Help! Heart Surgery Needed!

My Heart Needs Surgery!

My goodness! What a long time it has been. This past week God made it quite evident that my heart needed surgery! I was not an example of His love. Life  squeezed me like a tube of toothpaste and I did not like what came out of my mouth.

Therefore I had to admit that my thoughts and the words of my  mouth were not pleasing to the Lord. Confession is what I had to do and admit that I was often rude and inconsiderate of others. I was  lazy and missed opportunities to bless others. Thus I needed God to work on my heart. Consciously, I had to turn my will over to Christ’s care and control.

After all, in Luke chapter 6 verse 45b, it says that for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Apparently, last week my heart was full of the wrong stuff. At church, I surrendered my heart and asked God to forgive me and help me. Thereby, God renewed me and gave me the grace to start anew. In God’s word, He tells me that if I confess that He will forgive and cleanse me from my sins. Not only does He forgive me but He also provides me the strength I need to do better.

Another way of looking at this is to say that my fruit was not pretty. I was not a good example to follow. Yet, I do want to be someone that reflects the love of Christ to others. It is only by the grace and power of God’s spirit in me that I can do this. Hence, I need to spend more time with God both in Word and prayer so that He can transform me. Thankfully, God is a God of second chances.

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Encouragement: What does it mean?

Words of Encouragement

We often hear the word encouragement several times from our Pastors and teachers of the Bible. So what does it mean? Encouragement is the act of inspiring courage, spirit, or confidence. The apostle Paul was a great example of an encourager. In the book of Philemon, for example, Paul inspired courage in Philemon to receive Onesimus as he would Paul.

When Paul appealed to Philemon, Paul spoke to him as a beloved friend and told Philemon that Philmon’s love and faith toward Jesus and others warmed his heart. I hope that I am thought of this way by others who know me. I want to be able to recognize these qualities in others. Paul also had great faith in Philemon that he would do the right thing when it came to accepting Onesimus’ return. Onesimus had a great friend in Paul.

Another thing, Paul was tactful in his approach to Philemon. He was not demanding of Philemon to release Onesimus. He inspired courage in Philemon to rise above the cultural norms. After all, there were others in the area that would see how Philemon treated a fellow believer who was once his slave.  Paul was also hoping to visit with him once he was freed.

Moreover, what I have learned from reading Philemon is that I am to be one that will speak words of encouragement to anyone in need. I am also to speak tactfully when speaking on the behalf of someone. Kind and thoughtful words will go further than harsh and demanding ones. Before I speak, I hope that I would stop and pray asking the Lord for the right words.

I thank my God for you when I remember you in my prayers because I hear of your love and of the faith you have towards the Lord Jesus and for all the saints. Philemon 4-5

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Culturally Disobedient In Today’s World

Culturally Disobedient

A Call to Be Culturally Disobedient

The time is now for all Christians to stand and to take a stand. If we say that we are Christians then our lives out to show it. Yet, in today’s world society wants Christians to shut up and sit down. Take action and be culturally disobedient.

What is Cultural Disobedience? It is to resist the culture when it tries to soften the Christian faith. Therefore, one should not be afraid to act as a Christian is called to act in all areas of one’s life. For example, to pray in public, speaking up when Christianity is belittled, and not letting the society dictate how you are to live out your faith.

What Does It Look Like?

One of my favorite sayings is if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it must be a duck. Therefore, if I say that I am a Christian then my life should reflect it regardless of what society would have me do. How I treat others ought to reflect Jesus in my life by my compassion and generosity. When I say a prayer of thanks for my meal out it is because I am grateful. It is wrong of me to refrain from doing so because of what others might think. Yet, my attitude should be in check also. I desire to be humble in my attitude not to think of myself as better than others.

Another way that I can be culturally disobedient is speaking up when someone speaks against Christianity. I am to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in me according to 1 Peter 3:15. If I acknowledge Jesus before men, He will acknowledge me before His Father in Heaven. I can trust that God will give me the words to say. He can also help me to be able to do so in truth and in love.

Then again, we as Christians have allowed the world to dictate to us as to how we can or cannot live out our faith. Yet, we are called to be influencers and not to be influenced by the world. Let our actions speak louder than our words. Be Jesus with skin on to a hurting world. Thus, we can begin to truly influence the world for Jesus.

Summary

All things considered, I hope to live out my faith in a manner that is pleasing to God and draws others to Jesus. I pray that you will also be encouraged to do likewise.

Hope is Found in Jesus!

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Simple Statements Are Often Best

Keep it Simple!

Sometimes, it is best to keep things simple. For example, my husband’s anniversary card stated his thoughts and feelings in five uncomplicated words. Yet, it was quite touching. It read, “God Knew I needed you.”

The message of the cross is that simple, too. All one needs to do to receive eternal life is to look to the cross of Christ. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life,” John 3:14-15. I learned in Bible Study Fellowship that eternal life means a changed life now and spend eternity with Jesus in the next. It is just that simple as to look to the cross. However, people make things more complicated by putting in their rules and expectations.

The straightforward act of believing in Jesus does many things. Believing in Him,

  • You have eternal life, will not come into judgment but have passed from death to life. John 5:24
  • Though you were dead, yet you shall live. John 11:25
  • You may not remain in darkness. John 12:46
  • You may have life through His name. John 20:31
  • You receive forgiveness through His name. Acts 10:43
  • You are freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Acts 13:39
  • You will not be put to shame. Romans 9:33
  • Will make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:15
  • You are born of God. 1 John 5:1

Therefore, something so simple has great rewards. How amazing is that? This is what is confusing to the world because the world believes that the simple is stupid. God uses the simple to shame the wise. Won’t you make the effortless action of looking to Jesus?

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The Good Life is Found in Jesus!

Good life

The Good Life!

In church on Sunday, July 31,2016, the title of the sermon was “The Good Life.” The scripture for the message came from Ecclesiastes 2: 2; 12-14; 2:18-20. Yet, the message was not only in the sermon but also in the hymns that we sang.

Our opening hymn was “Speak, O Lord,” which we learned sometime last year. I, especially like, the first verse of this hymn. The melody is rich and beautiful. Here is the first verse.

Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of your holy word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes, for Your glory
.

In this verse, I find, in order, to experience the good life, I need God’s truth planted deep inside me.  If I allow God to use His word to shape and fashion me into the likeness of Christ, my acts of love and my deeds of faith will be for His glory. Certainly, God alone has the power to fulfill His purpose in me.

The second hymn that spoke to the message was “What Is the World to Me.” This hymn tells of the importance Jesus is to me. From verse 1, I read that Jesus alone is my treasure and my soul’s delight. Jesus is what I truly prize above all things in the second verse. Though the world seeks after wealth and is never satisfied, I am content because my Jesus is my wealth in the third. Therefore, Jesus is my all in all; what is the world to me.

The Message

Furthermore, the sermon spoke of chasing after wealth and things apart from God is vanity. It is unjust to toil and labor and then to leave it behind to those who did not toil for it. Yet, Jesus gave it all away for us. One cannot find the good life apart from Him.

Overall, The service left me wanting more of Jesus and my worship was richly blessed. Hence, I shall seek Him first.

Related Link Hope is Found in Jesus

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Conversation Between Jesus & Samaritan Woman

Conversation

Let’s Explore One Conversation Jesus Had.

Let’s explore the conversation Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4. But first let’s take a look at history between Samaria and Judea at the time of Christ. It is important to understand the conflict between the two groups of people.

Samaritans were a blend of Israelites left behind when Israel was exiled by the King of Assyria circa 722 B.C. and Assyrians that the King sent into the area. (2 kings 17). They believed in the God of Israel, acknowledged Moses as His prophet, and accepted the Pentateuch as scripture. They, however, did not accept the any Old Testament writings beyond the Pentateuch as canonical. The Samaritans considered the Judeans to be apostates following the sanctuary leaving Shechem. They worshiped God on Mount Gerizim and not in Jerusalem. They, too, were looking for a Messiah to come.

Similarly, the Judeans considered the Samaritans to be apostates. They opposed the Samaritans because of the intermarriage with the Assyrians. The Judeans considered them to be idolaters because intermarriage merged idol worship with the worship of Yahweh. The Samaritans had also caused trouble when the Jews were seeking to reestablish themselves and their temple (Ezra 4).  Therefore, there was a great deal of tension between Judea and Samaria even in the time of Jesus’ ministry.

The Samaritan Woman at the Well

Being that Samaria was to the south of Galilee and north of Judea, Jesus had to go through Samaria to get to Jerusalem. Typically, Jews avoided going through Samaria when traveling between Galilee and Judea. Yet, Jesus did not. He purposefully traveled to Samaria. He stopped at a well about the noon hour and waited.

As a woman came to the well to draw water, Jesus intentionally drew her into a conversation with Him by asking her for a drink. He was well aware of the fact that Jews did not associate with Samaritans yet alone a woman. This is where Jesus first got my attention. He set aside social norms to reach out to her and those living in Samaria. For the custom was that a Jew was considered unclean if he used a drinking vessel handled by a Samaritan. Still Jesus asked her for a drink.

In addition, Jesus continues His conversation with her in spite of all the social customs. He tells her of living water yet one can tell that she is focused on the physical whereas Jesus is speaking spiritually. She questions his ability to draw water and if He is greater than Jacob. The woman is obviously without a clue as to whom she is conversing with.

Therefore, Jesus takes it one step further by revealing to her sin. He does not do it blatantly. He asks her to call her husband and thus she points it out that she does not have a husband. Then Jesus gently makes her see that He knows everything about her. This is what broke through to her heart. It was being known by Him. Therefore, she went to draw others to Him.

What I Have Learned from this Conversation

Jesus was not held sway by social norms. He reached across them to bring His message of salvation. I need to think like Jesus and not be held to the customs of this world. Jesus wants me to think outside the box. Like the woman at the well, I, too, can get focused on the wrong thing and not see with the eyes of Jesus. I want to draw others to Jesus who knows me better than I know myself.

I pray: Dear Lord Jesus, help me to see the world as You do. Cause me to brave the social barriers and reach out to bring the good news to others that need You. Amen.

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Let’s Feast on God’s Word

God’s Word Can Be a Feast!

The sermon at yesterday’s ordination of our new pastor was in regards to looking to God alone for all things. The scripture for the sermon was Psalm 62:1-2 and the title was  “Be Strong in the Lord.” Sure, I am blessed and probably a little privileged yet it is to God alone that I can find true rest for my soul. So, I elected to feast on God’s word alone today.

I set aside my desires for food and looked to God and His word for sustenance. This morning, I began meditating on Psalm 62. I focused on keywords such as alone and only in verses 1,2,5, & 6. It is in God alone that my soul waits not in my husband, family or friends. God only is my salvation, my rock, and my defense not my accomplishments or my possessions. I am to wait only upon God not in food or in the approval of men. My hope and expectations are in the Lord. I shall not be moved for God alone is my defense and my fortress. Therefore, I will look to God alone for rest for my soul and for my salvation. I will not be moved.

Reading further, I see that I am to trust in, lean on, rely on, and have confidence in Him at all times. Yet, I have not done this. I have mistakenly put my hope and trust in my relationship with my husband. Though he is a kind and caring man, he is human and therefore not perfect. I am wrong to look to him to satisfy my soul the only way God can.

Breakfast  & Lunch Meditations

By 9 a.m, I turned my meditation to feast on Psalm 139. From the first 6 verses, God revealed to me that He knows everything about me. There is nothing that He does not know; not even my thoughts are secret. His hand is upon me and He is all around me. His knowledges is too infinite to comprehend. I take comfort in knowing that I am known by God. Therefore, when I feel that no one understands me, I need only to remember that God know everything about me.

As I sat down to lunch, I again focused on the above Psalm with verses 7-13. I reflected on the fact that there is nowhere I can go to escape God’s spirit. Whether I go to the mountaintop or to lowest valley God is there. Whether I fly to great heights or go to the bottom of the ocean God is there. Even the darkness cannot hide me from God. Consequently, I am never alone for God is always with me. When I feel lonely, I only need to remember that God is with me wherever I go.

In addition, I added music to my time with God. I listened to and sang “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and “Be Thou My Vision” at lunch time. As I continued with my readings for snack, I worshipped the Lord in song with “How Great Is Our God” and “Here I am to Worship.”

Final Thoughts

To conclude, God is good and He alone is all I need. How great is our God. There is no one like Him in all the earth. His Word does satisfy the soul. I will take comfort in Him knowing that He knows me and loves me just the same. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

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Hope is Found in Jesus

My Hope is the Lord

Due to the recent events here and abroad, the news has caused my heart great sadness.  The loss of life in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, only added to that sadness. I hurt for the family who lost both father and son here in Texas. Though, I cannot fully fathom their loss, I do know what it is like to lose a loved one in an untimely manner. I have received the comfort that only God can provide. While the comfort did not happen right away, it did come over time. However, hope can be found in Jesus.

At church on Sunday, July 17, 2016, I was reminded that my hope is in Jesus.  As we sang the hymn, My Hope is Built on Nothing Less, before the sermon, I was reminded also that there is nothing else on earth that can put my hope in.

The aforementioned hymn is comforting because ‘I rest in His unchanging grace; in every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. Christ is my solid rock and all other ground is sinking sand.’ There is comfort in putting one’s hope in Jesus.

In addition, Psalm 27 was the text for the sermon. Though Vicar read only the first couple of verses. I find comfort in the rest of this Psalm. King David knew to whom he could go to for comfort and shelter. He knew to wait on the Lord.

Therefore, I pray that the families of the fallen officers and those lives senselessly taken in Nice, France, will take comfort in God. I do hope that they will find their rest and stay in Him and that they can sing.

“On Christ, the solid Rock I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.”

Prayer for Comfort and Hope

Dear Lord, as You know there are many hurting hearts today. Please God, comfort them as You alone know how. Ease their pain and let them not forget their loved ones. I ask for Your mercy and grace to the families and to put a stop to the senseless violence. Help them to be strong and  to wait on You. Give them your peace that passes all understanding.  Amen.

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Church, Gotta Love it! I do!

Church

Five Things I Love About My Church

Let me tell you the five things that I love about my church, Faith Lutheran. This helps confirm my reason for staying. No church is perfect but I do love where God has called me to be.

1. The Bible Taught Faithfully.

Our motto is Know Christ, Live Christ, and Make Christ Known. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. During our worship service, we often have an Old Testament,  Epistle, and Gospel reading. The Epistle is taken from one of the letters that were written to the church either by the Apostle Paul, James, or Peter. This is done interactively with the congregation reading the words in bold. We stand for the Gospel reading out of respect. The sermon is taken from one of the either of the Bible readings.

2. We are Growing Congregation.

We hold a new member’s class once every quarter. My church has as many as 15-20 or as few as 5 members added. In our Bible class for members with special needs, known as the Rock House, we have experienced growth. We added as many as 10 members in this group and a new member is seen on occasion. This makes for a total 25+ members. I do like seeing new members added to our congregation. Furthermore, there are some really swell people to get to know. I love you all!

3. Blended Worship Music

During our worship service, you will hear both traditional hymns and praise music. We also have talented soloists and we recently added a Praise Music Vocalist. Another point that I would like to make is that our Senior Pastor on occasion teaches us a new hymn. I enjoy the blended music and I feel that it reaches out to most everyone. The hymns centered on God or on Christ and Him crucified.

4.  Opportunities to Serve are Plenty.

At Faith, you will find plenty of opportunities to serve both for the young and for those young at heart. I happen to serve with the Rock House as do a number of very special people. Not only do I serve with them but I also serve with a group of wonderful women in Lutheran Women’s Missionary League’s evening group, Joy Mission Circle. We collect mites which is the change from our pockets to help fund missions outside of our local congregation. We have a ministry for Braille and we are a Stephen Ministry congregation. Let’s not forget our youth. They, too, have opportunities to go on servant trips.

5. Last but not least, Our Newest Staff Member!

Most noteworthy is our Vicar. I am excited and pleased that Vicar Bill Crowe will be ordained and installed as our associate pastor on July 24, 2016, @ 3 pm. Every opportunity that I have had to speak to him, he has impressed me as a man after God’s own heart. He is open and friendly. He is quite knowledgeable and loves the Lord. Hence, I know that God has blessed us with him and his family as well.

In conclusion, I would like to invite you to come for a visit when you are ever in Georgetown, Texas. To God be the glory!

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
    who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
    and begun to reign.” Revelation 11:17

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Sheep of Your Pasture

I am pleased to welcome my first guest blogger, Janet Hines. Her post is titled I am a Sheep of Your Pasture.

I Am a Sheep of Your Pasture

by Janet Hines

I took this picture in Spain while driving from Antequera to Malaga. It took my breath away.

Pulling over, rolling my window down – my breath stilled, my heart overwhelmed. Many of the sheep in the pasture had bells around their necks – there were probably a thousand sheep . . .

. . .  and the sound was one of the most beautiful, spiritual sounds ever filling my ears, moving into my heart, my breath slowing in an attempt to match the rhythm.

The sheep farmers put the bells on many of the older sheep to ward off predators. If the shepherd hears the bells ringing loudly, they know danger is present.  As the anxiety of the sheep increases so does their movement.  The tone of the bell changes. It serves as an alarm.

The shepherds then know their sheep need them.

Yet, when all is well and every sheep is calm, the beautiful music fills the air.

Isn’t it like that when we live with God as our Shepherd?

He is ever present. Always caring for us as the shepherds care for their sheep, yet not always visible. Always ready to protect us and enable us with the means to sound alarm.

May our times of peace be as music to His ears just as this flock filled my ears that afternoon on a quiet road in Spain – yet I know our cries in distress are precious to Him as well as we turn to Him. He takes my good and my bad – my times that are easy and my times of tragedy and crisis – He takes me just as I am. …

Please follow this link to read more of Janet Hines post.

About the Author

Janet Hines lives in Covington, Louisiana. Mother of four and grandmother of seven, her life passion is to live sharing the hope of God as she has been relentlessly filled. She is the co-founder of Mi Esperanza – a non profit organization operating in and around Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The primary focus of the organization is women’s education. Mi Esperanza provides not only skill development but life empowering education allowing them to gain employment or begin their own businesses with the micro loans offered to alumni of the programs. Her other passions include travel, photography and writing.

You can find Janet Hines at these social links.

 

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