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Posts Tagged ‘Grace’

Love

I support loving people as they try to figure out God. I support Christians who understand grace and forgiveness. As a fellow brother in Christ, I urge my fellow believers to stop being cruel and judgemental and stop engaging in culture wars. Allow people the freedom to understand and grow. Love people for who they are and where they are at so that they may experience the Love of Christ.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Matthew 22: 37-40

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I read this blog from Karen E Yates and really enjoyed it. Probably because it is so true. I think it can apply to relationships, co-workers, etc as well. I experienced this with my last relationship with an extremely insecure and deeply wounded girl who stonewalled me as well (I am on a very long list of people in her life she has stonewalled). These people are sad, but paint a picture to people that they are healthy. In others words, it’s easy to fall into their trap because we are easily attracted to them. I was vulnerable and fell for my ex because I had just gone through a tough break-up and she threw herself at me when it was over. These people work very hard for love, attention and praise. I’ve been very cautious these days of who I do life with and careful I keep safe people around me. Friendships and relationships should take time to grow, not rushed. We all have faults and sins and you want to make sure that the people you are doing life with are honest with themselves and taking their issues to God, not covering them up.

WHEN YOU PICK THE WRONG PERSON TO BE FRIENDS WITH

KAREN E YATES

I risked friendship for her.  And it didn’t turn out so well.

Even now as I write about it, old feelings of rejection stir.

How could she cut me off?  
What did I do?    
Why wasn’t I enough for her?  

Perhaps you’ve been there before.  Or maybe you’re there right now.  Can I just lean over and hug you and say: I’m so sorry.

I’m so sorry you were rejected.  I’m so sorry your offering, what you gave of yourself, was cast aside.  I’m so sorry you were made to feel disposable.

You are most certainly NOT disposable.

In my case, with this particular friend, I look back and realize I should have known better.  There were warning signs.

Warning #1
She came along when I was insecure and lonely. I recently married Bookguy and moved to his turf where I knew virtually no one.  Nobody knew my maiden name–nobody knew my talents–nobody invited me to coffee.  I was desperate for friendship; I would have befriended Stalin at the time.

Warning #2
Our friendship went from zero to 100 in less than two weeks.  Several times a day she would call.  We would chat about a myriad of things: Richard Hatch, boyfriends, Coldplay, and who would win The Mole?  We would pray together, confide, give advice, and laugh.  She seemed so “into” me.  It felt nice, and … unnatural.  Her way of doing friendship was different than mine.  But luckily for her, I had time on my hands!  And limited friends for her to compete with!

Warning #3
I chose to reciprocate friendship her way.  I’ve never been the type of person to have one best friend.  In fact, I pride myself on having many close friends.  Yet here I was with her, hours soaked up by persistent girl-time with someone I barely knew.  It was like making out all night long on your first date.  Too much too soon.  I was overwhelmed trying to keep up, and at the same time, I was smitten with her and the idea of us being ‘best friends.’

One Friday afternoon, about 9 months into our friendship, my phone rang.  Sitting at my desk staring at a jar of pencils, she broke it off.  It was actually the first time a girl friend told me directly they didn’t want to be my friend anymore.  {We women are much more passive aggressive than that!}

Her excuse was something she called ‘the pit.’  Sometimes in relationships things are sailing along hunky dory when she wakes up with a pit in her stomach.  She can’t explain why or where it comes from.  But the pit is there.  Whenever she thinks about the relationship, the pit in her stomach takes over, and she must end it.  

She was ending us.  She ‘got the pit’ with me. 

I hung up the phone and thought of our whirlwind friendship: how fast it came, how fast it went.  I felt rejected.  I felt unwanted.  I thought she was mean.  And selfish.

I picked the wrong person to be friends with.  

Have you ever picked the wrong friend?  Has this happened to you?  What would you do differently if you could?  

For me, I’d …

Fall slower into friendship.  Today I take my time in friendship, and that includes professional friendships.  I watch and listen and observe.  Sometimes I inquire about someone’s reputation.  I am careful to allow time to grow what is a worthy, hopefully life-long relationship.  I tread lightly at the beginning.  Monthly lunches, occasional phone calls, text messages, emails.  I am super friendly.  But I am not overly eager.  This is wisdom.
  
Be myself.  I have learned that I can be me and you can be you, and we can still be friends, even if we have very little in common!  I will never be a crafting, sewing, cooking mama, but this doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate friends who are!  Chris Seay says you only need to have one thing in common with someone to be their friend.  {I totally agree}.  If you are a true friend, or if you sincerely want to be my friend, you will accept me as I am.  This doesn’t mean permitting sinful, wrong behavior.  It means my quirks are safe with you, my boundaries are respected, my talents appreciated, my heart and intellect, valued.

Not blame myself.  She dropped me like a bag of potatoes.  For whatever reason I was rejected.  That was her choice.  That is not my problem or my fault.  I committed no wrong.  I have nothing to be ashamed of.  After she dropped me, I spent months wondering why.  I agonized over how easily she disposed of me.  And it got me nowhere.  Only more unanswered questions and more hurt.

Friendship is earned, not entitled.  It is a gift you give by your own volition.  It stinks to have that gift thrown back in your face.  But I am sincerely glad I’m no longer friends with someone who doesn’t appreciate what I have to offer.

A warm {hug} to those of you who know firsthand what it feels like to pick the wrong friend.  Grace on you as you forgive and move on!

Karen

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Tonight was a pretty fun night for me at PhoenixONE. I had my own booth set up and was able to connect with lots of people from different churches. I ran into my old buddy Malachi and chatted with lots of friends that I have made over the years. I then looked across and saw that my friend Heidi from Food for the Hungry had her booth set up across from me. She was fresh off her trip to Bangladesh with the FH bloggers. She was there to get people to sign up for the FH Empower Women 5k walk.

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Brian Wurzell and Ryan Axtell

It’s always a blessing to have my long time friends and worship leaders Brian Wurzell and Ryan Axtell lead worship for PhoenixONE. Brian always picks a song to get us moving around in our seats and tonight it was Hillsong’s “Break Free”. Tonight’s speaker was Brad Lomenick of Catalyst. I’m a huge fan of Catalyst and have been to a couple of their West Coast conferences in Orange county. Brad helps raise up leaders and Catalyst is a movement that helps equip them through amazing speakers and teachers.

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Brad Lomenick

Brad’s talk was about the four keys to being a change maker (the theme of the Catalyst conference this year). My notes:

1. Understanding your calling

– Our talents and passions should intersect

– Salvation and Vocation

Write down your three greatest strengths and then your three greatest passions

2. Create a legacy

– Your 20’s will establish your 70’s – start creating your legacy now.

– Be Kingdom entrepreneurs – both business and the Bible.

– Own a vision bigger than what is in front of you. Perseverance is important.

3. Excellence – be the best in the world.

– Set a standard of excellence.

– Be good at everything you do – father, co-worker, etc. Work hard and be a good finisher. The world will notice.

4. Be more like Jesus.

– Passionately pursue Him. There are too many average Christians.

– His grace leads to our passion of worship which leads to joy in our lives.

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“Break Free”

I sat with my friend Heidi during the service. She was up next to talk about Food for the Hungry‘s International Women’s Day. The Walk to Empower Women 5k walk at Indian Steele Park is in March. This is a walk to raise awareness of the women around the globe that face violence, discrimination, lack of basic rights, lack of education. Heidi has a huge heart for this and God has taught me a lot about partnerships. Heidi has put a lot of time and effort into this and I’m thankful be a voice to help raise awareness for her. Plus I have the utmost respect for Food for the Hungry and always blessed to be a part of what they are doing in to world.

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Heidi Hatch

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“And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, ‘A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.’ As he said these things, he called out, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'”

Luke 8:4-8 (ESV)

There have been many times in my life that I have been the good soil. Those are the times I am faithful and find myself living my life fully for Christ. But if I were honest with myself, I have been the seed in the thorns most of my life. I am guilty of serving “leftovers” to God because of my own desires for a comfortable life. I become distracted and fall to the ways of the world. God warns us many times of the dangers of being a lukewarm Christian. His harshest words are to those that maintain a minimal commitment to Him and don’t pursue Him passionately. We need to take words of Jesus at face value and allow them to impact us.

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Matthew 16:24-25 (ESV)

As I look back on my life, my faith was mostly shaped by how I was raised in the church. I was exposed to a fear-based type of Christianity growing up. I gave my life to Christ because I didn’t want to go to hell. I struggled with guilt and shame when I was caught in sin. Jesus calls us to let go of everything and follow Him. This is what I learned later in life when I gave my life to Christ. I learned that His grace covers us. His love for us should cause us to respond with an all-consuming love for Him. He wants our best. We need to adopt a posture of obedience where we let go of everything we have and joyfully cling to God.

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Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-2

Do we all have this approach when we are in prayer with our heavenly Father? Do we have this awe factor of God when we have alone time with Him. I know I don’t. Maybe we need to stop and just reflect on God before we pray. My time with God is good. I feel I talk to Him throughout my day. But my alone time with Him isn’t always spent wisely. I get distracted easily and I make other things more important than Him.

In this study I was asked to answer this question – what would be my first words out of my mouth when I first come into the presence of God? I immediately teared up and I though “why me?”. Why does God continue to pursue a broken-down person like me? When I think of how He sent His son to die for us and that He loves me unconditionally despite my rebellion, it blows me away. And the thing is, God uses me over and over again – even after I fail. Everyday I am used as His witness and for that I am grateful.

Revelations 4 gives this amazing picture of John coming into the presence of God. Some of it sounds amazing and some of it sounds weird. But when it comes down to it, can words really describe what it is like to come into the presence of God? I love the picture of constant eternal worship of our Heavenly Father. It sounds amazing! How I long to even worship my Lord and Savior for an hour a day.

I need to slow my days down. I need to make time for God and gaze at how awesome He is. I need to allow my time with Him to flow through my everyday life schedule. I want my thoughts and approach to life to always reflect Christ and how He first loved me.

God is HOLY  God is ETERNAL  God is ALL-KNOWING  God is ALL-POWERFUL  God is FAIR AND JUST

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us… Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like  

– A.W Tozer

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Birthday Freebies, lots of surprise lunch and dinner parties, tons of texts and Facebook bday wishes, one of one coffee moments, a great day at church and a fun bday night out with an amazing friend – these are some of the blessings that God gave me on a great birthday weekend. It’s nice to feel loved. But most importantly, God has reminded me of where I was and where I am today. It has been an amazing journey of healing and sanctification for me and I thank the Lord for His grace and for His love and for putting amazing people in my life to move forward with in my walk. Here’s just a few pics from a fun weekend that I won’t forget!

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– I typed this up for me to read to myself everyday to remind myself of who I am in Christ. It’s from some sermons and scripture that I have been studying on Grace

GRACE 

Ephesians 1:1-14

  1. I am somebody – a Saint by God’s grace in Christ (not because of anything I did)  Psalms 139:13-18, Ephesians 2:8-10, 2 Corinthians 5:17
  2. I am blessed and I have all I need in Christ (Spiritual blessings – peace, power, perseverance, etc – everything I need to be everything God wants me to be right now in Christ)  Colossians 2:9
  3. I am chosen by God  1 Peter 2:9, Colossians 3:12, John 15:15, 1 Thessalonians 1:4
  4. I am holy and blameless in His sight (we are created to be like God)  Romans 3:21-26, Romans 8:1-4, 1 Corinthians 1:30, Ephesians 4:22-24
  5. I am a loved son/daughter of God  Romans 8:15-17, Romans 8:31-39, 1 John 3:1, Romans 5:6-8, 1 John 4:9-10
  6. I am a trophy of God’s grace (I’m still here because God brought me through my trials. By the grace of God I am what I am)  Ephesians 2:4, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
  7. I am redeemed and forgiven  Isaiah 53:4-6, Colossians 1:10-14
  8. I have the Holy Spirit in me  Ephesians 1:13-14
  9. I am God’s possession   Ephesians 1:14, 1 Peter 2:9

By His grace, I am healed of the wounds of my heart that have been afflicted on me by the sins I have committed and the sins that have been committed against me. My scars tell the story of the victory that Christ has brought to my life. Jesus says I will know the truth and the truth will set me free.

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God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:21

This is a verse that has been standing out to me in my studies and the focal point of my life right now. It’s all about grace and how God makes the impossible possible. The key part is that God gives us his righteousness, which means we are in right-standing with him. We get this righteousness through our faith – when we actually believe this. We no longer have to carry our shame and guilt when we know that we are washed by his blood and in right-standing with him. This is just blowing my mind..

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“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14

This comes from Day 1 of Experiencing God. Tonight was the first night of our small group (over 25 people – praise God!). I am excited to go through this workbook as I feel this study is perfect for this period of my life. Both my boys are doing the same study in their groups too. Last week I started reading Galatians to deepen my understanding of God’s Grace. I have been following along with Redemption church’s study guide and also been attending here and there to listen to the messages. My home church is studying the book of Hebrews for the year starting next week and we are going through the gospel of John in my men’s study group. I’m really excited to draw closer to God in my walk with these studies and to see what exciting things God has in store for me.

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A couple of months ago, all I heard was sad stories. In addition to my own trials, I heard story after story of difficult stuff going on in people’s lives. But all of us have been clinging to the cross and trusting in God through these times. We have been supporting each other and living out the gospel while going through the fire. I can say today, that I’m seeing lots of smiles. In fact, I have been smiling a lot lately and people have been noticing. I love where I am in my faith. I have been living in God’s presence throughout my days and I’m seeing lots of blessings as a result of it. I’m hearing all sorts of God stories. Kate McRae’s story and her family’s faith has always been an encouragement to me. My friend Michael lost his job and was in a car accident in the same week a few months back. Someone gave him a car and he just got a job this week. And through it, his faith grew so much. God works all things for his purposes and there are blessings for trusting in him.

I think the biggest thing that people do is give into fear. They run away or try to control their circumstances. It never works out when you do things your way and not God’s way. I have seen this time and time again in my own life. There will always be difficult times and Jesus promises to walk us through them. True faith and blessings comes from those who trust him no matter how hard life’s trials are. Love this quote I saw today:

“It is the most natural thing in the world to be scared, and the clearest evidence that God’s grace is at work in our hearts is when we do not get into panics….The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.”

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