Mar 31, 2014

Free Your Mind....

Today's Reading: Matthew 21:23-46
Find the Reading Plan here.


Memory Verse: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2

How do we not conform to the world? I mean, what does that really look like?

If you believe that Christ is the Son of God and that He died for your sins on the cross, then we have the mind of Christ.

"For we have the mind of Christ" 1 Corinthians 2:16

We were given the Holy Spirit to reside in us as an exchange for our sins.

"Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself" 1 Corinthians 6:19

Why then, do we get sucked into the world and it's practices? Why does it seem easier to conform than to be set apart?

I believe a lot of it begins in our minds. We sometimes want to hang on to our old thinking. The thinking that was there before Christ took over.

Renewing our minds is a proactive engagement. Meaning this: We have to continually fill our minds with Truth. Where do we find Truth? His Word.

God's Word tells us this: "Whatever a man thinks in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7

Whoa!

So, basically whatever we think about ourselves we begin to become.

I can say with 100% accuracy that this is true. I have lived a life of thinking untrue things about myself. Things that God's Word completely obliterates. However, my mind convinced my body, my actions, my behavior that I was those untrue things.

Are you following me here?

I sent an email to several women regarding this very thing a couple of weeks ago. I asked them to tell me some things that they had believed or still believe about themselves and if they "became" the very thing they believed.

The responses were overwhelming! I cried {big surprise} when I read each response. Why was I so surprised at their responses? God's Word says that we will believe whatever we think.

Here is a list of some of their responses. Let me just say that all of these women are precious, godly women. Women that know God's Word. Women that believe God's Word. Maybe you can relate to some of them. Maybe you have believed the very same untruths.


  • I thought I was inadequate, so I became ineffective
  • I thought that I was lost, so I became lost.
  • I thought that I was worthless, so I became unworthy.
  • Useless, powerless, un-liked.
  • I thought I could only be loved by "doing" so I wore myself out performing! 
  • I thought I had to be perfect, which was impossible, so my life became a lie as I hid my imperfections. 
  • I thought I was worried, so I became a worrier.
  • I thought that I was rejected, so I became overly introspective and insecure.
  • I thought I was unforgiven, so I became hopeless and full of shame.
  • I thought I was alone, so I became lonely.
  • I think times in my life I thought I was unloved, so I became unlovable. I used to think that I didn't measure up, so I just quit trying at all
  • I know that I have always struggled with feeling unloved and unworthy, so for 10 years I did things that were unlovable to unworthy!
  • I thought that I was weak and incapable, so I became weak and incapable.
  • I thought that I was unworthy, so I became unhappy. 
  • I was unforgivable so I became unforgivable.
  • I was hurt so I became hurtful.
  • I was hardheaded so I became hard hearted.
I'll stop there. 

Are you beginning to see the magnitude of how our thinking reflects our actions, our behaviors, our everything?

I want to clarify something as well. This is not about a "positive thinking" movement. This is about a Truth movement. God's Truth renewing our minds and taking these false thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. {2 Corinthians 10:5}

Are you tired of rotten thinking? ME TOO!

When we conform to the world, that thinking just increases to overwhelming proportions! The world tells us how we ought to be, what we ought to look like, how thin we ought to be----the list goes on.

We have websites that lure us in because they give us "instructions" on how to plan the "perfect" party, be the "perfect" wife, have the "perfect" family, look as "perfect" as possible". 

We even have picture filters that help us to look younger, thinner, better, in all the pictures we post on social media. What's wrong with the way we actually look?? Why do we have to improve on God's perfect creation of how He made us? Why do we need to filter out the truth?

I am SICK to death of it. 

No wonder our thinking is deluded. Our minds are being bombarded with false information. Let's just call it what it is--LIES.

How do we defeat lies?

God's Word. 

"Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" John 17:17

Do not conform to this world, girls. It will only delude your thinking. It will only make you miserable. It will only draw you away from the One who calls you perfect,  lovely, desirable, cherished, and captivating....just the way you are.

Put on the armor of His Word. Keep your mind guarded from lies. A great renewal of your mind is just begging to be set free. 


un-conforming,


jill


Mar 29, 2014

Just Go.....

Happy Saturday, SHINE girls!

It's been a while since we have had a SHINE girl Spotlight. So, today, be blessed by my  beautiful friend Danna's post. 

Danna has recently returned from a mission trip to Africa, and her heart is on fire for what the Lord is doing! Her passion is contagious. 

Grab some coffee, and soak up her story.

Just GO!
By: Danna Crowe

Hello sweet SHINE sisters!

 Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in The Lord and He will give you the Desires of your heart"

Oh girls this is so true...when you seek our Heavenly Father He will certainly give you your hearts' desires! 

God just allowed little ole' me to travel to Togo (West Africa) with my 11yr. Old son Jackson on a mission trip! 


I have always wanted to go to the continent of Africa, but never really knew why or what country? Until a few years ago when I truly started asking God what His plan was for me and He began to open doors wide open!!!! 

We traveled with Hope Commission International, which I had googled mission trips to Africa to find! Little did I know a few months later I would be in the same Sunday school class with the president and founder (Komi Aholou) of the organization! Our church is a little big, but God is so much bigger!! 

God provided everything we needed to travel to Togo in February, and our lives are forever changed! 


While in Togo we traveled to a little village outside of the city of Lome and my heart is still there!  


We were able to interact and play games with the children and teach the Gospel to them. The pastor of this church is contagious in His love for The Lord and for those sweet children in the village. He has been at this church for 6 months and they have doubled in number. Of course we know the church is made up of God's people, but our mind goes to a building usually white or brick with stain glass windows and a steeple with pews to sit in.  This church has a grassy roof held up by bamboo poles and wooden benches that only seat about half. Pastor John has been given a vision for this church to have a church building so they can meet rain, shine, hot or hotter! 


Pastor John and his son Pethuel

Add captionKoko translated for us...myself and Jackson

The church in the village...what great worship!

  I told you Pastor John was contagious with his love and passion for The Lord and I cannot shake it! God is calling me back to Togo to raise money and take a team to build this church! I thought it would pass but it's been a month now and I can't shake it! I pray I never lose this passion for our precious Father!!!! 

When God says, "Danna", I want to  say YES LORD YES!!! 

If you have felt God calling you to a mission trip long or short term! GO, RUN WITH GOD...you will never be the same! 


Mark 16:15 He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

We need to raise $8,000 to build an entire church , girls, and a team to help build it!  I can't do it, but God can and I know He will! 

If you would like to hear more or feel called to help us with fundraising or being part of the team let us know! 


Donations can be made at  hopecommision.org  or you may email me at dannacrowe@yahoo.com


Running back to Togo with a Passion I've never known before,


Danna 

Mar 28, 2014

Soul Hunger....

Matthew 19:1-22
Find the Reading Plan here.

Happy Fun Friday! If you haven't noticed yet, we are back in the book of Matthew starting today.

I know, I know, this reading plan jumps around a bit. We like to keep you on your pretty pink toes!

I'll make this post short so that you can get on with your business this beautiful Friday morning.

I hope you have had some time to sit in the Lord's presence this week. Even if you weren't sitting. Even if you had no time to sit down, I hope that you were able to quiet your sweet minds and hearts before God.

{this has become my new favorite place to soak up His Presence.
my back porch.}

This sure has made such a difference in my week. Our souls crave our Creator, and often we fill that craving with many other things. Things that just won't satisfy the soul, and actually just leave us craving more of the Lord.

This soul-longing has taken me a very long time to figure out. I would fill this gaping hole in my soul with so many other things. The Lord was most often the last place I looked. He was the place I looked when I was so utterly desperate and had tried all other things. He was my "when all else fails" God.

It has to be completely the opposite. We must seek Him first, above all else.

"Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33

Our Fun Friday Challenge:

Seek Him first today. Before you do another thing, just go to Him and sit in His perfect Presence.

Let Him speak to your heart and fill that craving in your beautiful God-seeking soul.



seeking Him above all else,


jill





Mar 26, 2014

Be Still Already.....

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 23
Find the Reading Plan here.

Happy Wednesday! I have attached a short VLOG {video blog}--for you tech-challenged folks, like myself.

God has been just so faithful this week, girls. In this VLOG, I share something He layed on my heart last week regarding being still in His Presence.

Please note that I do realize a couple of things from this video:

First,  I say" umm",  a lot. I promise to work on that for future VLOGS.

Second, I obviously need to get to memorizing our memory verse, due to the fact that I READ it to you instead of speaking it from memory! Working on that too.

Third, all vanity goes out the window when 2 inches from a camera in your face! I mean, I could go on for days at the vulnerability of my face on WIDE SCREEN. Humility at its finest.




I love you girls so much. Thank you for loving me, despite my "ummm's" and my over-sized face on your computer screen.

May the Lord refresh you this week as you choose to "be still" before Him.

trying to be still,

jill

Mar 24, 2014

All things hold together....

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 19, 20
Find the Reading Plan here.

Monday Memory Verse: "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." Colossians 1:17

This memory verse was  not the one I chose for us this week. I had a whole theme in my head about our lessons this week in the Word. I even had reached out to some friends regarding some things that I wanted to discuss this week and asked for their input regarding a  certain scripture.

God changed all of that. At least for now.

I'm writing this at 10:04 p.m. Sunday night, and God is totally taking the lead on this post. :)

Just as I was typing the memory verse I had planned to use, God stopped me right in my tracks.  He reminded me of a scripture in Colossians that I had clung to last week.  He's just so cool like that.

Perhaps, someone reading this today needs to hear Colossians 1:17. When I read this passage, peace rushes in like a river. Swoosh.

We are never walking into our days without Him going before us. Not only is He going before us, but He is holding it all together. Can you just picture that with me?

Imagine your day today. Now, imagine Jesus Christ already at the end of it just waiting for you to arrive there with Him. He has moved away the branches that might hit us in the face. He has cleared the trail for our day.

My husband took me for a ride on our 4 wheeler this weekend. It is one of my favorite things to do with him. I just sit back, hold onto my man, and ride.

We go over bumps, and we run over big sticks as we ride. I am completely relaxed because I know Lem is driving and we are safe.

It's the same thing with God. He has already marked the path for us. We can rest that whatever comes our way, He has already cleared the path for us to walk it.

When we trust that He is holding all of these things together, we can rest in His wonderful Peace. No matter what.


enjoying the ride,


jill





Mar 21, 2014

Name that Tongue....

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 14, 15
Find the Reading Plan here.


For some reason, when we put a name to something, it makes it more alive. More real. More personal.

This week, I have put a name to some of the tongues we use that do not bring life. Not only do they not bring life, but they bring death. Maybe not the physical kind of death, but the spiritual kind of death--which wreaks much more havoc.

"For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12

I wanted to call these death-bringing tongues to the light, or they would slither away in the darkness waiting to rear their ugly heads again.

Dramatic sounding, right? You're absolutely right it's dramatic, and that's a huge understatement.

I don't know how much clearer God's Word can get when He tells us "Our tongues have the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit". I mean, that's pretty straight talking right there.

I have created a list of some of the tongues that we use, and have added scripture to aid us in defeating these tongues.

Take a look....

The Lying Tongue:

"The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in men that are truthful" Proverbs 12:22

"Better to be poor than a liar" Proverbs 19:22

"Do not lie to each other" Colossians 3:9

This one is a doozie. We cannot walk in righteousness if we bow down the the father of this tongue--satan. John 8:44--"for he is a liar and the father of lies"


The Rude Tongue:

"There will be a highway called the Holy Road, no one rude or rebellious is permitted in this road. It is for God's people exclusively." Isaiah 35:8

The Cynical Tongue:

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the ways of sinners or sit i the seat of mockers." Psalm 1:1 {I pray this psalm every single day--the whole entire Psalm}

A cynical person is a negative person. Always thinking the worst. We were made for more. To believe and know the best. No matter the situation.

The Gossiping Tongue:

"The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts." Proverbs 18:8

"A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret" Proverbs 11:13

We must get this one down, girls! Our lives cannot be marred any longer with gossip. It's ruining the lives of so many around us. We are God's royal daughters....if we cannot be trusted, who can??

The Boasting Tongue:

"Let another praise you, and not your own mouths; someone else, and not your own lips." Proverbs 27:2

Oh, if you want to learn more about this tongue, read the story of Nebuchaddnezzer in the book of Daniel. Or, read about Haman in the book of Esther. Yikes.

We do NOT, let me repeat: We do NOT want to end up like these dudes.

Boasting, bragging, they are all the same. This one always bring shame as well. A boastful tongue always backfires and turns right back around on our bragging little selves. Let me just assure you, it's always painful.

The Argumentative Tongue:

"Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor, only a fool insists on quarreling."
Proverbs 20:3

"A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping" Proverbs 29:13 (b)

Let's just say I have had my share of dripping. It's never won a fight for me. Ever.

The Divisive Tongue:

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God."  Matthew 5:9

In Proverb Chapter 6, the Lord lists 7 things that He detests. Here is one of them....

"a man who stirs up dissension among brothers" Proverbs 6:19

Basically, a divisive tongue is the opposite of a peaceful tongue.

The Talk-too-much Tongue:

"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise" Proverbs 10:19

This is pretty self-explanatory.

The Flattering Tongue:

"a flattering mouth works ruin" Proverbs 26:28

"May the Lord cut off all flattering lips" Psalm 12:3

Flattery gets us nowhere. It's true.


The Harsh Tongue:

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1

"She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue" Proverbs 31:26

Perhaps this tongue is a sister to a prideful tongue. We demand our way, and demand others line up with our way.

We will never get anywhere with anyone with a harsh tongue. It's a turn-off with a capitol T.

How do we talk to our children? Our parents? Our siblings? Are we short? Are we impatient? Are we demanding?

A harsh tongue is damaging, and leads a trail of hurt behind us.

The Judgemental Tongue:

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged." Matthew 7:1-2

This one makes me cringe. I have been on the giving end of judgement and on the receiving end. Neither places are good.

God has a way of reminding us of those we judge, and bringing it back full circle to us. Are we surprised? We shouldn't be. His word tells us the danger of a judgmental tongue.

This one is tricky. It can disguise itself as "discerning". Make no mistake, judgment and discernment are not the same. Judgement comes from the flesh, discernment comes from the Lord.


I don't want to end this week on a downer...so, here is our Fun Friday challenge!

Speak LIFE today! Speak it ALL DAY LONG! No matter how you feel, speak LIFE anyway !

Be kind, encouraging, loving, listening, compassionate, merciful, forgiving, joyful, kind.....

Speak LIFE!

My good friend called this week and said this song, "Speak Life" by Toby Mac, was her new theme song. Take a listen, girls.


Declare today and everyday LIFE-Giving Tongue Day!!

See you Monday!


speaking LIFE,

jill























Mar 18, 2014

Tongue Follies....

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 9:23-10:25
Find the reading plan here. 

As we focus on the guarding and taming of our tongues this week, I have to share something personal with you. I would not be authentic or sincere if  I did not share with you the struggles as well as the victories on this faith walk with the Lord.

The Lord laid the theme on my heart at the end of last week regarding guarding our mouths. Beginning on Saturday of this past weekend, I felt like something or someone had gotten my tongue and ran away with it.

By Sunday morning, before church, yes before church, my tongue went on a rampage.

Something had set me off, details aren't important, but my mouth just started spewing words.

I wasn't using foul language, however, I was using hurtful language to someone in my family that I love deeply. My husband.

We were in our closet, I was yelling, and he was looking at me like I had 8 heads. Quite possibly I did in that moment. Be glad nobody filmed that little doozie of a horror show. I certainly would have died of embarrassment. And then died some more.

As soon as the words came out of my mouth I felt sick. I was so sick of myself. I was so disappointed in myself.

The night before, I had tossed and turned. My spirit was tossing and turning as well. When the Lord wants us to talk about or teach something, especially something that will shed Light and Truth, we often go through some spiritual turmoil.

In other words, Satan doesn't like it too much. He knows his ground is about to get torn up by the Holy Living Word of God and His Truth. And he gets a little squirmy.

So, now you are getting the picture of the spiritual turmoil that was already taking place. All my little mouth needed was a taste of dissatisfaction and I was off like a bull in a china cabinet.

After my mouth explosion, I apologized to my husband. He didn't bat an eyelash. He was fine. However, I was left with this feeling of brokenness and ugliness that I had left all over the closet floor with my mouth spewing.

Let me just be real clear here....

I had my time with the Lord that morning. I had lots of time with Him actually. So, I didn't even have the excuse of needing time with Jesus that day.

This goes to show us that we still have a choice and an effort to make when it comes to controlling our tongues. It does not come naturally. Let me repeat: It does not come naturally.

Anything that goes against the grain of our flesh, and in tune with God's Spirit, will feel unnatural.

Whatever the flesh tells you to do, you can pretty much count on the fact that you should do just the opposite.

Just to give you some scriptural insight on just how powerful the tongue is, check out this little doozie of a scripture.

"but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, filled with deadly poison." James 3:8

Whoa!!!

That is pretty clear cut, isn't it?

So, what is our hope? Are we just hopeless tongue-out-of-control-human beings?

No.

The only hope we have of guarding our mouths is by the Spirit of God.

He is the only one able to do this seemingly impossible feat.

"With God’s power working in us, he can do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of." Ephesians 3:20

We must relinquish the control to Him. Every single time. Every single time.

Remember what we learned a few weeks ago about our bodies and spirits belonging to Christ?

Well, this means our tongue too.

So, you had your quiet time, you memorized your memory verse, you prayed and sat in the presence of God today. Does this mean that your tongue is safe and sound and it will speak loveliness all day?

No.

This is the part that takes diligence on our part. This is the part that takes being intentional.

God will not make us speak lovely things. He wants us to, He teaches us to in His Word, but He will not force us.

This is where obedience and discipline come in.

Here's the beautiful thing....

When we choose to speak love, to speak life, to speak encouragement, to speak softly instead of harshly, to speak patience instead of haste.....

Not only are the ones receiving the words from our mouths blessed, but we are blessed.

Suddenly, we feel better. Peace rushes in.

We don't have to feel lovely, to speak lovely. Let me repeat that: We don't have to feel lovely, to speak lovely.

Sometimes, we just have to be obedient, go against our feelings, and speak kindness and love.

The tongue is a muscle. One of the strongest in the human body. Just like any other muscle, it can be trained.

The more we train it to speak lovely words, the easier it will come.

Can I just say for the record, that this is something I think that we will have to practice our entire lives.

The more life we live, the more things we see, the more people we meet, we will be tempted to use our tongues in ways that are not life-giving.

We must stay the course of training and discipline when it comes to our tongue. Whether we are 9 or 99, our tongues have power. The power of life or death.

"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those that love it will eat its fruit" Proverbs 18:21


tongue in training,


jill



Mar 17, 2014

Gossip Girl.....

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 8:4-9:22
Find the reading plan here.

Monday Memory Verse:
 "Our tongues have the power of life and death, 
and those who love it will eat its fruit"
 Proverbs 18:21

Okay, so last week we learned how we must guard our hearts.

This week, we go straight to learning to guard our mouths and tongues. Gulp.

As I was praying about this message at the end of last week, the Lord gave me a very clear visual about guarding my tongue. One thing in particular that He showed me was regarding the devastation of gossip. 

No matter who you are, how old you are, how holy or unholy you are, you have been exposed to gossip in some form or fashion.

Maybe you were the giver, maybe you were the receiver. Or, if you are like me, you've been on both ends. Not proud.

We have a choice in how we choose to receive gossip when we hear it. And, we will hear it. It's in our churches, schools, homes, work places...it is all around us.

Even when we try to avoid gossip, it still finds a way into our unassuming ears.

I created a very small little three minute message below to show you the visual the Lord gave me regarding gossip last Friday afternoon.

Forgive me in advance for the poor quality of this video.  In fact, my precious 12 year old son, Joseph, filmed it for me. I wish I could show y'all the bloopers from the first few we filmed. You would probably spew your morning coffee all over your screen from laughter.

Unfortunately, I had to condense this message from a 6 minute message down to 3 minutes due to my son's Ipad storage space. Lucky you!! ;)


SHINE Girls from Jill Hill on Vimeo.

If you watched the video, you were able to see the effect the gossip had on those poor little dominoes. They didn't know what hit them! Boom! They all fell down as soon as the gossip was spread.

Isn't that what happens when we share gossip? It goes from our mouths and spreads a wildfire of destruction. It kills those in it's ugly path.

Gossip can destroy relationships, marriages, friendships, families...it's just plain deadly.

Again, remember our verse? Our tongues have the power of life and death. Whew. That's big stuff.

When Lem and I were first married, I would tell him all sorts of juicy things that I would hear among my friendship circles. Every single time, and I mean every single time, Lem would say: "This ends with me, Jill. Don't tell another soul."

I would get so mad because it made me feel awful for telling him. Uh, hello conviction.

He let me know from day one that his wife was not going to be a gossip girl. No sirree.

Shoot. What fun was that?

I am so thankful he was wise enough to shut my pink-lip-glossed mouth! What a fool I was and didn't even realize until he pointed it out with his strong, firm and country little accent.

Imagine the pain we could save others if we all chose today to stop gossip in it's ugly tracks. What if we chose to spread life instead of death each day.

Just like those dominoes, we all fall when we don't end it with us.


striving for a tongue that gives life,

jill



Mar 13, 2014

Guard my heart....

Today's reading: Jeremiah 3:6-4:31
Find the Reading Plan here.

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Psalm 4:23

How is the guarding of your heart going? Is the Lord showing you ways to ensure that guard stays up? I sure hope so.

  • God's word
  • Prayer
  • Abstinence from things that trip up your guard 
These are important things that ensure our hearts stay guarded and out of the mud and the muck.

I tell my children that when we read God's Holy Word every day, it is like putting a huge body filter over our clothes. God's Truth and His Word filters out the mess of the world. The dust starts to settle on us as soon as we roll out of bed.

Why do we want to be covered in that mess? We were meant to be guarded, protected, purified.

"Remove my sin and make me pure. Wash me until I am whiter than snow!" Psalm 51:7

Our Fun Friday Challenge:

Grab a note card, or small piece of paper. 

Now grab a pen, or if you are like me, you prefer a Sharpie marker. :)

Write this: "Guard your heart--Proverbs 4:23"

I want you to take this card and put it somewhere that you need to be reminded of this. Maybe it's your car, your desk, your laptop, your cellphone, your magazine stash, your bookshelf, your wallet....

Put it somewhere that you are tempted to put that guard down. I challenge you.

Maybe even make it your screensaver. Be creative. Do what works best for you.

We have to be intentional about this. It's not a one time thing. It's a daily walk of guarding our hearts. It's a way of life. 

Get ready to see some big changes in your life when you do this. You will become stronger, wiser, more discerning and aware of areas that loosen that guard.


Grabbing my Sharpie,


jill




Mar 12, 2014

Do Not Disturb.....

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 1
Find the reading plan here.


"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life"
Proverbs 4:23

As I pondered our memory verse this week, I sought the Lord. I really wanted Him to show me ways in which I can guard my heart and keep it beating for Him.

Too many times I have left it unguarded and paid the consequence. I don't want to go back to those places again, so I must be diligent in heeding God's instructions to keep this heart safe.

The resounding theme that He is teaching me about guarding my heart is this:

Stay in the Word.

Stay in the Word.

Stay in the Word.

When I fill my heart with the Truth of His Word, I begin to know Truth. I will then be able to recognize lies and keep them far from my heart's door.

Lies are easily exposed, when you know Truth. Period.

Lies get tangled up in our hearts, if we are not clear on Truth.

We must know what His Word--The Truth--says. We must be able to hold everything up to the light of His Word and call it for what it is.

God doesn't intend for us to be naive Christ followers. God wants us to be wise, discerning, strong, bold, and full of TRUTH.

Psalm 1:1-3
"Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
Whatever he does prospers."
 


I think we can tend to fill our heads and hearts with Christian books, Christian websites, even Christian teaching.

All of these things can be really, really good.....

As long as they are combined with One on one time with Him in His Word.

God wants to speak to YOU.

Let me repeat, God wants to speak to YOU.

We can often get dependent on others to hear from God. We want to hear what they have to say. We often depend on them to be our translators.

There certainly is a place for this. Of course.

However, we miss the intimate messages He has just for us, when we don't seek Him in His Word. Independently.

Think of it like this: It would be like being on a group date your entire marriage or dating courtship, and never having a one on one date.

Group dates are fun, but there's nothing like one on on with your love to get to know them deeper. To share intimate laughs, giggles, cries, hardships, joys, and secrets.

This is how our relationship with Jesus is designed to exist. One on one. Heart to heart.

I want to share with you a verse that literally knocks me to my knees, then straight to the floor on my tear-stained face:

Psalm 139:1-7 
Lord, you have tested me,
    so you know all about me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I get up.
    You know my thoughts from far away.
3 You know where I go and where I lie down.
    You know everything I do.
4 Lord, you know what I want to say,
    even before the words leave my mouth.
5 You are all around me—in front of me and behind me.
    I feel your hand on my shoulder.
6 I am amazed at what you know;
    it is too much for me to understand.
7 Your Spirit is everywhere I go.
    I cannot escape your presence


{This version is called the "Easy to Read" version, in case you were wondering. I like anything with the word "easy" in it.}

After reading this passage, do you see how intimately the Lord knows you? He knows every single detail of your life. Every last one of them.

This is how He longs for you to know Him.

Will you seek Him today? Will you put down whatever it is hindering you from spending time with the Love of Your Life and Life Hereafter?

He's worth every minute you invest in Him. I promise you that for every second spent, you will reap more treasure than your precious hearts can hold.

No time spent with Him will ever be wasted. Only given back, a hundred fold.

"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."  Psalm 37:4

Group dates are fun, but it's time for some One on one.

Put up that "Do Not Disturb" sign, and get to know your Savior. He's beckoning you.


no more group dates,


jill


Mar 10, 2014

Above all else....

Today's Reading: Matthew 17:14-27
Find the reading plan here.

We tend to guard many things in our lives. We guard things that mean something to us.

We guard our homes with security systems. We guard our cars from break-ins by locking them. We guard our skin from cancer by wearing sunscreen.

If something is important to us, we guard it.

God tells us something that we must guard above anything else in life....our hearts.

Our Memory Verse:

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life"
Proverbs 4:23

As parents, we are diligent about guarding our children from harm. We take many precautions to keep them safe from predators and unforeseen dangers.

Sometimes, however, we forget to guard the one thing, above all else, that needs guarding....our hearts.

God has made this very personal in my life. Very personal.

"Guarding my heart", is not just a lovely proverb that sounds good. Guarding my heart has to be a way of life. 

When I don't guard my heart, I fall into sin. I fall into captivity. Even if just temporary, I fall.

Yes, I still belong to Christ, because I became His when I accepted Him as my Savior. However, when I don't heed His instructions, when I step out of His umbrella of protection over me, I fall. Big time.

He has given me specific instructions in areas that my heart has to be guarded. 

For example, I have to be very careful about what I read, what I watch on T.V, and even magazines that I flip through.

Sounds a little crazy, right?

Let me explain.

We have to be careful about certain things, because we can get easily tripped up. We can get drawn away from Christ, and right smack into the very things that held us captive. 

I can read a very well-meaning blog or a parenting magazine, and immediately feel self-condemnation. I will compare myself to those parents or people, and go right back to that place of insecurity.

It's not that there is anything wrong with reading these things...at all. It's because I  know my heart, and God knows my heart the most. He knows that certain things are triggers to my areas of past captivity of insecurity and fear.

Maybe your triggers are much different. Maybe they are lust, food, greed, jealousy, spending, sexual promiscuity, discontentment, depression, lying, stealing.......

Certain activities and even certain relationships can actually lure us right back to these places that we have been set free from.

We can get drawn to the edge of the pit of sin that held us in bondage, and step right back in, if we are not careful. If we are not guarding our hearts.

If our hearts are the wellspring of life, like the Proverb says, we have a lot at stake when we decide to take the guard off of our hearts. 

God, our Father, like any good parent, wants to protect us. He wants to keep us safe from falling back into the pit of past strongholds.

So, He sets boundaries for us. He not only sets the boundary lines for us in His Word, but in our own personal lives.

"Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you" Proverbs 2:11

We know how to access His Word, but how do we know specific areas that He wants us to abstain from for our own personal protection?

I think that can be easily answered when we look back over our past areas of temptations or strongholds.

We must always remember, that those things can and will still trip us up, if we don't guard our hearts from them. 

Sometimes, I think I have grown, and gotten past certain things that can make me fall, or bring me close to the edge of that pit. I tend to think that I can now handle those things. I am stronger, I am wiser.

This is a lie.

Those things are just as harmful now as they were then to my heart. Some things don't change. 

I urge you today, to ask the Lord very specific ways that you can guard that beautiful heart of yours. Not only that, but that He will give you the strength to walk in obedience and stay far away from paths that lead you to those old bondages. Those unsafe places that the Lord desires to protect us from.


padlocking this heart,

jill


Mar 7, 2014

Are you interested?

Today's Reading: Matthew 15: 21-39
Find the reading plan here. 

This week's memory verse has rocked my world. In a good way. In a convicting way.

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:4


I have really been praying and asking the Lord to show me how to better "look to the interest of others".

It's funny how when you ask God something, especially something you KNOW He wants you to do, He opens your eyes pretty quickly. Agree?

My focus has been on my husband and looking more to his interests.

This is harder than I thought. Much, much harder.

My eyes have been opened and I am praying fervently for the Lord to make this "looking to the interest of others" a way of life.

At the beginning of this year, the Lord was leading me to step back and start listening more. Listen to what others were saying. Less talking, more listening. So, I did.

The difference this has made in my relationships is indescribable. When we listen, we learn. It's a natural way of being taught. Just listen. Listen to what people say. Really, really listen. There's much to absorb. Much to learn.

I think this goes hand in beautiful hand with "looking to the interest of others".

For example, my children  just want me to listen to them. Really listen to them. Not the nodding of my head, or the "mmhmmm, that's good darling" response as I scroll through my phone reading text messages or emails. {yes, guilty and guilty}

When I fully engage in listening to them, I then have a follow-up response that goes with whatever they are telling me. This creates engagement between us. True, in the present tense, engagement.

As I focused this week on my husband and looking to his interests, I realized a few things.

First, that I had convinced myself that doing certain things around the house would interest him. Like, vacuuming the floor, or dusting our furniture. I had convinced myself that I was doing this for HIM. That he would love this and be so proud.

Wrong.

He could really care less. How do I know? I asked him.

So, really, I was just looking to my own interests of wanting a tidy floor and dust-free furniture. Yep.

All he wants is clean underwear and ironed pants. That's it.

Both of those have been at the bottom of the totem pole.

Don't get me wrong, he has clean underwear. He just sometimes has to ask for it. This is normal, right??

However, I will now start looking to do those things first, since the desire of my heart is to look to his interests more.

I also realized that he just likes small talk after a long day at work. Anything deep or heavy, and I've lost him. So, I try to keep it simple. Less talking, more listening....to him.


I'm asking God to help me take this one day at a time.

If you see pictures of me camping and canoeing {is canoeing a word? spell check says it isn't} the Okefenokee Swamp with him....you know I have taken this too far. Way too far. 

Promise me you will rescue me and my muddy, smelly, lost- my- mind- camouflaged-self,  if you witness this ungodly behavior. Please. Thank you.

Our Fun Friday Challenge:

Look to the interests of someone today. Pray and ask the Lord to help you to do this. Trust me, it is harder than you think. It's a selfie kind of world. Looking to others interests is not natural. At all. It takes the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us to make this happen. Truly.

A verse that I  recite every single day is this: "Create in me a pure heart, Oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

The Psalmist, who happens to be my boyfriend David {giggle giggle}, is asking God to "create" a pure heart.

The definition of "create" is:

- to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes.

See what I mean? It's not natural to have a pure heart or look to the interest of others. We must ask the Lord to help us. We must turn to His Word to show us. To teach us.

Looking to the interest of others will change our lives. And the lives of others.

Thank you, Father, for teaching us your ways. We accept.


looking past my  interests,


jill


hiking with my love.
{Lord, let this be the ruggedest endeavor I have to endure to" look to his interests"}
please. 

Mar 5, 2014

Hometown Hangups....

Today's Reading: Matthew 14:13-36
Find the reading plan here.

After our reading yesterday in the book of Matthew, something wouldn't quite leave me alone. I pondered on it most of the day.

It was the very last couple of paragraphs in Matthew 13:33-58.

 "When Jesus finished telling these stories, he left there, returned to his hometown, and gave a lecture in the meetinghouse. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise, get such ability?” But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “We’ve known him since he was a kid; he’s the carpenter’s son. We know his mother, Mary. We know his brothers James and Joseph, Simon and Judas. All his sisters live here. Who does he think he is?” They got their noses all out of joint."

This particular version is the Message Version. After reading several translations, this one was the most clear and straight forward.

Could we all agree that we have run into this very same situation at some point in our lives?

Doesn't it seem that those closest to us have the hardest time seeing the change that God is doing in us? Aren't those in our very own hometowns the most skeptical about any change for the good that happens in our lives?

Why is that?

I think it's because they have seen us at our worst. They know us. Or at least they think they do.

It's a very frustrating thing to have people in your life that question the sincerity of your faith.

However, don't we do the same thing at times?

We often question those around us that seem to have a new found faith and love for the Lord. Especially if they had a less than desirable past. Or maybe we just think they are not so special because we know where they came from. We know who they are. Ouch.

However, in this passage, we are talking about JESUS. I mean, who would question the sincerity of Jesus?

His hometown peeps that's who.

In this case, their resentment towards Him was not due to Jesus' past behavior, but because of who He was and where He came from. They knew His mom, His dad, His brothers, His cousins. They knew Jesus was from the same place they were from, Nazareth.

What makes this dude so special? They asked.

Imagine if Jesus was even questioned and doubted about the sincerity of His Faith....how much more are we.

We should expect those close to us to be a little unsure of our changed lives. We should expect some close to us to even resent us because of it.

However, we must not let that hinder our Faith, or our Walk with the Lord. Or our belief in who we are.

It sure didn't hinder Jesus.

In fact, it actually hindered those that doubted. Jesus was not able to perform many miracles because of their lack of faith. {verse 58}

Although those around us may doubt us or even take offense to our Faith, we must remain constant. We must remain faithful. We must remain unchanged.

Just like Jesus did.

We will experience many of the things that Jesus did. If we are His disciples, we will be doubted. We will be resented. We will even be mocked at times.

This should only draw us closer to Jesus. He, more than anyone, knows our trials.

"I am a partaker of Christ...I share in His life." Hebrews 3:14

"I am an expression of the life of Christ because He is my life." Colossians 3:4

My prayer is that if you are experiencing any of this, in any way, you will cling to the Father.

Cling to who you really are.

"A son/daughter of God."Romans 8:14, 15

"I am chosen and dearly loved by God" 1 Thessalonians 1:4

"I am a joint heir with Christ sharing His inheritance with Him." Romans 8:17

Let me just say for the record...

It doesn't matter who your parents are, who your parents aren't, where you live, where you don't live, who you know, who you don't know, where you've been, where you haven't been....

You're identity is in Christ. Period.

It doesn't matter what those in your hometown, family, work place, wherever...think of you.

When you need a reminder...let Him remind you in His wonderful Word:

"I am holy and without blame before Him in love" Ephesians 1:4 & 1 Peter 1:16

"I have the Greater One living in me; greater is He Who is in me than he who is in the world" 1 John 4:4

"I have put off the old man and have put on the new man, which is renewed in the knowledge after the image of Him Who created me" Colossians 3:9-10

"I show forth the praises of God Who has called me out of darkness into His marvelous light" 1 Peter 2:9

"I am an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony" Revelations 12:11

"I am forgiven of all my sins and washed in the Blood" Ephesians 1:7

Bottom line: Don't get hung up on what others are thinking {or not thinking} about you. It's false. It can also become an idol if we dwell on it often.

God's Word tells us who we are. We don't need affirmation from the world {or our hometown} to convince us.


believing Him,


jill


Mar 3, 2014

Who needs cozy.....

Today's Reading: Matthew 13:24-52
Find our reading plan here. 

When the Lord wants you to remember something, He shows it to you over and over.

Don't ever think anything in life is a "coincidence". It's a "God-incidence". Every single time.

This is what has been happening to me over the last week and a half. The verse that will be our Memory Verse for this week, has been everywhere I turn.

Last week in my Wednesday morning small group, we discussed this passage.

I have also used this verse countless times lately to try to teach my children. Really, I need the reminder probably much more than they do.

Our Monday Memory Verse:

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:4

BAM. There it is.

It's pretty self-explanatory, right?

When I turned 30 years old, the Lord opened my eyes to this kind of living.

If I am being honest, It's taken me a while to put it into practice.

Some days, I don't practice it at all. Again, just being real.

For the first 30 years of my life, I was pretty content. I was a Christian, and had been since a very young age.

Most of my family were also Christians.

Spiritually speaking, life was good.

But, then something happened.

God started talking to me about getting out of my "circle".

Basically, I could continue to live within  my four walls, happy and content that I was going to heaven and most of my family would be with me.

OR, and here's the big OR....

I could get out of my four walls, and" look to the interest of others", and their spiritual well-being.

My comfort zone was pretty comfy. I had a cozy church, cozy church friends, cozy family life...life was cozy.

Jesus Christ was asking me to go beyond cozy.

Way beyond.

The first step He asked me to take with Him, affronted my biggest fear....rejection. He was ready to knock down that rejection wall, by killing two birds with one stone. Dealing with the fear of rejection, and stepping out of my comfort zone. Whoa.

Huge, people, huge.

Eyes closed, and His hand in mine, I took that first step.

Whew.

Without that first step, I would still be within my four walls....looking to my own interests, but not to the interest of others. Gulp.

Yes, I would still have gone to heaven.

But, I would not have near the excitement, awe, and wonder, of a life outside of my four walls.

I would not have near the stories to write about on this site. I would not have been changed by the people that I have met outside of these four walls. The people that have broken me to pieces due to their stories and their testimonies.

Yesterday, I had the incredible honor of visiting my friends church in our small town of Madison, Georgia.

The church was African American, and we were the only white people there. Which of course, bothered no one.

I could hardly stop the tears, or lump in my throat, as we sang together in unison.

The Lord gave me the sweetest vision of Heaven in those two hours.

This church was nothing like mine. Oh, but it was everything like God's church. His Church of One.

I was once again reminded of how beautiful the Body of Christ is. A coat of many stunning colors.

A stained glass window of diversity and differences....yet brought together to create one heavenly masterpiece. His Body. His Church. His Sons and Daughters.

I was reminded, again, in the pastors message. as s he read from Philippians 2:4....

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

Reminded again.... this life is not about me. It never ever was.

I drove to the grocery store late that afternoon, crying my eyes out as I drove. {big surprise, right?}

Jesus was once again showing me that the cozy life was not what it was cracked up to be.

When we step out of our comfort zone, go beyond ourselves, and follow Jesus Christ.......

We will never be the same.

Ever.

My eyes were opened at the age of 30. However, there have been times along the way  that I wanted to close them back shut. It's painful, it's hard at times....it can be uncomfortable.

Oh, but then I remember my Jesus on that cross. He took my sins. He took my pain. He took it all, so that I could live. Truly live.

He "looked to the interest of others" by dying for them.

Without His sacrifice, I would not be here.

I'm forever indebted to His interest in me.

How about you?

Is it time for you to take the first step out of your comfort zone?

Maybe your testimony needs to be heard. Maybe your heart needs to be healed by reaching out to those outside of your four walls. Maybe life has gotten stagnant and stale, and you just haven't been able to put your finger on why.

Can I tell you something? Today is the day. Jesus is standing there, hands outstretched...beckoning you to walk with Him outside of your circle and into His World. A world that needs you. A world that needs your interest. A world that will break your heart into a million pieces, and then some.

When our hearts are broken for others, our hearts become whole in Jesus.

 "So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach them to obey everything that I have told you to do. You can be sure that I will be with you always. I will continue with you until the end of time.” Matthew 28:19-20


Cozy is overrated,


jill