10.30.2017

Thoroughly inspiring!

This book.
This man.
This LIFE.

I have marveled at his "resolutions" for years, wondering how in the world a teenage boy could have such deep conviction about his faith.

After sauntering through the first 50+ pages of this fantastic biography (for you cannot sprint through a book such as this), I am even more enamored with this man. 
He was not perfect, for pride was his greatest vice, but he was willing to look honestly at himself, day after day after day, in order to know himself - so he could die to self.

It would be foolish to attempt to summarize the life of Jonathan Edwards, especially when countless authors have done a superb job capturing his ministry, his character, and his personality with paper and ink. My reading has not even caught up to his twentieth year of life, yet I am challenged, encouraged, and convicted by his intentional pursuit to understand and know his God. He struggled often with his faith, he hated the pride that ensnared him, and he battled despondency and depression. And yet, 250 years after his death, he is considered one of the greatest preachers ever to stand behind a pulpit. His first nineteen years have already stirred me up to seek harder after God, so I can only imagine what inspiration is to come after discovering what God did with and through this fascinating man during his other thirty-five years on earth!

A true and faithful Christian does not make holy living an accidental thing.
It is his great concern.
As the business of the soldier is to fight, so the business of the Christian is to be like Christ.
- Jonathan Edwards

10.25.2017

I love it - but not enough.

Make sure Satan has to climb over a lot of Scripture to get to you.
- John MacArthur

I LOVE this quote!
And I am incredibly convicted by it.

When I was in college, the Lord challenged me to memorize Scripture and I pursued the challenge with focused intensity. I had a dozen large rings filled with hundreds of verses written out on colored index cards, and I carried them with me wherever I went. I had grown weary of memorizing verses solely for the sake of memorizing. I wanted the effort to go toward passages that hit me in the center of my current struggles and sin. It seemed logical, so I became prescriptive about the verses I chose to memorize. 

If I was feeling convicted about gossiping with friends, I looked up every verse on gossip and added them to a ring. If I was battling envy or jealousy, I looked up all of those verses and slipped the cards on another ring. And on and on it went. In the beginning, pulling out the cards to read them in between classes, in the cafeteria, while waiting for an appointment, or just to be faithful to memorize the verses took effort and planning, but it was not long before it became a regular part of my day. I kept a ring of cards in my purse, in my school bag, on my desk, and in my car so I had no excuse NOT to read. Most of my spare moments were used to flip through card after card, and sooner than I had expected, the verses would float through my mind without any prompting - just when I needed them most. It was incredibly exciting, and the ability to draw God's Word from my own mind became something I wanted more than anything else.

As wonderful as it was to have dozens of verses stored up in my heart, there was also an adjustment period. Claiming ignorance of God's Word is an easy out. Any sin can be justified when knowledge is lacking. But once we are aware - we are accountable.
I remember thinking, "Wow. Now that I know fourteen verses about discontentment, I am never going to be able to justify it because God's Word will be banging against my conscience. I will be willfully choosing to sin!"
Stumbling into sin is one thing. Purposely walking to the edge of the cliff and jumping into sin is quite another.
I still wrestle with this. Even more so now because I have had an additional 25 years to memorize Scripture since my college days. Sometimes, the clarity of the verse sounds so loud and strong in my mind that I turn my head expecting to see the Lord standing right behind me! I hate those moments because it is evident that I want my sin more than I want my Savior, but I also love those moments because I can hear His words as clearly as if He was whispering in my ear, "Daughter, please. Please, don't do this! Stop your thoughts. Walk away. It's not worth it. Look at Me, and do not look away until the temptation no longer has a grip on you." I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Psalm 119:11  

Make sure Satan has to climb over a lot of Scripture to get to you.

I love my Bible.
But I do not love it enough.
The spine is still intact. The cover is not worn dull. The pages are not bleeding with ink from my pen.
I have not read it enough, prayed over it enough, wept with it enough, or applied it the way God intended. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
II Timothy 3:16,17

I want my Bible to be the most used item I possess, and it's content the largest part of my vocabulary.

Father, may the heart of Your servant who penned these words become my own ... 
I will meditate on Your precepts and fix my eyes on Your ways.
I will delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word. Psalm 119:15, 16



This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

10.21.2017

He gives us what we NEED.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; Thou hast anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. 
Psalm 23

The last few weeks have been filled with emotion, discipleship, difficult conversations, mutual encouragement, precious time with family, correction, challenges, and well, life. Because I was fully engaged in each of these things, I did not recognize my weariness and how much I needed rest. I woke up tired yesterday, longing for a nap before the clock struck 9 am. At noon, when I was making a beeline for the couch, I spotted my Bible. "Come to ME, all you who are weary and need rest," it seemed to call.
I grabbed my Bible, sat down to read, and asked the Lord to point the way.
"Psalm 23."
"Really, Lord? That Psalm is overused. How about something unique?"
"Psalm 23, Michelle. Go."
(I cannot prove it, but I have a sneaking suspicion the Lord sometimes rolls His eyes when I speak!)

Thankfully, I obeyed. And God opened my eyes to something new.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.

Why would the Lord force us to lie down? And why in green pastures? Why would a shepherd make his sheep lie down? For the same reason we do so with our children ... because they need it. They may not think they do, they may not want to, but do we care? Nope. We make them do it. And the faithful Shepherd does the same for His children. He forces us to be still, to lie down, and to rest.
There is little else do to in a green pasture but think, relax, dream, pray, and sleep. Not only does the Lord make us lie down, He makes us do so in a place free from distractions, concerns, demands, or fears.
HE MAKES US lie down.
Why?
Because we refuse to do so on our own. We keep going and moving and working and thinking and planning and striving. But what we should do, what we need to do - is BE STILL.
And once we are still, we are able to take in the beauty and quiet that surrounds us and hear the still, quiet voice of the Good Shepherd.

He RESTORES my soul.
We are restored through the quiet and beauty of the green pasture. During our time of rest, we are able to reflect on who God is, His promises, and His love. Before the stillness, we are too distracted to see where He is leading us. We are not able to listen because we surrounded ourselves with noise and cannot hear what He is saying. But in the quiet, our God does not have to yell, for our ears hear Him, and His words and commands are clear.

He LEADS me beside quiet waters.
He GUIDES me in the paths of righteousness.
Notice how the verb changes from a forced action to a willing action.
After we have been forced to be still, savoring the rest we so desperately needed, and remembering the greatness and love of our God, it is then that we are able to rise up and follow where He leads. Willingly. And with JOY.

Where does He take us when we are willing to follow Him?
In the paths of righteousness.
Because He is a Good Shepherd, He does not just point us to this place of wonder. He is right there, guiding and leading us every step of the way. Through the beauty of the mountaintops, and through the darkness of the valleys - He is always there.

The LORD is my shepherdshall not want
He makes me lie down.
He gives me rest.
He leads me.
He guides me.
He restores my soul.
Our God may not always give us what we want, but He always, always gives us what we need.

10.14.2017

Quote.

How much we ought to hate sin!
Instead of loving it, cleaving to it, dallying with it, excusing it, playing with it - we ought to hate it with a deadly hatred!
Sin is the great murderer, and thief, and pestilence, and nuisance of this world.
Let us make no peace with it.
Let us wage a ceaseless warfare against it.
It is "the abominable thing which God hates!"
Happy is he who is of one mind with God, and can say, I "abhor that which is evil." Romans 12:9
- J. C. Ryle

10.11.2017

Quote.

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain!" Philippians 1:21 

True Christianity is not merely the believing a certain set of theological propositions.
It is to live in daily personal communication with an actual living person
- Jesus the Son of God!

"The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself for me!" Galatians 2:20

- J. C. Ryle

10.10.2017

There is a better way.

Do you ever wonder if this is what the Lord sometimes sees when He looks at us?


His children, trudging through life with huge, heavy loads they placed upon their own backs, creating an unbearable burden that is so overwhelming and exhausting they cannot sustain it and must surrender to the weight of their burden by being buried under it, or tossed onto their backs because of it. 

How grieved He must be to witness such a sight when He has opened His arms wide to us,
graciously and lovingly inviting us to,
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.  Matthew 11


THIS is what the Lord wants to provide for us!

Rest.
Pure, contended, sweet, refreshing rest.

Come to ME, Jesus says.
Take MY yoke.
Learn from ME.

Will you respond?
Will you walk to the Master?
Will you lay your burdens at His feet?
Will you trust Him with the load you have carried for far too long?
Will you listen to Him?
Will you learn from Him?

He is a gentle Master, a humble Master. And His promises are true.

You need only COME.
And you will find rest for your soul.

10.09.2017

Fear is impatient. Trust will wait!

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!
Psalm 27:2

Fear is impatient.
It demands answers right now.
And when it doesn't get them, it breeds worry, assumptions, and despair.

God commands us in Scripture over and over again - Do Not Fear!
Fear not,  for I am with you!
Be not dismayed for I AM YOUR GOD.
God knows we cannot produce godly courage on our own. He knows we cannot defeat fear through our own power. He knows that apart from Him we can do nothing. So He gives us Scriptures like Psalm 27 to remind and encourage us to ...
BE STILL.
WAIT ON HIM.
LISTEN.
REST in the stillness so you are able to hear His voice.
Be COURAGEOUS.
"Courage is not the absence of fear - it is the presence of God!"

And then what does He say?  What does He PROMISE?
"And He shall strengthen your heart."
HE.
The God who created the heavens and the earth.
The God who holds the entire universe in the palm of His hand.
The God who controls the wind and the waves.
Makes the lame walk.
Makes the blind see.
The God who knew you by name when He formed you in the secret places of the earth.
The God who knows every thought in your mind and every word on your tongue before you do.
The God who sees you as you are - and knows what you will become.

He SHALL.
Scripture does not say He "might" give you strength.  It doesn't say, "He seems to have a pretty good reputation for giving strength, so chances are He will help you." No. It just says He SHALL.

But what is required of you?
Waiting.
Uncertainty.
Unanswered questions.
Patience.
Faith.
TRUST.

Seemingly impossible when you are watching a spouse slip away from this life to meet the Lord at the gates of splendor.
Seemingly impossible when a baby is born with a degenerative disease.
Seemingly impossible when the words, "You are unable to have children" are spoken.
When a spouse loses his job.
A beloved father is dying.

We do not have the ability to create a strength that will stand firm in the days of uncertainty.  
We cannot create a strength that will sustain us in the darkness of doubt and the 'what ifs.' But the Lord our God is ready, willing, and completely capable of strengthening our hearts FOR US, so that when fear descends ... clouding our judgment, causing us to forget who our God is and what He has done, making us feel totally alone, wondering if He even hears our prayers ...
we can stand with confidence and courage knowing that when God sets our feet in the fire and asks us to trust Him - in the seen and the unseen - He is standing right beside us.
" ... for He has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'" Hebrews 13:5, 6

Fear is impatient.
But TRUST - will wait.

Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

10.05.2017

Birthday BLESSINGS!


46.  Beautiful flowers
45.  Wind
44.  Sitting on the sand, staring at the ocean, being reminded how small I am, and how big God is
43.  Chocolate
42.  Sleeping in
41.  Laughing - and people who make me laugh!
40.  Enjoying a Tea Date with a friend
39.  Easter Sunday
38.  Deep, purposeful, thoughtful conversations that leave me feeling equally convicted and encouraged
37.  Reading biographies of godly, passionate men and women who served God without apology or fear
36.  Being trusted with the hurts and heart of another
35.  Listening to godly men preach the Word of God passionately and without shame
34.  Reading and memorizing Scripture
33.  Singing hymns and worship songs with my brothers and sisters in Christ
32.  Marriage
31.  Motherhood
30.  Ministry
29.  Spending time with our extended family
28.  Drinking ice cold water on a hot day
27.  Getting handwritten letters in the mail
26.  Hugs and kisses on the cheek from my teen boys
25.  Godly grandparents who prayed for me
24.  A husband who loves, protects, and defends me
23.  Forgiveness
22.  Mercy
21.  Grace
20.  Faithful friends
19.  The wounds of faithful friends
18.  Godly, older women who willingly give their time to invest in and disciple me
17.  A delicious cup of tea, a flickering candle, a soft blanket, and a good book - at the same time
16.  Friends who accept me as I am, faults, weaknesses and all
15.  Thought-provoking, kick-you-in-the-backside, you-limp-away-after-reading-them quotes
14.  Breakfast buffets
13.  Museums
12.  Huge, full, green trees
11.  Old friends
10.  Watching my children play with and serve each other
  9.  Listening to my children talk to and laugh with their father
  8.  The blessing of seven children ... six who live with me here on earth and a son who has only                         known the joys of heaven, yet continues to make an impact on the earth
  7.  The joy of being raised in the Christian faith, growing up in church, and being taught to hide                         God's Word in my heart since I was a little girl
  6.  Beautiful stationery, leather-bound journals, and "the perfect pen"
  5.  New shoes
  4.  Fun jewelry
  3.  Being allowed to serve our Orphan Care families, and trusted to know their stories
  2.  Friends and family who love us, care for us, pray for us, and serve us when we are in need
  1.  LIFE!

On my 46th birthday, these are the things for which I am truly ❤ THANKFUL! ❤

10.02.2017

Am I willing to do ANYTHING?

As I continue to read about the life of an ordinary man used by God to do extraordinary things, I am
challenged to look long and hard at my own life.
My time in prayer.
My devotion to God's Word.
How I spend my free time.
Who I reach out to, and with whom I interact.
How many of my thoughts are focused on eternity?
Do I fear man, or do I trust God?

D. L. Moody was as human as the rest of us. He was a sinner saved by grace. He had strengths and he had weaknesses. He loved people and he offended people. He had a heart of compassion and a spirited temper. He was humble - after the Lord reminded him that his pride would destroy not only himself but the work God wanted to accomplish through him.

D. L. Moody was human. Fallible and imperfect. And yet, like many men and women before him, he accomplished extraordinary things for God because he continually sat at the feet of His Savior, his Bible open wide, and his mind locked in prayer. He was willing to do little things for God, and because he did them faithfully and without complaint, God called him to do more. So I am forced to ask myself ... what am I willing to do for God? Am I willing to do ANYthing? Even when I am ridiculed, unsupported, rejected, or despised? Am I willing to do anything for God - without recognition or praise?

I want to echo Moody's words ... "I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And that which I can do, by the grace of God, I will do."
Lord, make me this kind of woman!

I pray you are encouraged by these few quotes spoken by a man who loved, pursued, and obeyed the God who put a burning fire in his heart to cry out to every living soul he met, "Do you know Jesus?" Moody could not preach the Gospel without tears in his eyes, for he felt just as Spurgeon did: “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” - Charles Haddon Spurgeon

May the Lord light a similar flame in each of our hearts!

"If you have so much business to attend to that you have no time to pray, depend upon it that you have more business on hand than God ever intended you should have."

"Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn't really matter."

"So few grow, because so few study."

"The Christian on his knees sees more than the philosopher on tiptoe. God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves."

"Our Faith must be tested. God builds no ships but what He sends to sea."

"The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible."

"If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself."

"I prayed for faith and thought that some day faith would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” I had up to this time closed my Bible and prayed for faith. I now opened my Bible and began to study, and faith has been growing ever since."

"We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won't need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don't fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine."

"Out of 100 men, one will read the Bible, the other 99 will read the Christian."

"We ought to see the face of God every morning before we see the face of man."

"He who kneels the most, stands the best."