Statement of faith

2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (NIV)

"The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God. To become like Jesus, we must fill our lives with his Word.
- Warren


Monday, April 25, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Print
                                                                                                pmcrawford1@gmail.com
Week of: April 25, 2011
Sharing by:  Pam Crawford

                                                      Luke 6:37
Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. 
 Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

                                                  2 Corinthians 4:16

Therefore do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

Just coming off the celebration of the resurrection of our Savior, I feel renewed in my Spirit. I think one of the reminders to meditate on from the cross, is the sin debt we owe but could never repay to our Savior. However, God’s Word tells us there are things we can do to bring honor and glory to His sacrificial name. We can learn to please Him.

Last week we looked at the steps we can take to obey God’s command to forgive others. We talked about the experience of becoming whole while we allow God to free us from a spirit of unforgiveness.  I pray you are learning something that encourages you. This week we’re going to look at another step ~ forgiving yourself and God.  Again, I will be sharing from the book Praying God’s Will for Your Life by Stormie Omartian.

FORGIVE YOURSELF AND GOD
by Stormie Omartian

“While forgiving others is crucial, forgiveness is also needed in two other areas. One area is forgiving yourself. So many of us think, I should be achieving this; I should be the kind of person; I should have done more than I have by this time in my life. I certainly was burdened by these kinds of thoughts.

God is the only one who is perfect. We have to be able to say, “Self, I forgive you for not being perfect, and I thank You, God, that You are right now making me into all that You created me to be.

Some of us have to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we have made. Before I came to know the Lord, I wasted my life doing drugs, dabbling in the occult, and getting involved in unhealthy relationships. When I was finally able to forgive myself, I realized that God could use even those experiences for His glory. I am not able to speak into the lives of women who have committed these same errors. They see that what God has helped me to overcome is possible for them too.

Besides forgiving others and yourself, you must also check to see if you need to forgive God. If you’ve been mad at Him, say so. “God, I’ve been mad at You ever since my brother was killed in that accident.” “God, I’ve been mad at You ever since my baby died.” “God, I’ve been mad at You ever since I didn’t get that job I prayed for.” Be honest. You won’t crush God’s ego. Release the hurt and let yourself cry. Tears are freeing and healing. Say, “Lord, I confess my hurt and my anger, and my hardness of heart toward You. I no longer hold that against You.”

Forgiveness is ongoing because once you’ve dealt with the past, constant infractions occur in the present. None of us get by without having our pride wounded or being manipulated, offended, or hurt by someone. Each time that happens it leaves a scar on the soul if not confessed and dealt with before the Lord. Besides that, unforgiveness also separates you from people you love. They sense a spirit of unforgiveness, even if they can’t identify it, and it makes them uncomfortable and distant.

You may be thinking. I don’t have to worry about this I have no unforgiveness toward anyone. But forgiveness also has to do with not being critical of others. It has to do with keeping in mind that people are often the way they are because of how life has shaped them. I began to truly forgive my mother when I realized how difficult her childhood had been and what problems she had faced as she grew into adulthood. We all need to remember that God is the only one who knows the whole story, and therefore we never have the right to judge. Being chained in unforgiveness keeps you from the healing, joy, and restoration that are there for you. Being released into the future God has for you means letting go of all that has happened in the past.”

Over these past few years I have been working hard to get this lesson. I am so grateful for Stormie Omartian’s willingness to help women like me understand the importance of doing what God says.  I’ve been working to be obedient to restoration in any relationship that God calls me to work in. It’s been a lonely road at times, as not everyone understands the need to experience this kind of freedom, and not everyone is willing to forgive. But there have also been victories, times when I know God is smiling.

It is my prayer to soon be belting out the chorus lyrics from Chris Tomlin’s version of Amazing Grace. I sing it all the time, but I want to own it. I desire to truly be free to forgive others, God, and myself.  Let’s work at singing these words’s together in God’s Holy chorus. "My chains are gone; I've been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood His mercy reigns, Unending love, Amazing grace."

The following are prayers in Stormie’s book that you might find helpful.

To Forgive Yourself by Stormie Omartian
Lord, I know that You have forgiven me for my sins of ____________. I thank You for Your unconditional love and grace. I am truly repentant and wish to overcome these tendencies. Now, Father, help me forgive myself. Erase my guilt and create a new heart in me.

To Forgive God by Stormie Omartian
Lord, I admit that I am upset with You because of _______________. Help me see things from Your perspective. I know You are a good God and have my best interests in mind at all times. Forgive me for holding this against You. Heal me of my disappointment.


Book suggestion: Lord, I want to be Whole by Stormie Omartian


Monday, April 18, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Print
                                                                                                         pmcrawford1@gmail.com
Week of: April 18, 2011
Sharing by:  Pam Crawford


                                                 Ephesians 4:31-32

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

JUST DO IT!

"Just do it " is definitely a phrase that is easier said then done. Last week we looked at one of Jesus’ commands to honor our parents. By the response I received, it is obvious that this is something many have wrestled with. The intention of that writing was to get us to concentrate on part b of that command, which is to obey the command so that things will go well for us (Exodus 20:12). If you haven’t read it yet, may I encourage you to do so before reading on today?

Forgiving others is probably one of the biggest challenges for many believers and unbelievers alike. Understanding why God places such value on this command to forgive others is something worth studying. In her book Praying God’s Will for Your Life, Stormie Omartian does a really good job at helping others understand that forgiveness is the stairway to wholeness. For the next few weeks I’m going to share from her writing as we explore the value in “Praying to Forgive Yourself, God and others.” I have been so blessed to learn under this teaching, and I pray that you would be open to hearing God’s voice within her words. You may not agree with everything she writes, however there are some really valid points that she learned from her own personal journey to forgiving an abusive mentally ill mother. Her book is designed to help you learn a prayerful walk to spiritual well being and I highly recommend the read.  Be blessed.

STAIRWAY TO WHOLENESS

By Stormie Omartian

“Forgiveness leads to life. Unforgiveness is a slow death. Not forgiving someone doesn’t jeopardize your salvation and keep you out of heaven, but it does mean you won’t enjoy all that God has for you. And you may find yourself wandering around outside the center of God’s will.

The first step to forgiving is to receive God’s forgiveness and let its reality penetrate the deepest part of your being. When we realize how much we have been forgiven, it’s easier to understand that we have no right to pass judgment on one another. Being forgiven and released from everything we’ve ever done wrong is such a miraculous gift, how could we refuse to obey God when He asks us to forgive others as He has forgiven us? Easy! We focus our thoughts on the person who has wronged us rather than the God who makes all things right.

Forgiveness is a two-way street: God forgives you, and you forgive others. God forgives you quickly and completely upon your confession of wrongdoing. You are to forgive others quickly and completely, whether they admit failure or not. Most of the time people don’t feel they’ve done anything wrong anyway, and if they do, they certainly don’t want to admit it to you.

Forgiveness is a choice that we make. We base our decision not on what we feel like doing but on what we know is right. I did not feel like forgiving my mother. Instead I chose to forgive her because God’s Word says, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). That verse also says that we shouldn’t judge if we don’t want to be judged ourselves.

I had to understand that God loves my mother as much as he loves me. He loves all people as much as He loves me. He loves the murderer, the rapist, the prostitute, and the thief. And He hates all of their sins as much as He hates ours. He hates murdering raping, whoring, and stealing as much as He hates pride, gossiping, and unforgiveness. We may sit and compare our sins to other people and say, “Mine aren’t so bad,” but God says they all stink, so we shouldn’t worry about whose smell the worst. The most important thing to remember when it comes to forgiving is that forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right; it makes you free.

Friends, the act of forgiveness frees us to live out our God-given purpose, which the Word tells us is to become more like Christ. We can’t do this if we continue to hold onto unforgiveness. If we allow the poison of bitterness, resentment and offense to continue to reside within our hearts, we might very well miss the blessing. Oh you might have your salvation, and you might think you’re doing just fine without that person in your life, but do you really have a sense of peace? I know from personal experience that I have not. It’s ok for a while but then eventually God stirs something up inside of you that He desires you to respond do. Many of us chose to ignore that prompting. I can tell you from experience it’s not a wise choice.

So what can we do? We can do our part. If there is someone we need to forgive we “just do it.” We don’t worry about the details. We don’t worry whether the other person believes they need to be forgiven or not. We simply chose to forgive, because God says so. On the other hand it may be that you are the one who committed the offense. The same applies. You seek out forgiveness from the person/persons you may have offended intentionally or unintentionally. The Word tells us “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). Unfortunately reconciliation is not always possible and that’s ok. God knows you’re heart and if you have a genuine desire for reconciliation, he’ll handle the rest.  We cannot control the response of the other person/persons, but we can control our own. We can please God.

Roman’s 14:19 says “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” And Psalm 133:1 “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.” Forgiveness is the stairway to obeying God and receiving the blessing of wholeness.

The following is a prayer from Stormie’s book. I encourage you to use it as you work through these steps of freedom.

Prayer to forgive others - Stormie Omartian

“Lord, ________________ has hurt me in this way ______________________.  I do not understand why this has happened, but I know that You want me to forgive (him/her). Help me walk in (his/her) shoes and understand what would make (him/her) do or say this. Help me be completely released from all unforgiveness.”

Please remember this is for you. Don’t let anyone continue to rob you from your blessing. Next week Stormie will help us learn to forgive our self and God. Don’t think you have a need to forgive God, may I suggest you stay tuned. It’s an eye opener.

Additional Scripture Reading: 1 John 2:10-11, Luke 6:37, Mark 11:25

In Christ by grace,
Pam



Monday, April 11, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Print
                                                                                                pmcrawford1@gmail.com
Week of: April 11, 2011
Sharing by:  Pam Crawford

Exodus 20:12

(12) " Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

Honoring the Parental Purpose -
I have so put off writing on this subject because I have not always practiced the first part of Moses’ instructions found in Exodus 20.  It would not shock me to learn that I am not alone in this, so I’ll just pray that together we can learn something new. I would like for us to remember right out of the gate that when Moses was speaking, it was not his words, but God’s words. Words that most of us have come to know as the Ten Commandments. Accepting this truth has convicted me to study and learn how you do this “honoring” thing, when your heart doesn’t always feel it. It has taken me a very long time to get to this place, but I now realize that I have been very wrong in my thinking. 

Like some of you, I can relate to growing up in a bit of a dysfunctional environment. Although I will not share specifics, I did grow up with a sense that my parents let me down. After my spiritual rebirth ten years ago I truly wrestled with this portion of the Ten Commandments in Exodus. I would think about my relationship with my parents, or the hurt that happened throughout the years, and I would convince myself that this Scripture could not possibly apply to me. You have to be honorable to be honored, right? I would say things like “God, you know what happened, you couldn’t possibly mean I have to honor them.” May I share the response I received through the validity of Scripture as a whole?  Because God said it, I would have to make the choice to either discard it or obey it. 

Choice to obey it, how would this look?  Maybe the wisdom comes from concentrating on the second part of this instruction, “that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” In a nutshell, I think what this says is if you desire that your life go well, honor your parents. Not because of what they have done or what they have not done, not because of how you feel or your lack of feelings, but simply because God said so. According to the Life’s Application commentary this is the first commandment with a promise attached. We have to decide individually whether the promise is worth obeying.

What was it that Moses wanted his people to understand? What is it that God wanted them to know? What does God want us to hear from His Word today?

Life’s Application Commentary:
“To live in peace for generations in the Promised Land, the Israelites would need to respect authority and build strong families. But what does it mean to “honor” parents? Partly, it means speaking well of them and politely to them. It also means acting in a way that shows them courtesy and respect (but not to obey them if this means disobedience to God). It means following their teaching and example of putting God first. Parents have a special place in God’s sight. Even those who find it difficult to get along with their parents are still commanded to honor them.”

Ok, maybe you didn’t have parents that taught you the example of putting God first. Maybe you didn’t receive affection from them, or maybe you have experienced some type of scars from abuse. I get it, I really do. But, if we’re to obey God we have to consider why He places such value on this relationship. Think about this for a moment. Could it be that one basis for honoring our parents comes from the mere fact that they have fulfilled their purpose according to God? They were the vessels that God used to give you life. The following article by John W. Ritenbaugh of the Berean helped me to better understand this statement. John explains:

“God wants us to honor our parents because the family is the basic building block of His Kingdom. God describes the Kingdom in family terms. He is the Father, Jesus is the Son, and the church is the Son's bride. We are called sons, daughters, and children of the Kingdom. We are created and being created as sons in His image. God also uses terms like "beget," "born," and "grow up." Immediately after creating Adam and Eve and announcing He was creating them in His image (Genesis 1:26), God established the first institution: the family through marriage. The conclusion is inescapable. The family would play a major role in creating man in God's image. Regarding marriage, family, and divorce, Malachi 2:15 says: But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring! Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.

The godly principles learned and the character built within the human family are, upon conversion, transferable into the spiritual family relationship in the Kingdom of God. Parents are His representatives, and we honor and revere the creative majesty and power of God when we keep this commandment. God expects whatever we learned from honoring our parents to transfer into our relationship with Him.”

I do pray you heard the words “God expects.”  When we obey God, He will bless our obedience.

Today’s prayer:
Father, forgive me for taking so long to get this lesson. I clearly see that my parents were your choice in creating me and this deserves to be reverenced. It really doesn’t matter what others have done or have not done, what matters is that I learn to obey your instructions, especially since I desire for it to go well with me and future generations to come.  In Jesus’ name, I lift up this prayer. Amen.

Additional Scripture Reading:  Joel 2:25

Food for thought:
Colossians 3:25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no
favoritism.



 “The lessons and principles learned from honoring, respecting,
and obeying parents will result in a society stable enough to
promote development of the whole person.”
                                              - Ritenbaugh

In Christ by grace,
Pam






































































Monday, April 4, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Print
                                                                          pmcrawford1@gmail.com
Week of: April 4, 2011
Sharing by: Pam Crawford 

Luke 6:27-30
“But if you are willing to listen, I say love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on the cheek, turn the other cheek. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do for others as you would like them to do you. (NIV)

Through The Eyes Of Love:
Can you imagine being new to Bible reading and you come upon this verse? Love your enemies, do good for them, pray for their happiness, and turn the other cheek when they hurt you, OMG! How is this possible? Could this be one of the reasons why people run away from Jesus? What a command! Please notice this is a command from Jesus, it’s not something man thought up.

If you have been a Christian for any length of time; then you understand this “loving your enemies” thing is only possible when you are fully submitted to the Word of God. Because love is an action, this indicates that we have a choice in how we will respond to hurt. I will tell you right out of the gate that I have to work overtime to respond to hurt and disappointment God’s way. Before I was “willing to listen,” I did not usually respond like someone who understood Scripture. The truth is it is not natural for human beings to overlook the imperfections, faults, or sins of others. We have to work at it. Thankfully, Jesus left His Spirit to help us accomplish the task (John 14:26). If we are willing to let Him teach us, we will have everything we need to obey God’s Word and love those who have hurt us even when we don’t feel like it. 

Because I realize that some of you are deep within a hurt, I want to be sensitive to your emotions. I get it, I’m right there too. However, what I have learned is that we cannot pick and choose what we’ll obey from Scripture. If we claim Christ then we also need to embrace that “all Scripture is God-breathed…”(2 Timothy 3:16-17). We are called to obey all the commands of God not just the ones that fit into our own agenda. One of the biggest obstacles to “loving our enemies” is learning how to forgive them. 

It is so hard to think of family members, a parent, a spouse, sibling, a friend, co-worker or a member of your church family as an enemy. Unfortunately, when a relationship is severed because of hurt or offense, this is exactly what we become to one another.  It is our basic instinct to put up walls when we’re hurt. What generally happens overtime is that we no longer treat each other with love or kindness, we no longer talk well of one another and we do everything possible to avoid the other person. This behavior does not align to God’s Word; so what do we do about it?

In Romans chapter 12, Paul gives us ample instructions for what God expects of a believer. I encourage you to read the entire section on love, verses 12:9-21. Pay particular attention to verse 18  “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” There is a clear indication by Paul that this is not always possible. So what can we do when we find ourselves in this situation? How can we love those that we are in conflict with?  The following are a few helpful suggestions that I have been given.

·     Ask yourself – am I doing what I can do to help the situation or am I adding to the conflict? Get quiet before God and ask Him to search you and reveal anything that needs to be changed within you.

·    Promoting peace in a relationship might mean backing off for a time being. Always be gracious when confrontation can’t be avoided, but don’t try forcing the issue. We are to speak truth in love and then leave the rest to God.

·     Initial attempts should be made, but prayerful evaluation as you pursue the process is important because not all relationships will become healthy.

·     Give God time to work. In the meantime pray without ceasing.

·     Choose to respond in love, even when it feels impossible.

·      Decide to please God above self.

Life’s Application Commentary:
Paul’s command sounds almost impossible. When someone hurts you deeply, instead of giving him what he deserves, Paul says to befriend him. Why does Paul tell us to forgive our enemies? (1) Forgiveness may break a cycle of retaliation and lead to mutual reconciliation. (2) It may make the enemy feel ashamed and change his or her ways. (3) By contrast, replaying evil for evil hurts you just as much as it hurts your enemy. Even if your enemy never repents, forgiving him or her will free you of a heavy load of bitterness.

Jesus wasn’t talking about having affection for enemies; he was talking about an act of the will. You can’t “fall into” this kind of love – it takes conscious effort. Loving our enemies means acting in their best interests. We can pray for them, and we can think of ways to help them. Jesus loved the whole world, even though the world was in rebellion against God. Jesus asks us to follow his example by loving our enemies. Grant your enemies the same respect and rights as you desire for yourself.

Today’s prayer:
Lord it is a simple prayer today. Help us to hear your message within these words. If there is someone that we need to love better, bring him or her to our mind. Empower us to obey what you reveal. Teach us to love our enemies just as you have loved us. In Your Son’s Name we pray.  Amen.

Additional Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22, Ephesians 4:32, Matthew 6:14-16

Book Suggestion: Who’s Pushing Your Buttons? Handling the Difficult People in Your Life by Dr. John Townsend.

In Christ by grace,
Pam