Old to New

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 My mattress had seen better days. Better decades, actually. We’d invested in it a year after the hubby and I got married, and it was wonderful then. King Coil with a pillow top. Ever so comfortable. But that was then. This is now. Marc and I are hardly newlyweds – in fact, we’ll be celebrating 18 years of wedded bliss in just a few months. Which makes our mattress. . .old enough to be in high school. And drive. And like most teenagers, it started giving us trouble. It poked and prodded its pointy coils at us – sometimes even drawing blood. It had lumps and sags, holes in the pillow top, and all sorts of other inconsistencies that made it hard to cope with. Neither of us had been sleeping very well for a while. It had become a real pain in the neck (not to mention lower and upper back, legs, and shoulders). Finally, we decided the cost of sleep loss and pain was high enough to warrant some monetary investment. So, we spent an afternoon testing new mattresses (one of the coziest afternoons of my life. Just sayin’.), until we found one that fit our taste and budget. And a few days later, our pokey, lumpy teenager was replaced with ten inches of form-fitting memory foam – as soft and cozy as a baby’s skin. Our sleepless nights, aches, and pains were gone (or at least greatly diminished!). Kind of like salvation. Before Christ...

Our Mission Field

Brian (my oldest) and Tyler are seniors. Tyler works at Sonic and the only time I see him these days is when I go for a half-price milkshake, but there was a time when he was a big part of my life. Tyler and Brian played little league baseball together when they were boys. Tyler lives with his grandfather just down the street from us, so many times the boys would ride to and from baseball together. After baseball, they’d climb trees and race bikes and do whatever little boys do on Saturday afternoons. In Brian’s words, they were “tight.” Now, Brian had a system when he was little. When he realized that one of his friends didn’t know Jesus, he’d invite him to spend the night on Saturday so they could go to church with us on Sunday. He’d just keep inviting him to spend the night until we had opportunity to talk to them about Jesus. This was easy with Tyler because he usually came home with us after baseball anyway. Eventually, we’d pick Tyler up for church when he didn’t spend the night and, when my kids decided it was cool to ride the church bus, the bus picked Tyler up too. His mom was deployed back then, so when Tyler got saved, we waited until she could get leave to come home for him to be baptized. It’s amazing to me how things worked out… all because our boys just “happened” to be on the same little league team. When the boys hit junior high, Tyler went one way and Brian another, but Tyler is one of several boys that hold a special place in my heart because...

Changed by mercy

Only seconds remained on the clock. Down by three points, I stood at the free throw line. Breathe: just breathe and follow coach’s directions. Sink the first shot, bank the second so one of our posts can grab the rebound for a jump shot. If this was executed properly, we would win by one point, securing the district championship. The first shot found its target. Swoosh. Purposefully missing the second was what worried me. My second shot bounced off the rim, and landed directly back into my hands. There was no time for thinking, for planning. I simply did what I had been coached to do: take a jump shot. Swoosh. Our freshman girls basketball team had just won district. High fives clapped around me, as I stood in amazement. My coach whooped and hollered as he jumped up and down on the sidelines. Perfect, young lady; that was perfect. I shook my head laughing. No one in the gym was thinking of a game earlier in the season, the game where I sunk a perfect jump shot on an inbound play, for the other team. Coach could have chosen to no longer rely on me, to not trust my reactions on the court. Yet, he saw what I sometimes couldn’t. As I told the story of the three point play to my daughter, my spirit whispered, “Isn’t that the way of mercy?” A mistake became an opportunity to learn and to grow. John 4 tells of a woman, a woman whose past is draped in mistakes. One failed relationship after another litters her past. When she comes face...

The Gift of Gratitude

  “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT) I took my five year old daughter grocery shopping. She had been such a trooper that day, coming with me on all my errands, that I wanted to bless her with a gift. Since my daughter was just a toddler, it was obvious to all of us that her love language was gifts. She loves receiving presents! I decided to let her pick out a small present from the toy section at the story to bless her. My daughter has trouble choosing what she wants. Every toy looks amazing to her, and she gets torn between which special item she wants to choose. On this particular day, there were two toys that she wanted. I explained that we had to leave before my frozen items began to melt, so she finally had to choose one. On the way home, as she clung unto her new blessing, all she could talk about was the toy that she didn’t get. She whined and complained our entire drive. I almost wished that I hadn’t blessed her in the first place because of all the grief it caused her! Finally, when we made it to our house, I knew that I needed to talk with her about gratitude. “Are you happy with the toy that I bought you?” I asked. “Yes,” she said nodding her head. “Well, I haven’t heard you say ‘Thank you’ yet, and you don’t seem excited or happy about your new toy.” She held her gift...

Growing Roots

“But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers— never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season. Jeremiah 17:7 TM I’ll never forget the gift my mother in law gave me for my twenty first birthday. Let me back it up for a minute and just say that birthday’s are a great big deal in my family. I was newly married, pregnant with my first son (her grandson), and I could not wait to see what kind of glorious gift my new family would be giving me that day. I remember ripping open the beautifully wrapped gift with an anticipation that could only be that it was something “big”. I felt the heaviness of the item in my hand and when the paper stopped flying around me and I gazed upon this great gift I saw that it was, a large burgundy leather Life Application Bible. I did my best, “oh, I love it, thank you, you shouldn’t have” speech to them, then quickly pushed it aside to get to the “good stuff”. Later that night I looked to my new husband and proceeded to grill him with questions as to why his parents thought it was a good idea to get me a Bible for my twenty first birthday. You see, I was not a believer at this point and could not imagine in a million years that someone would give me, nonetheless anyone, a Bible...

word-filled wednesday {see and pray} :: perfect timing

The Word When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. ~ Romans 5:5-8 (NLT) The Prayer Father, our helplessness came from trying to "help" ourselves.  Choosing the forbidden fruit, believing it would "help" us, threw us into a helpless state, a place bound for eternal separation from You.  Yet You, through Your love, mercy and grace, stepped in ~ right in the middle of the engulging gap ~ and offered salvation.  You rescued us from a fate You never wanted for us.  You perfectly timed Your Son's birth, death and resurrection so we could be rescued at the perfectly appointed time. You're never late.  You're never delayed.  You never forget.  Your timing is perfect!  Thank you… In Jesus’ Name, Amen. The Share If you are joining us today & “Seeing & Praying”  THIS WORD, we’d love to encourage each other on the journey. Part of this experience is to share and see what the Lord reveals to each of us we come together in community to share the Holy Word. We encourage you to journal, create & pray through this verse and share that with our Wednesday with our community by commenting below. We hope that with all of us centering on one verse that the Lord will reveal much. ...

{Word Filled Wednesday} May Downloadable Desktop!

“Whom then shall I fear?” With the Lord, why is fear ever even an option? What fear is holding you back from God’s great plan in your life? Why not embrace May as the perfect time to move to the light and the salvation where fear has no place. We encourage you this week to download this beautiful Psalm 27:1 Scritpure graphic that will encourage you all month long. {Design made exclusively for ICDevos by Maddie@Sweet Tea, Jesus & Me} ******************** {Welcome to WFW!} There are very few rules, in fact the beauty of this ministry is the creative expression that God reveals Himself through. We marvel at the creativity that participants post! It’s a blessing!  We encourage the ” post behind the picture,” or the reflections that many of the participants share. We ask that for WFW that participants refrain from using non-biblical. If you’ve got the time we also encourage you to visit a few of the WFW contributors! It’s always a blessing to see the Scripture and story that creatively appear across the screen. WFW is not about books, authors, artists… it’s about God and HIS WORD ONLY. WFW is about celebrating the gift of creativity through God’s Word and sharing the creative Word! Please join us as we share the creative gifts God has blessed us with by signing into to the Link below to participate in...

A Wretch Like Me

I wish you could join me for a church service in the prison I visit regularly. Together we’d experience praise that’s loud and joy that’s overflowing. We’d see worship that’s raw, transparent and vulnerable. An outside guest recently shared his testimony. “I was a stone cold drunk for 20 years. Sometimes I’d be driving on the expressway and I’d be so drunk I’d roll down the window, throw up and keep driving. I did crystal meth. I was into pornography, adultery, thieving.” I cringed at the raw and ugly details of a life so obviously devastated by sin. And I marveled as he proclaimed God’s redemptive and transforming grace. In the broken places of this world I continually hear similar testimonies from people who had hit bottom and literally had nowhere else to turn—except to Jesus. Sometimes I get serious spiritual whiplash going from the active, out-loud faith in the prison to the cautious, silent faith in the suburbs. In a community Bible study I attend, most of the upper-middle class women are seeking faith and have been part of the group for years. Yet even though they’ve heard lots of solid biblical teaching, it seems few have grown. Requests for personal testimony are usually met with uncomfortable silence. Many still seem to hold Jesus at arms’ length. You and I don’t have to literally be in jail to be imprisoned. We can be locked behind bars made of things stronger than steel. Things like doubt, fear, hurt, anger, pride, jealousy, insecurity, worry, guilt. The list goes on. In suburbia the greatest barriers to life-changing faith might be the...

It’s All Him

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 NIV Sometimes, I can be incredibly arrogant. I look at this unsaved world (especially my Jewish friends and family) and wonder how they could possibly miss His message. They must be so dumb to look at these same passages of Scripture I read daily and not see Christ throughout the Old Testament. If only they were intelligent, like me! And then I realize that I’m the stupid one. Because my salvation has absolutely, positively nothing to do with how smart I am, anything I have done, or even how much I do for Him. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 It is one of the most basic and fundamental beliefs that I hold. I did absolutely, positively nothing to earn God’s favor, love, and protection. It’s all Him. Any other thoughts on this are simply arrogance. And as I was pondering what to share here, I came across the Romans verses above, and realized that disbelief of Paul’s thoughts here is also boasting. For if we can do nothing to earn God’s love, why should we believe we can do anything to lose it? If we believe we can turn God’s...

Let’s Depopulate Hell

Why do I do what I do? Why do I say what I say? Why do I believe what I believe? I’ve been pondering these questions for some time now. Some might say that I’m trying to figure out what my life’s purpose is, what I’m meant to do on this earth. Aside from the obvious…being a wife, mom, friend, sister, daughter…there are things that I love to do. That I’m called to do. I’m called to proclaim the goodness and faithfulness of our God. I’m called to bring hope and guidance to those going through marriage crises. I’m called to exhort believers to be all they can be in Christ. I’m called to help depopulate Hell. And the best way I know how to be a participant in the depopulation of Hell is to tell you what He’s done for me. But not only what He’s done for me, but also what He’s done for you. So that is why I do what I do and say what I say and believe what I believe. Because our God, the Creator of the Universe, the Great I Am, the All-Sufficient One, the Alpha and the Omega, the Prince of Peace, the Everlasting Father has carried me through the darkest valleys and set me upon the highest mountains. He has restored my soul and redeemed my very life. He has drenched me with peace and submerged me with hope. He will do that for you, too. And when He does, watch out. Then you’ll share with other how good He’s been to you and how He’s spared your very existence and how...