#YestoGod Wholly Commited

As I was debating on which blog topic I wanted to write about this past week, it was clear to me after I went to church on Wednesday night. My Pastor talked about taking up our crosses and following him from Matthew 16:24-28. So I knew that wholly committed would be my topic.

One thing I have found to be interesting about this #YestoGod journey & Bible study that I started is that it came shortly around the time I made 2 decisions. The 1st was that my ‘one word’ for the 2nd half of 2013 would be “surrender” and the 2nd is that I decided to get re-baptized.

You can watch the video here. 🙂

Making the decision to get re-baptized is not only a beautiful symbol of surrender, but it also shows that I made a commitment to follow him publicly.

One of the things that my pastor mentioned that I made note of was that the word deny means to disown one self or own interests. So we have to make a daily decision that will either yield to the spirit or give into our fleshly desires – which is me most of the times. It also means that we need to be putting the things of God and His kingdom 1st. 

Surrendering or denying myself has been difficult because my crazy flesh keeps wanting to get in the way. I’m also used to being independent that it has been hard to let go of certain things that I feel I should be able to handle. But as previous experience has taught me it is in those small things that I need Him most.

He also said that the “cross” is a sign of commitment and when it says to “deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”, Jesus is saying that we need to lay down our own will and take up “our cross”. In order to take up something we must lay something down.So in other words, we must lay down our own plans, desires, wishes and “take up” God’s calling, purpose, plan & will for our life. 

That is why I think this whole SURRENDER & YES TO GOD is so interesting. Especially since I’ve been saved for over 23, but I haven’t always been committed to God and His plan for my life. My journey has had many ups and downs and gone down many roads I wish I had never gone. But at the same time, if I hadn’t, I never would have had the pleasure of knowing that God “works for the good of those who love Him”. (Romans 8:28 NIV). Plus, it wouldn’t have shaped me into the person I am today.

The above post is in response to the  Yes to God Blog Hop week 3


Welcome to my blog & the 1st post for the online bible study for What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst hosted by Melissa Taylor through Proverbs 31 ministries.

For this weeks topic, I chose #3 #PalmsUp.
In the bible study section at the end of the chapter Lysa asks, “What is holding you back from going deeper in your relationship with God?” List one or more things you sense holding you back (fear, intimidation, time, lack of confidence, etc). Use your bible study tools to find scriptures that will help you apply God’s truth in this area. Determine to release, surrender, and move forward with #PalmsUp receiving all God has for you.
I first chose this topic when the OBS email was sent on Sunday. I hadn’t even read the 1st chapter yet, but I already knew this is the one I wanted write about. It was mostly due to the word “surrender” – which happens to be “My One Word” this year – or at least this 2nd half of the year. I didn’t chose my word until mid June, but the Lord has definitely confirmed my choice. 
Then last night at mid week Bible study at church, my Pastor spoke on “What Is In Your Hand?” He talked about how God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt & Moses told him how he was unqualified. Then in Exodus 4:1-5 God asked him “what is that in your hand?” And Moses said a rod. God told him to cast in on the ground and when he did it became a serpent. 

My pastor said that it wasn’t until Moses released what he was holding onto that God was able to finally bring it to life. God can’t use anything we are tightly holding on to.

For me, I believe that fear is one of the things that keeps me from going deeper in my relationship with God. Fear is very paralyzing and it is also the opposite of faith. I know deep down that I need to trust God more – especially in the areas of finances & my future – so that is why I chose the word SURRENDER. I want to surrender those fears to Him, let go off those things that I’m trying to hold on too tightly and live my life with my PALMS UP ready to receive what it is that God wants to give – or take away – as the case may be.

I wanted to share a few of my favorite quotes from Chapter One that really stood out to me.

In this first one, I love that she says we don’t need perfect circumstances or the perfect religious attitude or all the answers. We just have to surrender – there’s my word – all that’s clamoring for attention in our heart.

You don’t need perfect circumstances to be a woman who says yes to God. You don’t need the perfect religious attitude or all the answers to religious questions. You simply have to surrender all that’s clamoring for attention in your heart with the answer God is longing to hear spill from your lips, “Yes, God.” – p. 13 &14

This is a great quote on radical obedience.

You may be surprised to discover that radical obedience is not really that radical. It is really biblical obedience – but we’ve strayed so far from biblical obedience that it now seems radical. Then a little further down that paragraph, Lysa says, we will never experience the radical blessings God has in store for us without radical obedience. It is the road that leads to blessing. It is what happens when women say yes to God– p. 18

And here is another one with my word “surrender” along with radical obedience.

Saying yes to God isn’t about perfect performance, but rather perfect surrender to the Lord day by day. Your obedience becomes radical the minute this desire turns into real actions. Radical obedience is hearing from God, feeling His nudges, participating in His activity and experiencing His blessings in ways few people ever do. – p 19 

The following is a screenshot from my iPhone the quote about “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” I’ve seen it posted in emails and on FB and I just love it because all the people that did great things for God in the Bible were just like you and me. Imperfect with our flaws & maybe even a past we’re not too happy about, but the great thing is God loves us and will use us despite our human imperfections. All we have to do is being a willing vessel and follow Him wherever he wants to lead us.

Stressed Less Living Bible study, week 2

If you are visiting from the blog hop, welcome & if you are not from the blog hop, this post is part of an online Bible study called, Stressed Less Living, though Melissa Taylor of Proverb’s 31 ministries.

This is my 1st blog post for the study & it is the actually the easiest chapter for me to comment on because I can actually relate to Tracie in the fact that stress can take it’s physical toll on the body.

To briefly share, I had my gallbladder removed back in 2008 & during my recovery, I ended up going through a really stressful time. I found out the church I was attending was teaching some some unbiblical doctrines that I just couldn’t handle & I spent the next 7-8 months praying, seeking God’s will & gaining enough courage to leave the church.

Fast forward 3 years, in February of 2011 I ended up quitting smoking after being a smoker for about 17 years. I had been wanting to quit several times before that, but I’d quit for several months and then I start back up again because of stress or other problems. However, this time what changed is that I ended up with bronchitis & then pneumonia, which made it virtually impossible to smoke. So I decided this would be a good time as any. I tried using the patches & gum for the 1st couple weeks, but basically quit cold turkey after that because I was having a bad reaction to both. Overall, it wasn’t too bad, but let’s just say that it’s only by the grace of God that I didn’t harm anyone in the process. LOL!!

By May, I noticed that I started having bad digestive issues. At first I thought it was because of having my gallbladder removed, so I was watching my diet more closely for anything that I may be eating that is either high in fat or spicy, but it didn’t seem to help. Then I thought that it may be a food intolerance, so at 1st I started with dairy products, but it only helped some. But after doing some research, I thought it may be a gluten/wheat sensitivity. So, I made an appointment with my doctor & had a blood panel done & it came back with a “possible” wheat intolerance. She wanted me to go on a gluten free diet for several months to see how it would affect me, but after going on it for several weeks I decided it wasn’t for me. It was getting to be expensive on a low budget & having to check every label. Plus I DON’T COOK!!  Talk about stressful. I talked to my doctor & asked to be scheduled to test for celiac disease. I just wanted to be sure before completely eliminating it & committing to something I didn’t have to. So that October I had a small intestinal biopsy to check for celiac, but the test came back negative. I was then diagnosed with IBS, just like Tracie (see p 54). BTW, add on some more stress from doctor visits. YAY!!

Well, my symptoms over the next year just kept getting worse & by October of 2012, I was becoming a social recluse because of my digestive issues. I was missing several days of work each month. Plus, I also had to take a break from being a choir member at church because I was missing practices and oversleeping on Sunday mornings. After finally having had enough, I went back to my doctor because I noticed that I had slowly developed anxiety, which also lead to mild depression. I had been doing some research and finally came to the conclusion that stress was the culprit & my health was suffering for it. Since there really isn’t any kind of official test that the doctor’s can do to check for stress related illness, you basically have to rule out the “symptoms” to find the cause. I did, however, have my doctor test my thyroid to make sure there wasn’t any issues with it because a couple of the symptoms I had been experiencing matched the diagnosis. But all my blood work came back negative.

So, just 2 months ago, my doctor put me on an low dose anti-depressant for the anxiety & by the grace of God, it actually has been helping me. I really didn’t want to have to go on an anti-anxiety/depressant medication, but I was desperate & I submitted the situation to God before seeing the doctor. So I believe that He can use anything that we submit to Him for His good and perfect will for our lives. I’m not 100% yet, but for the 1st time in a long time I’m getting my hope back & I’m able to spend more time in the Word without being tired, fatigued or too frazzled to concentrate.

I also believe that God’s timing is soo perfect – if I could just remember that & trust in it – because the fact that this study coincided with me starting this medication 2 months ago is only proof that all things work together for good and I am determined to see this study through. 🙂

See Ya Mediocrity!

This is my first blog post for the GREATER study through Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible Studies.

If you are visiting & not a part of the Blog Hop, you can visit Melissa Taylor’s website for more information

For this blog post I chose, “what would a “greater” life for God look like to you?”

Before I answer that question, I wanted to give you a little background and tell you why I was happy to learn about this book and the online bible study.

I’ve been a Christian since I was 15, but became a prodigal after my parents separated when I was 18. It would be another 12 years before I end up rededicating my life to Christ & going back to church. I was an active member in the church for 4 years (2004-2008). However, as my knowledge of God and the Bible increased & after a series of events that transpired, I became grieved because I found out the church I was a member of was full of doctrinal errors and false teaching. I officially left there in August of 2009 & spent the next 4 months figuring out where God would have me go next.

I visited several churches and even watched a few online. Then I finally found one I was interested in after watching their Christmas play online & thinking how awesome it would be to be a part of it. It would be another couple months before I actually set foot in the church, but when I finally did, I knew I was where God wanted me after the service was over. Especially when the speaker – who was also the worship leader at the time – answered the very question that I had been asking God about days prior. In July of 2010, I decided to take their membership classes and even joined the choir. I’ve been a happy member ever since, however, there is still a sense of wanting to do more with my life that just working a full-time job, M-F, with weekends off & attending church twice a week.

I’m also single and I’ve been struggling with this issue for quite awhile now. Especially since I feel like I waste too much of my free time – evenings & weekends – on trivial pursuits or nothing of real eternal value. It wasn’t until recently that the story in John 5 about the lame man near the pool of Bethesda really spoke to me.

See, I just turned 38 and even though I don’t have a physical infirmity that has kept me paralyzed, I do have fears, doubts and insecurities that have kept me paralyzed from fully pursuing everything that God has for me. I like how the man makes an excuse when Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well. I feel the same way in that I make excuses for why I feel stuck & can’t move forward in my Christian walk. And it’s at this time right now in my life that I sense Jesus is saying to me, “Get up & walk”. That is why I was so happy to hear about this book and study because I believe this is the perfect timing for me to start doing GREATER in my life.

Especially since I have been struggling with bouts of anxiety and depression for several months. I’ve literately felt like giving up and not trying anymore. I’ve looked back on my life and where I’ve come from, and even though spiritually I am grateful because I’m not who I used to be, in the physical I’m very unhappy.

Last year in February I quit smoking & because of stress, lack of physical exercise & poor diet, my health started decreasing & I started suffering from bad digestive problems.. In October of last year, I had a procedure done to test for celiac disease, however the results came back negative. But after a follow up, the doctor concluded that it must be IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). At first my symptoms weren’t that bad and manageable, but as the months progressed, it started getting worse and worse. Then in May of this year, the Lord led me to a conference where Sid Roth was speaking & I sensed the Lord telling me that He would heal me. So toward the end of the meeting I went up to have hands laid on for healing, However, I would later learn that this would be a gradual healing, not the instant that I was originally hoping for.

Then, about a month ago, I decided to take a break from the choir, mostly because my digestive issues seemed to be getting worse, not better. The frequent attacks caused me to become less sociable. So, even though I believed God was (IS) going to heal me, the enemy kept flooding my mind with doubt and unbelief, which I believe is what led to my anxiety and depression. The worst part is that stress makes my symptoms worse, so it just ends up being a vicious cycle. I also started seeing a prayer counselor around the same time I stopped attending choir for encouragement and I’m slowly starting to get my life back on track.

My main prayer for this study is that God will use it to further encourage me to not give up and start dreaming big again.

Now to answer the question, what would a “greater” life for God look like to you?

1. To take back everything that the enemy has stolen
2. To live life with confidence, boldness & strength in the Lord and not shrink back because of  fear, insecurity or shyness.
3. To have better faith to trust God for the impossible.
4. To be able to be a better witness to my circle of influence & share my faith without fear.
5. To FINALLY be able to attend She Speaks after 3 years of trying in order to pursue my dream of being a writer.

If you are visiting from the Blog Hop, thank you for taking the time to read my post & I would appreciate your prayers as I continue on my way back to health and the GREATER life that God has for me. 🙂

A Confident Heart – Week 2

I just completed week 2 of the online Bible study of ‘A Confident Heart’ by Renee Swope, hosted by Melissa Taylor. It’s not too late to join if you’re interested. Just click on her website here & sign up.
The assignments for week 2 are posted here – http://melissataylor.org/2011/09/24/a-confident-heartweek-2-2/
1 John 4:16 (27 kb)
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him (her). 1 John 4:16
I really enjoyed chapter 2 & there was a lot of good information in it, so I just wanted to post a few highlights that I learned this week. Just a fair warning, it is a little long. 🙂
The title of Chapter 2 is called, “Because God’s Love is Perfect, I Don’t Have to Be”.
In this chapter she talks about pretending. We “tell people we’re fine even when we’re not, because we want to be fine“, . I love what she says here on page 31, “Although we tell people we’re fine, what we really mean is that we are Frazzled, Irritated, Neurotic & Exhausted”. Amen!!
Here’s something else she says about pretending on page 32, “Pretending leads to hiding and isolation. What we need is someone who will pursue us and accept us even when we’re flawed. Yet most of us doubt anyone would ever stick with us if we let them get too close. So we put up walls and hide our struggles, even from God, hoping we’ll convince Him and everyone else that we’re fine“.
I know I can relate to the above statement. There are many times in my life where I’ve felt I was better off just hiding my struggles from people because I wasn’t sure how they were going to react. Maybe it’s because I’ve listened to the lies of the enemy for too long. Especially when I was younger & wanted to be accepted by others. So I put myself out there & then I get rejected. So, as a defense mechanism, as I grew older it was easy to put up walls to keep myself hidden from others.
She then goes on to talk about Sam aka the Samaritan woman & how it is one of her favorite pictures of God’s pursuit of us. It really is a good example of how God pursues us, if you think about it. John 4:4 tells us that Jesus “had to go through Samaria”. Renee writes, “Jews considered Samaria to be the scum of the earth. Usually if they were near Samaria they would travel around it – but not Jesus. He had to go through Samaria, because He knew Sam would be there.” (page 36) I also loved this statement further down , “Jesus met Sam in one of the loneliest parts of her day. In the same way, He is there waiting for us in the midst of our imperfect lives, when our pain & failures confirm our self doubts.
Now, on the previous page (35) she states that “many theologians believe that instead of avoiding the scorching heat of the sun, she went to the well at noon to avoid the scorching pain of others’ rejection and judgement.”
I know I can relate to that last statement. There have been many times in my life when I have gone out of my way to avoid others because I may have to deal with either their rejection or judgement.
I love this statement on page 37, “If you’ve ever doubted God’s personal pursuit of you, let this truth sink in, my friend: wherever you are, He wants to meet you there. He is waiting for you to stop, come up close, and turn your heart to listen to His. You don’t have to pretend things are fine when they aren’t. He knows what is going on in your thoughts. Nothing could keep Him from wanting to be with you.”
That statement is so true. It’s one thing I love about Jesus. I don’t have to pretend with Him. He already knows my pains & struggles. He knows when I’m hurt, upset, worried or fearful. He’s not like others who may reject or judge me. The only thing I have to do is accept His invitation to stop & be willing to meet with Him.
Here are a couple of statements from pages 40 & 41 that stuck out to me.
On page 40, Renee gives the definition of the word “KNOW”. The greek word is yada, which means a deep emotional experience; a bonding between two people when one truly feels the emotions of the other. Jesus knows your pain, fears, doubts, and disappointments. He understands your dreams and desires. (p. 41)
“Although some of us feel uncomfortable that God knows so much about us, it is good to be known, to be listened to and not judged. Jesus is the only One who can meet our deepest needs to be accepted and delighted in simply who we are.”  (p. 41)
By offering Sam eterenal life, (see John 4:13-15) Jesus was offering her the gift of His Holy Spirit, who would cleanse her sins. But even more than that, it would lead her into a relationship where she could know the one true God and be known by Him.”
Christianity is the only faith that offers a relationship with the living God. We don’t just know about our God; our God wants us to know Him.
On page 42, Renee talks about our image of God. She states, “Oftentimes our image of God is shaped by early childhood memories and perceptions, good and bad.” She goes on to talk about how her perception of God was based on her image of her own father. She states that she “perceived God as distant, unavailable and unapproachable.” Which I something I could totally relate to.
I was closer to my dad than my mom growing up, maybe because he seemed like the ‘fun’ parent & my mom was more “stern.” Usually if mom said no, I would go to dad & try to pursuade him into saying yes. So, when my parents seperated when I was 18 – 3 years after getting saved – it was heart-breaking & devastating. I went through my “prodigal daughter” phase & tried distancing myself from God. When I did finally come back to God, I felt like I had to “prove” myself worthy of His love and acceptance. Even though I was the one who distanced myself from God, I felt that if I didn’t behave the right way or do the right things, that God would leave me also.
It’s taken me several years to finally accept God’s love & mercy & not have to try to earn or accept it. It’s very freeing & liberating when you can get to that place, knowing you don’t have to stay on God’s good side for Him to love you. Or ever have to worry that you may do or say the wrong thing that will cause Him to leave or abandon you. His word says that He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
I love what Renee says on page 43, “A personal relationship with God sets us free to be all we were created to be. As children of God we were designed to find our identity, our significance, and our confidence in Him.”
Further down she says, “The only way we’ll have a confident heart is if we move beyond knowing about God to knowing and relying on Him – depending on His Word with our whole heart, mind and soul.”