Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Why I think the Bible is relevant for today

1.  What other manuscript or writings have survived as long as the Bible?

2.  What other gods have spoken to their followers in such personal ways as the followers of Jesus can boast?  Do the 1000's of Hindu gods?  Buddha?

3.  Of all the languages in the world that could be used for writing the Bible, it was written in two languages of people groups still living, and living in large numbers today.

4.  The Bible outsells any other book, year after year.

5.  God has shown me how the Bible is relevant for me, personally.

6.  Wars have started, wars have stopped; churches have started, churches have divided; countries have fallen, countries have started; all because of one book.  Just one.  What other book has held such power for thousands of years?

7.  What other book starts with a set of rules and ends with throwing out the playbook and just living on faith?

8.  What books in history continue to confirm ancient historical events?  And are all time best sellers?

9.  What other writings - stories, poetry, novels, references - have described in detail the creation of the world and the end of time with authority?

10.  Because God said it is.

Hebrews 4:12 - 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.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.


living - zao - to live, experience God's gift of life

active - energes - at work, active, effective, productive of due result, energized, full of energy

sharper - tomoteros - sharper, keener

penetrates - diilnoumenos - I pass through, pierce, to go through, penetrate

dividing - merismos - a distributing, a distribution, a parting, dividing, severance, separation

judges - kritikos - able to judge or discern

thoughts - enthumesis - deliberation, pondering, inward thought, inner-passion, the emotional force driving meditation and reflection

attitudes - ennoia - thinking, intention, purpose, opinions

heart - kardias - the heart, the inner life, intention, the "affective center of our being" and the capacity of moral preference, i.c our "desire-decisions" that establish who we really are

hidden - aphanes - unseen, invisible

laid bare - trachelizo - to take by the throat, to overthrow, I am laid bare

account - logos - is a common term (used 330 times in the New Testament) with regards to a person sharing a message; logos is a broad term meaning "reasoning expressed by words"

What other book can claim such power?  What other book has such power to back up its boasting?
We have the Bible today.  We have access to the Word of God beyond any Moses, Paul or any of the writers may have ever envisioned.  We are educated.  We can find Bibles not only in Christian bookstores and libraries, but you can buy a Bible in Walmart, Target, online.  There is no other book that not only has the power to judge our hearts, but also has the power to comfort us when it does.  The Author provides both.  

How relevant is it for you today?  Open it while there is still the opportunity in this country to do so.

Peace,

Ronda

    

  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Stinking up Heaven

A long time ago, there was a woman who lived a sinful life.  By sinful I mean the kind any parent never wishes for their daughter to live.  Do I need to explain?  One of the "perks" of living this kind of life was the woman sometimes received expensive gifts in payment for the service she provided her clients.

A long time ago, in the time this woman lived, her value as a woman was equal to a dog.  Maybe a little less.  Women were property and women were undervalued.

A long time ago, this particular woman, who had received an expensive gift for the service she provided, most likely from a manwho found her a little more valuable than his colleagues, brought her gift and laid it at the feet of Jesus.

A long time ago, when this woman brought her expensive gift, given to her by a man who valued her a little higher than a dog, for a service she provided to him that no parent in today's modern world would want for their daughter to provide, used this gift to anoint the King of Kings.

A long time ago, a gift received with shame and guilt, was used to anoint the King of Kings for his burial.

A long time ago, this gift of fragrance, when it was opened, filled the room.  Those around this woman and Jesus witnessed an interaction that left some in awe and others in disgust.

A long time ago the fragrance filled - pleroo - to make full, to complete - the room.

A long time ago an expensive gift, received in shame and guilt, was used to anoint the King of Kings, completing the room with a beautiful fragrance, filling it with a scent that reached the nose of Heaven.

A long time ago, a woman who lived a sinful life gave a gift to the King of Kings that would pave the way for us, in a time far in the future, to lay our gifts before the King of Kings; the gifts of shame and guilt and fill Heaven's throne room with the scent of a fragrance only the King of Kings can smell.


In a time that is now, your gifts can be laid down.

In a time that is now, the gifts that came from the shameful and guilt-ridden places can be given.

In a time that is now, the gifts that are given, will be opened by the King of Kings.

In a time that is now, the scent of these gifts, given by shame and guilt, will be a fragrant and pleasing aroma, reaching the throne of Heaven's grace.

In a time that is now.


Peace,

Ronda

John 12:3

The grace of Christ puts kind comments on pious words and actions, makes the best of what is amiss, and the most of what is good...The success of the gospel makes wicked men so angry, that they speak and act as if they hoped to obtain victory over the Almighty Himself.  (Matthew Henry)


***************************************************

We all have come through different journeys.  Everyone has a different journey.  I do not regret one minute of my past.  You know why?  God gave me my past for a reason.  To make me who I am today.  All the pain, all the blessings, all the joys that you have been on have made you the unique person that you are today...You are a unique person.
    You have a choice, right now, to say about your past; your past can either make you or break you.  And it's your choice.
    Your past can either be the most powerful thing that has made you the person you are or it can break you...Are we using all our experiences, good or bad, for God's kingdom?
    Your past can be a crutch to lean on or it can be a rod of power.  The memories f the past can become the blessings of the future.  And the choice is yours.
    God only asks one thing.  Look where you have come from.  Deal with it.  Thank Him for it and leave it with Him....And be set free.  (Carolyn Koons)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Walking the Line

I love Johnny Cash.  I love his deep baritone voice, I love his real life songs.  Unfortunately, it was at the end of his life that I really started to appreciate the man behind the name.  It helped when Walk the Line came out - the movie about his and June Carter's life together.  His honesty and forthrightness about who he really was, all he'd done to make a mess of his life, struck a chord (no pun intended) with me.  He made no excuses for the life he'd led before he began to follow Jesus.

In his autobiography, Johnny said, "I guess I'm right where I'm supposed to be in my life right now; so I'm happy with that.  I don't have any regrets, and I don't carry any guilt trips around.  I shook all that off with forgiveness and soul-searching.  Forgiving myself mainly."

I remember reading or hearing him say, can't remember which, but I'm paraphrasing, Johnny said something to the effect of the types of songs he wrote and sang after he surrendered to Jesus.  He said he was waiting for God to give him spirituals to sing -more hymns - but God just kept giving him words to prison songs, cheating songs, etc.

Isn't that the way God works?  We think that he's going to make us these nuns and monks when we surrender to him, but what does God do?  Keeps us right where we're at!  Sometimes God doesn't ever take us from the place where we met him and sometimes he takes us kicking and screaming.  Every situation is different.  Every person is different.  Every encounter with the Holy Spirit is different.

There was a quote I came across a long time ago that sums it up best for me.

"Jesus gained the power to love harlots, bullies, and ruffians...he was able to do this only because he saw through the filth and crust of degeneration, because his eye caught the divine original which is hidden in every way - in every man!...First and foremost he gives us new eyes...

"When Jesus loved a guilt-laden person and helped him, he saw in him an erring child of God.  He saw in him a human being whom his Father loved and grieved over because he was going wrong.  He saw him as God originally designed and meant him to be, and therefore he saw through the surface layer of grime and dirt to the real man underneath.  Jesus did not identify the person with his sin, but rather saw in this sin something alien, something really did not belong to him, something that merely chained and mastered him and from which he would free him and bring him back to his real self.  Jesus was able to love men because he loved them right through the layer of mud."

Helmut Thielicke

Jesus sees pass your shenanigans.  He sees way beyond your beliefs about yourself.  The beliefs that say to you, "I'm not good enough.  I've done way too many bad things.  I've hurt too many people.  Jesus could never change me."

Nonsense!

Two things you need to know:

1.  Jesus is bigger than you give him credit for.

2.  Your sin is much smaller than you see it.

Yes, we've messed up.  We've done some horrible, horrible things that the pictures in our minds try to rob our joy and leave us feeling hopeless.  But that horrible thing(s) is not the end of your story.  That horrible thing(s) is what God used to show you how powerful and how complete his love is for you.  There is nothing, no thing too big that He has not overcome on the cross.  No Thing!

So, I'm going to ask you this...When are you going to quit running?  When are you going to surrender and give up the beliefs about yourself and what you think God thinks about you?  When are you going to face the truth about your life and how God wants to free you from your past's pain?

When?

Tomorrow?  Next week?  When you get settled in your new house?  New job?  New nursing home?  When?  When are you finally going to just give up and give in?

The air is clear where truth lives.  The colors are beautiful where truth grows.  Our lungs breathe beautifully when peace settles in. The sounds are heavenly.  The lap of the ocean waves hitting the sandy shore beckon our hearts to taste and see that the Lord is good.  His love endures forever.  There is no end to his love for you.

Your past can either make you or break you.  "When He lives within you, He wants to control our entire personality, our emotions, our intellect, and our will.  As we yield our emotions to Him, He can make a wonderful transformation.  He can remove all our fears, giving us His peace.  He can give victory over jealousy, envy, and quick temper if we let Him.  His abiding presence is perhaps more clearly seen in our emotions than any other part of our lives." (Unknown)

I pray you wave that white flag - today - and begin to live the life you were always meant to live.  Who knows, you may never have to do anything different in your life than you're doing right now.  You may be able to still write those drinking songs.

Jesus looks at us and loves us, right where we're at.

Peace,

Ronda






Sunday, July 26, 2015

It's Not Grandma's Church Anymore

I heard some interesting adjectives yesterday used to describe a newly married couple.  Words like color, vibration, sound.  They were used, by those closest to the couple, in the context of how they  observed the newlyweds interacting with each other.  These words were given as compliments, and as I listened I realized that they were given sincerely and with respect.   Although I didn't quite get the New Age terminology, in my mind I translated to my language - "We see how much you are good for each other.  You seem to be a good match."  (Not as hip, I know, but I think that's what they were saying).

So it's got me thinking.  It's got me wondering about all those words that are used to describe us Christians.  The good ones and the bad ones.  I don't think I need to cover them ad nauseum, but we can agree, I hope, that the words used to describe us are used because of true and sometimes skewed observation.

Now, to address the bad ones - unfortunately, we can't do anything about the "H" word or the "B" word in some eyes.  No matter how much is written or argued by many (this girl included), for whatever reasons there are, we will always be considered hypocrites and bigots.  There's no use trying to defend ourselves on that.  We will be seen that way by people who want to see us that way and it has nothing to do with us, but everything to do with God.  I'm hear to tell you, stop wasting your breath trying to justify or argue - it's something that can only be settled between them and God.

But, it does give me pause to wonder about those words I heard yesterday:  color, sound, vibration.  I'm taking a leap here, but I would guess that the colors that surround the H and the B word are probably black, maybe gray, brown, blood red.  The sound may sound like screaming, shouting, a loud foghorn.  And the vibration, maybe one that is annoying.  Like the vibration a train makes in your house if you live next to a railroad track.  It vibrates the house for a little bit, but then after the train passes, it's quiet again.  The dishes stop shaking and the chandelier stops swinging.

Here's what I'm starting to think the problem is in our off colors, our annoying sounds, and our distracting vibrations. We are observed this way because we don't know any other way to be.  We've been taught, we've observed, we've followed the ways of our organized religion without even knowing the stench we've put off.  We pridefully think our colors our yellows and pinks and pretty blues.  We pridefully think our sound is angelic and peaceful and we are shocked to even consider that instead of sounding like soft waves lapping on the beach on a beautiful summer day, we are instead an intruding earthquake shattering and splitting open wounded hearts.

It's a lot to admit about ourselves.  It's hard to imagine that we may be seen differently than what we thought we were trying to convey.  It's hard to swallow the pill of conviction.  Here, have a drink of the Living Water.  He helps it go down much better.    

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray also that the eyes of your heart my be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.  

Followers of Christ, we have a lot more to learn about Jesus than just what our Grandmother's form of church showed us.  It's not the same culture around the church our grandparents devoted themselves to.  It's becoming more like the culture Paul was in when he wrote this prayer down.

Paul didn't pray this prayer for unbelievers.  He prayed it for us!  He prayed it "ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers."  And then he told us what he's praying for us:

*  the Spirit of wisdom and revelation - why?  so that you may know him better.
*  the eyes of your heart to be enlightened - why? in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you.  And not only that, so you see the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, AND, I love this - HIS INCOMPRABLY GREAT POWER - for who?
for us who believe.

When we know this, when we ginosko this down to the bottom of our feet and to the deepest atom of our deepest cells, that's when our colors, our sounds and our vibrations will change.

How do we maneuver this culture in which we live?  With the wisdom and revelation and those formerly darkened hearts that have suddenly become lit up.

But the problem is, your problem is, my problem is - we don't know this.  We didn't know this prayer had been prayed - for us.  We thought it was for some folks 2000 years ago.  But it wasn't just for them.  It was prayed for all of us.  For us who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It's not just for the strongest of faiths or the most educated of saints, Paul prayed it for you!  If you believe in Jesus Christ - this prayer was prayed for you!

So, what are you going to do about it?  I see you have a few choices.

1.  Nothing.  You're crazy, Ronda.  You are just a gonging cymbal.  I like things how they are.

2.  Pray.  Pray some more.  Pray some more and some more and some more, until you know that God is doing something new in you.

3.  Believe.  Believe it's for you and it's time you start asking God to make it real in your life.

Then, who knows what God will do in your life, what things will start changing and shifting and leaving and letting go.  You may find some things become more important, some things less.  You may find you have a peace you can't describe settling into your soul.  You may see your fellow Christian - gasp, the one that doesn't belong to your denomination - as your brother or your sister in Christ.

Who knows what God will do?  God does.  And it's his business what He does.  Not ours.  Not our manipulation or "help" to do what only God can do.

He also know what you will do.  Don't you want to find out what he's truly capable of doing?  Don't you want to really see him in action?  Don't you want to just get a glimpse of that incomparably great dynamite power?

I hope you do.  I know I do.

Come on, we'll jump in together.  1......2......3.........Jump!


Peace,

Ronda

Ephesians 1:15-21





Friday, July 24, 2015

Words Matter

I have been praying this passage written by Paul for my friends and family, and for you, dear readers who take the time to visit this blog of rambling thoughts.  I thought you may enjoy a taste of what these words actually mean in Paul's prayer.  I know I have.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together will all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19

riches - ploutos - wealth, abundance; much in number

glorious - doxes - honor, renown, glory, an especially divine quality, the unspoken manifestation of God, splendor; what evokes good opinion, i.e. that something has inherent, intrinsic worth

power - dynamei - able, having ability; for the believer, power to achieve by applying the Lord's inherent abilities.  "power through God's ability" is needed in every scene of life to really grow in sanctification and prepare for heaven

strengthen - krataioo - to strengthen, I grow strong, become strong; to prevail by God's dominating strength, i.e. as His power prevails over opposition (gains mastery)

Spirit - pneuma - wind, spirit, breath

inner - eso - within, inside

being - anthropoid - a man, human, mankind, one of the human race

Christ - Christon - Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ

dwell - katoikesai - I dwell in, settle in, inhabit, settle down as a permanent resident, i.e. in a fixed permanent dwelling place as one's personal residence; to be exactly at home.  (The force of the prefix - kata - suggests "down to the finest, exact details)

hearts - kardiais - the heart, inner life, intention; the affective center of our being; desire-producer that makes us tick, i.e. our "desire-decisions" that establish who we really are

through - dis = on account of, throughout, properly, across to the other side, back and forth to go all the way through

faith - pistis - faith, belief, trust, confidence

being rooted - rhizoo - to cause to take root, I plant, fix firmly, establish, to cause to take root

established - themelioo - to lay the foundation of

may have power - exischuo - to have strength enough, I have strength for, am perfectly able, apprehending (decisively laying hold of) the fuller dimensions of knowing the Lord (His love, calling, presence)

to grasp - katalambano - to lay hold of, seize, I seize tight hold of, arrest, catch, capture, appropriate, overtake; to grasp something in a forceful (firm) manner

know - ginosko - to come to know, recognize, perceive; to know, especially through personal experience (first hand acquaintance)

surpasses - huperballo - to throw over or beyond, to run beyond

knowledge - gnosis - a knowing; functional ("working") knowledge gleaned from first-hand (personal) experience, connecting theory to application; "application knowledge," gained (by) a direct relationship

you may be filled - pleroo - to make full, to complete, fill to individual capacity, i.e. to the extent it is appropriate

fullness - pleroma - fullness, a filling up, sum total, fulness, even super abundance

God - theou - God, the Creator and owner of all things


Peace,

Ronda

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Time Traveling

If I could ride a time machine there are a lot of time periods I would like to go back to, but there is one particular moment in time that I would especially stand in line a long while to ensure a spot to visit.

That's the moment where the Gospel writer Mark penned the action and thought of Jesus in these words:  Jesus looked at him and loved him.

First of all, when I got off the ride and stepped into the moment I would look at Jesus' face looking at the rich young man who had just told Jesus that he has kept all the commands, commands like - do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother - "all these I have kept since I was a boy."

After he said that, the next thing Mark noticed and made sure to write down was this:  "Jesus looked at him and loved him."

Wow!

I'd pay special attention to the look on Jesus' face.  Was it sad?  Was it smiling?  Was it condemning because he already knew how the interaction was going to play out.

"One thing you lack," Jesus said, "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven.  Then come, follow me."

At this the man's face fell.  He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus looked at him and loved him.

Looked - emblemo - to look at, to consider, I see clearly, look at in a sustained, concentrated way, i.e. with special "interest, love or concern"

loved - agapao - to love, wish well to, take pleasure in, long for; denotes the love of reason, esteem

one thing - heis - one

lack - hustereo - to come late, be behind, come short, coming behind and therefore left out; left wanting, fall short

went away - aperchomai - to go away, go after, depart

sad - lypoumenos - I pain, grieve, vex, to experience deep, emotional pain, severe sadness

Again, wow!

He only had to do one thing.  Just one.  Let go of things he loved more than Jesus.

Jesus knew he'd walk away.  Jesus knew it would cause severe pain to know the cost of eternal life.  But I wonder, if I could see inside the heart that was looking at the rich man and loving him even though he knew this, what if the man said, "Ok.  I'll do it.  It will take time to sell my animals, my goods, and distribute my wealth, but I'll do it.  I'll be back as soon as I give the profits to the poor.  Where will I be able to catch up with your group?"

I wonder, if Jesus would have said right then and there, "No.  Stop.  You don't have to do that.  I have blessed you with them.  The wealth is yours to keep.  Since you are willing to give it all up to follow me, that is just as valuable as if you had done already done it," what the man would have done?

I wonder.

But he couldn't and that's why he went away said and that's why Jesus looked at him and loved him anyway.

I wonder how that man's life played out.  Did he still have the itch of not knowing for sure?  That wonder, that nagging thought, what if I really went all in and started following him completely?  Did he ever come around?  Did he ever find following Jesus more valuable than any treasure he had?

It's too bad he didn't hang around just a little longer.  Than he would have heard Jesus say, "I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields - and with them persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life."

I wonder this same thing for us in 2015.  When we boast on all the commands we keep and don't break and we ask him, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"  When he tells us what he told the rich young man do we go away sad thinking - Would he take everything away and send me to the jungles? Would he make me poor, would I have to be a monk or a nun?  Would I have to take a vow for poverty?  Would I have to drive a used car with 200,000 miles on it?  Would I have to stop shopping at the Gap?

I think, and remember this is just my unsanctified think tank, I think Jesus is looking more for the heart that is willing to give up everything more than he is for the actual giving up everything.  That's what I've found to be true about him anyway.

When you surrender to him, when you give him the car keys and get in the back seat and let him do the driving, it doesn't necessarily mean he takes your car away and replaces it with a junker.  It just means, He starts driving it.

What are you willing to do for him?  What are you willing to give up? (There is no guarantee that you would have to give up any material thing, but what are you willing to walk away from to follow him?)

Maybe when Jesus looked at him and loved him, he saw the pain the material wealth was causing the man.  Maybe his eyes of love were seeing inside his heart and mind and seeing the spinning wheel trying to keep everything in order AND follow the commands.

The man wasn't sure what he was doing was going to give him an inheritance of eternal life.  That was bothering him.

Maybe Jesus saw that and maybe Mark saw the struggle too.  Mark is the only one who recorded those two things Jesus did and felt in that moment.  He looked at him and loved him.

He looks at you and loves you.

In your struggles, in your fears, in your unwillingness to let go, your fear of letting go - he looks at you and loves you.

He looks at you and loves you.

Wow.


Peace,

Ronda

Mark 10:17-31




Wednesday, July 15, 2015

When We Think God Thinks Like Us

When you read God's word as a story, whether you read it chronologically, cover to cover, or are on a one, three or five year reading plan, if you pay attention and look for overall themes you begin to see God with endearing qualities you may not have realized before you started digging deeper into His word.

That happened to me.  The packaged product of God and His work on the cross, redeeming mankind through the life, death and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ, has been done well through the centuries.  Books and councils and conventions all have done their work preserving the infallible truths of God and His word.  God's work has been packaged well.  No matter which denomination or non-denomination you have received teaching from, there are basic teachings each of them have as their core truths.

How blessed we have been for the faithful teachings and upholding of these core truths!  Thank you pastors and teachers!

But now that it has been determined who God is, what Jesus has done, and the word is available in languages beyond Luther's dreams, is that all there is for us here in 2015 to do?  Keep peddling the same packaging?

I submit to you this:  God's not done.  God has more for us to know about Him and His plan, and the crazy part -  we get to be a part of it!

See, our biggest problem is we think God thinks like us.  If we package it right, if we promote it the way it's always been done, surely God is in agreement with our way of thinking and our labor will bear fruit.

Are you positive this is what God wants us to do for the time we are living in?

If so, then what did the writer of Hebrews mean when he said, "We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.  In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again.  You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.  Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.  And God permitting we will do so."

Could we be mistaken in our thinking that it is more important to only speak  of the elementary truths, then to dig deeper into the scriptures and teach and study the full counsel of God, not just the Sunday School version?

Don't get me wrong, I know there are teachers out there teaching deep stuff, but I would venture to guess they are small in number. Don't get me wrong, the elementary teachings are necessary and God bless those still teaching them, but is that all God is doing?

Maybe, just maybe God wants to show us more?  Maybe, just maybe, the time is now - 2015 - to be shown more?

If I let my thoughts be what I think God would think is most important- confession, repentance, baptism - am I limiting him, hiding my eyes from seeing what God is really up to?

I've come to learn this about God by studying how he worked in the Bible:  Where we think God should be going....it's not at all where he's going or what he's trying to do.  And where are we?  Still stuck on the elementary teachings about Christ.

Elementary??  God, I would not call what Jesus did on the cross an elementary feat?  That is a deep, deep thing he did.  Taking on the sins of the whole entire world from the beginning of time until the end of time!  God, really, that needs to be taught....right?

Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity.....

God, I'm mature.  I'm very mature.  I've always been told that about me.

Leave - aphiemi - I send away, release, remit, forgive, permit.

Other passages that use this word:

Matthew 4:20, 22; 26:56
Mark 1:18, 20; 4:36; 7:8; 12:12; 14:50
Luke 5:11; 10:30; 18:28
Romans 1:27

I kind of get the picture that it's not a process of leaving either.  But more like, let's get going!  Now!

elementary - arches - beginning; the initial starting point, what comes first and therefore is chief (foremost), has the priority because ahead of the rest

maturity - teleiotes - perfection, completion - built on what has to precede and also supports the stage that must come next.  Suggests the combination of truths (stages of spiritual growth), the culmination of which also supports future consummation.

I don't know what God thinks, I just know he doesn't think like I do.

I limit Him when He has no limits.

I tell him what I'm comfortable with and He smiles and says, "Yeah, but we're going to do it the way that causes you some discomfort."

I want Him to behave the way a good God should behave, He behaves the way Good can only behave.

I tell him to answer my prayers this way, He answers them the best way.

What do I think?  It doesn't matter.

What matters is this:  What does God think?

Do you want to know?  Do you want to find out?  Will it mean leaving, fleeing as quickly as those disciples did when they left their nets and followed him?  Or will you hang on to the ways you think are best, letting the ties wear out rather than cut them quickly and run toward him?  It's a lot easier to stay in step with Him when you're not chasing His back and eating his dust.


Peace,

Ronda

Hebrews 5:11-6:3


Friday, July 10, 2015

What Grace Isn't

I saw a quote yesterday by John Piper:

Grace is not simply leniency when we've sinned.  Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin.  Grace is power, not just pardon.

If my whole entire blog, all my rants and lamenting could be summed up in two sentences, it would be those words.   If I could, I would have this summary tattooed, painted on billboards, and written on every church letterhead in the world.  

When God put in my heart the deep desire to know what He said and wrote and thought about the way things are in my world, I'm sure this was written on the front of the bus he took me on as He drove me through His word.

You must realize, this didn't occur over night, or in a day a week or a month or even one year.  This has been a journey, since my first conscious thought of wanting my own Bible at around age 8.  God, I'm sure now, put me on the bus long before that. But I know I became aware of that seed planted in my heart around eight years of age. 

I asked for a Bible for Christmas, and at that time, the only translation anyone was using was good old King James.  I remember lying in bed at night, with my yellow mushroom lamp glowing next to my bed.  The soft glow shining light on words I couldn't understand and made no sense.  I started in Genesis, and because I knew the stories from Sunday School, it made some sense.  But once I passed the story of Noah and the flood, I began to quickly be frustrated with the vernacular.  

But it kept calling me even when I used it to press a pretty flower, or hold a special memento.  The words still called to me, intriguing me to look, to read, to taste.

Flash forward about 17 years.  The NIV (New International Version) is out and the Bible is being translated in language this girl could understand.  I dedicated a full year to reading it, in its entirety.  Although the translation was understandable, the concepts, the stories, and the context were not.  But even though I only understand about 5% of what I was reading, words started to jump off the page, pulling me in, showing me phrasing and words I had never heard while sitting in the pews of church growing up.  (They may have been said, I personally don't recall hearing them).

Phrases like:

You are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.
     You?  Who is you?

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.
     I believe.  Does that mean me?  What power?

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance:  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
    Us?  We?  Suffering?  Does this apply to me, God?

....offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.  For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
     Wait a minute.  Wait just a cotton pickin minute here.  I am a sinner.  I will sin.  What do you mean, sin shall not be my master?  Is that really talking to me?


And on and on and on and on it went.  The words of scripture, even though I would never attend seminary, or sit in a Hebrew or Greek class, study ancient history in depth, or even imagine dreaming of wanting to - these words were jumping off the page and embedding themselves into my soul.


For almost ten years I just read the Bible and used no other resources but the Bible to understand the Bible.  

And the bus ride was beautiful!

But God had so much more to show me, and he started placing people in my path who could feed the hunger that was beginning to develop in my heart and soul.  I have not stopped craving the Bread of Life since.  

So, what does that mean to you?  I don't know.  Only you know what God is trying to say to you right now through my testimony.

Have you had the same hunger?  Have you had the desire since you were a child to read, and not only read, but understand the Word, but didn't have he opportunities to learn?  

I wish I could tell you each story behind the verses as I highlighted them in my Bible.  Over and over through my life they confirmed the quote at the top.  God's word works like that.  You don't have to have a seminary degree or a teaching certificate or any formal training to understand what God wants you to understand about His word.  

You simply just need the desire.  And if you don't have the desire, ask for it.  If you had it and lost it, ask for it back.  You need this in your life.  You need Him!  You need His word, today.  While it's available to have in your hands.  You need it. 

There is soooooooo much more to the story than you have ever been taught or heard via a third, fourth or twenty fourth party.  

You are a smart, sound, able to understand person.  God has made you that way.  He would not give you something if He also wouldn't give you the ability to understand what it's for.

Don't put yourself on a time table.  Don't compare yourself to me or your pastor or your so spiritual friend or relative.  Just open it up and let it fall open.  Scan, page, jump around - it doesn't matter where or how you start!  Just start!

The time is now.  The bus is gassed up, the Driver is in His seat, the engine is roaring - get on the bus!

Peace,
Ronda


Here's a few more highlights of passages that I knew no theological background about or anything else the professionals could explain better than me, but they still spoke.  Loudly.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
  (This one tends to get missed because the professionals like to use the one immediately after - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord).

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.
   (Gulp.  This doesn't seem to be a sentence of living the life of a sinner with no hope until heaven, does it?)

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.
   (Hmmmm)

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation - but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.  For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
   (That's a whopper!)

No, in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  (Next to this I have written - "This is the winner's circle!"  If someone is telling you you are "made that way," you've always had a temper, you will always be an alcoholic an addict a worrier or any of the other sins you have believed to be true about you, then this verse in itself should give you great hope and show you who the true liars are).

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
  (Guess what?  Everyone means everyone.  And it doesn't say, "Only those who have been going to church their entire life or have memorized the ten commandments.  Everyone means - EVERYONE!)

Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.
  (Wondering what God's will is for your life - this about sums it up, I'd say.  Stop conforming so you can be transformed).

That's just a taste from Romans.  I hope you've got your fork and knife out and are digging in!


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Paint and all its possibilities

I love to paint.  I love the planning of looking for the just right color for a room.  I love finally choosing and laying my swatch on the counter in the paint department and saying, "I would like this color, please."  I love the excitement of thinking about painting day.  Getting my brushes and rollers ready, laying down my drop cloths, and setting up my ladder.

I love popping open the newly mixed paint can and seeing its beauty inside.  I feel excitement as the color is poured into the tray, the roller dipped in and then finally, finally, the transformation begins!

I love seeing old marks covered up and fingerprints and stains covered by the new color on the wall.  The steady transformation takes place, right before my eyes.  What once was one color is now new.  Suddenly, everything looks fresh, new and clean.  The old paint color is long gone, never to be seen again.  The new is upon the room and has opened up possibilities for starting everything fresh.

I'm a cheap date, I know.

The silly joy I feel over a freshly painted room is nothing compared to the immense joy God feels as He looks at you through the eyes of His precious son, Jesus.  His blood has covered the old you, the one with dings and scuff marks and fingerprints and dirt.  You have now been painted clean, spotless in his eyes.  Never to be seen by Him in the old ways again.

When God looks at you, He sees you clean and new.  The fresh coat of paint adding a whole new dimension to the you you thought you were.

You.

You are a new person when you wear the robes of faith.  When you have been painted clean with the blood of the lamb, you are new.  The old is gone, the new has come.

Stop looking at the marks on your walls.  Stop seeing the dirt you are convinced is evidence that you are not His child.  God has made you new, you only need to start walking in that reality.

There is nothing but your own silly self to convince you to stay where you are.  You can look at your past and point out to me all the places on your walls that are showing wear and tear and dirt; or you can look forward to your future, with the new paint, with no dings and scratch free.

When you're stuck looking back at the past and all the wrongs you've done and were done to you, you can never see the future - the future that Christ has set you free to look forward to and walk towards.

You are new.  Your past is the past.  It's been painted over and no one is looking at it anymore.  You are a new, freshly painted, clean and flawless room waiting to be decorated.

Enjoy your life.  Enjoy the new you.  It's a new day when you belong to Jesus.

Live it!

Peace,

Ronda

2 Corinthians 5:17



Sunday, July 5, 2015

How?

Good question.  How do we do this thing called grace and truth, together, in balance? How?

First of all, with prayer.

Then with confession, thanksgiving and praise.

Thanksgiving that we can, praise of the One who makes it so we can, and prayer to guide us along.  Without those we can only be a resounding gong and a clanging cymbal.

But if you're a visual learner like I am, I may have a tool you can use.

When I was writing the stories for Approaching the Throne of Grace, God was teaching me and showing me what faith looks like.  Big faith, small faith, no faith, weak faith, strong faith, fake faith.  As the characters in the stories started to develop I told him, "This is cool.  This is how I have seen you work.  You don't bop people on the head with your word and a ruler, you come in gently, quietly, so subtly that we come close to missing you."

So, when the stories started to take shape and be born into something totally opposite of what I had planned, God just shined.

So let me tell you a little bit about these characters and how you may or may not relate to some, none or all of them.  Remember, you don't have to read the book front to back.  You can jump in on any page or letter of the alphabet.  The characters visit other characters and you may find yourself going back to one story to get a better understanding of a character in their own story.

This is how you may relate:

If you suffer anxiety or emotional disorders, Abby may be a light for you.

If you are in the early stages of "Now What?", Ben may give you some direction.

If you suffer with OCD, perfectionism and all those little fears, Candy may prove helpful.

If you are lamenting the state of your country, you and David may find some common threads.

If you suffer with physical ailments, you'll find Ella knows exactly what you're feeling.

If you are afraid of failure in any form - Frank and you are related.

If you are tired of being fake, so is Glenda.

If you are adopted, have adopted or feel a calling to adopt, you may find some peace and confirmation in Henry's story.

If you have believed you can have it all and know that you don't, Irene can relate.

If you wonder how in the world the United States goes forward in light of our justice system, Jeff may give you some insight.

If you just don't know what to believe about anything, read Kelly's story.

If you are overcome with loneliness, Larry's been there.

If you are the glue that holds your family together and you're tired of that role, Margaret has a story for you.

If you are wondering how you stay in a job that clearly goes against your cultural and spiritual beliefs, Ned can relate.

If you are wondering why you have suffered the tragedies you've suffered, Ora can share her story of tragedy into triumph.

If you are trying to be light in a secular world, Pete meets someone who can show you where to start.

If you are a leader in a church, bible study or any other type of ministry and want to know which way to turn, Queen Esther taught Craig where you may start.

If you are tired of doing the right thing with no reward, Robert can relate.

If you have given all to have all and you still have conflict in your relationships, Stephanie can relate.

If you are a biker, babe or boozer, Tom is the guy for you.

If you want to know how to live out your faith, in even the most difficult of circumstances, you'll need to meet Ursula.

If you want to leave the life that you just were born into and knew of no way out, Vincent can show you the door.

If you are having trouble making sense of what you have seen, experienced or been done to you and you want justice, Wayne's been there too.

If you want to taste the fruit of childlike faith, Xavier is holding the basket.

If you want to let go and let God, Yolanda knows what that is like.

If you want to see the effect of the good news on a regular joe schmo life, Zeke is the story for you.

These stories may give you a starting place to How.

Peace,

Ronda

Approaching the Throne of Grace

That's What

1 John 2:3-6

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.  The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him.  This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

The word of God drives me crazy.  It says one thing here and the total opposite there.  It doesn't address this problem, but seems to always talk about this one.  And there are sooooo many words!  There are so many things to keep track of it's a wonder any of us can understand any of it.

If I were God, I'd make it simple.  Just straight and to the point.  Just like Jesus said when he was asked what was the most important command, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your soul and with all your strength.  Love your neighbor as yourself."

Simple, right?  God, why didn't you just give us those few words?  Why didn't you just make it easy?



insert sounds of crickets here


How can we love someone with all our heart, mind, soul and strength if we don't know them?  Could you love your spouse that way if you knew nothing about him or her?

God has given us the written word to show us Himself.  To show us His heart.  The bible is his mirror to show us him.  To see how he has worked since he created the world.  His word is the painting of his face.  The problem with how we look at this painting is that we don't stand back and look at the whole picture.

We go up real close and look at one corner, searching for the authentic signature, or maybe we study the color he used to paint the trees in this area are different from the trees over here.  But we never just stand back, sit on the bench and look at the whole picture hanging on the wall.

That's what we've missed out on in this time in history.

In the B.C. days, long before Guttenberg and Luther, it wasn't as easy to study the whole painting.  But now we do, but we're still looking at the painting in parts, not the whole.

That's what.

I know, brothers and sisters, you think you are loving your gay friends and family by not telling them their sexual behaviors are sin.  You want to love because you think that's what God does, He loves us anyway.  True.  But He doesn't leave us in our sin because He loves us.

And that's what you are doing.  And it's not love.  Not true love.  Not like God's love.  God's love frees.  Your love is imprisoning.

You are not pointing them to the One True God, but only to an illusion of what he may look like if he looked like we wanted him to look like.  Or what this corner of the painting looks like that I like to study.

I don't say homosexual behavior is wrong or any sex outside of marriage is wrong because I love saying it.  I say it because I have come to know how grieved God is when I participate in things that are contrary to his nature, because he sees how much it is really hurting me in the longterm.  God cannot bless what he hasn't called good.  And he never calls sin, any sin, good.

That extra piece of pie when I'm beyond full?  Not good.  It hurts my body and that's not good.

That extra little tidbit of gossip I pass along?  Not good.  It hurts the recipient and the subject both.  Gossip isn't truth and gossip doesn't think the best of someone.

That little dose of religion to replace relationship?  Not good.  It hurts me and it hurts my relationship with the Father who loves me.

The list is endless, and if you get it, you get it.  If not, you don't.

But church, you are his light.  Make sure your light is shining where God is, not where you think he should be if you were him.  He can bring anyone out of darkness. He brought you out, didn't he?  Let his truth and grace do its work in your heart first.  Don't deceive yourselves or anyone else.  God is God and Truth is Truth and Grace is Grace.  His truth, his grace.

That's What.

Peace,
Ronda

Go here to find out How?


So What?

1 John 1:8-10

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

The previous post spoke on confessing.  Some may read it and think, that's not me.  I have nothing to confess.  If you and God are in agreement on that then more power to you, but for this girl, the one behind these words, I want to say to you:  "Wow!  That's awesome.  Because I am forever being convicted of my doubt, my pride, my arrogance, my sassiness!"

My list of sins to confess remains significantly shorter than it did when I first found the benefits of confession in the purification process.  But I still have a list.  I still have the Holy Spirit that convicts me when I am miss the mark.   When I catch myself thinking and acting like I don't need him for this part, I can say it better than He can.

I don't have the big blatant physical sins anymore like I once did.  There are physical behaviors I gave up long ago in repentance when Jesus turned the light bulb on and the things I had been taught my whole life finally made sense.

I couldn't live a lie of pretending that because I was a "sinner" and "would sin" I had a pass for behaving in a way that hurt not only myself but others.  It wasn't enough for me to have a weekly rote joint confession with other believers.  I couldn't wait for next Sunday to confess what needed to be confessed in the middle of the night on Monday morning.

But what is one to do?  How does one go about it?  When the Holy Spirit is convicting us and we want to trust what we have been told is the only way necessary to make oneself in agreement with God, yet our conscience won't let us rest till Sunday, what do we do?

Say "So what?  I'm a sinner.  Sunday's coming?"

I couldn't live that way anymore.  Once I started feeling the purification process taking root in my soul I became addicted to its healing powers.  I wanted the intermingling mingled out, forcing it to rise to the top so that I could be pure.

The meat of 1 John 1:8-10 is confession, but we mustn't look past the two pieces of bread holding the sandwich together.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us....If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

Ouch, Jesus!

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive - planao - to deviate from the correct path (circuit, course), roaming into error, wandering; be misled.  Planao is the root of the English term, planet - wandering body.  This term nearly always conveys the sin of roaming.

If we claim to be without sin we're just wandering around with no path, no purpose.  If we claim that we are without sin and there is no sin, we are roaming into error, and making more error.

If we claim to be without sin...his word has no place in our lives.

Not only do we roam, but we roam without Him.

Is that what you want?  Really?

I don't.

See, if I confess my sin, I also have to be careful not to take upon someone else's sin.  When I don't call something sin, I am sinning.  When I don't call mine or another person's sin - sin, but instead call their sin a genetic alteration, or a mistake or it's simply the way I was born, then I have to confess my sin.

I don't like to call things sin in my life and I sure don't like calling things in someone else's life sin.  I want to be liked.  I want to be popular.  But I don't want those things more than I want Jesus' purifying powers in my heart.

Sin is sin no matter how you dress it up or describe it.  Missing the mark and going against God's will for man's or woman's life is sin.

Ugh.

If you want grace, you have to want truth just as much otherwise neither matter.

It's not easy writing this and it certainly isn't easy knowing this about myself.  I've had a lot of arguments and pleadings with God to call my sinful behavior something that is flowery and kind.  But it didn't help me to connect more deeply with Him.  And that's what I want most.

If you want God in your life, confess.  Then repent - turn around and walk the other way.

If you don't want God in your life, than this isn't for you.

But when you come to the end of your wandering and roaming and drifting know that He is still there, with open arms holding out his amazing grace, ready and willing to forgive and send away all that tarnishes you.

So what?  He's what.

Peace,

Ronda

Part Three
That's What




Now what?

We believe.  You believe.  I believe.  Some believe more, some believe less.  Some believe only enough for the step they are in right now.

You know there is a person called Jesus and you've heard parts of his story.  You've been to the physical church every Sunday of your entire life.  You've been in the physical church on the big days - Christmas and Easter.  You've been sporadic, not going to the physical church more than once every year or two or more.

No matter how much or how often, you believe though.

You believe there is a God.   You believe there is a God who sent His son Jesus to die on a cross and rise from the dead.  This much you believe.

Now what?

You've seen the posts, the blogs, the anger, the judgment, the unfollows and the shares.  But you don't know where you fit into it all, now that you know you believe.

Now what?

What is God asking you to do?  You don't know anything or the little you do know doesn't make sense and you only know enough to be tongue-tied and pray no one asks you what you think about the whole situation.  How do you know what God is asking you to do?  Is He asking you to do anything?

Now what?


If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Here's how it is read in the Greek to English (lacking punctuation)- If we should confess the sins of us faithful he is and just that he might forgive us our sins and might cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

We should confess - homologomen - I confess, profess, acknowledge to voice the same conclusion; to profess because in full agreement, to speak the same thing; to speak the same, to agree

sins - hamartia - missing the mark, the brand of sin that emphasizes the self-originated nature - i.e. it is not originated or empowered by God; failure

faithful - pistos - trustworthy, faithful, believing, reliable

just - dikaios - righteous, impartial

he might forgive us - aphe - I send away, release, remit, forgive, permit to depart

might cleanse us - katharizo - I make clean, cleanse, make pure, removing all admixture (intermingling of filth)

all - pas - all the whole, every kind of, totality

unrighteousness - adikia - injustice, unrighteousness, hurt, the opposite of justice; a violation of God's standards (justice) which brings divine disapproval; a violation of God's justice, i.e. what is contrary to His righteous judgments (what He approves).

If we confess, acknowledge and agree with God about the ways in which we have missed the mark and failed, God who is trustworthy, faithful, and reliable, righteous and impartial will send away, releasing us from its power over us.  Then he will make us clean, make us pure and removing all the intermingling filth that is in us, not just some of it, but the whole thing, every kind of impurity that tries to remain.

Now what?  That's what.

Confess.  Privately to God.  Lay it all out.  As much as you know and can think of.  But don't despair in doing so, because remember, in order to be purified, you have to be cleansed first.  The yuck of your unconfessed sin needs to be filtered out so that the pureness of Jesus in you, because you simply believe, can take over.

When you taste and see the beauty of cleansing confession then rest.  God will gently bring to mind more, but don't despair, just confess it, leave it at the foot of the cross and walk away.  Leaving it there for Jesus to deal with.

Some may have a complete departure of the bondage you have been under.  Others may have to visit the invisible confession booth more often at first.  Only God knows your heart and what is intermingling in its vessels.  

Your sins - those unnamed, unknown, undiscovered - those are all covered by the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This is for you to walk in freedom today.  To know what it is like to walk in freedom today.  There is no need to wait for eternity to walk the path of freedom.  You can jump on the path right now, today.

If you confess.

That's the what of "now what?"

Confess.  Agree with God how lost you are without Him.  Then let him purify you to walk in freedom.  Church, open your arms to God's healing, purifying power.  We have missed the mark.  But that is not our inheritance.  That is our past.  Our present hits the bullseye every time, as long as we confess and trust in the faithful and just God who alone is the one who does the purifying.

Now what?

Confess.  

Then, say - Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.


Peace,
Ronda

1 John 1:9

Part Two
So What?









Saturday, July 4, 2015

I Wish You Freedom

Not a freedom that comes from the law but the freedom that comes from above.  Freedom that is pure.  Freedom that is holy.  Freedom that believes and knows that what is placed in you because of this freedom makes you strong, courageous, and brave.  A force to be reckoned with.

I wish you freedom to know the full truth and grace of God.  Not just the cut and paste variety that has been offered you to sample, but the full counsel - Genesis to Revelation - that you might taste and see that the LORD is good and His mercy is unfailing and endures forever.

I wish for you pastors and teachers who boldly teach you the full grace and truth of this wonderful God.  I wish you courage to plead with them, to beg them, to say to them - TEACH ME, teach me, PLEASE.  And if they don't, I wish you the freedom of the Spirit in you that knows, you need no one to teach you because his anointing freedom teaches you.

I wish for you friends and neighbors, families and spouses who learn right along with you.

I wish for you to find out how God's story has been woven throughout time and history - not one speck of mankind's past has been absent from God's view.

I wish for you freedom to find out.

I wish for you freedom to seek out while He may still be found.

I wish for you freedom to love God's way.

I wish for you freedom to search God's way.

I wish for you freedom to speak God's way, to endure God's way.

It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery.

Be a slave to Christ's freedom.


Peace,
Ronda


Galatians 5:1; 1 John 2:26-27; 1 John 1:9-10; 1 John 2:6


Thursday, July 2, 2015

In Darkness God's Light Shines Brightest

My husband and I are so privileged to live in such a beautiful place.  As a friend of ours recently said, "Winter is Wisconsin's friend.  If it weren't for winter, everyone would want to live here."  She was right on with that statement.  We had a very windy spring this year and most journeys we took out in the boat had been rather bumpy and not real enjoyable.  But a few weeks ago we hit the jackpot.  The sunset was around 8:45 on this particular night and as we sat on the lake, listening to the quiet sounds of nature, watching fish rise and the sky change its colors, we watched an amazing change take place.
All pictures are mine.  Please enjoy, but do not copy without written permission.















If you want to believe there is no God and He has no say in your life, that's your choice.  But to me, this beautiful sunset was a visible picture of God's light pointing a way out of the darkness.  He has died to set you free.   Follow His light!

Peace,
Ronda

No photoshop was done on these pictures.  The visible dividing line was the natural occurrence.