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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Easy Canvas Bag Tutorial

You Know Ya'll Are One Too!


Easy DIY Decorative Canvas Bags

I haven't done a tutorial in some time so I thought that I would give you one that was super easy. It's never too early to get started on your Christmas list; don't ya know.


Materials:


Bag (check), Fabric Paint (check), Paper Doily (check)


Canvas Bag- I found mine at Hobby Lobby for $3.99 - but they were having a 50% off sell (plus I had a coupon) so each bag I purchased ended up being less than a dollar a piece. Score!

Fabric paint - any color is fair game

Paper doily (s)

Paper Finishes Adhesive Spray (I used 202 Paper Adhesive because it was on sale and works great but you can use Krylon if you have it on hand)

* Optional Iron On Patch (for center if you don't care for the monogram look)



Must Have! Paper Spray Adhesive



Step 1:  Spray doily with paper spray adhesive (I used 202 Paper Finish adhesive) apply doily where you want it and then press doily firmly down onto the bag.

Tip! Using paper finish adhesive allows the doily to stick in place while you paint, but it easily pulls off without leaving a sticky mess behind after you paint. Cool; huh?


Step 2 & Step 3



Step 2: Gently paint over the holes of the doily – I recommend paint meant for fabric only and not for crafts. I first used craft paint on another project but found that it really didn't hold up very well to repeat washings … fabric paint is much more durable.


Painted Doily Completed


Step 3: Peel back doily before paint dries completely. See in the 3rd photo how I gently rolled the paper doily off to the right? Take your time - you don't want to drag any trance paint onto other parts of your canvas bag. The doily might tear but that's ok (paper doilies are cheap; right? Just peel off the pieces and discard.



Paint Your Monogram



Step 4: Hand paint a monogram- or use an iron on applique - in the center for decorative purposes. Those little touches mean a lot if you give these as gifts. I lightly traced the monogram outlined in pencil first (so I could get an idea of placement and how big I wanted to go) and then filled in with paint. It's easier to un-do a boo boo from pencil (that's what the eraser is for) than to bugger up the whole thing by jumping in with the paint.



Completed Bag



All done and ready to use as you desire.
How Easy was that?


Monday, July 29, 2013

More Than Conquerors




Your Victories

Deuteronomy 28:13 KJV 
"And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them." 

I must in all humility admit that I have had some great victories in my life. God has liberated and set me free from so many of my old sins, old bondages and bad habits. The thrill of freedom I've experienced since being liberated has been absolutely amazing, humbling and completely undeserved.

This is something God wants for all of us to experience in this life. Every single yoke that the devil has placed around your neck; God wants to see broken. He wants to see His people walk in freedom. To get out from under the bondage that the Enemy has held you in for far too long.

Let's get personal ...

I have been crippled by issues of self esteem most all of my life. Feeling like nothing that I ever did was good enough or important in the grand scheme of things. I always felt that even when I gave it my best that it still could have been done better somehow. I always second guessed every decision I ever made both in my chosen career in Medicine and even in my raising of my children. I'd lie awake at night replaying in my mind how I could have done something different and the outcome be better. I stayed exhausted all of the time. Exhausted from stress and exhausted from lack of sleep. It was truly awful.

It's not so much that I was looking for perfection in everything that I did as I was looking for approval for who I am. Someone or something to validate my existence on this planet. It was years before I finally figured out that the only One that I needed approval from was/is God. It's His opinion of me that counts and not anyone else. My existence in this world is validated simply by the fact that He chose to breath life into me. 

I still have many, many battles that I need to win and obstacles that I need to overcome but; Praise God! we don't have to do it alone. I am sure that you do too. I encourage you to pick one thing you'd like to start working on today. Maybe it is your self esteem. Maybe it is something else but pick something and let's start to work to overcome it. To claim the victory.

Next, start visualizing your victory today. Think about what your life will look like when you're free. No more guilt. No more stress. No more sleepless night worrying about things that you can not go back and change.
 

I use Deuteronomy 28 as an incentive. I encourage you to read the whole chapter. It basically says that if you obey God, He will bless you, and if you disobey God, you will be cursed. Now that's a powerful incentive, wouldn't you agree?

I like working with and cooperating with God to conquer things that the Enemy has been choking me with for too long. I like not letting the enemy rule me. In fact, I think the most exciting journey in life is simply saying, "God, I want to change. I want to please You."

When you get into that frame of mind, you can get free from one thing and go on to another thing and another thing and pretty soon, you'll start to realize that you have some real authority in Christ. All of those chains that the devil has spent years binding around your neck are just gone and now you can walk upright, unencumbered without the weight. It's awesome!

Don't live your life without the thrill of growing and changing or you'll miss out on the good things God can do through you. Take some time today to visualize the person you want to be and start pursuing God's freedom. Because one day at a time, you and God can do anything!



Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Direction of Your Journey



God Will Direct Your Journey

Psalms 37:23 KJV 
"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and he delighteth in his way".


Growing up in the mountains some of my most enjoyable moments were spent hiking. Every time I would pack up my backpack and set off I felt like I was heading out on some fantastic journey. Without any type of guide I never knew where I might end up.

Sometimes I would go this way and discover an open meadow filled with wild flowers of every color and hue just beyond the tree line. Sometimes I would come to a dead end of nothing more than a sheer rock wall that was impossible to climb. Sometimes I got thirsty because I didn't bring enough water and couldn't find a fresh water source. Sometimes I got a little hungry before I found my way back. Storms come up out of nowhere. You get lost. You get wet. You get cold. You get too hot. All part of starting a journey not knowing where you are going and no one to guide you. Sometimes fun, sometimes scary. Always an adventure.

The Christian life can be likened to a journey. The Holy Spirit is our guide, He leads us daily. And He is always guiding us to what is best for our life. The key to a successful and enjoyable journey is to follow Him.

But what does it mean to follow God?

Basically, it means to obey Him, to follow His lead, and to do what He says.

So many times we get ahead of God. We may think we know the best direction to take or we get impatient with His timing and make a wrong turn because it looks quicker. The problem is, once we realize that road leads to a dead end, we have to go all the way back to where we got off course.

The good news is, God is there, waiting to take the lead again and show us the right way to go.

The Lord has each of our journeys perfectly planned. We need to fully understand that He loves us, that He is good and righteous and that we can trust Him.

We can trust Him to lead us in the direction that is right for us. We can trust Him to correct us when we stray and guide us back to the right place. We can trust Him with others on our path. We can trust Him with our life, period.

Follow the Holy Spirit's lead, because He knows the way and He will always stay with you. Trust Him to lead you into all the good He planned for your life long before you were ever born. And enjoy the journey.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Rapture Summary




Rapture- The Only Way To Go

Revelation 5:11-13 NKJV

11  Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 
12  saying with a loud voice:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

13  And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:
“Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”


One of the most often question that I receive is usually in reference to the Rapture. What is it, How it will happen, Where it will happen, When it will happen and so forth. While I can not speak to the "when" as no one knows the date and the hour that the Rapture will take place- I can speak to the What, Where and How aspect.


The Term

The term "Rapture" comes from a Latin word, "rapio," that means "to catch up, to snatch away, or to take out." It is, in turn, a translation of the Greek word, "harpazo."
So, "Rapture" is a Biblical word that comes right out of the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible. The word is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. In the New American Standard Version, the English phrase, "caught up," is used. The same phrase is used in the King James and New International Versions.


Understanding The Rapture

The Rapture is a glorious event which God has promised to the Church. The promise is that someday very soon, at the blowing of a trumpet and the shout of an archangel, Jesus will appear in the sky and take up His Church, living and dead, to Heaven.


A Promise to the Church

The concept of the Rapture was not revealed to the Old Testament prophets because it is a promise to the New Testament Church and not to the saints of God who lived before the establishment of the Church. Jesus will return as a bridegroom for His bride, and that bride consists only of Church Age saints.

The saints of Old Testament times will be resurrected at the end of the Tribulation and not at the time of the Rapture of the Church. Daniel reveals this fact in Daniel 12:1-2 where he says that the saints of that age will be resurrected at the end of the "time of distress." By these two specific Verses we can see that there is a sequential order of events that take place during the Rapture of God's people. The dead in Jesus Christ will rise first; followed by those in Christ that are alive at the time of the event and then later those that lived and died prior to Jesus Christ.


Biblical References

The first clear mention of the Rapture in Scripture is found in the words of Jesus recorded in John 14:1-4. Jesus said, "I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."

The most detailed revelation of the actual events related to the Rapture is given by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. He says that when Jesus appears, the dead in Christ (Church Age saints) will be resurrected and caught up first. Then, those of us who are alive in Christ will be translated "to meet the Lord in the air."

Paul mentions the Rapture again in 1 Corinthians 15 — his famous chapter on the resurrection of the dead: "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet" (verses 51-52).

Paul's reference here to being changed is an allusion to the fact that the saints will receive glorified bodies that will be imperishable, immortal, and perfected (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 50-55 and Isaiah 35:5-6).


A Summary

To summarize, these passages teach that the shout of an archangel and the blowing of a trumpet will herald the sudden appearance of Jesus in the heavens (1 Thessalonians 4:16). The dead in Christ will be resurrected and rise up to meet the Lord in the sky. Then, those saints who are alive will be "caught up" to the Lord. Paul concludes his description in 1 Thessalonians 4 by encouraging his readers to "comfort one another with these words."

And truly the Rapture is a comforting thought! Consider the promises contained in the concept of the Rapture. Jesus will bring with Him the spirits of those who have died in Him (1 Thessalonians 4:14). He will resurrect their bodies in a great miracle of re-creation; He will reunite their bodies with their spirits; and He will then glorify their bodies, making them immortal. And those believers who are living will not even taste death. Rather, they will be caught up to the Lord, and in transit, they will be translated from mortal to immortal.

All my life I have heard that there are two things no one can avoid: taxes and death. Well, that is not true. According to 1 Thessalonians 4, a whole generation of believers will escape death. Taxes appear to be the only inevitability!





The Timing

The most controversial aspect of the Rapture is its timing. Some place it at the end of the Tribulation, making it one and the same event as the Second Coming. Others place it in the middle of the Tribulation. Still others believe that it will occur at the beginning of the Tribulation.

The reason for these differing viewpoints is that the exact time of the Rapture is not precisely revealed in scripture. It is only inferred. There is, therefore, room for honest differences of opinion, and lines of fellowship should certainly not be drawn over differences regarding this point, even though it is an important point.


The Post-Tribulation Rapture

Those who place the timing at the end of the Tribulation usually base their argument on two parables in Matthew 13 and on the Lord's Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24.
In Matthew 24 the Lord portrays His gathering of the saints as an event that will take place "immediately after the tribulation of those days" (Matthew 24:29). This certainly sounds like a post-Tribulation Rapture. But it must be kept in mind that the book of Matthew was written to the Jews, and therefore the recording of Jesus' speech by Matthew has a distinctively Jewish flavor to it as compared to Luke's record of the same speech.

Note, for example, Matthew's references to Judea and to Jewish law regarding travel on the Sabbath (Matthew 24:15-20). These are omitted in Luke's account. Instead, Luke speaks of the saints looking up for deliverance "to escape all these things" when the end time signs "begin to take place" (Luke 21:28, 36). The saints in Matthew are instructed to flee from Judea and hide. The saints in Luke are told to look up for deliverance.

It appears, therefore, that Matthew and Luke are speaking of two different sets of saints. The saints in Matthew's account are most likely Jews who receive Jesus as their Messiah during the Tribulation. The saints in Luke are those who receive Christ before the Tribulation begins. Most of those who accept the Lord during the Tribulation will be martyred (Revelation 7:9-14). Those who live to the end will be gathered by the angels of the Lord (Matthew 24:31).

The parable of the wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30) and the parable of the dragnet (Matthew 13:47-50) can be explained in the same way. They refer to a separation of saints and sinners that will take place at the end of the Tribulation. The saints are those who receive Jesus as their Savior during the Tribulation (Gentile and Jew) and who live to the end of that awful period.

The Bible clearly teaches that the Rapture is an event that is separate and apart from the Second Coming. The two simply cannot be combined into one event.


The Mid-Tribulation Rapture

There are variations of the mid-Tribulation Rapture concept. The most common is that the Church will be taken out in the exact middle of the Tribulation, at the point in time when the Antichrist is revealed.

This concept is based upon a statement in 1 Corinthians 15:52 which says that the Rapture will occur at the blowing of "the last trumpet." This trumpet is then identified with the seventh trumpet of the trumpet judgments in the book of Revelation. Since the blowing of the seventh trumpet is recorded in Revelation 11, the mid-point of the Tribulation, the conclusion is that the Rapture must occur in the middle of the Tribulation.

But there are two problems with this interpretation. The first is that the last trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15 is blown for believers whereas the seven trumpets of Revelation 8, 9 and 11 are sounded for unbelievers. The Revelation trumpets have no relevance for the Church. The last trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15 is a trumpet for the righteous. The last trumpet for the unrighteous is the one described in Revelation 11.

Another problem with this interpretation is that the passage in Revelation 11 that portrays the sounding of the seventh trumpet is a "flash forward" to the end of the Tribulation. Flash forwards are very common in the book of Revelation. They occur after something terrible is described in order to assure the reader that everything is going to turn out all right when Jesus returns at the end of the Tribulation.

Thus, the eighth and ninth chapters of Revelation, which describe the horrors of the trumpet judgments, are followed immediately by a flash forward in chapter 10 that pictures the return of Jesus in victory at the end of the Tribulation. The mid-Tribulation action resumes in chapter 11 with a description of the killing of the two great prophets of God by the Antichrist. Then, to offset that terrible event, we are presented with another flash forward, beginning with verse 15. The seventh trumpet is sounded and we find ourselves propelled forward to the end of the Tribulation when "the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of our Lord."

The point is that the seventh trumpet of Revelation relates to the end of the Tribulation and not the middle. It is the same trumpet that is referred to in Matthew 24:31, the trumpet that will be blown to announce the Second Coming of Jesus. It is therefore no basis for an argument in behalf of a mid-Tribulation Rapture.


The Pre-Wrath Rapture

A variation of the mid-Tribulation Rapture is the pre-wrath Rapture concept that places the Rapture at the beginning of the last quarter of the Tribulation, about five and a half years into the Tribulation.

The argument for this view is that the Church is promised protection only from the wrath of God and not the wrath of Man or of Satan. It is then argued that only the bowl judgments in the last quarter of the Tribulation (Revelation 16) represent the wrath of God.

But the argument for this view disintegrates when you consider two facts. First, it is Jesus Himself who breaks the seals that launch each of the seal judgments recorded in Revelation 6. These judgments occur at the beginning of the Tribulation. Second, the seven angels who blow the trumpets that initiate each of the trumpet judgments are given their trumpets at the throne of God (Revelation 8:2).

All the judgments of Revelation are clearly superintended by God. That is the reason we are told in Revelation 15:1 that the bowl judgments at the end of the Tribulation will finish the wrath of God, not begin His wrath.


The Pre-Tribulation Rapture

I believe the best inference of Scripture is that the Rapture will occur at the beginning of the Tribulation. The most important reason I believe this has to do with the issue of imminence.

Over and over in Scripture we are told to watch for the appearing of the Lord. We are told "to be ready" (Matthew 24:44), "to be on the alert" (Matthew 24:42), "to be dressed in readiness" (Luke 12:35), and to "keep your lamps alight" (Luke 12:35). The clear force of these persistent warnings is that Jesus can appear at any moment.

Only the pre-Tribulation concept of the Rapture allows for the imminence of the Lord's appearing for His Church. When the Rapture is placed at any other point in time, the imminence of the Lord's appearing is destroyed because other prophetic events must happen first.

For example, if the Rapture is going to occur in mid-Tribulation, then why should I live looking for the Lord's appearing at any moment? I would be looking instead for an Israeli peace treaty, the rebuilding of the Temple, and the revelation of the Antichrist. Then and only then could the Lord appear.


Focus

This raises the issue of what we are to be looking for. Nowhere are believers told to watch for the appearance of the Antichrist. On the contrary, we are told to watch for Jesus Christ. In Titus 2:13 Paul says we are to live "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." Likewise, Peter urges us to "fix our hope completely on the grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:13). John completes the apostolic chorus by similarly urging us to "fix our hope on Him" at His appearing (1 John 3:2-3).

Only Matthew speaks of watching for the Antichrist (Matthew 24:15), but he is speaking to the Jews living in Israel in the middle of the Tribulation when the Antichrist desecrates the rebuilt Temple.


Wrath

Another argument in behalf of a pre-Tribulation Rapture has to do with the promises of God to protect the Church from His wrath. As has already been demonstrated, the book of Revelation shows that the wrath of God will be poured out during the entire period of the Tribulation.

The Word promises over and over that the Church will be delivered from God's wrath. Romans 5:9 says that "we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him [Jesus]." 1 Thessalonians 1:10 states that we are waiting "for His Son from heaven... who will deliver us from the wrath to come." The promise is repeated in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 — "God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."


Deliverance

Some argue that God could supernaturally protect the Church during the Tribulation. Yes, He could. In fact, He promises to do just that for the 144,000 Jews who will be sealed as bond-servants at the beginning of the Tribulation (Revelation 7:1-8).
But God's promise to the Church during the Tribulation is not one of protection but one of deliverance. Jesus said we would "escape" the horrors of the Tribulation (Luke 21:3-6). Paul says Jesus is coming to "deliver" us from God's wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10).


Symbolism

There are several prophetic types that seem to affirm the concept of deliverance from Tribulation.

Take Enoch for example. He was a prophet to the Gentiles who was raptured out of the world before God poured out His wrath in the great flood of Noah's time. Enoch appears to be a type of the Gentile Church that will be taken out of the world before God pours out His wrath again. If so, then Noah and his family are a type of the Jewish remnant that will be protected through the Tribulation.

Another Old Testament symbolic type which points toward a pre-Tribulation Rapture is the experience of Lot and his family. They were delivered out of Sodom and Gomorrah before those cities were destroyed.

The Apostle Peter alludes to both of these examples in his second epistle. He states that if God spared Noah and Lot, then He surely "knows how to rescue the godly from trial and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment" (2 Peter 2:4-9).

Another beautiful prophetic type is to be found in the Jewish wedding traditions of Jesus' time. After the betrothal, the groom would return to his father's house to prepare a wedding chamber for his bride. He would return for his bride at an unexpected moment, so the bride had to be ready constantly. When he returned, he would take his bride back to his father's house to the chamber he had prepared. He and his bride would then be sealed in the chamber for seven days. When they emerged, a great wedding feast would be celebrated.

Likewise, Jesus has returned to Heaven to prepare a place for His bride, the Church. When He returns for His bride, He will take her to His Father's heavenly home. There He will remain with His bride for seven years (the duration of the Tribulation). The period will end with "the marriage supper of the Lamb" described in Revelation 19. Thus the seven days in the wedding chamber point prophetically to the seven years that Jesus and His bride will remain in Heaven during the Tribulation.


Revelation

Speaking of Revelation, the structure of that book also implies a pre-Tribulation Rapture in a symbolic sense.

The first three chapters focus on the Church. Chapter 4 begins with the door of Heaven opening and John being raptured from the Isle of Patmos to the throne of God in Heaven. The Church is not mentioned thereafter until Revelation 19:7-9 when it is portrayed as the "bride of Christ" in Heaven with Jesus celebrating the "marriage supper of the Lamb." At Revelation 19:11 the door of Heaven opens again, and Jesus emerges riding a white horse on His way to earth, followed by His Church (Revelation 19:14).

The rapture of the Apostle John in Revelation 4 appears to be a symbolic type of the Rapture of the Church. Note that it is initiated by the cry of a voice that sounds like the blowing of a trumpet (Revelation 4:1). Since the Tribulation does not begin until Revelation 6, the rapture of John in Revelation 4 appears to be a symbolic type that points to a pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church.

Some counter this argument by pointing out that although the Church is not mentioned in Revelation during that book's description of the Tribulation, there is constant mention of "saints" (for example, Revelation 13:7). But that term is not used in the Bible exclusively to refer to members of the Church. Daniel uses it to refer to Old Testament believers who lived long before the Church was established (Daniel 7:18). The saints referred to in the book of Revelation are most likely those people who will be saved during the Tribulation, after the Church has been taken out of the world.


Paul's Assurance

An interesting argument in behalf of the pre-Tribulation timing of the Rapture can be found in 2 Thessalonians. The church at Thessalonica was in a turmoil because someone had written them a letter under Paul's name stating that they had missed the "gathering to the Lord" and were, in fact, living in "the day of the Lord" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2).

Paul attempted to calm them down by reminding them of his teaching that the day of the Lord would not come until after the Antichrist is revealed. He then stated that the Antichrist would not be revealed until a restraining force "is taken out of the way" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-7).

There has been much speculation as to the identity of this restraining force that Paul refers to. Some have identified it as the Holy Spirit. But it cannot be the Holy Spirit because there will be people saved during the Tribulation, and no one can be saved apart from the testimony of the Spirit (John 16:8-11 & 1 John 5:7).

Others have identified the restrainer as human government. It is true that government was ordained by God to restrain evil (Romans 13:1-4). But the governments of the world are in rebellion against God and His Son (Psalm 2), and they are therefore a contributor to the evil that characterizes the world. Furthermore, the Tribulation will not be characterized by a lack of government. Rather, it will feature the first true worldwide government (Revelation 13:7).

In my opinion that leaves only one other candidate for Paul's restrainer — and that is the Church. It is the Church that serves as the primary restrainer of evil in the world today as it proclaims the Gospel and stands for righteousness. When the Church fails in this mission, evil multiplies, as Paul graphically points out in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Paul says that society in the end times will be characterized by chaos and despair because "men will hold to a form of religion but will deny its power." When the Church is removed from the world, all hell will literally break loose.


Escapism?

The pre-Tribulation concept of the Rapture has often been condemned as "escapism." I think this criticism is unjustified. The Bible itself says that Christians are to "comfort one another" with the thought of the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:18). Is it a comfort to think of the Rapture occurring at the end of the world's worst period of war instead of at the beginning?

Regardless of when the Rapture actually occurs, we need to keep in mind that the Bible teaches that societal conditions are going to grow increasingly worse the closer we get to the Lord's return. That means Christians will suffer tribulation whether or not they go into the Great Tribulation. And that means all of us had better be preparing ourselves for unprecedented suffering and spiritual warfare.

If you are a Christian, you can do that on a daily basis by putting on "the full armor of God" (Ephesians 6:13), praying at all times in the Spirit that you will be able to stand firm against the attacks of Satan (Ephesians 6:14-18).






In closing;

I think that instead of being fearful of what lies ahead of us that we should be rejoicing. Every day that passes brings us one day closer to being taken out of this world and reunited with our Creator. Instead of worrying about the decline of the human condition in man that we should we should see it clearly as a clue that Jesus could indeed call us all Home at any moment. Go about your lives doing the things that you would normally do as the many membered body of Christ (the church)  but do it with the anticipation of an imminent Return at any moment of our Lord Jesus Christ to collect His people.

Those of you that have not yet made the decision to be part of the family of Jesus Christ need to know that you are running out of time. If you choose to not bow your knee and accept Him now; rest assured that you will bow your knee before Him later.

Romans 14:11-12 NKJV
11  For it is written:
“As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”

12  So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.


Philippians 2:9-11 NKJV

9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 
11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.




Thursday, July 18, 2013

On Guard Duty



Out of Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23  KJV 
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life".

Proverbs 4:23 says to guard your heart "for it determines the course of your life" (NLT). Think about that. Whatever's in your heart is eventually going to show up in your everyday life. Whatever's inside will eventually find its way out, where anyone and everyone can see it.

That alone makes it extremely important to monitor the things we allow to shape our hearts. I don't want something nasty, sinful, and selfish finding its way out and damaging my relationships with God and with those around me, and I doubt you do either.

A large part of guarding your heart means learning how to control your thoughts, your words, your disposition and your general outlook. What you think usually comes out in what you say. What you say affects how you feel, and that shows up in your overall attitude.

In the course of everyday life, this is what determines how you handle your circumstances, whether you'll have peace or fall apart in a stressful situation. It governs how you respond to others, either with compassion and understanding or with judgment and arrogance, especially when you disagree with them!

You can try and keep your inner thoughts from altering your words and attitudes, but I find it's much easier to have godly thoughts to begin with. Spend time in God's presence, and let the Holy Spirit fill your heart with His goodness.

I only want my heart to be filled with thoughts and desires that are from the Lord Jesus. As I spend more time in His presence and focus solely on Him, I know that my heart will change for the better, affecting the rest of my life in godly ways.  Won't you join me today in changing your heart for the better?



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tick, Tick, Tick Goes the Time



Making the Most of Your Time

Ephesians 5:15-16  KJV 
"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise"


Time really does fly, doesn't it? On the other hand, in some situations, it may seem like time crawls! No matter how fast or slow it feels like time goes by, each of us only has a certain amount of time on this earth. With that in mind, I want to ask you, what are you doing with your time?

Time is such a gift from God! I see every day how He takes His time to make us what He wants us to be. And then, in His mercy and grace, He gives us time to get in agreement with what He's doing in our lives so we can experience His goodness. What a loving God!

So, ask yourself, "Am I in agreement with what God is doing in me? Or, am I struggling and fighting, impatiently trying to do things my way?"

I can assure you, if you're struggling with God, you're just wasting your time, but if you're in agreement with Him, you're using your time for great things.

Remember, God is gracious. He takes His time. We might think He's taking too long when, in His goodness, He is just waiting for us to line up with the work He's doing in us. He won't rush. He is patient. Our struggling only delays our progress.

So maybe this is a good time to change your outlook and start looking ahead to a new way of doing things, a new vision for life, a renewed faith and trust in the One who is always at work in us, and always for our good.

My encouragement to you is to trust God and spend your time getting in agreement with what He is doing in your life. Let Him define your purpose. Know in your heart that He has great plans, and no matter how much time He takes, He loves you, and He always has your best interest at heart.


Monday, July 15, 2013

New Beginnings



The Place Where You Are

Genesis 13:14 KJV 
"And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward"
 

It seems that life always has its ways of bringing us to a place where we need to make a fresh start.

In the Bible, Abram found himself in that very place when his nephew Lot chose the best land in the area, leaving Abram with the less desirable land. But God didn't abandon Abram. Instead He showed up and gave Abram a bold new vision.

I like what the Lord told Abram after he and Lot parted ways. He told him, 'Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are.'

It's that phrase, "look from the place where you are," that stirs me. That's the point of a fresh start, a new beginning. God Himself will bring us to that point occasionally.

You might be there right now. Maybe you want to break a bad habit or revive a lost dream. Maybe you want to get a handle on your finances, start your own business, write a book, whatever it is, God could be telling you to get started right now. This could be your new beginning!

After God told Abram to look from that place, the next thing He told him was, 'Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you' (Genesis 13:17 NKJV).

God could be telling you right now to get up and get on with your dream or vision, your assignment, your life, because He is giving it to you. Your part is to walk it out.

Do what you need to do. It may not be easy. It might take some time. But trust God and go for whatever it is. Look from the place where you are right now - and go!
 


Sunday, July 14, 2013

JOY



Contentment and Joy

Psalms 16:5-11  NKJV 

5  O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
     You maintain my lot.


6  The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
     Yes, I have a good inheritance.


7  I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
     My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.


8  I have set the Lord always before me;
     Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.


9  Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
     My flesh also will rest in hope.


10  For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
        Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.


11  You will show me the path of life;
        In Your presence is fullness of joy;
        At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.





David's heart was glad - he had found the secret to joy. True joy is far deeper than happiness; we can feel joy in spite of our deepest troubles.


Happiness is temporary because it is based on external circumstances, but joy is lasting because it is based on God's presence within us.


As we contemplate His daily presence, we will find contentment. As we understand the future He has for us, we will experience joy.

Don't base your life on circumstances, but on God. Your circumstances will change but God never will.



Friday, July 12, 2013

Listen To The Lord




God Is Speaking

John 16:13 KJV 
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come"


It sounds like a pretty foundational point, but I believe there are many who still question whether God really talks to people. Have you ever wondered about this? Do you ask yourself if God would ever speak to you? You'll be happy to know that the answer is yes.

Toward the end of His time on earth, Jesus told His disciples, "I have still many things to say to you, but you are not able to bear them or take them upon you or to grasp them now. But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth)" (John 16:12,13).

When Jesus spoke these words, He was talking to men with whom He had spent the previous three years, yet He still had more to teach them. This is surprising, because I would think that if Jesus was with me personally for three years, day and night, I would have learned everything there is to know.

But Jesus always has more to say because we will always be facing new situations in life that He wants to guide us through. That's why we've been given the Holy Spirit - so that we can hear God speak, even though He may not be physically in front of us.

Through Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, God wants to speak to you on a One-to-one basis every day. He wants to lead you step-by-step to the good things He has in store for you.

The Father will give the gift of His Spirit to all who ask for Him (see Luke 11:13). I want to say again emphatically that each of us can hear from God and be led by the Holy Spirit daily.

Are you listening?



 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Life of Christy Brown



The Book Review

Some time ago I had the pleasure of reading the Book "My Left Foot" which is the 1954 autobiography of Christy Brown, who was born with cerebral palsy (a spastic quadriplegic) on June 5, 1932 in Dublin, Ireland. As one of 13 surviving children, Brown went on to be an author, painter and poet. Christy Brown is born into a large, poor Irish family. His mother, Mrs. Brown, recognizes the intelligence and humanity in the boy that everyone else regards as a vegetable. Eventually, Christy matures into a cantankerous writer who uses his only functional limb, his left foot, to write and to paint with.




Mr. Brown begins his book by telling the reader about his early childhood. When he was four months old, Brown's mother was the first to notice that there was something wrong with his health. He could not hold his head upright or control his body movements. After seeking medical advice, the family's worst fears were confirmed: Christy was physically handicapped and suffered from an incurable disability called cerebral palsy. His family, besides his mother, thought he was an idiot. They told his mother to give up.

Although the doctors did not believe in Brown's mental intelligence, his mother did not lose faith in her son and supported him as a full member of the family.

A transforming moment occurs in the young boy's life that proves him to be intelligent. He discovers that he can control his left foot and toes. At the age of five, he snatches a piece of yellow chalk from his sister with his left foot. He marks the letter "A" on the floor with his foot and the help of his mother. He had wanted to make, what he described as, "a wild sort of scribble with it on the slate". It is from this incident that the book received its title. In this moment, Brown had found a way to express himself since he could not speak like a healthy child.

Throughout his childhood, Brown played with local children and with his siblings, assisted by a small cart that he called "Henry". As time went on, he became more introverted, as he began to realize that his handicap made him different from his family and friends and impeded his enjoyment of life. Through this struggle, he discovered his creative and artistic talents, becoming devoted to literature, writing and painting. He used his left foot to carry out these tasks.

At the age of 18, Brown went to Lourdes in France. Here, he met individuals whose handicaps were even worse than his. For the first time in his life, he began to experience energy and hope. He also began to accept himself as the person he was, and do the best with what he had. He started a new treatment for cerebral palsy, which led to the improvement of his speech and physical condition.

In his teenage years, he met the Irish doctor Robert Collis. Collis had established a clinic for cerebral palsy patients and Brown was his very first patient at this clinic. Collis was also a noted author, and provided supervision of Brown's writing. This included two first drafts of this book and its final version.

The autobiography makes reference to its own creation. The final pages tell of Collis reading the first chapter of the book to the audience at a fundraising event. The chapter was warmly received by those in attendance.

During Brown's adolescence, social worker Katrina Delahunt became aware of his story and began to visit the Brown family regularly, while bringing Christy books and painting materials as, over the years, he had shown a keen interest in the arts and literature. He had also demonstrated extremely impressive physical dexterity since, soon after discovering several household books, Christy had learned to both write and draw himself with the only limb over which he had unequivocal control — his left leg. Brown quickly matured into a serious artist.

Although Brown famously received almost no formal schooling during his youth, he did attend St Brendan's School-Clinic in Sandymount intermittently. At St. Brendan's he came in contact with Dr. Robert Collis, a noted author. Collis discovered that Brown was also a natural novelist and, later, Collis helped use his own connections to publish My Left Foot, by then a long-gestating autobiographical account of Brown's struggle with everyday life amidst the vibrant culture of Dublin

When My Left Foot became a literary sensation, one of the many people who wrote letters to Brown was married American woman Beth Moore. Brown and Moore became regular correspondents and, in 1960, Brown holidayed in North America and stayed with Moore at her home in Connecticut. When they met again in 1965 they began an affair. Brown journeyed to Connecticut once more to finish his magnum opus, which he had been developing for years. He finally did so in 1967 with help from Moore, who introduced and administered a strict working regimen, mostly by denying him alcohol (on which Brown was dependent) until a day's work was completed. The book, titled Down All the Days, was published in 1970 and was inscribed with a dedication to Moore that read, "For Beth, who with such gentle ferocity, finally whipped me into finishing this book..."
 
During this time, Brown's fame continued to spread internationally and he became a prominent celebrity. Upon his return to Ireland, he was able to use proceeds from the sales of his books to design and move into a specially constructed home outside Dublin with his sister's family. Though Brown and Beth had planned to marry and live together at the new home, and though Moore had informed her husband of these plans, it was around this time that Brown began an affair with Englishwoman Mary Carr, whom he met at a party in London. Brown then terminated his affair with Moore and married Carr at the Registry Office, Dublin, in 1972. They moved to Stoney Lane, Rathcoole, County Dublin (now site of Lisheen Nursing Home), to Kerry and then to Somerset. He continued to paint, write novels, poetry and plays. His 1974 novel, A Shadow on Summer, was based on his relationship with Moore, whom he still considered a friend.

Brown's health had deteriorated after marrying Carr, despite what was portrayed in the film of My Left Foot. He became mainly a recluse in his last years, which is thought to be a direct result of Carr's influence and perhaps abusive nature. Brown died at the age of 49 after choking during a lamb chop dinner. His body was found to have significant bruising, which led many to believe that Carr had physically abused him. Further suspicions arose after Georgina Hambleton's biography The Life That Inspired My Left Foot, revealed a supposedly more accurate and unhealthy version of their relationship. The book portrays Carr as an abusive alcoholic and habitually unfaithful. In Hambleton's book, she quotes Brown's brother, Sean, as saying: "Christy loved her but it wasn't reciprocated, because she wasn't that kind of person. If she loved him like she said she did, she wouldn't have had affairs with both men and women. I feel she took advantage of him in more ways than one."






The Movie Review

Today; raining as it were, I had the supreme pleasure to finally take a few moments to watch the movie in which Daniel Day-Lewis played the part of Christy Brown. Over all I must admit that it was a "feel good" movie. Of triumph over the worst of conditions. Of love, or wanting to be loved above all else, of a mother's love for her child- with moments of heart break. Of viewing poverty and sadness. Had I not already had a working knowledge of the life (and death) of Christy Brown I probably would have enjoyed it so much more.

Daniel Day-Lewis simply could not have done a better job of playing the part of someone that is afflicted with cerebral palsy- so much so that at times one could very much imagine that he actually did. Brenda Fricker (who played the part of Mrs. Brown- Christy's mother) was equally perfect for the part. With just the right amount of maternal love and encouragement mixed with a stern amount of "stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something". I loved her and I loved the way that she played her.

The movie gives anyone that has a child with a disability hope. Hope for their future. Hope for their happiness. Hope for love- the one thing that everyone on earth desires above all else. I give this movie a two thumbs up across the board- if you do not read the book first.

Because as the movie ends on a happy note; sadly the life of Christy Brown did not.


Monday, July 8, 2013

No More Distractions



Distractions

Isaiah 26:9 KJV 
"With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness". 


The world makes it easy for us to fill our ears with all kinds of things that drown out the voice of God and push Him far, far into the background of our lives. These distractions come in various forms, from the television to the radio, from food to hobbies. Even our family and church activities can sometimes distract us or pull us away from the Lord.


However, the day comes for every person when only God remains. Everything else in life eventually passes away; and when it does, God will still be there.


The Word of God teaches that what is known about God is evident to all because He has made Himself known in the inner consciousness of mankind (see Romans 1:19-21). Each person will one day stand before Him and give an account of his or her life (see Romans 14:12).


When people don't want to serve God with their lives, when they want to go their own way, they find ways to hide from and ignore this instinctive inner knowledge of their Creator who wants to talk to them and guide them in the way they should go. But nothing can satisfy our inner longing for God, except communion and fellowship with Him. Isaiah expressed well our own hunger for God when he wrote, "My soul yearns for you [O Lord] in the night, yes, my spirit within me seeks you earnestly" (Isaiah 26:9).


Hearing from God is vital to enjoying His eternal plan for our lives. Listening to God is our decision; no one else can make it for us. God won't force us to choose His will, but He will do everything He can to encourage us to say yes to His ways.


So what's distracting you from listening to Him? An unhealthy relationship? A job? A bad habit? God is speaking to you and He desires fellowship with you. Put aside those distractions and join Him.


Father God,
I am like Isaiah, my soul longs for You. I know that I need to listen to Your voice more than anything else. I know that as I set aside distractions, You will be faithful to meet with me. I know that You will guide me and show me a more excellent way to be. Help me to be faithful in my desire to spend more time in Your presence. It is in your Name that I pray, Amen and Amen.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Practice Peace



Peace In My Soul

Philippians 4:4-7 NKJV
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.



Practice Peace

Living in God's peace is vital to enjoying life. I believe that one of the keys to living with peace in your life is taking small steps toward peace every day. Here are a few tips you can use to develop a more peaceful lifestyle.

1. Be selective with how you spend your time. You may be trying to do too many things and end up doing none of them well. Hurrying is the flesh trying to do more than the Holy Spirit is leading you to do. Be led by the Spirit.

2. Be prepared to say "no" nicely. Sometimes we take on things we shouldn't because we're uncomfortable saying no. Ask God to give you the words to say no when you need to.

3. Resist the spirit of procrastination. God's Word tells us to exercise self-discipline. Do what you know you need to do now so you can fully enjoy your times of rest.

4. Eliminate key distractions. If you know you are prone to certain distractions, such as watching too much TV, spending too much time on the computer, spending too much time reading, etc. set some guidelines for yourself. Allot yourself a time limit or certain times of the day for these things. Though in small increments these things can bring you a measure of peace- in large doses they can be frustrating. TV shows get canceled or go on hiatus, internet services is interrupted by storms or you are in the juicy part of a book and every 5 minutes something else needs your attention. Arrange your time so that you can enjoy these things.

5. Set appropriate boundaries for interruptions. Life is full of interruptions, but you can learn to set boundaries that help you manage them in healthy ways, such as scheduling times when you are "off limits." Schedule time to give yourself a break. It can be used by a power nap or just relaxing in the tub. Make it clear that during the hour of such and such has been designated your "quiet time" and you would very much like to not be disturbed.

6. Modify your life. Ask God to show you out-of-the-box ways to save time and trouble. For instance, when I know that I won't have time to do the dishes on a certain day, I use paper plates and cups. I have a list of daily chores that I want to see accomplished before I go to bed and I stick with my list. Instead of trying to do every single piece of housework that needs to be done all in just one day I break it up into manageable bits spread out over the course of the week. This frees me up to spend time with my family and with God and still maintain a clean house that I wouldn't be embarrassed for 'drop in' company to see.

7. Pray and listen. If you can see that your plan is not producing peace, go back to God, pray for peace in the now, and for the wisdom to make changes that will benefit your life and the life of your family. We may be Christians but we are still human which makes us prone to go running off into left field doing things our way or the way we want the direction of our lives to go. Our way doesn't always line up with what God wants for us and when we start hitting bumps in the road then it's time to go back to the drawing board and ask God for a better way.

The bottom line is to make peace a priority, take practical steps toward it. They say that it takes 30 days of doing the same thing continually to make a habit that then becomes a natural part of your life. Start today in forming a habit of peace. You'll thank yourself later for it. Let God lead you every day into His perfect peace that passes all understanding.

Father God,
Gently lead me into Your peace that passes all understanding. Show me the daily steps I can take to walk in Your peace for me. In this; both I and my family give thanks in advance. Help me to stick to this practice of peace until it becomes as natural to me as breathing air. It is in Your Holy Name that I ask for this and say Amen and Amen!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

America! How Beautiful!



America; The Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!


America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!


O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion'd stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.


America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.


O beautiful for heroes prov'd
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.


America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry gain divine.


O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.


America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.