Tuesday, January 29, 2008

She Speaks Conference Contest....YaHoo!!

The last four years of my spiritual journey has been an incredible growth process. Though I have been a Christian since I was a child, I eventually found myself shattered and broken from living in my own will and while in the pit of my sin, I found the redemptive grace of God. In this healing and re-commitment, I have developed a personal relationship with Christ like I have never had before. As David in the Old Testiment wrote concerning His own spiritual journey:

"My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will never be shaken."
~Psalm 62:1-2
I hold a lot of gratitude for this spiritual journey first and foremost to my God, the God of forgiveness and grace ("Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back." Isa. 38:17) . I am also blessed with a godly husband who has been beside me living the journey himself and experiencing God becoming more real then He ever was in both our lives. It required daily Bible study and prayer and perserverance to be faithful and trust God in everything. It was also, for me, in the helpful resources of the Proverbs 31 Ministies and Beth Moore's Living Proof ministry, that I was able to better become a women after God's own heart. I love Him and daily I seek to love Him more. I was willing to be made willing, and He seems to be using me, despite where I have been and who I have been. I find God using me outside of my comfort zone. Daily I cry "How can I do this-look where I have been?" and daily God responds "Follow Me! Trust Me!" and so I walk in faith to what He has called me to. My desire is that my life may model the words in the prayer of Hezekiah from Isaiah 38:3:
"Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully
and with wholehearted devotion
and have done what is good in your eyes."

Whether its working in our women's ministry or our teen ministry at church, writing on this blog, or simply serving my family, the patients that I care for, the college students that I teach, God has called me to share and testify of His goodness. I am to be salt-to represent His work (Matt 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men."), to be light-to shine forth His magnitude of what He can do in a life (Eph. 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.").

Every year my husband supports my trips to a Beth Moore conference or other types of spiritual retreats. This year my heart is yearning to attend the "She Speaks Conference" hosted by Proverbs 31 (http://www.shespeaksconference.com/). It offers so much! In attending this I am confident my heart, your heart, will be drawn that much closer to Christ and made that much more moldable for the calling He has for you and for me. I am a worn vessel, being rebuilt and mended, filled with His spirit to minister for His glory. He has used Proverbs 31 Ministries to do just that for me-it can do that for you! Lysa Terkeurst (president of Proverbs 31 Ministries) blog site (http://lysaterkeurst.blogspot.com/) is offering a free ticket to this event and this post is my entry into it. I challenge all readers to visit her site and be encouraged as she has encouraged me! God is doing a mighty work in and through this ministry. You will find a network of support as you journey to become a masterpiece for Christ. These women are very real and their faith, their commitment to serve God, and their spirit of love is very contagious! God's blessing to this ministry and by God's will--I hope to be there!! It will be a first for me and I have always dreamed of visiting the Carolina's-maybe now is the time!

"May God himself, the God of peace,
sanctify you through and through.
May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
~1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
In His Grace~Pamela

Monday, January 28, 2008

Flesh Women

I am so frustrated with this "flesh women"-that inner self that seems to control more than I want in my life. Why does she seem to have so much control? After a beautiful Bible study this morning and writing in my prayer journal that I would radiate God's character, I arose thinking I had the Holy Spirits power in my day to only be over come by this "flesh women". Immediately following this spiritual renewing time, while trying to get my younger girls off to school, in their midst of whimpers and fighting, I exploded on them. The sweet spirit from my time with God ("Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:4, NIV) was over powered by my flesh and immediately I failed my girls, I failed my Lord, I failed myself.
Paul wrote:
"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."
~Ephesian 4:22-24 (NIV)
I choose to live in the Spirit, not in the flesh. I confessed this failure to God, I will confess it to my girls this evening but this is one mom who is tired of this flesh side of me and would really like to put it to death! I spend time in God's word, I am memorizing scripture (which does not come easy anymore) and I pray without ceasing...what else must I do?
If you have worn these shoes I would so appreciate your insight in this matter...anyone?
Thank God I live In His Grace~Pamela

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Perfecting by Grace

A dear friend introduced me to Joanna Weavers new book 'Having a Mary Spirit' (she is the author who wrote 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' which we had done as a Bible study a few years back-highly recommended!). I love how God tied in what I had read in chapter three Tuesday evening with last nights Bible study at church (Truth Project for Focus on the Family-awesome!) in which we examined the topic "Who is God?'. I feel compelled to share these thoughts with you about our faith journey in seeing God at work in our lives and intimately within our heart and soul.
Remember the first time Paul's words from Romans seven grabbed your heart and gave you that "ah-ha" moment? Let me refresh you with those words:
I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right,
but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.
But if I know that what I am doing is wrong,
this shows that I agree that the law is good.
So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature
I want to do what is right, but I can’t.
I want to do what is good, but I don’t.
I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong;
it is sin living in me that does it.
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right,
I inevitably do what is wrong.
I love God’s law with all my heart.
But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind.
This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.
Oh, what a miserable person I am!
Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
~Romans 7: 15-24 (NLT)
Ohhh, the inner battle we face within our self! Joanna Weaver calls it "Flesh Women". It's the good verses evil within us all. We are born in sin and sin comes so easily within our first responses-a hasty reaction to a child being slow, a quicken response when someone interrupts what we are doing, a poor choice of words when something does not go our way. The slip of those nasty words, the attitudes that come forth, that "flesh women" seems to over power the spiritual side of us. So how do we change? How do we gain control over this unwanted control within ourselves? How do we become spiritually strong? We can only do this through God and God alone.
It is through knowing Him intimately that we win this battle. Just reading the Bible is not enough. We must search for Him, and long for Him. We do this by continually being in scripture, praying without ceasing, exploring Bible studies or reading spiritual books, and scripture memorization-so that we can actually see the face of God within the pages of His Word, the acts of God within our life, the instruction of God's will in our day. Henry Blackaby in his book 'Experiencing God Day-by-Day' stated: "Christianity is not a set of teachings to understand. It is a person to follow." We have to live in the truth of the scriptures. Do you realize the magnitude of what God's Word, the Bible, is to us-the gift we have received, the power that it contains? In walking with God we actually experience Him! We have to be careful that in our faith journey we are not like the people described here:
And so the Lord says,
“These people say they are mine.
They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by taught by men".
~Isaiah 29:13 (NLT)
So how are you living your life today? Do you live each day to be changed into Christ-likeness or are you following the rules? Are you on a journey of transformation-to rid yourself of "flesh women" and to be controlled spiritually by the Holy Spirit of God? Going back to Joanna Weavers book, 'Having a Mary Spirit' my Friend and I found a powerfully strong statement that made us both sit up and really look at our spiritual journey and examine our hearts, our lives, and where we are in Christ. I quote you Mrs. Weaver's word not to discourage you but to encourage you to examine your heart and draw nearer to God:
"My deepest fear is waking up twenty years from now still the same woman I am today. With the same annoying habits and petty attitudes; with the same besetting sins and false beliefs. I can’t imagine anything more terrible than getting to the end of my life only to discover that God had so much more in mind for me—more freedom, more joy, more peace, more true effectiveness. And I had missed it all, simply because I refused to change."
We are perfecting by grace. Thank God for His grace as He knows and understands this battle we face minute by minute and day by day with "flesh women". It is by perfecting our hearts, that in His grace, we can live daily in a "change mode" to become more like Him! We are to hunger and thirst for Him and His truths. We are called to make Christ our life and to walk and live only in and though Him.
In His Graces~Pamela

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Thorns of a Rose

The rose is one of the most beautiful flowers in this world to me. I have a picture of a rose garden above my makeup table. The bushes are as tall and full as the two women walking beside them. I bought this picture in 1981 at a discount store for my first apartment. I have sense replaced the tarnished brass frame with an expensvie frame and it is still one of my favorite pictures that I own. I envision God's garden will be like this but grander!
My favorite old hymn is "In The Garden" by C. Austin Miles:
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.
*And He walks with me,
and He talks with me,
*And He tells me I am His own;
*And the joy we share as we tarry there,
*None other has ever known.
He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.
I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go;
through the voice of woe
His voic9e to me is calling.
It is in this scene of nature that I find rest and peace and God. The more roses the better!
The design and fragrance of the rose magnifies God's creativity! I am a rose, unique to God's creation. Each pedal represents the blessings God has graced me with throughout my life. With each new blessing I become fuller and more beautiful for my God. But the rose doesn't start with the pedals, it starts with a seed that grows into a stem. And for most roses, the stem is not without a few thorns.
Most places in scripture reference thorns in a negative sense:
"In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares,
but he who guards his soul stays far from them."~Proverbs 22:5 (NKJV)
In mockery, they laid a crown of thorns on Jesus head before he was condemned to be crucified:
"The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns
and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe." John 19:2 (NKJV)
For Paul in the New Testiment, it was something he had to endure and carry with him throughout his life. It was something that kept Him focused, not on himself but on what God had called him to. It kept him humble:
To keep me from becoming conceited
because of these surprisingly great revelations,
there was given me a thorn in my flesh,
a messenger of Satan, to torment me." ~II Cor. 12:17 (NKJV)
Are we much different then Paul? Do we not all carry around thorns from our life? Maybe it is the thorn of the loss of a child, the torn of divorce, the torn of abandonment or rejection, the thorn of adultery, the thorn of addiction, the thorn of an abortion, the thorn of lies, hatred, bitterness, or anger. Maybe it is the thorn of a chronic illness or disability. There are many thorns that enter our life, some of our own doing, some without a personal invitation on our part. But the thorns do not have to be who we are. They do not have to be a constant reminder of the pain associated with our failure or inflictions.
Like the rose, the thorns can be a part of what created its beauty. It is through the thorns that we are able to develop into what God has designed for us. It is through the thorns, if we allow it, that we become God's masterpiece.
The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them,
And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose;
It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice,
Even with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
The excellence of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the LORD,
The excellency of our God.
~Isaiah 35:1&2 (NKJV)
The thorns represent the wilderness and wasteland of our journey to Christ. It is upon finding Christ and leaning on Him that we can blossom into a beautiful rose He can use to represent His joy and glory. A rose that others will see, a frangrance that will draw them to God's love, a reflection of God's grace! They will see and and know that if the thorns of your life can be used by God, then how much more can God do for them?
Life without thorns would be so much easier to live but God calls us to move away from the thorns and to blossom in His goodness. God calls us not to deny our thorns but to use them for His glory.
"Not that I have already obtained all this,
or have already been made perfect,
but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.
But one thing I do:
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 3:12-14
We were created by God-He chose us. We can choose to be His rose, made from His blessings, stronger in Him through our thorns, beautiful only by His grace. Or we can chose to be overcome by our thorns, a barrier to our true being-what God has designed us for.

In His Graces~Pamela

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Prayer Request

We have a fresh blanket of snow on the ground this morning (and a little ice I'm afraid). It's cold but beautiful! School has been cancelled and the girls are asleep so I have some time to lay out my heart to any readers who may come by this site. Today I am going to be transparent and step out to reveal my troubled heart and ask for your prayers as I work through this situation.
The other day I found two typed written sheets of copy paper laying on my gas stove. I moved the paper (thinking fire hazard) and saw it belonged to my oldest daughter. She is good at writing and is now on the newsletter team at her school. I encourage her growth in this area. I originally assumed it was a class assignment and began to read what was written. My daughter is 13, 14 in a few weeks, and her words sadden and broke my heart. It wasn't a school assignment but instead a "dear journal" entry she had written at school and printed off. Though I learned of some actions and thoughts I would not want coming from my daughter, what bothered me most is her current hatred to me. She thinks I'm a "goody two shoes" and couldn't understand what she is going through. The sad thing about this is that I so very much understand this as I was reminded of my own relationship with my mother as a teenager. Though the 70's held a different set of circumstances for kids to deal with then today, emotionally we went through the same kind of "stuff". Sadly, she is experiencing things I didn't experience until I was almost out of my teen years.
I pulled out of storage my packed box of high school diaries, pictures and things. I briefly read some of my poems and journal logs and you would have thought it was my daughter on those pages. Same thoughts, attitudes, emotions. One two page poem I wrote has moms handwriting all over it, commenting with scripture her thoughts to my frustrations at that time in my life. Now I am in my mothers shoes (did I ever say I was sorry mom and I love you for not giving up on me?). So my thought is that I am going to let her read these things and hope that she will realize we are very similar and I do know what she is going through. Here's the big difference....I know the pain she will face if she continues down this path and she doesn't. What seems right for her at the moment may leave scars for her to live with. Pray I will be able to communicate this to her. Pray her heart will soften and her ears will be open, not just to my words but to God's words and that she will accept our love.
Since my husband and I have become involved in leading our youth ministry at church, it seems like satan has turned his attention to our girls. It's like he has said "if I can't have you, I'll get them". It resembles that 'preacher-kid' syndrome so many have had to live with and overcome. Satan seems to be working overtime here. Well, so am I! Daily and constantly my husband and I pray that God will capture their hearts and transform them into godly young women. We are in this tug-of-war game for their spiritual well being it seems. I do not plan to give up! The stronger we become in Christ the harder satan seems to fight back but God is on our side!
All my scripture reading this morning seemed to focus on God's majesty and greatness . "The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise Him-my father’s God (and my mother's God), and I will exalt him!" (Ex. 15:2, NLT). He is our warrior and He will win this battle for us, I have faith in that, in Him. "Your right hand, O LORD, is glorious in power. Your right hand, O LORD, smashes the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty, you overthrow those who rise against you. You unleash your blazing fury; it consumes them like straw." (Ex. 15:6-7, NLT).
If you too have lived through this or find yourself living in this, your thoughts and suggestions will be valued. You can help me in this war against satan and his current grip on my daughter, our daughters, by praying for this situation. In my transparency, I thank you in advance for your prayers. I thank God for what He will do in this.

In His Graces~Pamela

Update: Later after my daughter had awaken I gave her a book of poems I wrote in high school, a diary and some letters I shared with a dear friend from high school (remember writing letters?). I encouraged her to read these. After reading some her response was "You sound just like me so I don't understand why you got so mad".
My response: "I wasn't mad, heart broken that you might follow my same old path. I know the pain it can cause".
Her response: "I knew this was coming."
I ended with: "I do know what you are going through..."

That was all she was willing to hear at the time. Pray for this!!! Thanks!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Light in Darkness

I am falling in love with my study in Isaiah. This morning has been rushed and God was cheated out of my usual hour with Him but He brought forth the following passages to my attention. It was my thought for the day from Him and so I share this with you!
I will wait for the Lord,
who has turned away from the descendants of Jacob.
I will put my hope in Him.
~Isaiah 8:17 (NLT)
I felt God's voice telling me that, unlike the Israelites in this reference, He will not turn from me when I wait on Him and put my hope in Him. Though He may have been cheated in my quiet time this morning, He is still there...waiting and hoping for my love and my heart. I am glad we no longer live under the Old Testiment laws!
Look to God’s instructions and teachings!
People who contradict his word are completely in the dark.
They will go from one place to another, weary and hungry.
And because they are hungry, they will rage and curse their king and their god.
They will look up to heaven.
~Isaiah 8:20-21 (NLT)
If I want to be light in this world, I have to live in and for God's instructions. The more time I spend in His Word, the stronger and "brighter" I will be for His kingdom work. I was reminded of the people in today's society. Look around you...everyone is searching for significance and meaning in life. People are trying to find it in all sorts of ways-various religious practices and beliefs, relationships, self awareness, hobbies and habits. But it seems in the long run, for most, they end up empty, hungry and dishearten. "Look to God's instruction and teachings"....have you ever truly found peace anywhere else? I haven't. We have to get this message out...that God is the meaning of life. He is what brings significance to our being.
Just a thought to ponder....
In His Grace~Pamela

Monday, January 14, 2008

Thought for the day...

My pastor shared this thought yesterday in his sermon and I feel it can stand alone today without the written thoughts from my heart (really I leave this from my heart because it impacted me so):

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.
~Frank Outlaw
In His Graces~Pamela
"...if you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all."
~Isaiah 7:9b (NIV)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Our Amazing God

God woke me up early this morning. I had hopes to sleep in as it was such a busy first week at the college I work for. It was crazy with challenges and I was mentally drained. But I woke before the sun feeling refreshed and came down in the quietness of the house and "waited for the Lord, my soul waits and in His word I put my hope..." (Ps. 130: 5). So I will take you on my morning journey with the Lord and hopefully you will find encouragement.
My first scripture reading from "Praying God's Word Day-by-Day" (Beth Moore) took me to Psalm 40:1-3 to remind me of where I had been and where I am now in God (it's not so painful to remember anymore but a sweet reflection of the fact that God uses the unusable!). I remember when I first learned to fully rest in God-I was completely broken from the dark and miry pit I had created and fallen into (Ps. 40:2). I was in such pain and was lonely but even in that state, I found comfort and assurance that He was there for me, despite my sin and failure. He needed me to totally depend on Him as He carried me to "new ground and put a new song in my heart" (Ps. 40:3). In that pain and loneliness, He gave me a hint of the peace that was to come into my life. This morning as I rested in Him, His love reminded me of the joy and peace I now live in because of His power and His strength amplified in my life.
My devotional book topic for today was on God speaking to His people which led me to reflect on this relationship I have with Him and the joy I experience in hearing Him when I choose to listen and be still. When you cannot hear God's voice it is not because God is not near, it is because there is a problem within your heart, a problem within your life. Resting in Him and His will opens our eyes, our ears, and our heart to Him more clearly (unlike the people referenced in Isaiah 6:9&10 which came from my second scripture reading). We must be filled with the Holy Spirit to do His work. Many may be cold and callous (Isa 6:10a) but God will place in front of us the souls He needs us to minister to for Him. So, like Isaiah, we must recognize our unworthiness and at the same time have a heart and will that says "Here am I, use me" (6:8b).
I then turned my attention to the next chapter I am reading on "The Power of a Women's Words" by Sharon Jaynes and the content of the power of a women's words to God. I believe in prayer and have been a witness to His work these last few weeks in the most incredible ways. The first answered prayer was the awakening of a child from a coma following a severe head injury-Gods hand was so apparent because medicine would say it wasn't likely to happen after this length of time. The second answered prayer was the coming home of a lost item for one of my spiritual encourager's-a lost camera at an airport returned to its owner-had to be God! Theses examples have been to me a pleasant reminder of the power of a women's words to God as many women were praying in both these situations. So I can rest in the confidence that God does hear, He does remember us and will act on our behalf.
So As I bring this all together: the wonder of being freed from the chains of my past through God's amazing grace to being filled with His Holy Spirit and the power of prayer that builds my faith and trust-I only want to honor and serve Him more. I can boldly pray Paul's words of Ephesians 6: 19&20 (in my own words):

"Lord, I pray that I might open my mouth without fear.
I pray that I will use the right words to teach the truth of your Gospel.
Send me to minister to those who need to understand your grace.
I have been in the chains of sin,
now I want to keep on speaking for You,
with Your words and without fear ".
God can take and use anyone. He can give you the peace you so long for if you just turn to Him and totally get lost in Him and His word. What a most amazing morning with my Lord!
In His Graces~Pamela

Friday, January 11, 2008


Waiting is such a hard thing, and sometimes a painful thing. I am reading through Isaiah, (I feel like I am reading about our current world) and today I am in chapter five. Isaiah is warning the people against trying to"hurry God so they can see His work completed":
"Who say, Let [the Holy One] make haste
and speed His [prophesied] vengeance,
that we may see it;
and let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come,
that we may know it!"
~Isaiah 5:19 (Amplified Bible)
Are we as Christians like that sometimes? We so want to see the end result that we are not willing to wait for God to make it happen but we "hasten" the process along. My heart is sometimes like that as I seek to be used by God. I want it to happen today-NOW-but God is gently reminding me that He does not have me ready yet. He needs more time to mold and transform me into His likeness. Besides, look at the mess I have made of myself from time-to-time. He can use my scars but I have to give Him more time to work in and through me. I need to allow Him to be more transparent in my life. This work only comes about by my obedience to Him and spending time in His Word and in prayer. With this thought, I am reminded of James 1:22:
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.
Do what it says".
So sometimes we must wait. We must allow God to refine us and fill us with His living water. And in due time, we will bear much fruit for Him. We must be faithful and humble so that He can make us what He wants us to be. We must be willing to be made willing (heard from Beth Moore many years ago). I will say it again...we must be willing to be made willing!
He is my breath of life, the fuel that moves me through each day. So I wait for His timing....
~In His Graces~Pamela

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Effective in Ministry

I love being in the presence of someone full of the Holy Spirit, speaking God's words, ministering in His goodness. I see this in my husband when He is teaching in our adult Sunday school class or with our midweek youth Bible study. It awe's me! That's what I want for myself. To be used by God like that. So I can't spend enough time in this journey with Christ. The more I know Him the more I can share His goodness with others. There's just one problem that gets in the way...me. Even though I teach for a living and get in front of college students lecturing, I lean more to being an introvert verses an extrovert. It is painfully difficult for me to "mingle" at events, to speak up and share my heart in a Bible study or shake hands of unfamiliar people during the greeting time at church. It makes me terribly uncomfortable!
So I have been feeling God's urging that if I want my prayer to be answered to "be a vessel He can use", I have to get over this insecurity. I have to be strong enough to "Walk Across the Room" ( a wonderful book by Bill Hybels if you haven't heard about it yet). I know that God will meet me (you) where I (you) am but I (you) can't stay there. There is such a Christian that can have a great deal of spiritual knowledge but be ineffective and unproductive in ministry. I don't want to be that type of Christian. God needs me (you) to move "across the room" for His kingdom-to live out His goodness. 'Goodness' is defined as "the quality of being good, specifically-personal virtue; excellence; kindness; generosity; benevolence; the best part, essence, or valuable element of a thing". Wow! That is a powerful description! The value of goodness is but a steeping stone for effective ministry as we see in the principles found in 2 Peter 1:5-8:
"For this very reason, make every to add to your faith goodness;
and to goodness knowledge;
and to knowledge, self-control;
and to self-control, perseverance;
and to perseverance, godliness;
and to godliness, brotherly kindness;
and to brotherly kindness, love.
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure,
they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive
in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ".
So I am challenging myself and anyone who reads this, to step out of our comfort zone and reach out. Live out the goodness we have experienced and learned in Christ. To be an effective ministry partner for Christ, to be used by Him, we are called to be filled with goodness and kindness and emptied of ourself. We are called to be a "valuable element" of Him.
If you have time, please share what you do to overcome yourself to live out these principles found in 2 Peter 1:5-8. If you are like me and find it difficult to "walk across the room", or have overcome this, please share how!
In His Graces~Pamela

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Burnt dinner rolls

My family will tell you that I have a trade mark when it comes to dinner rolls...I always over cook them! No matter how easy it would be to set the timer on these things, instead I always tell someone "Hey, the dinner rolls are in the oven, don't let me forget" but we do, or should I say, I do. My husband just this week asked me to stop buying them since we cannot enjoy them (he said this with humor). Sad to say, it's become funny and expected.
Sometimes my heart feels like these burnt dinner rolls-well done, hardened and crusty. Not that I want it too. Can I blame it on hormones? Probably not. Christ modeled a perfect love for us so why is it so hard to love others perfectly? A measure of being filled with the Holy Spirit is love. Isn't that what we want-to live under the guide of the Holy Spirit?
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires
of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.
Since we are living by the Spirit,
let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.
~Galatians 5: 22-25 (NLT)
We are called to love despite how we are treated, to love despite the unfairness one may perceive in a situation, and to love because we have been commanded to love:
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God
with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.
A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
~Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT)
The thing about burnt dinner rolls is that you really can't salvage them. You can disguise them with creams, sauces or gravy but the bitter taste is still there. The same is true of a hardened, bitter heart! However, unlike the burnt dinner rolls, the heart can be renewed, softened and transformed through the grace, forgiveness, and love of our Creator!
But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.
~Psalms 13:5-6 (NIV)
A heart may not feel like loving. The only way that will change is by meditation on God's unfailing love (PS. 48:9).
May we live in the perfect love of Christ today and always!
In His graces~Pamela

Monday, January 7, 2008

What do we offer God?

I just marvel at God's work in my Bible study and scripture readings when they tie into not just events within my day or week but also the Sunday morning sermons! I often pray for God to speak clearly to me and how much more clearer can He be when the message comes to me from all angles! PRAYER! PRAYER! PRAYER! I need to build on my prayer life. So I say "yes, Lord". I want to know Him more, I want more of Him and what better way than in prayer?
Our pastor yesterday took us to Colossians 1 and those beautiful verses 9b-12 (which I shared in my Jan 2nd blog). He encouraged us to pray these verses everyday for not only ourselves, but also for others within the church. My pastor referenced the "church is better together-together in prayer". When we start praying for each other, connections begin, relationship develop, closeness pursue, and we become more forgiving, more loving, more Christ-like.
When I was getting ready for church Sunday, a local minister on TV was discussing the fall of today's churches. Five churches a day close their door in the US alone. Many churches are only having 0-1 baptisms a year. Why? Where have all the people gone-to the mega churches? I don't think so. When did America lose the value of God in our life and the value our church family and ministry brings? Then I thought of all the "Sunday morning Christians" when I read Isaiah 1 this morning and how God commands us to "stop bringing meaningless offerings" (vs 13). So I had to ask myself, what have I been bringing to God? Is my life worthy of Christ and am I being productive for His kingdom (Col 1:10)? I'm afraid that I have fallen short in reaching out in prayer and I am committed to change that.

I think it is important that we all ask ourselves what we bring to God? Do you only offer yourself on Sunday mornings or every day? Do you offer yourself in prayer "without ceasing"?

In His Graces~Pamela

Friday, January 4, 2008

'Silence is Golden' and sometimes painful

Silence is golden but sometimes painful. How can that be? For some, silence can mean a loss or a state of loneliness but let's look at it from a different direction. Silence in today's busy world can be a welcoming gift...a peace in times of constant noise or chaos. Silence can be spiritually rewarding but also spiritually painful. My devotion this morning challenged the need for silence in our life to allow us to examine our hearts. What does your heart reveal to you in the quietness? What seems to surface to your mind during this time? "If silence reveals sin in your heart, it is doing exactly what it is intended to do" (Donna Partow, Becoming a Vessel God Can Use). OUCH! There are some who find it difficult to allow silence into their day-the noise drowns out their pain and struggles. But as Christ is our example, we need to find rest in Him:
"He said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest'."
~Mark 6:31b (NIV)
In silence we can find out where our heart is. Exposing yourself only brings renewal and strength. From it we are rewarded with a peace that can only come from God.
"And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.
For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.
And always be thankful".
~Colossians 3:15 (NLT)
I encourage you to spend some time in silence today to allow God to open your heart to come clean before Him. I plan to. The pain will be well worth the reward of His renewing presence of peace in my life.
In His Graces~Pamela

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Living in TRUTH

This morning has started off with a little unrest. Following a disturbing dream and kids who took took the whine factor off the scale, I find myself in a battle to live in my bad mood as satan would prefer or to live in the "TRUTH". We started a new Bible study at church last night titled the "TRUTH Project" from Focus on the Family. Satan is putting me to the test today. But God has given me the ammunition to fight back by blessing me in my scripture reading and I chose to live in the TRUTH-God. If Christ came into this world to testify to the TRUTH (John 18:37), isn't that how I am also to live? So my strength for today comes from the words Paul penned so many years ago in Colossians chapter 2:
" [6] And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord,
you must continue to follow him.
[7] Let your roots grow down into him,
and let your lives be built on him.
Then your faith will grow strong in the TRUTH you were taught,
and you will overflow with thankfulness."
I can choose to allow my emotions to ride low or I can live in the truth that I have in Christ. I chose to follow Christ, to be rooted deeply in His redemptive grace and to walk through my day in His presence. I chose to love Him more so my faith will grow stronger in the TRUTH that He is and the TRUTH I have learned of Him. I chose to live in thankfulness for all that He has blessed me with-my husband who is a man with a heart for God's TRUTH, children who are able to express their emotions good or bad, a home that is warm and well supplied to meet our needs....and on and on I could go. How can I not but win this battle against my "frustrations" if I live today with a thankful heart and live in the TRUTH-God.
I leave you with this thought from last nights Bible study on Jesus being TRUTH:
"Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?
If we did, we would turn the world upside down."
~Del Tackett
OUCH. I have been challenged to live in the TRUTH!
In His Graces~Pamela

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

He is Our Life

This morning has been such a spiritual blessing. Beth Moore in her entry for yesterday from her book 'Praying God's Word Day by Day' wrote: "The Giant step in the walk of faith is the one we take when we decide God is no longer a part of our lives. HE IS OUR LIFE." My scripture reading then took me to Colossians chapter one and and the pages are marked up from a few years past when I took verses 9b-14 and changed the wording from the second person and personalized it to me. It is my prayer again today as I travel into this new year ready to be transformed for God's work. Here is The Message version:
"... asking God to give you [me] wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We [I] pray that you'll [I]) live well for the Master, making him proud of you [me] as you [I] work hard in his orchard. As you [I] learn more and more how God works, you [I] will learn how to do your work. We pray that you'll [I] have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your [my] teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us [me] strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us [me]. God rescued us [me] from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He's set us [me] up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us [me] out of the pit we [I] were in, got rid of the sins we [I] were doomed to keep repeating. "
As I enter this new promise land of 2008 (thank you Beth for this insight!) I must evaluate my own obedience to my Lord.
Deuteronomy 11:12 (The Message)-The land you are entering [2008]
to take up ownership isn't like Egypt [2007], the land you left,
where you had to plant your own seed and water it yourselves as in a vegetable garden.
But the land you are about to cross the river and take for your own
is a land of mountains and valleys; it drinks water that rains from the sky.
It's a land [2008] that God, your God, personally tends—he's the gardener—
he alone keeps his eye on it all year long.
I pray that God will open my eyes and my heart to anything unclean that I might have. It is my desire to be empty of myself so that I can love God more, so that I can listen to His voice and hold fast to Him.
And that you may love the LORD your God,
listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.
For the LORD is your life,
and he will give you many years
in the land he swore to give to your fathers,
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
~Deut. 30:20 (NIV)
What must we do to be transformed to radical obedience-make Him our life, not just part of our life. It's going beyond scripture reading and Bible study. It's going beyond memorization of Gods word and prayer. It's going beyond living for yourself. It's going beyond being willing but being willing to be made willing. It is living God truth in His faith and and by His grace. Truly it is going beyond ourselves and letting God!
Question of the day....What do you do personally to make this happen?
In His Graces~Pamela

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Games We Play

We spent last night bringing in the New Year "shut in" with our church youth group that we lead. Today has been waisted on catching up with that lost sleep!! Last night's theme was entitled "the Games We Play" and I am amazed at what God was able to do within this event! Out of the 28 church and community kids that were there, 21 made decisions of salvation or re-dedication! God is so good! I am honored and thankful to work with such an amazing team that created this event and to see it be used by God as it was! I stood humbled and amazed at my husband as he lead the invitation, so thankful to be given the opportunity to love such a man willing to be used by God and to watch God's words come from his mouth as he closed the speakers topic. I am so blessed! Truly, the message hits home with all Christians, not just the youth it was aimed for. It is so easy for Christians to "play the game" but are we really serving? Are we really committed to what God has called us to? We are not called to "play the game" but to "live in the game"!
I am reminded of the scripture passage God placed on my heart for the 2008 year:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
Isaiah 61:1-3
Happy New Year! Indeed it is!!
In His Graces~Pamela