Christian life

28
Jan

5 Verses To Help Us Understand Change

When people and situations in our life change, it can sometimes be a little overwhelming. Most folks aren’t crazy about change, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, in some cases, it is necessary for us to be able to move forward.

If someone had told me five years ago what I would be doing today, I don’t think I would have believed it. Life has changed! But changes were necessary in order to position me for what God has called me to do today.

What about you? Has anything of significance changed in your life lately? I realize not all change is happy change, but hopefully, even in those times that the world feels upside down, somehow you can find a silver lining.

Scripture is very clear that change was, is, and will be a part of life. So today, I want to show you 5 scriptures that back up that statement.

1. God commands us to change our mindset from that of world-focused to kingdom-focused.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

2. Sometimes God calls us to change our physical location.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8

3. If we are a child of God, our spiritual nature should be constantly changing.

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18

4. Our perception of Jesus will one day change from what we thought we knew about Him to a level of complete understanding.

Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 1 John 3:2

5. One day, even the heavens and the earth will change from their current status to something gloriously new.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. Revelation 21:1

Are you starting to get the picture? God is a God of change. But luckily for us, it is always out of love that He moves and shifts our lives around.

Today, take some time to list out the things that have changed in your life over the last six months to a year. Then, ask God to show you why the change was necessary.

If we all took a few minutes each week to jot down how our life is changing, we would probably start to see some patterns. I challenge to you to journal any changes you experience over the next 30 days. And then, talk to God. He would love to show you where He is leading you. Will you be open to guidance?

Blessings to you and yours!

 

 

 


Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

15
Jan

Defining Your Top Fifty Goals in 2017

We are officially two weeks into the year! How is 2017 going so far? Did you set any New Year’s resolutions, or for those who don’t make resolutions, did you pick out some goals for the year? What’s driving you this year? If I asked you to come up with the top fifty goals you would like to see happen, could you? How long would it take you to create such a list?

Recently, I was asked to list the top fifty goals I would like to carry out if there were no restrictions on my obtaining them. And then, I was asked to label them as a 1, 3, 5, or 10 year goal –meaning the timeframe in which I thought they could be accomplished.

It was both interesting and fun to sit and actually let my mind wander! What did I want to happen in the near future?

Believe it or not, it took me a few days to list 50. Oh, when I started writing my list, thoughts just came flying, and I feverishly wrote them out. Then, around 20-25, the process became much harder. What else did I want to happen? “You mean I can list more?”

More seemed so greedy, more seemed so selfish, but after a while MORE came!

What about you? Are you struggling to set a few goals or can you easily come up with 50? What categories do they fall into, such as family life, wealth, or ministry. What do they say about you as a person or as a Christian? Exercises like this one can really help us do a “heart-check” on where we are spiritually. Listen, I believe we can and should think bigger. We serve a BIG God, and those that make the big ask delight Him!

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

However, though we can ask for anything; we shouldn’t expect to receive everything!!

Now wait a minute, Matthew 7 said “ask, and it will be given.”  Yes, it does, but don’t take it out of context with other scriptures along the same subject:

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 1 John 5:14

 

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3

Now I’m just confused!

Don’t be! We should allow ourselves to dream. Dreaming brings creativity and allows us to think beyond what we can readily see. Sounds a little like walking by faith versus sight, doesn’t it? (2 Corinthians 5:7). Yet, as Christians, our requests must align with the will of God. If not, well then, the answer is most likely no! (no magic 8 ball required)

So now, let me give you the rest of the instructions (yes, I left a few details out, but only to help make a point). Once you have your 50 goals and have labeled them by their potential year of completion, from the goals you labeled as one year goals, pick the top 4. How closely does your top 4 goals line up with your Christian faith and God’s will for your life? It makes a difference, doesn’t it?

If only we did this exercise on a regular basis! It could really help to steer our life into a more meaningful, God-oriented existence. And if we were successful in living completely under the influence of God’s will, what would our top 50 look like then? This year, let’s lean into Him and allow Him to shape our top fifty goals! There is no telling how blessed and enriched life will become. I, for one, am ready for it!! Will you join me?

Blessings to you and yours!!

Elaine


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

14
Jun

Can You Pass the Tissue Test?

Have you seen the commercial for Crest toothpaste that states: “Can you pass the tissue test?” Now, the commercial has to do with the whiteness of our teeth, but I can’t help relating this to our spiritual life.

Jesus has come to save those who are lost, and in that process He forgives us of our sins. In the Bible, sins are equated with “a red stain.” Yet through the forgiveness offered by Jesus, we are cleansed and made “white.”

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” Isa. 1:18 NLT

Now Isaiah is talking about a shade of white that is not described as off white, eggshell, magnolia, or any other shade. No, he is talking about a very bright, very clean white. And the Bible describes Jesus and his believers as represented by white. Why this color? White is a significant color meaning clean, pure, and righteous. Let’s look at some scriptures that include the color “white” in the description:

  1. Jesus’ transfiguration. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Matt. 17:2
  2. Inside Jesus’ tomb post resurrection. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. John 20:12
  3. Jesus’ ascension. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. Acts 1:10
  4. Jesus’ appearance per John’s vision. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. Rev. 1:14
  5. Jesus’ giving of a new name to believers. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it. Rev. 2:17
  6. Jesus’ followers in End Times. All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. Rev. 3:5
  7. Again Jesus’ followers in End Times. After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. Rev. 7:9

Are you getting the picture? 

Through Him we are unsoiled, unstained, and without fault. Nothing represents that better than the color white.

Today, let’s think about what we can do to show the righteousness of our Savior. When our lives are compared to His, let’s hope we can pass the tissue test because our spirits so closely reflect His love and nature.

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Esp. 5:1-2 NKJV


Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

7
Dec

Spiritual Pruning

The Vine_v2

So the Christmas season is upon us! Hopefully by now you have your decorations up and a little shopping done. I, personally, haven’t started Christmas shopping, but mainly because my Christmas list is very small. I don’t have a huge immediate family, and in recent years, my husband and I have committed to doing very small gifts for each other.

I do, however, have the tree and all the other decorations up. I especially love our Christmas tree. We have had the same tree for several years. It is the old kind of tree that requires all the branches be inserted individually, and the lights put on it one string at a time. I know, I know … get into the 21st century Elaine, and get a tree that comes in parts and already has the lights on it.

Every year I say, “Next year we are getting another tree.” But, honestly, ever year I put up our old tree (no small feat) and once it is done, it is amazing how good it looks. Something about sitting in the glow of that tree and looking at all the ornaments on it, each representing some beautiful memory from our life together, I fall in love with it all over again!  

Christmas tree 2

Yep, I’m a sap at Christmas! (no pun intended!)

So as I think about Christmas trees, the phrase “trimming the tree” comes to me. While we use that phrase to mean putting decorations on the tree, Jesus talked about “trimming” from a different perspective. In the New Testament, Jesus referred to trimming as pruning, and more often spoke of pruning vine branches versus a tree. 

In John 15, Jesus describes Himself as the vine, and his followers as the branches that remain on the vine. However, there was a second type of branch, the kind that “did not bear fruit” (John 15:2). Notice these unfruitful branches were ‘cut away.’ However, the branches that remained and bore fruit were pruned!

At first, it sounds like both branches are being punished, but those who regularly prune shrubs or bushes understand the process of pruning is a good thing. The act of pruning actually makes the branch grow back, and grow back both stronger and more fruitful than before.

The bearing of fruit is important, as it proves our connection to Christ:

This connection is vital. Connection to the vine (Jesus) is connection to life. Jesus tells us clearly that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Was Jesus being arrogant? Absolutely not! To carry out all that Jesus has for us, we must draw off His strength and power. When we do, the fruit of the spirit becomes obvious in our lives.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Gal. 5:22-23 ESV

So, I pray this holiday season that you will endure any spiritual pruning that occurs, and that you bear some awesome spiritual fruit!


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

16
Nov

That New Christian Feel

Believers Celebration Sunday

I’m not sure what your church service looked like this past Sunday, but this was mine! At Believers Church, we had service outside underneath a HUGE tent adjacent to the property our church family will soon call home (hopefully within the next 18 months to 2 years). We called it Celebration Sunday!

Yes, we got a little crazy, but isn’t the love of Jesus something to be crazy about!

So what were we celebrating? I am so glad you asked! During this service, we were able to look back and see how far the church has come since the Rescue Project, a former project that allowed the church to build our current worship center. Back then, the church was really no bigger than your average Baptist church is today, and my husband and I weren’t part of the membership! We have, however, benefited from the hard work and strong faith of those who took God at His word and launched out into the unknown “to rescue those who were drowning in their sin.” Darrell and I came to Believers in 2006. Next year, we will have been with the church 10 years! And the growth has been incredible, so much so that we have outgrown our current building and are working toward building a new church that house all the kids, teens, and adults that Jesus sees fit to send us each Sunday (almost 1500 total).

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16
Oct

Abiding in the Love of Jesus

Wow, I can’t believe how time has flown!! Where did the last few weeks go? I feel like we haven’t talked in ages!

I wish I could tell you the last several days have been filled with big red hearts and unicorns, but it hasn’t! In fact, it has been some of the toughest days I have had in a while. I have felt the world slowly caving in all around me, and that I was unable to stop it! I have felt isolated and maybe even a little abandoned.

I just wanted to go out my front door and yell to the top of my lungs, “World, are you out there?”

Can you relate?

Well even when the sun doesn’t come up for me and the gray skies hang around way too long, I know this – He still loves me. Even though I have thrown a temper tantrum or two over the last couple of weeks and told Him He is taking way too long on this one – He is still patient with me. And yes, even when my 40-something, hormonal self is just sitting there pouting, though I know what He has promised – He probably is just laughing at me!

The last few weeks has reminded me why I love Jesus so much, even when I am completely and totally unlovable at times. He is faithful and He is true.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 NIV

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30
Jun

Tongue-Tied

So I recently read the book of James from start to finish for the first time in a while and honestly, I started to feel a little tongue-tied. Who knew so many lessons could be packed into five simple chapters?

From James, we get verses like:

 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.  (1:22 NLT)

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (2:17 NLT)

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23
Jun

Suffolk Christian Church – Speaking Engagement 4/2015

Speaking Engagement 3

Wow! What a busy couple of weeks it has been! Today, instead of creating a full blog post, I want to share with you this video clip from April 2015 when I spoke at the Suffolk Christian Church Women’s Rally! It was a great afternoon spent with some wonderful ladies. I am happy to share some of the footage with you this week! I invite you to come on over to my recently created YouTube channel and give it a view. As always, your reaction is welcome!!

Click on this link and enjoy: https://youtu.be/thF7CyLLZa0

To arrange a speaking engagement at your church, use my contact page and tell me how I can serve you!

While you are there, you can also view a short clip of video testimonials about my book, Love Echoed Back! 

I’ll be back with you in a few short days with a brand new blog post called Tongue-Tied!

7
Jun

Home Run Series: Heading to Home Plate

Home Run

Wow! Here we are at the bottom of the ninth ending, and our series is coming to a close. We have rounded all the bases and are headed to home plate. Home plate represents “connection to God”. In others words, what is your relationship to God –are you connected?

Consider this, no one can get to first base without starting at home plate, nor can anyone finish a run without returning and crossing over home plate. The Bible says, Jesus is “the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 1:8) In order to run the bases successfully, we need to align our lives in such a way that He permeates it from beginning to end. Every time we run the bases in order something amazing happens –we strengthen our walk with Christ, and our relationship with Him is more balanced. Life becomes less about us and more about Him. John the Baptist said it best:

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31
May

Home Run Series: Who’s on Third?

Today is the day we make it to third base! We have talked about first base (i.e., character) and second base (i.e., community or relationships). Now, we turn to the base representing competency, or how we see success.

How do you measure success in your life? Perhaps it is by how long you have been married or held a certain job, or by how well your children behave, or by how much you have financially. But consider this –have you measured success by how deep your life reflects Jesus?

Certainly, God wants us to have a successful life. Jesus stated:

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10

Jesus’ expectation, however, is that our success in life will be poured out on others!

I, like a lot folks, relied heavily on my own man-made success, which was my nursing career. By the world’s standards, I was pretty successful. But when my career took over my life, things got messy. God would ultimately use the experiences I went through to shift my focus. He would build both character in me and community around me so that when new opportunities came, I would be prepared to walk in His will and not in my own.

What most fail to understand is life lived for God is a win-win. Not only will we live a life on earth that protects us from utter destruction and blesses us beyond our beliefs, but we will also be rewarded in heaven. Whatever we are willingly to let go of God will multiply.

 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.” Luke 18:29-30

Once I allowed God to train me through personal Bible study, small-group participation, church sermons, and Christian fellowship, I was ready. Once I learned that God can be trusted, my life rose to a level of success that the world can never offer.

Let me wrap up this week with an excerpt from Love Echoed Back that embodies this thought (click on image to enlarge):

Paper and Ink

Are you ready to head to home plate? Next week, we will complete the last leg in our trip around the bases, finishing our home run. See you then!!


 Join Believers Church for our new series:  Home Run

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.