Apr 17, 2014

Easter - More Than Chocolate

It's that amazing time of year again - along with Christmas, this is the biggest and most poignant moment of each calendar year, really.  Easter time.


Easter...

What does that word mean to you? Does in conjure thoughts of delicious chocolate eggs, toasty warm hot cross buns and fuzzy little bunnies? Does it  remind you to get to that Good Friday church service, make sure you donate a food basket to that helps ministry and stock up on groceries before the shops close for the holiday?

 Does it also move you to think of your Heavenly Creator? The Almighty, the Powerful and the True God who at this time all those years ago, saw His only Son horrendously nailed to a rugged piece of wood...does it make you think of Him too? For the sacrifice...the heartache...the death...do you picture your Saviour hanging from that cross, His last breath fading away as He gives up His life for YOU?

As I write this, I'm picturing it - all those people standing around on the hill, watching. Some are crying, some are silently humbled, some are astonished that it's all happening and some are defiantly smug that He's up there. How do you think you'd be reacting? The man you'd been following with intense interest and devotion for some time now is just...gone. He's been ripped from His earthly life and made a spectacle of for all to see.

It's horrific isn't it? However, in that horrifying scene lies absolute love. Pure, unadulterated and beautiful love. The Father gave us His Son - just like that. He sent Christ to bridge our distant hearts with His. He filled the gap between us and our Creator! How fantastic is that?! There will never be a greater sacrifice than the reconciliation Jesus provided.

This Easter, it's my prayer that you engage with much more of His Story than what the world offers. More than the chocolate, the bunnies and the days off of work. It's my hope that something in the amazing sacrifice speaks volumes to you and connects your heart much more deeply to His.

Happy Easter!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In God’s great mercy he has caused us to be born again into a living hope, because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3 NCV YouVersion)

Photo Credit: Jason Rutel via CreationSwap

ABOUT HANNAH
HannahHi! I'm Hannah Juanta - youth worker, Aussie, student, wife and Ambassador for the King! I love writing and reading and it's a pleasure having blogs like this read by awesome people like you! I'm believing for a world touched by the Almighty, and I want to play a small part in that as His hands through my blogs. If you like my style, I'd love you to stop by my blog "hanejua's blog - fling it at the horizon" at https://storykuwento.wordpress.com










Apr 15, 2014

God's Word

I am sure by now I have told you that I am a huge proponent of memorizing scripture.  If I haven't mentioned that yet, let me tell you, I am a huge proponent of memorizing scripture!

I challenge myself, my family, the small groups I am in, even the preschool choir I help lead - to memorize scripture.  You would be surprised what a preschooler can memorize!  There is a profound impact on your life when you have the words of God running through your mind throughout the day.  

Romans 12:2 tells us not to conform to the patterns of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  The easiest way I know to renew your mind is to let it dwell in God's word.  God's word changes everything.  It will change the words you use and the things you do.  It will change your outlook and your perspective.  It will change what you value and whom you serve.

The patterns of this world tell us to look out for ourselves.  They tell us that more is better, that you can never have enough and what you want/desire/need is what is important.  The patterns of this world tell us to serve the gods of money, power, possessions, and self-obsession.  But God's word tell us to put others first (Phil 2:3).  That the stuff in this world is fleeting and worthless (Prov 11:4).  And more is not better (James 5:1-6).  God's word tells us that our brothers and sister needs are more important than ours and we are called to serve them (Gal 5:13).  God's word tells us that by serving others we are ultimately serving Him (Matthew 27:40), the one and only true God.

Resting in God's word, knowing God's word, memorizing God's word will change you.  It will change whom you serve.

As Joshua told the Israelites a few thousand years ago, "You can choose for yourself this day whom you will serve" (the gods of money, power, possessions and self), "But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord"  (Joshua 24:15 NIV).  My family has decided whom we are going to serve.  We choose God.  We will dwell in his presence, we will memorize his word.

I would love for you to join me in memorizing God's word.  If this is a discipline you practice please post a comment on some of your favorite verses you have memorized, maybe add a strategy you have to make memorizing easier.  If this isn't something you have tried in the past or don't think you are good at, I invite you to keep checking in, read the comments your sisters post for tips and strategies.  The key to memorizing scripture is to find ones that speak to you.  That meet you where you are and encourage or inspire you.  You don't have to memorize every scripture that is posted, just start with one or two.  

The first verse I memorized was Proverbs 3:5-6,
 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."  
This is from the NIV, but you can use which ever translation is the most familiar to you.

Okay ladies… post your verses!

Apr 13, 2014

Graced!

I must say I'm really humbled to have been given the opportunity to write for Blogs by Christian Women. I must admit that I've been blessed by the few posts I've read on this blog. And I give God the praise for using this medium to reach out to many women. I count myself blessed and graced and I can say the same for all women. WOMEN ARE FAVORED BY THE LORD!


cwb_Guest-Post_Buife



An issue most women face, both young and old, is that of low self esteem. Truth be told, I was plagued by this until I met Christ.  Low self esteem is demonic. It is the devil telling us we are not good enough, we can't amount to anything. And when we give our lives to Christ, these statements progress to "No, God couldn't love me. At least not after the manner I have lived in the past."

He makes us doubt our salvation in the Lord.  Because of our frail nature, we are prone to believe these lies. But the Lord calls us to trust Him and trust in the salvation Christ bought us. He reminds us that we are graced. Our salvation came as a result of grace.

We may have lived in sin, committed all sort of atrocities before we came to know Christ; be it adultery, fornication, envy, lies, orgies.  We may have engaged in fraud, maltreated others… whatever it might have been.  But the Lord says, "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, (s)he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).  He says, "Do not remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold I am doing a new thing!…" (Isaiah 43:18-19).

The Lord our God is so good and gracious.  He aggressively forgives and forgets the things we did when we lived in sin as soon as we surrender to Him.

Dearest, there is no sin you can think of that you did that was not nailed on the cross!

Woman, thou are graced, thou are lifted up. Jesus is your righteousness. You are no longer judged by the things of old. You are new and God wants to bring you to a place of His glory, a place He desires to use you for His glory.

Has the Lord been calling you to take up a responsibility?  Have you been nurturing feelings that you
are not worthy?  Hear this, you are QUALIFIED because you carry Christ.  You are well and able.  Summon up courage and take up the assignment your God has given you. He would never have asked if He knew you were not qualified. But the truth is, He knows you can and He believes you can.

That's right, God believes in you!  Shouldn't you start making your Father proud already!  You fear you might disappoint Him? Well guess what?  We all do!  But the Lord Himself promised that He'll be with us till the end of age  (Matthew 28:20); through it all.

Now, has the Lord promised and not delivered? Has He ever told a lie? The answer to both of these is NO! He is a faithful God.

Oh dear fellow woman of the Lord, whose report shall you believe - the Lord's or that of the father of all lies - Satan? Trust God. You are not inferior, you were ordained before you were born, by the Lord (Jeremiah 1:5). If the Lord has chosen you, do you then remove yourself from His awesome plan? I say no. Get on with God. Discover your purpose and run with Him. Let the Lord manifest His glory through you.

I say again, Woman You Are Graced!!!

ABOUT BUIFE
Buife Nomeh is first of all, a child of God. In her twenties, she has experienced (emotional and spiritual) pain in the heart and has only found that her heart belongs to Jesus and, in Him, she is made whole. She is a single lady, a daughter, a sister, a friend and recently, a blogger. Her blog is where she talks about her experiences in this love relationship with God and shares whatever the Lord lays in her
mind to share. She loves to sing, dance in worship, pray, dine with the Lord in His Word and obey all that He commands. Here's her blog http://thegodkindoflove.blogspot.com. You can also catch her on twitter @dGodKindofLove

Apr 11, 2014

There's Purpose in the Process

I love tea! And at this moment I have more varieties than I can practically drink. It's become my affordable indulgence.

cwb_Guest_Bek

This may sound a tad ridiculous, and I feel ancient saying it, but drinking tea is like drinking a cup of serenity or ‘sereni-tea’. See what I did there? So puny!

Yep, moving on....For the duration of the cup, I am immersed in an uninterrupted, fragrant chill zone.
I like to store my tea in a compartmentalised tea box, and although it’s probably not the ideal place for optimum freshness, it is very pretty.  Thinking about tea got me thinking about character. Huh? Bear with me…

Tea, whilst still in its box or bag is nothing special. Tea in cold water is nothing special.

For tea to fulfil its designed purpose it must be immersed in boiling or near boiling water (depending on the type of tea and how much of a tea snob one is). It is only then that the flavour can be released, that the properties of the tea and all that makes it unique can burst forth.

Sometimes, actually most times, it’s far more comfortable for us to stay in our ‘box’.  It’s safe and it’s pretty. But only when we step out of the box, out of our comfort zone, do we begin to fulfil our designed purpose.

And then it’s only when we’re placed in hot water that the real flavour of our lives and character can burst forth.

If for a moment we think of Father God as The Perfect Tea Master, we will understand that He knows exactly the ideal temperature that will draw out what makes us unique. He will never place us in temperatures that are too hot for us to endure and He loves us far too much to place us in tepid water where our greatest properties will not be released to their full potential.

Then, out of pure grace, He doesn’t leave us in that hot water longer than necessary. Long enough only for the full flavour of our character to develop.

Think about that next time you feel as though you’re in 'hot water'.  What treasure is God bringing forth in you at this time?

There is purpose in the process.

-Bek Curtis

ABOUT ME:
I am a wife, mum of 3 and a woman who is passionate about Jesus and seeing people connected and reconciled to the Father Heart of God.  I was redeemed by God through His immeasurable grace, from a life of drug addiction, promiscuity, and teen pregnancy.  God has transformed me so radically, that even I don't recognize the girl I used to be!  God is love, and this love has the power to redeem, restore and transform lives. It is this truth that fuels me to encourage others to find freedom in Christ, mainly through my role in Prayer Ministry, which focuses on inner healing and deliverance. I love watching Him meet individuals exactly where they're at, loving them, reassuring them and releasing them into the freedom He so desires for them. It is an honour of which I will never tire!  I feel most alive when I am given the opportunity to speak publicly and share my testimony of grace and redemption, it gives people hope for their own lives and seemingly hopeless situations. Because what He has done for one, He will surely do for another!  I love writing, and although I don't always manage to do so with eloquence, my blog Perfectly Flawed allows me to write and share my God Journey with vulnerability, a journey that is filled with massive wins and epic fails, and all the lessons that come with each. I'd love you to join me: http://perfectlyflawed.net/   or connect with me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PerfectlyFlawedblog or Twitter: https://twitter.com/perfectlyblog

Apr 9, 2014

Why This Waste

A woman came to [Jesus] having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste?” (Matthew 26:7–8 NKJV).

After graduating from college, I stayed in that community to serve at my church in full time ministry. It is a small, rural area full of married people, and it was not a great place for a young, single woman! Nevertheless, I obeyed the promptings of my heart, comforting myself with the thought that it would probably only be for a year, and then I could move on to bigger and better things.

Seventeen years later, I was still in that community and still single! Every year, I struggled with my decision to stay. Every year, I wondered if I had missed the boat and ruined any chance of ever marrying. But every year, I felt the same conviction to stay put. In many ways, those were wonderful years. I had wonderful friends and church family. After a while, I owned a home and traveled to beautiful countries—sometimes for ministry and sometimes for vacation. It was a very full life. But it was also very difficult, as I wondered often about the wisdom of remaining in such a small community. God’s ways, however, are higher than our ways, and His thoughts light years above our own.

In the end, when my husband walked into the church, one of the things that caught his attention was my years of service at the church! He admired me for choosing ministry over a more typical career path and living in such a small community simply because God told me to.

As you serve, you may be tempted to think that your life is being wasted. A voice inside taunts you, “You’re wasting your life!” Or people around you say with scorn, “What a waste!”

It can happen for any number of reasons:
You turn down the lucrative, prestigious job to work at small non-profit, earning a fraction of the salary. Your relatives respond, “Why this waste?”


You decide to spend your Saturdays serving at a homeless shelter. Your peers see only the fun you could be having. But your heart is not in the party scene; it’s with the poor. Friends don’t understand it, but you feel tremendous joy when you’re there. Why this waste?


You’re attractive, have a great figure and get lots of male attention, but you’ve decided to save sex for marriage. What a waste!

You’re a talented musician, but instead of pursuing a career in the rat race music world, you serve as a worship leader in your small home church. What a waste!

Instead of enjoying an early retirement and buying a sleek two-seater, you start taking in foster children, even after your own children are grown and gone. Oh my!

Ironically, to most people, if you spend your twenties and thirties in prodigal living, that is not a waste as long as you make money and land dates. But if you spend those years serving the Lord and impacting lives in relative obscurity, to them, this is a waste!

When the woman in Matthew 26 poured the expensive perfume on Jesus, Jesus didn’t think it was a waste. He thought it was a beautiful service, and He said she would be remembered and respected for it (while perhaps some of her critics would be forgotten).

Initially, many of the things God calls us to do seem like a waste. But is it waste, or is it worship? To worship means to give ourselves lavishly to the Lord, to love Him with abandon. The world, and even other Christians, might say we’re wasting our lives, our resources, our youth—but really, we’re just worshiping. We’re pouring out our lives as a fragrant offering to the King of the universe. It’s really not that strange.

As I worked at my church all those years, I heard from every possible source: You’re wasting your life. Strangers in supermarkets, college professors, pastors, saved and unsaved friends. At one point, about 80 percent of the people with whom I interacted thought I was pouring my life out on barren soil.

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It was there, in the serving, that I got healed of a lot of stuff and realized some of my purpose and potential, and it was there, toiling in the “fields,” that I met my Boaz.
Only Jesus knows the big picture. His ways are not our ways, and His wisdom often appears foolish. From the beginning of time, God has asked His people to trod unique paths and do unusual things. You are no exception. God doesn’t change. If He hasn’t already, He will indeed soon ask you to choose the road less traveled and to look the fool—in a job choice, relationship, financial decision, or the way you spend some of your time. Follow Him, knowing that, in the end, He will honor you.
 

About Nicole

Nicole Doyley is the author of The Wait: Encouragement for Single Women, which can be purchased from Amazon or www.ruthscompany.org.
Ms. Doyley grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and then attended Dartmouth College, where she earned a BA in English. After graduation, she continued to live in New Hampshire, serving in full-time ministry for almost twenty years. In 2006, two weeks before her fortieth birthday, she married Marvin, her long-awaited Boaz. The couple now lives in Rochester, New York, with their two sons, Isaac and Benjamin. One of her greatest passions is to encourage single women to find their destiny, pursue it and wait for God’s BEST! Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ruthscompany.

Apr 7, 2014

The Cross-bearer

[image via]

Standing in the crowded square, I’m peering over shoulders to see what the commotion is in the street. I see a man, barely clothed, dripping blood from the crown of thorns on his head to the lashes on his back to the chains around his ankles. He is surrounded by taunting soldiers. He carries, or rather staggers, under the weight of a wooden post. He’s bearing his own cross for his crucifixion.

I turn my head away, unable to watch this horror story play out. I cry out to my God, why? He whispers, "In time you will see, He will be crowned King. You will bear your own cross if you follow Him, but fear not, you too will be crowned." 

Charles Spurgeon said, "There are no crown-wearers in Heaven who were not cross-bearers here below." I believe this is true and very convicting.  Jesus’s definition of cross-bearing: a choice, out of faith, to pick up the cross and put down self to merely follow Jesus in the road to crucifixion. 

“And he [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). 

Us cross-bearers, walk in the bloody footsteps of Jesus, hearing the taunting soldiers, bearing the weight of this world. While we will be persecuted, nothing can ever separate us from the love of Jesus (Rom. 8:39). We have to remember that Jesus carried the cross for our sins and comes alongside us to help carry our crosses. In Isaiah 53:4, it says that Jesus bears our griefs, like he bore the cross and he carries our sorrows, like he carried the cross.  Jesus was pierced, crushed, bruised, punished and beat for our peace and for our healing (53:5).  Jesus, who endured the cross with joy (Heb. 12:2), is the ultimate example for us as cross-bearers and cross-followers. Yet, that road on which we fight and race down, doesn't end at death. 

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). 

Struggling, enduring, striving through the race of life, assured by the original Cross while believing in the original cross-bearer, we are awarded, and proudly wear, our crowns in Heaven.


Apr 3, 2014

The Desires of Your Heart

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."  David assures us of this promise in Psalm 37:4

If I was being truly honest with you, and I do try to be honest, I would have to say, I have always wondered if this promise is really true.  It seems kind of bold.  A little…I don't know…dangerous.  Almost like a blank prayer check.  I mean, I can desire some pretty BIG things! You sure you can really deliver that God?  I certainly would never make the statement to my children, "I will give you the desires of your heart!"  Who knows what kind of trouble that might get me into!

So why would God say that to us? I mean, ask any Christian you know and they would tell you God doesn't answer all prayers with a "yes!".  I get a WHOLE LOT of "no"s, and some "not yet"s, and quite a few "this is better"s.  There are even times I honestly feel like I don't get any answer at all!  So why would God say he would give me the desires of my heart, if he doesn't always give me what I ask for? 

Well, there are a few reasons.

First off, this isn't a blank prayer check.  God most definitely does not say, "just ask for whatever you want and I will give it to you."  But before we get into what we are going to get out of this promise, it is important to notice the first part of this verse. "Delight yourself in the Lord."  Delight…  enjoy…  take pleasure in the Lord and in His law (Psalm 1:2) and in His salvation (Psalm 35:9) which comes through Jesus Christ.  When you do this, when you take joy in living life as God intended, according to his law, and in obedience to Christ, the desires of your heart tend to match His desires.  God will answer any prayer that is prayed in accordance with His will.  I truly believe that.  

Secondly, we are His children.  He delights in giving us gifts.  I have three children.  I LOVE to give them gifts.  I try not to spoil them rotten, and I would like to think they are pretty good kids.  So when I get the chance to show them a little love, to give them something I know they REALLY REALLY desire, I will.  If I, whom am evil, know how to give good gifts, how much better at that must God be (Matthew 7:11).

So, when we delight in Him, His law, and His salvation, our desires will be in line with His (for the most part).  And He will give us those desires because we are His children and He enjoys giving us good gifts.  So how do we go about asking for the desires of our heart? Is there a certain way we need to pray?  Do we always have to pray within His will?  

First off, God's will will always be done.  It is a lot easier and a lot less frustrating to pray for His will rather than against His will.  That is why in the prayer Christ modeled for us He taught us to pray, "your will be done." But the Bible also tells us it's okay to ask for what we want (Matthew 7:7).  We are told in scripture to pray humbly (2 Chron. 7:14).  Pray with thankfulness in your heart (Phil. 4:6) and praise on your tongue (Psalm 66:17-20).  Pray boldly (James 1:6).  

I have recently fallen in love with the James 1:6 verse "But when he asks , he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;".  When you ask God for the desires of your heart, do so boldly!  With confidence that your God can do all things!  Do not doubt for a second that God can answer your prayer!  He absolutely can!  I am not promising you He will, but I am telling you He can!  

Oh beautiful ones.  God loves you! He has great plans for you and He longs to give you the desires of your heart, when they are in accordance with His will.  Delight in Him, in His laws and in His salvation.  Pray boldly, with praise and thanksgiving.  And get ready to receive the desires of your heart!  

If your heart is breaking reading this, because God hasn't given you the desires of your heart.  Please know that I know only too well how you feel.  I know God sometime answers the prayers from the deepest corners of our hearts with "no".  I have lived that reality.  I addressed that truth in another blog written a month or two ago, and you can read about it here.


Apr 1, 2014

I Don’t Deserve This!

I don’t deserve the constant complaining.
Complaining about what’s for dinner, what candy they want, what time they have to go to bed, when it’s time for a nap, when it’s time to wake-up, when they can’t watch cartoons or when I ask them to pick up their toys. 

I don’t deserve the whining.
Whining for more, whining for less, whining, whining, and whining.  all. the. time.

I don’t deserve the hitting.
The biting, the spitting, the throwing, and the stomping.

I don’t deserve the embarrassment of tantrums thrown in the store, in Church, in coffee shops, changing rooms and when leaving the McDonalds play place.
I don’t deserve the lack of please and thank you.
I don’t deserve late nights of cleaning up from a busy day, long hours of being up with one kid than the next. And I most certainly don’t deserve someone waking me up every morning asking for breakfast, asking to go potty, asking for cartoons. Asking. Asking. Asking. More. More. More. 

I don’t deserve this.

Suestern

I don’t deserve any of this. 

The cuddle time on couches with blankets, popcorn and movies. 


The little hands that hang onto my leg when doing dishes just because they want to be near me.
The warmth that flows through me when they say, “I love you”. 


I don’t deserve the way they so graciously forgive me every time I snap and yell at them.


I don’t deserve the way my daughter compliments the way I look every morning even when I am wearing last night’s t-shirt, dirty sweatpants and I haven’t bothered to even brush my teeth yet.


I don’t deserve the hugs, the sweet kisses, or the way they run to me when they are hurt because the only thing that will soothe are my arms wrapped around them.

I don’t deserve their heart shaped lips and rosy cheeks when they are sick.
Their smiles, their hugs, their kisses, their grace, their forgiveness, their laughter. Their chubby feet and soft hands.

My day starting with them and ending with them.
I don’t deserve this.


Yet I have been given this. All of this… my cup overflows. 

Such an undeserved gift.


God has blessed me with all this and more. 


When I am tired he gives me strength. 


When I and weak his grace is sufficient and his power made perfect. 


And at the end of the day when dishes are stacked, toys cover the ground, peanut butter coats the table, play dough is embedded in the carpet and my mouth reeks with complaints, whining, nagging and selfishness? 

He quietly whispers to my heart. Sweet words of life, words of hope, words of grace.
And in the morning his mercies are new.


Oh Jesus, I do not deserve this. 

Thank you.


2 Corinthians 12:9 

Isaiah 40:29


About Sue
Sue Stearns is author of Crazy Tuesdays and blogger at www.crazytuesdays.org. She is a single mom who loves Jesus, loves her two kids, and loves to find the beauty and grace that is hidden within every mess.