Shine Through My Weaknesses

I was recently asked to take over the worship at our Women’s Bible study. It was unexpected and I don’t feel adequate; my “specialty” is singing harmony, not leading, but a part of the background. But I am learning that just means the Lord gets to shine through my weaknesses. Also, I’m learning how important worship is. Worshipping God will be our primary occupation in Heaven; so it’s no wonder that He wants us to practice here on Earth.

I was blessed to belong to a number of singing groups, some Christian & some not, from an early age. Most recently I’ve been on worship teams for the last three churches I’ve attended & sang for 15 years in a women’s barbershop chorus. So I do have some background & experience in music in general. My feelings of not being worthy are probably just that: feelings. I’m being grown in the area of Worship, which has long been one of my passions. I’m also stretching my faith muscles. If this is where God wants me right now, I have to trust that He knows what He’s doing. Put that way, it becomes a no brainer, doesn’t it?

What can we do when feelings of nadequacy & fear grip us? First of all, realize that feelings are not facts. Fear is not of God. Nor should we be looking within ourselves for strength or confidence, but to Him.

As a popular song of a few years ago states, “Fear is a liar!” And who is the father of lies? Our old enemy, satan, bears that title. He has many, many years of experience at playing with & manipulating our feelings & fear is probably his favorite! (BTW, I recommend listening to the song, Fear is a Liar, Zach Williams).

If, like me, you think you don’t belong in the position being offered, step out in faith. Give it a shot; do your best. Tell fear no! If you truly shouldn’t be there, God will raise up the person who does, probably fairly quickly. Use the opportunity, in the meantime, to build your faith in God. You might just surprise yourself; I know I am! I may not do as good a job as the person before me did, but I’m doing it as best as I can. I’ve had no complaints so far.

The week before I was supposed to lead worship the first time, the enemy stepped it up a notch & I caught a cold, which became pneumonia. That in turn triggered asthma & I suddenly realized I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom. I just couldn’t breathe without oxygen, which fortunately I have for use with my C-PAP machine. But it wasn’t set up so I could walk around. So, Iended up spending 8 days in the hospital.

The day of my “debut,” the following happened. I needed to make copies of the words, so planned to do them at a copy shop near where we meet. Probably because of Covid, they were closed already at 6p. And when I was about to text the pianist who had promised to play the music & ask her to meet me a half hour before time, instead of only 15 minutes, she suddenly texted me. She said she’d just been asked to do 32 songs for an outreach & needed the Bible study time for rehearsing. Since she was the only performer I had, & I don’t play an instrument, I nearly decided to skip worship. Then I remembered using pre-recorded music at a home Bible study years ago.

Spotify no longer gives you the option to play your playlist as set up & now they are actually adding songs to your lists! I’m sorry, but Lonestar’s Let Them be Little is not worship music, lol! So I turned to YouTube. We had listen to a couple of short ads, but we worshipped! So far we’re still doing it that way. But, boy, I did not feel ready to lead the worship that night!

I still don’t feel like it’s my.forté, but I am able to do it, just like I can facilitate the Bible study (a story in itself) if asked to do so. And I enjoy choosing the music that sets the tone for the study. It’s got me listening to worship music more often, too. Unlike the enemy’s lies, I haven’t embarrassed myself yet. And if I were to mess up, these ladies love me & that’s the place to do it! We’ve supported each other through some very hard times, attended numerous retreats fogether; we’re truly family. Unlike my physical family, they can minister to me, just like I’m ministering to them.

So don’t let the enemy stop you from trying out new things. And call him on it when he tries to make you afraid. I’m not saying be reckless, but don’t let your feelings rob you of growth opportunities. The fact that some of the women in our study group like my voice doesn’t make me a worship leader, but that didn’t keep me from trying & I’m doing it. Heck, I can’t even read music! What can you do to let Jesus shine through your weaknesses?

To Hear His Voice

Have you ever heard God’s voice so clearly that there was no doubt in your heart? I thought I’d posted about this, but don’t see it, so here goes….

This happenedi in early 2019. I kept hearing , or receiving this word or phrase, that I didn’t understand, Shabachnia. At first I thought it might be something I’d read or heard somewhere, as I’ve picked up.a few Hebrew words over the years. But when it woouldn’t go away, I did what we 21st century people do;.I Googled it! ! And I found it amazing that I knew exactly how to.spell it, too.

I expected some random results that meant nothing. (Listen, our cat got up on the computer desk once & Googled a random string of letters & numbers.. Her results included some mathematical formulas & a link to a foreign embassy’s website.Who knew Skittle was a super spy?)) But I got a hit on the first part of this right away.

Shabach, it turns out, means worship in Hebrew. Ok, then what does nia mean? This bit ook me longer to figure out, but I finally found an answer on a baby names database. Nia, is a term of endearment in both Spanish & Hebrew. It’s what a Father might call His daughter. There is no doubt in my mind; God was literally saying “Worship Me, my beloved daughter! Spend some time in My Presence”. We were created to worship God & I had a firsthandi invitation!

Remember that God speaks into our lives in a variety of ways. He may draw your attention in a passage of Scripture, give you some insight as you read study materials, have a friend make a timely observation, or put a Hebrew phrase in your head. Be attentive to Him, seeking His hand to guide your path. No two people are going to have the exact same walk with the Lord, so look for how your Father communicates with you.

A Look at My Life

Ok, I am not going to promise to try & do better about posting more often. It simply doesn’t happen at this point in my life, that’s more than obvious to me now & you probably realized it a while back! You would think, with all the C-19 stuff going on, I would have had something to post about. But I don’t work & having my drs’ appts via telephone is even easier than when my life was normal. The worst has been not having my Bible studies to attend. I had to face the fact that they are pretty much the extent of my social life. Yes, I go to church as much as possible, but I worked graveyard for many years & that is the schedule my body usually prefers. And I haven’t yet moved due to the pandemic, so when the partyers go till 6 AM, it’s really not safe to drive to church on 3 hours sleep. I am grateful that they livestream the Sunday services & that has been my go-to. My new move date is the beginning of September. However finding an affordable room is tough.

Also, I am like on a triple or quadruple level of high risk with C-19. I have asthma, high blood pressure, am still obese, although I am losing weight & I’m over 60! While I don’t totally enjoy lockdown, it hasn’t been so terrible. I know some Christians are against the lockdown & quarantining. But it isn’t only our country that is doing this & the others all say masks, social distancing, lockdown & quarantine work. And I’ve had to go out & grocery shop, pick up my meds (they won’t mail my pain meds, which  are opiods) & to see my chiropractor. But, praise God, we just restarted our Women’s Bible study last Monday! It’s my favorite. There were only 5 of us, but it was great to do some in person worship. We did a short study, sang & prayed.

What brought me back here was posting a comment on another website. They always ask for your website and I came to make sure I had the web address right. Then I saw when I last posted. So I don’t really have a specific thing to post about, but wanted people to know I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth.

Here are the issues I’m praying about: I accidently hurt my sister’s feelings & she’s stopped communicating with me. She’s done this before & once she sees I am still there for her, she has restored communication. Not sure how to start this time, though, because she said she didn’t want to text back & forth, which also tells me emails are probably out. I don’t have a car right now, another issue I’ll get to in a minute, so can’t get a card to mail her. Doubt she’d answer a phone call from me, but I plan to try! Oh, duh, I can send her an e-card!

The no car situation is due to my being rear ended on June 30th. 3:30 AM, virtually no cars on the road & this guy manages to hit me. He did pull over & I got his insurance info, but no ID or contact info. When the fire trucks came, which was probably because my car was leaking gas, he took off. There was a witness and thank God for him! He helped us exchange information.

After the other driver asked if I was ok, I asked him what happened, he said he didn’t know & then lapsed into Spanish. But the witness God provided spoke Spanish, too. And he stayed to speak with CHP officers. So no vehicle & I’m having to get rides to my new chiropractor. Mostly low back pain & spasms, plus my bad leg is worse. I need a new hip, but C-19 put a stop to that. (I called them last week & they have resumed doing surgeries, on a case by case basis. I’m just going to do all their preliminary requirements & hope for the best.) Also some knee pain; both my groin, where the leg meets the body, & knee are popping since the accident. So chiro adjustments, electrical stimulation & on Wed. I got my first massage.

Unfortunately we have the same insurance company & they are shunting me from adjuster to adjuster. For the first time ever, I actually called a personal injury lawyer. The insurance is trying to lowball everything, because the other driver has only has minimum coverage for his state, which I think is NC. $500 for damages is ridiculous! Potentially, $5,000 for my car & $1,500 for medical. I have no idea how long I’ll need treatment. The woman who hosts our Women’s Bible study actually suggested I get a lawyer.

It was about a week since I’d heard from my primary adjuster; silence ever since I inquired about getting a rental car. And the phone number to the adjuster for medical claims just rang & rang. So finally I hear back from the primary adjuster, neither of us has a rental car provision in our policy. The law office said we can file for loss of use. Guess that bit is going to my landlord, since he’s been taking me to most of where I need to go. Supposed to discuss the settlement for the car; which, as I feared, is totalled, tomorrow. The trick, I’ve learned, is to put the whole thing in God’s hands. It’s sure hard to leave it there, though.

I’ve been working at losing weight since July of 2014. I did Atkins low carb plan for most of that time. But my weight loss has slowed dramatically, I was stuck at 200 lbs for 2 years! Then I got another 20 lbs down & stalled again. I’m very happy that I didn’t regain much when I stalled. But I switched to doing Keto 2 wks ago & I’ve lost 9 lbs so far! My new weight loss milestone, 91 lbs lost in total!

It was hard to get started & I still have a couple of vices I may have to give up, eventually. For breakfast a few times, I’ve had cheesecake filling spread on a cinnamon graham cracker. I still use Atkins shakes for lunch. I like the 2 coffee-based shakes & add about a cup of chocolate milk to them, with some  heavy whipping cream, for a great flavor enhancement, & it adds to my liquid intake, too.  My two vices! 🤗 I’m trying to add more ice & more HWC, to reduce the amount of milk.

It is weird adding fat to my diet. So far I’ve mostly used the heavy whipping cream & bacon. Avocado & mayo work too. Had sausage links when I went out for breakfast with my landlord, after my Sat appt @ the chiropractor’s. It sounds counter-intuitive, but you eliminate almost all your carbs & add fat, so your body starts burning fat for energy, instead of carbs. Once it burns the fat you added, it starts burning your stored fat.

Anyway, I hope to get off some of my meds by losing weight. Only 50 some lbs to go! Yep, I was literally double the weight I should be! I was so proud when I could sit in the regular chairs at the drs’ofc & not the extra wide ones. And I’ve done it all without exercising, except for a short (2-3 wk) period where I tried doing Leslie Sansone’s walking a mile routine. I couldn’t go at her pace & kept having to stop to catch my breath, even though I was going about half as fast as she was! The arthritic knee & hip put a stop to that. Once I’m closer to my goal weight & maybe post-hip replacement, I’d love to start walking again.

All right, now you probably know more about me than you ever wanted to know. But, as I’ve said before, I’m just an ordinary person, not some super-Christian. Bad stuff happens to me too. I make mistakes, lose my temper, and hurt people’s feelings. And there are areas where I struggle. Hey, share some of your struggles in the comments & we can pray for each other. That’s how the Body of Christ is supposed to work!

 

Warfare

In spite of my best intentions, it has once again been a few months since I last posted here. I believe it started with a simple request. I asked my friend/landlord for new flooring in my room. I have lived here for 17 years & the carpet was replaced 16 years ago. According to rental standards in CA it should be replaced about every 3 years. So it was a bit overdue! He told me that I need to move in the spring. And he said he was waiting for me to move before he replaced my carpet.

He plays in a band that performs at Renaissance Faires, so is gone many weekends. On a Sunday night, about 2 & a half months ago, when he returned from a Faire. I told him I could hear dripping in my bathroom. I couldn’t find where it was coming from, though. He mumbled that he’d check it in the morning. Famous last words! At 1 AM I went to.use the bathroom & stepped into warm water. Our new walk-in tub was gushing water from the inside. He couldn’t find the shut off valve, so I told him to turn off the water main. Some enterprising varmint had been digging in that area, so while he dug it out, his grown son and I threw virtually every towel in the house at the rising tide, trying to protect our bamboo flooring. Alas, it was a losing battle, because the water traveled between the planks and into my room, as well as soaking through the wall adjoining the bathroom into our Buddhist roommate’s room. Fortunately she was about to leave on an extended visit to the East Coast. The insurance company would only pay for one hotel room. The guys sleep at the other end of the house, where there is a 2nd bathroom. So I ended up living in hotels for just over 2 months; Best Western & Holiday Inn were home. Free breakfast every day & my room cleaned. It was great! And, I got my new floor! My landlord was not allowed to just refuse me what was so overdue.

The problem urned out to be that the hose to the hot water was installed incorrectly and popped loose from its fitting.. Oh, and it turns out that the tub company, who did help pay for repairs, had also installed our tub with the shut off valve against the wall! Go figure….

While I was gone, my friend allowed his son to begin hosting parties at the house. I’m not talking Tupperware here; one morning I stopped by at about 9a and they were still drinking, even though one of them had to be at work in 3 hours! We have people passed out on couches and futons everywhere once the party slows down, usually around 4a – 6a.or so. Not an optimal situation for a Christian woman to be living in. At first I was angry, allowing the situation to rob me of my peace. Last Saturday I was texting friends to pray for me, as the f-bombs were flying fast and furious!

The landlord’s son had offered for me to have some food from the  BBQ grill, so I ventured out around 7p. One of the girls asked me why I didn’t come sit with them, saying, “we’re lonely”. And the Lord totally opened my eyes and heart. Suddenly I saw that yes, they are lonely. They’re lonely and scared and very lost. They’re blowing through ‘love’ relationships in a vain attempt to feel wanted and needed, for someone to really see them. And, of course, it’s all empty and cold. Their bad language is posturing, so hopefully no one else sees how scared they are. And God’s heart is broken for them. Now I’m praying for them and for opportunities to talk to them about Jesus. Even if they scoff, at least the seed will be sown. And one day, when they reach the end of themselves, that seed may begin to grow into a new hope.

That ‘revelation’ having happened, the enemy is already scrambling to defend his position. The Buddhist roommate has returned and is spouting nonsense about Buddha being what is outside us or something like that. But I am sitting in my room, in the Word and praying against the enemy’s strongholds. All of today’s scriptures have been in line with this. At our women’s Bible study we read in Hebrews 4 about the Jews refusing God’s rest, the land of Canaan. How we now look forward to His eternal rest, but need to guard against the same spiritual mistake. I was letting the partyers rob me of my rest, but now I see God’s hand on the situation. And tonight I read in 2 Cor 10 about the spiritual weapons of prayer, the Gospel and unity., which are “divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” (2 Cor 10:4 AMP). So now you see why I titled this Warfare. God took my side on the flooring, but the enemy is trying to set up a stronghold where I live. And I am going to battle, hearing the lies and praying that the enemy would be forced to stop and relinquish his hold on these lost kids and that they would receive God’s truth!

Cat Herding and Lamb Legs

I guess a lot of people have heard someone say a confusing situation was like trying to herd cats. There was even a commercial about it in the ’90’s. But if you’ve ever tried to catch a young cat who wants to be out in the night, you know exactly what I mean!

This is Tyler’s story. She (not he) got loose one evening, shortly after we lost a cat to a coyote. That cat, Redford, was out just as dusk was falling. I decided it was okay, I was keeping watch over him.

At the time I was living in the California high desert. The sand was beige and there was also some reddish colors. Redford was a handsome flame point Siamese. He blended right in and I lost sight of him. I immediately began calling him, but he was totally ignoring me. I think, in his little kitty heart, he believed he was just playing a game with Mom. I stayed outside till 10p, calling and pleading with him to come to me. Unfortunately we had no working flashlights, which we remedied the very next day. But it would be too late for Redford. I heard him scream twice, just across our road, and knew he was gone.

After that horrific loss, which I blamed myself for, there were new rules for our remaining cats. Nobody outside well before dusk. I was so shattered I couldn’t even cry. But in spite of our diligence, Tyler slipped past me one evening, not long after. I immediately grabbed a flashlight, my cane and my rescue inhaler. I was terrified for Tyler, she was the baby! I plunged into the desert scrub, calling her name. It took almost ten minutes to catch my first glimpse of her, a little tabby butt and striped tail spotlighted in the flashlight’s beam, moving away from me and our mobile home. I chased her for probably a half hour. I’d just get close and reach for her neck and she’d dash away again. Thank God I had that rescue inhaler; I needed it more than once. I remember, I kept telling Tyler, and probably myself, too, “I am not losing another cat to coyotes and I’m not stopping till I catch you; I love you too much, you cat butt!”

Finally Tyler paused at just the right moment and I grabbed her. She squirmed and wiggled, but I had the Mom grip on her and she was going nowhere! I had thought we’d taken a basically straight path from our place on out, but when I turned around, it took me several minutes to reorient myself. As I started home with the unrepentant Tyler in my arms, stepping carefully, since I couldn’t use my cane with both hands full, God began to speak to me.

“Now you know just a little of what I feel when I see you go off the path,” He said. “I have to chase you through the weeds and the brush and sometimes you’re not even ready to admit you were sinning. If you love your cat enough to brave possible snakes (they were the only thing locally that I was afraid of) or falling, or maybe putting your foot into a hole and breaking your ankle, just for that cat, how much more do I do to bring you back!”

“But Lord,” I said. “I didn’t even worry about the dangers, they didn’t cross my mind at all! I was just scared for Tyler.” And God didn’t have to say anything more, because I got it. I would have suffered injury to bring her back, just like Jesus suffered the agony of the cross for me. And God endured separation from His Son because He loves me that much. His eye is on me and I may be ahead of Him on the trail towards sin, but He will catch me and bring me back.

A friend and I were recently discussing Jesus as the Shepherd. I asked her if she knew what a shepherd did with a lamb that ran away. She didn’t, so I told her. The shepherd breaks the lamb’s leg and then carries it everywhere until its leg heals. By then the bond between shepherd and lamb is so strong that the lamb no longer wants to run away. I want Jesus to spiritually ‘break my leg’ and carry me, so our bond is so strong, I never desire or run after the world again! How about you?

Under Pressure We Become Diamonds

I read in Streams in the Desert about how God uses our struggles against Satan and our own flesh to further strengthen us and teach us to be dependent on Him. As much as we cry and deplore our circumstances, they are never in vain. In Acts 14 it says, “…they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead. But the disciples formed a circle around him, and he got back up and went back into the city, and the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. They preached the good news to that city and made many disciples, then they returned to…[several cities]… strengthening and establishing the hearts of the disciples, encouraging them to remain firm in [their] faith, saying, ‘It is through many tribulations and hardships that we must enter the kingdom of God.’” (AMP) I imagine that circle of fellow believers were probably praying over Paul, as he lay in the dirt, half dead. And God’s Spirit strengthened him enough that he was able to travel the very next day! And we’re probably talking about making their way on foot, maybe riding on a donkey, at best.

We struggle at times, but what a rich reward we are storing up for ourselves in Heaven. It seems that daily I see my shortcomings, but the mercy of God is worth everything I’ve gone through and more.

My best friend from high school shared a wonderful illustration with me once. She said we are like lumps of coal, but under a tremendous amount of pressure we become diamonds.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me when my flesh wins and strengthen me more and more, so that I might resist the devil, for surely he will flee from me when he sees Your Spirit within me. I know Your path for me may be difficult, but the destination, eternity spent with You, is worth every tear and frustration. Keep me on that path, telling me which way to go in every circumstance. I love You, Lord, but You loved me first, and how humble that makes me feel. Thank You for all You are to me. Amen.

Coming to Grips with Losing Non-Christian Friends & Family

I see I last posted on 1/14/18. The very next day, my roommate of 15 yrs, who was my best friend, died in front of me at a Denny’s restaurant. This resulted in a major upheaval and a lot of changes. And that was compounded (for me) by the fact that she was Jewish & refused to consider Jesus as God, because she had been taught there was only one God, not ‘three’. I tried explaining, but she wasn’t having it.

Losing non-Christian friends and family is painful. My saving grace is that I shared Jesus with them, after that it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to work in their hearts. Not everyone responds to His gentle urging; God is a gentleman.

It’s still hard to think that those loved ones are lost to us! I think, though, that when we get to Heaven, our joy will be so fulfilling that we won’t miss those who said no to God. We’re told that there is no crying there, so there won’t be any sorrow, at least that’s my interpretation.

So that’s why I’ve been missing. My friend was a collector of many things and we have the lifesize figure of Yoda and one of the Yellow M&M to prove it.

She was also a musician, who played the violin from the age of 9, she played with 2 bands, plus she directed a barbershop chorus. In addition, she was a great, although amateur, photographer/photo editor and an artist, she painted murals and cut silhouettes. Nearly a year and a half later, we’re still going through her things, trying to find homes where they will be appreciated and we work at it every week!

I’m going to make an effort to post here more, though. Maybe if I designate a certain day of the week? Guess I’ll try it and see! I know I won’t always have something to say, but it will still be more often than a year and a half long hiatus!

P.S. I just updated Fragrant Fruit and We Become Diamonds, so although they show today’s date, they were written before 1/15/18. This post is the only one actually created today.

How to Stop Fear

Well, it’s a new year and I’ve been reading in Genesis. I use the Everyday Life Bible, which includes notes from Joyce Meyer. About Gen. 32:28 she says:
“God can always be glorified through people who will not allow their personal weaknesses to stop Him from flowing through them.” I immediately thought about all the medical problems that plague me. For you it might be something else, a sin you keep falling into, or a situation that drags you down. And, it can be more than one thing. Then, when I went to church, the message was all about facing your fears. I just started reading The Kingdom, Power and Glory: The Overcomer’s Handbook by Chuck and Nancy Missler*. So I loved that the sermon tonight was about overcoming our fears.

When we are in the Spirit, we have access to God’s attributes of power, of love and of sound judgement and personal discipline.\[abilities that result in a calm well-balanced mind and self control.] (see 2 Tim. 1:7 AMP) We should have self control, but it’s thru the Holy Spirit that we achieve it! My pastor called it Replacement Therapy; replace your fears with God’s love and the knowledge of His power.

The more time you spend with God, reading His Word, praying and praising Him, the closer you are to Him, and more likely to hear His voice and learn to discern it from the enemy’s. When we abide in His love, He is our strong tower. This is from my notes on the sermon: “The more time we spend with Him, the stronger we will be for the fight against the enemy, who wants us to fear and to be in the flesh. We become more like Him and our minds are conformed to His. What is a sound mind? One like God’s. When you feel fear, it is either the enemy or your own mind, it is never of God. Trust that His love is enough. Go from doubt to knowledge, from fearful to faithful.”

Don’t worry! Did you know that there are 365 verses that tell us not to worry? That’s one for every day of the year. I don’t think that’s a coincidence! We only ever need to seek Him and we will be brought through our trials by the power of His Spirit. Be thankful for even the trials, because God is using them to perfect us.

A phrase from the praise song Good Good Father has been going through my mind this weekend “as You call me deeper still into love, love, love.” It’s God’s desire for us to rest in His love and what an invitation!

*If you have never been exposed to Chuck Missler’s teaching, I recommend you look him up on YouTube and watch some of his sermons. He knows his Bible and God has given him great insight on many verses.

…the Holy Spirit solemnly affirms to me…

In  city after city, that imprisonment and suffering await me. (Acts 20:23 AMP)

August has been a rough month for me. While the comparison is a bit tongue in cheek, here”s what has been going on: I caught a flu bug, which developed into bronchitis. Then the bronchitis became pneumonia, which brought on sepsis. Two days out of the hospital, I was hit by another driver. It was a big enough jolt that my poor little Kia’s rear axle broke. Now I’m nursing sprains and strains, too.

There have been a rash of trials and tribulations in the small church I attend. The enemy is trying to distract and defeat us. I refuse to worry about it all; I have given the whole month of troubles over to the Lord; my fate, such as it may be, is in His hands. It is not my job to worry, but to keep my eyes on Jesus, seeking His will in everything.

Praise God, awesome worship, a powerful sermon and a blessed outpouring of the Holy Spirit at church tonight. Aches, pains and medical problems not withstanding; all is right with my world.

 

 

 

 

I wanted to share this message…

About two weeks ago, while I was praying, God began giving me the following message. Both of the pastors at our church confirmed it is doctrinally sound. I also prayed for confirmation before sharing it and literally when I walked in to Bible Study a little late, they were praying about the people who live in our city. Because I was then told it was not only for our church, I believe that this will be valid for other places as well. Just take out the references to Escondido.

Here is the message:

The Lord said that Escondido (my church’s city) is no longer going to be a hidden valley, where the enemy has strongholds, dominions and principalities. (For those who don’t speak Spanish, Escondido means hidden valley.) We need to begin to come against these territories with prayer, so the valley will be flooded with light.

We can invite people to church, but to reach the ones the enemy has an especially strong hold on, we must break through, to reach them when and where they are vulnerable, let the Holy Spirit touch them and bring them in. We’re talking about the gangbangers, the addicts, the brujas (Spanish for witches), the psychics and the wiccans. The ones the enemy thinks he has in the bag, because they are either hopeless or convinced they are powerful in the life he’s lured them into. However before we can take this on, we have to be strong in Him, as this will require fierce spiritual warfare.

Here are the specifics God showed me the following week. This message isn’t just saying that we need to be strong as a church and it doesn’t mean only this church either. It means that each of us needs to have a solid, close walk with the Lord, because the enemy doesn’t want to lose those souls; he uses these people to spread his evil. He will fight hard to keep or reclaim them.

These past few weeks there’s been a theme to my devotionals. It’s been about having strong faith and the two things they mention that strengthen faith the most are prayer and praise. Prayer is powerful and the enemy’s only weapon against it that I can think of is distraction. We are called to pray without ceasing. Praise acknowledges God and builds your trust in Him; it helps you see His work in your life. The other thing would be knowing the Scriptures. Adam Houge says, “If you can’t hear God, then rest your hope on the Scriptures. God has promised to love you and deliver you from every form of evil.” Remember that you have spiritual armor and God’s Word is your sword. If you have it, but don’t put it on, what good does it do you? The Bible is the truth and satan can’t fight that easily. That’s why Jesus quoted it when satan tempted Him. John 1:1 says that Jesus is the Word. Then, in verses 4 & 5 it says “4 In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it].(AMP) So we know the enemy” s darkness can”t overpower the Word.

Finally, this next sentence is from the Lord, and He insisted on an exclamation point at the end. He said that, “we need more than books about the Bible, we need the Word of God to bear fruit in our lives!”

We just saw that the darkness can’t absorb the Word, but we are of the Light and can take it in. So pray, read your Bible and praise God, for a strong walk.

The other thing is that, when I got the specifics, I didn’t have to look for quotes or anything, it all came together without any planning or research. That just doesn’t happen in my everyday writing. I was led through it, step by step. God is amazing!

Through Many Tribulations

I read in Streams in the Desert about how God uses our struggles against Satan and our own flesh to further strengthen us and teach us to be dependent on Him. As much as we cry and deplore our circumstances, they are never in vain. In Acts 14 it says, “…they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead. But the disciples formed a circle around him, and he got back up and went back into the city, and the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. They preached the good news to that city and made many disciples, then they returned to…[several cities]… strengthening and establishing the hearts of the disciples, encouraging them to remain firm in [their] faith, saying, ‘It is through many tribulations and hardships that we must enter the kingdom of God.’” (AMP) I imagine that circle of fellow believers were probably praying over Paul, as he lay in the dirt, half dead. And God’s Spirit strengthened him enough that he was able to travel the very next day! And we’re probably talking about making their way on foot, maybe riding on a donkey, at best.

We struggle at times, but what a rich reward we are storing up for ourselves in Heaven. It seems that daily I see my shortcomings, but the mercy of God is worth everything I’ve gone through and more.

My best friend from high school shared a wonderful illustration with me once. She said we are like lumps of coal, but under a tremendous amount of pressure we become diamonds.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me when my flesh wins and strengthen me more and more, so that I might resist the devil, for surely he will flee from me when he sees Your Spirit within me. I know Your path for me may be difficult, but the destination, eternity spent with You, is worth every tear and frustration. Keep me on that path, telling me which way to go in every circumstance. I love You, Lord, but You loved me first, and how humble that makes me feel. Thank You for all You are to me. Amen.

Author Bio

I realize that I kind of jumped in and started blogging, so you have no idea who I am. My name is Deborah, I’m 58 yo and I’ve been a born again Christian since Jan. 20, 1973. I bet you’re doing the math. 😉 At the time of this post it’s been 44 yrs. since I opened up my heart and gave my life to Jesus. My goal with this blog is to inspire you and lift you up in your journey with God.

The following is rather long, so stop when you’ve read enough….

I began my new life under the pastoring of Chuck Smith, Jr. of Calvary Chapel. This meant that the teaching was very Bible-oriented. I am currently attending an AOG church but, oddly enough, our current pastor formerly pastored another Calvary Chapel church. Of course, there is no such thing as a coincidence with God! 🙂

I am single and disabled due to spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column, which causes nerve pain. I also have fibromyalgia and a number of other ailments; I live with daily chronic pain. God has spared my life a number of times when I’ve had medical emergencies, so I’ve obviously still got work to do on His behalf. He’s also healed me of several things, including renal disease and a cyst on my spine, both of which simply vanished!

One of my gifts is writing; I have B.A. degrees in English and Liberal Arts. Receiving those degrees was a miracle; I could not afford to pursue any 4 year programs when I was just out of high school and I’d attended the local junior college, earning an A.A. degree in Humanities. In ’98 I was laid off and found an ad for a college offering off-campus classes near where I lived, while looking for a job in the newspaper. This was when I first began struggling with fibro and I was having a lot of trouble with asthma too. We were a small band of students that took all of our classes together, so we became a close-knit group. I ended up with 2 great study buddies, one a Mormon and the other Jewish, who was also a lapsed BAC*. (The latter is once again active in her faith, thank you God!) The funny thing was, this was a Christian college. Both of these wonderful ladies are still my friends. 

The reason I have 2 degrees is that I was told I when I signed up that I could take all the Liberal Arts courses and then take 2 tests that would effectively make it a degree in English instead. The English degree was my dream and I stated that was my goal on the enrollment forms. At the beginning of my second year I had a meeting with a counselor, to make sure I was on track for graduation. I asked about the tests and was literally told, “you can’t get there from here!” There were no tests and to get my English degree I would have to take a number of additional classes at the main campus. I was in a quandary, I had the other degree in the bag and the fibro was taking a huge toll on me physically. I almost settled, but I had settled for that Humanities degree all those years ago, even though my dream was, even then (in the early ’80’s), a degree in English. As a student this time around I had filed for a number of grants, but had received notifications that I had been passed over for all of them. Imagine my surprise to find an $8,000 check in my mail! I decided not to settle; that check paid for most of the additional classes. 

The one disappointment in all this was that I had appealed not to have to pay for the second degree, since I had been made false promises. I spoke with the woman who had signed me up and she admitted that she had asked her boss about the English degree, but he was pushing to get enough students to justify the program, so he’d told her to lie to me. Of course, the employee was no longer working for the college (actually, by then they had qualified as a university), and her boss denied he’d said anything of the sort. So much for Christian integrity!

I don’t know how I managed to get through that final year. I slept on couches on the main campus many times and ached all over, all the time. I graduated 2 classes short, but was allowed to walk with my class for the Lib. Arts degree. Months later I stopped by to see what classes I still needed and was told both degrees were complete! I also found out that I had graduated cum laude, but hadn’t been given the honorific gold cord to wear at graduation. In spite of the school’s unchristian attitude, I know God helped me through their program!

As a writer, (and aspiring author), I read A LOT! So FYI, I do have another blog at debibliophile.WordPress.com, where I write reviews on the really good books I come across. I enjoy science fiction, mystery/suspense and biographies/autobiographies. I have a Nook and a Fire tablet; I nearly always have at least one of them with me. You never know when an opportunity to read will crop up. 😏 I got the Fire tablet because Barnes & Noble is dropping the Nook. I can put the other’s reading app on either one, if necessary, so it’s all good. I’m sure BN will keep selling ebooks.

So now you know quite a bit about me. I’d love comments, about you or about my bio.

*Born Again Christian

Life Caught Me Up

e392fa56e538859194a028f180128a0dWow, I see that I started this blog exactly two years ago. It makes sense, as Jesus is the *lover of my soul.* 💕 So, of course, He brought me back here on this anniversary, which just happens to be Valentine’s Day! Yes, Jesus has a great sense of timing and does indeed have a sense of humor. At any rate, life caught me up and I barely even remembered that I had my blogs here.

There have been a number of hospital stays, mostly around December of each year, when I seem to have asthma flare ups, even if there’s been no cold or flu to tip the balance. I can’t complain, because nowadays I have very little trouble with wheezing, where I used to use my rescue inhaler all day long. I actually had to have my Dr. renew my Rx because it had lapsed from disuse! I was in once for a bleeding problem and last September I had a nasty cut become infected. I have discovered over the years that sometimes I am really there for someone else. When I can’t tell who that is, I just pray that God will help me make that divine appointment in His timing and say or do what they need in their life at that moment. And oddly enough, all the nurses want to hang out in my room and tell me how nice I am. I laugh and admit that I used to be one of those grouchy patients, who complained and criticised everything and everyone. Yes, I still have a grouchy moment or two, but God has changed me so fundamentally that the nurses just shake their heads and say they can’t imagine that.

It just came to me, as I was writing the above and trying to explain my absence, why I dropped off my blogs two years ago. I had a friend who lived in TX, one of those friends that you can share anything with, and she was slowly turning towards God. She’d gone to church with me once, when I visited her, and had a wonderful experience. Then she heard a minister say that it made more sense to praise the Creator than the Creation. She had actually begun to go to church, but one Sunday on her way home from a service, she was in a horrific accident. The other driver was totally high and should have never been driving in that state. My friend’s car caught on fire and she was trapped in the wreckage and being burnt alive. When we finally got back in touch, that is after she recovered enough to get off the ventilator, she told me she was so mad at God that she had decided to turn back to her Wiccan practices. She demanded to know why God would do that immediately after she had been in church praising Him. I didn’t know what to say. Why had God allowed her to nearly die when He knew she would have that reaction? Some time later, I had called to wish her happy birthday, but she was visiting a close friend in another town, so I told her to call me when she could. Within the week I received a call from her daughter. She had died of a massive heart attack shortly after getting back home. I was laid low. I had told her she could be mad at God, because He could handle it. But I’d never thought she might die before she got over her anger. Of course, I have no way of knowing if she ever repented, but it was also a huge loss for me, of that one person I could always call and hash out all my feelings with. I actually fell into a depression and requested a psych referral from my Dr., so I could have some counseling sessions. So, like I said, life caught me up! Like a big wave, it caught me up and slammed me into the ocean floor. I was never suicidal and my faith didn’t waver;  I’ve had too many years with Jesus, 42 years at the time, to fear that He wouldn’t carry me through, but I went through some dark days. Anyway, that’s why this blog fell off my radar.  And just the other day I was reading in one of my favorite devotionals, Streams in the Desert, and found the perfect response to my friend’s question of “why?” I even noted that I wished I’d had this response for her at the time. Here it is, as minimal of a quote as possible, yet still covering the Bible story it’s based on:

“God wins His greatest victories through apparent defeats. Very often the enemy seems to triumph for a season, and God allows it. But then He comes in and upsets the work of the enemy, overthrows the apparent victory, and as the Bible says, “frustrates the ways of the wicked” (Ps. 146: 9). Consequently, He gives us a much greater victory than we would have known had He not allowed the enemy seemingly to triumph in the first place.

The story of the three Hebrew young men who were thrown into the fiery furnace is a familiar one. There was an apparent victory for the enemy. It looked as if the servants of the living God were going to suffer a terrible defeat. We have all been in situations where it seemed as though we were defeated, and the enemy rejoiced. We can only imagine what a complete defeat this appeared to be for Daniel’s friends. They were thrown into the terrible flames while their enemies watched to see them burn. Yet the enemy was greatly astonished to see them walking around in the fire, enjoying themselves. Then King Nebuchadnezzar told them to come out of the fire. The enemy “crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them . . . for no other god can save in this way” (Dan. 3: 27, 29). This apparent defeat resulted in a miraculous victory.

Suppose these three men had lost their faith and courage and had complained, saying, “Why didn’t God keep us out of the furnace!”They would have been burned, and God would not have been glorified. If there is a great trial in your life today, do not acknowledge it as a defeat. Instead, continue by faith to claim the victory through Him who is able to make you “more than conquerors” (Rom. 8: 37), and a glorious victory will soon be apparent. May we learn that in all the difficult places God takes us, He is giving us opportunities to exercise our faith in Him that will bring about blessed results and greatly glorify His name.” (Streams in the Desert, L.B. Cowman, pp. 37 & 38, Kindle Edition).

This entry has been a bit more chatty than my previous ones. I do want you, the reader, to know that I am a real person with problems, someone who makes mistakes and commits sins, not some *holier than thou* type. And I am glad I remembered why I stopped posting here. Now I realize that my friend’s salvation wasn’t up to me. God took her at her appointed time, as well, and I doubt I will know if she was saved until the end of my life. If she was, we are going to have a big ol’ reunion and praise party! If not, there will be no more tears, so I guess I will have the grace to be able to bear it and still praise Jesus with all my heart. Just being with God is going to be so tremendous, perhaps I won’t even realize someone is missing; I don’t know.

Anyway, this time I’ll try to keep posting, although it won’t be every day and maybe not even every week or month. But if I reach one reader, just one heart, it will be worth it! Let me know if that’s you.

Some Fragrant Fruit

“The Lord may let others be honored and put forward while keeping you hidden in obscurity because He wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade.” – G.D. Watson                                       (Found at – https://mikeratliff.wordpress.com/)

I’m not sure how I feel about this blogger, he seems to be quite argumentative, but this is a great quote!

I know that new age thinking is creeping into some churches; but I am one of those people who prayed a prayer, went forward and signed a card, at a Billy Graham event, and I realize that life as a Christian isn’t all clouds and angels singing. God has taken me through a hysterectomy at 26 and more; I have backslidden and found my footing again, by God’s grace and mercy.

Guess I’ll keep on reading to see what else he has to say before I decide to follow his blog or not.

I’m planning on starting another site at www.thejoyweshare.wordpress.com, which will be based on an old hymn called Come to the Garden, which describes spending intimate, one-on-one time with God first thing in your day. I’m going to expand it to explain how to become a believer and  also add pictures of beautiful gardens, which will be paired with verses you can meditate on. It might be just the thing to take a quick look at during break-time, when the day is hectic and your spirits need a lift! I’ll let you know when it goes live.

The Lifter of My Head

Think of God in all His glory; He needs nothing from us; all things already belong to Him. But He chose to leave our hearts free, so that we could make our own decision as to whether or not to love Him. Not only does He love us, but He will defend us from the unrighteous (one and his followers*), we have nothing to fear.  Additionally, “The Light of Israel shall become a fire and His Holy One a flame. And it will burn and devour the thorns and briers in one day.” (Is. 10:17 Amp)  I think that Jesus is the Light of Israel and His Holy Spirit is the flame (Like in Acts 2:3)

PRAYER 

Lord Jesus, You left us the Holy Spirit to guide us. May He help me to burn out the weeds in my life. Thank You God, for considering me for Your Bride. I am so not deserving of any of this, but You call to my heart. You will make me worthy of this, You have promised to lift my head up (I got this particular image very clearly)! Lead me on and keep my feet from stumbling.  Open doors and hearts, let my loved ones come to You, through the work of the Holy Spirit in them. AMEN

*All content in grey is my additional thoughts or opinions on the subject.

The prayers I share here are in response to whatever the Lord has shown me in my reading/studying. Although I do keep an ongoing prayer list, I keep those intimate prayers between God and myself, for the most part. If I share them, it will only be in general terms, for the purpose of illustrating some point I’m making. My first instinct is to protect the privacy of the people I love.

Sunday Meditation

Wow, the last 2 weeks went by too fast! This morning’s sermon was based on part of the Family, Finances and Faith series the pastor has been teaching. What really stuck with me was what he had to say about prayer.He based it on Genesis 24:63. The word used here for ‘meditate’ is only used this one time and is believed to indicate not just that Isaac went out to meditate that evening, but that it was his habit to meditate each evening. At this time I don’t think there was even Scripture to read, just Isaac and God, as he went over his day with Him in prayer.

The pastor listed prayer and reading the Bible as the top two of his “Big Five,” those things he has found to be important life skills. I have always found it difficult to pray, especially to listen for God. The desire is there, but once you’ve shared your petitions, then what? My brain usually starts to throw out random thoughts and I lose my attitude of prayer! I know there are people who pray for hours a day, but it isn’t my forte. One thing that has helped is to write or journal my prayers. I guess I’ll continue as I have, but I should remember to ask God, in my petitions, to give me the attitude I need. How awesome that I can ask God for “the *mind of Christ!” I can learn to be a better prayer warrior. It’s His will that I do, so it only takes my obedience.

PRAYER

Dear Lord, I am so ashamed to be this far behind at cultivating a steady prayer life. I have never had the patience or the discipline to stay with it and at times it has devolved into my praying only when there was an urgent need. And yet, this is a way to be in Your Presence, which is my goal. Don’t let the enemy or my flesh get in the way of communicating with You. I’ve known for years that communication is imperative in a relationship. But I think I’ve mostly sat here and reeled off a bunch of requests, then, after a few minutes, abandoned any attempt to hear You. I am so blessed and humbled that You still give me insights to share with others. Thank You, please teach me to better hear Your voice and to quiet my own mind. Today I claim Colossians 3:15 AMP, :And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ, rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always]. AMEN

*1 Corinthians 2:16

More than a Minute

Frozen Yosemite Waterfall

Got a ‘One Minute’ devotional,  which also provides related Scripture, for when you feel you need more. So far I have wanted more.  I use the Amplified Bible, which is designated by the abbreviation AMP. From Psalms 19:13a and 14, I got “Keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; let them NOT have dominion over me. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, oh Lord, my firm (impenetrable) Rock and Redeemer.” (AMP) How presumptuous (and selfish) was it of me to waste years worrying about who I was, instead of learning who God is?! I asked for forgiveness and then had the pleasure of the Holy Spirit’s company for a bit.  But maybe the enemy didn’t like this, because I ended up in the ER with such low blood pressure that I was incoherent and in and out of consciousness. I am not scared; the impenetrable Rock will protect me. My life is God’s already; I will die at the appointed time. I live in Him. My very breath is given to me at His command.

Also, I was thinking of Psalm 23 and when I got to “You prepare a table in the midst of my enemies,” the Lord said to my heart, “I do this for you, everyday,” I realized, not that my roommates are my enemies, but that they are still under the dominion of the enemy, which allows him access to the house. I’ll pray throughout the house and seal the doors and windows with holy oil, as I have with every place I’ve lived since I left my parents’ home. I’ve even done this here before, but since I haven’t been in a good place with the Lord for quite awhile, it can’t hurt to do it again. I realize this sounds extreme to some, but the enemy always wants to thwart our attempts at doing God’s will and it doesn’t hurt to play it safe. I have been fortunate to not have had a direct attack, but some things like illness, car  trouble or a big fight with a family member right before going to church, so you’re at home in bed, or in the pew fuming, instead of hearing a message God wanted you to hear are some of the ways the enemy tries to shortchange us or keep us from ministering to others.

Just take care not to underestimate satan’s power. If prayer and some oil are overkill, I’d rather that than maybe give him a foothold. satan has no shame or integrity and is always looking for some way to destroy God’s people and His work in and through them. Non-believers are already in the bag and, except for drawing them deeper into their unbelief or their belief in some of the false religions, he is not as focused on them. He wants to rob God and His works by twisting the Truth and by using circumstances to keep us from all the good things God has planned for us. God says he is like a hungry lion, roving about and looking for someone to devour. I spent about 14 years being introspective and questioning and re-questioning God instead of continuing to walk in His plan for me. I deserted a small church where I was spiritually strong and being groomed for leadership, because satan found a chink in my spiritual armor. And I was a spiritually mature Christian with thirty years of faith and knowledge, I’ll say it again, don’t underestimate the enemy!

PRAYER

Thank You for the wonderful insights, I needed to hear them! I grieve for the years the enemy has stolen from You and I. I ask that You grant me the promise of Joel 2:25, “”And I will restore or replace for you the years that the locust has eaten.” Give me the wisdom to see it when the enemy attacks me. Thank You for drawing me back to You; I need You more than ever! I love You. AMEN

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