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, October 31, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: October 31, 2011                              
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

Mark 11:23
For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he shall be done, he will have whatever he says. (NKJV)

Last week I shared with you that I was back in review of a resource titled 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues. I told you that this is a book that I kept in the forefront of my library because I personally need to be reminded of how dangerous our tongues can be.  Last week we took a look at “The Argumentative Tongue."  I thought being that we are nearing election time this might be a good time to heed the warnings of this type of tongue. This is definitely a time when opinions run high and we have to be careful as believers not to offend or slander one another. If you didn’t have an opportunity to read that one, may I encourage you to do so before moving on today? This week I have been prompted to take another look at the “The Doubting Tongue.”

As a believer in Jesus Christ I understand that doubting is sin. However in my flesh I often find myself wrestling to embrace what I know. If I ever hope to tame my doubting tongue, I am going to have to learn to stand firmly on the promises of God’s Word. I also realize that knowing the promises of God will not be enough. I have to live like I believe them. Today, through this review, I am asking God to reveal to me what might be hindering my victory in this area. I think my answer is waiting in the following excerpt of Day 27, The Doubting Tongue. Be blessed.

Doubt - verb (used with object) –
1. to be uncertain about; consider questionable or unlikely; hesitate to       believe. 2. to distrust. 3. Archaic. to fear; be apprehensive about.

Day 27
The Doubting Tongue
By Deborah Smith Pegues

“Faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17). The more we declare our unbelief, the more reinforced it becomes. The more we assert our confidence in a positive outcome, the more our faith increases. Because we will believe what we constantly hear, we must take personal responsibility for what we hear. We may have to limit – or eliminate – our contact with individuals who tend to express negativity about various outcomes, goals, or results we desire.

Often our words of doubt originate out of our tendency to act in self-confidence. Self-confidence is a concept touted by the world that tells us we must rely on our own skills and abilities. This is a direct contradiction to King Solomon’s warning, “He who trusts in himself is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26). When we face a challenge and quickly assess our own ability to conquer it, we will most likely come up short – and doubting. We must be on guard not to give our doubts substance by declaring them.

If the spirit of unbelief plagues you, I challenge you to get a good study Bible and to search the Scriptures for verses relating to your area of concern. Write down a passage, meditate on it often, and memorize it. I keep a template on my computer for typing Scriptures to fit a 5x7 picture frame.

I will select a passage that is relevant to a current problem. I cut it out, frame it, and keep it before me on my desk until I solidify it in my heart. When doubts arise, I nail them with the selected Word of God. This sounds simple but it is not easy. Some doubts die hard. We must be persistent in declaring our victory.

What are some things you find yourself speaking about in a doubtful way? Is it the fear of pursuing a career or task for which you feel inadequate? The hopelessness of forging an amicable relationship with a difficult person? The seemingly impossible task of getting into shape: Perhaps you have resorted to being a Doubting Thomas who would only believe what he could touch (see John 20:25).

God’s children are to live by faith – in God. We cannot afford to get stymied in the “sense of realm” of what we can see and feel. Our doubts can deter our destiny.

Our attitudes and conversations will change when we face the reality that apart from God we can do absolutely nothing. Decide today to skip the skepticism, doubt the doubts, and believe the best!”

I too believe it is important that we understand God’s definition of faith. Hebrews 11:1-2 indicates; “It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot see. God gave his approval to people in the days of old because of their faith.” I would encourage you to read Hebrews 11 in its entirety.

Life’s Application Commentary:
“The beginning point of faith is believing in God’s character: He is who He says He is. The end point is believing in God’s promises: He will do what he says He will do. When we believe that God will fulfill his promises even though we don’t see those promises materializing yet, we demonstrate true faith (see John 20:24-31).

Our faith is in the God who created the entire universe by his word. God’s Word has awesome power. When he speaks, do you listen and respond (obey)? How can you better prepare yourself to respond to God’s Word?”

Great questions! I would like to remind you that believing that God exists is only a part of our faith journey. In God’s Word we are told that even the demons believed that God existed (James 2:19, 20). What God wants from believers is more than mere acknowledgment that He is God. He wants a personal relationship with you. He wants to show you exactly who He is through His Word. Most importantly, He wants you to surrender to and obey what He teaches. I am tired of retaking these lessons. How about you? Do you want something better? Let’s go for it. 

AFFIRMATION: “Anything is possible for me if I believe. Therefore, I will declare my faith rather than discuss my doubts.” - Pegues

Additional Scripture ReadingJames 1:6, Proverbs 3:5-8, Matthew 21:21
Book Suggestion: Believing God by Beth Moore

In Christ by grace,

Monday, October 24, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: October 24, 2011                               
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

James 3:8
“No man can tame the tongue”

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues is a book that I keep in the forefront of my resource library. Why? Because I have to return to this resource often. I have found this book to be helpful on many different levels. It has proven to be an invaluable guide as I work to have wisdom in my expression of speech. Inside the book, the author deals with many different types of tongues. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I was able to recognize several of mine within the thirty examples she provides. Within the Prologue of this book Deborah writes: “Teachers often teach that which they need to learn themselves.” I can assure you I need this lesson. I have learned that the tongue is a dangerous body part and it truly does require taming, especially if we’re working to avoid its destructive nature.

“To tame” means to bring from a state of unruliness to a state of submission. A person would have to live in total isolation to begin to accomplish such a feat with his tongue. Even then, his self-talk would probably be negative in some way and therefore rob him of total victory.” (Pegues) Recently my self-talk, along with the opinions of others, has brought the need to review this resource again. In a world that displays so many forms of opinion, we might concur that these opinions can often lead to arguments. I have learned from personal experience that an argument can often be the enemy’s tool to separate the best of friends. So, if you don’t mind, I’m going to join you as a student to review Day 6 - “The Argumentative Tongue.”

Over the next few weeks we will look at other tongues types, in no particular order. I’ll work to share some of what I’m gleaning. Should you recognize a similarity in your own tongue from the examples illustrated in this book, be encouraged. If you have “eyes to see and ears to hear” (Ezekiel 12:2) God will help you make the necessary adjustments to avoid the pitfalls. I highly recommend this resource. Be blessed.

Day 6 - The Argumentative Tongue.
By Deborah Smith Pegues

Proverbs 20:3
“Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling.”

“Unlike divisive people, whose actions destroy unity between parties, argumentative people enjoy directly resisting anyone whose viewpoint is different from theirs. In fact, they seem to stay on high alert for anything they can discuss that will get someone one else on the defensive. Never without fodder for a verbal fight, they can always depend upon any discussion of religion or politics to produce unending quarrels.

Being argumentative is a futile use of the tongue and certainly not the way to win friends or influence people. It was legendary American-cowboy-turned entertainer Will Rogers who cautioned, “People’s minds are changed through observation and not through argument.” In other words, contentiousness negates one’s ability to bring about change.

Let’s look at why people become quarrelers. Many quarrelers grew up in homes where arguing was as much a pattern as eating. Thus, they think it is normal to contend. I grew up in a very contentious environment. I don’t remember any discussions ever ending in an amicable resolution of the initial issue. Rather, it seemed that when the quarrelers could not find more logs to put on the fire at hand, they simply kindled another fire and continued the process until they tired of talking.

I swore I would never engage in such ineffective communication. On the other hand, I have a brother who always tries to draw people into discussions that often result in an argument. When he runs out of points to put forth or has no logical response to his opponents’ rebuttals, he resorts to personal attacks on their character and name-calling. He has chosen to emulate the behavior he witnessed as a child.

Another reason some people resort to quarreling is to bolster their own self-worth. They can only feel good about themselves by attacking the validity of other people’s opinions, philosophies, or beliefs and then maneuvering them into defending their position. The quarreler’s goal is not to add value to someone’s life by showing him the error of his way. In fact, Mrs. Quarreler would be greatly disappointed if her target responded, “Oh, thank you for shedding light on the matter. I will change my thinking immediately.” Why, such a concession would end the argument!

I have decided it is best to heed Solomon’s advice “Beginning a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out” (Proverbs 17:14 NLT). When engaged by a quarreler, my favorite response is to say early on, with as much finality as I can muster, “Okay. That’s your opinion.” This will keep me out of the web of contention that quarrelers are expert at weaving. It takes two to tangle. Jesus cautioned us to “agree with your adversary quickly” (Matthew 5:25 NKJV).

Most people, except fellow quarrelers, will minimize or avoid discussion with a person who is argumentative. They find it too stressful to walk on eggshells trying to limit their conversations to safe non-debatable topics.

On of the challenges for God’s children is to learn to disagree without being disagreeable. We glorify God when we remain loving even when we disagree with the views and values of unbelievers. We must be careful how we disagree lest we compromise our testimony. Surely we have the grace to register our protests without being mean-spirited. Benjamin Franklin was known to remark diplomatically, “On this point, I agree. But on the other, if you don’t mind, may I take exception.

If you have a tendency to be contentious or argumentative, remember that it costs you absolutely nothing to respect someone’s opinion – especially on matters that have no eternal consequences.”

I found this article to be both informative and challenging. I believe the time has come to understand this word “contentious” as I allow God to take me through the sanctification process. It’s not always comfortable, but in the end there is a great reward promised.  

“I will resist becoming contentious by respecting everyone’s right to have his own values and views.” – 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, day 6.

Additional Scripture Reading: Colossians 4:6, Psalm 49:3, Philippians 2:14

Monday, October 17, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: October 17, 2011                             
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

JOSHUA 3:14-16
When the people set out to cross the Jordan, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them. Now it was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the river’s edge, the water began piling up at a town upstream called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then al the people crossed over near the city of Jericho.

Too often many of us fail to recall the Lord’s goodness when we’re knee deep in discouragement. Don’t fret; this is certainly nothing new for human beings. The Israelites of long ago give us a glimpse into a generation of people who forgot the blessings they had received. We can learn a lot from them and what they lost sight of. I would be a “fool” to pass judgment on them, as I have been one of them. This devotion is actually a reminder to me as I work through something that has the potential to cause me to forget the “goodness of God” if I let it. I have a feeling that someone else out there may be able to relate to this in their own life. Some of us have been pretty comfortable up to this point, and then without warning, things have changed.  It is so easy to become fearful when we forget the goodness of God. It is my prayer that we can learn a vital lesson from the example God has provided to us in the form of the Israelites journey.

Although God had brought the Israelites out of Egypt (a place of oppression) and took them safely through the divided Red Sea, they in essence missed the boat. You can read all about this miracle in Joshua 3. The Israelites had experienced God’s miracles first-hand. They received provision, encouragement and compassion along life’s journey. However, when things began to change for them, when it wasn’t so easy any longer, they quickly forgot the goodness and provision of the Lord.

In an article titled Remembering God’s Goodness by Dr. Charles Stanley, he explains that “the Lord knew that the people were about to enter Jericho, and that by His power, they would overcome the city. How compassionate to encourage them with a tangible illustration of His strength prior to such a battle.” I believe it would be very helpful if we truly understood this prior to our battles. I am so speaking to myself today. God knows what we’re up against long before we ever enter into it.  And, by His power, we can overcome it!

A good question at this point might be; “do we really believe we can overcome?” The only way we overcome is by activating and exercising faith. The key will be trusting in that of which we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). It is really important that you understand this word “faith.” It is the key to unlocking a spirit of hope and encouragement.

I’ve been reminding myself that God is not surprised when I forget His goodness. He understands that at times I drift into a place of self-reliance and need to be reminded of His faithfulness. He sees my need to repent, change and grow. As I write today I realize that it’s time to recall the Father’s plan to help His loved ones recall the miracle at the river. In Joshua 4:3 God asked them to create an altar of 12 stones, (a memorial) representing each tribe of Israel that had passed safely through the waters. This way, they would have a tangible reminder of His divine rescue. This might be something we could do.

In Dr. Stanley’s article that I mentioned earlier; he suggests the following for creating reminders of God’s faithfulness.  He writes: “When it comes to blessings, do you tend to be forgetful? If so, try to create reminders of God's faithfulness. Some people journal; others write key words on stones and leave them in noticeable places. Whatever you do, make sure you have a way to remember the Lord's involvement in your life.” I love these suggestions and below is my journal entry for today.

Lord, help me never forget that I have received your favor when I didn’t always deserve it. Help me remember your involvement in my life. Today I recall the many ways you have shown your faithfulness. I thank you for never giving up on me. I thank you for and I choose this day to remember:

·         Your Love
·         Forgiveness
·         Provision
·         Protection
·         Encouragement
·         Comfort
·         Guidance
·         Correction
·         Rescue
·         Restoration
·         Transformation
·         Power

Please consider taking time today to recall what God has done in your life. Think about your journey thus far and choose to see with fresh eyes God’s faithfulness. Whether you journal, or you chose another form of remembrance, I encourage you to do this exercise to remember God’s blessings. And, in the future no matter what you are up against, don’t let go of truth. If you don’t know truth yet, if you don’t know the character of this God I speak of today, if you doubt His faithfulness; I encourage you to open up a Bible and ask God to introduce Himself. Be blessed my friends. God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). God is faithful (1 Corinth. 1:9) and He is the way (John 14:6).

Additional Scripture: Philippians 1:6, 2:1-30, 2 Peter 1:1-10
Suggested book & movie:  Courageous

In Christ by grace,

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: October 9, 2011                                pmcrawford1@gmail.
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

Charm is deceptive; and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Nicole C. Mullin is a Christian music artist and speaker. I was first introduced to her work at a Women of Faith event a few years back. I was so moved by her testimony and I truly respect the transparency she displayed so that others could hear a word from God. I certainly did, and it has been part of what encourages me to share God with you. 

I related personally to Nicole that day. I understood wholeheartedly where she had been in her life’s journey. And, I celebrated where God has her now. As I sat in that audience, I heard a woman share that when she was about 8 years old she realized that she wasn't right. Well, not right in the eyes of those who were more than willing to cut her down and point out her flaws. She shared that she was ridiculed for not living up to the expectations of someone else. For example, on the school bus she was constantly bullied and made fun of because someone decided they didn't like her hair or the clothing that she wore. Because she came from a poor family, she didn't always display the current styles.  As a result of her daily abuse, she shared that she was a regular bed-wetter and this created it’s own set of challenges for her.

Listening to Nicole, my heart ached for all of the people who would relate. Then, my heart began to ache for myself. I could relate to what she was saying because I too was that little girl who was criticized for having flaws. In my case it was being told that I was too short, a fatty, and not very pretty. I remembered the constant emphasis on my freckles, my hair, my legs and my crooked nose that I broke in a bike accident. I was always the one picked last for team sports, and when my girlfriends were out with their boyfriends, I was home wiping my tears and watching Gilligan’s Island. I understood how she felt. Although my pain didn't come out in the form of bed-wetting (thank you Jesus), I did have my fair share of stomach issues. I believe I was about 17 when doctors discovered that I had stomach ulcers. By this point I had little confidence in myself and my self-esteem and self-worth were at an all time low. In my case, I put on my happy face and moved through life the best I could. Eventually I found love, but I carried around a lot of scars and I never really saw myself in the correct light.  What did I miss?

The difference between the testimonies of Nicole C. Mullin and Pam Crawford is this. Nicole knew God. She just didn’t know about God, she actually knew God even at that young age. She shared that she had taken in so much of God’s teachings when she was a little girl, that she understood she could not let the junk that others threw at her reside in her heart for too long. She told us that although what she was hearing from others was hurtful at the time, when she got alone, she recognized it as lies. Can you imagine getting that? She went on to say that she had been raised in the church; she studied the Bible and sang in the choir. What I heard her say that day was that she had another kind of hope in her heart that allowed her to deflect the lies of Satan. The following are my notes of how Nicole describes this other kind of hope in her heart. I have been reviewing them as I work to become a Titus 2 woman. The kind of woman who has learned from her mistakes and desires to teach the younger women who they are in Christ. It took me 41 years to get this myself, but I praise God today that He never gave up on me even when I certainly had.

Notes from Nicole C. Mullen teaching at WOF.
Nicole was able to rise above her circumstance because she had heard stories where God had taken ordinary people and made them extraordinary. She had been taught that the same God back then, is the same God now. She rationalized if God was able to do that then, he could still do something in her. She allowed herself to have hope over what she had heard.

As a little girl, Nicole went before the Lord and asked Him to be her savior and she confessed her sins. She says that “somewhere between her ‘dear God and her Amen’ she knew that she knew that the God of heaven heard her plea.” She tells that she got up off her little knees and got on her little typewriter and typed, “As of this day I will never be the same. Jesus Christ has come into my life and he has changed me.” Regardless of what was going on or what she was hearing from the outside world, she determined that it did not have to get on the inside of her because as she put it “that place was now reserved for her hope.”

Can you imagine what life could be like if we all had a reserved spot for hope. What if we chose to allow God to help us discard the garbage that we allowed into our hearts and minds? I can testify to what that looks like to someone who held onto a lot of it for 41 years. It looks like someone who is willing to take a new look in the mirror (James 1:23-25). But this time, they see what God sees and they desire to become new from the inside out. They see a person in need of a deeper relationship with God and they work at developing it. They move beyond just knowing about God to actually discovering the attributes of the God of the Bible and they work to emulate them. They see their own heart and the portions of it that need to be transformed into a better likeness of Christ. They determine to let go of some things they have become quite comfortable in because they discover it does not align to God’s Word. And they determine to stop making excuses. So many of us have bought into the mentality that things can’t be different and we’re wrong. Being in a relationship with the God of the Bible is transforming. If you’re not already there, I encourage you to take a fresh look at Him today.

We don't have to continue doing the things we have always done. We can think differently. We can be different. With God's help everything is possible! You do not have to remain in bitterness, envy, jealousy, resentment, anger, and unforgiveness. This is poison from the enemy, a poison that I have had to work at discarding in my own life. Since I hit my knees back in 2001 and invited Christ into my life to change me, He has shown me with great clarity that if I don’t make these changes, Satan will continue to work to “kill, steal, and destroy” (John 10:10) what God has always intended to be good.  Instead, I can work at becoming a Galatians 5:22-23 kind of woman. I have not yet fully arrived, but thank God I am not where I began. I am committed to no longer allowing Satan or this world define me. There is a lot of work ahead, but I know I’m not working at it alone. By grace, I have been saved for a purpose and I don’t want to waste it. Nicole and I both understand the urgency to help women and men understand that their value comes from God. You are loved, you matter, and you have great value! Embrace it today. Determine to make changes and experience God's best.  

In Christ by grace,

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of October 3, 2011                          
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

Joshua 1:6-9 (NIV)
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.  Be strong and courageous.  Be careful to obey all the laws my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; mediate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you:  Be strong and courageous?  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Many of us desire to be confident, but fear often gets the best of us. We are afraid that we will be rejected by others. We are afraid we might fail, or that somehow we won’t quite measure up. This is the point where we must begin to challenge our thinking. This week as I am personally battling through a bit of discouragement; I have been reflecting on the command that God gave to Joshua. I think we can all be encouraged by it. Be blessed. 

Over the years I have been asked if I am afraid to step out and speak about God to others. You bet I am! Not so much today, but back in 2006 when I first began writing these devotions I experienced some ridicule and persecution for sharing God in such a public manner. This happens because not everybody gets it and I totally understand that. There was a time in my life when I didn't get it either. I made a decision back in 06 that obedience to God's Word would have to trump personal opinion. I came to this conclusion because I began to unpack God's Word for myself and discovered that His commands are clear. I have to say that the hardest part of ridicule and persecution is when it comes from someone you love. When this happens; you must not forget that even Jesus’ own family didn't always get it. (John 7:5)  And, most importantly do not lose sight of who you will give an account to at the end of your lifetime.

Confidence is linked to faith, and faith is the opposite of fear.

In order to develop a confidence in anything you are called to do, you have to allow God to empower you. I love what God told Joshua in the Old Testament; “Have I not commanded you: Be strong and courageous? Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  I believe this and I have seen God work it out in my own life. There have been many blessings that have come from obedience. And, there have been many consequences for the times that I chose to do things my way.

Before we move forward let's stop to ask ourselves a few questions.                                           
          1.       Do I really believe in God?
          2.       Am I willing to obey His Law?
          3.       Can I make time to learn and meditate on His Word?
          4.       Do I want to?

In our society, people measure prosperity and success as having power, influential personal contacts, and a relentless drive to get ahead no matter how many people they have to climb over to get there. The strategy that God taught Joshua goes against such criteria. He said that for Joshua to succeed he must be strong and courageous because the task ahead would not be an easy one. He told him to obey God’s law and to read and study the Book of the Law which is God’s Word.  In short, I have concluded that in order to be successful, I will need to follow these same guidelines. It really isn't about me at all. It’s about what God desires to do through me.

I may not succeed by the world’s standards, and not everyone will always understand my passion to work for God, but in God’s eyes I will find favor. When God tells us to go and tell (Matthew 28:19), or go and be, we might consider doing just that. You don't have to have a public platform and you don't have to know it all. God is simply asking you to be a courageous child when it comes to helping others know "the way," (John 14:6) 

Sadly, I often hear people say "I don't want to talk about God or I'm a private person when it comes to my faith.” Then, there are those who claim they are not comfortable about speaking about God, so they don’t. I wonder if they truly understand the depth of what they are alluding to. We can not overlook the words found in the Gospel of Luke 9:26 where Jesus clearly states "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."

God sent His only son to suffer the penalty for my sins and for yours. I owe Him something for that. The least I can do is use the gifts He has provided to me. I may not conquer all things, but as I face tough situations, difficult people, ridicule, persecution, and the many temptations of this world, I will remember God’s beautiful words to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous.”  I will also hold onto God's promise to never leave or forsake me. By asking God to direct our paths we can learn to conquer many of life’s challenges. Ask God today to help you build your confidence. Then honor Him by telling someone of what He has done for you.  

Additional scripture reading:   John 14:25-28, Psalm 56
Book suggestion:    A Confident Woman by Joyce Meyers

Today’s prayer:  
Father, help us to see ourselves as you see us.  When we discover something in ourselves that is contrary to your Word, please help us recognize and change it.  David tells us in Psalm 56:4 that it is important to praise your Word and to trust in You so as not to be afraid.  Help us to learn this lesson so that we can walk confidently as daughters of the Most High. In Jesus’ Name I offer this prayer, AMEN.

In Christ by grace,