Monday, April 27, 2015


Luke 19:10 says For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”. 

When Jesus was 12 and missing. Mary and Joseph searched until they found him teaching in the temple. When they expressed their concerns and worries He said, "Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 

When we take on the identity of Christ and call ourselves Christians, we must become like him.
We must realize that we are to represent Christ in our lives, actions, words and deeds, thoughts, activities, etc.

We must become like him. That does not mean we are perfect, but we strive for perfection. John 17:23 says: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

Romans 12:2 says And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

God's will is that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. He came to save the lost. He did not want them to stay in the condition of sin. He came to deliver us from sin.

If we, are to be like him, then we are to seek out the lost as well. We should not be willing that any perish. We should realize that the same grace of salvation extended to us, needs to be extended through us to others.

Have we taken the time to love those lost souls around us enough to share the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Do I take the time to hear the heart of God weeping for the lost?

My answer is I have failed.
I am sorry Lord, and I will do my best to begin to see those souls you see. I will begin to seek the lost and let them know that Jesus loves them and wants to change their lives into one of His purpose.

God bless and may we all work toward the perfection of being like Christ.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

to live is Christ

I was thinking this week about how there are many people who are angry and hateful toward Christians. Around the world, there are many who hate Christians and even are attempting to kill Christians.  I am sitting here in my comfortable American home and I do truly have freedoms to go to church or not, and worship how I choose. There is story after story, of attacks of Christian churches and  believers.  I follow the Voice of Martyrs and sometimes so thoroughly heartbroken but the severity of suffering.  I do not understand how anyone could be so harmful to another person.   There are beatings, killing, loss of family and persecution.

In the midst of all the suffering, there are also blaring stories of love. Love that can only come from God. There are those that are asking for supporters to pray for those attacking them, rather than for themselves. They want to see those hateful men, changed by the love of God.  They are displaying the very words of Jesus. "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven;"(Matthew 5:43-48)  I am awed and humbled by these stories of forgiveness and love. I am in wonder as I read of people choosing to serve God in the face of great struggle and persecution. The only reason I can find in each of these testimonies is the truth of who God is. God has revealed himself to these people as the real source of love, joy, truth, peace. He has walked with these wonderful people to the very end in the midst of the most challenging of circumstances. Their faith is tested and faith wins.

I am also challenged to really look at my own walk with God and how I display my faith in God. I did not have to choose God with the knowledge of facing death for that choice.  For us in America, choosing to serve God can be an easy choice.  We can choose to serve God and make a few changes. We may change a few friends, go to church, read and study, worship and sing, but in reality, we have not faced challenges.
What I realized is living a "Christian life" has not really cost me much.  There is a price paid for many followers of Christ around the world.  We Christians in America have not faced the reality of the price paid for our sins. We do not understand what we truly owe.  I realize I live comfortably. I do not face making a decision to live for Christ that will lead to my death. We are so busy with living, making plans, and sometimes even debating what God's word really means that we have forgotten to really tend to the things of God. I do not even truly understand that God has asked for all of me, not just what is comfortable and convenient, but for every part of my being.

I love America.  I love our freedoms.  I love that we can still choose to live how we choose and worship how we choose.  I am however, sad about how much of God's will I have missed because I have been so comfortable with living the American dream. We have so much here that can distract from the true purpose God designed us for. I can tithe, give offerings, and serve as it is convenient.  I think of the story in Luke 21 where Jesus was in the temple.

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God,[a] but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

I question if maybe I have been giving just out of my abundance.  Not just with financial things, but with everything He has given me. Talents, knowledge, time, etc. Have I really given ALL to Him?
I think I already know the answer to this.  I am sure I have held back on many things.  I am sure there are times I should have acted on what He was speaking to my heart and I chose not to act.  I am sure there are times I have heard God ask me to speak to someone or pray for someone, and out of fear, or lack of compassion, I have chosen not to obey.   I truly wish I had realized that it was not just the other person missing out on a blessing, I have missed out on the joy of seeing God work, the peace of obedience, and the blessings of a pleased Father.  I have chosen to give only what I found was comfortable or when it was convenient.   I have assumed I was obedient, but the real obedience comes from living a life that is completely and fully trusting and relying of the Father for everything.  I mean everything.

My husband was reading Luke 9 the other day and the first six verses really hit my soul.

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. 2 He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 And He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece.
4 “Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 5 And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.”
6 So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

We have also been sent by God to share the Gospel.  We also have the promise that we do not need to take with us anything for He will provide.  We do not need to worry and fret over what we have need of because He already has a plan to provide everything.  It is a matter of trusting Him to fulfill His promise.

Matthew 6:25-34 Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

I know I have failed my Heavenly Father, the one who paid the ultimate price for me, as I have not trusted him completely.  I have not listened when he spoke to me to be His hands and feet, to reach out in love to a hurting soul.
I was truly reminded yesterday as we went out as a church body for outreach and ended the morning praying with a gentlemen.  Tears welled in his eyes as he reached out and allowed me to take his hand for prayer.  He was truly thankful for the offer.  I continued to pray for him for the rest of the day as I remembered that short moment.  I am eager for more of these moments.  I am eager to feel the presence of God moving as I pray for a hurting soul.  I am eager to see the peace that enters and fills up to the eyes of the person.  I am eager to be used of God as He sees fit.  I am even hoping to be able to say that even if it came down to it.  I would be willing to love a person who comes to attack or kill me.  I want to be sure that I would love them so much that I would pray for them rather than my own safety.  I hope that I would trust God so much that I can say just as Paul did "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21

I do pray that I can lay aside the weights that have so easily beset me and lulled me into a comfortable faith so I can give ALL, everything that I am and everything I have, to the only one who truly can use it the right way.
I no longer want my fear, my pride, my own understanding, to get in the way of allowing wonderous works of God to flow through me.  I want to lay it all down willingly for my Savior. I want to be willing and obedient without fear, with complete trust. I want to sing the old song, He is my everything, He is my all, He is my everything, both great and small.  He gave His life for me, Made everything new. He is my everything, none other will do, with a deeper conviction and new understanding.  I want to understand what it means to really belong to Him every moment of every day. I really have nothing with Him.  It really isn't mine anyway.  It really has no eternal value.  The only thing of eternal value is knowing Christ.  I want to truly know Him to the very end.

Friday, April 10, 2015

tend the roots

Picture by Tabitha Stevens

This week we had to begin mowing the yard. Mowing season is here!  My husband had to change out the blades on the mower since one was bent from hitting a tree root last year.  I think I might have done that.   We have some beautiful, tall trees in our front yard.  I love trees. These trees have roots that are spreading out and some of them are sticking up and unfortunately, the mower blades hit those roots.  Roots are very important to a tree or plant.  Roots are how the tree absorbs nutrients and water from the ground. It establishes the tree firmly and provides strength for the tree to stand.

In California, palm trees are abundant.  In some areas, there are palms trees growing in rows.  They are tall and majestic.  When the wind blows, they sway and bend.  Giant leaves may fall, but these palm trees stand.  The roots of palm trees grow straight down almost as deep as the tree is tall. There is strength.
The tallest trees in the world are the mighty redwoods.  I have had the privilege of seeing these trees. They are so big and awe-inspiring. I cannot even describe how big they are. Cars can drive through one that has a tunnel carved through. These trees not only have deep roots, but the roots spread and intertwine with the redwoods next to it.  They wrap around and each other and support one another.  They become a deep and wide support not only for one tree, but for all those around it. Redwoods are not only the biggest, but also some of the oldest on earth. They are established and firm and do not fall for many, many years.

I read this verse today. Colossians 2:6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Roots are important spiritually as well. We need roots in the word of God, in Jesus that are deep and wide. Our roots need not only establish us as individuals, but spread to support our brothers and sisters as well. Without roots in the Word of God, in the Spirit of God, and in Him, we cannot survive. We cannot grow or bear fruit.
A pastor I know, Bro. Elzie Quinn, once told a story about a walnut grove near his house.  Some branches of the some of the trees were cut off just as the walnuts were beginning to grow. These branches were left near the road and the walnuts appeared to grow.  One day, he eagerly picked those walnuts on those cut branches and took them home.  He was excited to have some fresh walnuts, but when he cracked them open, there was no meat inside.  They were just empty shells. Without connection to the roots, there was no good fruit.

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
If we are not established in the vine of Jesus, we cannot do anything.  We cannot accomplish anything without Jesus.
We need to establish ourselves in Jesus through the reading of His Word and through prayer and fasting. We are established by bible study and by fellowship. We are established through relationship with Jesus Christ.  Not just on Sunday only, but everyday, every minute, we must be attached to the root of Jesus.  We do not know when the enemy of our soul, may attempt to cause destruction. We do not know when life may take a turn for the worst. We need to always be ready and attached to our source of life, Jesus so we can survive the storms. So we can support those around us. So we can be firm. So we can abound in thanksgiving for being able to withstand all that comes our way.

Psalms 1

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
    Nor stands in the path of sinners,
    Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree
    Planted by the rivers of water,
    That brings forth its fruit in its season,
    Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Our spiritual roots need to be strong, deep and wide. Our roots needs to be established in the truth of God. Our roots are weakened by other influences.  There are poisons that destroy roots.  When I want to get rid of weeds, I pull out the roots or spray them with weed killer.  I want to get rid of the root. Once they are sprayed, I can come back later and yank them up.
 The enemy wants to do the same to our roots. He will send distractions, or poisons, that will keep us from reading His word or praying, cause us to doubt its importance, or even tell us it is not necessary.  He will attempt to weaken our roots and make it easier to rip us up from the roots. If he can cause doubt, fear, lack of interest, or outright mistrust, He can separate us from our roots.
We need to be aware that anything that causes our roots to weaken, needs to be put aside. With prayer and a firm foundation in the Word, we can be strong, even when faced with those "poisons."
God is stronger than anything. 1 John 4:4 says You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Mark 4:30 Then He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? 31 It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; 32 but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”

I want to be established and rooted so deeply, that even if storms make me sway and leaves may fall, I will not be uprooted. I will still stand firm. I want to be strong enough to reach out and not only serve God, but influence others by supporting and providing the shade of God's love in their lives. Just as the mustard seed in Mark 4 grows so large, it becomes a place of rest and shade for the birds, so our lives should be as well. Roots are not always seen, but the effects of the connections underground are seen in the branches and fruit looming high above the ground.
The fruit and growth seen in our lives, needs to demonstrate the condition of our spiritual roots.
Dear Lord, help me tend to my roots.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

the mess that brought salvation

This is Easter weekend.  I love celebrating the great sacrifice and miracle of salvation through Jesus Christ. I enjoy this weekend for many reasons.  I love seeing the kids hunt eggs, just because it is fun.  I love hearing the sermons on the resurrection of Jesus. I love the songs sung.  Because He Lives will always be a favorite. There is a deep meaning to everything about this precious message of salvation.
Deeper than I think most of us fathom. Deeper than I my mind can think.

As I was reading my bible this week, I have been reading in Leviticus.  In Leviticus, God was laying out the plan for sacrifices to Moses.  There were specific types of sacrifices and specific ways to perform each sacrifice.  I have read through this before, but this time it began to paint a picture in my mind.  I could almost visualize Moses explaining all this to Aaron and then performing the purification ritual for Aaron and his sons.  There was a burnt offering, a sin offering, a guilt offering, a grain offering, a fellowship offering. Some were burnt on the altar, some were offered as a wave offering, some remains were burnt outside the camp in a purified location, Some were meant to be eaten by the priesthood. It was quite a process.  There was solemnity to the process. There was a seriousness that would have overwhelmed the priest. He had a duty to be pure and keep the whole nation of Israel covered by the blood of sacrifice.   As I was reading, I began to think about the process of building the temple and the altar. The artisans with great talent spent many painstaking hours forming, carving and shaping a beautiful items for the temple. The items were overlaid in gold or bronze.  The altar itself must have been a beautiful item overlaid in gold with carvings. Then when the sacrifices were made, not only was there burning, there was blood.  This may sound gross, but the blood of the sacrifices was used extensively.  Moses took the blood of the first sacrifice to purify Aaron and his sons and put blood on the horns of the altar, on Aaron's ear, thumb and toe.  The same was done for his sons. The blood was sprinkled on the beautiful robes they wore. The blood was then poured out before the altar. Basically, there was a lot of blood. Blood would be all over that alter and all around it. This blood is what brought a covering of the sin. As these images ran through my mind, I kept thinking how messy! That beautiful altar probably couldn't even be seen as beautiful for all the mess!

It hit me!!!!
Sin is messy! Sin takes what should be beautiful and destroys it.  Sin causes mess in people's lives. Sin causes destruction of what God intended for beauty.  God intended our lives to be beautiful and lovely as we were to walk in His presence and as His children.  Sin stepped in and destroyed all that God intended. The only way to bring back the beauty was through offering sacrifice. Sacrifice that included blood. Under the law given to Moses, there was many sacrifices and a lot of blood.

God chose to come and shed blood through Jesus' life for our sins.  We are the ones with the messy life full of sin.  He came and shed His blood. His blood ran down his brow and from his back as they beat him.  His blood poured out all over the cross and soaked into the earth. It would have been messy.  It was messy because of our sin.  He had to step from his beautiful place in heaven to become the mess of sacrifice for our messy sins.

It is because of all this destruction and mess that we even get to celebrate Easter. We have a Savior who  died, shed His blood, and rose again on the third day all because He loves us too much to leave us in the mess.  He loves us too much to watch His beautiful creation destroyed without hope of restoration. He wanted to provide a way of escape, a way to restore us to our original purpose.  It is only through the blood.  It is only through sacrifice that He could have that relationship He longs for with his children. Just as a mother travails and blood comes forth during birth for a beautiful child to be born, Jesus also travailed and blood came forth.  It was hard. It was a mess. It was worth it.  Life is born through bloodshed.
Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

I will celebrate Easter this weekend with deeper understanding of how serious we should take the shedding of His life-giving blood. I will determine in my heart to never take that sacrifice for granted.  It is my mess that demanded the sacrifice. His blood brings us life, life more abundant. I pray my love for Him will grow and become stronger.  I want my understanding to develop even further into understanding His real purpose for my life.  He gives beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. (Isaiah 61:3)
He is Salvation.

Thank you, Jesus, for loving me even when I made the mess of sin and for providing the sacrifice for me. Thank you for salvation.