Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Do it...ON PURPOSE!~ Day 31 {Make. It. Count.}


Day 31.

Here we are  . . .
at the end of October,
saying goodbye to another month
and  bidding farewell to our series, Make. It. Count.

Time certainly flies and this month was no exception. It took flight before I even had a chance to settle in and get comfy. I pray in the midst of the whirlwind of life, you have been able to take a few moments to let the words shared over the past thirty days, swirl around in your mind and settle in your heart. 

I pray something written here
hit a nerve,
sparked a thought,
ignited a passion,
revived a dream,
confirmed a calling,
inspired a step forward.


As we have journeyed through this month together, I pray you have peered inside the windows of your own life to discover opportunities, not yet taken, where God is calling you to Make. It. Count.

We were created to make a difference.

As God knit you together in your mother's womb,
He wove a purpose into your heart.

As He lovingly designed your fingers and molded your toes,
He tucked talents and abilities into your very being. 

As our Heavenly Father, planned your days and orchestrated the events of your life,
He wrote a symphony - a masterpice which can only be heard through the melody of you.


Don't settle for a life of mediocrity.

Don't fly through life without experiencing it.

Don't let

another month,

another day,

another moment,
slip by

unnoticed,

unrealized,

unopened,

unused.




Here were are
on the verge of a brand new month,
on the edge of a brand new thing (and most likely, brand new THINGS!) God is wanting to do in your life.

Take hold of his hand and live out YOUR purpose.

Purpose to be who God designed you to be.

Purpose to do what God has called you to do.

Purpose to take your life

           and

                   Make.
    
                                  It.

                                               Count.




Thanks for spending your October with me.  Any comments or thoughts as we wrap up our month together?  I'd love to hear them.  Feel free to leave a comment here on my blog, or ....for my faithful subscribers, simply reply to this email. 

May God richly bless you as you step out into HIS purpose and fulfill your calling.



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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Shameful Confession~Day 30 {Make. It. Count.}

God has given each of us the privilege of being His hands and feet to those in need around us. Just open your eyes and you will see opportunity for giving and sharing everywhere you look. I have always been keenly aware of these opportunities, yet shamefully, I must admit, I have usually turned my face to these calls for help and avoided them altogether.

No, that's not exactly true.

Whenever I've been given the honor of helping someone in need of food, clothing or money, I have always been more than willing to share what God has blessed me with. This kind of giving is easy. It's not hard to drop off a box of food, or write out a check. I guess the type of giving I'm referring to is the kind that requires giving of yourself.

For the past six months or so, my neighbor has been courageously fighting a battle with cancer. I know this not because I have spoken to her, but because her husband has been sharing her struggle with my husband during chats over the fence that separates our yard from theirs. Knowing she has been facing this, you would think I would be doing whatever I could to help her, right? Wrong! I have instead willfully chosen to turn my face to her and her obvious need.
Day after day, I remain silent, doing absolutely nothing to help her.

Why?

It's simple.

Fear.

Fear of invading her privacy.
Fear of saying or doing something wrong.
Fear of making her uncomfortable.
Simply put.....fear of making her situation worse and not better.

I rationalize my total complacency to her need by convincing myself she would be much better off without me. And, believe it or not......I actual believe this to be true.

So, I stay away.

More than ten years ago, my mother in law was fighting her own battle with cancer. Her eyes were growing dim and her strength all but gone. While her family was in the kitchen sharing in a meal, I was sitting at her side. Feeling so incompetent to be in this position, it wasn't a place I would have chosen to be. Yet, God placed me there for this moment in time.

As I gazed upon her frail body, lying there in her bed, I noticed her neck, which appeared to be in an awkward position.

"Are you OK?" I asked. "You don't look very comfortable. Would you like me to try and adjust your pillow so you can rest your head more comfortably?"

With all the energy she could muster up, she nodded her head "yes".

Immediately, fear flooded my entire being.
What am I going to do?
How can I possibly move her without hurting her?
If only someone else was here with me. I don't know what to do.

With a whirlwind of thoughts, doubts and fears racing through my mind, I leaned over this precious woman, gingerly placing my hand under her head. As I tried to figure out how best to reposition her on her pillow, she reached out with her own hand, placing it firmly on my shoulder. Then, using what little strength she had, she said slowly and deliberately, "DON'T BE AFRAID".

I lifted her head, readjusted her pillow, and gently laid her head back down once again. She looked up at me and smiled. Those three words, DON'T BE AFRAID, were the last words she spoke to me. Two days later, she passed away.

I have carried those words in my heart ever since. Dying words meant to speak life. Yet, unfortunately, I have allowed these words and the power they bring to lie dormant in my heart. Ten years later, I am still choosing instead, to listen to the lies of Satan. Lies that only serve to imprison me in fear and render be totally useless as God's hands and feet to those around me. My neighbor needs me, and I am not there for her.


And that is my whole point in writing this.

I want to be used by God no matter HOW he chooses to use me.

Be it lending a dollar or lending my heart.

Until I am willing to give of myself, I will never be able to live up to the true potential of my calling -to serve my fellowman.

This giving of myself will most likely not be easy and will most likely make me extremely uncomfortable, but then again....it's not about ME, right?! It's about forgetting all about me so I can instead focus fully on the one in need.



{Photo Credit}
It's also about forgetting my obvious incompetence and instead, focusing on the Lord, who IS able. He is able to do all I could ever thing or imagine and then some!!! I know I am not able to meet the needs of others.....but the great I AM certainly is! All I need to do is surrender to my need for Christ to work in and through me, and He in turn, will be faithful to use me to meet the needs he brings before me.

I love 2 Corinthians 4:7 -

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."

No, it's not about easy and it's not about us.

It's about surrender.
Surrender to all that is holding me back,
and possibly holding you back, too.

Be it our pride,
our selfishness,
our laziness or our fear.

All are simply tools of Satan to keep you and I turning our heads, and walking away.

It's about surrendering.
It's about trusting.

It's about time!

I've wasted so many God-given opportunities to serve. 
I've turned down countless God-issued invitations to help.
I've skipped over and around God-designed moments
to be His hands,
to show His love,
to Make. It. Count.

I don't want to waste one more second.

Do you?

It's time to Make. It. Count.






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Monday, October 29, 2012

The Real Deal~ Day 29 {Make. It. Count.}

My grandma, born and raised in the deep South, was a spunky lady, to say the least. She had a dry, witty sense of humor and was famous for her one-liners. While her words always brought a laugh, they also revealed her wisdom. Long after the laughter faded, her words resonated in my heart.

As a young, single woman in my early twenties, I often traveled by myself. I thought nothing of getting in my car and driving seven hours North to see my parents, or ten hours East to spend time with my sister. My parents, however, worried about my safety. Time after time, they cautioned me of the dangers of traveling alone. One time, this familiar topic of conversation came up while we were visiting my grandma.

"I don't know why she insists on traveling by herself," my mother said, as I sat right beside her on my Grandma's couch. "I keep telling her to get a man's hat and place it in her back window. That way, it would at least look like a man was traveling with her. For all they know, he could simply be taking a nap in the backseat!"

Without skipping a beat, my Grandma leaned forward, looked directly at me and remarked, "Forget about the hat, honey. Get a man!" Laughter spilled into the room. Then Grandma continued. "Who wants a silly ole hat when you can have the real deal?!"

And of course, for all practical purposes, Grandma was right! I understood my mother's reasoning and felt her love for me in this odd request, but I had to agree with my Grandma. What good would a hat do? It was, after all, just a hat. At a quick glance, it might give the appearance that a man was along for the ride, but appearances and reality are two totally different things! Could a hat change a flat tire for me? Could a hat take the wheel and drive for me if I got tired and needed a break from the driver's seat? Could a hat protect me from a would be assailant? No, the hat was merely for show and would only provide a false sense of security. I didn't need a hat, I needed a man!

As ridiculous as I found my mother's idea to be, I couldn't deny the joke was on me when it came to my spiritual life.

 I had grown up in a Christian home and had attended church from a young age. I knew all about God, the Bible, and what it meant to look like a Christian. In fact, anyone who spotted me cruising through life would have been sure to notice my Bible, my Christian lingo and my Christian ways. But, if they would have gotten close enough to peer into the backseat of my heart, they would have discovered all these were just for show. I was traveling life alone. I had religion, but what I needed was the man, Christ Jesus.

It wasn't until my earlier thirties that I traded in my religious facade for a true, vibrant, living and breathing relationship with the Lord. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God became real to me for the first time in my life. Now, my Bible is no longer on display for all to see, but instead, it's words are hidden in my heart, guiding, leading and transforming me little by little, day by day. The words I speak are no longer spoken to impress others with my spirituality, but rather to impress upon others the beauty and freedom that can be found in a relationship with Christ. I pray each day God will take the wheel of my life and live in and through me.

I am no longer satisfied with religion.  I am no longer content to live a life "just for show", and why should I be?

Think about it.

Can religion forgive my sins?

Can religion create a new heart in me?

Can religion live in and through me?

Can religion feel my hurt, understand my fears, or speak to my heart?

No, only Christ can.

Why would I want to settle for anything less than Jesus?...and why should you?



---------------

Oh, by the way, in case you are wondering, I took my Grandma's advice and got a man. Now, I not only have Christ in my life, but a wonderful husband, too! No more traveling alone for this girl! From now on, it's the three of us sharing every single moment of this amazing ride called life!

(Note: This first appeared on Heartprints of God on May 13, 2009, but I couldn't resist including it in this series.  It more than fits, don't you agree?)



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Sunday, October 28, 2012

In a Battle? Praise God!~Day 28 {Make. It. Count.}

Despair
{Photo Credit}
Are you in the midst of a battle today?

If so, what is your game plan?

What is your plan of attack?

And if you don't mind me asking....
how is it going?

Are you making any ground?
Are you getting close to declaring victory?

No?


May I make a suggestion?
Have you ever thought about using the weapon of praise?

Yes.

Praise!

Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.”

After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang:

“Give thanks to the Lord;
his faithful love endures forever!”

At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves.The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had destroyed the army of Seir, they began attacking each other. 2 Chronicles 20:20-23

What was this army's plan of attack?

What was their strategic game plan?

PRAISE!


Remember the Battle at Jericho? No fighting there -

only marching,

singing,

praising God

..... and victory!


What are you battling today? Discouragement? Disappointment? Disease? Dread?



What keeps attacking you? Fear? Depression? Low self esteem? Guilt?



Where do you need a victory in your life? Finances? Marriage? Addictions?


Make no mistake.

We are in a battle - a spiritual battle.

The enemy is working overtime to "steal, kill and destroy" (John 10:10) our life. Left alone to fight on our own, we are sure to be defeated. But, - when we enlist the help of our God - we are more than conquerors! (Romans 8:37)

But, just how exactly does praise help us fight our battle?

What power is there in praise?
Let the praises of God be in their mouths,
and a sharp sword in their hands— Psalm 149:6
Our praise combined with the sword of the spirit, the Word of God, (Ephesians 6:17) is a two-fold attack that Satan will not survive.

Praise not only brings God the adoration and exaltation He is so worthy of, but it also reminds us of the character of our God. As we praise Him for all He is we are reminded of WHO HE IS! Our praise infuses our faith. The more we praise, the stronger our faith becomes. And, remember the role faith plays in spiritual battles? Our faith is our shield. With our shield, we are able to quench all the fiery darts of Satan. (Ephesians 6:16).

We are able to "do battle" and win!

Praising God is faith in action. As we praise Him with our lips, we are declaring His power, His might, His victory over and in our life. God inhabits the praises of His people. Our praise ushers God into our presence. Our praise engages our faith and enables God to do what only He can.

Are you in a battle today?

Then, lift your hands toward Heaven and begin to praise your God.

Praise Him for His lovingkindness.

Praise Him for His mercy.

Praise Him for His faithfulness.

Praise Him for His power and His might.

Praise Him for past victories - for battles He has already won in your life.

Praise Him for going before you in your current battle -
leading you once again to victory in and through Him.


Praise Him with every part of your being.



Praise Him from the center of your heart.

When you and I begin to praise God, Satan has to flee.

When you and I begin to praise God, strongholds come down.

When you and I begin to praise God, God shows up and fights our battle for us.

When you and I praise God, we are victorious!

Let the praises begin!




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Friday, October 26, 2012

A Heart After You, O Lord~Day 27 {Make. It. Count.}












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What Would YOU Do?~ Day 26 {Make. It. Count.}











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Thursday, October 25, 2012

When God Fights For Us~ Day 25 {Make. It. Count.}

Her words were meant to hurt,
to cut like a knife,
to sting and burn long after she was gone.

Her intentions were to upset,
to stir up strife,
to start a train-reaction of deep-seated emotion.

Her motives were to tear down,
to unravel and undo,
to demolish and destroy.

And yet,

despite her words,

regardless of her intentions,

in spite of her motives,

God prevailed.

God's Word was soothing,
comforting and healing,
reminding us of His continual presence.

God's intention pulled us closer together,
creating a deeper harmony,
building an unbreakable bond of unity.

God's motive lifted us higher,
igniting our passion and strengthening our determination,
fortifying and reviving our hearts.

If,
in the heat of the battle,
we will hold fast to our God,
and stand firm in His ways,
God will fight our battle for us.

If,
when accusations and insults are hurled,
we speak only words of truth,
wrapped in love and humility,
God will exonerate and vindicate His own.

If,
when Satan comes in like a flood
we uphold the standard of our God,
in a manner worthy of His Holy name,
God will give the victory.


Her words were meant to . . .

But, God.


Her intentions were to . . .

But, God.


Her motives were to . . .

But, God.


We need only be still and know He is God.

If we will let Him,
God will take what Satan means for harm,
and He will use it,
for our good
             and
                  for His glory.

Our God will Make. It. Count.

Every. Single. Time.

The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest.
~Exodus 14:14, The Amplified Bible







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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Unthinkable~ Day 24 {Make. It. Count.}

So many times in life we find our self in a place where we never thought we would be.

Divorced.

Addicted.

Depressed.

Abused.

Overweight.

Unemployed.

Diagnosed.

The list could go on and on….but, you don’t need me to identify your present location. You are there. You already know the place where you are all too well. And, you feel trapped. You feel as though you have no way out.

Either by choices we have made or circumstances beyond our control,
life takes an unexpected turn,
down an unanticipated path,
to a never before imagined place.

Before we know what has happened or where we are, we find our self behind locked bars with no key and no way out.

I know. I’ve been there. So have Paul and Silas.

Acts 16, NLT
22 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.

Paul and Silas were stripped, beaten and thrown in jail. Did they deserve this kind of severe, harsh treatment? NO! Did they deserve to be held prisoner? NO! Did they deserve to have their feet bound? NO! Yet, it happened. They found themselves in a place where they never thought they would be. It wasn’t their choice to be where they were. It was the choice of the angry mob. Yet, here they were. Mistreated. Locked up. Trapped.

Sometimes we, too, find our self in a place not of our own choosing.
Somone else or circumstances out of our control have made the choice for us.
We didn’t want a divorce.
Cancer wasn’t in our plans.
We did nothing to deserve being abused or mistreated.
Yet, it happened.
We were stripped of our dreams,
beaten down by something outside of our self,
and thrown into our situation.

Did we do anything to deserve this unfair treatment? NO! Did we do anything to deserve the suffering? NO! Did we do anything to deserve being locked in this place in our life? NO! Yet, it happened. We are there…..seated right beside Paul and Silas.

25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.

Amazingly enough, despite what they had just experienced and in spite of where they now found themselves, Paul and Silas decided to pray and sing. PRAY AND SING! Life sent them to an unthinkable place and in turn, they did the unthinkable. With feet bound, and flesh torn, they praised God. Those around them couldn’t help but hear the praises flowing from their hearts.

Chances are you are not alone in your unthinkable place. If you look around, you will discover
others going through the same experience you are. Could it be you have found yourself in this place by no choice of your own because God has plans to use you to bless others who are walking this road with you?

26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!

Paul and Silas chose to praise God and when they did, God responded. And, don’t miss this!!!! Their praise not only set them free, but it brought freedom to the entire prison. EVERYONE in the prison was set free.

Today, in the very midst of your situation, I challenge you to praise God….not silently, but boldly. Praise Him with everything you’ve got! Praise Him no matter where you are and no matter who may hear. Praise Him from the very depths of your heart. Like Paul and Silas, your praise has the potential to not only set you free, but to loose the chains of all those imprisoned with you!!!

27 The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. 28 But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”

The jailer was the one responsible for all the prisoners. This was his job. This is what he had been told to do. This was his place in life. Yet, when the prisoners appeared to be free and he thought his job and his life were over, he almost killed himself.

Chances are the ones in your life who have been holding you prisoner are in this place because this is what they know. This is what they have been taught. This is where life has placed them. Those who have been abused often abuse others. Hurting people hurt people. But notice, through the power of praise, even the jailer…the one holding them captive….was set free!!!!

29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” (Act 16)

Did you notice the jailer brought them out of the jail. They didn’t remain where they once were now that they had been set free. When God opens locked doors in our life we can’t dilly dally around and stay in the place that once held us captive.We must get out. We must move into the new place of freedom God has for us. The jailer knew this. He wanted nothing to do with the old place he had been.

And, he wanted whatever it was the Paul and Silas had.

He wanted joy…the kind that makes you sing when you are imprisoned.

He wanted power…..the kind that opens prison doors and sets captives free.

Most of all, though…He wanted to experience true freedom in Christ. He (the only one physically free) wanted to truly be set free!

It doesn’t matter where you are today. It doesn’t matter if you are there because of choices you made or choices someone else made. All that matters is that God is there with you. Like Paul and Silas, you can be set free. Like Paul and Silas, God can use you to set others free. The choice is yours.

Are you in an unthinkable place today?

Then, like Paul and Silas….do the unthinkable.

PRAY AND SING! PRAISE GOD!….and watch God do the unthinkable!

Watch God move!

Watch God shake your world!

Watch God open the doors and loosen the chains and set you and everyone around you, free!!!!

Take Flight!
{Photo Credit}




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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Catching On~ Day 23 {Make. It. Count}

It is one thing to know the Word.
It is another thing altogether to know THE WORD WHO BECAME FLESH.

You see, somethings are taught...and somethings are caught.
(If you take a few minutes to digest this thought, I think you may agree with me.)

After all, how did you learn to tie your shoes? That's right. Someone taught you how to first make a loop, then to hold it tight while going around your thumb and into the loop....and viola!

How did you learn to read? Again, someone took the time to teach you the alphabet and the sound each letter makes alone and in relation to other letters.

How did you learn to drive a car? Your mom or dad (or some other brave soul) patiently...(or maybe not!) instructed you on the ins and outs of maneuvering a vehicle through the maze of other cars, stop lights, and of course, the all too common, construction zone.

Dictionary. com defines teach this way: to impart knowledge of or skill in; give instruction in.

Somethings are most definitely taught.

Now, let me ask you this.

How did you learn to bring out a smile in someone else by sharing a smile of your own?

How did you learn to go "awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww" whenever you see something that melts your heart?

How did you learn to learn to talk?

How did you learn to give a hug, help someone up, clap and cheer?

You caught these! You learned these by simply observing the behavior and actions of those around you.

The Bible is divided into two testaments. The Old Testament is about the Old Covenant.(Death through the Law) The New Testament is about the new covenant. (Life through Christ Jesus). But, have you ever thought about the Old Testament being that which was taught and the New Testament being that which is caught?

In the Old Testament, through the prophets of old and their instruction in the law and the commandments, we are taught about sin. In the Old Testament, through the prophecies, we are taught about the promise of the Messiah. In the Old Testament, through the lives of Moses, Noah, Joseph, Daniel and many others, we are taught about Faith.

Old Testament learning requires our mind, our intellect.

In the New Testament, through the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, we catch a glimpse of who God is. In the New Testament, through the power of Holy Spirit,we begin to feel the power of God. In the New Testament, as we follow the life of Christ and his disciples and journey with Paul, we begin to realize what it means to be a follower of Christ.

New Testament learning requires our heart.

Somethings are taught...by instruction. Somethings are caught...by beholding.

One requires our mind. The other, our heart.

Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!

You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.But I say, if you are even angry with someone,you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot,you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone,you are in danger of the fires of hell."
Matthew 5:17-22, NLT

The Pharisees and Scribes had been taught the law. They knew all about "Do not kill", "Do not steal", "Don't not..."etc., but the real truth of the law never reached their heart. They never caught the Law. They never understood the Law was not just something you spoke about or a standard by which you judged someone else. It was a matter of your own heart.

It's not just enough to have a head knowledge of the law. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the law must be caught by our heart. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, our life becomes transformed by God's law, our heart becomes changed. The through the power of the Holy Spirit, the law becomes more than a set of rules, it becomes the ruling force of our heart.

"Don't kill" becomes "do not hate someone or to harbor hateful feeling against someone in your heart".

"Don't steal" becomes "don't even think about taking what isn't yours".

So which are more important?  The things taught or the things caught?

Jesus, when confronted with this very question, summed it up this way:

"Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Matthew 22:35-40

The Old Testaments teaches us about God. In the New Testament we are able to behold His glory in the face of Jesus. In the New Testament, through the power of the Holy Spirit, as we observe Jesus' behavior, His mannerisms, and His heart, we become changed. We catch on to what life in and through Jesus is all about.

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18, KJV

The New Testament, through the life of Christ Jesus and through the instruction and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, changes us.

Maybe you have been taught all about God. But, let me ask you this? Has your heart caught on to new life in Christ? Has your life taken hold of His forgiveness, His grace and His love for you? Have you been transformed by beholding Him? Have you caught what Christ came to teach us?

It is one thing to know the Word.

It is another thing altogether to know THE WORD WHO BECAME FLESH.

The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.

John pointed him out and called, "This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word."

We all live off his generous bounty,
gift after gift after gift.
We got the basics from Moses,
and then this exuberant giving and receiving,
This endless knowing and understanding—
all this came through Jesus, the Messiah
. John 1:14-17, The Message





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Monday, October 22, 2012

How Did I Miss THAT?~ Day 22 {Make. It. Count.}

When my father's health was declining, the Lord opened the door for me to move back home with my parents. Unfortunately, my husband wasn't able to make the move.

For five years, seven hours of driving each way, my husband and I commuted back and forth on long weekends and holidays. Did I mention we traveled this seven hour road back and forth, forth and back for five years?

Each time I found myself behind the wheel, I was on a mission: getting home to see my husband or getting back up to my parents. Both hands on the steering wheel, eyes locked on the road in front of me, full steam ahead.

A couple of years ago, far removed from the situation that had been my life for five years, I traveled this same route once again. This time was different, though. I had no mission. I was leisurely traveling North to spend time with my mother. I was on a mini-vacation. Time was my friend, not my enemy. The trip was inviting, not to be endured. And, what a trip it was.

SEE!
{Photo Credit}

I saw antelope,



bouquets of wild flowers,



fluffy clouds,



a stately windmill,



the smile on an elderly lady as I drove down the main street of a little town.



Everywhere I looked, I saw beauty.
Each time I turned my head or a corner, I saw life.
The entire trip I saw everything I had failed to see for five years!


How had I missed all of this before?


Sadly, each time I drove this road before I only saw what was right in front of me. The commitments. The obligations. The demands. The deadlines. The distance to be traveled.


The same was true of Elisha's servant.
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.


“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:15-17
When he awoke one morning, all Elisha's servant could see was an army surrounding him. That's it! He only saw what was directly in front of him. But then, Elisha prayed the eyes of this "spiritually blind" man would be opened to see what was truly before him - the army of the Lord surrounding them.

It makes no difference if we are merely out for a joy ride or fighting the battle of our life, we cannot afford to lose our spiritual vision. We cannot settle for merely seeing what is before us. We must also see beyond that, to see God in every place of our life.


In the beauty of a desert landscape, He is there.


In the operating room of a hospital, He is there.


In the traveling of life's highway, He is there.


And yes, even (and especially!) in the deadlines, demands, disappointments and diseases of life, He is there.


Don't miss what you can't see
by only concentrating on what you do see.


Faith looks beyond.

Faith sees what can't be seen (yet!).

When we allow God to open our eyes, our vision becomes clear. We see beauty where we have never noticed it before. We see the army of the Lord encamped around us ready to protect and defend.

We see God!

Heavenly Father,
Without eyes of faith we are spiritually blind. In our blindness, we stumble through life, void of beauty and void of the realization and assurance of your presence. Today, Father God, I pray that like the eyes of Elisha's servants, our eyes, too, would be opened. We want to see, Lord. We want to see YOU.
In Jesus' name, Amen~





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Hanging and Dangling~ Day 21 {Make. It. Count.}

A man was walking along the edge of a cliff, enjoying the scenery and his time alone in nature, when without warning, the ground beneath his feet gave way. As he fell, he was able to grab onto a branch, which temporarily stopped his fall. He knew he couldn't hang onto to this branch forever. He also knew there was no way he would be able to climb the steep wall of the cliff. So, he started yelling for help, hoping someone would hear him and come to his rescue.

"Help! Help! Is anyone up there?"

He yelled for what seemed like hours, then he heard a voice.

"Can you hear me?"

"Yes! Yes!" the man cried. "Help me, please. You've just gotta help me!"

"Yes. I can see you there. How are you, Tom?"

Surprised that this "stranger" knew his name, the man replied, "Uh, who are you....and where are you? I don't see you."

"It's me....the Lord, Tom."

"The Lord? You mean........GOD?!"

"That's Me."

"God, please help me! I promise if You'll get me down from here, I'll stop sinning. I'll be a really good person. I'll serve You for the rest of my life."

"Easy on the promises, Tom. Let's just get you down from there; then we can talk. Now, here's what I want you to do. Listen carefully."

"I'll do anything, Lord. Just tell me what to do."

"Okay. Let go of the branch."

"What?"

"I said, let go of the branch.. Just trust Me. Let go."

There was a long silence. Finally Tom yelled,

"HELP! HELP! IS ANYONE ELSE UP THERE?"

Let go and let God. Easy to say....not always easy to do.

In our heart of hearts, we know God is MORE than capable of handling our needs. We know God is ALL LOVE, ALL THE TIME. We know God is working all things for our good, and for His glory. We know God has it all under control. And yet, we are afraid to relinquish our control.

Every time I hear the story of Tom, I often think of how the story would have ended if the one who came to his rescue would have been a close acquaintance. To make it personal, I picture myself hanging on for dear life and the one coming to my rescue being someone from my family; my father, my mother or my sister. Somehow, if it was one of them counseling me to "let go", I think I would. I would trust them enough to listen to their instruction and follow their guidance.

Why is the struggle with God so much more intense?

Why, when God answers, do we bypass His invitation, and continue our pursuit to find help in our time of need?

Why do we so quickly turn to people (or things)and turn away from God?

Simply put: it's a trust issue.

When it comes right down to it, it comes down to this: truly knowing God. It comes down to our personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. It comes down to the level of intimacy we have with God.

As a little girl, I was extremely blessed. I grew up in a family that could be trusted. I knew they loved me and wanted only the best for me. I knew they would never do anything to harm me or to hurt me. While I may not have understood everything they tried to teach me, I understood their heart.

If they told me to let go, I let go.

It is no different with God.

Admittedly, I can't physically see God or actually hear His voice when He speaks to me.....but really, is that what matters? It wasn't my father's voice that "saved" me when I was in trouble. It wasn't my mother "being there" that helped me to trust her. Who they were and how they felt about me was all that mattered. I knew they loved me and could be trusted. My heart knew their heart.

That's the way it should be with our Heavenly Father.

We need to come to a place of undeniable trust.

It is hard. I am the first to admit that. I hold onto to my life until the knuckles of my heart are white! Yet, I will also be the first to admit that my holding on often keeps God in a "holding pattern" - holding on to all that He wants to do in my life. He can't release His plans for my life into my heart, until I am ready to release my heart into the plans He has for my life.

At some point, we HAVE to let go.

We can't keep hanging on to the branches in our life forever.

God is there.

He is more than willing to step in and help us -
more than ready to reach down,
pick us up,
and place us on the steady and sure foundation of His will for our life.

But, he's waiting on us.

Tired of gripping onto your life so tight the knuckles of your heart are white?

Hold the sky
{Photo Credit}
Tired of hanging and dangling and holding on for dear life?


Then.....



Go ahead,



let go!


Fall into the nail-scarred hands of Jesus; hands that have the evidence of unfailing, trustworthy, I love you so much I died for you love engraved upon them.

You can trust God.

All you have to do is let go........





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Saturday, October 20, 2012

God-Colors~ Day 20 {Make. It. Count.}












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Friday, October 19, 2012

For His Name's Sake~ Day 19 {Make. It. Count.}


I don't tell you this to boast, but to make a point.

When I was little, I almost never got in trouble. (At least not while I was outside the walls of our home.)

 I never got sent to the Principal's office.

I never had a "run in with the law".

I was a good kid who always tried to be on my best behavior.

Like I said, I don't tell you this to boast, but to make a point. And, my point is this. How I behaved reflected on my parents. I knew what I did would either bring them praise or....embarrassment. I knew this because my father had told me so.

"Stac, (my daddy always called me Stac) wherever you go and whatever you do, remember this. You're a Mitchell. You're wearing my name. When you were born I proudly gave you my name as your own. Wear it proudly. Never do things that will bring shame to you, to me, to your mother, to your sisters or to our family name."

My behavior - good or bad - reflected on my parents.

Now, I have a new name. I have been adopted into a new family. I am now a daughter of the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. I now wear HIS name.

As a Christian, I, too, have a responsibility to be on "my best behavior".
Not to bring praise to me,
but to uphold the name of my Heavenly Father,
to live my life for His name's sake.

As a Christian, my behaviour is directly interwoven with God's reputation.

Reputation-

Dictionary.com defines reputation as the estimation in which a person or thing is held, especially by the community or the public generally.

Reputation is who people THINK we are. Character is who we REALLY are.

Through reading God's Word and the guiding of the Holy Spirit, you and I have come to know the true character of God. He is merciful and just, forgiving and kind, faithful and true. We know who God really is. But sadly, not everyone does.
Your life may be the only Bible some people read. ~Author Unknown
Stop and think about this for a minute.
(You may even need to read this a couple of times before the depth of the meaning soaks in.)

When our behaviour tarnishes God's reputation,
His real character is in jeopardy of never being seen by those around us.


When we call our self a Christian, we are wearing Christ's name.

As our children, our neighbors and our co-workers watch us living out our lives, are they seeing Christ for WHO HE REALLY IS?

As we

drive down the street,
shop at the local grocery store,
step into the movie theatre,
cheer on our favorite team,
wear our favorite outfit,

are we helping others to focus in on who God is

or

does what we do make is difficult for others to see God at all?


Are we bringing glory and honor to His name,
or are we tarnishing His reputation by our un-Christlike behavior?

What is your life telling others about your God?

What is mine?

Are you and I ruining God's reputation?

Or, are we living in such a way that the beauty of His character is
unmistakable,
              undeniable,
                         and oh, so very inviting?

Are we living our life for His name's sake?

Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16, The Amplified Bible






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Thursday, October 18, 2012

...And They Lived Happily Holy Every After~ Day 18 {Make. It. Count.}

Once upon a time my husband and I attended a memorial service for darling elderly couple.

The wife's health had started to fail first. Hip surgeries and along with dementia had left her feeble and in a nursing home. Faithfully, her husband was at her side each and every day. Then, stricken with an aggressive form of cancer, he was gone. In her weakened state of mind, her heart couldn't understand why he had stopped coming to visit her.

Not a day went by that she didn't ask for him by name, crying out until she was hoarse and could speak no more. Desperately longing for the man who had stolen her heart, she would grab the arm of a son or daughter sitting near her and spell out his name in the palm of their hand. His name was cradled by her final breath. Five weeks to the day of her husband's death, she passed away. His death came as an unexpected surprise. Hers did not. They had been Mr. and Mrs. for 64 years.



Marriage -

a union between a man and a wife.

two becoming one flesh,

sharing the same name,

the same bed,

the same life.



This past August, my husband and I celebrated twelve years of marital bliss. A far cry from 64, but a good start none the less. On that memorable day when I said "I DO", I have to admit, the vision I had in mind was happily ever after {emphasis on happily}. Now, eleven years later, I am starting to see God's vision is so far beyond this.

Within the marriage experience,{adventure, journey, roller coaster ride, whatever words you might choose to use!} God desires to make us more holy. Amazingly, one of the tools he uses is...

wait for it

...submission.

For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. Ephesians 5:22

True biblical submission is not meant to be scary, demeaning, or degrading. God, himself, established this principle and designed it to be something for wives to embrace. After all, submission is not meant to place us "below" or "beneath" our husband. Beautifully, submission places us under; under the care, protection and leadership of our man. The husband is the one called by God to bear the responsibility of the family. We, as wives, get to “rest” in his authority.

But, as wonderful as resting in our man sounds, we know all too well that submitting does not come easily or naturally. Submission is a choice of the will. We have to intentionally choose to do it. I think God wired us that way on purpose.

It is in choosing to submit that we discover the inner strength of the Holy Spirit enabling us and empowering us to submit and do as He commands.

It is in choosing to submit that we develop trust both in our husband and in our God.

It is in choosing to submit that we are able to show our husband respect and draw him into a deeper love relationship with us.

It is in choosing to submit that our true God-graced beauty as a woman is showcased and revealed.

This is how the holy women of the past used to make themselves beautiful. They put their hope in God. And they followed the lead of their own husbands. 1 Peter 3:5, NIRV

As the memorial service drew to a close, the family showed a video of this special couple. It had been made four years earlier in honor of their 60th wedding anniversary. As I watched their journey through life together, I felt a longing in my heart. A longing to have what they had. A true, abiding love.

It was obvious from the photos (and from cherished moments in the company of this sweet couple) this wife had accepted and embraced the authority of her husband.

One look at him, looking at her, told you this groom only saw beautiful when he looked upon his bride.

In her husband and his leadership and guidance,
this dear, spiritually wise lady had found security, love and a restful abiding.


In his wife and her submissive, respectful, Christ-like demeanor,
this strong, independent, "self-made" man had found...

wait for it

...the Lord.

Wives, likewise, submit to your own husbands. Do this so that even if some of them refuse to believe the word, they may be won without a word by their wives’ way of life. After all, they will have observed the reverent and holy manner of your lives. 1 Peter 3:1-2, CEB

Holy?

When I got married I never saw that coming. But, I should have. True marriage isn't about my husband making me happy (although he does!) It isn't about me making my husband happy (although it helps when I do!). It is about the two of us living our lives together in a way that glorifies God and makes God happy.

What could bring more happiness that that?







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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's Your Turn~ Day 17 {Make. It. Count.}

Constant headaches.

Tight shoulders.

Sporadic sleep.

If you were diagnosing a patient who told of these symptoms, what would your verdict be?

That's right!

STRESS!!!

It doesn't take much to spot stress running amuck in our lives.  The symptoms are easy to identify.  The results, hard to overlook.  Stress has become an epidemic.  A crisis in and of itself.  I've known its grip.  I imagine you have, too.

So, here's the million dollar question:
How can you and I take a bite out of the stress that is trying to eat us alive?

A few years ago, when stress was getting the best of me, I decided to spend an entire afternoon creating a game plan. You know, a plan of attack.  I was ready to give stress some stress of its own!

I thought about the areas of my life where stress was
stealing my joy,
stifling my growth,
and creating havoc.

Here's a sneak peak at what I came up with:

GOAL:  To Live Stress Free


I must do the following:


          1.       Not take myself so seriously:

a.       Laugh at myself more often

b.      Be willing to make mistakes

c.       Admit when I am wrong or make a mistake

d.      Forgive myself immediately

e.       Stop putting so much weight in the comments / remarks of others

f.       Stop comparing myself to other people

g.      Guard my heart

h.      Applaud myself more often!!!

2.      Be confident in who I am in Christ

a.       Stop fearing ridicule or failure

b.      Stop fearing / dreading new , challenging tasks or events

c.       Approach people, stop avoiding them

d.      Invest more in current relationships by revealing the “real” me, stop

pretending to be someone or something I’m not.  Be me!

e.       Try new things, go on new adventures

f.       Believe with Christ I can do all things

g.      Fulfill my dreams
h.   Speak the truth (no matter how hard it may be) in love and humility

3.      Give 100% to my health

a.       Make sleep a priority.  Nothing less than 8 hours will do.

b.      Drink water…..lots and lots of water.

c.       Be extremely selective about what I let enter my mouth.

                                                                          i.      More fruits, veggies

                                                                        ii.      Vitamins every day….twice a day!

                                                                      iii.      Less sugar, refined or processed food

                                                                      iv.      No more sodas

d.      Spend time outdoors, soaking up sun, reading and relaxing…..at least

20 to 30 minutes each and every day.

                        e.   Daily exercise -walking, rebounding, doing the elliptical, sit ups

                        f.    Be mindful and conscious of my posture.  Work on it daily.

                        g.   LAUGH!   LAUGH!   LAUGH!

                        h.   Hug, kiss and embrace each day!

                        i.    Spend time daily in prayer and reading God’s word



Of course, this in only a small portion of my "attack on stress".  In fleshing out my entire game plan, I also included areas such as "my marriage", "my professional life", "my relationships", "my finances", etc.. 
Every area of my life was spread out on the table of my heart, 
picked through,
examined,
and prayed over. 
As I prayed, God was faithful to reveal to me areas of obvious stress, as well as hidden.  He spoke words of healing, praise, direction, and boldness as together we tackled these strongholds and came face to face with the reality of them in my life.
Then, it was time to put my plan on paper
 It wasn't enough to simply think about it, or pray about it.  To Make. It. Count. and to make it make a difference in my life, I had to put plans to paper, and ideas into action. 
Once I had my plan, I referred to it often.  I kept it in the forefront of  my mind.  I tried to be intentional about stopping, thinking, praying and then basing my choices, my reactions, my "yes" and my "no", on my game plan.
Now, a few years beyond my plan . . .
Have I been successful in faithfully implementing this plan ?  NO!
Am I living a stress-free life?  NO!
Do I still fall back into some of my hold stress habits?  YOU BET!
However . . .
Am I much more aware of what causes me stress?  Yes, indeed.
Am I making positive strides in taking a bite out of the stress in my life?  No doubt.
Are my shoulders looser,
is my tension tamer,
is my heart more peaceful,
am I enjoying my life more? 
ABSOLUTELY!
Day by day, moment by moment, prayer by prayer,
I am loosening the chains of stress.
And, I have to tell you,
the freer I become, the freer I want to be.
Are you dragging around a load of stress in your life?
Are you in a stress crisis?
If so, it's time to plan your strategy of attack. 
It's time to identify the areas in your life that need immediate attention. 
It's time to sit down with your Heavenly Father and unite forces to devise a game plan.
It's time to do something about it.
It's time to take your life back, and in turn, MAKE. IT. COUNT.
It's your turn.
 



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