follower, Jesus, spiritual

Not Another Fan

Photo by Naypong
at freedigitalphotos.net

I don’t want to be just another fan.

There…I said it. I have been a fan of Jesus, but not always a true follower. Now I know that my friends and family would argue that, but if I truly search my heart, in some areas of my life I have been just another fan.

I saw on Facebook a book that my sister-in-law Elizabeth posted. They are starting up a study based on this book Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman and I was curious. I looked it up on Amazon and promptly ordered it. I started it this morning and am halfway through.

It’s not easy reading, as I have had to examine my heart and my motives against the challenges that Jesus set forth to his disciples and the crowds that followed Him. Yikes.

You see, a fan is excited about their team until the team begins to falter. When tough times comes, the fan becomes disillusioned and becomes a fan of the next great team.

A follower on the other hand doesn’t give up God when the going gets tough.

A follower counts the cost….and there will be a cost…and steps out in faith regardless.

A follower is excited about God and His mission in this world.

A follower is full of the Spirit, and is aware of His presence.

While I have been able to say yes at times to all of these, I have been lukewarm a good part of the time. I get weary. I become afraid of what others think. I get tired of Satan’s attacks and give up on my zeal for the Lord.

I want a close relationship with God. I want to fear God and give Him the honor, respect, and reverence He is due. I want to live a life of love for God and for others. I want to be used by Him. I want to surrender to Him completely…wholeheartedly…unashamedly.

Oh God, the cry of my heart is I want to follow You. 

I don’t want to be just another fan.

Jesus, spiritual

The Creature’s New Clothes

Photo by isobelyf at pixabay.com

Did you ever think of Adam and Eve being the first fashion designers? They were. When they disobeyed God and ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they became aware they were naked…and quickly made for themselves some little outfits out of fig leaves.

“Who told you that you were naked?” God asked them.

You see, before they ate of the tree forbidden them, Adam and Eve were naked and they felt no shame. They walked with God in the garden and there was no shame in that…naked before God. No hiding. No shame. No barriers to God.

And then they decided it would be nice if they could be like God and know everything, so they ate the fruit, and were banished from Eden…from God’s presence. Without God, they were naked, ashamed, and lacked His tangible presence.

Without God, mankind is stripped of their dignity and found to be naked before God.

We have tried to be our own god, but God had a plan to cover our nakedness before Him.

Jesus, God whispers to the world. Jesus is my plan…to clothe the world in his white robes and bring back their worthiness, their significance, their dignity.

Remember when the apostles were praying in the upper room when tongues of fire lit atop their heads? They were clothed with power from on high, the power of the Holy Spirit.

Through Jesus, we can be clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit. We can walk hand-in-hand with God with our head held high because we are clothed with the power of His Son and the power of His Spirit.

God is the ultimate fashion designer and you will never be better dressed than when you are clothed by His designs.

So what are you wearing today?

***Based on John Ketchersid’s sermon 9/11/2016

faith, Jesus, spiritual

People of Blessing

“I will” 

These words were spoken several times by God when he spoke to Abraham about the plans laid out for him.

“Go to the land I will show you.”  

  • FAITH
Abraham believed God and acted on that belief. He didn’t know what would happen in the land where God was sending him, but he left his homeland and family to do as God commanded. Abraham never would have gone off on his own. He needed God to tell him to. Like Abraham, we have limited vision. We can’t see the big picture and need God to show us where he is wanting us to go. Ask God to show the path He has for you. 
“I will bless you.”
  • PROMISE
Abraham was childless, but God’s promise to grow his descendants was true. We need to remember that God is at work beyond our abilities. Sometimes current events can be deceiving and it takes a longer view to see the blessings to come. God’s not concerned with our ability or inability. He can work through it all. His concern is for His mission in the world, the plan He has for all mankind.
“All peoples will be blessed through you.”
  • MISSION

God’s mission is to reconcile the world back to Himself. He wants everyone to love Him and be in relationship with Him and that is accomplished through Jesus Christ, His Son. All people are blessed through Abraham because Christ is a descendant of Abraham. Because of Jesus, people can come to know God in an intimate way and have a relationship with him. And when we are in a relationship with Him, we become more and more like Him, and therefore a blessing to those around us.  

Can you imagine a people that puts others’ interests before their own? Can you imagine a people that makes decisions based on the benefit of others and not themselves? The people of God, when truly in tune with Him…when transformed into Christ’s image, are a people like that. They are a people of blessing. 
What are you doing to become a person of blessing? 


***Taken from my notes on the sermon by John Ketchersid on 9/14/2014.***

church, inspiration, Jesus, spiritual

The Presence

The only life worth living is a life in Jesus’ presence. But for the disciples in John 14, that was about to change. Jesus was telling them he was going to leave them. What?? They had left everything to follow him. He is leaving? Yes, but his presence would come and be with them always.

We Christians are told that this presence will always be with us. God is with us. Surrounding us. Living in us. But sometimes we feel spiritual isolation. We feel God is far off. Abandoned. Alone.

Jesus taught his disciples in John 14:18, “I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.”

Jesus could return to them because he is one with the Father and one with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, or Advocate, Counselor, Comforter, or Helper, as scripture calls him, is available to those who will receive him.

How do we receive this presence?

Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love Me, obey the commandments I have given you. I will ask the Father to send you another helper, the Spirit of truth, who will remain constantly with you.”

What are the commands he has given? What is obedience?

  1. Believe – “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29)
  2. Love – Love God and Love Others as Yourself. (Mark 12:30-31)
If we live in the way of Jesus, we will live in the power and presence of Jesus.
What a great and power Word for each of us. Believe and Love and live in the Power of Jesus. 
Have a blessed Monday!
These words are from John Ketchersid’s sermon July 6, 2014 at the Plymouth Park Church of Christ.

faith, God, Jesus, spiritual

Weakness and Faith

Photo by luigi diamanti
freedigitalphotos.net

I’m weak. I fully admit it. I don’t measure up as a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. I’ve been selfish. I’ve participated in gossip. I’ve neglected people I love. My mouth needs a muzzle at times. Sometimes I am just a mess and I’m sure my witness for Christ has suffered for it. And this makes my heart hurt.

John’s sermon Sunday was on Hebrews 11, the great chapter on faith, and it was a message I so needed to hear. This chapter lists great heroes of the Bible who were heroes because of their faith…their belief in God. Faith was the foundation of their lives –  no matter how often they failed. You see, these great heroes of faith were not perfect.

Abraham doubted God’s ability to give him a son. He lied about his relationship with his wife. 
Jacob deceived his father and also played favorites with his children. 
Moses killed a man.
David committed adultery and murder.

All of these were commended for their faith…and they were sinners. And this gives me such hope, because I am a sinner whose sins are covered by faith in God and belief in His Son, Jesus. Though I fail at every turn, I still have faith in God and that is my foundation for life. Yes, I need to learn to live in the presence of Jesus and muzzle my mouth and learn to serve in love, but I am covered with God’s love because of my faith in Him.

“Know that I love you. Accept my love,” he whispers.

There is a peace that passes understanding in knowing His love and accepting His love.

I promise to try to live a life worthy of the calling God has place on my life, but I know this…I will continue to mess up. So please forgive me if you are at the receiving end of my mistakes. Know that I love you and never want to cause you hurt or harm.

And then just slap me upside the head and tell me to get over myself!

church, God, Jesus, spiritual

What’s So Important About Church?

Photo by Deb Spoons
freedigitalphotos.net

Why go to church? I can have a relationship with Jesus all on my own. I feel God more out in nature than I do within four walls of a sanctuary. It will be more important to go when I have my own kids. I don’t get anything out of going to church. Church just doesn’t speak to me.

I’ve heard these statements and have really pondered the question: What’s so important about church?

Well, John’s sermon yesterday gave me an answer that I feel makes sense. Yesterday was Pentecost, the Sunday we remember when the Holy Spirit was poured out on Jesus’ followers awaiting the promised gift. John spoke of three things we receive when we accept Jesus and are given the Holy Spirit: Peace, Joy, and Mission. It was when he spoke about our mission in this world that I truly began to understand the importance of church.

The original word for Holy Spirit is BREATH. God breathed on the disciples and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, just as God breathed on Adam and gave him life. This breath of the Holy Spirit is special, because it gives us purpose and can give us passion.

Psalm 150, the last psalm listed, speaks of the purpose and mission of those who have the breath of God.

Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals. let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.
    Hallelujah.

It is a mission of the church…the universal church, the church world-wide…to praise the Lord. We praise the Lord with our lives because He has given us breath…not only physical life, but life life in His Spirit.
The church is a group of believers who gather together to worship God. To praise Him. To love Him. To honor Him. If our mission as Spirit-filled believers is to praise the Lord, then  we need to join together as believers worldwide to praise God and lift up His name. There is great power in the collective worship of God.

But I don’t get anything out of church! Church is not for your pleasure. Church is a place to collectively worship the one true God. It is a place to further the mission of God. Worship requires you to consciously think through the words of the songs sung, the prayers said, the scripture read, and the sermon preached. It requires you to come prepared to give…not receive. Don’t get me wrong, you will receive great things when you truly worship God as He deserves. But receiving something is not the purpose of coming to church.

I’ll go to church when I start my family. If the parents are not sold on the mission of God before they have kids, then their kids won’t capture that mission of God. Parents need to have their own relationship with God and be sold out for Him before they can train their children to love Him. It is not the church’s job to train up a child in God’s love…it is the parent’s job. The church can – and does – teach, but it just reinforces what is taught at home.

I feel God more out in nature than I do within the walls of a church. Yes, there is something about being out in nature that draws us to God. It is because we are truly recognizing and seeing God’s work around us. It is because we are focused on His creation and recognizing the gift that it is. But we can do the same thing at church. So often we go to church, wondering if we will get anything out of the service. We go through the motions. But we aren’t actively participating. We aren’t truly meaning the words of the songs we sing. We aren’t truly agreeing to the words spoken in prayer. We aren’t truly paying attention to God’s words spoken through the sermon. There is power in the collective worship of God’s people. We can experience His powerful presence when we truly worship in spirit and truth.

Church is not only a place to worship God. It is a place to be encouraged by other Spirit-filled believers. There are times when I am struggling with something in my life and someone in church will come up and ask about me…and sometimes even KNOW what I am struggling about. That is the Spirit loving on me and encouraging me…through a fellow believer. I wouldn’t get that encouragement…either from the church member or from God…had I not been in attendance. Church is not just an institution…it is a family.

Church attendance is not a requirement. We don’t need another thing on our “guilt list”, for sure. But church attendance is an outgrowth of our heart. We spend time and energy on what is important to us. We make time for what we love the most. What is most important in your life? (Disclaimer here: There are times when we just cannot make it to church. In today’s economic times, sometimes we have to work on Sundays. There is no shame in that. What I am saying here is that worshiping God is more important that shopping, catching up on sleep, and watching TV.)

This is certainly not a complete list of reasons for the importance of church. What would you add to my list?

God, Jesus, personal, spiritual

Robbed But Not Defeated

We were robbed last Friday. While we were at work someone broke into the house and stole some things. I won’t go into details, but I have to say that I was disappointed. It was disturbing to know that someone had entered my house and looked through all my stuff….and made a big mess. Drawers were dumped out, a table turned over, even Q-Tips were strewn everywhere!

And they took the pillow case off my bedding that I got for my birthday last year! The nerve!

While it is a sad thing to lose your things, I was able to keep it all in perspective given the recent tragedies in Boston and West. What’s a few electronics in the face of death and destruction?

All in perspective.

And of course, there is the security that knowing God is present in all our circumstances…good or bad. When my husband called me to tell me the news and I got into the car to head home, the song that began to play on the radio was Blessed Be Your Name. Yes, indeed! Whether the sun is shining down on me or my road is marked with suffering, still I will always say…”Blessed Be Your Name, LORD!”

God also spoke to my heart in Bible class Sunday morning. Listen to our scripture for the class:

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(V)”> where moths and vermin destroy,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(W)”> and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(X)”> where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Y)”> 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6: 19-21

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AC)”> about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AD)”> Are you not much more valuable than they?<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AE)”> 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life<sup class="footnote" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="[e]”>[e]?
<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AF)”>
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AG)”> was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AH)”> 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AI)”> 33 But seek first his kingdom<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AJ)”> and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AK)”> 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6: 25-34

Amazing, isn’t it? I love that God reminded me that my treasure is not here on earth. It is stored in heaven, awaiting me there. I love that He reminded me that I do not need to worry about “things”. I don’t need to worry because He will take care of me and my family. He loves us so and has showed us through all the hugs, prayers, calls, texts, and emails.

I am so incredibly blessed to have a God and friends who care and love so unconditionally.