Thursday, June 5, 2014

Peace

Peace
by Sarah Young, from Jesus Calling

The Peace that I give you transcends your intellect.

When most of your mental energy goes into efforts to figure things out, you are unable to receive this glorious gift. I look into your mind and see thoughts spinning round and round: going nowhere, accomplishing nothing. All the while, My Peace hovers over you, searching for a place to land.

Be still in My Presence, inviting Me to control your thoughts.

Let My Light soak into your mind and heart, until you are aglow with My very Being. This is the most effective way to receive My Peace.

2 Thessalonians 3:16; Job 22:21

I've been asked how I stayed positive and confident when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  There were times when I lost my focus, especially when it seemed that "things" kept happening.  There are times now when I feel my prayers are bouncing off the ceiling.  I still (after four years) run into issues caused from the cancer and the treatment I endured that have been scarey and uncomfortable.  I don't always understand His ways, and question, but eventually I remember that His ways are higher than my ways, He has a plan to prosper us not to harm us.  This I have learned...no matter what the circumstances, good or bad, if you allow yourself to rest in Him, you will find peace.  We can't control our circumstances...we live in a fallen world that will bring chaos and pain, but we can control how we allow it to affect us.  He doesn't promise we will never have trouble in this world, in fact he warns us that it WILL happen.  What He promises is that He will walk with us and encourage us, and redeem the bad circumstances to create something beautiful if we allow Him to.  I hope this helps those in my circle who are struggling with very serious issues in your life right now.  I am praying for you!!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Raffle for Kenya

Days like today I feel totally inadequate, but in my devotional reading today I was reminded that a shepherd boy defeated a giant and became king, a stutterer spoke to a mighty ruler and help set the captives free, a teenager gave birth to a savior, and a small boy gave a few fishes and loaves of bread and with God's help, fed thousands. Many of you know my church is sending a team to Kenya to help build a well. I can't go with them as much as I would love to...so I donated a few things to a raffle to raise funds for the team...and I'm praying The Lord will use them to help the team do great things for God in Kenya. Will you pray with me for the health and safety for the team, that this raffle will raise immeasurably more funds than we dreamed possible, and that He prepares the hearts and minds of the people in Kenya to hear the good news?

Here are the items up for raffle:

Two tickets to a preseason football game, Ravens vs. Redskins, Saturday, August 23, 2014, 7:30 PM at M&T Bank stadium.

Two tickets to a baseball game, Orioles vs. Angels, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 7:05 PM Camden Yards.



Signed baseball and card by Al Bumbry



Signed baseball and card by Joe Orsulak



Signed baseball and card by Fred Valentine



Signed baseball by Al Bumbry, Joe Orsulak, Boog Powell, and Fred Valentine



A batch of buckeye balls: peanut butter, rice krispies rolled into balls and dipped in chocolate.



Spread the Love of God, Framed cross stitch



Hands to Work, Framed cross stitch






Tickets are $1.00 each or $10.00 for 12 tickets.  100% of the proceeds go to help fund the missions team to Kenya.  The frames were donated from Frames Galore Inc.  and the football tickets were donated by Pastor Ajay Vyas.  There are other possible donations, I will update the pictures and post again on Facebook when there is an update.  When you donate for the tickets your name and phone  number will be written on the back.  You may purchase as many tickets as you would like.  You may place individual tickets in containers of your choice or put them all in one container if that is the only item you would like.  The winners will be chosen randomly by an impartial person during a night of worship on June 29, 2014.  You do not need to be present to win, but we would love to have you there to worship with us!

Thanks for reading, if you are interested please leave a message here or contact me on Facebook.



Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Learning to praise you in this storm...

Sometimes it's so hard to fathom God's ways.  I know His ways are higher than our ways, and His intentions are for our benefit and His glory, still some days are so very hard.

For months I have been praying for a young man, Eddie.  He was 24 and diagnosed with lymphoma.  He endured months of chemotherapy, lost his hair, lost a lot of weight, found out who his friends were, and those who were not, found that prayer is powerful, found a Savior, and was baptized.  He told his Pastor he wasn't afraid, he knew where he was going, but was worried about his family.  He lost his battle on Monday.  He is in a better place, he is out of pain and free of all the things irritating him from all the toxins in his body.  A young girl in our church says angels are singing welcoming songs and dancing with Jesus is occurring.  Out of the mouths of babes....  Still I can't help feeling sad, and a little disappointed, and my heart is so very heavy.

For more than a week prior I had been reading verses pertaining to healing, and reading devotionals that gave me hope, and yet, Eddie still went to be with the Lord and left a hole in the hearts of many.  I wonder why the Lord lifted my hopes, only to dash them in a little over a week.  And I fear there are others close to Eddie who felt the same way.  How do you comfort them?  Encourage them?  Show your love for them?

Ironically the past few days have been near constant rain.  As if even the heavens are mourning Eddie's passing.  I find myself close to tears often....and forever reminded of Tyler who passed away a year ago last month.  Too young, so much potential, and both lives drew so many to Jesus, in the way that they met their illnesses so courageously, and spiritually. 

Today I was given a few verses...

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. (Psalm 55:22 NIV)

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:15 NIV)

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God! (Psalm 68:19, 35 NIV)

So thankful He bears my burdens...some days would be too hard if He didnt!


After months of praying for Eddie's healing, it now turns to prayers for comfort, peace and strength for his family and loved ones.  I'm still praying for the others who are sick and facing difficult challenges in our church and among our friends.  I'm also lifting those who have lost loved ones and belongings in the terrible storms that have marched across the Midwest and South.  I still believe his promises, even though I don't understand his methods.  

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11 NIV 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Stinkin' Thinkin'

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV)

I'm learning the power of negative thoughts...and how important it is to listen to words of truth and not the lies we tell ourselves in our head. I am a child of God, He loves me, not by anything I have done but because I choose to be believe He is who He says He is... The same is true of others who believe.
I hear it from my own thoughts, the negative things that beat me up.  I hear others chanting them to themselves also.  Sometimes I think we are our own worst enemy, just by the thoughts we hold captive in our minds.  I'm involved in a new Bible Study called Crash the Chatterbox, and already I've learned so much.  I almost missed going to church Sunday because of a little voice in my head that had me running in fear.  And the wonderful thing about going yesterday is that I was uplifted in so many ways by my church family.  Not only was the sermon wonderful and meaningful to me in so many ways, the fellowship and hugs and encouraging words yesterday gave me renewed "strength" to walk in His ways.  I can't even begin to express my thanks to those who had such kind things to say.  I never really understood the "going to church" part of our walk.  If the whole meaning of being a Christian was to have a relationship with Jesus, and I do read my Bible and pray faithfully, what was the whole going to church part about anyway?  I love reading my Bible, doing studies, reading books about Christian beliefs, what was the big deal about skipping church?  Yesterday taught me a lesson...we need to build the body up, with words, kindness, and acts of love.  I know there were areas where they needed workers yesterday, but if my church family could only know that the fellowship I experienced yesterday changed me tremendously.

The biggest lesson I've learned is...that if it's important enough for God to mention it in His book, it's important enough to believe and obey it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Resurrection changes everything!

He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

I had a blessed Easter, I hope you did too!  And I'll be honest...I almost missed it!  It's funny how you can twist things in your head, and when someone told me they were hoping to see me in church today I kind of panicked.  I wasn't sure why they said that...and in typical DJ fashion...my mind began to twist and turn.  Finally last night I had decided that after helping at the spring fling, and being a bit sore (gotta love arthritis!!), no one would miss me anyway, besides I wouldn't miss the message because I would just listen to the pod cast...no big deal.

I woke up late this morning...still enough time to get ready, but determined I was going to stay home.  And then my son said he didn't want to sit in church alone (I used that excuse many times to entice him to come with me...payback can be a bummer...LOL) so I thought to myself, suck it up buttercup, and went to take my shower.  We were a few minutes late, but in time to catch the sermon...and what a sermon it was!!

I had never heard the resurrection story told from this point of view.  Not from the typical Easter story of Jesus on the cross, and then the empty tomb...but from the perspective of Thomas, Mary and Martha and of course, Lazarus.  Yep...remember him?  He was resurrected too!!  Not on his own power though...Jesus had a hand in that!

Reading from John 11 we hear the story of how Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that "the one you love is sick".  Jesus did nothing...for two days.  There's that waiting game again.  The disciples were freaking out while Jesus was hanging out...sound familiar?  How many times have we waited...on His perfect timing...but still, waiting is HARD!!  And something I've learned is that it may not be for our benefit that we wait...but for someone else...and ALWAYS for his glory!

Finally, after two days, Jesus decides to go...and Thomas begins to doubt.  Thomas was dead in his doubt.

Mary was dead in her discouragement, she wouldn't even go to meet Jesus when he did arrive.  Lazarus had been dead for 4 days...it was a cultural belief in that time that the soul hovered close by for three days after someone died so in Mary's mind, Lazarus was beyond any hope at all.

Martha was dead in the delay.  She believed Jesus would have healed him but now he was beyond any help at all.

What we need to remember is...God's delays are not God's denials.  All things are possible with God.  Jesus rolled the stone away and told them to take off the grave clothes and let him go.  And doesn't he do that for us when we are dead in our sins?  When we are frozen in our doubt?  When we seek his forgiveness?  The voice that called Lazarus also calls us!  Resurrection is not an event - it is a person.  It is not WHAT He does, it is WHO He is....and the Resurrection changes everything.

I am so thankful He overcame Satan whispering in my ear, filling me with doubts and fear.  I'm so glad I listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and attended church.  I had the opportunity to hug my brothers and sisters in Christ, to offer encouraging words to those who are hurting, and those fears I had...were answered with encouraging words from the person hoping to meet up with me at church.  I am truly humbled by what happened today...and encouraged to face the "stinking thinking" that rolls around in my head.  I hope you had a blessed Easter as well.  And if you want to hear the sermon you can got to http://connectionschurch.cc/connections-podcasts and click on I Am Jesus series.  It may take a day or two to be posted, but Pastor Ajay has a wonderful way of presenting the Gospel, they are definitely worth a listen!


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday

Yesterday I wrote...it's Friday, but Sunday's coming. But...today is Saturday...the day between darkness and light. The "day" between fervent, desperate prayer, deep despair, pain, heartache, and the rescue, the release, the long awaited answer. It's Saturday...the "day" of uncertainty and insecurity...the "day" after the bad news, but the 'day" before the good news. God always has a reason! There was a reason the Easter story has three days. It is to show us that there are "Saturdays" in our lives when we must wait. The question now, is how will you spend your Saturday?

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. "  (Philippians 4:4-9 NIV)

Friday, April 18, 2014

It's Friday but Sunday's coming!

It's Good Friday...isn't it wonderful that our lives are cyclical, and that once every 365 days we get to celebrate again the holidays and milestones from years ago?  I think this was not an accident!  Many times in the Bible, God asked to have an altar built so we could revisit the many miracles, milestones, lessons and memories our ancestors experienced and remember what God does in our lives.  I'm thankful that once a year we can be reminded that our savior came to this earthly plain to experience our lives...the joy, the heartache, the pain, the fear...all our emotions, the good and the bad, so that He can understand us on such a personal level!  It amazes me that someone could love us so much that he would be willing to suffer the extreme pain, the humiliation, the undeserved burden of our sins, so that we could have a relationship with Him!!

It's a great week to really focus on what He went through, but I must admit it makes me take a closer look at how far short I fall from His righteousness.  I don't deserve his forgiveness, but thankfully He forgives me anyway.  I don't deserve His love, but thankfully He loves me anyway.  I don't deserve His grace, but thankfully he gives me this precious gift anyway.  I am so far from perfect...but he continually works to create perfection in me.  Sometimes it's a painful process when I realize how much I must disappoint Him.

Years ago I heard a sermon about it's Friday, but Sunday's coming!  How the world seemed dark and depressing to the disciples the Friday that Jesus was crucified...but thankfully we know the end of the story! Times may be hard right now, but we have a hope and a future...our Sunday will come because He has already won the victory! Praise God!!

Because of the Lord ’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22, 23 NIV)
So grateful for His love and Forgiveness!