Gratitude for the win!!

This past Christmas, I received a Digital Picture Frame as a gift.  I have it set up on my kitchen counter, and while I’m doing dishes, I see pictures of my loved ones.  I see pictures of the moments of our lives.

I’ve been told that people who keep gratitude journals or make a conscious effort to focus on their blessings in life—-are happier, healthier people.  There is scientific evidence that keeping a gratitude journal helps addicts stay sober, and actually changes lives.

Looking at the pictures that come across the Digital Frame, is a visual reminder of all the many, many blessings in my life–all the many, many moments I am grateful to have experienced–all the many, many people I have been blessed with in my life.  

I find that scripture supports this idea of focus and transformation:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  Philippians 4:8

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2

.….let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…..Hebrews 12:1,2

We are transformed by renewing our mind.  We renew our minds by fixing them on Jesus. Jesus is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent and worthy of praise.  Jesus is the literal Word of God and is God.  John 1

  As we are transformed we act differently–we show what God’s will is to the world.  God’s will is for us to love Him, and to love each other.  Jesus as God in human flesh, showed us what this love looks like.

It’s not hard to understand—it’s just impossible to do–in our own strength.  That’s why Jesus sent us the Helper–the Holy Spirit.   It starts with fixing our eyes on the One who loves us and gave up His life for us.  It starts and ends with Jesus.  I guess that’s why He is called the Alpha and Omega–the beginning and the End.

May We Be Encouraged!!



Access—to the powers that be—very few of us have it–or do we?

When my husband and I were first married, I observed that whenever he would call his dad, (his dad owned his own law firm in Boston, MA), his calls were put right through—-every single time.

However, when we visited the law office, I heard his assistants take message after message, and very few people got right through to my father-in-law.

My mom is a pretty popular gal–and she has many friends, and so much family.  This past year, she has been battling cancer.  I have noticed that whenever one of my siblings or myself wants to spend time with her—she has all the time in the world for us—-we are a part of her inner circle.  However, she tires easily, and so limits her time spent with others.

So what is my point here?   My point is that in the same way that my husband had immediate access to his dad, and I have access to my mom, because we are their children—whoever is a child of God–has access to Him as well.

Scripture tells us—that whoever receives Jesus–to them He gives the right to become children of God.  Scripture also tells us that God adopts us as His children, and He goes further than that–placing His Spirit into our very beings–making us new creatures in Him.  We now are partakers in His very nature!

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:16.  

We are God’s kids!!  We have access to Him.  If we call out to Him–we get right through.  He is never too busy for us.  

Aren’t those amazing thoughts to dwell upon?  He will never stop fighting for us, even when we can’t fight for ourselves.   God is our Dad!!!   Think about that!!  The One who created the heavens and the earth, has created new lives within us, and calls us His Own!!

May those thoughts encourage us today!!

Riley Clemmons – Fighting For Me (Piano Version)

Repairing the Damage of Your Words?

In Marriage, in relationships, words are powerful.  They can tear down; they can build up. 

This video, titled Repairing the Damage of Your Words, has been very helpful to us.  My husband and I both share this with you, in hopes that it will help you as well.

If after you have watched it, you think—that is great, but I have tried to control my words, and I just can’t seem to stop being angry or hurtful, what do I do?

First you are not alone.  The first step to healing is acknowledging the problem.

Second, God has given us His Holy Spirit to empower us and change us. If you click on the past sentence it will take you to a website that will explain how you can plug into God’s power, relying on His strength.

Third, we can ask others to pray for us, preferable a small group from a Bible Study, or a friend who will pray.

Fourth, God has supplied the church with men and women who can provide wise counsel. Their role is to help us focus on God and receive His wisdom.

We are praying for you!!  Please pray for us as well!!

May we be encouraged!!

Sexual Sin

 I have been thinking a great deal about sin.   For instance, recently a well-know Christian leader was found to have been participating in sexual sin with several women.   The world is appalled and disgusted, fingers are being wagged and pointed.  “Hypocrite, hypocrite!!” is shouted from the rooftops. 

I remember when I was a young woman, I heard of a Christian leader involved in sexual sin.  I was appalled and disgusted.  “How can this be?”  I thought.  “How can people who claim to know God, and claim to be surrendered to Him, do such things.”

My heart was broken for this situation.  My heart was broken for God.

With time and experience, I saw this repeated over and over again.  Women having affairs, and leaving their husbands—breaking hearts, breaking families, breaking children.  Men having affairs, leaving their wives, breaking hearts, breaking families, breaking children.

That’s the thing about sin.  It hurts others.  It destroys.  It mars the image of God in our lives.

Make no mistake—we are involved in an invisible spiritual battle.   The devil is a prowling lion seeking whom he may devour.    A lion takes down those at the fringe of the herd.  He takes the hurt, the vulnerable, the unprotected.

Satan wants to take us down.  He wants to use us to take down each other.  How does he do this?

He uses our fear– our fear of pain, our fear of consequences, our fear of God, and our fear of each other. He will lie to us and twist the truth.

We need to care more about God and what He thinks of us, than what we think of each other and the consequences our sin may carry. Why is this important?  Because we hide our sin from God, and from each other.

 We need to bring our sin out into the light and receive God’s forgiveness and healing and power.  We usually don’t bring that sin out into the light, and confess it to Him or to each other, because we don’t want to be judged and rejected.

 God is not rejecting us.  He wants to heal us.  Many people who participate in 12 step programs receive healing when they go to the people they have sinned against, and admit their sin, and ask for forgiveness.   Some people may not forgive them, and they face that possibility– but in the process, they learn to receive God’s forgiveness and they learn to forgive themselves.  They overcome the temptation to sin again, as they see the evidence with their own eyes, of how their sin has hurt others—they see the devastation their sin has wrought. 

2 Tim 2:22 tells us what to do when we are faced with temptations:  “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

  1.  FLEE– youthful passions!!  That’s what Joseph did when faced with sexual temptation.  That’s what we need to do.   Run!!  Sometimes we think—I’ve got this, I won’t succumb.  God tells us to flee!!  Look for the escape and take it!! I Corinthians 10:13 
  2. PURSUE righteousness, faith, love and peace.  Pursue God, get to know Him, spend time in His Word.   Pray—talk with Him, every day, every moment!!  We need to care more about what God thinks of us than what others think.  People will never be able to fill the empty, infinite void in my heart, or in your heart.  Only an infinite being can do that—only our Father God can do that.
  3. Do this ALONG WITH others who call on the Lord from a pure heart.  Join a bible study—I’m part of an on-line women’s bible study right now.   Go to a church where God’s Word is honored and preached, and where love and grace are demonstrated.    (It is much harder for Satan to take us down, when we run with the Herd.)    People who have been able to finish their races well– here on earth —had accountability and support from trusted, Godly people.  I think of Billy Graham, who traveled with the same, Godly men for the duration of his ministry and there was never a hint of sexual sin to taint his ministry or his legacy.

I do want to say—that my husband and I have done some simple things to guard ourselves from sexual sin.  We share email addresses, and social media pages.   We do not have correspondence with anyone that the other is not privy to that correspondence.   If I wanted to look at his phone, I could, and he could look at my phone at any time.  

We also, don’t have friends of the opposite sex.  We have couple friends, where we spend time as a couple with those friends.  The purpose of this is not to form emotional attachments with the opposite sex, apart from the attachments we have as a couple with those persons. (We do have friends of the same sex—I have women friends, and my husband has men friends.) 

These are suggestions that may not work with everyone’s situation.  The point of these suggestions is accountability and transparency.

One thing I have become more aware of—is the magnitude of what Jesus did on the cross for us.  Jesus literally took on all the sins of the world, and those sins were crucified.   Ugh!!   Think about this.  I have heard that Jesus died for my sins, since infancy.  I have heard Jesus died for the sins of the world, ever since I can remember.  So, I don’t always think about what that means.

  Jesus died for every imaginable evil act and thought, (our sin begins in our thoughts—Jesus said those who look at someone other than their spouse, and think lustful thoughts have committed adultery).   

Jesus died for the men and women cheating on their spouses and breaking up their families.  Jesus died for the people abusing others sexually.  Jesus died for all the abusers—those beating others, those stealing others and selling them into slavery, those verbally assaulting others, those murdering others.    Jesus died for those addicted to drugs and alcohol, and possibly abusing others in the process.    Jesus died for the thieves, the greedy, the manipulative, the liars, the selfish and the self-centered, the power hungry, the control-freaks, the sexual deviants, the war-mongers, the haters, the rapists, the racists, the (whatever your hot button issue is–the people you don’t think deserve to live)—Jesus died for them. Jesus died for you. Jesus died for me.

 Jesus died for the things that deserve God’s wrath, in fact, God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus on the cross. 

Scripture tells us that maybe someone would die for a friend, or a righteous man, but Jesus died for us when we were sinners, and enemies of God.   He died to free us and redeem us—to pay the price for our souls and take us from Satan’s grasp.

The question is:  do we want to be freed?   And do we want to stay free?  We need to be aware: Satan will try to ruin our lives and make us believe that sin still has power over us when in reality– sin has been crucified with Christ.    So, remember—

FLEE Temptation……PURSUE Righteousness……ALONG WITH Others who are doing the same thing!!

And Be Encouraged!!

In her own words, Part II

I want you all to know, that I find it difficult to yield my will to God.  I find it difficult to obey God. I find it difficult to trust God to fill me with His Spirit.

I think that is why God wants me to share about the Holy Spirit.  He knows I struggle with this, and that I am not up on a mountain, speaking down to the masses about this, He knows, I am right there in the trenches—fighting with my will to yield to Him, and many, many times failing.

Today, when I was listening to the radio, a song came on, that expressed how I often feel, and there was a line that said:  “But today I feel like I’m just one mistake away– From You leaving me this way.”

Have you ever felt that way—like you struggle with the same sins, and you make the same mistakes, over and over again?

I love this song, because the chorus goes on to say:   “Jesus, can you show me just how far the east is from the west? ‘Cause I can’t bear to see the man I’ve been– Rising up in me again.  In the arms of Your mercy I find rest– You know just how far the east is from the west– From one scarred hand to the other.”

In my blog, “Comfort and Encourage”, I talked about how in Psalm 103, King David tells us that our sins have been removed from us, as far as the East is from the West.   I would love for everyone who reads this blog to listen to this song, with that scripture in mind.  I know it will encourage you!

The purpose of this blog, is to explore the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  This blog is really part 2 of the blog I wrote before this, called, “In her own words…”, where I shared part of a letter, sent to friends of Becki Crain, after she had died of cancer.   This letter shared thoughts of Becki that illustrate the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

I would like to share some more of that letter with you.   Again, I’ve edited it a little for greater readability.

“I’m finding that my spiritual growth isn’t dependent on me at all.  It’s dependent on Him alone.  I think that even though there are spiritual giants out there, they are carnal too.  They’re just products of God’s making.  There is no way we can take glory in what He’s done in us, in what He’s doing in us, and what He will do.  If it were up to us, we would have left Him so long ago and so many times over.   We are carnal, but we are also spiritual because God put His spirit in us and we long for Him because He’s given us that longing.  I’m afraid to say these things, because I know that maybe in an hour, maybe tomorrow I’ll be wallowing in self-pity again, seeing only me, my disabilities, seeing only my pain, wondering why God hasn’t healed me yet.  I understand why Corrie ten Boom felt the way she did about her own spiritual walk.  She saw how carnal she really was.  I think she’s a giant and I hope to someday be a giant like her but I don’t want to go through that.  I don’t want to go through this.  I don’t want to die.  I don’t want to die to myself.  But God doesn’t say, “What do you want, Becki?”  He says He will fill me with Himself.”

Again—my friend has articulated so perfectly, the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  God put His Spirit in us, and we long for Him, because He’s given us that longing.   We are all products of God’s making.  We can’t take credit for what He is done, doing and will do in us.  He wants to fill us with Himself.  When we trusted Jesus as our Savior, our old selves were crucified with Him and He gave us His Holy Spirit.

Galatians 2:20 says: “My old self has been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So, I live in this earthly body, by trusting in the Son of God who loves me and gave Himself for me.”

When we are commanded in Ephesian 5:18 to be filled with the Spirit—that is what God is telling us—He is telling us to yield our wills to Him and trust Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to live His life through ours.  This is what it means to “abide” in Jesus and be connected to Jesus as the vine and as us as the branches.  We do not have to ‘try’ harder.  We just need to allow Jesus to live His life through ours. 

The hard part is yielding our wills, to allow Jesus to do this.  It does not mean in doing this that we become robots, it means, that we become more of the person God has always intended us to be, using our gifts, loving, giving and serving others. It’s hard to do, because it means saying “no” to what we think will meet our deepest needs, and saying “yes” to God and how He will meet our deepest needs. It means trusting Him and His love for us.

This is what my friend Becki was trying to communicate—these were some of her last words to us—God says He will fill us with Himself.   Just as we trusted Jesus to be our Savior, so we need to trust Him to fill us with Himself.  Faith is taking God at His Word.  God commands us to be filled.  Ephesians 5;18:  “Do not be drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but Be Filled With the Holy Spirit.”

 To be filled, We confess our sins, (see my Guilt blog), if you want to know more about this.  We Yield ourselves to God.   By Faith, we ask the Holy Spirit, to Fill us.   By faith, we thank God, that He has filled us.  When we sin, we confess, yield and ask God to fill us again.  It sounds simple, and yet, it means dying to self, and that is never simple.

If you would like more information about this topic, you can go to this link:

God knows we need help!  Therefore, God sent us, “The Helper” – the Holy Spirit.

So let us Be Encouraged!!

In her own words….

God has been telling me to write about the Holy Spirit.  I feel like one of those old-time prophets who is told by God to communicate something that they feel unqualified to speak about.  When I asked God what to write, He brought to mind a letter that my friend Becki, who died of cancer, sent out to friends who had been praying for her.  Actually, her husband sent out the letter, after Becki died, and he shared some of her thoughts with us.

I share these thoughts, because to me—they express the work of the Holy Spirit in a way that is real and living.

These are Becki’s words— edited a little for greater readability – while hopefully not losing any of their meaning:

Becky shared these thoughts when she was in Germany receiving treatment for cancer, and it was becoming apparent that cancer was winning, and she was physically dying. 

this spiritual battle, this spiritual journey, is not anything like what I thought it would be.  I thought I would feel victorious.  I though I would be able to live beyond the pain – maybe not even feel the pain – because I was so much living in the spirit. 

Isn’t that why it’s hard? I don’t want to read my bible, I don’t want to pray, but God is so good, He hasn’t let me go.  If He wasn’t so good, He and I would have parted ways early in this battle, because I’ve often felt, I don’t want this.

I just want to be a nice Christian woman, at home with her children, being a good wife and mother.

But God hasn’t let me go, He hasn’t turned aside and said, “Ok, I’ll work on somebody more faithful.”

I’m finding that my spiritual growth isn’t dependent on me at all, it’s dependent on Him alone.”

That last line expresses the ministry of the Holy Spirit in a nutshell.  This is it.  It is not dependent on us at all, it is dependent on God alone.

This is what Jesus means when he says (in John 15:5) :   “I am the vine, you are the branches, he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me, you can do nothing.”

The branches grow fruit because they are connected to the vine.  They don’t have to grunt and strain and strive—they just have to be connected. 

So the big question—how are we connected?   

I would like to fully explore this question in my next blog.

In the meantime, let these thoughts encourage us—

Our God will not leave us, He will stay with us every step of the way.  He stayed with Becky every step of the way. He is holding us up, when we can not stand. Becki shared some verses to a song with us in this last letter. I would like to share that song with you. It’s an old song, but it expressed Becki’s heart:

 May we be encouraged!!