Disorganized or God-ordained?

Remember all the times you’ve placed something just where you knew you would not forget, and you forgot?  How about when someone does that for you, and you don’t even know they did?

God in his infinite wisdom, humor, and timing caused a “happening” over time in my life.  I just had to roll with it.  The Holy Spirit during prayer time prompted me to have a Starbucks coffee moment with my friend Kim.  I’m so glad I did, because God knew I needed her words of wisdom and prayers.  We become connected through wonderful things in which she teaches my youngest in AWANA, leadership in a ministry we both share, and friendship.  She’s busy.  I’m busy. But, God intertwines us through His Spirit.

I see her at an event and she asks about a Christmas card that she sent me with the most beautiful necklace she made.  She happen to mention it, because I remarked on the same necklace she was wearing at the event.  This necklace has our Woman of Worth Mentoring Ministries Logo on it.  I’m dumbfounded because I did not receive the card.  Well, so I thought.

This week –a month later–I find her card.  Someone graciously cleaned my kitchen and put the card with some cookbooks!  I laughed, smiled, and rejoiced.  What a blessing to open up her card and see her precious family and words of encouragement.  I needed it then.

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The most amazing thing is that when we thought perhaps the letter was lost in the mail, she took off her necklace at the event and gave me hers.  A beautiful, giving woman of God, who lifted me up in friendship and love.

Things get lost, we are busy, and life ticks along; yet, moment upon moment builds and kindness can be our gift.

Gentle kindness…..

Thank you sweet friend…..

Only You: A Note from Rusty Rustenbach

A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer: Meeting God in the Broken Places by Rusty Rustenbach has been a great Bible study to heal broken places and learn to listen to God through quiet time and prayer.  For those of you who purchased the book, I was amazed to find a forum created by Rusty with his personal touch and response to your healing process.  Below is the link to his forum, and a message he sent me after sharing a Listening prayer with him.  It’s amazing how God has brought meaningful details to help a larger work/healing through so many resources and people!  Thank you God! I especially like his storyboard section in which you can use for personal reflection or in group studies!  I love this forum!  I hope you can dig deeper as you read his book.

Forum Link:

http://rustyrustenbach.blogspot.com/

A note from Rusty:

“I want to hear from You and only You.” As I was listening, a love song from the 50’s came to mind by the Platter’s.  I looked it up and listened to it on YouTube. This part of the song really spoke to me:

“Only You can make this world seem right – only You can make the darkness bright. Only You and You alone can thrill me like You do – and fill my heart with love for You.”

Here’s the YouTube link to this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXuL7yLBXFA

I realize now that the love I used to long for as an empty and lost teenager was really a longing for the only love that can deeply satisfy – the love of God! Later I journaled:
“Oh, my Three-in-One, You are the only real and true love of my life – all the others pale in comparison to You and I worship You, bow before You, and Joy in You.”

Thanks again for sharing your stories of healing.

Belonging to Him,

Rusty

The Proposal

“How did he propose to you?”

Approaching an anniversary date solicits this question. After 25 years of marriage, I’ve lived long enough to see so many traditions change. A proposal is one tradition that has drastically changed.  When I was a young girl, I would hear stories from the older generation of “the ask” and marriage occurring on the same day, and by the next day, you were back at work.

Today, I watch movies and hear stories of extremely creative, romantic, and out-of-this-world proposals. One particular proposal that just came to mind was a man taking his girlfriend to The Biltmore Estate.  He gained permission to use a room with a royal chair to ask his future “queen” to marry him.  He placed her on a royal chair and got down on one knee.  He had a prepared speech, a beautiful ring, and a romantic afternoon planned.

The Biltmore Estate

My husband and I were married over 25 years ago under the love and care of an extended family.  The outpouring of love and support gave us courage and hope.  I was not whisked away to an estate and made to feel like a future queen, but I was showered with unimaginable love and commitment from family, friends, and most importantly my husband.  I vividly remember my husband tearing up when questioned by my father, that he wanted to marry me and that he loved me deeply. Simple, pure love.  We did not have money to buy a ring, nor the financial maturity you need to put a ring on a credit card.  Our commitment and love were what we offered as a long-lasting symbol.

Over the years, I’ve watched my husband hold my hand in the delivery room, cry with me when we miscarried, change diapers, clean up from sick children, teach his daughters how to whittle sticks and soap animals, sing with me, study God’s Word and teach others with me, take us fishing, paint houses and fix plumbing, try to teach me Excel, rescue me from locked keys in the car, bury pets, cook meals, support my aging parents, work hard at his career to provide for his family, rub my feet, hold me when I’m crying and I can’t explain why, listen to my heart-aches, and most importantly offer forgiveness and grace.

We have tried our best to live out the example of love in 1 Corinthians Chapter 13

Every day my husband proposes to me.  Every action of love is him saying to me, “Will you marry me?”

I deeply struggled with the fact that we didn’t have a romantic and thrilling story to tell when we are asked the question of “how?”  In fact, my husband and I got into a rather huge discussion over this point.  You know the discussions that center around an event but is the gateway to further questioning and layers of “stuff”?

I prayed about our discussion and God revealed the word commitment.

I love creative romance, and this post is not a rationalization or an excuse to not pursue your mate and romantically love them.  Part of our discussion was me explaining some of my heart’s desires, and him listening and offering change.  Let’s get real.  Our marriage is a work in progress, and I think that’s the point God was trying to convey to my heart.  You can either work at your marriage, or become apathetic and throw in the towel.

The greatest proposal that a man can offer is a daily commitment and actions that say –“Will you marry me?”  And, to love his wife as “Christ loved the church in that He gave His life for her”. (Ephesians Chapter 5)

As a woman, it is important for me to joyfully and thoughtfully recognize the commitment and actions of my spouse.

And most importantly, the greatest proposal ever was the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross–His love should be my “soul” security.  He is enough. (John 3:16)

 

The Biltmore or my spouse can never fill the longings of my heart.  Only Jesus can fill this longing.  Jesus, I accept Your proposal of love!

Don’t long for the world’s ideal of romance.  Long for Jesus and His love and through this relationship, ask Him to show you how to love your spouse.

Commitment.

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February 4, 1989

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View More: http://opendoorsphoto.pass.us/lambwedding

2015 Our daughter’s wedding!

Lie: God Should Fix My Problems

God should fix my problems.

In the book, Lies Young Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free by DeMoss and Gresh, “God should fix my problems” was confronted as a lie.  I had to go back and re-read this statement to make sure the wording was right.  If that’s a lie, where have I been?

God has been leading me up to this point, more recently, over the past few weeks to address this lie through Bible study and circumstances.  I’m a fixer.  I want things fixed and done–finished.  Nothing drives me to insanity than being stuck, or broken.

Paul pleaded three times for God to remove his “thorn in the flesh”–his brokenness–but it was not fixed.  It was used for greater glory.

2 Corinthians 12

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I have this “thing”–we all do.  This “thing” usually produces torment in the form of restlessness, loss of sleep, physical complaints, emotional exhaustion, problems with relationships, and/or spiritual depression. We believe that if we were strong enough or found just the right Bible study –God would fix our problem.

What if the problem or thorn was considered a gift from God for His glory to be made manifested, and His Power to rest upon us?

What?!  Live in my weaknesses and be subjected to torment and suffering?  No thanks!

But wait…

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

Did you know that Jesus, God’s Son, was not kept from suffering?

Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)

God, how do we live with a thorn that may never be fixed?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. James 1: 2-8

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete.  Don’t be double-minded.  God does not withhold blessings, our double-mindedness produces instability and a barrier to receiving His blessings.

Don’t be afraid or disappointed when “the thing” occurs–have faith that God is manifesting Himself in you.

A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer:  Meeting God in the Broken Places by Rusty Rustenbach challenges this inner-healing that comes from recognizing your brokenness and being still before God through prayer and listening to Him speak to your soul.  God is generous and gives generously to all without finding fault. It will be given to you.

God’s wisdom and love is about changing you, not making your problems go away.

It’s about reframing the problem in light of His Glory!  He does not call us to dwell on the thorn, but to claim His love and strength despite the thorn.  God’s Word shares that Jesus, with JOY, faced the cross.  He trusted God to fulfill His work and complete what He had promised.  He will do the same for you.

As you work through brokenness and healing, do not be discouraged.  Your thorn, or weakness, is not a death sentence– to be the “walking dead”.  The enemy would desire for you to be double-minded in these matters, but God wants you to only but ask–He will give you the wisdom you need to walk in victory with your thorn.

Don’t limit God.

I’m so glad Paul did not give up when God did not fix the problem. Instead he chose words of promise and victory!

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Following Paul’s Example

All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. (Philippians 3:14-15)

Can’t you hear Paul’s pleading?  Brother and sister in Christ, if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you…….

God is with you and desires for you to walk in victory!  No matter where you find yourself today with your thorn, believe that God’s power can be made manifested in you, and His strength will rest upon you.  He does not force Himself on you–He will rest upon you and give you rest.  Ask for wisdom, and listen to His voice.

He loves you too much to make a problem go away–He wants to change you from glory to glory!

Please take time to engage in a guided listening prayer session with Jesus by following this guideline in Rusty’s book:

http://rustyrustenbach.blogspot.com/2012/08/post-46-listening-prayer-guidelines-and.html

Freedom Reigns

I remember my first and only cruise during a celebration of a child’s graduation.  I did not realize that the delicious and decadent food came with the price of the cruise, and you could have as much as you wanted.  I was holding back and worried about the cost.  Once someone told me that it came with the cost of the trip, freedom to enjoy and indulge began to guide my actions and thoughts!  Freedom!

Jesus has paid the price and is calling us out of the bondage of scarcity and not enough.  I’m not talking about material wealth, a job promotion, or over-eating!  I’m talking about spiritual healing and the abundance and freedom that is found in His love.  We do not realize the abundance of what He has to offer—we just can’t believe it, so we don’t partake.  We keep waiting for the “catch”.

God is calling me to believe, accept, and practice through a great devotional book called, “A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer:  Meeting God in the Broken Places” by Rusty Rustenbach.  This guide calls us to a prayer time of listening–being still before God.  As we talk to Jesus about the lies we have believed about ourselves and the world around us, we listen for His Truth to reframe and heal.

2 Corinthians Chapter 3: 7-18 was a resting place for me, and Jesus opened my eyes and heart.  The glory of the new covenant through the work of Jesus is FREEDOM!

The Greater Glory of the New Covenant

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 1We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Jesus,

Help me turn to you—TRUTH!  Only in you are the lies taken away.  May I call upon your Spirit of truth and live in freedom.  I must contemplate, read, acknowledge Your Word and promises in my life, so that I can be transformed into your image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from You alone.  I am your child.  I am completely loved with no exceptions.  I am worthy of this love, and I am Yours alone.  I belong to You.  I can completely trust You in my transformation process.  Amen

Jesus Culture:  Freedom Reigns

I am FREE!

Bondage (noun): slavery; the state of being bound by some external power

Lie (noun): An inaccurate or false statement; an impostor; a false statement with deliberate intent to deceive; an inaccurate or false statement

I have a dream that all men will be freed from the bondage of the father of lies. Since the beginning of time, he has deceived and was a “murderer from the beginning and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)  A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. (2 Peter 2:19b)  Jesus proclaimed that He came that “we may have life in abundance” but that the enemy’s job is to “steal, kill, and destroy.” (John 10:10)

We have been bound by the external power and allowed the father of lies to convince us of our powerlessness, hopelessness, and rejection.  We’ve believed the lie of insecurities, unworthiness, and “this is how it will always be”. The reality of our state of mind begs for a deliverer to set us free from the deceiver who binds us with chains of anger, bitterness, depression, anxiety, fear, and apathy. We open our Bibles and sit in church begging for deliverance and healed hearts and minds.  We cry out, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24) Jesus’ love is bigger than our emotions.  He created emotions and feelings and understands our human frailty.  Trust Him to gently lead you in the everlasting way as you work through a lie or distortion of His truth that has bound you.

As we cry out for God to search us, the question becomes are we still and listening?  Do we “come to Him with ears wide open and listen, for the life of our souls are at stake?” (Isaiah 55:3)

As we prepare for the coming Resurrection Sunday will you be freed from any bondage of the father of lies?  Will you believe in the Resurrection of hope, abundance, joy, and peace?  Jesus– “for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”.  He faced unimaginable pain and suffering for our sake with joy.  His last words were of forgiveness and proclaiming, “It is finished!”  Done! Complete! Conquered!  Accomplished!

He desires for His children to experience this  type of joy and completeness!  Joy that surpasses our understanding and conquers death, pain, and sorrow.  Joy that is unspeakable and found in the depths of His work on the cross.  Jesus’ death and resurrection was accomplished to destroy once and for all the lies of the enemy!  Who will be your master?  The father of lies or your Savior–Jesus–who loves you with perfect and patient love?

Do you know who you are in Christ?  Fill your mind with TRUTH!  Claim what is YOURS! Jesus’ work and His love for you is the truth that will set you free!

Knowing Who I Am in Christ

by Joyce Meyer

Not sure who you really are? Read this list of Biblical truths that reveal who God made you to be.

I am complete in Him Who is the Head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:10).

I am alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5).

I am free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

I am far from oppression, and fear does not come near me (Isaiah 54:14).

I am born of God, and the evil one does not touch me (1 John 5:18).

I am holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:41 Peter 1:16).

I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16Philippians 2:5).

I have the peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

I have the Greater One living in me; greater is He Who is in me than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

I have received the gift of righteousness and reign as a king in life by Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17).

I have received the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, the eyes of my understanding being enlightened (Ephesians 1:17-18).

I have received the power of the Holy Spirit to lay hands on the sick and see them recover, to cast out demons, to speak with new tongues.  I have power over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means harm me (Mark 16:17-18Luke 10:17-19).

I have put off the old man and have put on the new man, which is renewed in the knowledge after the image of Him Who created me (Colossians 3:9-10).

I have given, and it is given to me; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, men give into my bosom (Luke 6:38).

I have no lack for my God supplies all of my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

I can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one with my shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16).

I can do all things through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13).

I show forth the praises of God Who has called me out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

I am God’s child for I am born again of the incorruptible seed of the Word of God, which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:23).

I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works (Ephesians 2:10).

I am a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I am a spirit being alive to God (Romans 6:11;1 Thessalonians 5:23).

I am a believer, and the light of the Gospel shines in my mind (2 Corinthians 4:4).

I am a doer of the Word and blessed in my actions (James 1:22,25).

I am a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).

I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loves me (Romans 8:37).

I am an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony (Revelation 12:11).

I am a partaker of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4).

I am an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).

I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (1 Peter 2:9).

I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I am the temple of the Holy Spirit; I am not my own (1 Corinthians 6:19).

I am the head and not the tail; I am above only and not beneath (Deuteronomy 28:13).

I am the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

I am His elect, full of mercy, kindness, humility, and longsuffering (Romans 8:33Colossians 3:12).

I am forgiven of all my sins and washed in the Blood (Ephesians 1:7).

I am delivered from the power of darkness and translated into God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13).

I am redeemed from the curse of sin, sickness, and poverty (Deuteronomy 28:15-68Galatians 3:13).

I am firmly rooted, built up, established in my faith and overflowing with gratitude (Colossians 2:7).

I am called of God to be the voice of His praise (Psalm 66:82 Timothy 1:9).

I am healed by the stripes of Jesus (Isaiah 53:51 Peter 2:24).

I am raised up with Christ and seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6Colossians 2:12).

I am greatly loved by God (Romans 1:7Ephesians 2:4Colossians 3:121 Thessalonians 1:4).

I am strengthened with all might according to His glorious power (Colossians 1:11).

I am submitted to God, and the devil flees from me because I resist him in the Name of Jesus (James 4:7).

I press on toward the goal to win the prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward (Philippians 3:14).

For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

It is not I who live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20).

http://www.joycemeyer.org/articles/ea.aspx?article=knowing_who_i_am_in_christ

God’s Perfect Timing: Reflections on a familiar verse

A reader of this blog shared how she read a post much later but it was perfect timing.  God knew she needed it at the very time she read it.  I’ve always been truly amazed at the timing of God.  The challenge of waiting for a word or direction brings uncertainty until, at just the right time, God provides.

Have you ever read a scripture over and over again throughout the years and never really understood it?  Then, all of a sudden, in light of the circumstances you find yourself in–“Aha! I get it!”  God’s perfect timing!

Matthew 9:17

“Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

I’ve been drawn to the words “new” and “renewed”.  Often our lives become restricted by the responsibilities that surround us; however, God is calling us to Himself and asking us to think beyond our restrictions.  Restrictions can be in the form of a job, a family situation, a health concern, or a significant loss.

I have found the greatest restriction that I face is my attitude and thought patterns.  Try as I might, I receive a word from the Lord–new wine– only for me to pour it into my “old wineskin” thinking.  I know the verse was directed toward the Pharisees and Jesus’ work at that time; however, I sometimes feel like a Pharisee.  I am given a Word from the Lord in all it’s freshness, but my mind and body will not follow.  I have rigid ways of thinking.  This is how I’ve always done it. Restricted.

Will we live in our old wineskins, or pray for God to restore and renew?  What changes do we need to make in order to receive the new wine and expand our lives?

It’s more than thinking about it–it’s taking action!  What steps and choices do you need to make in order to truly be renewed?

I want to close with a term “differentiation of self” which comes from Bowen’s Family Systems Theory.  In counseling, the more a person can individualize themselves apart from their family of origin, the more emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy they are as adults.

Abraham was called to leave his family of origin and do the work of God. He left with the Godly heritage his family taught him, but he left. God called him out and expanded Abraham’s work beyond the restrictions he could have used as excuses.  He left and established himself in the work God had for him.  When we become adults, it’s time to establish ourselves away from our family of origin.  God has a plan that is specifically for your family. What if Abraham was too afraid to go?  What if he did not have the faith to go where God was calling him?

Changes occur when we realize God has a specific plan for our lives and our family apart from our family of origin.

“I used to try to shape my family in the image of the family I grew up in.  But my mom helped me see things differently.  She told me, “You have to create your own family.  You have to come up with a new model that works for you.” Ann Vaaler (This was a quote on a calendar for January 18/19 that I gave to my mother.  She gave the quote to me and wrote, “Anna-I love the way you and Parish have shaped your family”  Mom)

Ask your heavenly Father to reveal any old wineskin attitudes and thought patterns. What steps can you make toward change?