The Lost and Powerless

ImageMy heart aches for the lost and powerless. These are the ones that put on a happy face. These are the ones who will say, “oh, I’m great!”, when asked how they are doing. These are the ones who cry silently when no one is watching. These are the ones who feel there is no hope left. These are the ones-the lost and powerless within the Church.

My passion is investing in the lives of other women; sharing and growing with them in our identity in Christ. I believe the way we view our Heavenly Father has much to do with the way we interact or remember our life with our earthly father. As young girls our first love is our daddy. Some dads know innately the need their daughter has to be affirmed by him and offer affirmation willingly, lovingly and often. Some dads know this need but don’t know how to offer it. Some dads don’t know at all. Many dads unwittingly stop offering their affirmation when their daughter, once a little girl, has now blossomed into a beautiful teenager. At, what I believe, is the most critical time in a teen girls life, most dads are unsure of how to simply be dad to their daughter. They pull away when their little girl needs them the most. It is his voice of continued affirmation that a daughter needs to hear to survive the emotional and often tumultuous teen years with confidence leading her to the remarkable woman she will become.

My father was a great dad. I was the youngest and only girl after four boys. Indeed, I was daddy’s little girl. But, when I turned 13 our relationship changed. I truly believe my dad didn’t know how to respond to the young woman I was becoming. There are statistics about the different kind of trouble young girls can get into when their Imagefather’s voice of affirmation is not present or disappears. All I can say is thank you Jesus for your redeeming love!!

For many years I had a skewed perspective of God. It has only been in the last few years that I have begun to understand this marvelous thing; this identity in Christ. Simply put our identity in Christ is who God says we are to him according to his word. There are so many wonderful things he says about us. One of my favorites is 1 Peter 2:9a; “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. God’s special possession. In this half verse we are told four things about our identity;

  • We are chosen.
  • We belong to a royal priesthood.
  • We belong to a holy nation.
  • We are God’s SPECIAL possession.

As we begin and continue to learn and grow in this; our identity in Christ, we no longer have to pretend to put on a happy face. We no longer have to pretend we’re doing great. We no longer have to cry silently or alone. We no longer are the lost and powerless.

 

photo credit-photobucket.

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Wrecked by Worship

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Recently, on another social media website, I posted; If every spiritual blessing from heaven is mine then I want them all and I’ll get in line and ask for more. Lay it on me Holy Spirit; overwhelm me until I can’t stand!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Eph. 1:3.

This morning I realized the Holy Spirit answered that request during worship last night with our faith family. I could feel the progression and momentum building; the movement of the Holy Spirit. At one point I couldn’t even stand. I was bent over in my seat as the words of worship washed over me. I couldn’t sing, so I prayed.

When I felt like I could sit up again I looked over at three of our high school boys. Two were sitting in their chairs and one was on his knee’s. They were holding hands and praying with each other. I happened to be sitting next to my friend, mom to one of these boys, and I laid my head on her shoulder and we were wrecked together!   

The Holy Spirit hasn’t stopped answering my request. This morning as I was running and listening to my worship music, I started singing out loud not caring who heard my non-melodic voice! I think I startled the man crossing the street in my direction, he seemed to make a wide berth for me to pass by!

My new request is “Holy Spirit do what you will in and through me during corporate worship”. Yes, I am fully aware of what I am asking. You can be praying for me! 

Come Lord Jesus, come!

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artwork by Aileen’s Thoughts/Aileen Stewart.

 

Live in Grace and You Will Be Free

Right on Jeremy! The grace of Jesus is with you

Jeremy Affeldt

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Galatians 3:13-14

Sometimes believers can get caught up in rules. We think we have to act a certain way, and we think we have to do certain things. Sometimes we even bury ourselves in rules, trying so hard to make sure we do this and we don’t do that. This is a prominent subject in Paul’s letters to the Romans and the Galatians. For some reason, I didn’t see this until just the past few months. I don’t know why I didn’t see it, because it’s right there. Paul emphatically says that we are not under law

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No Marine Left Behind

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the United States Marine Corps. Museum in Quantico, VA. The curators of this nonprofit privately run museum have Imagedone an outstanding and stellar job of paying tribute to the U.S. Marines beginning with the Civil War.

As I walked through the many well composed campaigns of war, I reflected on my own family’s military history. My father proudly served in WWII. He was stationed out of Ford Ord, CA. Before he was ultimately shipped to New Guinea he spent some time in Hawaii. He was shipped out of Hawaii two weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor. My father received the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. The story I remember as a child is that he covered a comrade with his own body and ended with shrapnel in his backImage that was never removed. Years ago, after Fort Ord was decommissioned as a military base, my father and I explored the boarded up areas that were once the commissary, enlisted barracks and the mess hall. I treasure that moment of being able to see an active military base during the 1940’s through my father’s eyes. Especially, since, as a young girl I did not appreciate hearing his war story’s over and over again. Today, I miss hearing those stories and realize it was his way of connecting with a time that meant a great deal to him. My father loved watching the old black and white WWII movies, and if there was any real footage he would always be looking for himself or someone he knew!

One of my brothers served in Vietnam; shipped out soon after graduating high school at the tender age of 18. My mother prayed for him two times a day every day. Praise God he came home physically. Unfortunately, to protesting America he did not come home a hero. It wasn’t until almost thirty years later we started hearing about PTSD. I now believe he suffered from this tragic disorder. In mid 2003 my brother had a dental infection, which could have been easily treated at the VA hospital, his only insurance at the time. However, my brother refused to be treated by any facility that had to do with the government. Even as my other brothers were taking him to the hospital because of an excruciating headache, caused by the dental infection, he was insistent on not being taken to the VA hospital. As Providence would have it, he was taken to the VA hospital in Palo Alto, CA and received the highest quality of care. Unfortunately, the dental infection had spread to his brain. He went into a coma and never woke up; another casualty of both war and PTSD.

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Another brother enlisted in the Air Force toward the end of the Vietnam War; thankfully he was never called in to active duty. He was a “weekend warrior”. He served one weekend a month and two weeks a year. I’ll never forget the one thing he taught me that he learned in the Air Force; how to darn a sock over a light bulb! While holey socks are not darned in my house, it is a quick and easy way to repair holes, yes, I’ve tried the method!

The youngest of my brothers served in the Navy during the mid to late seventies. He was the ship’s yeoman on the USS Harry E. Yarnell, a guided missile frigate. It was coming up to his first Christmas in the Navy and word came home that he would not be able to come home for Christmas. We grew up in a large Italian family and spent every holiday together, this was simply unacceptable to me. So, at the most knowledgeable age of 13 and unbeknownst to anyone else, I wrote a letter to the ship’s Captain explaining why my brother must absolutely be home for Christmas and he was! It wasn’t until years later that I found out that as the ship’s yeoman my brother had to type the Captain’s response letter to me. I’m sure it was quite some time before he lived that one down!

I grew up as a child of the archaic air raid system left over from WWII. We would have air raid drills in school where we were instructed to duck under our desks and cover the back of our necks with clasped hands. These drills frightened me so! Coincidentally, my childhood home was in the flight path of aircraft inbound to NAS ImageMoffett Field, CA (it will always be NAS to me!). Whenever I would see the mighty P3-Orion’s coming in, sometimes 3 or 4 at a time, I would run into my house and hide not realizing they were the good guys!  Years later as I prayed to God for a husband, He faithfully answered that prayer and sent me one of the good guys! My husband served in the Navy for 15 years; spending most of that time at NAS Moffett Field. He was a P3-Orion Flight Engineer, flight instructor, ground school instructor and blue card check ride instructor.

As my reflection of my family’s military history ends, I have also arrived at the end of the USMC museum tour. The very last exhibit at the museum is dedicated to 9/11. There is a sheared piece of the Pentagon and a steel girder from ground zero that museum goers can touch and ponder. (My husband worked for United Airlines on Sept. 11, 2001 and was in contact with Flight 93 before it crashed in PA., but that is another blog for another time.) There was one story in particular that day that captivated me. It is the telling of Major Dan Pantaleo, who, after realizing what had just happened to the Pentagon, ran toward the Pentagon to help rescue those trapped inside. One of the USMC codes of conduct is to rescue people first and that is what Major Pantaleo did but during the ensuing days he kept looking up at the USMC flag that stood proudly and precariously on the damaged Pentagon. He wanted to rescue the flag and especially so since there were uncontained fires on the floors below the flag, which could eventually send the flag up in flames. Major Pantaleo talked a civilian crane operator in to allowing him to get into the crane utility cage and raise him to the flag. Their second attempt was a success and the flag was rescued. The rescued flag is currently on temporary display at the USMC museum.

As I left the museum I was filled with pride. Pride about being an American; pride in all branches of our great military; and pride in my fellow Countrymen. As I thought about the rescued Marine flag I realized, truly, no Marine was left behind.

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This blog is dedicated to my Dad, my brothers, my husband, our VP-31 family and all the men and women who have and continue to serve this great Country. God bless you and God bless America!

A New Romans Road?

If you believe in Jesus you’ve most likely heard the phrase Romans Road; a series of Scripture put together to share the Good News about the gift of salvation. Maybe some of you accepted Jesus because someone cared to share the gospel with you through Romans Road. The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the believers in Rome, where the Scripture for Romans Road is found. Paul was articulate and intelligent. His schooling was of the finest available. He presented the gospel like a skilled lawyer.

I like things simple and I like to share the Good News in simple ways. Nothing against articulate, intelligent and skilled lawyers! Recently, I came across some Scripture and had a light bulb moment. It happens.

Here is what I found:

Romans 2:4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? (emphasis added).

Titus 3:4, 5a But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us. (emphasis added).

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness, Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (emphasis added).            Image

2 Peter 3:15a Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation. (emphasis added)

Here’s my light bulb moment; It is God’s kindness, patience and love that leads to repentance; God the Son, our Savior IS love and kindness and He saves us; God does not want anyone to live eternity apart from Him. His desire is for everyone to acknowledge they are sinners and repent. His patience means SALVATION!

This has grace written all over it because it allows us to minister as ambassadors of God’s love. His love, His kindness, His patience, which leads to salvation! We can share the Good News and step aside allowing the Holy Spirit to do his job; or can you? GRACE; God’s unmerited favor toward us, ALL of us.

I love all of God’s word, so too, I love the Scripture that is coined Romans Road. But, I can’t stop thinking that these verses were written to believers who already accepted the gift of salvation. Thank you Holy Spirit for giving me a new advantage to sharing the Good News. Simple, just the way you created me!

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25.

What About Grace?

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I believe God burden’s our heart for the masses. What I mean by this is; for some their heart aches for those in other countries, others can’t get the image of the lonely and downtrodden here in America out of their mind, still others, like me, are burdened for Brothers and Sisters in the Body of Christ simply trying to keep their heads above water. They are held in bondage, perhaps, by former thought patterns, or maybe they hold on to unforgiveness or maybe, just maybe, they are dealing with sin and just need someone or others to come alongside and love them back into the arms of Jesus.

I am blessed to be called into a ministry of investing, mentoring and discipling women. Walking alongside them, learning and growing together. I minister and have ministered to women caught in the bondage of sin.  My responsibility to them is to love them like Christ does, allowing the Holy Spirit to do the rest.

Recently, I read this statement; “When you are not saved, you pursue sin. When you are saved, you pursue Christ.” I mostly agree with this statement, what I take exception with is that even in our best effort, we still sin. We may not actively and intentionally sin, but we do. It isn’t even by our own effort that we can pursue Christ, it is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us and His power that enables us to desire to abide in Christ.

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The article I read goes on to state, to the affect of, a practicing homosexual or fornicator, for example, cannot be and is not saved because they continue in their sin even if they are convicted about their sin. Step on the brake, screech, stop! What about grace?

What about the women I have the opportunity to minister too? Some of them have been believers in Christ longer than me! It would be extremely dangerous for me or anyone else to even suggest that these women are not saved because they pursue sin. The moment we images (2)accept Christ as Lord and Savior we are filled with the Holy Spirit and sealed for the kingdom of God. NOTHING, can tear us apart from the love of God. (Romans 8:35). Does this mean we are to continue in sin? As Paul says, “By no means!” (Romans 6:2a). Make no mistake, there IS judgement and consequence for sin.

Why then are we so afraid of grace?! There, I said it. GRACE; God’s unmerited favor toward us. We don’t have to do anything to earn His grace. He showers us fresh and new each day with grace simply because we are his kids and he LOVES us! When we slip and fall off course, He pursues us with his grace. Jesus came to bind up the broken hearted and set the captives free, it is His grace that frees us!

Let’s pledge to fill each other with the truth of His identity in us. Reminding each other who God says we are. Extending the flow of God’s grace in our life to all we encounter.  Let’s embrace grace full on and then ask for more!

GRACE.

Pennies from Heaven

Image My running buddy is also one of my very dear friends. We live in a city that was once a rural farming and orchard community. We still have many beautiful operating orchards, and if you haven’t had corn from the farms in our community, well, you haven’t had real corn! We are now a bedroom community and sometimes we run in an area that is residential nestled in the grassy hills of a bygone era. In this area we often see vicious wild animals during our zero dark thirty morning runs. By vicious I mean raccoon’s travelling in three’s or four’s from front yard to front yard scavenging for food, coyote’s and wild bunnies. I am always cognizant and on the look out for these lovely animals.

One morning as we are running along my friend suddenly splays her arms out wide and says, “wait!”, as she is bending down like she is going to hit the ground. Instantly images (2)I am looking around for an escape route, thinking, “what did she see?, how many are there?, and are they going to attack?” Finally, I look over at her and she is picking up a penny from the ground. After my heart has left my throat and is properly back in its place, I told her what I was thinking and we shared a good laugh!

This morning we were coming back from a walk and I hear a delightful, “oooo pennies!” Sure enough there were four pennies in a zig zag row on the ground in front of us. My friend picked up each one and said, “In God we Trust!”

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On my drive home from her house I reflected on how God reveals Himself in such tangible and deliciously wonderful ways. He meets us right where we’re at and touches us in ways that speak to our personality that He created in us.

The next time you find a penny on the ground I hope you will pick it up and exclaim, “In God we Trust!”, knowing that you were just touched by God with a penny from heaven!