Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Meaning of JOY

I had a lesson on joy today, and I just wanted to share this one example out of the many times that my joy gets stolen, but how that can change on a dime if I take it to God, and receive from Him all the joy I desire, and let Him remind me of where my joy really comes from.

Today I found myself coming home, even after another great morning at church and a great sermon, still just kind of discontent, not very joyful, and at one point felt I wanted to kind of bite someone's head off, but didn't know why. Don't worry, I didn't bite anyone's head off. Actually, my family never had a clue this was going on in my mind. Luckily, I had a talk to God while preparing lunch so I could nip this fleshy-ness in the bud. I didn't want my long Sunday afternoon with my family to be ruined. And of course, it's always right after a good sermon that you get a little tested, isn't it?
Anyways, I really wanted to go and have a quiet talk with God during the time that I was making lunch, but that wasn't possible, so He graciously spoke to me right there where I was at, making lunch. I love that about Him. I was telling Him that I didn't feel very joyful, I didn't want to make all these sandwiches, try to entertain my kids all day, or pick up the mess that was left from rushing out the door for church that morning. I know, whine, whine, whine. And He said "Who are you wanting to please right now?". I easily said " yeah...that's my problem". He said, "Yep". The flesh always wants to get fed first, cared for first, doesn't it, and it is NEVER satisfied. Nor does it want to serve others. There have been other signs of my flesh being strong this week as well. And then God said, "Remember, the only pure joy and contentment you are going to find is through Me. So for the thousandth time, abide in Me, feed the Spirit, and rebuke the flesh in the name of Jesus". And then I was reminded of JOY being an acronym for what God was telling me. This has done wonders for me in that past.

J - Jesus first
O- Others second
Y- yourself last

So I decided to start taking my thoughts captive to Jesus, praying over every thought that was stealing my joy for a few minutes and claiming the mind of Christ...and suddenly, contentment, rest, and joy took over and I truthfully have been able to be completely be joyful the rest of my day just with the joy that only my Jesus can bring. Humility, and willingness to deny your flesh, is also what this all boils down to. I pray that this daily task of of denying the flesh and feeding the Spirit will begin to be a better habit of mine. For the Word says I am a new creation. The old is gone, and the new has come. Therefore I should be acting like one.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Our Garden - a Work in Progress

We spent the day today as a family gardening some more. We tackled some more of a flowerbed that we had redone about a month ago. Then we finally were able to redo the bed directly in front of our house that needed it soooo badly. The big flowerpot with the cascading Petunias and the Caladiums around it are all new. It is a vast improvement. Wish I had thought to do the before and after thing so you could see the big change. We are quite thrilled with the outcome of our hard work today though. And no, I really don't like to garden, but it really needed to be done, and now I'm glad we did it.
Bekah and Faith hard at work
Above and below: Tim and I's gardening project 99% finished

Monday, May 19, 2008

Our Camping Trip

We spent this past weekend camping at Krause Springs in Spicewood, TX with our friends, the Steuerwalds. This was my 1st camping trip ever with kids in tow. I think it's honestly been at least 10 years since I've camped overnight somewhere and I'm happy to say that it will go down as one of the best camping experiences I've ever had. The fellowship was wonderful. The kids were all quite delightful, and even though Tim and I and 5 kids (Hannah, Faith, Rebekah, and niece and nephew Ethan, and Serah) all shared a 10-person tent, we all had 2 full nights sleep. Can we say miracle?

Probably the only complaint was the interesting group of Unitarians in the campsite next to us that decided to play their banjos, fiddles, and yodle and sing folk songs quite loudly for hours each night including "What Can You Do with a Drunken Sailor", followed by "Amazing Grace". Talk about diversity. But we have since learned, that's what they are about: diversity. It was quite an experience, but I figure now it gives us a story to tell. We also saw some oh so bold racoons lurking around the camp each night. One even walked right up to our table as we were sitting just a few feet away around the campfire. Then we got to hear some racoons squabble with each other that sounded like the tasmanian devil was just down the hill from us. And the funny thing is, just minutes before that, one of us was asking what a racoon sounded like. And boy did they answer us.

Here's the beautiful spring-fed swimming hole that the kids swam in near our campground

Hannah getting ready to take her 1st jump in the frigid water. And yes, they swam in it anyways. Honestly, I lasted about 5 minutes.

As you see, the trees around there were huge and just breathtaking. This one was right on our campsite. The kids really enjoyed playing in it.

Between our family and the Steuerwald family, we had a total of 7 kiddos. Here's 5 of them inside the BIG hollow Cypress tree at our campsite.

The kiddos eating breakfast around the campfire

Our camp cook, Chef Steuerwald. We were quite spoiled by the amazing food that he cooked for us. Thank you, D.R.!

Monday, May 12, 2008

In Light of the Last Post...

Someone said at our last Home Group meeting that as long as we are feeling condemned as if in a in a courtroom, we remain useless. We can't reach the lost when we are too consumed by our own guilt and condemnation. How can we tell someone who is lost that they can be free from a life of sin, guilt, and condemnation, when we can't believe it ourselves. What sins are we still reeling over and feeling condemned for that we aren't receiveng the cleansing blood of Christ for? For me, a few examples are, I still struggle when I know I've lost my temper once again with my kids, or chose something over my kids when they so obviously needed me, which pretty much still happens every day at some point, or say something to my husband that I know makes him upset, yet I do it anyways. But the voice that keeps coming to me is from my Savior when I want fear condemnation and I hear His voice say "Abide in Me". "There is no condemnation for this who are in Christ Jesus". The enemy knows what keeps us from being useful for God's kingdom, and when we allowthe voice of the enemy condemn us, he will take us to a completely useless state of being. Choose to listen to the voice of God, and the freedom will come. Also, anytime that voice of guilt and condemnation comes at you, claim the power of Jesus' blood over that sin, thank Jesus for His forgiveness, and move on. Like I said before, the enemy will take flight at that point.

Please go to the More Than Conquerors blog to read Tim's amazing explanation of why we still sin even though the Bible says we are free from sin. I have banged my head against a wall on this very subject for too long, but God gave Tim a wonderful revelation about that whole thing. It has answered my questions on it, and it will help you see why we continue to sin even when the Word of God says we are no longer slave to sin.

Father God, thank you for the cleansing power of Jesus blood that you have given. And thank you for the unending love and patience that you have for us, despite our shortcomings, misunderstandings, and all out stupidity sometimes. Though I do not feel worthy of your love, you have made me worthy by your Son Jesus Christ. Help me to receive that each and every moment of every day, and walk in the freedom that I was so freely given. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Friday, May 9, 2008

What a week

Our church has been participating in and celebrating a world-wide call to Pentacost which is known as "10 Days to Pentacost" as we have had prayer meetings every night at the church and elsewhere since May 1st. The Lord really has burned in mine and others' hearts to begin believing again all that God has promised to us through His word and we have fallen so short to wordly pleasures over Him and His promises and blessings. One of the visions that I got was that God has to tear down idols (worldly possessions)and/or we have to be ready to lay down our idols that we have replaced Him with, before He can move how he wants to. We sometimes ask Him to reveal Himself mightily but we are unwilling to lay down our idols so He can move. He is just waiting. I know I have things I still need to lay down, yet at this time, God is not really being clear about what that is, or I am just not hearing him right. I'm still praying about that.

But in the process, God is speaking to me through a study that our Home Group is doing of the book "The Normal Christian Life". It is based out of Romans, which has always been kind of a hard book for me to delve into. But with being able to talk it out with Tim and others, God is revealing so much about the value and satisfaction that Christ's death, burial, and resurrection is to me and everyone in the world. I couldn't believe it took til I was 32 years old and a Christian for 24 years before I GOT IT! God sent His son to die so that we can be reconciled to Himself for eternity. We can't nor have we ever been able to attain that. It was only accomplished by Christ's shed blood and death on the cross. The blood was shed for our "sins".The cross was bore for our "sin nature". We sin because we were born sinners. We are not sinners because we sin. It is our nature to sin, so God had to do something about that. I know that this has been taught to me before, and I've heard it many times in my life, but for some reason I couldn't completely grasp it to the point that I could live it out

So God gave me a vision last week to help me grasp the value of Christ's shed blood that was a huge light-bulb moment for me. I never really could grasp what the blood meant for me or any of us, but now I have. So here it goes.

When I am walking around in condemnation over my sin, I might as well be sitting in a courtroom waiting and actually expecting a death sentence (even thought I am eternally saved). The enemy has me where he wants me and is throwing every sin at me, accusing me of what I did wrong that day. God is my judge and Jesus is my Advocate or Defender by the way in this setting. Then God asks Jesus to bring Him a bowl of shed blood to the Judge's desk. At tha moment, God says, "I am satisfied with this blood". Bethany is free and will always be free. I did nothing to attain that. It was freely given because God said the shed blood covered all my sins. Why the blood? We really don't know, but that's what God said, and it is our responsibility to believe God's word. Therefore I should never be putting myself in the courtroom again. So how many times do we put ourselves back there so God can remind us of His forgiveness? He has already forgiven us! It happened 2000 years ago and it still remains. We don't have to grovel for it or ask for it. We should confess things, but God says "your sin is as far from me as the east is from the west." It is forgotten and you are forgiven and it has been forgiven even before it happened. So now we can approach Him every day with boldness by the power of the blood of Jesus. And we can use the blood of Jesus as a weapon to ward off the enemy whenever he wants to condemn us for screwing up yet again. The devil can't argue with Christ's shed blood. He was there when it happened for goodness sakes. He saw it happen. And we have victory because of it. Thank you Jesus!

I am still trying to chew on so much more, so this is just the beginning my sure...

Friday, May 2, 2008

friends and turtles

We had a play day at Gramma's (my mom's) house today. I had my friend, Ally, and her two girls come with us to play and swim in the kiddie pool. While we were there, my dad came home with a turtle he rescued when he saw it crawling across a busy street. Needless to say, the kids were thrilled with their new little friend.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

new family photos

Here they are!

Some new pics!

Here's some pics that are sort of in conjunction with my last post. We've had a fun few weeks! I put some of the garden we planted together and just some random others.