4/22/2014

Living Water

When I was a child I wasn't particularly excited to go to church every Sunday. : )

But whenever a missionary came to speak I was all ears.

There was just something different. Something real. Something alive in them.

Now I know, it was Jesus.

Brother Yun is one of those missionaries (from China) that, as soon as I started his book, I saw Jesus.


This was an amazing book. One I will be going back to for encouragement.



"On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice,

'Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.






Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.'

By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive."
                                                              John 7:37-39 


This book will convict you and encourage you all at the same time. If you are a Christian it will challenge you and make you examine yourself.

"Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent." Revelation 3:19

I thought I'd just share a few thought-provoking quotes.

Ok maybe a bit more then a few. : )



On Democracy:

"You see, I believe Jesus Christ alone is the answer for the ills of the whole world. Communism is not the answer, but neither is democracy. It is God's will that must rule, and His kingdom that must reign on earth as it is in heaven. 

Democracy may be good in many ways, but it is a concept not supported in Scripture. 

If democracy was the rule of law in God's kingdom, then Moses would never have led Israel out of Egypt, for the majority of Israelites grumbled against Moses and even wanted him put to death. 

If they had listened to the voice of democracy, Caleb and Joshua would have been overruled, for those two men went against the advice of all the other spies who returned from the Promised Land. 

When God commanded me to stand up and walk out of prison in 1997, there was no need to hold a meeting to discuss it with the other believers. When the Almighty speaks, all other voices fall silent."


On the Western Church:

""I believe the Western church is generally in the same condition as Martha. You know the truths about God's Word in your head, but you still like to run your own lives. Like Martha, many Christians cry out, 'Lord, if you had just done things according to our plans, we would never have ended up is such a mess.'

Friend, you need to realize that God is not at all interested in your plans. He is only interested in His plans! So many churches and individual believers think they should make their own plans and strategies, then ask (or in some cases, command) God to bless them.

The almighty God is not our servant! He does not do what we tell Him to do. Many Christians need to climb down from the throne they have built for themselves, fall on their faces before God and do whatever the Master tells them to do....

Many churches are spiritually dead today because they keep Jesus at a 'safe distance' while they control their own lives and make their own plans. Until you realize that the living Jesus Christ wants to be the major part of everything you do, you will not see revival."

I just got chills reading this again. Do you desire real revival in your church? The kind that puts God above all things in our lives. The kind that gets us on our faces before Almighty God. Let's start praying for God to revive our hearts. Hearts that will completely trust in Him.

Brother Yun later says here:

"My friend, are you tired from years of living your Christian life in your own strength? Do you make plans and ask God to bless them, rather than seeking out His plans and obeying them? 

Jesus desires to set you free. 

He wants you to take off your old grave clothes and exchange them for robes of righteousness.

Your faith may have grown stale and dry, but God wants streams of living water to flow from within you! He wants you to renew your first love and to walk in obedience to Him, realizing He is not only the God of the past and future, but the God of today."


On Being Reluctant:

"If we belong to God, we must learn to put our own schedules away. We must bundle up all of our hopes, dreams and future plans and lay them at the feet of Jesus.

Now you may be reading this and your mind is recoiling at the thought of making such a radical commitment and abandonment to God's will. Somehow we deceive ourselves into thinking that if we retain control of our lives to God, we will regret it. This thinking is completely false. Nobody who has ever given control of their life to Jesus has regretted it."

He later encourages with this:

"When the Holy Spirit enters your heart and takes over, you will not be afraid, for a holy fire of God's love will consume you. You will not be the same person as before, and fear will vanish, for 'there is no fear in love. but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us' (1 John 4:18-19)."


On Being Bold:

"Are you afraid to tell others about Jesus Christ and the transformation He can bring to their lives? Or are you worried those people might embarrass and ridicule you for your faith? You see...

true boldness can never come to those who have not yet died to self.

People who have already died don't care what others think or say about them. Dead people don't worry about their reputation or whether people will look down on them.

If you want to make a difference for God's kingdom, you first must learn to die to yourself. 

This is not just a onetime experience, but a daily necessity. Jesus said, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it' (Luke 9:23-24). Paul told the Corinthians, 'I die every day - I mean that, brothers - just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our lord' (1Cor. 15:31)."

I find this so encouraging. Dying to self is not a one time experience. It's a daily necessity. And because His mercies are new every morning, we can do this!


On Experiencing God's Living Water:

"The answer to experiencing God's living water is not to seek more and more Bible teaching. The answer is not to attend more Christian conferences or seek new ministers with new messages.

Please listen carefully. The key for experiencing the flow of God's living water in your life is...

Obedience."

I felt this was the most powerful quote in the book.

Though he explains the importance of reading and studying Scripture and how those in China hold the few pages they may have precious, it's more important to obey God. Without obedience all the rest means nothing.


On Scripture:

"You can never really know the Scriptures until you're willing to be changed by them."

"The first thing needed for revival to return to your churches is the Word of the Lord. God's Word is missing. Sure, there are many preachers and thousands of tapes and videos of Bible teaching, but so little contains the sharp truth of the Bible, 'for the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart' (Heb. 4:12). God's Word is the truth that will set you free."

He also writes:

"As I have traveled around the world, I have met many wonderful brothers and sisters. They listen intently to every word that is spoken, but there is one major thing missing on their spiritual lives. 

They need to start obeying the Word of God.

They need to step out and start being doers of the Word instead of just listeners. James said, 'do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says' (James 1:22)."


On Suffering and Prayer for Those in Prison:

"When a child of God suffers, you need to understand it is only because the Lord has allowed it. He has not forgotten you!

When I hear a house church Christian has been imprisoned for Christ in China, I don't advise people to pray for his or her release unless the Lord clearly reveals we should pray this way....

There is always a purpose to why God allows His children to go to prison. Perhaps it's so they can witness to the other prisoners, or perhaps God wants to develop more character in their lives. But if we use our own efforts to get people out of prison earlier than God intended, we can thwart His plans, and the believer may come out not as fully formed as God wanted them to be.

The Lord told the apostle Paul, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness' (2 Cor. 12:9). This led Paul to declare, 'Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong' (12:9-10).

The kingdom of God advances through suffering."

This blew me away. I often pray for believers in prison, but never thought of it this way before. It brought 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 to life.


On Living in Christ's Strength:

"Freedom is the main subject of Paul's letter to the Galatians. 

The church there had been birthed in great power. Men and women were set free from the prisons of their sin and disobedience, and great joy and peace were experienced. Over the course of time, however, the Galatians allowed themselves to be dominated by legalism. Satan deceived them into thinking that although their initial salvation was totally dependent upon God's grace and mercy, now their Christian lives had to be lived out in their own strength.

The great apostle wrote to them in a very direct manner:

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human efforts? Have you suffered so much for nothing - if it really was for nothing? Does God give you His Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? Galatians 3:1-5

How about you, my beloved friend?

Have you started your Christian life with the Spirit but are now trying to live for Christ through your own efforts?...

The good news is that Jesus loves His bride, and He will come to the rescue! If your Christian life has been disconnected from the living water that flows from close communion with the Father, there is hope for you. 

There is always hope for the person who repents and starts walking in the direction ordained by the Lord. If you have experienced Christ's salvation, then it is time to 'set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory' (Col. 3:1-4)."

Oh how often we go back to legalism! How many preachers and teachers today teach us to live in our own power by positive thinking, health and wealth prosperity and taking care of ourselves before others...foolishness!

We need to be led by His Spirit and His Spirit alone.

I love how direct Paul is to the Galatians and to us. He doesn't mess with words and is not afraid to call us foolish! How great it is to be loved and corrected by almighty God! He never leaves His children in their wrongs. He continually and lovingly calls us out.



There is so much more to this book and I highly recommend it!

I'll leave you with this great quote that encouraged me greatly:

"Don't try to be someone God didn't make you. It will just be awkward and diminish your effectiveness for the Lord."


Buy it HERE on Amazon







4/18/2014

In Christ Alone

Friday's Thought:




"In Christ Alone"

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

4/15/2014

Women Living Well

Loved this book!

Courtney openly shares her love of God, her husband, her children and her home.

Her book is broken into 4 sections:
 
Part 1: Your Walk With The King

Part 2: Your Marriage

Part 3: Your Parenting

Part 4: Your Homemaking
 

Courtney starts her book out with this:

"God created us to walk with Him, to know Him, and to be loved by Him. He is our living well, and when we drink from the water He continually provides, His living water will change us, making us more like Jesus."

I thought I'd share just a couple of parts that stuck out for me.


Firstly, in chapter 4 'The Effects of the Media Revolution' Courtney address some highs and lows of social media. Things like social media and our spiritual life and social media and our friendships. If you are a woman you will relate to many of the things she talks about. One being jealousy.

She says here:

"The comparison trap is just that - a trap! Pictures of vacations, new homes, new cars, or fun nights out with friends are a breeding ground for jealousy. There are two sides to this coin. First, there's the person putting the information out there. Is it wrong to post a picture of your vacation or fun night out?  

No...but we can be sensitive to those who weren't invited or who can't afford a vacation this year. We don't have to post every picture or an update about every night out. Philippians 2:3-4 says, 'In humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.'

On the flip side, jealousy is all throughout the Bible, and we see how deadly it is to friendships. Remember Cain and Abel, Sarah and Hagar, Joseph and his brothers, Haman and Mordecai, Saul and David, and the Pharisees and Jesus? These are just to name a few; if we looked into it further, we'd find many more relationships in the Bible that were ruined by jealousy. 

Jealousy comes when we take our eyes off Jesus.

When I feel discouraged by things happening in the social media world, I always come to a point of realizing that I have taken my eyes off Jesus. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, 'Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.' 

We must focus on Jesus and exchange drama for peace."

This really resonated with me. A few years ago I went off of my personal Facebook for this very reason.

Jealousy.

It was eating at my heart and I finally decided to deleted all my friends and take some time off. After almost a year, I went back on, invited my friends back and it has been totally different. Taking that time off to refocus on the Lord and not on what others were doing and saying made a huge difference in my life. Now I'm really enjoying Facebook and all my friends there.


Secondly, in chapter 6 'The Time-Warp Wife' Courtney talks about respecting our husbands. She mentions that we all have areas that we struggle with in doing this.

She says here:

"None of us is married to a perfect man. All husbands are flawed, just as we wives are all flawed, simply because we are all sinners. In most sitcoms, the husband is the brunt of jokes. He is stupid, while the wife knows it all and runs the house. This may be culturally acceptable, but it is not acceptable to God.

God has placed an order in our homes according to Ephesians 5, and the man is the head of the home and is to be respected in that role. 'The husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church.' (v.23).

Since this order is God ordained, when a wife bucks the system and disrespects her husband, her problem is not with her husband but with God. Does she trust God enough to take care of her? Is she willing to quietly pray about the problem she is having with her husband and give God room to work in her husband's heart? Is she willing to support her husband fully as his helpmate and make it safe for him to make a mistake and ask for help, or does he fear his wife's harsh tongue when he fails and therefore does not feel safe to ask for help."

Elisabeth Elliot, in her book 'Let Me Be A Woman' asks the question, 'Who is it you marry?'

Elisabeth says here:

"You marry a sinner. There's nobody else to marry. That ought to be obvious enough, but when you love a man as you love yours it's easy to forget. You forget it for a while and then when something happens that ought to remind you, you find yourself wondering what's the matter, how could this happen, where did things go wrong? 

They went wrong back in the Garden of Eden. Settle it once for all; your husband is a son of Adam. Acceptance of him...of all of him...includes acceptance of his being a sinner. He is a fallen creature, in need of the same kind of redemption all the rest of us are in need of, and liable to all the temptations which are 'common to man.'" 

Elisabeth later writes in her book:

"But you will find yourself disarmed utterly, and your accusing spirit transformed into loving forgiveness the moment you remember that you did, in fact, marry only a sinner, and so did he. It's grace you both need."

This reminded me that we don't respect our husbands because of the way they are (sinners just like us), but because God asks us too. And everything God asks of us is for our ultimate good.


And lastly, in chapter 13 'Motherhood Mess-Ups' Courtney talks about the ups and downs of being a mom. I really appreciated what she said here about parenting books vs prayer:

"There are enough books on parenting to fill a football stadium, so reading a book with a formula clearly does not work. I believe in the power of prayer. Each child and each mother is in a unique situation. Don't get me wrong; I love parenting books and have read many, but none of them can replace the prayer of a mother for her child."

I can't emphasize this enough. How-to-books will help for a season, but not in the long run.

Intimate prayer with the Lord will.


I really enjoyed this book and how much it honored the Lord. Courtney has a beautiful heart and it comes through on the pages of her book.

I'll leave you with some great quotes Courtney used:

On Marriage:

"A good marriage is the union of two forgivers." Ruth Bell Graham

"Conflicts are not a sign that you have married the wrong person. They simply affirm that you are human." Dr. Gary Chapman

On Parenting:

"God works through faithful parents who, in spite of dark and difficult days, walk obediently to Him." Elizabeth George

"What is spoken wisely should be spoken calmly, and then it will be calmly considered. But passion will lessen the force even of reason, instead of adding any force to it." Matthew Henry

On Homemaking:

"Give yourself permission not to have your to-do list all checked off in order for you to rest and get alone with God." Courtney Joseph


Buy it HERE on Amazon



4/11/2014

What Do You Seek?

Friday's Thought:

Do you seek to be a better person, a better christian?

I recently read this article: Do You Want to be Wonderful Christians, or Do We Want Christ?

It was very thought-provoking and reminded me again of where my strength comes from.


When we experience suffering or pain or hard times being a 'good' christian will not sustain us, but Jesus will.

I want Jesus.

We can never run this race on our own goodness. Lets leave our flawed goodness at the feet of Jesus and fix our eyes on Him.


"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,



fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

4/07/2014

5 books on my future reading list

Sense and Sensibility

Jane Austen wrote six full length novels. I've read five of them, but for some reason I've kept putting off Sense and Sensibility.

Now I'm excited to jump into it.

Jane's writing is exquisite and though it takes a few chapters to get used to the 19th century language once you get into one of her stories, you really appreciate it and grow to love it.

And this one has been beloved by many.

Amazon describes it this way:

"Sense and Sensibility is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, who represent sense and sensibility, respectively. 

When both appear to be deserted by the young men they had intended to marry, the stage is set for a delicious comedy of manners that not only showcases Austen's perception, humor and incomparable prose, but offers a splendid glimpse of upper and middle-class English society of the early 19th century."



 The Hiding Place

I think I'm the only person who hasn't read this book!

It's been on my bookshelf for years and now it's time to dust it off and read what everyone says is a wonderful and encouraging story of the life of Corrie ten Boom.

Amazon says here:

"Corrie ten Boom was a woman admired the world over for her courage, her forgiveness, and her memorable faith. 

In World War II, she and her family risked their lives to help Jews escape the Nazis, and their reward was a trip to Hitler's concentration camps. 

But she survived and was released--as a result of a clerical error--and now shares the story of how faith triumphs over evil."



Sheba: The Rise of the Legendary Queen

I recently read another book (Iscariot) by Tosca Lee that was so interesting and thought-provoking.

Now I'm excited to read this one which comes out in September.

Amazon says here:

"In the tenth century BC, the new Queen of Sheba has inherited her father’s throne and all its riches at great personal cost. 

Her realm stretches west across the Red Sea into land wealthy in gold, frankincense, and spices. 

But now new alliances to the North threaten the trade routes that are the lifeblood of her nation. Solomon, the brash new king of Israel famous for his wealth and wisdom, will not be denied the tribute of the world—or of Sheba’s queen. 

With tensions ready to erupt within her own borders and the future of her nation at stake, the one woman who can match wits with Solomon undertakes the journey of a lifetime in a daring bid to test and win the king. But neither ruler has anticipated the clash of agendas, gods, and passion that threatens to ignite—and ruin—them both. An explosive retelling of the legendary king and queen and the nations that shaped history."



God's Smuggler

I downloaded this book onto my e-reader having no idea how Brother Andrew's life intertwined with Corrie ten Boom's.

I recently found out they often traveled together behind the Iron Curtain to share the Gospel.

To have both these books on my reading list without knowing this, I thought was really cool. : )

The back cover say:

"A true-life thriller that will leave you breathless!

As a boy, Brother Andrew dreamed of being an undercover spy working behind enemy lines. As a man he found himself working undercover for God. His was a mission filled with danger, financed by faith, supported by miracles.

Told it was impossible to minister behind the Iron Curtain, Andrew knew that nothing was too hard for God. Crossing "closed" borders, he prayed, 'Lord, in my luggage I have Scripture I want to take to Your children. When You were on earth, You made blind eyes see. Now, I pray, make seeing eyes blind. Do not let the guards see those things You do not want them to see.'


And they never did"



Bridge to Haven

I haven't read a Francine Rivers novel in awhile.

I absolutely love her writing. It's so real and powerful. God has truly given Francine the gift of Godly storytelling.

Based on the story of the prodigal son...

Amazon describes it here:

"To those who matter in 1950s Hollywood, Lena Scott is the hottest rising star to hit the silver screen since Marilyn Monroe. Few know her real name is Abra. Even fewer know the price she’s paid to finally feel like she’s somebody.

To Pastor Ezekiel Freeman, Abra will always be the little girl who stole his heart the night he found her, a wailing newborn abandoned under a bridge on the outskirts of Haven. Zeke and his son, Joshua—Abra’s closest friend—watch her grow into an exotic beauty. But Zeke knows the circumstances surrounding her birth etched scars deep in her heart, scars that leave her vulnerable to a fast-talking bad boy who proclaims his love and lures her to Tinseltown. 


Hollywood feels like a million miles from Haven, and naive Abra quickly learns what’s expected of an ambitious girl with stars in her eyes. But fame comes at an awful price. She has burned every bridge to get exactly what she thought she wanted. Now, all she wants is a way back home.

In this riveting and highly anticipated tale of temptation, grace, and unconditional love, New York Times best-selling author Francine Rivers delivers big-canvas storytelling at its very best."



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