What Faith Can Do: The Hebrews 11 Hall of Fame {Music Monday}

What Faith Can Do: The Hebrews 11 Hall of Fame {Music Monday}

Toni D

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Toni D

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Faith!

We talk about it all the time.  Faith is the basis of our religion.  But do we truly have faith?

A few Sundays ago, my husband filled in for our pastor.  He was asked to share his testimony about when he had his heart attack.  His story is incredible.  We experienced so many miracles that day, all because of my husband’s faith that God would get him through it.  As soon as he realized what was happening, he started praying!

Let me back up a minute and share that our daughter begins our service by leading a praise song.  She had no idea that her father would be preaching on faith.  The song she chose that week was “What Faith Can Do” by Kutless.  Is it not wonderful how God puts everything together?

Hebrews 11: The Faith Hall of Fame

This “testimony” led to a full-blown sermon on faith.  As my husband prepared his lesson, he felt God telling him that he was missing that point of his testimony.  He preached from Hebrews 11.  The first three verses state:

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the men of old gained approval.  By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”

Hebrews 11:1-3, NASB

Throughout Hebrews 11, Paul tells of the faith of people in the Old Testament: Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Noah, and many others.  These people had faith that God would get them through difficult times and/or give them promises.  They believed God would deliver them no matter how bleak things looked.

Share!

My husband ended his sermon with the fact that we should be sharing our faith, teaching others about what faith really is.  As Hebrews 11:6 says, “…Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”  We must have faith!

Do you truly have faith?

Do you share/show that faith?

Please share a story of when God provided because of your faith.

 

Words Have Power {Music Monday}

Words Have Power {Music Monday}

Toni D

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Toni D

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Sticks and Stones…

…may break my bones, but WORDS will never hurt me.  We have been told this since we were little children.  How true is this?  Are our words harmless? Or do our words have power?

Words have power.

Words can affect us for a lifetime!  Things we say can determine our own or others’ futures.  I am the worst at just blurting things out without thinking.  I am not known for my tact.  God has really been convicting me of this lately.  About a year ago, a song came on the radio.  I had heard “Words” by Hawk Nelson before, but this time it really convicted me.

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out
Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Do Your Words Show God’s Love?

I do not want my words to tear people down or to hurt them.  Instead, I want my words to be uplifting and empowering, helpful and inspiring.  But mostly, I want my words to show God’s love!

Once our words leave our mouths, we cannot take them back.  They are out there, and you cannot change them.  They have done either damage or good.

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I have had this happen to me.  Things have been said to me in passing that ended up changing who I was. On at least one occasion, it caused me harm.  I became anorexic because of something that was said to me.  I’m sure most of these things were not said to hurt me, but many ultimately did.

Most of us have been hurt by things others have said, either purposely or inadvertently.  Think about those times and how you felt when you heard those words.  Is that how we want to make others feel?  We should be positive in what we say.  Let’s build each other up with positive words.

Let our words be Life! Let our words be Truth!

There is power in our words!

Let your speech always be gracious

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Getting Rid of Picture Perfect

Getting Rid of Picture Perfect

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
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Do you struggle with perfectionism?  Are you able to be transparent and share with others that your life isn’t picture perfect?

When I was in high school, I had quotes and signs all over my room.  Two signs I made said:

Nobody is perfect, but that is no excuse!

&

Practice makes improvement.

For years upon years, I lived my life trying to achieve the best. I would practice extra hours on the track.  I would redo and rewrite papers and projects as much as needed until I had my projects and papers as close to perfect as I could get.  I remember in college one of my professors commenting that I should have turned in my first draft instead of the 5th, because it would have worked too.

Part of me was doing it because I love a challenge and knew I could do better.  The other part was doing it out of fear of failure.  We need to distinguish what drives our need for perfection and take hold of it, if the root cause lies in fear and not love.

Now, I’m not saying that we should not try our best, but I’ve learned that we can waste a lot of time trying to be perfect.

What are we afraid of?

Sometimes, trying to reach perfection keeps us from taking action!  It causes us to freeze in fear of messing up. What exactly are we afraid of if we do mess up?

  • Doing it wrong?
  • Feeling like we might be ridiculed?
  • Feeling that we won’t be valuable?
  • Believing God’s grace is insufficient for us?
  • Thinking that we won’t be trusted if we can’t get it right?
  • What????

We are called to live like we are loved not like we are perfect!

If we live in fear of messing up and not being perfect then we are like the one who was given a talent and instead of doing anything with it, hid it in the ground! He made no profit, didn’t even try.  Instead, he did absolutely nothing productive.  He froze in fear.

When the master returned to find that he didn’t even try to do anything with it, he was punished.

Matthew 25:24-30

He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

We should never allow fear of imperfection keep us from working in God’s kingdom.  God has put us right where we need to be, has given us access to what we need to accomplish the goals He has set before us, and doesn’t ask us to rely on ourselves. Instead, the Lord asks us to rely on Him.  He will get us through any situation and will even use our weaknesses to bring about his glory.

Are you willing?

Are you willing to allow God to use your weakness or are you too scared to show others that you have any?

When we mask our weaknesses, we are not only being deceitful but we are hindering God from using them for his glory.  Satan then can use this to make others feel alone, like they are the only ones having to fight this battle.  Here’s the truth:  You are not going through anything that someone else has not already gone through!  You are not alone in your weakness!

But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
– The Lord to Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:9

Christ died for our imperfections.

Let’s not pretend like we don’t have any.  And let us be gracious as we see the imperfections of others.

I still believe practice makes improvement and that we are not all perfect.  But I am trying to no longer waste time in achieving absolute perfection.  Not everything needs to be 100% perfect.  Sometimes, we need to just do our best, not stress over potential failure, and trust that the Lord can use any weakness we have for his glory!

Every time I hear this song by Hawk Nelson called Live Like You’re Loved, I double check myself and see if I’m wasting time running after perfection because of fear.  Are you ready to get rid of the picture perfect life?

 

Finding Redemption Amidst Insecurities

Finding Redemption Amidst Insecurities

Kristin J

I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
Kristin J

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Nothing distracts me from God’s goodness and robs me of my joy quite like insecurity. Recently in church one Sunday I found myself unable to concentrate on the sermon because I was so busy thinking about my shortcomings: I hadn’t made enough effort to reach out to others, I’d been lazy and making unhealthy choices, and I wasn’t enjoying God’s word like I wanted to. Here it was, time to sing our song of invitation but I really hadn’t been paying attention. I was only going through the motions. All of a sudden the words I was singing on autopilot hit me:

I come broken to be mended
I come wounded to be healed
I come desperate to be rescued
I come empty to be filled
I come guilty to be pardoned by the blood of Christ the Lamb
And I’m welcomed with open arms, praise God! Just as I am.

Redemption…

I could hear God whisper, “Daughter, lay your insecurities down, and come to me. I offer redemption.”

The song continued:

Just as I am, I would be lost.
But mercy and grace my freedom bought
And now to glory in your cross
Oh Lamb of God I come, I come.”

Mercy. Grace.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. – Hebrews 4:16

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Redeemed Even with All Our Faults

You see, sweet friend, God knows we are are not perfect. He knows that even with the best intentions and the strongest self-discipline we will fall short of his glory. But he gives us mercy and grace over and over again through the blood of Christ Jesus.

When we come to God in all of our faults and shortcomings, he covers us. That’s what he does!

Now, this does not mean that we stay content in the mud of our sin, knowing that He pours out grace. Paul had something to say about this:

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. – Romans 6:15-18

Conform to the Image of Christ

We should strive to conform to the image of Christ. Of course we must pursue a life that pleases God, but we don’t have to feel stuck and alone when we mess up. We can lean on the Holy Spirit for strength and good fruit in our life. With God’s help, we can take hope that life can get better. Even more, we can be better.

Because we know that God offers mercy and grace, we can experience confident living rather than overwhelming insecurity. He heals us, cleanses us, sustains us. Christ’s blood, not our own, makes us clean. Jesus makes us enough.

Father God, thank you for pouring out your mercy and grace upon us. When we come to you broken, thank you for mending us. When we come to you wounded, thank you for healing us. Thank you for rescuing us when we come to you desperate. Thank you for filling us when we come to you empty. When we come to you guilty, thank you for pardoning us. Every time we approach you, may we remember that sacrifice. May we lay aside our guilt and insecurities, and take on the confident hope that you’ve given to us. May the enemy have NO power over us. We love you, Lord! In the name of Jesus, Amen

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Verses to hold onto when you are Suffering

Verses to hold onto when you are Suffering

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
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As Christians , we do not walk through life with “rainbow eyes,” only seeing what is good, but instead we see and feel the pain around us. Sometimes we live deep in this suffering.  We do not feel this suffering any less simply because we have decided to follow Christ, but when we go through painful times, we can hold onto the hope-filled promises God gives us.

This past year and a half has been an extremely painful year for our family – physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. It’s been a blessing but a difficult one all at the same time. During this time, I have tried my best not to ride the roller-coaster of emotions.  The pain has been there and so has the hope, even though at times it’s hard to see.

Truths & Verses to hold onto during the painful struggles of life

Christ understands our pain and suffering.

He has experienced it all and can sympathize with us and encourage us through it.

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
Hebrews 2:18

We are never alone.

No matter how much Satan wants us to believe we are alone, God is always with us and never forsakes us.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

We have hope.

Especially in times of suffering, hope can be hidden.  Of course, it is always there but sometimes we have a hard time seeing it through our situation.  Hope encompasses all the promises that God has ever made and keeping those promises in front of us can help us not focus on the pain and suffering as much.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5:3-5

We should not mask our pain and sufferings.

If we try to numb ourselves or mask our pain, there will come a time when all those emotions will come flooding out. Plus, we will miss out on one of the great blessings God has given us through the church body. We are not called to hide what we are going through but to let our brothers and sisters in Christ help us to stand when we cannot.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2

This pain will not last forever.

Although it might seem like the emotional or physical pain will never go away, God promised that he will comfort and heal us.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 174:3

God can use our pain later to encourage others.

Although we don’t think about it in the midst of our suffering, God can use what we are going through to bring others who will go through the same thing hope too.  In the process of our suffering, he can even use it to bring people to know Him who would never walk through a church building’s doors.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Focus on Christ, not your suffering.

There are times when the suffering is overwhelming and the rough waves of the situation can keep us from seeing the truth.  That truth is Christ will hold us safely.  One of the main verses I held onto with all my might during this time is:

I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Pslam 16:8

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Music to Encourage the Heart – Red Sea Road by Ellie Holcomb

This past weekend, while attending a Local IF:Gathering, I heard this beautiful song, Red Sea Road by Ellie Holcomb.  As I listened to the verses, my soul was literally overcome by how absolutely faithful God has been to us in the midst of our suffering.  He showed up time after time, keeping his promises, reminding us that he was walking with us, and lighting our path along the way in the midst of our darkness.  God is truly amazing and this song will encourage your heart too during the difficult and trying times of life.

Read then listen to these beautiful lyrics:

God knows we ache when He asks us to go on
How do we go on

We will sing to our souls
We won’t bury our hope
Where He leads us to go
There’s a red sea road
When we can’t see the way
He will part the waves
And we’ll never walk alone
Down the red sea road
– Red Sea Road  by Ellie Holcomb

 

Inscription of Hope {Music Monday}

Inscription of Hope {Music Monday}

April E

I grew up in Oklahoma and attended Oklahoma Christian University. Right after earning my degree in Music Education I moved to Germany to do mission work for 5 years. During those 5 years, I married my husband and we eventually became parents to our spunky daughter! We settled back in Oklahoma and added an energetic son to our family! I am now a stay-at-home mom who is still very passionate about mission work, Germany, singing, family, and most of all, my relationship with God.
April E

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Lasting Impact

Some things just have a lasting impact on you. In middle school, I learned a beautiful song called “Inscription of Hope” that had that kind of impact on me. From time to time I remember it’s beauty, words, and especially it’s hope. Maybe I was reminded of this song because of the New Year and the idea of a new beginning, new possibilities, and the hope that that brings. Of course, the story behind the song is what is the most touching to me.

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The words were originally written on the wall of a cellar in Cologne, Germany during World War II by Jews who were hiding from the Nazis. Although the original author is unknown, the lyrics to this song leave a lasting impact on all who hear the song.  Here are the words and a link to the song below.

Inscription of Hope

I believe in the sun
Even when it is not shining.
And I believe in love
Even when there’s no one there.

And I believe in God
Even when he is silent.
I believe through any trial
There is always a way.

But sometimes in this suffering
And hopeless despair,
My heart cries for shelter
To know someone’s there.

But a voice rises within me
saying, “Hold on, my child.
I’ll give you strength, I’ll give you hope.
Just stay a little while.”

inscription-of-hope-1

I believe in the sun
Even when it is not shining.
And I believe in love
Even when there’s no one there.

And I believe in God
Even when he is silent.
I believe through any trial
There is always a way.

May there someday be sunshine.
May there someday be happiness.
May there someday be love.
May there someday be peace.

This year, may you find that the new year brings sunshine, happiness, love, and peace. And may you feel God’s presence in your life even when He is silent.

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