Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Altar and The Sword

"Believers cannot expect their High Priest to wield God's sharp sword, His Word which pierces to the separation of soul and spirit, unless first they are willing to come to the cross and accept its death.  Lying on the altar always precedes the plunging of the sword.  Hence all who desire to experience the parting of the soul and spirit must answer the Lord's call to Calvary and lay themselves unreservedly on the altar, trusting their High Priest to operate with His keen Sword to the dividing asunder of their spirit and soul. For us to lie on the altar is our free-will offering well-pleasing to God; to use the sword to divide is the work of the priest. We should fulfill our part with all faithfulness, and commit the rest to our merciful and faithful High Priest."

(The Spiritual Man, Watchman Nee)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Searched, found, reminded.

{Psalm 139:23-24}

Sometimes I think I have myself figured out. I assume I see myself clearly, believe I have dealt with my past, think my belief in the Lord is aligned.  Then the Lord uses strangers, who aren't strange at all, to reveal the truth in my heart, a reality I could not see.

In prayer, just a half hour or so before, I had asked to be searched and examined because I don't want to live in untruth, and I saw God answer that. I did not expect it- at least not then and there. Through that, the Lord affirmed to me what He was showing me in my studies- that He places believers (brothers and sisters in Christ) in our lives (possibly in passing, maybe for a season or a lifetime) to be mirrors, to ask hard questions, to shine light on areas we never knew were in darkness. 

The Lord revealed an area where I had unknowingly been living in untruth. He freed me to speak the truth about what I was feeling deep within, feelings I had been carrying for over a decade, even though relational healing had occurred.  I really did not see how these things tied into how I felt about my God, and it was really amazing to see God pull that out of me using a fellow brother in Christ as His instrument in a small prayer session.

Most of my life, I have had a running commentary on who I am set on repeat in my mind.  You're different. You're weird. That's bad. You're ridiculous. You're annoying. You're a bother. You're dumb. You're unworthy, uncool. You're a screw-up. Nothing you say has value. You don't fit in. You don't matter. You don't deserve....

For some reason, my flesh looks for reasons to affirm those things- inspects what people say and do, likely reading more into it than is really there- just so it can say, "Yep, you are those things. Here's the proof. You haven't changed."

In sharing that, we were able to trace the threads back to various situations where someone's words became the soundtrack of my life, which brought forth how I really feel about those situations and that period of my life.

The word that kept repeating to me was, "Unprotected."

The person I felt like should have been there in particular situations, who should have stuck up for me, who should have been my protector, was not. His comment of, "You can take care of yourself," may have been meant to build my confidence, but it did not.  I desired someone to step in and shield me, stick up for me, protect me.  I desperately wanted this person's approval, and lived most of my preteen/teen years doing things to win it- dating certain people, doing drugs, taking risks that I wouldn't normally have taken- which really put me in many dangerous, unhealthy situations.

Much of this happened in a time when I was pretty much left to myself. At that time, I probably would have said I rather enjoyed it- preferred it because the boundaries which I was used to had suddenly disappeared (or could be easily manipulated) and by default I was given more control over my own life- but now I can see how desperately I needed those firm, unmovable boundaries.

Thinking on these things brought out my true feelings on the matter.  I didn't realize that I was frustrated and angry with the situation that the people I felt should have sheltered me, who should have protected me from the world... or even more important, protected me from my immature youthful self, had not been there (for whatever reason- I am sure there are more reasons than the ones I understand). I had put that upon the Lord- feeling like He had abandoned me, not been there for me in those situations, left me to myself.  (To be clear, I was frustrated with the situation, not with the people. I have forgiven the people involved.)

I didn't think I felt those things towards the Lord because I can clearly see that He spared me from sinking even further, saved me from situations which could have been much worse, but God revealed that there was still something deep within me that questioned Him, something within me that didn't completely believe that He had really sheltered me.

I found myself asking, "Why weren't You there, God? Why didn't You save me sooner? Why did You let me go through all of that?" I saw myself as a little girl, needing a covering but without one. I suppose something within me felt like God wasn't there, that He let me endure all of that because .... well, let's go back to the soundtrack repeating through my head...

You're different. You're weird. That's bad. You're ridiculous. You're annoying. You're a bother. You're dumb. You're unworthy, uncool. You're a screw-up. Nothing you say has value. You don't fit in. You don't matter. You don't deserve....

I'm probably not conveying this clearly because, honestly, it wasn't super clear in my mind, and it's difficult to tie it all together. The mind is so screwed up- that's why it needs renewing.

I was told to ask, "Lord, who do You say I am?"

I just couldn't bring myself to ask it.  The whole thing of asking questions, seeking answers was really difficult because I felt like a spirit of confusion and forgetfulness was hovering over me. I had a hard time focusing. My mind would go completely blank, and not in a good way, or I would be flooded with so many words and images at once that I couldn't focus on anything. My friends prayed that those spirits would be cast out and would not be able to hinder me from seeing the Truth.

I asked God where He was in all of that.  Where was He when I was suffering? I did not have a relationship with the Lord then. I was not a believer. I knew about God, but it was a list of rules to me.  

God gave me a picture of an old frail man laying on a cot. The man is racked with regret and guilt and pain. He feels like he is far from God- unredeemable.  What he doesn't know is that the Lord is there with him in that very moment, that the Lord has stretched his years this far even though death should have overcome him long ago. He has done that for a reason. And He has been there all the while.

I know this man.  He is my grandfather. Yet he is also me.

I heard the Lord say, "I pity him," and I was filled with disgust because pity sounds like a bad word, and I wanted to yell, "I don't want your pity!" but I realize I need it.

The Lord said to me (not audibly, but.. it was very plain and clear), "I was there then. I watched over you, protected you when no one else was protecting you. You were in My hand. I knew you though you didn't know Me. I could have saved you, opened your eyes, given you faith, brought you into My fold then, but I waited. I waited to give you a grander testimony for My sake, to reach those who needed your testimony. You needed to feel unredeemable to reach those who feel unredeemable."

Finally, I was able to ask, "Lord, who do You say I am?" and He gave me the simplest answer.


Do you know what Amanda means?

Worthy of Love

Below is great song that I have been singing a lot these last couple months. As I listened to it again that night, every single word seemed to resonate within me. It's really amazing how the Lord brought together lyrics I have written recently, songs I have heard on the radio or through friends, a blog post I wrote this time last year, things people said, conversations we've had recently, and so much more... and brought it all together for me at once.... like pieces of a puzzle I had gathered throughout the years, finally fitting together.

Do you need to be reminded of who you are because the voices around you and in your head keep telling you lies?


Monday, August 20, 2012

Grace....

Grace never calls wrong right.

I think it's important to remember that, especially in our day and age where "tolerance" is preached. We hear a lot about it being all about "love"- the church says this and the world does as well. We are told to be loving, to extend grace.

But remember, true grace, true love... never calls wrong right.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Honestly Facing Sin


[Image property of MandyMom.com]
I had a little laugh at myself the other day as I realized that sometimes I will try to pretend I have it all figured out or all together before the Lord.  What I'm saying to God is, "Oh, I'm okay. No, there's no problem. I'm fine. I've got this," as if I could possibly fool Him into believing that. How dumb must I be to think that the God who sees all things and knows all things is blind to me.

I was considering how silly it is when we refuse to confess our sin before the Lord.  We often act like rebellious little children who know we've been caught in the act but are still attempting to point the blame in some other direction or excuse away what we've done just as in the Garden of Eden.


Deep down, we know we're wrong (naked), so we attempt to cover ourselves with some sort of fig leaf (a story, a lie, finger pointing) in hopes that maybe God won't notice.  Justifications fly wildly, and like Adam, we may even try to pin it on God in some way.


"The woman You gave to be with me- she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate," he says.  


I don't know about you, but when I read that, it sounds like he's telling God, "You put me in this situation! This woman you created and gave to be my wife, well, it's all her fault.  You created her, and look what she did!"


I've been reading through Israel's exodus from Egypt, and the story of the golden calf has really stood out to me. Remember that Moses is coming down the mountain from this amazing time with the Lord in which the Lord God inscribed the ten commandments on stone with His holy finger.

When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it. He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?” “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”  [Exodus 32: 19-24]

Did you catch that?  Can you imagine this scene?  Aaron is standing before Moses and he's got a mountain of excuses.

"These people are prone to evil!"
"They wanted me to make a god for them."
"They thought you had abandoned them!"

So he does all the fingerpointing, and I can just imagine him waving his hands wildly in emphasis, furrowing his brow at how obstinate the people are, and then sheepishly, hurriedly adding, "And then they gave me the gold and.... Ithrewitintothefireandoutcamethiscalf. Soooo, Moses. How was your vacation on the mountain? Good? Good."

And you know that Aaron didn't just toss the gold into the fire and, poof, it formed into a calf. It's almost comical that he explains the events that way. It's like me saying that cupcake I wasn't supposed to eat just fell into my mouth by accident.  It's absurd!

Yet that's often how we reason away our sin.
It's her fault. These people.... They wanted...  I just.... It just happened....

Sometimes we may find ourselves constructing a huge cover-up in order to hide our sin.  David was no stranger to this tactic. David sinned, and his sin had it's consequences.  Bathsheba became pregnant, and David knew he had to act fast. Her husband had not been home for some time, so everyone would know the child wasn't Uriah's.  So he tries work it out so that Uriah can go home and sleep with his wife.  But that doesn't happen.  David even tries to get him drunk, sending him on his way, but the man still doesn't go home to his wife because his loyalties are with the king and his duty.
When it was reported to David, “Uriah didn’t go home,” David questioned Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a journey? Why didn’t you go home?”  Uriah answered David, “The ark, Israel, and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my master Joab and his soldiers are camping in the open field. How can I enter my house to eat and drink and sleep with my wife? As surely as you live and by your life, I will not do this!”  [2 Samuel 11:10-11]
David refuses to look at his sin. He's too busy trying to cover it up. Since Uriah refuses to go home, David goes to plan B.  He sends Uriah to the front lines, where Uriah is killed in battle, and Bathsheba is freed to marry David.

Eventually, David is confronted with the truth of his sin.  He is made to face it, and he has a choice. He can either confess it as truth and seek the Lord, or He can harden his heart and try to reason it away.

When his eyes are opened to the measure of his sin, he crumbles. I love this part.  David sees the reality of it all, and sums it up in one statement:

"I have sinned against the LORD."

David stops trying to cover up his sin, and he surrenders to the Lord.  He doesn't point fingers. He doesn't try to reason or make excuses.  His snowballing sin smashes up against the Truth of God, and he is humbled before the Lord.

He cries out, "You are right when You pass sentence; You are blameless when You judge."  He knows that the Lord has seen it all- seen his actions, seen his heart. I love to read over Psalm 51.  David is so exposed before the Lord, and rather than offer excuses, he pours out his heart, begging for compassion, purification, restoration, and God's saving grace.

I think David saw that he had everything to lose.  I don't believe he was worried about losing his reputation.  He didn't seem to care about what men thought of him at this point.  He cared about his relationship with the Lord God.
For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. Against You—You alone—I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight.... Turn Your face away from my sins and blot out all my guilt... Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Psalm 51 is the perfect way to respond to sin in our lives. David wanted to be searched and tried because he didn't want sin to linger in his life or stand between him and his beloved God Almighty.


I know whenever I feel even the slightest bit convicted, my flesh instantly begins to create buffers either to excuse it away completely or to at least soften the blow.  The Lord has really been shining a light on this area, and I really relate to David in so many ways.  Just the other day I saw my flesh getting all worked up, running around like a mad man trying to bandage and fix things so I wouldn't have to really confront my sin.  My flesh wanted to say, "That's not me!" but it was so much more freeing to say, "Yes, You're right about me, God."




So, the question I often have to ask myself is, "Do I really hate sin?" Do I just hate sin in other people, or do I hate sin in myself? Do I hate it enough to turn to the Father, confess it, and destroy it?

What I love, love, love about my awesome God is that He intervened in David's sin by sending Nathan to confront him. God doesn't show us our sin to beat us up.  He shows us our sin so we can overcome it.  He doesn't desire that I would wallow in guilt over my sin. He wants me to receive His forgiveness, turn fully to Him (and away from sin), and walk with Him.  Sin sends me down a different path, puts a wedge between me and the Father. Sin is the wall that prevents me from true fellowship with the Father.  Just as Moses completely destroyed the golden calf, we too must be willing to demolish sin in our lives.  We don't have to live as slaves to sin anymore.  Christ has overcome, and in Him, we can too.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Bride

How to I explain how amazing the Lord is? How can one describe His wonderful works, the way He extends His hand to us, opens our eyes, fills our hearts?

I am increasingly amazed as He shows me my place in The Church, what it means to be The Church, how He loves her (The Church), and what that says about Him.

Do you know that the Gospel is more than just a story of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins? Oh it's beautifully more.

Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is head of the wife as also Christ is head of the church.  He is the Savior of the body.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives should submit to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as also Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her, to make her holy, cleansing her in the washing of water by the word.  He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and blameless.  In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hates his own flesh, but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, since we are members of His body.
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two will become one flesh.
This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.
Ephesians 5:22-32

 See, when many read this, all they see is a command for wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives.  But it is SO. MUCH. MORE.

We (collectively) are The Church, which is referred to as "she", likened unto a wife. Christ gave Himself for us, His bride. He makes us holy, cleanses us.  Why?  To present The Church to Himself in splendor, like a beautiful, pure bride.

Just think about that for a second.  As my husband and I lay in bed discussing some of this last night (through the wee hours of this morning), I thought about how protective my husband is of me.  When someone wounds me, hurts me, offends me- it is like someone is attacking, wounding, and offending him.  He loves me fiercely and protects me fiercely because we are as one flesh.

My husband often calls me his "trophy wife", but The Church, in a very real sense, is Christ's trophy wife.  She is His inheritance.  He passionately loves her.  We are united with Him, one flesh with Him.

At least, that is my understanding so far.  God is still working it out in me, still showing me new and wonderful things in His Word.  I love how His Word is always fresh and alive.  He desires more than head knowledge, but heart knowledge- wisdom that digs beyond the intellect and into the soul and spirit, and that's what I want as well.
 
 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Jeremiah 33


This is such an amazing chapter (Jeremiah 33).  I can't help but become all teary-eyed when I read this- not just because it prophesies of the coming of Immanuel, but because I see God's heart so vividly.

I can just hear Him calling out to me, the passion in His voice-
Oh my dear Mandy!  Call on me! Loved one, I will answer you! I will! I will answer you and show you great, awe-inspiring, mighty and wonderful things which you can't even fathom!  If you would only call out to me, seek me, ask me!  How My Spirit desires to pour out understanding, wisdom, and blessings upon you- to show you more of Myself.  Come to me, my daughter! Come! Call! Cry out!
Verse six makes me giddy inside-  "[I] will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth."  Yes, He has forgiven.  Washed me clean. Clothed me in Christ.  He has formed me, made me into a new (wo)man, so I am not meant to live a defeated life!   I have been pardoned! I don't have to keep living in guilt, keep trudging through this myself, keep dragging my chains with me.

No!
NO!!

He is ready and willing to pour out His revelation of peace and truth.  Not just a little. Not just a sprinkling.

An {abundance, my friends!

Doesn't that make you want to shout for joy?



Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

Organic Church

What does church look like?

#thisishowwedochurch 
The church we read about in the New Testament was "organic."  By that I mean it was born from and sustained by spiritual life instead of constructed by human institutions, controlled by human hierarchy, shaped by lifeless rituals, and held together by religious programs.
To use an illustration, if I try to create an orange in a laboratory, the lab-created orange would not be organic. But if I planted a seed into the ground and it produced an orange tree, the tree would be organic.
The same way, whenever we sin-scarred mortals try to create a church the same way we would start a business corporation, we are defying the organic principle of church life. An organic church is one that is naturally produced when a group of people have encountered Jesus Christ in reality (external ecclesiastical props being unnecessary), and the DNA of the church is free to work without hindrance.
To put it in a sentence, organic church life is not a theater with a script; it's a gathered community that lives by divine life. By contrast, the modern institutional church operates on the same organizational principles that run corporate America.

Excerpt from Reimagining Church
by Frank Viola


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Life and Truth

Here's a copy-paste post from my other blog, MandyMom.com.  I wanted to share it here as well since it deals with matters of faith.


 It's been hard to find time to update, and when I do have the time, sleep sounds much more appealing. Other priorities, y'know. I'm sure you all can understand that.  I know I say this just about every time I write a real entry, but gosh-darn, life has been so busy.  I can't remember the last time I had a day to just relax.  I don't think I've had any of those for the past, oh, seven weeks.  In retrospect, I'm so thankful that we sent the kiddos to my mother-in-law's after Jub'ee was born because once the kids came back, life went from zero to sixty in point five seconds.

I've had a couple of those, "Man, I wish my mama was here," moments.  I really cannot allow myself to think about how I wish things were.  Fact is, she's disabled and unable to help in that capacity, but I know she really wishes she was able, and, if she was able, she would be here every time I whimpered. I know I've expressed before how my mom was before the car accident that changed her life (and therefore our lives) eleven years ago.  She was able to whip a house into shape (and I'm talking model-home-shape, white-glove-test shape, near-perfection sparkleatude) in what seemed like mere seconds, all while dinner stewed on the stove.  Seriously, Mom was Wonder Woman, except with a bun (and more modest clothing).  I know my mom has spent many hours (days) sobbing because she can't be what she desires to be for her daughter and grandchildren.  There are few things my mom wants more than to serve us in that capacity.  She would have been the picture perfect epitome of a grandmother.  Not that she's not a fabulous Nana just as she is now, but her disabilities keep her from serving as I know she desires to serve.  She just isn't able to do that, and I totally understand that.  I am very grateful that she was able to do that with my first child.

{Mom and Jubilee}

 I remember coming home from the hospital with Merikalyn wrapped in my teenage arms.  Mom and Dad had overhauled our humble abode (a tiny trailer, just perfect for a family of three), caught up the laundry, and prepared meals for us to feast on.  My place had never seemed more inviting.  And boy, did I need my mama that first week (not just because I was a new mother, but because I came home with double mastitis and a high fever, plus a severe case of anemia to boot).  I know that was extremely exhausting for my Mom, but I am so glad the Lord gave her strength to do that for me.  What a blessing! The Lord has been gracious to give her strength when I've really needed her to have strength!

Anyway, like I said, life has been a little crazy.  My husband worked nights for the first two months of Jubilee's life, which was nice in many ways (having him home during the day has been such a blessing!), but exhausting as well.  We are both so tired.  In fact, a couple days ago, after dinner with my favorite midwife (my friend Nanci), I came home, did that "bad mommy thing" (put the babies to bed, then put on a movie for the kids to watch and told them to go to bed when it was done), and crashed.... at 7:30pm.  I slept for 12 hours (not solid sleep, since I did have to wake up to make sure the kids went to bed, and to nurse the baby several times as well, but solid enough), and still felt weary when I woke up.  I am definitely having to take naps.  I told my brother today that I am turning into our mom! (I used to think it was crazy that she had to take daily naps!  I didn't understand that we adults don't have all the energy our kiddos do!)

I am really not sure how we manage to do all that we do.  I could use more hours in the day, but I am thankful that there aren't more hours in the day because I am worn out with the twenty-four I'm given!  I am really, really glad we put in the effort to teach our children how to care for the home because I know that I would be even more weary if I had to do everything myself.  They don't know how much of a blessing they are by helping with the dishes and laundry!  (But I try to encourage and remind them of how awesome they are!) I am so amazingly, wonderfully blessed. I feel like God has just loaded my arms with gifts beyond measure.  Sometimes I get "a little" overwhelmed, but that overwhelming feeling is just a reminder that I am trying too hard to juggle on my own terms, and I need to rely on Him and His strength, not my own ideals, my own agenda, my own strength.

The Lord has been doing some major "house cleaning" in my heart, and as a result I have experienced a lot of spiritual warfare.  Satan knows just how to push my buttons, how to flare up my pride and selfishness, how toget me berating myself... and the Lord keeps reminding me that I don't have to listen to that garbage.  One of the things I have felt prompted to do is regularly write down truths the Lord wants me to focus on. I don't know about you, but I've spent much of my time rehearsing the lies the devil whispers in my ear, but not near as much time reminding myself of God's truths.  

Last week, the Lord had me focusing on these truths:
  • My identity is found in Christ.
  • I am loved, deeply loved, by God.
  • There is infinite power in the palm of my Father's hand.
  • The Lord desires to bless me, not to hurt me.
  • My Father hates to see me suffer, but loves me enough to allow it because it refines me, grows me, molds my character.
  • Jesus will NEVER let me down.
  • I can ALWAYS depend on Him.
  • He cares about even the smallest details of my life. It matters to Him.
  • He hears me. He is listening.
  • Nothing is impossible for Him.
Whenever Satan starts poking and pestering me, the Lord reminds me to live and move in the Truth of His Word.  I am not what or who Satan says I am. I am who God says I am.  God is not who Satan says He is.  God is who He says He is, who His Word says He is.  I cannot tell you how ..... strong..... the Lord has been impressing that upon me. Satan wants me to believe lies about myself and my God so I live a defeated life.  God wants me to believe that, through Christ Jesus, I am worthy. I am passionately loved and pursued by Him.  When I live and move and breathe in those truths, I live in the light, and the Spirit can live mightily through me.

My sweet little Evie-toddler just came to me with her pajamas gripped in her chubby little fist wanting me to put them on her, and I was reminded that, you know, she makes a lot of mistakes.  She's learning. She's growing.  When she makes a mistake, I don't furrow my brow and shake my finger at her yelling, "Why are you so dumb? Why did you do that!?  Why can't you get that right?"  That would be ridiculous! Her little toddler feet are going to trip and fall.  She's going to get into stuff she's not supposed to get into.  She's going to spill stuff, break stuff, ruin stuff.... and I will still love her just as much as I do when she's perfectly behaved.  I know she's going to make mistakes. I know she's going to have booboos and break things and hurt my mamaheart sometimes. God knows I'm going to have booboos and break things and grieve His Spirit.  When I slip and fall and make massive mistakes, He's not hovering over me berating me, telling me I'm worthless. That is what Satan does, not my loving Father.  When I screw things up, nail pierced hands pick me back up.  I am deeply loved. When I make a mess, the Lord helps clean it up. He loves me. He adores me.  A good picture of His love is the parable of the Prodigal Son who takes his inheritance, wastes it, and returns home a complete mess.  His father doesn't go off on a tirade of how dumb his son acted. The father doesn't punish his son.  He doesn't call him names and tell him he's worthless.  NO! He welcomes him home, hugs him tight, and throws a big party!  He kills the fattened calf and invites everyone to celebrate.  Why? Not because his son was disobedient, but because his son turned his heart to his father.  What a picture of the Father's love for me.... and for you!

Anyway, I had not intended to go into all of this.  I really was just coming here to say, "Hi, I'm still here. Still putting one foot in front of the other."

It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Break every chain


I had some major chains broke over the weekend.
Christ desires to set us free from all those chains that bind us, but sometimes our insecurities have us clinging to our chains.  We worry about what it will look like if we raise our hands in praise, if we stand up and twirl around as we sing boldly to our great god.  We worry what people will think about us if we live truly free, unafraid.  A life lived in passionate worship to our Lord seems radical to others.  We desire more of God but we're afraid to give more of ourselves.

Maybe we're afraid of what God will do with our lives if we surrender every aspect to Him.  Maybe we're afraid of looking like a fool.  Do we really trust God is who He says He is?  Do we trust that He loves us, that He is a loving, gracious Father and His plan is good, even if it doesn't look "good" to us?

Do we truly understand the power that comes with trusting in Him?  The power He has to dig out the junk in our lives so He can fill us up with Himself.  The power to overcome addictions, poisonous thought patterns, dangerous cycles.

Do you have some chains in your life you need broken?
Chains in your worship and praise of God?
Chains in your marriage?
Chains in how you view yourself, your spouse, your children, your God?
Chains of unbelief?

Satan wants to keep you chained.  He doesn't like that you've committed your life to God, and if he can't stop that, then he's going to try his hardest to hinder you. He doesn't want you to be truly free.  He may know he's lost the war, but he's going to try to win some battles.  We need to understand that Satan is real, and he seeks to hinder us from being fully committed, fully sold-out, fully passionate and submitted to Christ.  He wants us to hold back.  

But we have a weapon far greater than him.  There is POWER in the Name of Jesus.  And HE has the power to break all those chains Satan has placed upon us.





Friday, May 4, 2012

I want to share with you an excerpt from an article that really spoke to me.  Jesus truly loves us more than we can imagine. Maybe you need to be reminded of that today, just as I do.



Above Rubies, Issue # 84:  My Sheep, Mushies (by Kate Marchiniak)

Whenever I think back on this season of shepherding, a "Mushies" story is forever etched in my memory. It was a sunny day. I had gone into town to do the weekly errands, leaving the sheep contentedly grazing.  As I hopped out of the car on my return, the sound of continual bleating filled the air.  Something was up. It was Mushies. Her bleats were desperate.

I walked into the field. She immediately ran over, stood right in front of me, looked up at my face, and stamped her hoof, her bleats becoming more desperate by the minute.  My heart sank. I knew instinctively what had happened- a coyote had taken her lamb. She was trying to say to me, "Where have you taken my baby? What have you done with her?"

To fully understand her anguish, Mushies was the only orphan that had not conceived for many lambing seasons.  Usually, any infertile ewe is culled from the flock as production is important in a flock, but her special relationship with the shepherd saved her!

[...] As I looked down at my bleating Mushies, my heart went out to her. I tried to console her. Of course, I could not convey to her that it wasn't me that had taken her lamb. It was the enemy! It was living in a rugged land! She cried for days and wouldn't have anything to do with me for weeks.

I never loved her more. As her shepherd, my heart ached, and I wept over her loss. She never conceived again. Even as I type, I feel again the pain she went through!

Our Shepherd, Jesus, aches over our pain and weeks over the seasons of our loss, never loving us more. That can often sound trite in a season of pain, but, truly, there is no one who cares for us like Him.  Who knows us like our Shepherd? [...]

Truth rings from the old hymn, "No one ever cared for me like Jesus.  There's no other friend so kind as He. No one else could take the sin and darkness from me. O how much He cares for me!"


Aboverubies.org

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Marks of a Cult

Links worth checking out

The Marks of Cultism by Zac Poonen
Some great points made in this article.  We believe that Christianity (as a culture) is becoming largely cultish, and Poonen's article is a reflection of what we have seen and experienced. He defines a cult as a group that lifts up another person (or persons) to Christ status (a worship-like attitude of the messenger, whose word is held up as "gospel truth" rather than tested against scripture), has a book in addition to the bible that is regarded to be as infallible as the bible itself (Poonen writes, "Many cultistic groups may deny that they give such a place to the writings of their founder. But their attitude towards that one book indicates that they do place it on equality with the Bible. Their actions speak louder than their words.") which may include teachings, articles, catechisms, or hymns, is highly exclusive in their fellowship ("Cultistically-minded believers feel that fellowship with other born-again believers outside of their own group has little or no spiritual value. [...] Such a group usually considers itself to be the only true church and believes that all those who belong to Christ's Bride will ultimately find their way to them," Poonen explains.), has no (or little) burden for evangelism ("While there may be some cultistic groups that engage in evangelism on a limited scale among the heathen, generally speaking, most cultistic believers work only among other Christians. They do not have any desire to preach the gospel to every creature, as Jesus commanded (Mark 16:15). Instead, they major only on making disciples to their own group from among other believers.").

Poonen also points out that cults often devalue part of the gospel message- Justification by Faith.  "Scripture does speak of works as the proof of our faith (James 2:24). But Scripture also teaches that "to the one who does not work, but believes in Him Who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness" (Rom.4:5). The danger here is not just one of imbalance, but of heresy - for when one Biblical truth is carried to an extreme, to the exclusion of other Biblical truths, it can become a heresy. And further, if we hold a Biblical doctrine, but never teach it in our churches, it will become equivalent to our not believing in it at all. For unspoken truth, like an unused muscle, loses its function gradually and is finally lost altogether to the church. "The truth does not lie in one extreme or the other. Much less does it lie in the middle. The truth lies in both extremes held together." We must be careful that our teaching is not a reaction to the extremes that others have gone to. Many preachers have indeed turned the teaching of justification by faith into licence for sin. But that should not make us throw away this Scriptural truth, and go to the opposite extreme of preaching justification by works alone. Cultistic believers, generally speaking, preach on justification by good works only. Hinduism and all heathen religions do that too. If at all a cultistic believer speaks on Romans 4, it will be in such a way as to prove that Romans 4 also teaches justification by works!! Cultistic believers usually play down the truth of "Christ becoming our righteousness" (1 Cor.1:30), and major only on "the righteousness of the law being fulfilled in us" (Rom.8:4)."

There is real danger there, as we depend on that grace and the promise of Christ as our righteousness.  We cannot forget that God's word clearly says that even our righteous works are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  Jesus Christ did not die so that our own works would suddenly become righteous. We have been crucified and risen with Him so that His works may live through us.

Poonen's goes on to state that other marks of cultism are secrecy of beliefs (When confronted with an issue that has no scriptural foundation, they may state, "You just need to have faith."  In my experience, cultish groups may guard writings or recordings [sermons] because they do not want them to get into the "wrong hands".  If you are preaching the Truth of God from His Holy Word, you do not have to worry about whose hands it falls into.) and the demand of uniformity among members (lots of good points he makes in regards to this).


Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Pouring Out

I'm a woman of many blogs, I suppose.  There's a reason for that.  My MandyMom.com blog is more about my family, our homeschooling, and random stuff like that.  A Fighting Faith is more along the lines of what I've been pondering on spiritually, what I've been studying, what the Lord has been showing me.

My new blog, The Pouring Out, goes hand-in-hand with this blog so people will probably wonder why I bothered to create a new one rather than write those things here.

The Pouring Out was birthed out of.. well, the birth of Molly Jo.  Her birth (and the fact that she wasn't breathing and her heart stopped beating for a time) had a tremendous impact on me.  The Lord has been molding me through that, and I wanted to have a place to organize those thoughts pertaining to her birth (even if they don't seem like they pertain to it).  The Pouring Out is kind of a private place, although I have chosen to share it with the world wide web.  It's mostly just snippets- notes scrawled on a piece of paper or napkin, a snapshot here and there, a discussion with myself, a conversation with God- but I felt like it was something to be shared.

It's about miracles and how they transform a life- bring blind eyes to see, deaf ears to hear.  It's about how long a mere ten seconds can be when your baby doesn't have a heartbeat and how those ten seconds become a message to your heart.

So, if you're interested, here's the link:  http://thepouringout.blogspot.com

My Identity

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Beauty of the cross

Beauty of the Cross

He made beauty, beauty of the cross
He made beauty, beauty of the cross
Where other men went to die
He came to give life
Yes, He made beauty of the cross.

To sinners in a stable
A perfect child was born
How great a God is He
who took on fleshly form

He gave His life a ransom
And set the captives free
Oh the love of Jesus
To bear God's wrath for me.

Oh, He made beauty, beauty of the cross
He made beauty, beauty of the cross
Where other men went to die
He came to give life
Yes, He made beauty of the cross.

This King of all creation
Left His home on high
To call forth the sinners
And bring everlasting life.

To the world the cross seems foolish
But it is power to the saved
Power by the blood of Christ
Who conquered the grave

'Cause He made beauty, beauty of the cross
He made beauty, beauty of the cross
Where other men went to die
He came to give life
Yes, He made beauty of the cross.

It is finished, it is done,
Said God's beloved Son
On that cross He died for me
Holy Love has set us free

It is finished, it is done,
Said God's beloved Son
On that cross He died for me
Holy Love has set us free!

When He made beauty, beauty of the cross
Oh the beauty, beauty of the cross
Where other men went to die
He came to give life
Yes, He made beauty...
He made beauty....
He made beauty of the cross.



by Mandy M.,  Words © 2011

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Worship in the Workplace


Work as Worship from keephopealive on GodTube.

Amen!

Easter voiced- my thoughts exactly

I really loved this post from Jen Hatmaker because, well, this is very similar to the journey my family and I have been on these last few years.  

It’s Easter.
Between ages 0-32, I celebrated Easter the fun way: with bunnies, baskets, and expensive clothes. What better way to say “Jesus reigns” than dressing my preschooler in a $45 dress to show her off in the church lobby? (You’re welcome, Jesus. Be blessed.)
Now, let’s be clear, if you had asked me what my Easter priorities were as I stood all fancy in the lobby, I’d become grave and mention the resurrection. For crying out loud, I’m a Christian. But truthfully, between the outfit shopping, the Easter baskets, the egg ______ (dying, stuffing, hiding, hunting), the pictures, the lunch menu, and the gift buying, Jesus was flat last. I started thinking about him as the band started at church, and I thought about him for a whole hour.
That’s just true.
But for the last three years, Jesus has messed with me. Frankly, he’s hijacked all my holiday endeavors. I’ve always celebrated holidays with a Cultural Major and a Spiritual Minor. Take Christmas, for example. I endlessly spent on garbage no one needed and worked myself into a December frenzy and oh well. La de da. Now I’m overwhelmed by the poor and the disgusting consumerism cycle and the heinous neglect of Jesus and the appalling nature of it all.
Then we got to Easter, or as God called it, Passover. “Easter” is a little name picked up from the Anglo-Saxon fertility goddess of spring, ‘Eostre’, who saved a frozen bird from the harsh winter by turning it into a magical rabbit who could lay eggs. Hence: ‘Easter’, bunnies, and eggs. Why are elements of a pagan religion associated with the highest holy day of the Christian faith? (Oh bother. Can’t we just carry on and dye our Eostre eggs in peace?)
Assessing the typical American Easter, on one side I see Jesus on the cross, humiliated and mutilated, bearing the failures of every person past and present, rescuing humanity through an astonishing miracle of divine redemption, splitting history in two and transforming the human experience for eternity. On the other side, I see us celebrating this monumental heroism with chocolate bunnies and boiled eggs, with Jesus as an afterthought. It doesn’t make sense. (Insert some of you tossing this book in the garbage. Don’t mess with my Easter fun, you hippie chick.)


Read the rest of her post HERE. (Link opens in new window.)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The pouring out


Four or so years ago, God gave us this desire to move out to the country and live a simple life. Now, if you knew me before all of this, you would know that sort of thing would not have been very appealing to me. I really liked the city, and the idea of being out in the middle of no where and getting my hands dirty? Like, ew. When I was a kid, I would have loved to live out in the country. I was a tomboy, and loved getting dirt under my nails, but somewhere in my late teens and early twenties, I had definitely become quite the priss. In fact, the idea of working hard... actually having to work with my hands and work up a sweat... yeah, no thanks.

So, you can see how much of a change it has been for me to have my desires completely flip flopped. Brandon and I went from desiring a bigger house, nicer cars, more stuff, more money to just wanting to simplify. A lot of people thought we were nuts when we started talking about building what is called a "tiny house" and cramming our growing family in less square footage (so we could move out to the country). I used to talk about it a lot, but it seemed like such a distant dream. I had no idea how we were ever going to get to that point. It really felt like an impossible dream- that God had put this desire in my heart and this dream in my head that we would never achieve. It took a few years for me to realize that was kind of the point.

I believe the Lord wanted me to realize that this was not only a God-planted dream, but also a God-directed one. He is going to arrange it. It is in His hands. One day it became very clear. I was telling a friend about our dream, and then said something like, "Well, it'll be a miracle when it happens because it just doesn't seem possible."

{*Light bulb moment*}

Then it hit me that God had been, was, is still arranging all the pieces. Just because it's taken four plus years doesn't mean He hasn't been choreographing it all. The message to me has been, "Sit back and watch Me work, Mandy. Don't rush it. Don't push it. Just let Me do it."

Even though the journey has been rough, I am so glad that the Lord showed us that stuff is just stuff. As Brandon often says, "One day, it's all gonna burn." It's stuff. It breaks down. It gets lost, stolen, worn out, replaced, repaired, rebroken. It's stuff. It becomes clutter. More stuff to dust, wash, clean, care for. And, throughout our lives, we keep adding more and more stuff to the collection, don't we?

But I know what it's like to have nearly nothing. I know I've said this a lot, but I like to remind myself of how poor we used to be because that's one of the times in my life when I felt the richest. House on the brink of foreclosure. Truck repossessed. Restaurant going under. Twenty dollars in my pocket for groceries and diapers for the week. Electricity being turned off every month. It looked bad. It seemed depressing from the outside looking in. But I felt so rich. It's not like I loved the position we were in. I was indeed frustrated with the whole situation but boy did we learn a lot of valuable lessons. It was one of the richest seasons in our lives.

It's when we really learned that God wanted us to pour our lives into people, not our business, not our stuff, not the "pursuit of happiness". Our home may not have been much, but it was always open. It became the place of ministry as Brandon and I learned how to reach out to those who were where we had been- those lives controlled by drugs, alcohol, sex, marital woes, and various other addictions, lives that needed someone to love them until they could love themselves, pour out patience and kindness.

Not to say that being in that position didn't sometimes drive me crazy because it is really difficult to work with addicts, to help them get clean and then see them fall back into that pit. It's really hard because you love them, you want them to be free of those things, you want them to see how rich life can be, and how those addictions are chains that hold them back. But it's also a good mirror. It has shown me the love of God, how I was addicted to stuff and a dream that was useless and fruitless and never-ending (because you are never satisfied with the stuff you have if that's what you're chasing after), and how Christ wanted to set me free from my dependence on stuff, and I can get "clean", but I end up falling back into that pit because it's tempting and it's flashy and it's all around me and it's new and it's improved, and man, I've gotta have it.

And yet it never, ever brings happiness. It's brings a temporary high, but it never satisfies.
I firmly believe that nothing in this dimension can satisfy.

Look around at all the people who are constantly chasing after something fresh and new, never satisfied for long. That unquenchable thirst. We get what we think we want, and it's not enough. We're all starry-eyed and wooed and then after a few days, weeks, months or years, when we feel we aren't being served by it or him or her, the search is on. If you're pursing happiness, you'll probably never find it. Happiness is a state of being. It's not something you can find or create. Happiness is contentment, and you will never be content as long as you are focused on yourself, on what you have or don't have, on how you're being treated or how you should be treated, or whether you've achieved the goals you had in mind.

But man, we live in a society that hates contentment. Loathes it. We market against it. We are bombarded with images that stir a longing within us for something "better" than what we have. The "Keeping up with the Joneses" syndrome. An envy, greediness, a Gollum-like obsession over anything that sparkles- "My precioooous."

All that keeps us from really enjoying what we have already been blessed with, blinds us to what really matters, distracts us from what is truly valuable. It's so easy to be distracted. God is constantly realigning my focus. I am like a small child thrilled over trash, refusing treasure. Reminds me of what our pastor in Louisiana once said. "We're clinging to a cow patty, while God is offering us a gold brick."

I'm constantly stripping away the stuff, and yet the addiction is still there. My eye is drawn to things I don't really need, craving meaningless things. I'm no fool. I know that shedding the stuff won't make life perfect. I know that moving out to the country won't make me happy. I mean, yes, it will make life simpler, and it can bring about things I really want, but it, in itself, will not bring happiness. I can't live life waiting for the next phase, living for the "when". I've been in that trap. Life will be better when. I'll be happy when. I'll start really living when. I'll be a better wife/mother/friend/person when. I'll enjoy life more when.

What about now? I'm aware that my dream can become just as much an addiction as stuff. I can lean on a dream just as I can lean on stuff. I can chase after a dream just as I can chase after stuff. And it won't satisfy any more than my stuff will satisfy. It's a hard lesson to learn- how to live right now, to be intentional about living this very moment to its fullest. We categorize the days and the moments. This is a good day. That was a bad day. I'm ready for tomorrow. I miss yesterday.

So what about now? Can I choose to enjoy now, even if my newborn is fussy, and my toddler is clingy, and the children are being too noisy, and my house is dirty, and I miss/want/need my mama and..... Can I turn it around, appreciate that I have babies who need me, a house that is full and running over? Can I put on different glasses, change the perspective, realign my focus, tweak the lens through which I see my life?

I want to see the stuff as just stuff. I want to see the beauty where beauty really is. So many things masquerade as gold, but few things are. I want what is truly valuable, I want to clearly see it, never take it for granted.

I want the simple things. You can have the world, I don't want it. I don't want the competition for bigger, better, badder. I don't want to be a celebrity. I don't want to be famous. I don't want to be rich. I just want to live in the fullness of love, to really pour out my life like Christ did. That's where the value is- in the pouring out, not the taking in.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

What will I have done with them?

 

I think it's fair to say that Molly Jo has changed my perspective on life.  I suppose that's happened with every birth and every child, but she really has taught me the value of each breath. I don't want to waste one, and boy, do we waste them.

We waste them complaining and arguing.  We waste them as we focus on negative things, grumble over things in our heads, stressing that beating heart.  And every beat of the heart is precious.  I can't tell you how many times in the last few days that I have counted to ten.  Ten seconds.  How can ten seconds seem so long?

Ten seconds without a heartbeat. Mouth to mouth. Chest compressions. Suction. Suction. Oxygen. Breathe.......

My-oh-my how ten seconds can fly at any other time.
I think of how many ten-second-spans I have wasted on thoughts and worries and concerns for tomorrow.  How many heart beats I've used frivolously on things rather than people, stuff rather than relationships. How many breaths I've inhaled, exhaled in anxiety over the pokes and prods of the devil instead of in peace and trust in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Our time is limited. Our heart beats have a number. The breaths of this body will one day be sucked away.
And what will I have done with them?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hmm, I never thought of it that way...

The Humility of Jesus' Servanthood
Christ’s entire earthly ministry is the yardstick by which we can measure servanthood. As God, He owned everything; as the servant, He had to borrow everything: a place to be born, a boat in which to cross the Sea of Galilee and preach from, a donkey (itself a symbol of humility and servitude) to ride into Jerusalem for His triumphal entry, a room to celebrate His final Passover in, and a grave to be buried in. 
From Strength for Today, a devotional by John MacArthur.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Worry or Trust?

Parenthood.  It's full of lessons, isn't it?

Even before the child forms in the womb, many of us learn the hard lesson that we don't have as much control over these things as we'd like.  As we struggle with infertility or miscarriage or still born losses, we become keenly aware that we cannot force a child into being, cannot control the life forming within.

Our baby girls have thrown us for such loops during their womb-stays. Evangeline with her three-chambered heart and cyst on the brain, Molly with her extra amniotic fluid and possibly-flipped organs (we will find out whether she really has situs reversus soon).  We begin to worry, What does this mean for our babies? Will they be okay? And when God moves His hand in a healing answer to our prayer, we feel silly for even worrying about it, yet we find ourselves wondering, Why did God heal my child and not hers, or theirs, or that one? Why are we so fortunate?

From the beginning, we realize that we don't want to go this alone, don't want a day without the Lord's hand crafting each and every moment, leading each and every foot step.

When we walk down that hallway, with our oldest daughter riding in a little red wagon clutching her Clifford to her chest, toward the room where they will open up her skull and slice so close to vital brain tissue I am all to aware that I have no control. I am powerless.

But there is One to whom there are no surprises.  There's no shocking God. He sees the bigger picture. He is standing outside of time, and He knows what was, what is, and what is to come. I am weak, but He is strong. I am limited but He is limitless.

I can fight it, or I can surrender and trust. I can fret and worry and pace which brings forth no good thing, or I can rest in knowing that all things are in the Father's hand.

And so, when my baby is born with fluid in her lungs, and her heart stops, and the midwives are leaning over her, mouth to mouth, chest compressions, suctioning.... I can rejoice in the truth that I am His daughter, He hears my prayers, and He's in control.

 

You can read the birth story of Molly Jo Jubilee on MandyMom.com.
[Link opens in a new window]

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I choose to feel blessed

My hair stylists! I love her!!!
Nolyns drawing :) 
Nomming on some kid clif bars ;) Waiting for the Dutch baby/ Hungarian pancake to puff :)

You choose to feel blessed.  You choose to look through the trials and the struggles and see the many gifts God has bestowed upon your life.  I see that now.  I am not any less blessed today than I was six or seven years ago when I was in what I felt was the darkest part of my life. I was just as blessed then as I am now.  I choose to focus on the beautiful things, God's "small" courtesies to His greatest gifts.  I choose not to focus on the worries that could easily wrap their tentacles around me and pull me under.  I choose not to get caught up in the annoyances.  Life has plenty of them, plenty of minor and major frustrations. Plenty to fret about, plenty to be angry about, plenty to get trapped under.  I choose not to live that way.  I choose to see the many ways my husband loves me, and in doing so, he loves me more. I choose to see the beauty in the mess, choose to count the interruptions as blessed moments (it has taken me an hour  to write this short bit because Brandon wanted to read me a couple chapters out of the book he is devouring, Evie wanted to sit in my lap and poke my belly button while jabbering at me, and then I snuggled her a bit before laying her down for a nap... and then searching for her pacifier).  I choose to see the little blessings, not to number the dents and scratches in the walls, not to count the messes I have cleaned over and over again, not to growl under my breath about the loads of laundry or how my husband is having to work late again.
Instead, I choose to say thank You.  Thank You to the Maker of heaven and earth who fills my life with beautiful moments and liberally sprinkles blessings upon me.  So many times I have grumbled or ignored these things, and oh how that must have grieved Him just as it grieves me when I give good and wonderful things to my children and am not met with gratefulness or appreciation.  How soon we forget those great gifts or are completely oblivious to them. We shrug them off, move on to our gripes and groans, looking upon His provisions with dissatisfied, demanding, and self-centered hearts.

I choose life, and life is more abundant when lived in thankfulness.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

It's no longer I that liveth

I've been awake these last few wee-hours of the morning repeating this line in my head over and over, "It's no longer I that liveth but Christ that liveth in me." I finally, finally get it. I mean, not just head-knowledge-belief it, but heart-soul-spirit-feel it.

As I read through the bible with this frame of mind, it all makes sense. I've been fighting this battle, saved and trying to still work my own good works, trying to figure out how to live in the Holy Spirit.

And now I see, it's not the Holy Spirit that helps me to live, He does it for me.  The bible says that we are God's workmanship- His masterpiece- created in the Messiah for good works which God before ordained for us to walk in.  So often, when I read that verse, my mind would conjure up images of me being transformed so that I could do good works.  It was still about me. The truth is, Christ is in me. He has become me. I have decreased- not in some pious, "oh I'm so holy and such a great servant" way, but truly decreased because He has overcome sin- my very flesh. I no longer have to strive to be holy.  The Spirit of God has the power to live through me if I am willing to be the vessel.  We are not co-captains of this bodily ship. Either I am at the wheel, or He is.  He doesn't want to just help me steer the ship. If we think we are being "assisted", then we have it twisted (because what we are really saying is that we are assisting Christ, right?).  The truth is, He does it all.  It's no longer I- no longer me attempting to control, no longer me moving and working and living, no longer me striving, but Christ. Christ alone working through me.

How can words possibly explain so great a promise and reality?


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Making Your Home a Ministry Center





God designed the home to be the heart of ministry. It is to be a place of worship, learning, health, hospitality, and productivity for each member of the family and a base for reaching out to others in the community. When these aspects of the home are cultivated, it becomes a vibrant hub of life and outreach, attracting neighbors and friends who are looking for living demonstrations of successful Christians.

The first responsibilities in the home are to meet the needs of the family members, nurturing a safe environment that is filled with righteousness, peace, and joy. As the family members grow and develop within the home, they are able to reach out in ministry to their friends, church, and community.

One of the most traditionally valued environments is the home. Men go to war to fight for hearth and home, but sadly, many nations perish when the vision of the home is lost. Today, many American homes have become centers for sleeping, entertaining, and snacking because we’ve lost the vision for the power of the home place.

A home becomes a ministry center as parents intentionally seek to recover and rebuild God’s purposes for the home.

- Excerpt from Making Your Home a Ministry Center for Your Family & Others

Sunday, February 5, 2012

He is the Gift



He is the Gift that always gives
Bountiful blessings pour from His hand
Everlasting arms open wide
His radical love it draws me in.

He is the Gift that always gives
Bountiful blessings pour from His hand
Everlasting arms open wide
His radical love it draws me in.

I met Him all the cross
Where grace and wrath embrace.
I couldn't help but bend my knees
And fall down on my face.

He washed away the stench of death-
It clings not to my soul.
And all the things I once held dear,
Now I let them go.

He is the Gift that always gives
Bountiful blessings pour from His hand
Everlasting arms open wide
His radical love it draws me in.

He is the Gift that always gives
Bountiful blessings pour from His hand
Everlasting arms open wide
His radical love it draws me in.



Copyright © 2012 MandyMom.com / A Fighting Faith

I Forget....

I wrote this song... have rearranged bits and pieces time and time again, and I believe.. this is the final product.

#song

Sometimes it feels like this is all there is and
This is just the way it's supposed to be.
Is what I see really what I get or is
There really something more than what I see.

'Cause I forget there's a battle raging on
For my soul, there's a war on my mind
And though I know that Your promises are true
I forget they're for me too.

You have said that You're for me,
That You love and adore me,
And though I know each day is made by Your hand
Sometimes it's hard for me to truly comprehend, to comprehend

'Cause I forget there's a battle raging on
For my soul, there's a war on my mind
And though I know that Your promises are true
Lord remind me, they're for me too.
They're for me too.

Copyright © 2012 MandyMom.com / A Fighting Faith

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Humanism: The Self-Destructing Religion Infecting Christians

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.  [Colossians 2:8]


I wanted to share a post written by Kelly Crawford of Generation Cedar (Guest blogged at Visionary Womanhood).  Humanism is a subject that has been on my mind quite a bit.  See, I often read and hear things from humanists that sound really good. I hear words like hope, truth, safety, happiness, justice, goodness, and helpfulness, but the truth is, Humanism ultimately believes in relativism. Therefore, what is justice to me may not be justice to you. What is true for me may not be true for you. What is goodness for me may not be goodness for you. Thus, there cannot really be real hope, true truth, actual safety and so on because it all depends on how one feels, interprets, etc those things. Secular humanism is a philosophy of life, a religion itself, which views man as the supreme being in the universe and rejects God and the supernatural. Moral values and truths vary from person to person since it's "all relative".  How can one combine humanism and Christianity?  It cannot be done without sacrificing the very foundation Christ laid.

Humanism: The Self-Destructing Religion Infecting Christians


The most serious enemy facing mankind today is the same one that has always been…the “Tempter’s Creed” known as secular humanism–a.k.a. the worship of MAN. We are now seeing the full-blown fruit of it in America as we bury the last shreds of our founding father’s faith and devotion to God’s laws, replacing it with our devotion to man’s law.


“Humanism is the second oldest religion known to man. It goes back to the Garden of Eden…Its first article of faith is the belief that all things, including every word from God, must be put to the test of man’s reason and experience: ‘Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’ “ R.J. Rushdoony
Humanism is the belief that all things exist for man’s good and betterment, and therefore man determines right and wrong; Christianity is the belief that man exists for God, and as such, He knows what is best for us. (The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.)

The two are antagonistic in nature. But there is a MAJOR problem…many Christians have unknowingly begun to follow the doctrine of humanism, wounding the body of Christ, rendering themselves impotent–and even worse–accomplice to man’s destruction.



Read the rest of this post here at Visionary Womanhood.

Monday, January 30, 2012

But I fear that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be seduced from a complete and pure devotion to Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:3

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Explaining "Born Again" to children

We're reading in John 3:1-7 this morning.  I feel that many of us, especially children, can relate to Nicodemus' question, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born?"

And Nicodemus still had a difficult time understanding Jesus' answer, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee. Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

Can you imagine Nicodemus' confusion?  "How can these things be?" (verse 9).

How can we explain such an important aspect of what is means to become a Christ follower to our children?  Of course, the Holy Spirit is the one who has to do the revealing (really, I did not grasp this teaching until I was captured by the Lord in my early 20's), but I feel it is good to help children begin to understand what it is to be born again.

I like the way the site, Sermons4Kids approaches the subject.

Think about the story of "The Hungry Caterpillar?" When he came out of his cocoon, he wasn't an improved caterpillar, was he? No,he was a totally new creation. A butterfly! That's the way it is when we let invite Jesus into our heart. He doesn't just make us a better person. He makes us a new creation!
I'm not a fan of the whole "invite Jesus into our heart", because that's not really a biblical principle, so I explained that when we confess our sins, repent, and surrender to Christ, the Holy Spirit enters us, and we become a new creation in Christ.  We look the same on the outside, but our hearts and minds are changed. We are no longer the same person!

The children enjoyed illustrating this lesson with a picture of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly!