Luke 8:54

"And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid arise." Luke 8:54

Monday, September 28, 2015

Quote of the Day

Image result for F. Fenelon
"It seems to me that you need to be a little more big-hearted about the imperfection of other people.  I know you can't help but see these imperfections when they come right before your eyes and neither can you prevent involuntary opinions about others from popping into your mind.  And nobody will deny that the imperfections of others cause us a lot of inconvenience!  But it will be enough if you are willing to be patient with imperfections, whether they be serious or not so serious.  Do not allow yourself to turn away from people because of their imperfections.
     If there is one mark of perfection, it is simply that it can tolerate the imperfections of others.  It is able to adjust.  It becomes all things to all men.  Sometimes we find the most surprising faults in otherwise good people.  But we must  not be surprised.  It is best to let these faults alone and let God deal with them in His time.  If we deal with them, we shall end up pulling up the wheat with the tares.  I have found that God leaves, even in the most spiritual people, certain weaknesses which seem to be entirely out of place.  This is true of all of us.  And all of us need to be quick to recognize our own imperfection, letting God deal with them.
      As for you, labor to be patient with the weaknesses of other people.  You know from experience how bitterly it hurts to be corrected.  So work hard to make it less bitter for others.  Although I am not saying that you correct other people too much.  That is not your problem.  Your problem is that you become cool when you discover faults in other people, and you tend to quit associating with them.  So you need to deal with that problem.
      Now, after all that, I ask that you more than ever to not spare me if I need correction.  Even if you mention a fault which isn't really there, there will be no harm done.  If I find that your correction wounds me, then my irritability simply shows that you have touched a sore spot in my life.  but if there is no irritability and resentment, then at least you will have done me an excellent kindness in testing my ability to be humble, and keeping me accustomed to reproof..."

Fenelon, Let Go, p. 50-51

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fractured People

Spiritual Lessons

Guest writer, Jana-Lee Patton, shares with us some amazing thoughts.  This was a blessing to me, I know it will be for you!

Fractured People

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Two fractions do not necessarily make a whole number. In a world full of fractured people it’s no wonder that the divorce rate is so high. You take two fractions and hope that they are the “right” fractions who fit together just so in order to make a perfect whole. From a mathematical perspective the odds are unfavourable at best.
For some reason, which I have yet to discover, there seems to be a preoccupation in our day and age with finding that one partner who will complete one’s seemingly allotted fraction. If you are in the world and playing the dating game, it’s a matter of getting out there and making yourself available to numerous partners of the opposite sex (or not) in hopes that you’ll get lucky and find the one who will fulfill that empty space in your heart and life. If you’re in more fundamentalist circles and have been brought up to believe in the merits of courtship and waiting for God to send the “right one” then you find yourself checking over every eligible male of female who darkens the door of the church or whom you meet at any church gathering and wondering if they’re “the one”.
I have found myself in the latter category most of my youth, beginning at the age when such things become of interest to a teenage girl and lasting into my early twenties. When Mr. Right failed to appear I was forced to examine a few things. I’ve found myself questioning why it is that we human beings play this game of chance with such temerity.
I have noticed that there seems to be an automatic question uppermost in the minds of those whom I meet for the first, or second, or third (or more) time. Casual acquaintances who are themselves either already married or in that state of “looking”. I can almost feel the question simmering. I can usually see it spelled out in their eyes and in the thread of small talk usually engaged in on such meetings before it ever comes out their mouth. They look at me, a twenty-something, attractive young woman, well-spoken and engaging and they just have to ask, “So, are you married?” or “Is there anyone special in your life?” In the past I’ve always shook my head ruefully and made some banal comment about how I’m still waiting on God. Or, they might see me with a young child or baby in my arms and make the, oh so redundant comment, “Looks good on you.” I myself have said it to other singles thinking I was being complimentary when, really, inside a single person’s heart these comments are often depressing because it seems painfully obvious, at least to me, that there does not appear to be enough Godly Christian men to go around. However, that does not negate the fact that God can do anything and He can bring a husband to whomever He chooses, but He may choose not to and it is my job as a single Christian woman to accept His will, whatever that might be.
After several years of this repetitious pattern I found myself getting annoyed by it and wondering why it is that everyone seems to be so preoccupied with the topic of marriage, as though being single was some kind of curse to be endured until the Lord saw fit to reward me with that “perfect someone” who was going to come out of the blue and sweep me off my feet and I’ll be so glad I waited. To paraphrase Jane Austen’s famous first line in “Pride & Prejudice”: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single girl in possession of attractiveness and domestic talents must be in want of a husband.” I’ve had young married women relate to me how glad they were that they waited for the right one and how happy they are now and how they just know that they were made for each other and it’s because they were willing to wait so long that this happened, thinking they’re being encouraging to me. When I’d ask how old they were when they got married and they say they were 21, or some similarly young age, I’m anything but encouraged! I’m over the quarter century mark and well on my way to my third decade along with many of my peers and the options appear to be just as limited now as they did five years ago – in some ways more limited perhaps because time has cast my once naive and youthful ideals into serious question.
The Bible says in Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give you the desires of thine heart. I recall my Pastor telling me many times that if I am delighting myself in the Lord then I must believe and trust that the desires of my heart are from Him because it says that He’ll “give” me the desires of my heart – in other words, He puts them there. This prompted me to go to the Lord and ask Him to make His will for me clear by changing the desires of my heart from marriage to singlehood if that’s what He wanted for me. “I want to be in thy will, oh Lord,” I’d pray, “So please bring my desires in line with yours.” All the while I prayed this I knew that it would take a miracle for this to actually happen. I’ve wanted to be a wife and mother since I was a little girl. My own mother is, in my eyes, the perfect domestic goddess and I’ve been said to take after her. I couldn’t imagine that even God – powerful as He is – could change my heart regarding this matter. Oh, me of little faith!
A couple of months ago I got around to searching my heart again and found, to my surprise, that where I once yearned for a lifelong companion I now yearned for a solitary life. Where had this new longing come from and where had the old gone? Had God really answered my prayer? I was amazed and chagrined at my own doubting heart. Thus, I began to search for information on the single life. As a librarian I have access to a wide variety of materials, which I quickly availed myself of as I was suddenly overcome by a passionate craving to read about other people who have chosen to remain single and the wisdom and experiences they may have to share. I also began studying I Corinthians 7 and Matthew 19:12 and anywhere else in the Bible where it talks about people choosing not to marry. I felt like I was engaging in some clandestine and forbidden activity because it feels like such an anathema in church circles these days to not desire filial bliss. I was astounded to discover that there is an entire strata of society, both past and present, who have lived their lives uncoupled and made notable achievements in ways they might not have had they been tied down to a home and family.
Just to clarify: some of the greatest women I know are wives and mothers and grandmothers and I would never belittle that calling. However, I have always seemed so well equipped and been intentionally prepared for the married state that I didn’t stop to consider that perhaps God has another plan for me. By placing domestic bliss so high up on my own personal scale of noble achievement I neglected to consider that there are other options in life as well.  
I cannot count how many times in the past decade I’ve heard from well-meaning people, “You’re so sweet and pretty it won’t be long before some nice young man scoops you up.” There was a time when I was flattered and encouraged by these words as my girlish heart soared with the romantic promise of such a statement. And I’m not saying it’s necessarily a bad thing to say so long as there is sensitivity to where the single person is at in their life. Now I find that the Lord has changed my thinking so dramatically that statements such as these cause me to wonder what I would be fit for if I were ugly and had a tart disposition. Would I be passed over as undesirable wife material? I began to realize that my worth involves a whole lot more than just my demeanour and looks. I say this only because I can see, much to my sorrow and dismay, that many a young girl falls into the trap of thinking that she must find a guy (who will preferably marry her) in order to prove her value. I’ve concluded that there is much more involved in any kind of relationship and the evidence is that if the only criteria were looks and disposition then there would be many more of us married, and some who are married, wouldn’t be. I don’t mean to sound vain, I’m merely attempting to point out that true relationship goes so much deeper than mere looks and personality, though these things may provide an initial attraction. However, if it goes no deeper and effort is not made to know and understand the person inside then when beauty fades (and it always does) or personality reveals its many varied facets, the relationship suddenly freezes because there is no depth to it. The depth must begin in the individual and his or her relationship with Christ.
Paul says in I Corinthians 7:34-35 “There is a difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.”
Right in those verses I saw for the first time that singlehood is not a state to be shunned or avoided. Rather, it is a gift bestowed that one may serve the Lord without distraction, and goodness knows there are enough distractions in the world as it is!
Having crossed over that bridge from wanton and fractured singularity to blissfully complete-in-Christ autonomy I now see life in a wonderfully new way. My outlook has changed as have my relationships with people, particularly those of the opposite sex. I no longer feel the pressure of “checking out” every prospective male. It’s as if I’m peacefully asleep to everything relating to that odd dance that occurs between eligible counterparts whereas before I was keenly awake. Such a transformation can only be the Lord because I know without a doubt that I could not achieve such a change on my own.
Returning to the idea of fractions – I’ve come to see that ½ plus ½ (or any fraction) does not make a whole. If one is lucky enough to land on the right combination of fractions they might get really close to a perfect whole. When you add fractions your bottom number always remains the same regardless of how the top number may increase or decrease; essentially, it is still a fraction. Only when you reduce it to its simplest form can you find the whole numbers that may or may not be hiding within the fraction. However, if one takes a complete 1 and another complete 1 you will invariably get a complete 2 because you’re working with whole numbers and not fractions. The Word of God speaks of marriage and says “they two shall be one flesh.” What I’ve realised is that you have to have two whole individuals before you can join them together to become a whole entity. I think many have mistaken this passage to mean that we are all halves or fractions of a whole and in order to become whole we must find our other half or fraction. It becomes a game of chance to see if we can sift through all the pieces and find the one that fits just right. I’ve seen it so many times among young people where it’s as if they are playing a game and who ever is the best and most competitive player wins the jackpot. But, if you happen to be slower than the others or deficient in some way then you’re out of luck and subject to the sympathetic clucking of those who already made it to the next level.
I used to think of singlehood as merely a brief stage between childhood and marriage (and the briefer the better). Now I see it as an honourable state of being in which I can be a whole “one” because of Christ who makes me complete (Colossians 2:9-10a For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him . . .). As a single person I have the freedom to do things and go places that my married counterparts cannot do or go, simply because I am at liberty and do not bear the burden of a home and family. I’m thankful for those who do marry and do their best to raise children for the Lord and I admire their courage greatly. I wouldn’t be here if my parents hadn’t done so. However, for myself, I have come to see that the Lord can use me in ways that are different than if I were married and I’m excited to see what ways those may be. I am no longer afraid to step out and do these things for fear I might miss “Mr. Right” should he come by while I’m out. There is so much more that God has put in my life that it would be a shame not to live it fully; it would be a shame to waste it. The future has opened up for me in a new way and I feel such blissful freedom in being the bride of Christ knowing full well that He is more than enough to fulfill every need and desire that He has placed in me as my divine Creator, For he knoweth [my] frame (Psalm 103:14a).
God doesn’t create fractured people. We became fractured through the fall of man and the nature of sin dwelling in us. There is no other way back to wholeness except through the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ who was broken that we might be made whole. However, one has to choose life by entering into His death and thereby resurrecting in newness of life.

Because of Christ’s life in me I am not merely a fraction of a human being. I am a whole number, a perfect “1”, complete in Him. It is finished and so am I!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Quote of the Day

"One secret act of self-denial, one sacrifice of inclination to duty, is worth all the mere good thoughts, warm feelings, passionate prayers, in which idle people indulge themselves." 

(J. H. Newman, Daily Strength for Daily Needs p. 253)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Garden Principles Part 1

Spiritual Lessons

Guest writer Melissa Bickish has been teaching a girls class for the past few months.  I asked if she would share her thoughts with us on Maid Arise.  I know this will be a blessing.

A Garden Enclosed”: 
or The PROTECTED Garden.

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The Lord has given me a lot of thoughts recently on gardens. I believe that the illustration of our lives being a garden or vineyard is one of His personal favorites. Spurgeon said in his book “ Evening by Evening” that “Sin ruined that fair abode of all delights( the garden of Eden) … There is another garden which the King watered with His bloody sweat- Gethsemane…. At Gethsemane, the mischief of the serpent in the first garden was undone…. This is the garden of gardens where the soul may see the guilt of sin and the power of love. My heart should also be His garden. How do the flowers flourish? Do any choice fruits appear? Does the King walk within and rest in the shelter of my spirit?...let the spices of Your garden flow abroad.” - Spurgeon
The greatest events in the history of the world were wrought in a garden! It was in a garden that the life of man first began, in a garden that sin and separation first separated us from God, it was in a garden that the struggle to submit to the plan of salvation was won, and in another that death and the grave were conquered at the resurrection. God loves gardens! He makes them all over the world, even ones that no one sees unless that happen to step into some remote glen untouched by human eye or hand. He loves beautiful things. He has a special place in His heart for gardens.
Gen 2: 8 says, “And the LORD God planted a garden..” God loves to plant gardens and vineyards and then cultivate them to be what He sees them becoming.
Joh 19:41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. Just an interesting note to think about, throughout the Bible gardens are often listed a Burial places. Sepulchres were most often found in gardens.
Kings almost always had a private garden. God just happens to have a very vast multitude of gardens. He calls Himself the Husbandman in so many verse, in other words the ‘keeper’ of the garden, the gardener if you will.
The Lord loves to take barren waste land and plots of dry ground and transform them into beautiful gardens for His own Glory.
Isa 51:3“ For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.”
Is. 58:11 “And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
Jer. 31:12 “…and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.”
Ezek. 36:35, “And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.”
Is 5:1, “Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes,..”
Jesus when he walked on earth often retired to a garden, or a place alone with nature to refresh Himself. He loved gardens. John 18:1 “When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.”
After all, what is a garden? Webster defines it as: an enclosure, a plot of ground where herbs, flowers, fruits or vegetables are cultivated. To cultivate is: to prepare, to loosen or break up soil, to foster, to grow, improve, refine, encourage or further.
-A garden is Property:
This means they are pieces of land that belong to Someone. When we were lost the garden or plot of land in our heart belonged to us. Now that Christ has created our land, paid for our land, and redeemed our land, our garden no longer belongs to us. .It has been purchased and paid for It is His garden, His fruit, His place to abide.
S.S 6:2 and 11 My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies…. I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded.”
Our hearts are God’s little plot of land to be grown, encouraged and furthered in order to bring forth something useful. He considers this to be one of the most beloved of His walking places.
The Lord is the dweller of our garden. We are to be enclosed from the things outside and ‘shut up’ to His own personal Presence. God delights in walking though His garden, talking to His plants and personally cultivating us! We are HIS garden.
Francis Ridley Havergal says in her book, “kept for the master’s use.” That we are like a plot of land that needs care.
Suppose you make over a piece of ground to another person. You give it up, then and there, entirely to that other; it is no longer in your own possession; you no longer dig and sow, plant and reap, at your discretion or for your own profit. His occupation of it is total; no other has any right to an inch of it: it is His affair thenceforth what crops to arrange for and how to make the most of it. But His practical occupation of it may not appear all at once. There may be waste land which He will take into full cultivation only by degrees, space wasted for want of draining or by over-fencing, and odd corners lost for want of enclosing; because of hedgerows too wide and shady, and trees too many and spreading, and strips of good soil trampled into uselessness for want of defined pathways. Just so it is with our lives. The transaction of , so to speak, making them over to God is definite and complete. But then begins the practical development of consecration. And here He leads on softly, according as the children be able to endure…And so, season by season, we shall be sometimes not a little startled, yet always very glad, as we find that bit by bit the Master shows how much more may be made of our ground, how much more He is able to make of it than we did; and we shall be willing to work under Him and do exactly what He points out, even if it comes to cutting down a shady tree or clearing out a ditch full of pretty weeds and wild-flowers. “
- Protected (or Enclosed).
Malachi 3:11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.” This one is a BEAUTIFUL thought. God hedges us in and protects our ‘tender grapes’ from the foxes of this world and Satan! Here He says He will keep us protected from the ‘spoiler’. God never allows anything to touch your garden that isn’t His will for your garden. If you ‘wall’ is under siege by Satan, rest assured, God hasn’t left you undefended. He always takes care of his own.
Let’s read from Song of Solomon Chapter 4 verses 9 through 5:1.
Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices! Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon. A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices: A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon. Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.”
Verse 12 calls His beloved “A garden inclosed, a spring shut up and a fountain sealed.” I want to talk about the meaning of this in the garden of our hearts.
A. We are to be protected in purity! We do have the ability to open this wall, tear it down, or unlock this gate and allow impure thoughts to enter… thereby ‘cheating’ upon our gardener. We sometimes willingly allow these ‘foxes’ of IMAGINATION to damage our tender grapes and destroy the small plants by digging at their roots. I recently researched what Foxes actually do to grapevines due to curiosity about the verses about “little foxes” spoiling the vines. This is what I found out.
Foxes or little foxes could also be jackals. Foxes destroy vines by…
“…gnawing the branches, biting the bark, making bare the roots, devouring the ripe grapes… jackals eat only grapes, not the vine flowers; but they need to be driven out in time before the grapes are ripe.”
This reference is talking about both when the grapes are RIPE and when they are still TENDER… meaning not yet ripe. The Foxes destroy the plant itself, damaging the ability to produce fruit… and when there is fruit it also consumes it. Jackals don’t destroy the vine, but eat all the fruit.
I want to talk about the importance of being an Enclosed Garden when you are younger. The habits you form before you become a woman help you in continuing in these habits of purity whenever you are faced with strong physical temptations. The older you grow the stronger the natural desire for human love grows. Beginning at a young age in casting down imaginations can make a HUGE difference when there is ‘fruit’ at stake.
What does a garden that is enclosed look like? Webster defines being Enclosed as: to close in, surround, to fence off for individual use, to hold in, or confine. For some reason when I read this definition my heart doesn’t like the sound of being confined, or restrained… or what might feel lonely. The Lord doesn’t view our garden this way though. In the Bible He calls us His beloved. When we are enclosed FROM the world and harms and enclose TO Him in safety. God’s rules are never to harm us, they are always to protect us. When He thus mentions “evil imaginations” and “falsehoods” or things that aren’t true: we know that these are not acceptable because they can harm us. Jer. 13:10, 25 and 10:14 say…
This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing….thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood….every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.”
The Lord rebukes Israel as a nation over and over for the evil imaginations of their own hearts. This is where the rubber-meets-the-road so to speak about purity. None of us ever intend to actually physically LOSE our purity, but do we truly guard it in all areas? Are we just as convicted from a frivolous, untrue thought that is ‘romantically based’ as we would blush to think of the actual act of love? They are truly the beginning, the ‘tender grapes” if you will, or our heart’s imaginations. We are to have our minds submitted to Chrsit! This is the purity-war-zone… the battle is fought and LOST or WON in your mind first before it ever moves to actions. God requires purity of heart, and thought, not just action. He knows better than we do, how our thoughts affect and lead to actions. If you are thinking how un-contented you are with being single, it will affect your actions.. you may notice shortness of temper, irritability, and outward actions that symbolize a deeper heart issue… it is the same with purity. Before you would ever actually sin physically in impurity, you will think a ‘romantic’ thought that Satan convinces us in ‘enjoyable’ and ‘harmless’. These thoughts are not harmless! They have an affect. If nothing else they will make you un-content that your Gardener hasn’t decided that you are ready to be joined to someone else’s garden yet. These are SERIOUS issues. In Song of Solomon there is ONE verse that is REAPEATED over and over again.
It says ” I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.” (S.s.2:7, 3:5, and 8:4)
Why would the Lord repeat this same verse to the DAUGHTERS ( the unmarried single women) of Jerusalem 3 times if it wasn’t important. To “Stir up” implies a purposeful, curiosity and intentionally awakening something that is to remain dormant and or asleep. The Greek word carries a connotation of ‘WHY” stir up? What good will it do? Also in Song of Solomon we find the principle of the younger woman’s purity carrying her through her later years.
S.S. 8:6-10
Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.”
This is a perfect example of a younger women and how her desire for purity is protected. Her FAMILY was a part of protecting her. In verse 9 If she is only a wall, we’ll enclose it all the way around… if she be but a door… we’ll frame it. It shows a joint protection. She is a wall, she is trying to guard herself and needs to be surrounded completely around by safety. If she is a door and trying to block out the world and it’s impure ways then we’ll help by building a frame. Look at verse 10… It is a joyful declaration of being a WALL when we are older. We have practiced at a younger age this casting down imaginations and it has lead us to be Wall of strength for purity when we are older. The same DESIRE for purity in her youth held her through her days of temptations. And because of this she has found favor in the eyes of her beloved. Are you keeping yourself pure for your future husband or for Christ???
Stir not up… but what if they are ‘stirred up’ and I struggle with this feeling of wanting to be loved, cherished, kissed, held, by a man? Let me just say you are NORMAL! Just because we are not to purpously awaken these desires for physical love, does not mean that we won’t ever have any. As a matter of fact we all do! You aren’t alone if you’ve ever had this desire. It is truly more than a desire, it is a natural, God-given instinct to be loved this way. We are created with it built into who we are. The truth is that this natural, God-given instinct needs to be submitted, surrendered and given back to the one who gave it to you. It isn’t wrong…. if you’re married. However, we obviously aren’t. To desire this love outside of marriage is dangerous. The God who gave you these desires and instincts knows better than you how to deal with them. Purity is attacked, because it’s beautiful, innocent and Godly. Satan hates you for being pure!!! And if he can’t destroy you’re literal physical purity, he’ll try and destroy your purity of heart. We don’t HAVE pure hearts, instead our hearts are deceitful and wicked. They must as our garden plots be submitted and yielded to the God of all purity and entrusted to Him to be kept safe. I’d like to quote Toni Hutto here and read what she recently wrote that encouraged my heart so much.
The enemy often attacks us in places God has chosen to prove strong in. If your thought life is under attack, and your purity under siege, know that it is because God has a plan for your life... It's okay to be weak in these areas. It only means we will rely all the more readily on Someone mightier than we are!"
We are ALL weak in this area of protecting our own purity. We are ALL attacked in our purity, We ALL desire to be married and loved, We ALL struggle to surrender this are. You aren’t alone, and most certainly not left UNPROTECTED by God and your family.
C. We are to be protected by our Priest.
How do you respond whenever the Lord asks of you a higher standard in your conduct and what He allows in your life than He may ask in someone else’s life? Do you feel ‘restricted’ or do you feel ‘protected’? However you heart honestly answers this question makes a huge difference on how you will respond to the Lord. God PROTECTS us by removing IDOLS from our hearts. It is never a pleasant experience to have an idol revealed to you and be asked to let go of it altogether… however this is the primary way that Christ protects us as individuals. You may have heard people talking about how they are permitted to do things that you are not, perhaps your Keeper seems to be a very Jealous one indeed and you feel you’ve been ‘restricted’ from so many things… let me encourage your heart… you must be very precious to the Lord indeed if He is so JEALOUS over you!!!!
Deut. 5:9a “Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God,..”
I’d like to talk about idols here… because these are those little “images” of the heart that truly DAMAGE our walk with God more than anything. We have idolatrous hearts by nature! We are made with the innate desire to ADMIRE and WORSHIP SOMEONE.
I want you to think about the word IDOL and divide its individual letters in your mind. An idol is an..
If we were to seriously get on our knees and ask that there be ‘nothing between’ our souls and our Savior we are almost always faced with something to confess, repent of and forsake!
An Idol is ANYTHING or ANYONE who has an Inordinate Degree Of Love in your heart. Idols are most easily recognized in our responses to being asked to relinquish them. They are most easily discerned whenever you FEEL THAT RELUCTANCE TO LET GO of something.
These idols can be literally anything: from a garment that you like that is ‘questionable’ as far as it’s modesty, to a man you are desperately in ‘like’ with and seem to constantly think about. I’m not saying that attraction for someone is an idol, it is when we are asked to let go of our hold over that emotion that it becomes an idol. A feeling of attraction once handed to the Lord becomes HIS PROBLEM!
Whenever you feel you are STUBBORNLY holding onto anything it is an Idol.
1 Sam. 15:23 “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” The proof of iniquity and idolatry is your stubborn tenacious clinging onto them. For fun I found a ‘p-word’ for stubbornness. ;)
Pertinacious: “holding firmly to an opinion or a course of action.”
Whenever you are pertinaciously clinging to something Christ has asked you to free from you are guilty of the sin of idolatry.
The only reason that the Lord desires your heart to be only, always, all for Him is because He is a Jealous God who protects His bride even whenever she accuses Him of being ‘unfair’ in the process. CHRIST ONLY EVER ASKS YOU TO GIVE UP WHAT IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU!!!!
I get this image of a garden with a wretched Thorn-bush right in the middle… and the gardener is attempting to uproot this ugly thorn bush and the whole time the garden is resisting and crying that it’s beloved and special thorn-bush be spared… He will never forcibly remove your thorn bush without your consent and yielding… Is there a bush that is prickly, harmful and painful to you that you are stubbornly refusing to allow God to uproot from your garden?
I’d like to end with the thought that the only safe IDOL you can have in your life is one that is worthy of all praise and glory. Christ can be our idol! We can worship, love and adore Him as having the first place in our heart whenever we truly believe He only ever removes what is harmful to HIS GARDEN.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Gift of God

This was written from one of our guest writers, Heather Greenwood. I hope it is a blessing to you.

The Gift of God

God’s justice demanded the perfect price
For the trespass of fallen man.
The sinners who walked in the pride of their hearts
From the King’s holy presence were banned.

Lift not up your face on the Most High God,
For sinner, you are unclean!
Bow down on your face and lie low in the dust.
Pay homage to God, the King.

Your tears, though many, and lamenting, thought great,
They for your sin cannot atone.
If cries for mercy lasted a thousand years,
Even by these your iniquity could not be undone.

But wait, what’s this that written here
Tells of a promise made?
Given again and again since time began:
A Deliverer will come and save!

Oh, praise his name! God’s mercy alone
That sends such bountiful pardon.
A gift prepared in God’s great love
Since time began in the Garden.

How can he pardon? This holy God
Can never cease to be holy.
Shall not the judge of the earth do right?
No sin shall stain his glory.

Come see! Oh sinners, behold on the hill
The tree on which you were made dead,
Through Christ, the Son of God there slain,
Who under God’s justice bled.

And see the tomb, the heavy stone
Sealing the corpse within.
There Christ did lay in linens white
That you may be dead to sin.

On the third day after his sorrow and triumph,
Jesus rose up from the grave.
Fully alive, so that you may be too,
The wages of sin, in full, were paid.

Oh sinner, look to Jesus “The Lamb of God
Who takes away the sin of world!”
By his Spirit walking in newness of life,
Born of God, you shall now be his child.

Forgiven, washed clean, now bold to enter in
God’s presence so holy and pure.
Crying “Abba, Father” by faith in his Son,
Your welcome in his kingdom sure.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

National Remembrance Day of Aborted Children

Political/World Issue

Yesterday, September 11th, we hopefully took the time to remember the travesty of 14 years ago, when our nation was attacked and almost 3,000 Americans were killed.  I was recently informed that today, September 12th, is the national Remembrance Day of Aborted Children, where every year in the U.S. over 3,000 babies are aborted every day.  This is not only a travesty but a holocaust.

I believe this post from two guest writers, is both timely and appropriate.  Both share their thoughts on abortion.  I thought it was a blessing, and also a neat contrast to view both a young girl's perspective as well as a woman's.

Do You Love Me?

Image result for Human embryos 8 weeks
8 week Embryo 
"I cry out in pain. How could you do this to me? I am your child, your baby girl! But yet you decide to kill me? You think I am just a blob of tissue, really nothing. Something not wanted and easily deposed of. I came by “‘accident” and I am not wanted so why not just kill me? 

I am helpless, defenseless. My only hope is that someone will speak for me, I am voiceless. 
But who will speak for me? Does anyone care? 
I have nothing to hope for but you, a voice for the voiceless. I am voiceless, but will you speak for me? Will you stand up and do what is right? Are you willing to be hated by all? Do you love me enough to care? Will you change my parents mind so that I might live?
Abortion is a subject that I of course have known about but not until recently have I really understood what it really and truly was. I didn’t even know what Abolition meant until this year. I have had the opportunity to do Abolition work several times this year and it has been truly amazing and eye opening for me. It was amazing being out there holding signs and standing up for what is right, while you are hated by all! They hate you because you are pointing out something the is caused by their actions in life, their decisions. And you're standing up and saying it is wrong. You are truly hated for it. People scream and yell, curse you out and much more. The only reason there is so much opposition is because it is real, it is happening in our Nation today. Every day thousands of babies, real babies, not just blobs of tissue, are being killed. Murdered. But yet no one stands against it? We are the voice for the voiceless! Do we not care that babies are being murdered everyday? Will we not stand for what is right?
This subject has weighed heavy on my mind lately, will you also think about it and think what we are letting happen in our world today without blinking an eye lash? Will we continue to let this happen without saying something?"  T.K.

Image result for Human embryos 22 weeks
22 week old Embryo 

"The horror of what has been revealed recently concerning Planned Parenthood and the off-handed way so many people view and accept the murder of innocent lives has been weighing on my heart. As I was thinking and praying, I was inspired to write the following words. I am open to hearing your responses and what you can add to my thoughts:

All living things have a beginning. Without that beginning there can be no further progress, no development, no growth, and the final manifestation of the living creation will never be. Whether plant, animal or insect, life has a beginning – a seed, an action, an outpouring of God’s creative power inherent in every living, growing, changing, miraculous element of the universe we live in. So how can anyone say that the creation resulting from the seed of a man and the egg of a woman is not living from the moment it is begun?

That creation is living, it is growing, it is developing, it is becoming something more, it is a creation in God’s image, it will be a unique creation with infinite possibilities, it will make a difference in the world in which it lives, it has an impact on all who  come to know and love or not love it. What happens, what suddenly causes that precious, living being to be brutally cut off from becoming what it was intended to become? Why is a life suddenly aborted? Why is this living creation of God murdered and destroyed?

Because it was not wanted.

When a woman desires to become pregnant, the news that she is going to be a mother brings joy, brings people together, causes celebration and gratitude and excitement. How many women do you know that refer to their joyously anticipated child as a “fetus” or “embryo” or “blob of tissue”? That child growing within them is their “baby”, their “precious cargo”, their “gift from above” among many other identities! It seems that it is only when the child is not wanted that it suddenly loses its right to life. So, to me, that is what abortion is really all about – the decision of the mother (and in some cases the decision of influential people in the mother’s life*) that she does not desire to be pregnant, does not desire to be a mother, does not desire to give the life within her a chance to grow, to develop into the person God intended. The woman “chooses” to play God. She “chooses” death over life and becomes the killer of her own child, her own flesh and blood.

It deeply troubles me when pro-choice individuals say that pro-lifers are “religious zealots” that want to take away a woman’s rights. They are blinded, they are confused, they are misled. How can they not see the glaring hypocrisy of only valuing the unborn life and protecting it when it is wanted, but choosing to kill that life and even saying it is not of value when it is unplanned or unwanted? The child becomes the innocent victim of a parent’s “freedom to choose”.

What is even more devastating is what the woman must do to be able to live with herself and justify her decision. I don’t believe that any woman ever forgets or dismisses the loss of a child – even if that woman has chosen to decide it was not “human” but just a “mass of cells”. Because we are all created by the same God, we all were made in His image, we all inherently know what is right from what is wrong. Our consciences remind us. We can make excuses, we can listen to lies, we can do whatever it takes to silence that voice within that pleads with us to ask forgiveness, to be at peace with our Heavenly Father.

 I might be wrong, but I believe that underneath all the attempts to justify the prevention of life through the act of abortion (whether it be the mother, the doctor, or anyone condoning or aiding) there is the awareness that something serious, something life-changing has occurred. I believe too that at some point, the reality of what happened will take its toll on those who made those choices. Only asking for and receiving God’s forgiveness will pay for however that toll is collected. If only there were more people, more Christians willing to stand up for life, willing to talk to the women who are afraid or feel trapped by an unwanted pregnancy. They need help understanding the horrors of abortion and that there are other options available to them!*

*Note:  during my volunteer time at a Christian crisis pregnancy center, I encountered young women who were considering abortion because of the pressure of a parent or boyfriend, even husband. But ultimately, the decision is the mother’s. She may have to sacrifice a relationship or seek help, but that is what the crisis pregnancy centers are there to do – support and assist and even, through resources, protect the woman who wants her child despite opposition around her. Adoption, often an overlooked choice, has been the answer for many women who were not able to raise a child. And it is amazing how God will intervene when life is chosen!" D.M.

Toni's Note:

This morning while reading James 1 I was struck with a few thoughts.

Being a hearer of the word is not bad, but, it is only part of our duty.  We hear the word (like when we are in Church for example), but we also are to do His word.  God makes it very clear why.  If we only hear His word we will forget what it is that He wants us to do. (v.25).  Also, hearers only temporarily look at themselves, are convicted, but then go on their way, "straightway forgetting", and doing nothing.  A hearer can seem religious but they deceive themselves -- and his religion is vain.  If we are hearers only, that means our religion is vain.  But "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this -- to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted by the world."  (v.27).  A lot of us seem to focus on being unspotted from the world, but so easily we forget about those in affliction.  It really convicted me.  What am I doing to visit these people in their affliction?  Very little.  I pray the Lord shows me how I can reach them, because it's obvious this isn't a matter of "if" but "how".   I don't only want to remember, I hope to "do".

"...We need to let this spiritual work be done in us quietly and peacefully, not as though it could all be accomplished in a single day.  Furthermore, we need to maintain a balance between learning and doing.  We ought to spend much more time in doing.  If we are not careful, we will spend such a large segment of our lives in gaining knowledge that we shall need another lifetime to put out knowledge into practice.  We are in danger of evaluating our spiritual maturity on the basis of the amount of knowledge we have acquired.  ...This seems to be one of the most common as well as the most serious mistakes which Christian people are liable to make.  God is the giver of knowledge and he desires to have us put it into practice. But the moment we get knowledge, we get so carried away with the delight of having it that we forget there is anything else to be done.  But the fact is we have very little reason to rejoice until we put our knowledge into operation in life.
...Food, lying undigested in the stomach, is not only of no service to the body, but, if not removed, will become harmful.  It is only when it is assimilated and mingled with the blood and works itself out into our hands, feet and head that it can be said to have done us any good.  So to have an understand of Biblical truth in intellect is a matter of Thanksgiving.  But it will only result in our condemnation if it is not cherished in the heart and acted out in life.  ...Not light, but love.  (1 Cor. 13:2)."  ~ Francois de Salignac de la Mothe-Fenelon

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