Archive: January, 2010

"Prayer Roads," By: Kelli Zaniel

“A child’s smarts can help them go places in life but the character reflected from their soul is what will determine whether or not they do anything significant once they get there.” (unknown)

Sometimes I get so distracted by the little things, that I fail to notice my biggest assignment tugging on my pant leg…my children. What do I want for my children? The better question is what does God want for my children? According to Jesus, our relationship with our children is the most precious because it allows us to catch a glimpse of how our heavenly Father relates to us.

We are here for God and it is all about Him. He is in charge, not us. I want this Truth to seep into and saturate my children’s minds, hearts and lives. I want them to become godly women who live totally sold out for their Savior. I want my children to be obsessed with Him, to seek Him with their whole heart and not wander from His commandments (Ps. 119:10-11). I want them to hold God’s Word close to their hearts and wait patiently on Him (see Ps. 40:1-3).

God and I had a little meeting the other day about his children. We agreed on the following: I don’t want my children to think of God as an “outsider.” Someone who is handed an “admit one” ticket for special occasions only. I do want them to have an intimate love relationship with Him. I don’t want my children to think of God as some “wealthy passerby” who is only here to shower blessings and good fortune on them. I do want them to become radically obedient to whatever God says so they will see the fruit of their work. I don’t want my children to think of God as “spare change,” only using Him when they are at their worst. I do want my children to cry out to God in all circumstances (the good, the bad and the ugly). I want my children to be tenacious, courageous and compassionate servants for God who not only devour the Bible but actually let it sink in. I want them to know that salvation is a process. Developing a relationship with God takes diligence, discipline and obedience. He is our leader and sustainer.

I asked God, “What are good ways to make this happen?” He provided the following instruction, “Talk to them [our children] about God [and Jesus whom He sent] when we are at home, when we are on the road, when we go to bed and when we get up in the morning” (Deut. 6:6-7). I don’t know about you, but that sums up my day. So I guess that means we are to talk to our children about God all day long! This verse commands us to share the love of Jesus with our children. Did you catch that—He COMMANDS us. It is not up for debate. It is not a democracy. We can’t pick and choose what we want to obey and what we don’t. It requires absolute obedience. An obedience that shows we are in a state of righteousness, a standing before God obtained by faith (see Hab. 2:4).

I have taken Deuteronomy 6:6-7 literally and as a homeschooling mom, I have a lot of opportunities to be obedient to my Jesus. I extracted a portion of the verse “talk about God when you are on the road,” and decided to make it a fun learning experience for our children. We call it, “prayer roads.” This is how it works. When the kids and I are traveling in the car and we pass a street that someone we know lives on, we pray for them. Prayer roads teaches them to pray without ceasing; and to take the focus off of themselves and place it onto others. It teaches them that it is okay to pray anytime and anywhere, God is always listening. (Since Julie Tatem and Heidi Avery live within 2 miles of our home—let’s just say, y’all have been prayed for a lot!)
There is good news for moms everywhere! In case you haven’t heard, God is in the transformation business. If he can turn a sinner into a saint, He can turn an overworked mom into an instrument He can use to shape and mold the character of our children. He knows how and what we need to be prepared for. We just need to give our days to Him and let Him work out the kinks.
Lord please fill my mouth with your words today (Ps. 81:10) so that those words spoken will bring healing and comfort which “is the tree of life” (Prov. 15:4). Equip me with a wise heart (Prov. 16:23); spiritual ears for hearing (see Prov. 1:5); and the discipline to pray and not give up (Luke 18:1). Help me to be an encourager so that the little ones around me are lifted up and not torn down (see Heb. 3:13).

"Happy Birthday to Me" by Heidi Avery

This month marked the 10 year anniversary of my salvation. It’s wonderful looking back over the last 10 years to see all that God has done. I love combing through the years to find God’s precious and faithful handprint throughout my life. There are blessings there that I’d surely miss if I didn’t take the time to look back. I’m convinced that this is why we truly can consider it pure joy, whenever we face trials of many kinds. (James 1:2) We can count on the blessings in the midst of our trials we just might not see them until we look back.

My trials over the last 10 years haven’t been so big really. I am blessed with a husband who loves me, 3 children, a warm home and better than anything I am a treasured child of God. My biggest issue has been understanding and dealing with the person I was before salvation in light of the person I am supposed to be in Christ. The way I think about life and people now is completely opposite of what I thought before. I’ve had to undergo some major Spiritual surgery. It’s been a slow process, but the results have been worth it and I say that confidently, even though I still have a long way to go.

Before I was saved I was dealing with insecurity and lack of self-confidence, but without any purpose. Today, my insecurity still exists, but is progressing as I find my security in God. Nothing can separate me from the love of God (Romans 8:39), that’s all the security I need. Today I still lack confidence in my self, but I am finding that there is no “self” confidence that will satisfy my need to feel significant. The only confidence I need is in Christ and I get that by trusting and believing that He goes with me (Deut. 31:6) and that He has a plan for me (Jer. 29:11). Half the battle for me was believing those promises when I felt so undeserving and so unworthy.

I used to find my worth in people and the world, though it’s a tough habit to break today I am learning to find my worth in God. Knowing and believing that He sent a Savior for me and that He continues to faithfully refine me and sanctify me. I am so grateful for the constant reminder that I was meant for more.

I’m far, far, far from perfect still and what’s wonderful about that is that I don’t have my eyes fixed on trying to be perfect anymore, at least not in the way that I did before. Today I just have my eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. (Heb. 12:2) And, I have the promise of being perfected upon His return. I’m waiting with great expectation for my Savior.

So, in celebration of my 10 years in Christ I’ve decided to share something a little personal with you. Following is a poem that I wrote just 5 years ago and it describes the mental battle I faced then and still face now, just differently. The difference now is that because of the living and active Holy Spirit and His guiding Word I am more aware of my faulty thinking and I now know that I am set free from my sin. My old self was crucified with Christ so that my body of sin might be done away with, that I should no longer be a slave to my sin. (Rom. 6:6) I believe that and the closer I get to God the more I experience it first hand.

Praying for you… that as you look back over your own life you see His Work and the many blessings waiting there just for you to discover!

My Renewal

I am wretched, impure and completely unrefined. My mind is corrupt with thoughts that I pray none will ever find.

I am selfish, so angry and full of bitter envy. Insecure and discontent, I look to the world to complete me.

Worry and anxiety find their place deep within my mind, and my condition of desperation is finely intertwined.

My pride controls my actions and twists what I perceive. I am imprisoned by it even though I am always free to leave.

The devil knows me well and is tempting me once again. I recognize him and embrace him as I knowingly step into my sin.

I ache in my pitiful misery, secretly blaming everyone around me. The painful reality of who I am and who I am not is all that I can see.

But, even though I slip into this darkness easily I know I don’t belong. My God is where I take refuge and He is where I am ultimately drawn.

I cling to the promises He gave me in the suffering of His Son. I sit undeserving, yet redeemed by the mercy of the Holy One.

I belong to Christ! He delivered me from this evil wickedness. And in His eyes and by His grace I am free of shame and called blameless.

I prayed for my heart to be renewed and the Lord has been faithful to deliver, but I must continue to give up this life in complete surrender.

Though I am hindered by my weaknesses, by them His strength is made perfect. Even when I feel powerless I do find power in the Holy Spirit.

My fight is with my flesh, the devil and the world’s wicked ways, but I am not alone, for my God is with me in every one of my days.

I will put on His armor and be prepared for the dark days to come. I will stand firm with sword in hand and will not succumb to the sinister one.

I rebuke you Satan! I say with my strength restored. Release me from your grasp in the name of my God and Lord.

I praise the Lord and rejoice in my troubles, for they are refining my heart. Glory to God as His will is taking over and mine is beginning to depart.

I see the intended purpose of Christ, which is the salvation of my soul. So, the growing and maturing of my faith is my eternal goal.

It is not in the daylight where there is no darkness and I can see so clearly, but in the light through the darkness, what is unseen, that I want to know so dearly.

Therefore I will not lose heart, even though outwardly I am wasting away. For the inward view is of my working renewal day by blessed day.

Scripture references: Romans 7:24, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 John 2:16, Romans 6:6-7, Ephesians 6:11-13, 1 Peter 1:6-9, 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

"Lie v. Truth," By Kelli Zaniel

“Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master” (Gen 4:7).

The Bible reveals God’s character as he relates to his people. From Genesis to Revelation we see godly people mess up and break God’s commands. We hear stories of how God’s people actively pursue the will of God but then something happens to slip them up. What happens? Satan’s distortion of God’s truth happens and then ultimately our sin.

Satan entered the scene as he hissed and slithered his way through the tranquil Garden of Eden. His deceptive fabrications of the truth caused Adam and Eve to ultimately usher sin into the world. Satan speaks to us today the way he spoke to Eve in the garden. He knew her soft spot the way he knows ours. His lying whispers offer an easier, more comfortable solution to today’s problems. This makes it difficult to discern whether we are hearing our voice or his? That is why God warned Cain in Genesis 4:7, that Satan was crouching next to his accomplice, sin, ready to pounce at all times. When sin is in crouching position, we have two choices. We can either be dominated by it or we can resist it.

Satan is the master deceiver and is fully aware of our weaknesses. He cracks open his “little black book,” to see what slipped us up last time… then tosses the same temptation our way again. Have you ever been deceived by someone? In the past when I have been deceived, it is usually by a person who is very familiar with all my insecurities. Satan operates the same way.

The dictionary defines, “deceiver,” as to lead another into error, danger, or a disadvantageous position by underhanded means. Deceive involves the deliberate misrepresentation of the truth. That has Satan’s handprints all over it. His actions are very subtle, never obvious and always underhanded. That is why the Bible warns that Satan is crouching and lurking in the shadows like a coward waiting to pounce in a surprise attack against us. Even in the midst of our daily duties, we must be armored up and ready to go.

Where there are rules, Satan wants to break them. He worms his way into our thoughts causing us to second guess our decisions…. Did God really say not to do that? Maybe you misunderstood. This very thing happened to David in 1 Chronicles 21. God continuously poured his divine into David’s life. David had a history of radical obedience to whatever God required of him. With God’s guidance he defeated many armies and witnessed the abundant blessings of his undeniable obedience. David always gave the glory to God, “God did it, God defeated the armies” (1 Chron. 15:11-12)! But you guessed it, Satan swooped in and interrupted David’s love story with God.

“Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel” (1 Chron. 21:1). God had previously instructed David not to count his men; “do not be pre-occupied with numbers.” Even David’s side kick, Joab, asked him, “why do you cause Israel to sin?” Satan played on David’s insecurities which made him question whether or not they had enough men to defeat the rising army. David was no longer operating on faith but on his ability to control the situation. Unfortunately, Satan trapped David in disobedience which angered God. Just like Satan tripped up Adam and Eve causing God to curse the ground in the Garden of Eden, he tripped up David in a similar way causing the angel of the Lord to draw a sword reaching out over Jerusalem.

God was so angry with David that he told him he could choose one of three ways to be punished. Three years of famine; three months of war; or three days of a severe plague. Honestly, none of the above sound good. Because of David’s one act of disobedience, a plague fell on Israel wiping out 70,000 people. I am sure, if he survived the plague, old man Joab was pointing his finger and shaking his head saying, “I told you so…you should have listened to God!”

Hebrews 13:8 says that, “Gods character does not change.” God relates to us today the way he related to his people in the Old and New Testaments. We serve the same God that David served. He desires our obedience and will discipline us when necessary. Satan throws his filthy rotten temptations at us the way he has always done. His tricks and schemes haven’t improved. Satan underhandedly works to trip us up today just like he tripped up the heroes of the Bible thousands of years ago.

Satan tried to trip up Jesus when they battled in the desert. How did Jesus combat temptation? He resisted by clothing himself with the armor of God’s Holy Word. That still works today! This is how:

Satan’s voice says: Get all you can from whoever you can; God’s voice says “give to everyone who asks” (Matt. 5:42);

Satan’s voice says: Put yourself first; God’s voice says “love others more than yourselves and think of their interests above your own” (Phil. 2:3-4);

Satan’s voice says: you can’t do that, just quit; God’s voice says “stay committed” (Matt 5:37);

Satan’s voice says seek instant gratification; God’s voice says “be self-controlled” (Gal. 5:23);

Satan’s voice says God doesn’t love you; God says I loved you so much that I gave my only son to bridge the gap between heaven and earth (John 3:16).

So if this week finds you being attacked by Satan’s shouts of doubt, armor up with God’s Holy Truth. Call on the Lord and he will come to your rescue.

"Stand Out" by Christa Goodrich

Do you know what it’s like to stick out like a sore thumb wherever you go? Do you put your foot in your mouth more times than you can even count? I sure do! So, my encouragement today, is that it can be a good thing!

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6

A story of weird-looking clown shoes…

I found the weirdest-looking shoes at Walmart a couple of years ago, and for some reason bought them. They were black plastic with white polka dots and had a soft pink material inside. I would usually say that when you add polka dots to anything, you will find instant cuteness. Not the case with these guys. My shoe size is 10, so they were huge-weird looking clown shoes. Even though they weren’t cute, I wanted them for a purpose. I thought they would be great to slip on quickly, when I needed to run around outside at home.

I new that these polka dotted clown shoes would only be worn at home, where no one would ever see me them on me. I even attempted to give them to charity a couple of times.

Well, a couple of days ago, I realized that I needed some new casual dress shoes. It was one of those days, when I felt like it was my mission to find some. Earlier that day, I was wearing my tall, stylish, leather boots, and my feet were killing me! I didn’t want to wear those painful things to the store, and definitely didn’t want to wear tennis shoes with my dress. So, guess what I wore? The weird looking polka dotted things. I figured, no one would notice. It’s late at night. I’m going to a shoe store, to actually buy new shoes. No big deal, right?! Think again.

I got so many weird looks. While standing in line, I heard 2 guys walk in the store and actually call them clown shoes, under their breath. The red, embarrassing circles that instantly appeared on my face, matched the whole clown look, I was going for.

OK, so my shopping experience was a bit humbling, but kind of funny to look back at. I’ll call it an experiment that I meant to do. Well, at least God taught me something with it all, when it was over with.

One point to this story…

As a Christian, we’re going to stand out. It’s that simple. If we don’t, we’re not letting Him shine through us.

The alternative to standing out, is taking the easier road, which is nice and comfortable, with few risks to take. That’s where everyone else is. Why not? We could be pretty happy there. It would definitely be a place to ourselves, with no one to bother us. I think we can all be tempted to go that route.

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

But doesn’t the Bible tell us to go against the flow and follow the narrow path? We are ultimately called to fulfill the great commission.

Matthew 28:19-20

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The truth is, if we choose Jesus, we’ll act differently than most of the world these days. You may not wear cool shoes like my house shoes, but you have something big that only you can stand out with! Why don’t we take the risk and let God shine through us?

So, listen to this song and Stand Out! It’s how the lost get found!

Heaven or Bust, by Heidi Avery

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

I love Paul’s story. You just know you’re welcome in the Kingdom of Heaven when you hear about Paul. He was a man who was firmly set in his beliefs and on his own path, searching out and persecuting Christians at every turn. Until the road to Damascus delivered him to his very own “come to Jesus” meeting. In a flash of light, he was transformed into one of our most powerful biblical examples of a man who was completely abandoned to Christ.

In Acts 9:15 Jesus says about Paul… “this man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.” His life was completely interrupted, his plans shattered for the plans of the one he personally persecuted. It amazes me that Paul never looked back on what he had done against Christ before that moment on the road to Damascus. In fact as soon as the scales fell from his eyes the bible says he was baptized, ate, became strengthened, spent some time with the people of Damascus and promptly got down to Kingdom business.

Just like that, old life gone, new life embraced. No, question about who he once was, no guilt or worry about what he had once done. He committed his life to perfect relationship with Jesus and swift obedience resulted.

We’re a lot like Paul, some of us more than others in that we have a past that precedes our life with Jesus. We’ve thought things, done things and said things that cause us to wonder how we could possibly be “his chosen instrument” for anything. Even after professing my life to Christ I’ve been guilty of wrong thoughts that I carried out in deeds and words, sinning instead of confessing. I’ve questioned what he could possibly do with the likes of me. Well, I don’t know, but He does.

What I do know is whatever I’ve done against Christ will not get in the way of Him using me. He didn’t choose me because of anything I did or didn’t do. He chose me for what He intends to do in and through me.

My role? Simply, continue answering his call to pursue a deeper relationship with Him, producing effortless, fruitful obedience to Him. So, as this new year begins, I do not have a list of resolutions as the world dictates, but I do have a single goal and that is to “forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead, to press on toward the goal to win the prize which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Romans clearly reminds us that we’ve been Elected (9:10-13), Justified (4:25; 5:18), Redeemed (3:24; 8:23) and that we sit in the very active process of being Sanctified (5:2; 15-16) until He comes and we are Glorified (8:18, 19, 30) and carried home to eternity in Heaven.

Father, continue to sanctify me, transform me, move me, use me for your perfect will. Don’t let me forget that you chose me and that you forgave me and forgive me still. Keep my eyes from gazing backward and instead keep them focused on the prize… heavenward.