading) to go find where I had written it down.  The one I had forgotten was “I am forever connected!”  I knew right away that this was God’s answer to my struggle.  I am joined to Him.  I am one spirit with Him.  He lives in me.  I can’t get anymore connected than that.  And that connection is eternal.  Even if I feel disconnected from people at times, I’m still okay because I’m connected to Him.  Then I no longer felt weighed down or bothered;  I felt light & free!  That’s experiential knowledge.  PTL!!


He Guides Me In Paths of Righteousness for His Name’s Sake

Well, I hope each of you have had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.  I can tell some of our folks have the January Blues already with the cold weather we have been having.  Stay warm and Roll Tide tonight to all my fellow Bama fans!

In our study of the 23rd Psalm phrase by phrase we find ourselves at David’s thought, “He Guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Let’s dive in a see what this means and what kind of picture the shepherd David was painting for us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

There are two thoughts that we need to zone in on here.  First off, the Psalmist David would have known that sheep are creatures of habit.  Seriously, if left to themselves they will follow the same trails until they become ruts; graze the same hills until they turn to desert wastes; pollute their own ground until it is corrupt with disease and parasites.  Sheep can not just “get along anywhere.”  No other class of livestock requires more careful handling, more detailed direction than do sheep.  This brings us to the second point that we need to focus on…many pastures are ruined beyond repair by overgrazing, poor management, and indifference or ignorant sheep owners.  When this happens, sheep owners get a bad reputation or name.  It was very important to a sheep owner to have a good name and reputation as a shepherd.  David knew that if the flock was to flourish and the owner’s reputation was to be held in high esteem as a good manager, the sheep had to be constantly under his meticulous control and guidance.  Due to the behavior of the sheep and their preference for certain favored spots, these well-worn areas become quickly infested with parasites of all kinds.  In a short time the whole flock can thus become infected with worms, nematodes, and scab.  The final upshot is that both land and owner are ruined while the sheep become thin, wasted and sickly.  The owner’s entire name and reputation depends on how effectively and efficiently he keeps his charges moving onto wholesome, new fresh forage. 

The intelligent shepherd is aware of all this and has a plan of action.  The predetermined plan of action usually centers around rotation from one grazing ground to another in line with right and proper principles of gound management.  This is precisely the sort of action David had in mind when he spoke of being led in paths of righteousness.  The testimony of a good shepherd will attest to the fact that following this plan of action is the one thing that commands more of the shepherd’s time and energy.  He must map out his plan, constantly survey his fields, move his flock at the right times and repair fields that have just been used.  One shepherd said with an adequate field you needed to move your flock to a new field every week.  The shepherd must go over the ground of his fields again and again seeing where his flock will thrive and knowing where the feed is poor.  One shepherd said that a point worthy of mentioning was that whenever the shepherd opens a gate into a fresh pasture the sheep are filled with excitment.  As they go through the gate, even the staid old ewes will often kick up their heels and leap with delight at the prospect of finding fresh feed.  How they enjoy being led onto new ground.

Let’s look at some parallels between us and sheep now.  It is no mere whim on God’s part to call us sheep.  Our behavior patterns and life habits are so much like that of sheep it is embarrassing. 

First of all, Scripture points out that most of us are a stiff necked and stubborn lot.  We prefer to follow our own fancies and turn to our own ways.  Isaiah 53:6 says it best, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.”  We do this deliberately, repeatedly, even to our own disadvantage.  This is locked into our own personal pride and self-assertion.  We insist we know what is best for us even though the disastrous results may be self-evident.

Just as sheep will blindly, habitually, stupidly follow one another along the same little trails until they become ruts that erode into gigantic gullies, so we humans cling to the same habits that we have seen ruin other lives.  Turning to “my own way” simply means doing what I want.  It implies that I feel free to assert my own wishes and carry out my own ideas.  I do this inspite of every warning.  Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  In contrast to which Christ the Good Shepherd comes gently and says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me”  John 14:6.  John 10:10 Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Second of all, most of us don’t want to come.  We don’t want to follow.  We don’t want to be led in paths of righteousness.  Somehow it goes against our grain.  We actually prefer to turn to our own way even though it may take us straight into trouble.  Yet, Christ our Good Shepherd comes and says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).  We don’t want to deny ourselves, give up our right to make our own decisions.  I think some of us…or really most of us, if confronted with this charge, would deny it.  We would say that we are “led of the Lord.”  We would insist that we would follow wherever He leads.  We sing songs to this effect and give mental asssent to the idea.  But as far as actually being led in paths of righteousness is concerned, precious few of us follow that path.  This is actually the pivotal point where a Christian either “goes on” with God or at which point he “goes back” from following on.

The fact of the matter is there are many willful, wayward, indifferent, self-interested Christians who cannot really be classified as followers of Christ.  There are relatively few diligent disciples who forsake all to follow the Master.  Jesus never made light of the cost involved in following Him.  In fact, He made it painfully clear that it was a rugged life of rigid selfdenial.  It entailed a whole new set of attitudes.  It was not the natural, normal way a person would ordinarily live, and this is what made the price so prohibitive to most people. 

If we are to be led in paths of righteousness then we need to adopt 7 fresh attitudes.  They are the equivalent of progressive forward movements onto new ground with God. 

1.  Instead of loving myself most, I am willing to love Christ best and others more than myself.  What is love?  Any ideas?  Love according to this world is a soft, sentimental, moving and/or passionate emotion.  A feel good feeling.  Love according to God’s Word is a deliberate act of my will.  It means that I am willing to lay down my life, lay myself out, pour myself out on behalf of another.  This is precisely what God did for us in Christ.  “This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down His life for us” (I John 3:16).  The moment I deliberately do something definite either for God or others that costs me something, I am expressing love.  Love is “selflessness” or “self-sacrifice” in contradistinction to “selfishness.”  Most of us know little of living like this or being “led” in this right way.  But once a person discovers the delight of doing something for others, he has started through the gate being led into one of God’s green pastures.

2.  Instead of being one of the crowd, I am willing to be singled out, set apart from the gang.  Most of us, like sheep are pretty gregarious. We want to belong.  We don’t want to be different

3.  Instead of insisting on my rights, I am willing to forego them in favor of others.

4.  Instead of being “boss”, I am willing to be at the bottom of the heap.  Or to use sheep terminology, instead of being “top ram,” I’m willing to be a “tail-ender.”  When the desire for self-assertion, self-aggrandizement, self-pleasing give way to the desire for simply pleasing God and others, much of the fret and strain is drained away from daily living.

5.  Instead of finding fault with life and always asking “Why?”  I am willing to accept every circumstance of life in an attitude of gratitude.  I find it very interesting that we as humans feel entitled to question the reasons for everything that happens us.  I know…I have been there myself.  I have watched many who’s lives become a continious criticism and dissection of one’s circumstances and acquaintances.  We look for someone or something on which to pin the balme for our misfortunes.  We are often quick to forget our blessings, slow to forget our misfortunes.

But if one really believes his affairs are in God’s hands, every event, no matter whether joyous or tragic, will be taken as part of God’s plan.  To know beyond doubt that He does all for our welfare is to be led into a wide area of peace and quietness and strength for every situation.

6.  Instead of exercising and asserting my will, I am willing to learn to cooperate with His wishes and comply with His will.  When men or women allow their will to be crossed out, canceling the great I in their decisions, then indeed the Cross has been applied to their lives.  This is the meaning of taking up one’s cross daily – to go to one’s own death-no longer my will in the matter but His will be done

7.  Instead of choosing my own way, I am willing to choose to follow in Christ’s way:  simply to do what He asks me to do.  This is basically simple, straightforward obedience!  It means I just do what He asks me to do.  I go where He invites me to go.  I say what He instructs me to say.  I act and react in the manner He maintains is in my own best interest as well as for His reputation (if I’m His follower).

Most of us possess a formidable amount of factual information on what the Master expects of us.  Precious few have either the will, intention, or determination to act on it and comply with His instructions.  But the person who decides to do what God asks him has moved onto fresh ground which will do both him and others a world of good.

Now, before you look back over these 7 things and begin to feel overwhelmed or think that you have to do all of these things yourself, I want to show you something.  Some have concluded that the demands are too drastic or that this is impossible to actually live out on a day to day basis.  Well, it would be if we had to depend on self-determination or self-discipline to succeed.  But if we are in earnest about wanting to do His will, and to be led, He makes this possible by His own gracious Spirit who is given to those who obey (Acts 5:32).  “For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him.”  Phil. 2:13 NLT.  So you see, it is not you doing this it is Christ doing it in and through you.  Rest in Him and in the good paths that He leads you in today.


Accept the Chaos

I was blessed to be able to attend the Glory in the Highest Tour this past weekend with Chris Tomlin & Louis Giglio.  WOW!  It was an incredible worship experience where God spoke to me in a BIG way.  Oh, how I love to hear Him speaking to me.  His words are so soft and tender, yet so powerful!  On this night, His words to me were, “Accept the chaos.”  These weren’t exactly the words I wanted to hear; my flesh was fighting hard against them.  You see, my flesh is highly perfectionistic and controlling, so chaos is the enemy.  How could I embrace this “enemy”?  When things in my life are chaotic, spinning out of control, I feel VERY insecure & anxious.  So, I try to contol things, make them just right, extinguish any choas in order to give myself a sense of calm, peace, and security.  Whoa…now that’s just the kind of self-reliance & self-dependence that God wants to weed out of our lives.

As my struggle gave way to surrender, I repeated through tears, “God, okay, I’ll accept the choas…I’ll accept the chaos.”  I began to hear the truth…I’m okay inside the chaos because God is right there with me.  He is my calm, my peace, and my security.  I don’t have to fight against the chaos to get it under control.  He has everything under control.  I can depend on Him and rest. 

This is Christmas:  Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, has come into my chaos/my mess and given me Himself–His fullness, His sufficiency, His salvation, His peace.

Merry Christmas!

Rebecca 🙂

Proving Myself

For many years, I have believed the lie that  in order to be accepted, I must prove my value/worth to others by my performance/achievements/success .  Entangled with this lie was another lie, that other people must accept me in order for me to accept myself.  God spoke the truth to me recently in a very special way:  I don’t have to prove my worth because God has already created me valuable.  He is the judge, not other people.  Therefore, if God accepts me (which He does with open arms), then I can accept myself.

This morning, God gave me an opportunity to practice this newly revealed truth.  I got up late, had barely enough time to shower & dress, grabbed a frozen dinner for lunch, and ran out the door without any breakfast.  The road I normally take to work is closed this week for construction, but I forgot that, and out of habit headed that way.  When I realized what I’d done, I had to take a roundabout way to work.  I just knew I would be late, and I was stressed.  Then I remembered what God said, “You don’t have to prove anything.”  I didn’t have to prove that I was good by being on time to work.  I began to relax and slow down.  The pressure was gone.  I was believing God.  I arrived at work with 2 minutes to spare and a whole lot less stress.  Thank you, Jesus!!!!

“I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;”           ~Psalm 139:14

“to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. “            ~Ephesians 1:6

The Evidence of A True Believer Part 2

Well, I have had a break in posting this last week because Tony and I have been on Vacation!  We had a great time visiting with my family and enjoying a couple of days of beach time!  We had some good time to rest so I guess we are ready to get back at it.

In part 2 of our discussion of the evidence of a true believer we left off with ending chapter one and looking at point 3 that showed us that we will have a deep sense of our own sinfulness if we are true believers.  Chapter one ends with verse 10 stating, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” 

Let’s pick up with point #4 that will start us off with I John 2.

#4.  If we are true believers we will keep His commandments.  I John 2:1-2 tells of the wonderful grace that is ours through Jesus Christ being the propitiation for our sins and He is our Advocate with the Father if we sin.  How truly blessed we are in the abundance of grace that we have received.  That grace and mercy poured out on us will lead us naturally to verse 3 that says, “And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.”  A true believer will welcome Jesus’ teachings into their lives and they will process that teaching and make the needed adjustments.  I John 2:4-6 says, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in Him the love of God has truly been perfected.  By this we know that we are in Him:  the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”  I don’t know about you but that is putting it in pretty plain language for me! 

Here are some questions to ask ourselves:

*Do I obey His commandments?

*Do I tend to continue in sin without any sense of sorrow and repentance over my choices, actions and attitudes?

*Do I welcome His teachings into my life and make the proper adjustments in my lifestyle?  If not….why?  If so….How have I done this recently?

*Is there a genuine desire to walk in the same manner as Christ walked?  You can check out Phil. 2 for an idea of the manner in which Jesus walked.

* Do you sense a true humility about yourself before the Lord?

Take time to examine yourself.  This idea that if we are truly in Christ we will obey His commandments comes up several times in I John and in other places in Scripture.  If you do know Him in a personal and intimate way, you will not be able to continue in sin.  His kindness will lead you to repentance and true lifestyle change and you will not be able to continue in your sin…..not if you truly know Him.  Do you know Him today?