Oh, but there’s more!

“That’s the only reason why I’m a Christian,” she said, “So that I don’t go to hell.”

My heart sank just a little bit after hearing her words.  But it wasn’t weighed down by judgement.  No, my heart sank as I thought, That’s all you think there is to this?

Please don’t misunderstand me, I know that being saved from hell is a very, very good thing.  It’s a real thing.  It’s an eternal thing and it’s a logical beginning of salvation for many people.  Some are frightened by it and come running into the arms of Jesus out of fear of the unknown, fear of this horrid hell that imaginations have painted red and the bible has described as a lake of fire.  And although many people shun coming to the Lord out of fear, I stand alongside Paul who accepted the preaching of Christ no matter what people’s motives were, so long as the gospel was preached, and I say, come to Him, ALL of us no matter our motives, so long as we come because once we come, truly come, He changes everything.

But I still found myself moving out of her vision with brow furrowed, mouth agape, head cocked slightly to the left and mind bewildered at how she could have missed that we were saved for more.  That He saved us not just from hell, but to be in relationship with us, to show us His love and have us recognize it and revel in it once we realized it . . . to give us power to live beyond ourselves . . .to do the supernatural . . .to make us worthy of having His spirit placed inside of us . . .to show love to others, even the most unlovable so that they too would come to know Him . . .to see His goodness in the land of the living . . .to have joy, unspeakable joy, in the midst of trying times . . .to have peace that surpasses understanding . . .to know that we have a savior who came to bind up broken hearts, heal the sick, make whole the broken . . .to live with purpose and intention, no days on earth wasted . . .to have hope . . .

. . .and then it dawned on me . . . that’s why I moved here–to be an example of this very thing.

See, I know that people are speculating, what’s the real story? who in their right mind would move from there to here?  I bet they ran up on hard times and just needed to move back home for a while.  hey, it happens to the best of us. . .   But there are no secrets.  We really did change everything and give up everything to come and be salt and light.  We came for moments just like these– to live among people and show them the more that God is calling us to.  To wrap our arms, minds and hearts around the harvest of souls waiting for a glimpse of recognition from the Father.  Yes, He sees you.  Yes, He wants you.  He stands at the door and knocks and it would serve us well to answer.  Answer because you are afraid of what’s behind the other door.  Answer because you are afraid not to answer at all.  Answer because you want Him and what He has to offer. Answer because you’ve answered everything and everyone else and you’ve been sadly disappointed every time.  Whatever the reason–Just don’t miss out on your opportunity to answer.  And when you do, I pray that I’ll be ready to be used, should He choose to use me, to demonstrate that being saved from hell is just beginning.

6-10 Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (John 10:6-10 The Message)

Take Your Medicine

It’s Sunday night, a night of bittersweets. . .

Most of us have enjoyed a beautiful day alone or with family and friends . . .the house is quieting down, lovers may be cuddling up for a movie, friends may be finishing up conversations . . .preparations for the next day have been made . . .or not.  No matter how we feel about it or how we’ve decided to address it, we have all realized by now that tomorrow is Monday.

Seems like most of us dread Mondays.  Lord knows I’ve had some times where I was downright depressed about Mondays.  I’m not even joking.

But, Frans, I’m trying something new that I wanted to get you in on.  I just discovered that I have a drug that I can take that’ll help me deal with Mondays, Tuesdays, Bluesdays and all the other days too.  Check this out:

20 My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your sight;
Keep them in the midst of your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them
And health to all their body. (Proverbs 4:20-22, NASB)

So, are you trying to tell me that reading the word brings me health and life?  Oh yes, chile.  Yes, I am.

No matter what Monday holds for you, or any day for that matter, you can face it with joy, confidence, security, and love by taking your medicine.  Read the word of God, listen to scripture, write it down, memorize His words, soak them in!  Soak them up!  The thing is, unlike any other medication, there is no danger involved in overdosing.  Try and see.  Put the word of God on everything you are facing.  He is so worth it.  You can take Him at His word.  His word is His bond.  He is trustworthy and His word works for our lives, NOW!

19 “God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent;
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19 NASB)

Not sure what Monday holds for you but you don’t have to bow to it.  You serve a very big God who has put His spirit in you and left His word for you to wield as a mighty sword to combat Satan, call him out as the liar that he is, take over your day and be victorious in all of the things that He will put your hands to!

So, which verse or set of verses will you look up tonight?  All the power you need lies within you through the holy spirit and can be activated by encouraging your faith through the word of God.

Take some time to get into the word then stand up and shout with a voice of triumph, “bring it on Monday!!!”

Wednesdays with Beth: Family Calamity and Restoration pt 7

So, a few months ago I followed this series, Family Calamity, and dealt with some pretty sensitive thoughts concerning my family of origin and how this series helped me.  I posted each part of the series but somehow I missed this past installment!  I’m not sure if this is new, but I am so glad that I had a chance to catch it, honey!  (wipes sweat off brow with great conviction and drama!)

If you belong to a family, take a listen . . .

Check out the rest of the series in the archives here or on www.lifetoday.org

Wednesdays with Beth: Taking Your Treasure Back pt. 3

I’m not sure how many of you actually take the time to click the link and watch these videos, but if you’ve never taken a chance to do so, you should give it a try.  Beth Moore typically speaks for about 15 (or so) minutes and then James and Betty Robison, the hosts of the show, come back and speak about their missions work and invite viewers to help them change the world by meeting the needs of some of the people who need it most.  In all, it’s about 28 minutes of your day really well spent.  You get an opportunity to grow in your relationship with Christ as Beth Moore teaches and gives fresh perspective on a never changing God aaaaaaannnnnd you are offered an opportunity to change someone’s life.  I almost always enjoy the broadcast and I try not to miss it.  I offer it here on the site because I’m sure there are others out there who’d love it as well.  I would encourage everyone to take a look but especially if you haven’t ever tuned in, try it today.  Click here and see what I mean.

Hey You!

Huni and I have moved and ever since we planned on doing so, it’s been a struggle for me to get myself to this computer and practice discipline, sit down and write!  But it’s been some of the things that have happened as a result of our move that have driven me here with laptop aptly placed in lap . . . writing.  Life can be like that sometimes.

Huni was born and raised in a small town that he has always dearly loved.  There’s not much to this place, but he holds fond, dear memories of his childhood here and it means a great deal to him.  Over the years we have seen it decline.  I used to visit fairly often when we were dating and even I’ve noticed the changes within the last ten years.  And they haven’t been all bad, but it’s been mostly a pretty depressing, slow decline to the quality of life of the people who live there.  Job opportunities have become a “search and find” of sorts, the local schools often get more complaints and poor grades rather support and top performing students, crime is on the rise, drugs are still deeply effecting the youth and it’s not hard to see which ones of them are held firmly in its grasp, the churches are in desperate need of leadership and spirit filled truth tellers and the people just want more altogether.  So Huni decided that we should gather all of our things and move our whole life here.  To help.  (staring off blankly, blinking eyes rapidly)  I’ll save the conversation about all that happened to get us here for another post, but let me just say that no matter how ill-equipped or incompetent I felt in this calling, God’s grace was and is on us for such a time as this.

We have some pretty huge goals for this town, some things that we are believing God to use us to initiate–whether He uses us to actually do the work or to encourage and assist others in doing it.  So far we’ve started three small group bible studies; Huni meets with a group of men and I meet with a group of women and a “group” of teen girls (more on that “group” of teen girls later!).  I know that ministry is no joke, but I never knew that it was going to be this blasted hard!!  And right now, as we prepare to transition into our space, we are living with Huni’s parents.  (swallows hard, takes deep breath, then stares off blankly, blinking eyes rapidly)  :0)  I have to say, since I got married, I have always been one of the most blessed married women I know because of the man God gave me, his family of origin, and my relationship with them.  It’s the real deal.  I love them as if they are my own and we, honestly, have no issues.  But even as much as I love my mommy, the one whose womb nurtured me for some months and who raised me and helped shape me into the woman I am today–I am in no hurry to return to her home as my temporary residence!!   And I do dearly love my parents that my Huni gave to me, buuuuuut. . . .you get the picture . . .  :0)

SO, I’ve been stretched, changed, and gone through the whole gamut of emotions.  And I’ve only been here a month and a half.  And I know that it’s only just begun.  (staring . . .blinking . . .)

But there is just a sweetness to belonging to God.  He just knows me, and He takes the time to let me know that I am known and seen and loved and watched over and cared for.  He’s using Huni, my children, my parents, my circle of sister-frans and the women in this community to reinforce that just when I need it.

This week has been a hard one.  I know, it’s only Tuesday.  But that’s what I’m saying.  It’s only Tuesday and already I’m like WHOA.  But I got a really sweet email from one of the women in the women’s group named Michelle.  I wanted to share part of my response to her to give you a glimpse of what’s already happening here.  Hope it blesses you and glorifies Him.

Miss meeting with you here in this space.  But I think I’ve found my groove again ;0)

Michelle,

     I don’t even know how to start this email!  I’m a very emotional girl.  Always have been.  My mom says that when she was pregnant with me, she spent most of her time crying and going through.  I’ve used that to help explain why I cry so much now and why I spent the better part of my first 16 years of life being so tenderhearted, and crying at the drop of a hat!  All of that to say, it doesn’t take much to get my tears to fall.  They lie in wait at the first chance to release themselves.  They used to be a permanent part of my face but I am truly, so very grateful that I now understand what it means to have the JOY of the Lord as my strength.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t cry, it just means that I receive His joy as I understand His purposes for my WHOLE life, not just the parts I like and am proud of.  But you’re right, I have experienced a great deal of pain and it is still present with me.
     I recently had the privilege of going through some counseling at the church E and I were members of when we lived in Raleigh.  Michelle.  It changed my life.  But it opened up some wounds that, for the longest time, I didn’t even want to admit were there.  Our childhoods, most often, shape our lives.  Through the power of God, who trades beauty for ashes, all of those things that happened to us in our youth, no matter how ugly or destructive they seemed, show up beautifully on us.  Just like we discussed last night when we talked about the long obedience in the same direction–being able to say yes however many times it takes, and say no however many times it takes–I have had to work consistently to change my thoughts in order to believe that everything that has happened to me is showing up beautifully on me.  I ran away from it for so long because of the shame attached to it. And the “it” that I am referring to is so many things, including but not exclusive to most of the things you mentioned that you’ve dealt with.  I’m still gaining the strength and wisdom to tell my whole story and not allow Satan to pull me back into the shame that kept me hidden and afraid for so many years.  It’s women like you who put their whole selves forward that God uses to really encourage and strengthen me to do the same.  
     This study is just as much for me, as it is for all of you.  I know that the Lord called me to it, but He called me not just to use me, but continue to make me whole and holy.  It’s like I told you before, every email you send me, and every text, they make me braver and strengthen me just a little bit more every time.
     What I want in this season of my life is to attain true freedom in Christ.  I want to understand His word in such a way that it frees me up and gives me power to walk like a woman who is free, understands the word of God and the role it plays in her life, and who understands her purpose.  All of the pieces are coming together–the hurt, the pain, the laughs, the joy, the sadness, the accomplishments, the mistakes, the downfalls, the slip-ups . .  all of it . . . and it’s all showing up beautifully on me.  In Jesus’s name. 
 
pamela t.

Wednesdays with Beth: The Calling pt. 2

I’m often reminded of Esther when I think about God’s providence and His call on our lives.  I recently finished Beth Moore’s study on Esther and it was just . . . rich!!  Seriously rich and inspiring in personal life application, seeing God’s providence in my own life and moving into His call on my life.  So, I am enjoying hearing her perspective in this format on God’s call and adding to my level of wisdom as I move forward.

Last Wednesday, August 1, Life Today aired part two of Beth Moore’s speaking series on the call of God on our lives.  This week we get a chance to catch up, in case we missed it, and see that same video again.  You can view it here .  And if you missed the first video check it out here.

Enjoy!!

Assured

Today I went to visit an old Fran from college.  Kim Morrisette is not just any old Fran.  She’s the woman that God used to water and point toward the Son, the seeds that my mama had sewn into me, raising me in Christ Jesus, knowing Him as my Lord and savior.  I was so broken, so sad and yet I was searching for something big and deep and real and although I was confused about many things, I knew that what I needed and wanted was only going to be satisfied by God.  So Kim led me and a group of girls in our dorm, Greene Hall, through bible study.  Our friendship deepened and she went on to disciple me and train me to do the same thing for other women on campus.  She poured into me and facilitated further training with my roomie and me as we helped to lead a new, small campus ministry.

I didn’t get to spend a very long time with her– I teased her about living out in John’s barnyard (she lives quite a distance from me in a beautiful farmhouse “out in the sticks”) and that took a bit of our time away because good ole me left a little later than I intended and then I made it all the way to her street and got lost–but the time I was able to just be around her and meet her children and see her face and see what her life is like now, was so good.  I missed Kim and I am so glad that during this season of my life, the Lord is making a way for us to connect again.

Within the past week I’ve been in close connection with people who have lost loved ones.  Some have been traumatic and the other quiet but all have been hard and sad.  I almost feel like times are very uncertain right now; you can’t know if the last time you see someone will be the last time. . . how much will change with people between now and the next time you see them, if you are so fortunate to see them again?  So much fear and uncertainty.  And although it’s reasonable for me to feel and think this way, it’s not the way of truth.  It’s not Philippians 4:8-9 and it won’t draw me closer to my savior, it’ll just keep me questioning Him, and doubting Him.  

I enjoyed spending time with Kim so much today because it was a reminder for me that there have been other times when I thought that God had left me, forgotten about me, wasn’t working on my behalf, didn’t have a plan for my life except to repeat what had been done in my family generations past or just plain old didn’t care.  But Kim came to me at the most crucial time in my undergraduate career.  I was on the brink of utter hopelessness and I needed to know that all that mama taught me about God was real and that there was more.  As I look back to then and see what my life is now, in those times when I felt so shaky and uncovered, God, in fact, did have a plan and He was working it out for my good, even when I didn’t always sense it.  Seeing Kim was such a sweet reminder of His grace.  God is so good.  In times of tragedy, pain, sorrow, loss and confusion it’s good to have a blessed assurance– that firm, sure, sweet reminder that He is in control, He knows what He’s doing, His word is still true, He is trustworthy, He’s got me and my whole world in the palm of His hands.  I am safe there.

I’m sure that there is someone out there reading this who just needs a reminder that He is good and that He is a loving Father.  Please, be of good service to yourself and think about your life–what it was, what it is, and what it could be.  He’s there.  And He’s been there the whole time.  If your waters are smooth right now or if they are rough, this is a good time to know the God you serve and His characteristics.  Do yourself a favor.  Remind yourself of all that He’s done.  And rest.  Assured.

Wednesdays with Beth: The Calling pt. 1

She’s baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!  And she’s ready!!!  Beth Moore spoke today about God’s call on our lives, i.e. what have we been put on this earth to do?  It’s a weighty question, but one worth investigating and figuring out the answers to.  Life is short. We want to use the time we have here wisely and we want to make our time here count for more than just the fun times we had, or the wealth we gained . . .  Beth Moore said in her Esther study, (something like) what is it that you want God to say to you when He sees you?  Who is it that you want to present to the King when you get to see Him face to face?  Are you that person yet?  Are you getting closer to becoming that person?  If not, get busy!  Discovering His purposes for your life is a sure fire way to get you there.  It’s amazing, scary, exciting, nerve racking.  But it’s God business, so that means it’s good.  Check it out and tell me what you think.  I think this series is gonna be bananas!!

ok wait, so, why the pic of Elmo?  Because no matter how silly or off-the-beaten-path you think your passion or calling is, God can use you!  I have two very happy and engaged little girls in part because of the work of Elmo and the whole Sesame Street gang.  So, thank you Jim Henson, Frank Oz, and Kevin Clash (among SO many others) for being brave enough to go after it.  I’m up next.

As you know, I love the music ministry of William Matthews.  Here’s another one from him that I thought fitting.  Check out these lyrics:

“He’s awakening the hope in me by calling forth my destiny.  He’s breathing life into my soul.  I will thirst for Him and Him alone.  He has come like the rain that showers on the barren plain.  So my heart and tongue confess Jesus Christ the hope of man!”

woooooooooo!!!  the boy is baaaaaaaaad!!!


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