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Knowing God and Doing Exploits: Up For an Adventure, Anyone?

In Defence of the Realm by Bernie CondonDaniel 11:32 “…but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”

What does it mean to be strong and to do exploits? Is it simply an adventure? Like one of David’s mighty men? These men were crazy awesome, right out of the heroes from The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit.

I love the idea of adventure, being strong, and doing exploits, but what about the portion that goes before? The part about ‘the people that do know their God’? How do you get to know God? Really KNOW Him? Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart: and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

According to the Mac 101: Dictionary, the word ‘adventure’ is both a noun and a verb. The definitions include, ‘an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity, daring, calling for enterprise and enthusiasm, especially the exploration of unknown territory.’

To be honest, being a Christian is most definitely unusual and exciting, sometimes hazardous, certainly calling for enterprise and enthusiasm (Rejoice in the Lord always!). Choosing to set aside your own will and trust Someone I can’t see or hear or touch is all of the above and then some!

When Jesus came into my life and I gave Him my allegiance, He set up residence in my heart and life. People talk about ‘asking Jesus into your heart’ and that’s a good thing, but the reality, the true meaning of that is surrender, submission, giving up control. It’s not just turning away from my old life, it’s turning and cleaving to a brand new and very different life. 

One of the things I love about The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit is their sense of duty. These men (and women) are heroes. They have a purpose and they give their lives for it. Another favorite of mine is Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel series. These take place during the French Revolution with Sir Percy Blakeney, a rich English aristocrat, sneaking in and out of France in various disguises rescuing people condemned to the guillotine. Again, a hero who answered a calling.

Of course, these stories are fun, fiction, but what about reality? What about getting to know this great God of ours and being strong and doing exploits? Is that real? Is that even possible today?

Yes! Sometimes the strongest thing a man or a woman can do is what’s right.

The battles today are for our values, our marriages, our children. You have the ability to change someone’s world. By loving God and seeking His will and way and doing it, you can save a life. You can participate in saving a soul.

What’s an exploit? According to the Mac 101: Dictionary, an ‘exploit’ is a ‘bold or daring feat’.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes the Lord asks me to do what seems totally counter-intuitive. At least, it’s not what I want to do. (Guess that goes back to that Proverbs 3:5-6 verse, the one about trusting in the Lord with ALL your heart and leaning not to your OWN understanding…)

The Lord called my husband to be a musician. How can a man support a family as a musician? (We have five kids.) But, my husband obeyed the Lord and He has provided in incredible ways. The Lord called me to be a writer. What? A writer and a musician and five, FIVE, kids? Yep. We’ve got a great house in a good neighborhood and we’ve never gone hungry.

The Lord called us to pick up and leave a great, big house and move to Chicago, all seven of us. Nine million people terrified me. Yet, when the Lord called us, He took away all my fear and I don’t mind traffic. Miracle anyone?

If you choose to allow Jesus to direct your path, He may take you to some crazy destinations, but He will go with you. If you choose to take the time to get to know Him, to really KNOW Him, He will make you strong and you will do exploits. You will change the world…

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Posted by on March 13, 2015 in Author in the Trenches

 

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The Challenge of Christmas

Agatha Christie Miss MarpleRecently, I’ve become acquainted with Agatha Christie’s wonderful mystery stories. So far, my favorite of her detectives is Miss Marple. She is sweet but shrewd, ‘wise as a serpent, innocent as a dove.’ She, like Jane Austen, is perceptive of human nature and sees both virtues and flaws. She notices things and thinks about them, like Sherlock Holmes. She doesn’t put herself forward, but she cares about people and tries to help where she may. Often times, because of her age and the fact that she comes from a small town in England which she frequently references, people underestimate her. Yet, it is she who ends up figuring out ‘who-dun-it’. 

“It has been said that there are only three motives for murder: money, love, and revenge,” says Carolyn Wells in her excellent book, The Technique of the Mystery Story. “The most interesting motives are doubtless money, love and revenge; but the ramifications of these include hate, jealousy, greed, safety, ambition, inheritance and many others—in fact, the whole category of human emotions.”

Indeed, the earliest recorded murder was all about revenge and jealousy. Cain killed his brother Abel because the Lord received Abel’s offering, but rejected Cain’s (Gen. 4:1-10, Heb. 11:4, and 1John 3:12). James 4:1-3 says, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

I enjoy reading mysteries and trying to ‘play detective’ right along with Miss Marple, but there’s a challenge, if you’re willing to accept it. In reading the stories, I put myself in amongst the characters, of course as the brilliant detective or one of the innocent bystanders, but am I willing to see my own faults? Am I willing to see myself as one of the suspects, with good reason? Am I willing to see myself as the murderer? Scripture says, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him,” (1John 3:15).

The most important question is: Am I willing to submit myself to God and change?

What causes anyone to want money so badly they’re willing to kill for it, to twist love so much that they would rather the other person die than belong to anyone else, and/or to seek revenge for some perceived wrong? Why do we think so very highly of ourselves? 

This is a strange thing to post right before Christmas, but perhaps not.

When do we become the most greedy? What has Christmas become but a time of getting rather than giving? Oh, we justify it to ourselves, but where is our focus? It’s not on Jesus!

What has this season become? A time of stress instead of worship, a time of taking rather than giving, a time of disappointment rather than thankfulness? We endure the holidays rather than cherish family and friends. We guilt-trip one another rather than simply loving people. Instead of prayer and worship, we fret and complain.

Oh Lord, change me. Let this season be a time of worship and love, a time of giving and cherishing, a time to be a blessing to someone else. Thank You for robing Yourself in flesh and coming as a helpless infant, Immanuel, God in the flesh, Jesus, Jehovah has become my Salvation!

Merry Christmas!

 

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In Honor of Poetry Month: Let Me Walk In Your Shadow

Rainbow In Sky by rakratchada torsapLet Me Walk In Your Shadow

by: Joyce Latta

 

Down the road I noticed

A shadow in front of me

I realized it was my own

This was plain to see.

 

As I turned

It followed me then

And kept right at my heel

As I came around the bend.

 

It was so close

Of me it was a part

Its nearness was felt

From the very start.

 

Then a thought came

Across my mind

Let me walk in Your shadow

Until the end of time.

 

Every where I’ll look

You’ll be in front of me

And follow right behind

To shield from the enemy.

 

you will never leave me

As I walk in the light

You’ll give me strength to conquer

By the power of Your might.

 

Your shadow brings healing

And deliverance from sin

Protection from without

And comfort from within.

 

O Let me walk in Your shadow

Become a part of me

Though I look through a glass darkly

Someday Your face I’ll see.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2014 in encouraging posts

 

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A Different Sort of Valentine

Every year at about this time, our pastor calls our church to a 21 Day Challenge, in which we fast from meat, sweets, and media, we commit to going to every service, and we spend 30 min of uninterrupted time in prayer to grow closer to Jesus.

I’ve been wanting more from my times of prayer. There was a craving for not just blessing, but a deeper relationship with Jesus…more. Then, a missionary came through town and happened to be selling copies of his wife’s book–on prayer! Prayer is the key to the door of a deeper relationship with the Lord, but how to pray more effectively, more…real? God is real. I want a relationship with a real Person, not a put-in-my-time, do-my-Christian-duty type prayers where all I really do is either give a laundry list of petitions or talk to the ceiling. I want God. I’ve felt His presence, I’ve seen visions and felt His power, but I want to see His face. This book was His answer. It’s absolutely fantastic–short chapters, powerful message.

Drawing Near to God: Themes on Prayer by: Cheryl Craft

Mrs. Craft together with her husband serve as missionaries in Europe. Her daughter asked her to write to her about the principles of prayer and this book was the result.

Chapter titles include: A Pattern for Prayer, Drawing Near, Set Your Affections, The Spirit of Seeking, and Life Changing Prayer, with nineteen chapters in all. I love it!

Quoted from Chapter 7, Prayer Is a Place: “It is a moment of great revelation to confess faults and sins before Him, only to discover that He loves us regardless. This is the self-revelation that has to happen before we can have a God-revelation. When we see ourselves as we are and repent, we then can see Him as He is and rejoice.”

It is very difficult for me to be this vulnerable, because I am so afraid of rejection. Yet, it is through this vulnerability that He shows His greatest love. After all, it’s useless to try to hide my faults. God knows everything, but if I am open and honest about my short-comings, the Lord can help me to overcome, move forward, and get to another level in my relationship with Him and other people around me.

In order to have any kind of truly deep connection with Jesus or anyone else for that matter, there has to be honesty and vulnerability. No one has it all together and no one is completely without fault. That’s why Jesus had to come robed in flesh and die on the cross. The ugly truth is I have done things for which I am ashamed. I need forgiveness and I need to change.

The beautiful thing is “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (I Jon 1:9). We may feel like we’ve gone too far or that we’re simply unworthy, but that’s not what the Bible says. We may feel like we can’t change, we’ll never get it right, but that’s not what the Bible says either. God’s Word says He is faithful. He will forgive us–if we ask Him to. He will cleanse us, but we have to seek Him. We have to be honest with ourselves and Jesus. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” (John 8:32). There is nothing more freeing than knowing that God considers you innocent and He is actively cleansing you, changing you into the person He created you to be. 

God’s love is greater than our failures.

February is traditionally the month we focus on love–usually romantic. Wouldn’t it be a great thing to instead focus on the greatest LOVE this world has ever known? “…God is love,” (I John 4:8).  

The two greatest things to know in this life is yourself and Jesus (God). He wants to know you and is more than happy to show you Himself. He will also help you to face yourself in order to realize all the amazing things He created you for. Who knows you better than your creator? And who loves you more? He died for YOU! But, He’s greater than your failures and your mistakes. He’s greater than death itself. And HE LOVES YOU!

This year for Valentine’s Day, take some time to spend with the One who knows you better than you know yourself, who loves you more than you can even understand fully. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God,” (Eph 3:17-19).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2014 in encouraging posts, Uncategorized

 

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Thankful for this Life–Marriage, Mommying, Making a Difference Serving and Writing

When I think about just how blessed I am, I am overwhelmed. The Lord has made so many changes in our lives recently, but even that has been a blessing.

It hasn’t been easy, picking up and moving seven people from Minnesota to Chicagoland, leaving a thriving business and precious violin students and their families, leaving our amazing pastor and church, our precious friends that we worked with and ministered to. We will always love them and continue to pray for them. Just because we are no longer in MN in person, doesn’t mean that our hearts have completely left.

Through it all, I am amazed at all the blessings the Lord has just poured out. We have a lovely home here in Chicagoland. We have a dear pastor and his family that love us. We have new friends that we are working with and ministering to. The Lord has blessed my husband with a job teaching the violin to inner-city kids in Chicago. Our kids are adjusting and making new friends and I am settling in getting stuff unpacked and put away. (Of course, I’ve had lots of help from my sweet husband and children!)

Then, there’s my writing. What an incredible thing to be able to write and publish and get paid! 🙂 Wow! I checked out my Amazon dashboard the other day and someone had bought an e-copy of one of my books over in the U.K.! Someone on the other side of the world bought my book!!! How cool is that?

I am also grateful to be able to do things like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month–50,000 words in 30 days). It’s shown me that yes, the Lord is calling me to this, and that it takes work, discipline, and dedication. I love it! (Of course my daughter finished her 50,000 words about a week ago! That’s okay. I’m so proud of her.)

One of the things that the Lord has been dealing with me is truly walking in His love and peace and His Spirit all the time. Whenever I’m writing, or cooking, or homeschooling, or looking for something buried in a box that still hasn’t been unpacked, I still need to walk in His Spirit. I can try to do everything in my own strength and get stressed out and make everyone miserable, or I can choose to live that ‘peace that passes all understanding’, that ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory’. The Lord will never force His way into any conversation. I can choose to ignore Him or include Him. When I actively include Him, I am always blessed.

The biggest thing is surrender and submission. It doesn’t matter who gets the credit, so long as the Lord is glorified. If I am willing to surrender myself, the Lord is free to work in my life and I and many other people get a blessing! That’s the way to live! That’s the adventure!

I think the biggest lesson of all is a simple question: Do you trust the Lord to keep His word? If you do, then you will see your mountains moved. You will see your desires come to pass. You will see the blessing in your life. We say we trust the Lord, but when that’s tested, with moving and job and house, do we trust Him or do we freak out and get stressed? Do you choose peace or stress? It’s your choice.

If you want to see more victory in your life, check out the book Defeat Fear Forever. It won’t work if you don’t apply it though. I’m living proof of that! However, if you apply those principles and live the promises of God, you will go beyond what you ever thought possible in your life!

As we enter this season of holidays, may it be a time of hope for you and all yours!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2011 in encouraging posts

 

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The Adventure of Defeating Fear

Well, the last several days, I’ve been having quite the adventure. I’ve been cleaning out closets! What?! Closets?? Have you ever cleaned out the closet of a little girl who likes to play dress up? She also likes to put whatever miscellaneous clothes into a pile and pretend she’s a mother bird with her nest! I’ve been avoiding this for about three years. Talk about Defeating Fear Forever!  Trust me, I went into my seven-year-old daughter’s closet with much fear and trembling. I came out of said closet several days later with about five or six (or fifteen!) garbage bags of clothes to give away (and several bags of trash as well). It wasn’t pretty, (Well some of the clothes really are. She likes pink.), but it had to be done.

Then, I decided to tackle the next closet, my almost twelve-year-old daughter’s closet.  Believe it or not, she isn’t nearly as messy. That one took only a couple of days and we emerged together with three bags of clothes to give away and only one bag of trash. I was impressed.

Why am I labeling this an adventure, you might ask. Well, I’ve learned that in order to make anything more bearable, you need to make it fun. So, we’ve been having fun and cleaning and thinking about just how much we’ve been blessed over the years. It’s also been interesting in asking the Lord for help in how to best organize stuff so that it stays neat. So far, the littlest one is doing very well keeping her clothes put away neatly. She likes it.

Yes, this post is a bit tongue in cheek. I mean, how scary can cleaning out a closet really be? Some fears are much worse, but life is an adventure and part of that is facing those things that you would rather not and realizing that you are not alone in dealing with them. Just as my Lord wants to help me in cleaning out and organizing closets (and other parts of my home), He wants to walk with me (and you too!) through situations and circumstances that are much more scary. In learning to lean on the Lord, we are made strong. We realize how special we are to God and that He wants to be a part of even the most mundane parts of our lives.

God loves me and He loves you too. He wants to help us both fight and conquer whatever dragons, dungeons, or disasters we have to face–even scary closets! He goes with us through the fire. “Sometimes God doesn’t calm the storm, He just calms His child,”  (quoted from the book, The Holy Spirit, published by Pentecostal Publishing House). There is a peace that passes all understanding. You or I may not like the situation we’re facing right now, but we don’t have to face it alone. God has a purpose and a plan for you and me.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight,” Proverbs 3:5-6. When we surrender control of our lives to Him and follow His leading, we’re much happier, much more peaceful, and so much less fearful. That’s a better way to live. In fact, that’s REAL living!

Now, onto my next closet…

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2011 in encouraging posts, Humor

 

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You Don’t Have to Be Afraid!

Romans 8:15 says, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”

When you compare the word ‘fear’ found in Romans 8:15 with the word fear found in Proverbs 14:26, “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge,” (KJV), you will see that they are actually two very different words. The fear in Proverbs means ‘reverence’, while the word fear in Romans means ‘terror’.  God is not about terror. God is about love. He is big and powerful, but He’s not out to get us.

“In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge,” Proverbs 14:26 (KJV).

We can have confidence by fearing or reverencing the Lord, and not just confidence, but strong confidence. He will provide for us, we just have to trust Him.

Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed,” (KJV).

God actually goes before us. He sees what trouble there is long before we do. He is already there and prepared for it. What do we need to be afraid of? Not only does God get there first, He goes in with us. We never have to face any trial alone. God is there. He, Himself, is there with us. Indeed, God will never fail or forsake us.

We are commanded to fear not. Who do you trust more? Jesus or your circumstances? Who do you love more? Jesus or your own personal comfort? There are some pretty scary things in this life, but we need to choose to trust God instead of what our five senses are telling us. We all like the idea of miracles, but it can be tough to be the one needing one. Yet, when we trust God, He blesses us beyond all that we could ask or imagine.

To ‘fear not’ is not always easy, but it’s good.

Matthew 10:28-31 says, “Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands. “What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries,” (MSG). Satan is out to lie, kill, and destroy. Don’t let his tool, ‘fear’, fool you. You are precious and beloved. God hasn’t forgotten you. He is just taking you down a road that you will come out shining like a diamond at the end.

–Portions of this blog are excerpted from the book: Defeat Fear Forever.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2011 in Book Excerpts, Defeat Fear Forever

 

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