Tuesday, January 31, 2012

a date with God

Bed & Breakfast in Alvarado
Have you ever had a date with God? I mean an official one that you plan and anticipate? If you haven't had one yet, or if it's been a while, then I hope to stir your heart.

I heard this story once about two girls and it helped to inspire me to start having these date nights with God consistantly. Let's say the women just hiked up a mountain and there was a bunch of other people who had hiked up there also. While everyone was taking in all the beauty around them, one of the girls stopped, blew a kiss to God and said, “I love you, God!” Everyone around her was stunned. Later while hiking down, the other girl said, “ya know, that was a little weird and embarrassing when you did that.’ The one who blew God a kiss, replied, “well, if you can’t blow God a kiss and tell him you love him in front of others…honestly, how real is he to you?” I was impacted and challenged.

So I asked myself…how real is God to me? Do I have a deep, fun relationship with him? At the time, nope. I thought…well how do you build that? Then I looked at how I've built relationships with my best friends. We spend time hanging out, doing stuff we both like, having inside jokes, crying in front of them, laughing…etc. For lack of a better way to describe it, I started thinking of God as if he was right next to me, almost like a person, and looking at my relationship with God as if it was similar to the one Moses had in Exodus 33:11, "The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend."

I set my date nights for Monday nights during the first few years because that helped me with discipline. It was also helpful for others to know that Monday nights were God's nights. So I thought I'd share a few of my date ideas just for fun. Some of them may seem mundane but I believe that if you are focused on God, I mean really spending time with him in your heart...these are dates and the possibilities are endless. My dates with God have been:

  • having a nice meal at the dinner table and chatting with him about my day
  • prayer walking or working out
  • going to the movies
  • visiting a museum together
  • doing laundry and making encouragement cards for others
  • going grocery shopping with a focus to share my faith (not just inviting them to church but really getting into a conversation and sharing how my life has changed)
  • spending time in silence together in the back yard admiring the garden
  • painting pictures that were inspired by thinking of certain stories from the bible
  • driving a highway loop and praying around the city like it was Jericho
  • intense bible study on a topic
  • memorizing scripture to recite to God the next day

My little date nights have grown even bigger - now I go on vacations with God too (like my trip in 2010 to Iceland, just me and God) because we are finishing things on my dream list. And do you know what? One day it happened…I was walking down an isle in a busy store and asked out loud, “What do you think God? Is it to expensive?” That was a break through moment for me…I was like the "blowing a kiss to God" girl in the story…I knew that my relationship with God was getting deeper and becoming more real. That memory still makes me smile and laugh because it felt natural and yet the human side of me still felt it a little bit odd. But my course was set...I wanted a deep, real relationship with God and it was totally blooming. 

Recently, God and I bought a house together…oh and we just bought our first car. I couldn’t do it without Him and I wouldn't want to because we are building memories. He's more than a friend now…I look to him more like I would a Husband. Afterall, He is the 'head of my house' and Isaiah 54 says it too! ‘For your Maker is your husband - the LORD Almighty is his name - the Holy One of Israel is your redeemer;  he is called the God of all the earth.’

A deep connection with God is so essential…especially since you are going to be with him FOREVER. So that is my story. Do I still have dates with God? Sure! It's not on Monday's though...it's more like every night! He's who I come home to, who watches over me at night, and who spends time with me when no one else is available. I hope you feel encouraged to set aside some extra time with God to build memories. Call it a date, call it whatever, just make that little extra time for him to building special memories that'll last deep in your heart and I think you'll be amazed at how God blesses it.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Giving of My Money & Time

I often view God and I as a tag team...especially when it comes to giving. I can picture God helping people then reaching out his hand toward me to see if I want to help too. I tag it, just like during a wrestling match, climb in the ring and start helping! Okay, that's probably a strange illustration but it's what came to mind during my ride into work. Seriously, what a blessing it is that God allows us to be a part of helping others!

I have a lot of convictions about giving. Whether with my money or with my time, I know God wants me to be sacrificial. The thing is...you've got to have conviction and that conviction needs to come from scripture and prayer. In a series I put together for women who just made the decision to follow Christ, I have two small lessons focused on honoring God with your monetary giving. Any lesson on giving could be filled with tons of scriptures but I thought I'd give you some basics and allow you to do additional research, study, and prayer about God's heart on the subject. (Don't just take my word for it...go read the scriptures and go find more. Search a site like bible gateway on words like tithe, giving, contribution) Giving is awesome! Below you will find a basic lesson, a few of my personal convictions, and after that is a cool link I found to a website that allows you to give to someone anonymously. Enjoy!

Give to God first:
*Prov 3:9 Tithing was 10% in the Old Testament (including money, crops, herds...etc)
*Malachi 3:6-12 God blesses your sacrifice

2 Corinthians 9:6-11   

~ give generously & trust God
~ it is your personal decision to be made with prayer & study

Matthew 6:1-4 
~ your gift can be private; no one has to know the amount or who you are giving to and supporting

Mark 12:41-43 ~ it is not about the amount but the heart (motive)

Hebrews 13:5 ~ be free from loving money; be content with what you have..

Deut. 15:7-11 (Deut 14:22-15:11 for more background) & Acts 4:34  
~ it was encouraged to give to the poor & needy directly; we often give through an organization and that's okay but it is often more impacting to our own hearts as well as to others when we take part in finding a way to give directly as an individual
~ strive for no poor among us

2 Cor. 8:1-7 & 13-15;
~ you can give to the church to help others in need
~ you can give to provide for people on staff (1 Cor 9:1-18)

Pledges & vows: take them seriously!
~ Deut. 23:21-23; Numbers 30:2

I'll share some of my personal convictions here but I do so with great caution because this is a tender subject. The list of scriptures is huge that I build my convictions on from the bible. My convictions go beyond the traditions the American church has established. I've been challenged a great deal by leadership in my local fellowship about my beliefs not being unified with the body but by God's mercy, I've always had scripture to back up my stance. And ever since I really studied it out and made solid decisions based on scripture, God has totally blessed my giving!

Unfortunately, as in most areas of our lives as Christians, we don't ask God what HE thinks or wants us to do near enough! Since I get paid once a month, I ask him who he wants me to help and how much he wants me to give. One month it may be less than 10% while the next he may call me to give 30% so I give according to the needs and work not to be legalistic with a percentage. I've seen it bear so much fruit and help so many people that were hurting.

After years of prayer, God continues to put on my heart a preference for our money to go to people in need of basics like food, clothing, and shelter. Because of this, I do not give to contributions (like a special missions contribution) where only 4% or so goes to individuals and the rest goes toward buildings, salaries, or honorariums to bring in someone to speak. Always feel empowered to ask what percentage of your giving goes directly to those in need. It's eye-opening! And this can help you make a better decision. The majority of my giving is private. I love being a secret giver for both my heart and my spirit. I do not make pledges unless God calls me to nor do I feel compelled to meet a vow that  someone made on my behalf to another fellowship. I also give cash whenever I can.

I often ask others about their giving and the scripture they base it on to continue to build my faith in this area and it's been great! My dear friend, there has to be trust between us as disciples and trust in God. Please do inquire of one another only be careful that your questioning doesn't turn into sessions full of distrust. I've been wounded a lot by this. Trust that person desires to please God and trust in God to be working as well. GIVE, love, and trust God! Be happy in your giving...believe in what you and God are are doing! You are a tag team. You are pleasing God and He is totally glorified!

"Giving Anonymously began in 2005. We began with a few goals in mind: We wanted to relationally connect people through giving. We wanted to make it fun. And in the process we wanted to protect relationships from feelings of awkwardness and obligation. Anyone who wants to give anonymously often finds that they don't know if the gift was actually received; or what it meant to the recipient. We came up with the idea to have a phone number where recipients could call after receiving their gift.
One of the most exciting things about Giving Anonymously is for a donor to be able to hear the messages left for them by recipients."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Master's Cleanse - Earthly Things

Day Seven: E is for Earthly things

Defined by the dictionary: not heavenly or divine: worldly

Prayer time focus: how I view and define worldly
God: the guide to my eternity

Philippians 3:19 “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.”

Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

Practical: Write down what earthly things you think about most. Do any of the items on your list fit into this subject too?

Prayer time focus: Meditate on what is divine about God, dream and journal about heaven, praise God for the time you have been able to spend cleansing.

If you just finished the 'Master's Cleanse' then congratulations! Its lessons are simple but the topics are serious and sometimes ugly. You should be focusing on the fact that you've had the guts to look into your heart about such deep subjects. Go you! If you are feeling discouraged in any way because of the things it brought out, then please remember...you've got to see where you are before you can get to where you want to be. Don't forget an important part of the study series was to focus on who God is so it wouldn't hurt to take  some time meditating on these truths below again throughout your day.

God: the trainer I can trust
God: the owner of my body and soul
God: the ruler of my world
God: the protector of my soul and life
God: the overseer of my thoughts
God: the master of my minutes
God: the guide to my eternity

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Master's Cleanse - Selfishness

Day Six: S is for Selfishness

Defined by the dictionary: stinginess resulting from a concern for your own welfare and a disregard of others.

Prayer time focus: God to reveal selfishness in my heart
God: the master of my minutes

Proverbs 18:1An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment.”

Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

Practical: Find verses about how when we are serving others, we are serving Christ. Memorize your favorite.

Prayer time focus: Today mediate on every way you can remember when Christ served someone else in the scriptures

Here are some quotes to inspire you:
  • Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness. – Seneca
  • If you have much, give of your wealth; if you have little, give of your heart. - Arabian Proverb
  • Life's most urgent question is: What are you doing for others? - MLK, Jr.
  • Love is more than a noun -- it is a verb; it is more than a feeling -- it is caring, sharing, helping, sacrificing. ~ William Arthur Ward

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Master's Cleanse - Negativity

Day Five: N is for Negativity

Defined by the dictionary – someone that lacks all positive, affirmative, or encouraging features; an element that is the counterpoint of the positive.

Prayer time focus: pouring out the negative from my thought life.
God: the overseer of my thoughts

Psalm 68:3 “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful”

Practical: Look at your original list. How are you feeling about yourself, your life? Spend some time writing positive words to describe your life. Next, find scriptures that share how we should strive to keep our thoughts on Jesus and the positive. It may help you to encourage someone today a positive scripture that you find.

Prayer time focus: God's help to banish negativity and remembering to have a godly sorrow verses a woe to me attitude.

A quote to cheer you on: The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.author unknown

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Master's Cleanse - Anxiousness

Day Four: A is for Anxiousness

Defined by the dictionary: Uneasy and apprehensive about an uncertain event or matter; worried.

Prayer time focus: singing (or reciting) of “Unto thee, O Lord”
God: the protector of my soul and life

Proverbs 12:25An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up”

Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Practical: Pick out 2 items on your list that you are most anxious about and write a short poem or story where you let go of all your fears.

Prayer time focus: Spend some time praying and focusing on letting go of those things that you are anxious about...sometimes looking at the antonyms can help so here are a few words that are opposite of anxious: assured, calm, content, cool, happy, peacefulbrave, composed, confidentcourageous, fearless, heroic, intrepid, undaunted, valiant

(The short story I wrote is in the comment section....)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Master's Cleanse - Envy

Day Three: E is for Envy
Defined by the dictionary: a feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another.

Prayer time focus: my areas of discontentment or envy.
God: the ruler of my world

Proverbs 23:17Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD.
Proverbs 14:30 “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

Practical: On a piece of paper, draw a “tent” like the one below. On the outside of the tent put any items from your list that show a discontented or envious heart. On the tent the opposite kind of heart God wants you to have in these areas.
Prayer time focus: Pray about getting rid of the areas of envy you wrote down. Then focus your prayer on developing the “conTENTment” items you wrote on your tent.

May God fill you with peace and contentment. :D

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Master's Cleanse - Lust

Day Two: L is for Lust

Defined by the dictionary: an overwhelming desire or craving

Prayer time focus: open my heart, open my mind
God: the owner of my body and soul

Ephesians 4:19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”

Colossians 3:5 “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

Practical: If any items on your list from day one go under this subject, the group them together on a sheet of paper. Pray and decide how to repent. Find someone you trust and go talk to them, confess to them, and pray together. Also, find one verse that tells about God's power to destroy your sins and cast them away from you then find another about how you belong to Him. Maybe you have no trouble in this area...great! Just to be humble though...if nothing matches this section on your list, go to a friend and ask them if they see anything in your character in this area. Please be aware that although we usually think lust equals something sexual, we can be lustful in other areas...so broaden your gaze when praying!

Prayer time focus: Speak on a deeper level to God about the items on your list that connect to lust and pray through the verses you just found. If you have found there is nothing you are struggling with in this area, then another option is to pray about protection for your friends and loved ones in this area. Ask God if there is anyone you should go to and speak with to ask them how they are doing in this area.

There is such peace when you are cleansed from lust and the guilt it brings. May God be the only one you overwhelmingly desire! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Master's Cleanse

This group of lessons is to designed to help purge gross toxins that can be rooted in our hearts and character. It's a good one to grab a friend to join along but it's fine if you don't. If you've studied out biblical fasting, then there might be a benefit to begin a fast as well. (the 1st lesson begins below) The complete study is for 7 days and will discuss the following topics according the each letter in the word cleanse:

Earthy things

The studies are 'sandwiched' in prayer. Pray with a focus on the italic wording, then read the scriptures (maybe even look up more!), finally do the practical and pray some more. :) Although the studies cover hard topics, please don't feel overwhelmed. Like a good work out, it may be tough but through it...you are growing stronger! 

Day One - C is for Cleansing

Defined by the dictionary: to clean one’s body or parts by washing or to purge of any ideology, bad thoughts, or sins

Prayer time with a focus on: What do I need to cleanse?
God: the trainer I can trust

Hebrews 10:22 “…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Psalm 51:2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

Practical: Write down in a list issues that came to mind during your prayer time focus when you prayed about what you need to be cleansed from in your life right now. Keep this list to use during this series.

Praying: spend some time praying about your personal desire to draw near to God, commit to having a full assurance in Him, and give Him your “cleanse list” - focus on how God is your trainer but instead of being someone like an exercise trainer - grin - He is your Spiritual Trainer.

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Mundane is God's Memorandum

Going to the gas station, to me, is very mundane. Yet God happened to send me a memo there and funny enough...it's not the first time He's involved a gas station. (see "Let Go & Fly" post) *LOL*

I pulled into the gas station, drove up to my "usual" pump but noticed gasoline kind of leaking out of the handle. "Well, that can't be good," I remember thinking. So I pulled through, went two pumps over and started filling up my car. At around $8, I began searching for the call box to let the workers inside know the issue with pump #17. By $11, someone else had pulled up to the leaky pump, got out, and started walking toward the store. "I guess she is going to tell them," I said to myself and looked back to my own pump. Something odd happened at around $15...it was like the Spirit said, "GO, get outta here!" I remember thinking, "What? I need to fill up." But the feeling rushed on me like my life depended on it. So unlike normal where I stop the pump on an even dollar amount, I stopped at $16 and some change, got into my car, started it, and zoomed off. As I looked in my rear view mirror, I really expected to see the gas station blow up or something! "I'll probably hear about it on the news tonight," I thought, knowing that the Spirit moved me.

As I continued to drive and pray about why this happened, I began to consider how the Spirit urges us. After reflecting, I realized that maybe it had nothing to do with the gas station? Maybe I needed to get on the road to be ahead of an accident or another situation? Maybe the Lord didn't want me to be late for work? Or maybe God is just training me to listen to His Spirit for something in the future? All I know is I'm glad I listened. It feels good to follow what the Spirit puts on my heart even when I don't understand.

You know when you feel the Spirit urging you. It can be big things. It can be small things. You know the feeling that says, "Hey, share your faith with that guy." or "You should help that older woman with those papers she just dropped." and even, "Tell the waitress what a great job she's doing." Have you ignored the Spirit lately? I may have obeyed at the gas station when I felt my life depended on it but I know I've heard and decided to be selfish. Maybe you can go back now and obey? Sometimes, these are once in a lifetime opportunities but sometimes we get a second chance. Which reminds me...I've got to go call and brag on a few people.

I'm so glad for little memorandums from God.
Psalm 143:10 "Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Beauty: Under Attack

One afternoon many, many years ago, I parked outside my apartment complex to wait for someone to pull through the gate. As I sat there, I looked across the parking lot at the other parked cars and a bird caught my eye. This bird was flying around a blue car when suddenly, it attacked the mirror. I watched as it then moved from the blue car over to a red truck. Again it would hover in front of the mirror and all of a sudden - - Attack!

“Silly bird,” I thought, “you’re not doing anything but wearing yourself out.” Ah, the real lesson...You see, I was this silly little bird. I had been sitting there feeling unhappy about my weight and any other flaws my mind could conjure up. I sat there attacking my own image, tearing myself down, and wearing myself out. This is not God’s desire for me nor was my thinking the way He views me.

I'm so grateful for the type of lessons God shows me through nature. I really feel the need to be ever watchful! How are you doing in this area? It is natural for us to do some self evaluations so that we can grow but we've got to make sure we don't take it to the point where we forget God's true vision of us. I hope you also find some encouragement through this and may this silly bird never visit you or your mirror!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Refreshing Others"

A Proverbs 11:25 approach to encouraging your "Special Person"

My book, which starts out with the sentence above, was inspired by this proverb that reads, "The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed." I don't recall exactly what was going on in my life all those years ago but I remember seeing the word 'refreshed' and thinking that was just what I needed. God is a giver. I want to be a giver too. So I began looking for ways to refresh those around me and truthfully I have been refreshed. The gift and date ideas you read in this blog are some of the creative ideas God blessed me with during those times. And that is also a little background to the gift idea below.

I have made appreciation bowls or jars for lots of women. Whether fresh in the faith or seasoned in our faith, there are times in our walk with God when we need some thing to add variety to our daily times. The slips of paper with scripture can be anything you think would meet the need of a special woman in your life. You can use these or make your own...my goal was to make some a bit challenging and others inspiring.

Feel free to email or forward this article (blog) using the icons below. This way if those you want to encourage are not local, then you can encourage them just to read one a day. I have seen many grow and get refreshed as they go through these ideas...enjoy! :)

Appreciation Bowl

This gift is a great idea for those who have either recently decided to begin a relationship with God or have been in a relationship with God for many years and just need a new way to connect.

Directions for gift giver:
Cut items into slips of paper
Place in beautiful bowl or jar of your choice

Directions for your Special Person:
Pull one each day for discipline
Pick only one a day for patience
No exchanges for trust

Sometime today, spend 5 min. in silence with God. Habakkuk 2:20

Meet someone new. Go out of your way to be friendly in a situation where you would normally be shy. James 3:17

List your greatest fears on paper. Afterwards read Ps. 91 and pick out verse to fight off these fears.

What is one thing you could use some advice? Seek it. Proverb 19:20, Proverb. 18:15, Proverb 2:2-5

Do you have any bitterness towards anyone? Find a verse on grace and one on forgiveness.

Write "Satan, the Lord rebuke you!" on the bottom of your shoes. Stomp your feet down and walk all over him today. Jude 9

Close your eyes, sing God a song, and picture Him in front of you.
Remember how much he loves your voice. See Him smile as you praise Him. Ps. 108:1

Read Ps. 33 Praise Him and tell him all about your love and thankfulness.

Call those who shepherd/mentor your walk with God and encourage them. They need refreshing too. Heb. 13:7

Sit down with Jesus. Have a casual chat with Him about your day. Matthew 11:28-30

Go outdoors and pray to God, either now or at night, looking up at the sky. Think about the miracles God has done in your life. Ps. 77:14

Write down five character changes God has made in you and one more you want to work on. Pray and study it out today. 2 peter 1:5-7

Give something away to a brother, sister, or the poor. Proverb 28:27

Leave a note for someone in your household or workplace telling them three things you admire in their life. Proverb 11:25

Pray for the churches around the world, the ones who are persecuted, and the people risking their lives for Christ. Col. 1:3-7

Memorize a scripture about faith, love, hope, perseverance, surrender or any other you see is needed in your life and share it with someone today (by memory).

Stretch and reach up for God. Picture Him sweeping any dust from your heart. Blow Him a kiss. Deuteronomy 30:6

Write down anything that is challenging to your walk with God. Pray to him specifically about that some time today and read Exodus 14:14

Be a secret giver over the next few days. Matthew 6:3-4

Take a prayer walk today. Praise God for what you see and who He is in your life. Psalm 24

Need a “spiritual pedicure”? Find a way to share a scripture with someone today. Isaiah 52:7

Call someone and ask him or her to pray with you or set up a time of bible reading or prayer with someone for tomorrow. Ecclesiastes 4:9

Take 5 min. & imagine that everything you have has a gift tag that reads, “With love, from God” James 1:17

Be a daydreamer and think about heaven today. What do you picture? What do you hope? What do you think it will be like the moment you meet Jesus? What is the first thing you will do when you see God? What can you not wait to tell Him? Matthew 6:21

Go to a quiet place. Stretch for 5 minutes and reflect on 1 Timothy 4: 7-8

Go out of your way to meet the need of someone else in the next few days like the woman in 2 Kings 4:8-10

Write a short psalm that lists how God listens, speaks, touches, sees, and helps you.

Draw two hearts on a piece of paper. On the first one, write down something you would like to get rid of in your heart. Now in the second write the opposite (positive) heart you are going to strive to carry.
Read Ezekiel 36: 25-26 and pray about having this new heart.

Find a special prayer place. If you already have one, go there and pray. Daniel 6:6-11

Pray for the churches around the world – Daniel 9:19

Jezreel – means God plants. Write down five positive qualities Jesus' life has made grow in you. Hosea 2:22

Read Joel 3:14. So many people are lost. Whom can you pray for and help? Pray for God to make this person obvious.

Anna – Luke 2:36-38 this prophetess spoke about Jesus to others. How often have you been sharing about Jesus to the lost or even your brothers and sisters?

Keep on praying! Matthew 7:7-11. Write down three things you will pray for consistently for the next three days.

Pray for five specific people to become closer to God. Acts 26:28-29

Hebrews 10:21-22 When is the last time you reflected deeply on Jesus? Think about two qualities of his that amazes you find stories in the bible to match those and read them.

Ephesians 5:2 Think of someone who could use a little extra love and go after doing something to meet that need today.

1 John 1:9 Are there any sins that you have not confessed over the past few days? Find someone to confess them to and pray with them.

Friday, January 13, 2012

To tattoo or not to tattoo?

I've been asked a lot by women who are young in the faith whether it's okay for Christians to get a tattoo or piercing. I boast no authority but I do believe strongly that it's wise to ask yourself some questions, pray, and get advice before doing something on a whim. A sister asked me specifically for a study about getting a tattoo...so here it is. (of course, these questions are good to ask yourself on most things *grin*)

To tattoo or not to tattoo?
~ What are my motives for wanting a tattoo? Am I seeking to glorify God or to draw attention to myself? Do I want to fit in or am I rebelling in any way? Proverbs 16:2, 24:21

~ Is my decision based on faith? Romans 14:23

~ Is getting a tattoo honoring the Lord with my body? Will God feel honored by the specific tattoo I want to get? Romans 14:7-8, Isaiah 25:1, Psalm 29:2, Psalm 86:11, Colossians 1:9-11, Rev. 4:11

~ After praying, do I have freedom in Christ and a clear conscience before the Lord regarding the decision to get a tattoo? Acts 24:15-16, 1 Corinthians 4:4

~ Will my tattoo cause someone who is weak in the faith to stumble? Reflect on 1 Cor. 8 & 1 Cor. 10:23-33

~ Have I gotten a lot of advice from mature Christians? (Proverbs 12:5, 12:15, 19:20, 20:18)

Other verses to pray about and consider:
1 Peter 3:3-5 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.

Leviticus 19:28 "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord." This passage in Leviticus, including the surrounding text, is specifically dealing with the pagan religious rituals of the people living around the Israelites. Yet God’s desire is and has always been to set His people apart and be holy.

Ultimately, the decision is between you and God. Though the subject is debatable, there is a right choice for each individual. I was able to create this study quickly because I had seen a sister in Christ work through many of these same questions when she wanted to get her nose pierced. She asked many people for advice, pray a lot about it, and I think she waited about a year just to make sure that her motives were right and that she didn't rush the decision. Some might think that is extreme. I find her to be a great example and one I love to share with others. 

Here's to us going deep with God before making decisions! :) 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Go Into Deep Water

Luke 5:1-5 ~ The Calling of the First Disciples, "One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, 'Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.' Simon answered, 'Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.' When they had done so, they caught such a large number for fish that their nets began to break."

Focusing on the “deep water” portion of this verse finds me looking at yet another symbolic message in these six verses of scripture. I believe Jesus is continually calling me to go deeper as a Christian. I believe he calls me to cast my thoughts deeply and lower my defenses to catch such a large number of spiritual truths that my mind begins to break.

What areas of study is there room to deepen my conviction?

Plan of action: people I should talk to, someone I should pray with, advice I should get?



Friday, January 6, 2012

Fun Activities (free or inexpensive)

Wanting date ideas, ways to bond with 'your girls', different activities to build memories with God? All it takes is a bit of research. Just type in "Free things to do in....(whatever area)" and tons of things will spring up. To awaken your own creativity, try some of these on for size:

1. GET OUTSIDE - Take a prayer walk together, have a picnic in a nice park or public garden. Find ducks and go feed them. Buy/make an inexpensive kite and go enjoy some fresh air. If in the DFW area, have you ever tried Thanksgiving Square? (take a camera!) http://www.thanksgiving.org/, or been to the Nature Center & Refuge around Lake Worth ($5)? There are lots of trails, free naturalist-led hikes, and they have a Prairie Dog town :)

2. LIVE IT UP - Go to a fancy grocery store. They often have a cafe and usually have a calendar full of events. You can try looking at the calendar pages of local book stores too...I've gone to see great poetry readings and live artists. Local coffee shops might have these too.

3. GET CULTURED - Go visit a museum for free. Research your own area or if in DFW: the Amon Carter & the Kimbell Art museums offer free admission to their permanent collections. The Modern Art museum is free on the 1st Sunday of every month and every Wednesday. The Meadows Museum at SMU has the most comprehensive collection of Spanish art outside Spain (inexpensive). Other ideas? http://dallas.about.com/od/museums/tp/FreeMuseums.htm. Go to the library, a book store, even a half-price book store, relax & find something unique to read. (not your normal topic)

4. GET GRATEFUL - Visit a hospital. I know that can seem weird...but they have exhibits there! In DFW: Children's Medical Center of Dallas (Super Model Train exhibit - free! Parking - small fee). - Baylor University Medical Center - Truett Building - 1st floor (Hands On exhibit, M-F 8am-9pm.) This was a very interesting exhibit to see. They also had a prayer/meditation garden were you can walk a prayer path. Maybe you can ask them about how to volunteer there. You might also want to find an animal or people shelter & volunteer together. Have a craft night and make things to encourage other people. This works well around almost any holiday. Find a neighborhood clean up group or a school who is planting a community garden. They're out there.

5. THINK OUTTA THE BOX - Watch billon's of dollars be printed! Yup. Located in Ft. Worth, TX the BEP's Western Currency Facility Tour is a great place to learn about US paper currency. It's free...(the only other one is listed in Washington, DC)
http://www.moneyfactory.gov/tours/fortworthtxtours.html. Mrs. Baird's Bread Factory has a free tour (you need to provide them a 2 weeks notice you're coming). Wanna hold a meteorite? :)  Here ya go....http://www.monnigmuseum.tcu.edu/index.shtml

Here's another good site to check out no matter where you live in the US: http://www.uptake.com/
For other ideas in Texas, check out the TourTexas.com website.

Have a blast! Let me know if you have other ideas...let's share and inspire each other :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"Get Ur Good On"

Being a plan ahead type of person, (forgive me for bringing this holiday up so quickly after the new year - ha ha) I've been looking to find a way to serve for Valentine's day. I'm single and want to be in love yet I know deep down there are people who need more love than me! Also, I am a huge believer that we are called to serve in more ways than just giving our contribution/tithe, serving other brothers & sisters, and doing the events church sets up for us.

One book changed my life in this area. It's called Crazy Love: Overwhlemed by a Relentless God authored by Francis Chan. I read the book at least 2 years ago and liked it because of it's challenges and because of it's multi-media aspects. Here's the website: http://www.crazylovebook.com/

Chapter 7 brought up the question: What are you doing right now in your life that requires faith? I realized I hadn't really been stretching myself much so one Wednesday after work I decided I was tired of going through the same routine. I wanted to help people. I wanted to do something that required faith. I wanted to know my neighbors and the people in my community. I didn't want to go to midweek and just talk about it. I had my life cut open in this book and it didn't really look as passionate as the disciples I read about in the bible. So I sat on my stairs and prayed. Basically, my prayer was..."God, I'm not moving until you tell me how you want me to reach my community and my neighbors."

Now, I don't know how God communicates to you but with me...when I'm in prayer... it's either scriptures or what I can only describe as a 'knowing.' So God put something on my mind. After that thought...I asked him, "Are you sure you want me to do that, God?" It was almost like He replied, "Why did you ask if you were just going to question me?" So - I obeyed. I went to the computer, set up a new email address, drove to the grocery store, bought shoe polish and did this:

It says, "Struggles? email praying4you@ymail.com"

Then I went to midweek service. LOL. Something amazing happened over the next few weeks. People actually emailed me!! I was able to share my faith and encourage them. One girl who emailed me even came out to an all women's bible talk. I remember driving in tears after a woman pulled into the fast lane beside me, honked, and kept mouthing...pray for my grandmother! Yes, people are so desperate they will email a stranger, pour out their lives, and ask for prayer. Wow! After that I also began mentoring at the YWCA in a program for young women who had aged out of foster care.

Thinking of Valentine's day, what love is, and my little car ministry, I'm simply reminded that people are in need. So today I'm searching again. Here's one of the most important things we tend to forget...we forget to ask God what HE wants us individually to do or how HE wants us to personally serve. He might not want you to write on the back of your car. God is creative so there's no telling what He will come up with...but I bet it's amazing and I'll bet since He knows you and your talents best that it'll be perfect for you. He is probably just waiting on you to ask. "Amazing Lord, who do you want me to serve and how?"

Other avenues to inspire you:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

When Satan Attacks

The devil. He lives to deceive, accuse, trap, destroy, and rule. And boy is he persistent so I know attacks will come again and again. Often it's easier for me to see his attacks on others than on myself but I know I have two enemies. My sinful nature and the devil..and they love to work together. Boo. We hear and talk a lot about our sinful characters but not much about our other enemy so let's talk. After all, it's randomly come up a few times today.

I have battle scars and I'm sad to say I've seen many followers of Christ fall under attack and lose. 2 Corinthians 2:11 talks about forgiving and says, "in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes." I think the longer you are a Christian the more you see his schemes. Ya see, beelzebub's got nothing new in his bag so you can learn to recognize them. He attacks different people, and different countries for that matter, in different ways but for myself here's a few things I often look for:

* "If, then" questions: He questioned Jesus this way..."If you are the son of God, (then)..." I know I'm under attack when "if, then" questions come up that I know go against what God says in the bible. For example, "If you were really a Christian, wouldn't you stop failing at...." or "If the fellowship cared about you, then wouldn't they..." or "If God loved you, then wouldn't He..." These are often about proof...

* Incitement: 1 Chronicles 21:1 [David Numbers the Fighting Men ] Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. He's an instigator and loves disorder. Feeling driven to argue, unforgiveness, complaining, grumbling, being prideful and blaming. When these feelings aren't fleeting, I take notice of attack.

* Temptation & Justification: Genesis 3:1-4, "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. Remember he's got nothing new up his sleeve. He takes something you find tempting, makes you question why God wouldn't want you to have it, then lies about the consequences.

There are other ways but these came to mind first. It may be interesting to ask others how they see the devil attack just to gain more wisdom. Just this morning, I was sharing with someone about feeling insecure with a task I'm doing at work. All of a sudden she mentioned it sounded like our enemy was attacking me. I'm praying about it 'cause she's right...trying to make me feel insecure is right up satan's alley. He's got to hate victorious Christians who walk around 'in victory'!

So besides praying, looking at scriptures, and being open with others..here are some things I do during attacks:

Isaiah 44:5 - One will say, ‘I belong to the LORD’; another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’ and will take the name Israel. Some times I write on my hand The Lord's as a reminder that God has claimed me and that Satan can't have me back.

Matthew 4:10 - Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” I tell him to get away and speak scripture like Jesus did. Yeah, you read right. Reading the word in these situations is great and speaking it out loud is even better. Be bold.

Luke 22:31 - "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. & Job 1:9-11“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
I remember there are verses that says he's had to ask permission to attack and that when God said yes, it was because God had faith in them to overcome. With God believing in me that much, I'm so encouraged that I can almost feel satan run off. Focus on God's great belief in you!

Romans 16:20 - "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Paul wrote this to disciples in Rome. As a reminder, that God has already won, I write the word 'satan' on the bottom of my shoe. It feels great when you set your foot to the ground and walk around! :) 

Here's an GREAT article that I thought you might enjoy called "The Battle Scars of a Satanic Attack" http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=13757&forum=34&38

Anyway, this is a short blog on a huge subject. You can always google satan/devil on biblegateway.com's keyword search and it pulls up all the verses that mention him. Looking over those has helped me to see his devices and to learn just which piece of God's armor I need to make sure is ready for attack. It's also helped me to help others when they are under attack like my friend did today. As Paul West said in the article...satan wants to 'take the fight out of you' - but we are not unaward of satan's schemes and we won't let him!