Dec 30, 2015

Are you ready for this?

SHINE Reading Plan [begins January 1st]:Go Here.
Receive SHINE by email: Go Here.

Anyone else need a fresh start this year? Yeah, me too.

I don't just want to be more conscious of my eating, I want to be more intentional about my spiritual food. The Bread of God's Word. It will fill us up to overflowing with the nutrients we need desperately to survive. But, only if we eat it.

Of course, as with the ending of an old year and the beginning of a new year, I have some goals I want to work on.

This year I want to love audaciously.

Not just love, but love audaciously.

This word has been in my vocabulary for the last several months. I even shared it with several close friends.

Then, for Christmas, my friend Erin gives me Beth Moore's newest book...guess what it is called?

Audacious.

Yep, no kidding.

Think God is trying to tell me something?

This year I want to love better. Love like Christ. Love bigger. Love more.

Love audaciously. 

However, if I am to love others audaciously, I must love Jesus this way first. It is not possible for my flesh to love others well unless I am filled with the Love of Christ. Trust me, it just won't work.

Our love tank will always be low and sitting on empty if we are not filled up with the Love of Christ. Y'all know what I am talking about, don't you? It's that running on fumes kind of love. The kind that is short on patience, and long on irritability. Yep, that's the one.

Oh, but if we want to shine the Light of Christ into the darkness of this world, we MUST...we MUST...

Love others audaciously. 

How else will others tell us apart from the world?

How else will others see, really see, Jesus Christ?

We cannot love the world running on fumes. We just cannot.

If we are too dang tired to even love our very own people well, we definitely won't be loving the world well.

We get tired when we don't get spiritual nourishment.

We get tired when we listen to the demands of the world instead of the Gentle Voice of our Father.

We get tired when we follow the way of our flesh instead of the way of Christ.

Weariness leads to worldliness.

We must refuel.

We must.

Daily.

As much as we possibly can.

This world is getting darker by the minute. We cannot waste another precious day running on fumes and sitting on empty.

Someone in your path needs to be shown some audacious love.

Loving audaciously means loving the fire out of people that don' t even like you. Or, don't even notice you.

Whew. Did I strike a nerve? I think I may have struck my own funny bone. Ouch.

Loving audaciously means loving those that do not deserve an ounce of our love. Isn't that how Christ loves us?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Friend, we can know every scripture in the Word of God, quote every Billy Graham sermon, listen to Jesus music in our cars all the live long day. However, without LOVE, audacious LOVE, we won't make one inch of a mark on this world. Not a single solitary inch.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1

We can read all the Christian books at Lifeway, go to church every single Sunday and serve on all the committees. But, if we are not loving people, we have gone desperately wrong. We may as well hang up our church clothes and stay at home.

Jesus was asked a question by a Pharisee one day as he was being grilled by the religious leaders. This particular Pharisee was an expert of the law. He wanted to trip Jesus up. He wanted Jesus to hang himself on his words. So, the Pharisee asked Jesus this, "Teacher, what is the greatest commandment of the Law?" Matthew 22:34-36

I can almost see the smirk on the Pharisee's face. Surely, he believed that whatever Jesus said would send the crowd into an uproar. He knew these people magnified certain laws above others, so whatever answer Jesus gave would mar the wisdom and validity of Jesus.

Hear the Words from a Man that could only be the Son of God...." Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:37-40

Let me sum this up for us:

Love God audaciously.

Love others audaciously. 

The end.

In order to love God audaciously, we must know Him.

How can we get to know Him?

In His Word.

We are beginning a new reading plan starting January 1st .

It is a two year bible reading plan, which you can print out, download, bookmark on your phone...whatever is easiest for you.

Be intentional, friend.

Make a plan to love.

Love Him audaciously.

Love others audaciously.

Let's set this world on FIRE with LOVE.

Audacious love.



lighting the match,


jill


Dec 29, 2015

When darkness swallows you whole....

SHINE Reading Plan [begins January 1st]: Go here
Receive SHINE by email: Go here

Over the past 4 years, I have been very transparent with you about my struggle with fear. I believe it has been my biggest stronghold, yet it has also been my biggest victory. Fear has no place in my life anymore because faith could not live where fear was dwelling.

However, from time to time, a sprout of that fear comes back begging to haunt me and taunt me. Now, I have my ammunition ready to obliterate it. The Word of God.

Here is what I have learned with the enemy: if he can't take you down with one thing, he will sure as heck try to knock you down with something else.

So, I write this post to encourage any one of you that may struggle with this very thing that I am about to talk about. It's something that we often bury deep down within us because it is too messy and too ugly to even talk about. It can also be one of those things that we decide we just have to live with because we don't know how to make it go away.

Depression.

There, I said it. It is out there. For all the world to see.

I hate even typing that word. It is ugly and dark.

Yet, it is so powerful and has the force to take out any one of us at any time if we aren't armed for the fight.

The enemy loves depression because it actually depresses us. Meaning, it takes all the wind of the Holy Spirit out of our sails and sinks our little joyful ship.

It has the power to suck the living daylight out of our souls. Depression can leave an indelible mark on our hearts and our minds. Yet, we are the only ones that really know the depth of the scar because it is not visible.

Depression can come at any time. Nothing has to happen, nothing has to trigger it. It can just come out of nowhere and knock you straight down to the ground with one fail swoop.

If you are in a place where you are struggling to find joy. If you are in a place where you don't even know the words to convey to someone else to try and seek help and healing...

I have good news for you.

There is a way out.

For many years I thought these "thoughts" in my head were just normal:

"You are not good enough and never will be."

"You fail at being a wife miserably."

"You are not a good mother to your children."

"You are a terrible friend."

"You have no talents."

"You have no use here."

"Just shut your mouth because no one wants to hear you."


When the thoughts would come I would shake them off and just try to forget about them. OR, I would believe these thoughts and it would effect every aspect of my behavior.

 Finally, I became worn out trying to convince the enemy in my head that these things were not true. So, I ended up surrendering in defeat. Waving my white flag to the enemy and saying, "These things must be true. You win. I lose. You are right."

The deep dark blanket of depression then covered my entire soul. It was suffocating.  And fierce. And lonely.

I felt hopeless and useless.

Then one day....

I had a daughter.

One afternoon she expressed similar words to me that I had heard in my own head throughout my lifetime. She expressed to me some of those exact words that I had heard the enemy whisper in my ears.

I knew the pattern. I knew how the cycle would go. I had lived it my whole life. It starts as a whisper. Then the enemy has a full blown bullhorn in your ear screaming lies about who you are.

The enemy was now taunting my baby girl with those same words. Only whispers of doubt for now, but I knew the bullhorn would surely come.

Oh NO.

This was about to go DOWN.

Grabbing my bible off the nightstand, I conjured up every scripture that I could find to speak over her. I would read them night after night over her precious body as she lie asleep in her bed.

I was so mad at the enemy. So mad.

It was one thing to attack me, but a whole different thing to come after my baby girl.

Suddenly, my eyes were opened.

I could see the lies so clearly now.

I could see the enemy's tactics in the bright shining light of the Word of God being poured out over my little girl.

She is made in the image of God. [Genesis 1:27]

She is fearfully and wonderfully made. [Psalm 139:14]

She has the mind of Christ. [1 Corinthians 2:16]

She was knitted together in the womb by God. [Psalm 139:13]

Her tears are collected in a bottle by God. [Psalm 56:8]

Her name is engraved on the palm of God's hands. [Isaiah 149:16]

The hairs of her head are all numbered by the Lord. [Luke 12:7]


My eyes were opened to the fact that this was true for me too.

These words were not just for my precious daughter....these words were also for me.

Those dark days of depression could not stand a chance against the truth of His Love and Promises.

I just had to know them. I just had to believe them.

The blanket slowly lifted.

Freedom had finally come.

I never would have seen it if I had not seen it first hand with my daughter. The fight for her is what saved me from the dark.

Sometimes He uses those in our very midst to bring the healing.

He knew my love for her and fight for her would bring me to Truth.

Oh, and it did.

There are still days. Dark days where the blanket wants to smother me.

However, I go straight to my journal and write every truth He speaks over me in His Word.

I am not capable of winning the war without Him.

But...

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" Philippians 4:13

"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:2

If you are in a dark place today, I am praying over you. Covering you with the blanket of His Truth and burning the blanket of the enemy's lies. 

You are oh so loved by the Father. He sees you in this place. He has healing words for you. Will you seek Him today? Will you fight for your life with the One who will never leave you or forsake you?

Jesus tells you this..."The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy. I have come so that you will have LIFE and life to the FULLEST." John 10:10


finding Joy,


jill









Dec 20, 2015

Dear SHINE friend....

I wish I could send you a Christmas card in the mail. The good old-fashioned snail mail way. Don't you just love opening your mailbox in December and getting a Christmas card? It is the best!!

I love reading each one. I spend a long time just looking at all the details, down to the handwriting on the envelope. I even notice the stamp. Every detail, I am telling you! This girl appreciates the effort that goes into a Christmas card. It's a labor of love. Isn't it?

Since I don't have your address, I wanted to send you a little Merry Christmas via blogger-style. Not the most personal, but I sincerely want it to be personal.

I am so grateful, beyond mere words, for your love and encouragement. These past almost 4 years have been absolutely life changing for me. If you had not been reading, I would have long turned off my computer. It is because of your kindness and support that have kept the flame alive in my heart to write. Each and every single time I sit down to spill out my heart through words on my computer screen, I picture your faces. I take this very seriously. I respect your time greatly. I don't ever want to waste your time. You mean the absolute world to me, and I can never ever thank you enough for reading these words from my heart. I pray for you often.

My prayer for you this Christmas is that your heart finds Peace in the midst of a whirlwind of activities. I pray the miracle of a baby being born of a virgin pierces your heart as if it were the first time you heard the Good News. I pray that the magnitude of His Presence makes you swoon as you ponder His Greatness. I pray that Jesus whispers His Everlasting Love into your precious ears as you wake up each morning and lay your head down each night.

My prayer is that no matter what state or circumstance you find yourself in this Christmas, that Joy, unspeakable Joy, will wrap itself around every particle of your being. Oh, how I pray for Joy for you!

May God bless you and keep you and shine His glorious face upon you.

Merry Christmas, dear friend. You are loved, oh so loved.

your SHINE friend forever,

jill







Dec 18, 2015

When hope is lost....

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12

I really do not have time to sit down and write. We are leaving to go out of town today and I have a million and one things to do. Maybe a million and two.

However, sometimes the Lord just draws you like a magnet to where you need to be at the moment. Sometimes He will just take you by the collar and gently place you where your little feet need to be. This is currently happening.

Surrounded by hot tea, a cider smelling candle, and a lamp to my left, I come to you with some words that will hopefully encourage you. These words do not come from me, they come from the Creator of Words, the Creator of all things that we see, feel, and do.

His Words are the only words that bring healing, life, and hope. My words fall flat, but His words spur, stir and awaken a weary soul.

Yesterday, I fell to my knees and begged God to revive me with Hope. Not the worldly kind of hope, but the Hope of Christ. The Hope that no matter the circumstance, I will feel His Presence, His Hope, His gentle touch picking me up and carrying me when my knees want to buckle.

Sometimes we can get in a place, a dark place. A place that light is nowhere to be found. So, we make ourselves a little cozy spot in the darkness and hope the lights will come on.

God's word says, "Draw near to me, and I will draw near to you." James 4:8

I have been clinging to this verse for the past couple of weeks. Just like my eyes crave open blinds, bright lamps, and lit candles, my soul craves the light of His Presence. I don't like the darkness, because my soul was not created to dwell there.

However, in those dark places, sometimes I can see Him the most if I open my eyes to see.  The contrast of His light against a black and dark place, overwhelm my eyes at times. His Presence is so stark, so magnificent and so alluring against  a sheet of pitch dark.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. James 1:5

Tears burn my eyes as I read this verse. Rolling down my cheeks, lump in my throat kind of tears.

Circumstances may change, people may change, but God never changes. When darkness seems to overwhelm or lives, our God is still there. He never left. He never will.

"I, the Lord, never change." Malachi 3:6

"I will never leave you or forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

It's up to us to choose to see Him. To choose to open our eyes and feel the warmth of His Presence and the glorious Light of His Face. He is there. Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Sometimes it takes me a few days, even a few weeks, sometimes a few months to open my eyes to Him. I can get lost in the darkness and so easily forget the Light is right beside me.

This week I prayed that God would reveal Himself to me in such a way that I would know without a shadow of a doubt that He hears me. That He sees me. That He hasn't forgotten me.

"Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath." Psalm 116:2

Just like the Perfect Father that He is, He listened to me. He answered my plea.

We may not understand what He is doing when things happen, but we can always ask Him to show Himself in the situation. I believe with all of my heart, this is one prayer that He will always answer. He longs for us to see Him. We just have to look for Him.

Just knowing He is there brings peace and calm to our souls. The turmoil seems to lessen because we know He is working it all out. He hasn't forgotten us. He is not capable of forgetting us.

Have you lost your Hope today? Are you just going through the motions to get by? Are you waiting for someone to turn on the lights as you sit alone in the darkness with your thoughts?

Fall to your knees today. Spill it all out to your Father. Tell it all to Him.

Tell Him you want the Hope of Him and nothing else. Ask Him to overwhelm your heart with so much hope that it spills out like water to all who are in your path.

As He fills you back up, refreshes you and revives you, get ready to help someone else to find their Hope. Hope spreads like wildfire. But, we have to be willing to light the first match.

Light the match. Draw near to God. Talk to God. Listen to God.

He is listening to you.

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16


Hope in restoration,


jill












Nov 19, 2015

I will not be afraid....

The news is filled with horrible things right now. Everywhere I turn, I hear of something absolutely terrifying happening overseas, and locally.

I find myself getting anxious. Being scared when home alone. Being scared anywhere actually. Always looking over my shoulder. Constantly looking for possible danger.

My mind can get away from me in these moments, fear can overwhelm me and steal my peace faster than I can blink.

The safety of my children causes me the most panic and fear. I can obsess about their safety until it overtakes every rational thought in my head.

My daughter has night terrors. She wakes up and runs into our room fearing someone coming in and
"getting her". This happens very often. We pray over her, play scripture in her room on a CD, and tell her that God is with her always. She still struggles to believe.

I get it. I struggle too sometimes.

My faith can be shaken when fear strikes. Faith is the exact opposite of fear. Yet, I still succumb some days.

However, I will not live there. I will not let fear change my life, what I do, and where I go. This is exactly what the enemy would like to see happen. The enemy uses fear to stop believers in their tracks. To keep them from stepping out in faith and living an abundant life of joy.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10

Yes, bad things do happen.

But, this is not the end.

God has the final say and it will be a Glorious Day.

For the Scriptures say, "'As surely as I live,' says the LORD, every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.' Romans 14:11

Dark days may come, but Jesus will have the final say. You can count on it, sweet friend.

This great dragon--the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world--was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. Revelation 12:9

This strengthens me, and gives me so much HOPE in these perilous days.

When we are in a state of fear, we must overcome fear with Truth. God's Truth. We must stand on His Word and fight fear with the sword of His Word.

How do we do this in our day to day lives?

  • Memorize scripture--Psalm 23, Psalm 91, Psalm 1, Philippians 4:6-8 -just a few of my favorites.
 
"So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Deuteronomy 11:18

  • Buy the bible on CD and play it in your house 24/7. God's word will be in your home at all times.  His Word will resonate deep in your heart and all who live under your roof. A great thing to put on your Christmas list! You can find some here.

"Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17

  • Be careful what you see and read. It is not na├»ve to not have to be in the know on all things. If you struggle with fear, you must be cautious about information overload. You may do better by reading the paper than by watching the news or clicking on links online. These can lead you to see things that your mind will have a hard time trying to erase. Trust me on this one. Be careful.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

  •  Pray. All day long.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6


  • Speak Faith. When I stopped voicing my fear, my faith grew stronger. Our words are oh so powerful. Make them work for you and not against you. The enemy cannot get into our minds. So, he can only go by what we "say" and how we act. Act and speak faith. This is so important. It will change your life.

He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.
Proverbs 21:23

As Christians, we have a responsibility. To spread Hope. To spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. This world needs to know the Hope we have. Let them see it by the lives we live.  The Peace we have despite circumstances through perilous times.

People will believe what they see us do quicker than what we preach to them. So let's show them Hope, Peace, and Love. This is what will demolish fear and evil.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12


fear not,

jill


 
 
 
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
  he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.
Psalm 23
 
 




Nov 18, 2015

Divide and be conquered....

This post was written on my family blog months ago. Reading it now, it seems all over the place. However, I felt a strong current to share it here with you because I feel a great urgency in my spirit to pray for our families. If you are reading this today, I am praying over you fervently. Your marriage, your children, your precious families. What an honor to do battle on my knees on your behalf. Much love. 

“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand." Matthew 12:25

The best way to describe it is a restlessness within my spirit. A severe awareness of some enormous spiritual warfare taking place in our homes. Right under our own roofs.

We MUST do something.

Do you know that the enemy's plan is to divide and conquer? Do you know that the best way that the enemy can spread evil and his plan is by first getting a foothold into our families? Once he divides us, he is more easily able to conquer us.

Think about something for a minute...

Are there family members in your life that you do not speak to? Is there division of any kind in your family? Do you see the enemy's tactic here? Divide and destroy.

Jesus tells us this: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

We must not be deceived any longer! We must open our eyes to the enemy's tactics and LIES. He is a thief. He is a liar. He is a destroyer.

There's a war raging around us. A battle for our hearts! A battle for our loyalties! A battle of our marriages! A battle for our children! A battle for our families! We think the battle is overseas, so we worry, we pray, we fear the enemy coming here.

The evil is here. Fighting to get into our homes. Dividing us even on spiritual issues. Dividing us on every level. How can we show love to a dying world when we cannot show love to those living under our own roofs? How can we show love to a dying world when we hate our neighbors?

The greatest tool we have to fight evil is to LOVE like Christ. It starts here. In our houses. In our neighborhoods. In our churches. If we are not loving those around us, how can we ever love the world?

I think we get it backwards sometimes. We want world peace, yet we live at war with our spouses, our children, our family members, our neighbors. This is contrary to God's will for us.

There is a lack of love going on. We are becoming immune to our fellow brothers and sisters. We want to be right. At the expense of showing the love of Christ. If we are not careful we become Pharisees. Knowing the law, quoting the law, but forgetting the greatest command of all....to Love.

Are we heeding this call?

Or are we letting our flesh and pride win these battles. All the while the enemy takes on another win--another family.

Another way the enemy wins is by distracting us. Distracting us from our marriages, our children, our homes. We are lured away, just like our sister Eve. The enemy uses different tactics to lure. He watches us to see what will draw our hearts away from home. Be sure that he knows you. He watches you, and he is always waiting for an opportunity to lure you away from your home.

We must know what our children are up to. What are they doing in their rooms? Who are their friends? Who are they talking to and texting with day after day? The enemy is subtle. He will come in ways that we never expect. We must be watchful.

If the enemy cannot get a foothold into our marriages, he will go straight for our children.

We must stand strong. Be present. Be diligent and wide-eyed about the battle for our family.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

If you don't think the enemy is after your family, think again. He is out to destroy you.

What do we do?

Jesus tells us this: "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Luke 10:19

Pray like Jesus.

Love like Jesus.

Speak Truth like Jesus.


Love is only powerful and effective when combined with Truth. Jesus was the perfect combination of love and truth. The Pharisees before him were bent on law, not love. Jesus came to fulfill the law with LOVE and TRUTH.

We are not loving like Jesus if we are not speaking truth to those around us. Not the world's kind of truth either. Not truth's based on our opinions or on pop culture.

God warns us in Revelation 3:16: So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Aren't we being luke warm when we insist on love without truth? Aren't we avoiding the truth to make a more comfortable path for us and them?

God's Word is the only truth. Our opinions mean nothing. It's His Word that stands True. The only rock that holds. We must stop [myself included in a HUGE way], reading people's opinions and thought online. These words have the power to infuriate us or appease us. We must read what God says. What does God say about this? We are seriously misled when we jump on a bandwagon of hatred. This is not right, y'all. This grieves the Holy Spirit.

 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39

Pretty simple here:  Love God. Love your neighbor.

We cannot sit idly by and water down His Word thinking we are showing love. This is not Christ-like Love.

Are we loving each other enough speak truth? Or are we walking on egg shells around hard issues because we don't want to come across as judgemental.

We are not the judge. God is the only Judge.

God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor? James 4:12

Our job is to love like Jesus. Speak Truth like Jesus.

People want to hear truth. Our spirits were designed for God's Truth to resonate.

Be clear that the enemy has all of our families on his target. He is out to divide and conquer. With lies. Big, seething lies.

The good news is that "He who lives within us is greater than he that is within the world!"1 John 4:4

Love until it hurts. Speak the truth of His Word even when it's uncomfortable. They are not our words anyway, they are His. His Words will never return void.

The battle belongs to the Lord.

We can rest in that.

Nov 10, 2015

I have a problem.....

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Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.
Proverbs 21:23

Not too long ago, [I refuse to say just how recently it was] I had a little tongue problem. As in, I let it get away from me in a big way.

The victim was my husband. God bless him. Really, God bless him. Will y'all pray for him? Thank you.

He has his own issues, but his mouth is not usually one of them. Shoot. Just me.

After my little tirade, mouth spew, whatever you want to call it.... instead of feeling better due to venting my feelings, I felt like a big ol' pile of YUCK.

Around 2:00 am the next morning, I woke up feeling that terrible ping of conviction. I looked over at Lem, and he was peacefully sleeping. Of course he was. He wasn't the one with the tongue problem. No conviction piercing his little beating heart, only mine. Lucky me.

I tried to go back to sleep and I just couldn't. Conviction is REAL, y'all. Whew.

[Conviction is different than condemnation. Conviction is from The Holy Spirit. Condemnation is from Satan, the accuser.  Condemnation tells you that you are a failure and a loser. It is meant to tear you down, and offer you no solution to the sin problem. However, conviction is godly sorrow that will lead to repentance. Please be aware of the differences.  "There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus Romans 8:1]

So, since I could not sleep a wink due to heaping conviction, I got up, turned on a lamp in the living room and grabbed my Bible. It felt so wrong touching my Bible with my sinful little self.

I turned to every scripture in the whole Bible that had to do with the tongue. There's a lot just in case you were wondering. A whole lot.

Sitting there by myself in the wee hours of the early morning, I cried to the Lord. I begged Him to help me to have more control over my emotions--especially my mouth.

The Lord led me in that moment to write down the scriptures that I was looking up. Not just write them down but to spend the next day saying them over and over and over.

I did.

It's amazing how quickly a heart can change when it focuses on Truth and God's Transforming Word.

By filling my heart and mind with scripture, I was emptying out the ugly going on in my heart, and mind---and mouth.

Those two things cannot exist at the same time. I have to choose one or the other.

Maybe you don't struggle with your mouth, but maybe you have another struggle.

Are you lacking peace?

Are you lacking joy?

Are you lacking love?

Are you lacking forgiveness?

Are you lacking self-control in some areas?

I beg you, on my knees, heart-felt-beg you to go to God's Word today. Find every scripture you can find on whatever your struggle may be.

Write them down on pretty pink notecards--or green, or blue, or whatever you fancy-- and read them daily.

Healing awaits.

He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Revelation 2:16

My tongue has to be tamed every day. It's not a one time fix. It is a daily, hourly, minute-by- minute dependence on God to be able to put a clamp on this mouth of mine.

The good news is that the more we depend on Him, the stronger we become. His Power is made Perfect in our weakness.

"but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14



buying stock in pink notecards,


jill


Nov 6, 2015

Who do you follow?

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"Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me."
Luke 9:23


Jesus spoke these words to a crowd of people as He prepared them for his upcoming death. He told them that He would "suffer many terrible things", and be "rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law". [Luke 9:22]

As we know, all of these things did happen. He was persecuted, rejected, mocked, beaten, spat upon, and then hung on a cross until He took His last breath. 

We also know the good news. He arose from death 3 days later perfectly intact. Just as He said He would. 

I have been pondering what it means to follow Jesus, to really follow Him. 

In His own words He says it looks like this:

-Turn from your selfish ways
-Take up your cross daily
-Follow Me

We must be careful not to water down these words, or only apply the things He says that are "comfortable" for us. Also be careful of anyone teaching anything contrary to the words of Jesus. Study His Word. Get in there on your own and check out His Truth. Don't just take what you hear to heart, hold it up to the Word of God. He will shed light on the Truth. 

Let's break this teaching down of following Christ...

Turn from your selfish ways: 

Who am I seeking to please each day? Am I striving to make my name great, or God's? Am I willing to deny my time, my comfort, my pleasures, my money, my reputation...in order to follow Christ?

Am I concerned over what people are thinking about me to the point these people become idols?

Am I seeking the approval of man over God?

 Am I seeking the interest of others over my own? [Philippians 2:4]

Is my time so important to me that I am not willing to pause, and help someone else in need?

Is there someone in my own family, or circle of friends that I need to reach out to even though it may take a lot of my resources and energy?

Are we so in love with our church and our "religion" that we close the doors on those that are on the outside? Does our attitude reflect a heart of love, or a heart of judgement and condemnation? 

Selfishness preserves our heart. It encases it with cold legalism and religion instead of breaking it wide open to ooze out love to others in need of a touch of His Grace and Compassion. Our hearts were not made to be preserved and frozen, but to be cut-wide open, bleeding for others to know Him. 

Lord, help me to turn from my selfish ways. Help me to deny myself when I want to surrender to the demands of my flesh. Break my heart wide open and free it from self-preservation and selfishness.  

Take up your cross daily:

Am I willing to totally die to myself? Am I willing to be totally surrendered to Christ that I will follow Him at all costs? Including losing some friends along the way? Am I willing to carry the cross even when being a Christian gets hard and uncomfortable? Even when others mock me or roll their eyes at me? And to love them anyway?

Taking up our cross daily is not a burden we pride ourselves of carrying as some like to believe. It is not meant to be viewed as a martyredom on our part before God. No. That kind of thinking takes the focus off of Christ and puts it on us. This is not what "taking up our cross" looks like. 

Taking up our cross is totally surrender to Him. To His Word. To His Ways. To His Love. To His Mercy. To His Compassion. To His Humility. 

Lord, help me to take up my cross daily. No matter the persecution that comes my way. 

Follow Me:

Perhaps this one has pierced my heart in the biggest ways. It is the one I probably struggle with the most. 

As humans, we have a tendency to want to be followers. We are like sheep constantly in search of a shepherd to lead us. 

Since the beginning of time, this has been a problem with us. 

We are so quick to make an idol out of people, things--anything. 

In this day and age, I find it no coincidence that we have "followers" on social media. Not only that, but we have many that we "follow". 

Friends, we must be careful who we follow. Let me say that one more time--we must be careful who we follow. 

Several years ago, I was following someone on Instagram. She is an amazing woman of God--known by many. However, I found myself wanting to be just like her. I was envious of how witty she was, how her family seemed so perfect as she home-schooled her slew of children. I found my joy being suffocated because her life looked so much prettier than mine. 

People hung on her every word. I was one of those people. 

I found myself wanting to be like her. Although, my life was so much different than hers. 

She did not do anything wrong, it was my heart that was in the wrong. She had become an idol to me.

The Lord showed me during that time, that I was putting women of God like her in a place above Him. I got so caught up in the glamour and the praise of her life, that it made me feel inadequate in my own. 

Again, God is using her to minister to many. She was not the problem, my heart was. When we put our faith in people, instead of God, we start to crumble. We lose our Joy. We lose our sense of value in Christ. We lose all the way around.  Our gifts become stifled and suffocated. 

Comparison is the thief of Joy. 

We become enamored with their lives, their stories, their wittiness, their families, and we forget the One we are truly to follow--Christ.

Who are we following, friends? 

Who has the most influence in our lives?

Lord, let it be You. Help us to follow You completely and remove any idols that have come before You. If we are following anyone other than You, please reveal this to our hearts. Shine a light on places where we have made idols. We repent, and we desire to follow You-above all others. 



Lord help me to follow You,


jill





Nov 5, 2015

Give us this day....

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"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation
    but deliver us from the evil one."

Matthew 6:9-13
 
 
 
A few weeks ago, my family attended a funeral. It was in honor of a precious lady that lived a very full and rich life. She left behind many children and grandchildren which are following in her faithful footsteps.
 
I love funerals. I know that is so weird, but I do. Yes, they always make me cry. Like, snotty-cry, but it's like a cleansing of the dirt that's been collecting on my spirit. The tears clean away the "take for granted" parts of my soul. My soul is awakened.
 
There is something about getting to be a part of a ceremony honoring the life of another human being. I leave feeling so alive. So ready to live with PURPOSE. With LOVE. With INTENTIONALITY. With JOY.
 
Each time I leave a funeral, something is marked in my soul. A reminder of the sanctity of life. A reminder to live, really LIVE my life to the fullest.
 
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10
 
Anything less than an abundant life, is not the life God has planned for us.
 
A bold statement, yes. But, Jesus is known for His boldness. Man, I love Him.
 
An abundant life is a life that bears fruit. A life that breathes joy, love, hope, mercy, and grace to all those who enter into Christ's shadow. Not because of us, but because of Him.
 
"For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.." 2 Corinthians 2:15
 
I love the thought of being a fragrance of Christ. Everywhere we go--leaving the aroma of Christ to all who come near. A sweet lingering aroma for all who pass by.

If you know me, you know I LOVE perfume. Of any kind.  Cheap, expensive, I don't care. I keep two bottles of scented lotion in my car at all times. [My daughter has inherited this gene]. So, between the two of us we smell like a spilled bottle of perfume. Beware.
 
Oh gosh, here I go getting off subject. I kind of write like I talk. It's hard for me to stay on track.
 
Ok, so back to the funeral.
 
During this funeral, at one point the preacher asked us to all pray the Lord's prayer together. [the one written at the top of this post.]  Most of us knew it by heart. However, I noticed my children only knew parts of it.
 
I made a mental note to teach them the whole blessed thing. Hello, how could I have gone so wrong?? Good grief.
 
If you are not aware of the story behind this prayer from the book of Matthew, this was Jesus teaching His disciples how to pray. In fact, my NLT version of the Bible quotes Jesus as saying this before He teaches the prayer..."Pray like this..." Matthew 6:9
 
I like clear instructions. Just tell me what to do and I can do it. This is exactly what Jesus does here. He tells us a prayer to pray.
 
Simple, yet oh so powerful.
 
I want to focus on a part of the prayer that has gotten my attention in the past few days. It's quietly tucked into the Lord's prayer, but the impact of these words is life changing.
 
Give us this day our daily bread.
 
Notice the word "this".
 
Jesus is not asking to give us tomorrow, the next day, the next year, the next 20 years, or the day before, or the year before, or the last 20 years...
 
He is asking God to give us THIS day.
 
The day that we are in. This day. The present.
 
Let that sink in for a milli-second.
 
I will wait for you...
 
Now, because I am a big fat history nerd, I want to take you back to the Israelites in the book of Exodus.
 
As the Israelites were traveling through the wilderness they got hungry and asked God to give them food. God told Moses He would send them bread from Heaven to eat.
 
The next day, the Lord provided manna for them to eat. The Hebrew word for manna actually translates to "what is it". I find that pretty funny.
 
God provided just enough manna for the people to sustain them each day.
 
However, if they tried to hoard the manna or tried to save it for the next day, the manna would breed worms. It would not be edible.
 
When Jesus teaches us to pray, He prays for God to give us this day, our daily bread.
 
Jesus is not asking for God to jump ahead and give us tomorrow's bread.He focuses on the needs of today. This day, God gives us bread for our present trials and needs. He answers the needs for this day. As E.M. Bounds states in his book on Prayer, "Victory today is the assurance of victory tomorrow."
 
I find myself often focusing on the big picture instead of "this" day. I can get overwhelmed when I think of all that I want to teach my kids, all the manners they need to have, all the stuff I need to do for the week, all the bills that need to be paid, all the posts I want to write, all the people I want to pray for,  all the things I need to do to be a better wife, all the blah, blah, blah...
 
This creates a loss of joy. Remember that thief we mentioned above in John 10:10?
 
Yep, that thief comes when we try to hoard the bread of today to carry over to tomorrow.
 
E.M. Bounds says it like this, "As every day demands its bread, so every day demands it prayer. No amount of praying done today will be sufficient for tomorrow' praying. On the other hand, no praying for tomorrow is of any great value of us today. Today's manna is what we need; tomorrow God will see that our needs are supplied."
 
Can we all just breathe a big fact collective sigh of relief?? We just need bread for THIS day! Jesus would not have told us if it were not true.
 
The bread of this day often gets overlooked by us. We kick it right out of the way. We are too busy storing up enough bread to make it through the week or the year. Our busy schedules demand that we hurry, rush, and speed through our days. No time for laughing with the kids,  no time for snuggling on the couch with our loved ones, no time for reading another night time story at the persistence of our little ones, no time for phone conversations or coffee dates with friends,  no time to sit and be still in the presence of God...
 
Oh, but Jesus teaches us the contrary. To get the most of this day, we feast on the bread for this day. At this moment. At this hour.
 
This day I will teach my kids. This day I will be a blessing to my husband. This day I will be kind. This day I will be a good steward with my money. This day I will make wise choices with my eating. This day I will call and check on my momma. This day I will read the bible. I will not think about the things of tomorrow, but the moments I have now, the bread that I have today to give. This day.  

This day is all we have. We are not promised tomorrow.
 
Today, this day, let's sit down, kick our shoes off, gather our people, and enjoy the bread of Heaven. The blessings, the moments, the daily little things that make for a big, full life. A life of abundance. The abundant life is found in this day.

Give all you have to this day. Leaving nothing to take tomorrow. Empty it out, scrape the bottom of these moments in this day, not wasting a breath.
 
 This day, we look our people in the eyes, we put down the things that draw us away from our people,  we quiet the thief that wants to tell us to save, salvage and hoard the leftover bread....he knows it will kill, steal, and destroy our joy. It will breed worms and be a stench to our people.

Don't we have enough faith in God this day that He will provide our bread for tomorrow?
 
Enjoy your bread, sweet friends. Savor it as you go throughout this day. Slow down and enjoy the sweet aroma of His daily bread. Share it with your people. There's plenty to be shared. There's always more than enough with God. He will provide for this day.
 
Have faith in God.
 
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1
 
Friends, we don't need to see the bread for tomorrow to know that it will be there. God assures us that it will by the bread He provides on this day.
 
Now go, enjoy this day. Eat up the bread He's given you with wonderment and joy. When you wake tomorrow, your bread for that day will be awaiting.
 
 
soaking up this day, 
 
 
jill
 
 
 
 


Nov 3, 2015

Love the one your with....

On Tuesday mornings, some of my friends and I meet in our small town and we have a bible study. We are on our third session of studying together, and today we began studying the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

[Wow, I just noticed the HUGE exclamation point at the end of this sentence. Paul meant business when he preached this!]

Our homework was to study the first two fruits, Love and Joy. We spent the past week looking up scriptures on our own, and truly digging deep to find the meaning of these two fruits that Paul preaches on in the book of Galatians.

First of all, I think it is no accident that Love is the first fruit. I believe this is the case because all of the other fruits flow from Love.

How do we get these fruits, you ask?

We receive them through salvation. When we confess our belief in Christ, and repent of our sins, we receive the Holy Spirit. These fruits are a by-product of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. Wow! We got a good deal, didn't we?

However...you knew that was coming didn't you...

We must activate these fruits in order for us to have them flowing from our lives. If they are dormant in our hearts, they are of no use. Fruit is no good unless it is tasted, eaten, and delighted in. Right?

So, back to the fruit of Love.

The Love that Paul is talking about here in the Greek meaning is "agape". Agape love is a divine love. It can only be available through Christ. We have zero power to this kind of divine love, except through the Holy Spirit.

Agape love is a supernatural love, not a natural love.

If I were to say to you, "Do you want your husband to have a natural kind of love for you, or a supernatural love for you"...what would you say?

SUPERNATURAL, right? No one on earth wants just a regular ordinary natural anything. We want a SUPERNATURAL everything!

Let's get down to the nitty gritty of love.

Love is hard.

We all have those around us that make it very, very, very, very, and one more "very" just for good measure....hard to love.

People are cruel.

People are thoughtless.

People are hurtful.

People reject.

People ignore.

People forget.

People mess up.

Our natural flesh cannot love these kind of people. It is impossible. I don't care who you are, it is impossible without agape love.

Love trips us up. Every single day.

We are faced with things that we have every "right" to be hateful about. We are faced with people that we swear were put on this Earth just to get on our ever-lovin'-last nerve!

So, we justify this lack of love for the unlovables in our lives.

We tell ourselves and others that it's just impossible to love this person.

We check off every other fruit of the Spirit with our gold sharpie, and feel it's okay and justifiable to not love certain people.

Friends, we will never be true disciples of Christ until we have Love. Agape love.

In my own life, I have seen that the other fruits of the Spirit--joy, peace, patience, etc...will NOT be activated unless our Love fruit is first activated. The other fruits flow from this.


Are you lacking Peace?

Are you lacking Joy?

Are you lacking Patience?

Are you lacking Forgiveness?

Are you lacking Gentleness?

Are you lacking Faithfulness?

Are you lacking Self-Control?

Check your Love meter. Your problem probably lies there.

Jesus spoke matter of factly to the Jewish Council--He didn't mince words with the commandment to Love. When they asked Him what the greatest commandment of all was, He said this:

Matthew 22:37-40:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Friends, this is not a suggestion from Jesus. These are commands.

When we fall into the category of thinking that these do not apply to us or our situation, we fall into dangerous territory.

Didn't the Pharisees that crucified Jesus think the same thing? They thought this teaching was absurd and impossible.

They were right. It is impossible, without the Holy Spirit.

"With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."  Mark 10:27

I will leave us with this...

Are we truly Jesus' disciples...Or are we just playing the part.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35


Lord, help me to Love,


jill