Monday, June 24, 2013

What a friend I have in Jesus!

The dictionary defines a "Friend" as:
A person whom one knows, and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.
Also it defines "Friendship" as:
The emotions or conduct of friends; the state of being friends, and a relationship between friends.
     Though these definitions are the beginning, I personally feel that it's difficult to define what a true friend or friendship is to each individual person. It's been said about me that all of my friends are my best friends, and for me that is true. I value my time and protect it closely. So, if I'm sharing my life with someone on any personal level I hold that relationship to a high position.
     You've heard the saying "You are what you eat"? Well, I've adopted a similar saying when referring to my friendships that "You are who you spend the most time with". It's inevitable that you will on some level share common characteristics and interest with the people you spend the most time with.
     I recently had the opportunity to examine my closest relationships and this is what I learned and was convicted of in my own personal experiences...
 Acquaintances can very much appear to be friendships until the relationship is challenged beyond ones comfort or if there is a lapse in the amount of time that the relationship is being invested in becomes too great for ones liking, then it fades away and another replaces it.  
Mentors are very rich relationships that one person receives, grows, and learns from the other with the time spent together being more limited but wholesome and lasting impressions are made.
Companions tend to be the most visited relationship and the least amount of maintenance is required to maintain as you already have similarities such as work, hobbies, families, recreational activities, ect.
FRIENDS  are those people in your life who are honest under any and every circumstance, love you through the seasons that you require the most discipline, last through every offense and sacrificial act, grow with or without investment of time or energy, and are protected by both people on the same level. 
     Each of these play a role in our day to day life and should not be taken for granted. On a more personal level there is another relationship that builds and usually unbeknownst to us at some point takes a wrong turn and needs to be monitored closely, and held loosely. It's what a friend is not. It always begins as one of the above and just becomes unhealthy. It's the one that becomes the un-filtered, verbal garbage. Leaving you feeling like you need to repent from the tongue that was spoken and questioning the root of it's existence. It wears a mask, and for a period of time attempts to portray itself as one of the others, but always reveals itself.
    Now, what does the Bible say?  
     We know that since the creation of man that it wasn't good for  man to be alone. In Genesis  2:18 I'll give you what I like to call the brief an amazing version (that I completely paraphrased) It goes like this: God made man in His own image and placed him in the Garden of Eden. He gave man charge over all the animals of the world. God saw that there was no suitable companion for Adam so now we cue Eve. The helper to Adam.  
     The first two relationships formed were between God and Adam and then between Adam and Eve. I believe whole- heartedly that remains true for today. If our relationships are kept in alignment with how God designed, then we are spared the pain and suffering that comes from being out of the protection and will of God.
 Now What??
     Since I am not married...My focus, attention, priorities, and energy are consumed with knowing  Jesus. I am in such a tender season where I recognize His presence in the little things and desire to be consumed with all He has planned for my life. I want to praise Him in all that I do and everyday be better than the day before. Through each relationship that crosses my path, God specifically designed them to support, encourage, believe, strengthen, laugh, cry, and dream with me. It takes discernment to recognize which role that person will have in my life and I can only begin to understand by staying in constant fellowship with my Jesus.

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. 

If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear

    much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Walking to the Car Alone

They say to keep these single years as so precious.  The wise people in our lives and the married people in our lives say it.  Married people, the ones I know anyway, have told me that marriage is wonderful, but the single years gives the single girl so much freedom.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians that it really is better to remain single if you can, because a spouse takes up a lot of energy and time.  Right now, I have hours upon hours at my disposal, to serve people, serve the church and work on the dreams God has placed upon my heart.  I love it, I love this time in my life and I am not out looking for a permanent significant other.

Yet, there is the reality of walking to the car alone.

Sometimes, at night, I do have to walk through a dark area without protection.  I just walk fast and look around a lot.  Other times, it’s broad daylight, and no matter how heavy that box is, I need to find a way to get it to my car.  Or I’ve just been to a great event and I want to talk about everything that just happened.  There are sometimes when bad things happened at the event and I want to talk through how that went.  How I could have dealt with things better and feedback from someone I trust.  However, when I get into the car and shut the door it’s silent, because I am alone.

Loneliness is an interesting thing to think about.  Sometimes in life, as a single girl, I can honestly say that I feel lonely.  With my finances spilled across the table I have to make these decisions ultimately alone.  I have to face the day and put on a brave face all the time.  I know I am not the only one, there are hundreds of thousands of Christian single young adult girls across the country with the same quiet courage.  The courage to remain pure and single, to keep their hands busy with the work of the Lord until the time is right for marriage.

Actually when it comes down to it I am not alone.  This might sound cheesy, but it’s true - I have Jesus with me.  I get into the car and start pouring out my heart to Him all the time.  Before I begin my finances I whisper a prayer, “Please help me figure this out, Lord.” When the box is too heavy, then I take things out and make a few trips.  Someday a husband will lead me, hep me talk things through and be there to lift my box.  However, he will also teach me by challenging me, thinking differently than me and expecting hard things for me.  But, I am not worried about it because that season is for that season.

This season is for this season.

These single years are so very precious, it’s true.  I just want to quietly applaud the single Christian girl and tell her, “I am with you in this!” I am doing it too.  We aren’t alone, we have each other in spirit as single girls.  No, none of us are truly walking to our cars alone, the reality of it is that we have God there. We are doing just fine by His amazing love.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Call of a Husband and Father

 There is something God has written on my heart with great conviction. It is what His love is supposed to look like in our lives. We all have people in our lives that we love, and we love them the best that we can. In my life I came to terms with the reality that the best love I had to give to those I cared most about was not enough. What is on the inside always comes out, no matter how diligently we strive to make things different. I was a selfish boy who cared more for me than for those I loved. It was that selfishness that corrupted the love I sought to give. What came out was the best I had to give, but it was really all about me.
It was this truth that God used to bring me to Himself. I didn’t want to hurt anyone anymore. I didn’t want to hurt my wife. I didn’t want to hurt my kids. The turning of my heart was a moment when I cried out to God with complete sincerity to just make me the man my wife and kids needed me to be. I didn’t ask Him to help me. I didn’t ask Him to make things better for me. I asked Him to do whatever it took for me to be the man they needed me to be. This was the beginning of my new life.

     God showed me that the only way I could love my family the way they need to be loved is if I would lay down my life. I had to die so that they could live. I had to take up my cross so that I could love them the way they need to be loved. I realized that only through defeating selfishness could I give of myself in such a manner that my love would be genuinely felt by the recipient

      It is the love that God showed me when He suffered the crucifixion that has changed my life. While I was still in rebellion against Him, living selfishly for myself and hurting the people around me, He still loved me. He pursued me in spite of myself, and never gave up on me. It is this love, unconditional and sacrificial, that I wanted to be able to give to my family. By yielding to God, He has shown me what love is supposed to look like. After all, God is love.

     I now love my wife and kids. God has shown me that I am to love her as He has loved me. I am to not give up, and I am to lay down my life for her just as He did for me. I had caused great pain for my wife in the past, and those wounds are not yet healed. I must continue to trust God and His timing while I wait for Him to bring about what He has shown me. It is the impossible, and truly when I see with my sight instead of by faith the fear and doubt come rushing in.

     I cannot say that I know much, but I can say that I know God. I know love for the first time in my life. Because I know love, I know hope. Without God I am nothing but a selfish vacuum where my best is short of ever being what I would want it to be. With God, it is Him working through me. He can and will do what I cannot. Love is sacrifice. Love is everything, and without love there is nothing. I am bound to what God has shown me. Though the doubts and fears come, God always moves to keep me on track. He is faithful even when I am not.

Osa McDonald


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Believing God

In the hope of eternal life, which God who cannot lie, promised long ago. Titus 1:2 (Life Principles Bible)

     Many times in my life I needed one I can put all my hope in, one I could trust, a person I knew would follow through with what he said.  Character: a distinctive trait, quality, moral strength and reputation.  Character it's what you know about a person.  It's someone you know you can count on and will always be there for you.  There isn't a doubt in your mind how we can trust this one person.  How many people do we know who are like that? In my own personal experience of life we can change like the seasons we are in.  If the weather is warm, we are in a good mood.  If money is plentiful we are happy because we place our trust in things, money and people.  People change that is a certainty, we grow, we live daily lives, and adjust ourselves to the experiences at hand.

       How well can I say that I know the character of God?  Do I trust His word when it tells me that He is one that cannot lie? In Hebrews 6:18,  So that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. 

     When I first came to the Lord I was going through a divorce and I lost custody of my son.  I was homeless and did not have any family to help me out.  I learned to trust the promises of God.  Many years after my divorce I have seen God come through for me over and over again.  Through out my life He provided love, protection, guidance, and many blessings.  Even today He continues to be steadfast and faithful  What amazes me is how true to His word He is, even though I fail him daily.  Do not love money; be satisfied with what you have.  For God has said, I will never fail you, I will never abandon you.  Hebrew 13:5 

     God has promised me things for my future.  Do I lose faith because the promises don't come when I think they should come true?  No! When I am ready and willing to listen to Him I am able to know His promises will come to life.I also know that God's word can be counted on, I can trust His testimony that has set His seal upon to this truth that His word is true.  Anyone who excepts His testimony can affirm that God is true. John 3:33   I may lose heart on getting what God said He would give me, but He is faithful, and He will come through for His timing.

     In the meantime, I will enjoy the journey called life.  I will stand on this firm foundation of knowing that God is incapable of lying to me. This gives me such a rest , such a peace and I am thankful that He won't forget what He has promised me.

God is not a man, so he does not lie.  He is not human, so He does not change His mind.  Has He ever spoken and failed to act?  Has He ever promised and carried it through?  Numbers 3:33

~Sandra Dockery-laroque


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Walking with Him: Missie's Personal Application

For we walk by faith, not by sight.
 2 Corinthians 5:7

     I had someone ask me one time, "How do you make it through all of life's troubles? I have seen you go through so much and you just press forward with a confidence that I have never seen before.  What is your secret"?  I just looked at her a smiled and thought to myself if you only knew what goes on inside of me when I let my emotions get out of control.  I replied, "I have not always been this way.  In  my before Christ days I was a mess".  I then began to tell her my "secret"...The only way I make it day by day, minute by minute, and second by second is through my Savior Christ Jesus.  I walk by faith and not by sight, because I have a complete trust that God will pull me through anything that is thrown my way.  For you see God has a plan for me and he is never surprised by things that happen in my life.

   For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. 
 They are plans for good and not for disaster,
 to give you a future and a hope.
 Jeremiah 29:11  

With this promise I know that God can bring me through any battles that may come my way.  I need to put all of my trust in Him by doing this I am letting him be in control of my life.  I have gone through seasons where I ignored God and did things in my own strength. When this happened my life spun out of control and my world fell apart.  I personally don't like this feeling of helplessness, so now I turn everything to God.  I am   a very thankful and humble person these days.  I will admit I still tend to go around the same mountain a time or two. Now I recognize when I am doing this and at this point I give it back to God.  My personal prayer to Him is thank you Jesus for being there for me and helping me through things.  Remember God wants to be able to do this for you, so just let whatever it is go, and it will be okay. ~Missie 

Walking with Him: Jennifer's Personal Application

     What does "Walking with Him" mean to me? 
  • It's a Decision: that is made everyday to wake up and thank Him for another day. 
  • It's Faith: Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 
  • It's Prayer: Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer in petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
  • It's  Repentance: 2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret. 
  • It's Praise: Psalms 119:175 Let me live that I may praise you. 
All of these are "Steps" that I choose to take each day to "Walk with Him" and be changed in His presence. My Faith is a relationship that grows everyday and through all of life's ups and downs is something that requires my constant attention. 
My Prayer life is an array of conversations throughout the day. In my prayer journal, in the car, around the meal table, giving thanks, in my head silently, and out loud shouting from the roof tops. It's a give and take of listening and receiving from Him through a song on the radio, a verse that jumps off the page in my bible, and that still small voice. 
Repentance isn't just a weekly heart examination at church, It's a daily account taken of my thoughts, actions, and choices. When I feel a distance and separation during prayer, I know something is hindering me from accessing the presence of God and requires me to go into a quiet room and humbly ask Him, "What is it"? "What's keeping me from feeling close to you"? Every time, He is faithful to show me.Every time, He is faithful to forgive me and welcome me into His presence with open arms. 
Saving the best for last, My walk is full of Praise! I love to worship and give thanks for His ever steady hand. For protecting, providing, changing, growing, and shaping me into exactly who He's called me to be for His purposes.