Changed by God’s Word

Changed by God’s Word

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

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“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”

Isaiah 40:8

Changed by God’s Word

In our part of the country the changes of season are in the air. The wind chills the cheeks of my girls as we play outside in our front yard. The leaves of our three oak trees are falling from the busy squirrel up above. The mums and pansies shine bright, but most of the other flowers are wilting away. The blooms of my crape myrtles have all blown off. Leaves in the trees surrounding us are turning golden. In a few weeks our grass will be dry and brown. Autumn has come.

While Isaiah 40:8 is about much more than the turning of season, I can’t help but be reminded of it this time of year. There is something that doesn’t pass away. The living word of God. As autumn progresses we will find ourselves in the holiday rush, a time of year that is so easy to become consumed with matters of this earth. Thoughts about our holiday outfits, our Thanksgiving table, sports, the pumpkin path, the Santa picture, lights, our decorations, our greeting cards, the parties to attend… while none of it is wrong, it can be overwhelming. So what a breath of fresh air to be reminded that the matters of this earth aren’t as important as we make them out to be. How important it is to be reminded that the word of God is eternal, that his promises are true.

I love the song,

Ancient Words.

“Holy words long preserved

for our walk in this world,

They resound with God’s own heart

Oh, let the ancient words impart. 

Words of Life, words of Hope. 

Give us strength, help us cope

In this world, where e’re we roam

Ancient words will guide us home

Ancient words ever true

changing me, and changing you.

We have come with open hearts

Oh let the ancient words impart. 

Holy words of our Faith

Handed down to this age.

Came to us through sacrifice.”  

The Power of God’s Word

Not only is God’s word eternal, but it contains the power to change us- really change us.

God’s Word Creates Action

If you’ve never watched the movie, Monumental by Kirk Cameron, I encourage you to do so! It is a wonderful documentary about the Christian roots of America. This film begins with the story of the Puritans, and goes into great detail to share the hardships they faced as they broke away from the Church of England and fled to Holland, and later the New World. These were men and woman who were deeply changed by God’s word. These were people who had grasped the concept that God’s word stands forever, and that the needs we have on this Earth are trivial compared to salvation. Oh, what sacrifices they made, many even loosing their life. God’s word mattered to them, and they wanted to preserve it for future generations. The movie is centered around the National Monument to the Forefathers in Boston, which shows how much they prioritized the word of God. The Bible was worth sacrificing everything for, and it was important to preserve it and pass it down to future generations.

Yes, these men and women had been truly changed by God’s word.

How has God’s word changed you? 

Personally, one of my greatest battles is insecurity, and I have been changed by God’s word time and time again when I go to Him in my distress. At times my eyes are opened to changes I need to make, and other times I’m reminded of who I am to Him. Over and over, he blesses me through his word.

Let me honest with you though- I’m not always allowing it to work in my life. I can’t tell you how many mornings I finish my reading only to become easily angered with my family, or selfish in my time, greedy in my wants, or wallow in my insecurity. I am human, I confess. I must choose to be changed.

God’s word is powerful, and if we want to reap it’s benefit, we must be willing to accept it, to let it cut us to the heart. We must allow the comfort in his message give us grounding peace. We must act upon the the convictions these words bring. We must be willing to as James so boldly put it, do what it says! (James 1:22)

There will always be more to learn, we will never grasp it all. Yet no matter where we are on our spiritual journey, these ancient words can convict and change. No matter the trends of culture, they are relevant. His word stands forever.

This time of the year can be quite full. Let’s not forget to prioritize time in our Bible, and to truly let it convict our hearts. Let us not be afraid to be deeply changed by God’s word!

 

 

 

 

Looking to Him

Looking to Him

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

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Looking to Him in Our Shame

David is known as a man after God’s own heart, but if you study his life, it won’t take you long to realize that he wasn’t without blemish. While known for his courage, he also faced moments of fear. One of these times is recorded in 1 Samuel chapter 21.

“That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish, king of Gath. But the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David, king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances: ” ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands’?”

David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.”

1 Samuel 21:10-13, emphasis mine

Afraid…David?

I’m a little taken when I read that David was afraid. Is this the same man who so confidently defeated Goliath? I can only imagine the embarrassment our strong and confident David felt after giving such a display. The Bible doesn’t really tell us that David felt shame over his actions. I have to wonder though, how would he have handled the situation if instead of fear, he’d felt as confident in the Lord as he did when the giant came down?

When the king saw his unsound state, he insisted that David leave. David fled to a cave. It is believed by scholars that at this time David wrote Psalm 34.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”
Psalm 34:4-5

Their faces are never covered in shame. 

Shame

I wonder if David felt shame while drooling and scratching at the door. I wonder if he was looking back at his past actions and wishing he’d looked to the Lord in his fear. Be my thoughts inline with David’s thought process or not, I find comfort and direction in his psalm.

I so often feel ashamed with myself.

Ashamed for opportunities missed.

Ashamed for comments said or judgements made.

Ashamed for my idleness.

Ashamed for my shortcomings.

The shame is heavy and holds me down. In this pit, I’m only looking inward at what I can do. In this pit, I feel inadequate for kingdom work. In this pit, I’ve forget who I am in God.

Never Covered in Shame

I believe that David forgot who he was when he was faced with this fear. He forgot that God had chosen him to be king, that the battle was the Lord’s. But as he later says, those who look to him are radiant and their faces aren’t covered in shame!

Oh how, I love David’s declaration!

In Romans 8:1-2 Paul tells us, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

When I look inwardly it’s no wonder that I feel insecure. When I focus on God, and what He’s done for me I don’t have to feel ashamed. I can move on and be empowered to take advantage of the opportunities He gives.

We must remember to look to Him and see that we’ve been forgiven, and that our flesh might be weak, but the spirit is powerful!

David was able to move on from his lowly encounter. He gave praise to God for delivering him and continued to seek God’s will. Yes, he would stumble, but David was a man of worship. He continued to look to God and seek His will. Oh, that we might do the same!

A Prayer Over Our Hearts

Father God,

We praise you for the mighty God that you are, and for delivering us from sin! In all circumstances, may we look to you. Draw us to your presence and help us to remember who we are in you. May our lives not be liven selfishly, but instead for your glory. Use us to advance your kingdom! 

In the Name of Jesus, 

Amen 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bouquet of God and His People

The Bouquet of God and His People

Amy B

Amy B

God has blessed us with a great big world, and I try to go see it whenever I can!Admittedly, I have an unusual life where I get to teach what I love 8-9 months out of the year and then go travel and serve the Kingdom in my other home the rest of the time:Edmond, Oklahoma and Vienna, Austria. A lot of what I write revolves around what God teaches me through those experiences and I invite you to "travel" with me in those times! Basically, I want to be Rick Steves (the travel writer) and Lysa TerKeurst (Proverbs 31 Ministries) when I grow up! :)

I have a bunch of college "kids" I call my own, 2 dogs named Abby and McGee (yes, I love NCIS) andI get to be "the cool aunt" to 2 beautiful nieces and 3 handsome nephews.They make great play dates!

Given the opportunity, I want to encourage people when I can and remind them of the power of God in their life...or help them find Him in different ways.Fair warning:I'll ask you the tough questions!I treasure deep relationships - especially ones that will allow for "iron sharpening iron."

I love being outside, and I'm a huge fan of turning off the phone whenever possible to soak up God's creation! Actually, I'm a huge fan of turning off the phone in general...as the phrase goes: "Wherever you are, be all there", and if you are where I am, then I'm going to be all there!

I'm flawed, but saved by grace and learning daily to be loved by God.I'm thankful for the times he lets me wrestle with him because he knows my heart of hearts, and I'm ok with my hip being messed up (Genesis 32: 24-26) because growth comes from it.I encourage you to join me in the journey!

Love well...breathe deep....show mercy!
Amy B

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When you look at this bouquet, some might see flowers, some might see weeds, but I just see God and his people.

These flowers came from one of my favorite places on earth: Schwarzwaldeckhaus. That’s a mouthful, isn’t it?! Sitting on top of a mountain in the Austrian Alps is a three-story cabin that serves as a retreat center for youth camps, church retreats, and other fellowship times. It is a place that has been very near and dear to my heart for many years.

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Because the house sits on top of a mountain, the views are breathtaking, the cows are entertaining, the sunsets are exquisite, and the stars are indescribable.  The quiet is deafening, but the time there–no matter how it is spent, alone or with others–is refreshing.  It truly is a place to breathe in God and all that he creates for us to enjoy. If God were to have an earthly throne room, I think it would be here, on this mountain top.

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A while ago, I had the honor of taking two dear friends, a son and his “seasoned” mom, up to the house (haus, in German).  For one, it was a time to reminisce about her experiences from her younger days; for the other, it was his first view of the mountains. Like many before them, their reaction was similar to most–awe.

She related memories of being at the haus with college students and how they would walk the mountain trails, breathing in the clean air, and the soul-refreshing moments with God and each other.  But one story in particular caught my attention.  On one of her early morning walks, she decided to pick one flower, and only ONE, of each kind she found growing on the mountain.  By the time she got back to the haus, she had a large bouquet of flowers in her hands.  The week after their visit, I was blessed with time on the mountain by myself (well, and a black lab named Cara) so I decided I was going to test her story myself.  You know what I found? The Church.  I found God.

Cara and I started our walk down the mountain trail and I began to do the same thing my seasoned friend had done those many years before.  I picked one flower of every kind I could find. It was amazing to notice how many different kinds there were.  Although I walked only twenty minutes away from the haus, my hand was getting full of flowers so I decided to turn around and walk back.

I began to really admire all of the variations in my hand: the diverse, rich, and beautiful colors, the different shapes and sizes, and the beautiful intricacies of God’s designs.  It was fascinating!

As I walked back towards the haus, I found other flowers I hadn’t noticed before because my perspective had changed.  And, when I started to REALLY notice ones I had never seen up there before, it made me want to look even deeper into the fields of flowers.  It became a source of joy and reflection of how powerful God’s hands are and the creativity in his creation.

But then, I realized I was putting God in a box by even saying he was “creative”…that was almost too “human” of a word to describe him.  It’s cool to know that he didn’t really have to “think” about his designs–he just spoke the words, and they were!  Admittedly, the designer in me loves to think of God, sitting in front of an enormous marker board, dreaming up every flower imaginable.   A storyboard for every season, every climate, every country.

And, as random as this is, I loved that they all had one thing in common–a green stem.IMG_8707

Cara and I returned to the haus with our bouquet of flowers.  I was curious to see how many different kinds there were, so I laid them all out on the kitchen counter.  There were thirty different kinds of flowers, some with many similarities between them, but they were all still different.

 

After arranging them into a bouquet, I put them in water and enjoyed them the rest of the week…and what God was teaching me.

Faith-Building Moments

I’m sure you can extract your own faith-building moments from the story, but these were some of the things God spoke to me about:

The Lord has no equal and all that he has made is good!

Isaiah 40:14 and 26 says, “Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice?  Does he need instruction about what is good? Look up into the heavens.  Who created all the stars?  He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name.  Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing!”

You could say the same thing about the flowers…he created all of them, they all have a name, and they were created exactly for where they belong, and even for the proper season to flourish in.

Now compare that to God’s people and his church!  We are all created differently, each of us with our own particular details and intricacies given to us by God, and that is what makes us unique.

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it!” Psalm 139: 14.

we-are-all-created-differently-each-of-us-with-our-own-particular-details-and-intricacies-given-to-us-by-god-and-that-is-what-makes-us-unique

God has placed us where we need to be to bring him the most glory.

John 17:4 says, “I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”

And while he may only put us where we need to be for a season, his ways are always higher.

“Who knows if perhaps you were made for just such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14).

 

God doesn’t call us to understand the season, he calls us to be faithful!

1 Peter 5:12 encourages us, “…what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you.  Stand firm in this grace.”

And another favorite of mine:  “Now if you will obey me and keep my commands, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.” (Exodus 19:5)

john-17-4

Perspective is also beneficial as God’s people

We all come from different situations and life stories. Yes, they make up a part of who we are–or at least who we were–but looking at people through eyes of love and God’s grace allows us to see the embraceable differences we have that make up the body of Christ.  “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multiple of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8.

Looking deeper into people’s lives also opens up the door to ministry and sharing the Gospel, as Philippians 2:4 suggests: “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others too.”

 

We are unique, we are different, but when we are all put together, we’re beautiful because of Christ! That “green stem” is Jesus.  As a body, we have in common the forgiveness he offers us and the ability to live for him, bringing him glory.  What a humbling honor!  That the God who knows my name calls me to be his own: “…he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself.  And having given them right standing (righteousness), he gave them his glory!” (Romans 8:30)

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Now go pick some flowers!
The Bouquet of God and His People

How Will You Respond?

How Will You Respond?

Ali R

Hey! While most of my life was spent in Colorado, I am happy to now call Oklahoma my home. I am amazingly blessed to have a supportive and God-fearing husband who is also a terrific dad to our four kiddos (who we had in a 3 year 9 month time frame). I love to drink coffee, sing, hear people’s stories and have dance parties. I am passionate about my relationship with Jesus and desire to share that gift with every person that I meet. My hope is that I can encourage someone today with and through the Word of God and His steadfast love. ::psalm 27:4::

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“Baby, you need to stop getting upset at all the small things and reacting so poorly when things get hard.  You have no control over what happens or how people treat you.  The only thing you have the power to control is your response and attitude.  You can let those small things ruin your day and ultimately lead to poor choices, or you can choose to be joyful and know in your heart that you are doing the right thing and actually growing as a person from it.  I know it seems hard at times, but all you have to do is close your eyes…take a deep breath…and ask God for help.  I promise, He is listening and wants to help you. You weren’t meant to do this without Him. You can’t do this without Him…”

The Same Struggles

Each word I spoke scraped several sensitive areas inside my heart before coming out of my mouth.  Here I was, feeling beat down from circumstances of the day, instructing my daughter to let go of all the same little things to which I was tightly gripping. Sure, what I had been struggling with seemed to be on a greater level, but are our battles really all that different?

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“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to us all…”

1 Corinthians 10:12-13a

You see, friends, when we remove all the smoke and mirrors disguising the core issues, our struggles are no different than our children’s struggles.  After all, fear is fear…jealousy is jealousy…insecurity is insecurity…doubt is doubt…sin is sin.  I think too many times we try to justify our reactions or complicate situations more than they ought to be, when it really just comes down to the struggle between flesh and Spirit.

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind controlled by sinful nature is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”

–Romans 8:5-6

A Choice in the Way We Respond

So just as we give our children a choice to do what is right and respond in a Christlike way, God has given us that very same choice.  We can choose to respond in our flesh and in our own strength, or we can “close our eyes…take a deep breath…and ask God for help” because “I promise, He is listening and wants to help us. We weren’t meant to do this without Him. We can’t do this without Him.”


 “… And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

-I Corinthians 10:13b

 “Casting all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:7


How Will You Respond_ Spurgeon Quote

Without Grumbling

Without Grumbling

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

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“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, by holding firm to the word of life.” 

Philippians 2:14-16 

An Invitation to Go Without Complaining

I invite you to take a moment to meditate on Philippians 2:14-16. Do you feel you are following this instruction in your day to day life? Would others describe you as blameless and pure? Does your life stand out in this sinful generation we find ourselves in? Are you holding firm to God’s word?

A few weeks ago we read this scripture in our bible class and I could feel my heart freeze. I immediately remembered the way I huffed out of frustration when my daughter wouldn’t leave my feet. I thought about how I often lamented over the stress of motherhood and the envy I’ve often felt in my heart toward my husband who goes off to work around other adults, and finds himself with 60 minutes of commute time each day to listen to whatever he wants.

As I thought about my tendency to grumble, my chest grew tighter as the Sprit continued to convict my heart.

I love staying home with my young children. It is my first choice, but I admit, the enemy has still found footholds through the challenges that come with my day to day life.  The temptation to grumble is not reserved for stay-at-home moms. The enemy hits us all with deceptive ways, no matter our age or circumstance.

And oh, do we grumble.

Scripture gives us a different way to live.

Scripture tells us to live without grumbling. Why? So that we might shine like stars in the world for the purpose of bringing God glory. 

Do you know anyone who is always able to find joy no matter the circumstance? A couple of different people come to my mind. These sweet friends of mine are the brightest lights. They radiate God’s love. I’m always so refreshed after spending time with them. It is not that their life is easy, without any strife.

To live without grumbling is more than just ignoring one’s burdens, it is living with the joy of the Lord inside their heart. Philippians 2:16 says this happens by holding firm to the word of life. We must know God’s word, believe it, and put it into action in our lives. In God’s word, we will find two beautiful characteristics to lace our hearts with.

A Heart of Service 

Matthew 20:28 says “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”  Grumbles often stem from entitlement. Christ, on the other hand, displayed a very sacrificial way of living. We must reflect on our life circumstances and look for the opportunities to serve and bring God glory.

A Heart of Gratitude

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings; name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 instructs us to give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Embracing a heart of gratitude and continually looking for the blessings in life will not only help us to live more joyfully, but will also align our lives to God’s will.

As I’ve reflected on my tendencies to grumble these last couple of weeks, I’ve been reminded to embrace the season I find myself in, and to serve my family patiently and joyfully. I know that I will continue to grumble from time to time, but I pray that God often leads me to this passage in Philippians. In a world that feasts on entitlement and selfishness we will surly shine like stars from the joy of the Lord, if we serve and love those around us without grumbling.

So go ahead, jot down Philippians 2:14-1. Put it in a place where you will see it often and be reminded of a better way to go through your days!

 

Just Ask Joseph: Running from Sin

Just Ask Joseph: Running from Sin

Tracy Watts

Tracy Watts

Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Tracy Watts

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Joseph is such a vibrant character in the Bible. Reading the end of Genesis, his life is exciting, terrifying, depressing, and inspiring in turn.

In Genesis 39, we see him as a slave in Potiphar’s house, put in charge of essentially everything Potiphar owns. And then he comes face to face with temptation: Mrs. Potiphar.

The Story of Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife

As you read the story, you get the idea that Mrs. Potiphar is not just some old lady. She probably isn’t covered in warts or plump, jolly, and wrinkled.

Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” (v6-7)

And as she spoke to Joseph day after day… (v10)

…she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” (v12)

She’s at least young enough to catch young, strong, in the prime of his youth Joseph by his garment. And she apparently is attractive enough that he can’t just “laugh” this off.

Neither does he stay to try to “reason” this out with her. What does he do?

RUN!

But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. (v12)

Joseph has cut his losses and is booking it out of there! He has no pretense. He knows that this would be a sin against God. And he is willing to do whatever is needed to get him out of that situation.

He runs out of the room.

Learning to Run from Sin

I think we have a lot to learn from Joseph. So often we try to justify our sin. We make it out to be something “little.” Something “not as bad” as other sins–instead of seeing it for what it truly is:

How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God? (v9)

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If we approached our own lives with such dedication to living for God, we might have to get rid of some ugly parts. We might have to feel uncomfortable. We might even have to run the other direction.

But in the end, isn’t that better? After all, if you’re running away from sin, doesn’t that also mean you’re running toward God? There’s no better place to be.

Just ask Joseph.

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