Sunday, October 2, 2016

Is your phone charged?

Is your phone charged?

I bet you just looked, and it wouldn't be the first time today. I know from personal experience that I look many times a day.  Before I go to bed at night I always make sure it is plugged in, I would hate to wake up to a dead phone. Then, as if something may have changed overnight, I look at it right away in the morning. What did I do before this fear of being disconnected?  What did I do when I was out there in the world all alone, without a connection to anyone, no one to talk to on my commute, no text messages when I need to connect, and most of all no one to call when I am in danger or hurting?

I am of the age when I remember life without a cell phone (oh and the internet...gasp!)  I didn't have to worry if someone didn't answer me in a minute or two because likely they hadn't checked there mailbox (the one at the end of the driveway) or their answering machine (not in ones pocket).

Even if you, like me, remember that time so long ago you are no different than the "kids".  You are connected 24/7, and I sure notice that parents seem to worry a lot more now because they have instant access to their kids.  I could get on a soap box regarding this but that isn't where this train is going.....

Here is my real question....
Is your spirit charged? 

I can honestly say I have said these words many times in my life "I don't need a Church to be a Christian"

I also know I have seen meme's regarding this, and other statements about church goers that are not there for the right reason, don't treat others in a Christ-like way, sin (as we all do) and sadly are not going to church to plug in their soul (it is just what you do Sunday, routine, obligation.)

I am new to the Church and some of the elders and life long members said to me "be wary, others will not be as enthusiastic as you, they will hurt you"....(not some of my favorite conversations because I didn't want to believe that).  How could anyone not want to be there, charge their spirit, learn from the teachers, and feel the love of having a Family in Christ?  I didn't understand this, and I still struggle with this question. I am afraid that I will lose this feeling.  I pray daily to God "Please use me today!  Shine your light so others see you in me! "  I don't want to lose the light! I need to be plugged in! Please don't let me miss a spiritual update!

I came to the understanding lately while working with the children of the church that they have enthusiasm too, and this made sense!  They are seeing all of this through new eyes and are charged up.  I love to look into their eyes and see how they shine the light. I, like them, have a new battery.  Children (and the young in faith) in many ways have a new upgraded battery with a stronger battery life.  The battery on the earlier versions may have been used a lot and drained, but guess what, they all still need to be plugged in.

So this leads me to the question, do you need a Church to be a Christian?  Do you need an outlet, an outside source of power to charge your phone?  Do you need a connection so you don't feel alone? Do you need someone to talk to when you are hurting or in danger?  I know I do.

God is the light in my life, and I need to connect to God in his word multiple times a day.  I need his word, and prayer on this journey, he is cordless and I can reach him from anywhere, anytime...But guess what I also need to plug in and feel connected when I am running low on energy, charge my battery in a world that is trying to drain it.  I need to be plugged in as often as the older phones, every night, every morning and anytime during the day when I fear my light is going out. I need to go to Church, not to be a Christian but to recharge.

Going to Church did not make me a Christian.  When you find a Church Family that makes you feel alive every day of the week, not only on Sunday's, then YES you need that in your life.  When you get up on Sunday mornings because you can't wait to worship, sing praise and love the Lord with your family, YES you need that.  When you look forward to coffee, small groups, nursery, and being loved by strangers that become friends than YES you need that .  Church does not "make" you a Christian but it restores your heart and recharges your soul. I need this to go into a new week and Shine the Light of Jesus. I need to know that I have a connection and power to face a fallen world.

Church, be it in a building, in the streets, coffee shops, or in the way you connect in your community is needed to keep our Brothers and Sisters going, powered, and charged to shine the light of Jesus! We all need to keep charged because a dead battery will not help when we are alone in the dark. Church Family is a connection I know I need, and there are plenty of amazing sources inside the church to plug in to!

I pray that I continue to believe in the Power of my Church family, the Energy I get praising the Lord with my Family, and continue to Shine the Light of Jesus with a full charge!

John 8:12
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, " I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life"

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.

Hebrews 10:25
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Who is a Bully?

What is a "Verbal Bully"?  The definition is a negative defining statement told to a victim or about a victim.

Seems so simple to define a "verbal bully" someone that speaks words against you that hurt and leave a lasting impression of shame, sadness, and can lead down a dangerous path.

I am not a parent but I am an Auntie and known for my great love of children and their futures.  I am sure, as most of us, that growing up before the Internet, Facebook, and Texting that there was a lot less of this and it was easier to know who was saying things about someone behind their back, and it usually could be tracked back to the bully. I don't think anyone makes it through youth without some kind of verbal abuse, some worse than others.  The difference now is that parents are not as aware of what their kids are up to online, or who or what is attacking their minds and hearts.  Lies travel quickly and leave a lasting mark on the bullied individual. In this time of instant notices, and access to negative views of what makes you fit in young minds are in a constant battle with lies.

Here are a few things that I consider verbal abuse;

You are too Fat, don't eat that!
You are too Skinny, eat something!
You are to tall or too short
You are ugly and not worthy of friends 
You don't belong with this or that group 
You are too shy or talk too much
You are too smart or not smart enough
You are too developed or not developed at all
You are not good enough to be on the team, you are not cool like the jocks
Your hairs too curly, too straight, too short, too long
You are not worthy of love
You are unwanted
You will never belong

This list is such a small part of the things that others can say that will hurt.  If I were to hear a child saying this to another child or worse and adult saying this to a Child, I hope in my heart I would step in and say something.  I hope that with all of my heart that I will be given the words to say to the young children in my Church and in the places I serve to help them see that these are lies. 

I am not a parent, but I know that my friends would be crushed to hear this said to their child in front of them, and pray that their child is not being the victim of a bully or the bully. 

Here is the Big question that came to mind in a Spiritual Battle I have been in the midst of....

What Does MY Father think when He hears me say this to myself? 

His heart must break. I know with all of my heart that He does not think any of these things about me.  He loves me and I am created by Him.  Why would I disrespect my creator in this way?  Why would I speak about His child like this?

I never really knew where this verbal abuse was coming from, but what I have been learning lately is that the closer I get to my God and the more I study His word the more I am bombarded with lies.  I can be reading my Bible and BAM "you are not a good enough Christian, you have too many questions!" flies through my head. I can be leading a group of young children in Sunday school and as soon as I let my shield down (usually when I am tired) BAM "You are NOT good enough too teach the Children, you were not even good enough to be a parent, You will NEVER fit in with the parents!"  And the hardest to admit is the negative thoughts that fly through my head, out of no where BAM Self-Hate. This is painful to write but Self-Hate is really easy for me and no amount of truth spoken by friends or family has ever felt like truth to me.

"You are dumb, You are Fat (don't eat that), You don't fit in (push people away), nobody will pick you for their team...You do not deserve to be loved"  Yes these are all things that have gone through my head. I wish I could say I grew out of this kind of talk but that would not be true, these are all recent conversations. 

I have been at war with Satan as of late, it is Spiritual Warfare, and until recently I had no idea what that meant. I would have called someone CraZy if they had even talked like this.  He had me believing all of these things for so long that I didn't even believe God wanted me or loved me. Satan believed he didn't need to fight for me (he had me)...GUESS what?!  SATAN WAS WRONG! 

God picked me up in a very dark place as soon as I cried out in the name of Jesus he was there. I know that anytime  these lies start flying through my head it is not truth it is warfare...beyond what I will ever understand. I know I am a target and to be honest it stinks, it is daily, and I know that my God is on my side. I have been under attack.  This attack is not just when I am awake but there have been dreams that I find myself waking up from crying out "Jesus" and instantly praying before I am even completely awake.  

I  need to always be prepared to cry out in the name of Jesus.  

1 John 4:4 "Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world"
Psalm 145:18 "The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth"
Deuteronomy 31:6 "So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them.  For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you.  He will neither fail you nor abandon you"

He knows I am under attack but he also knows I am human and have free will to choose my path.  I must remember he is one word away, JESUS! 
I need to know that my Father hears me say these things to myself and like any parent I bet it hurts.  He knows it is not truth and that he loves me, made me, and wants me to believe in his truth. 

What I didn't understand about Spiritual Warfare was making me an easy target.  I thought that kind of talk was normal. I honestly have been my biggest Bully.  I have made my Father watch me attack his Child.

Thankfully I have found a Family in Christ that I cry out to for prayer when I am under attack.  I know in prayer I AM strong but I know also that when I am at war I need an Army to help me.  Right now I am young in my faith and as a new soldier I need to lean on my soldiers that have more experience and knowledge of our enemy.

Spiritual Warfare is real and nothing new~

1 Peter 5:8-9  "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are."

Satan may want me but all I can tell him is "BACK OFF!"  

I have an ARMY OF BELIEVERS on my side!

Cry out to Jesus and never be afraid to ask for help!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Who do you represent?

What's on your shirt, neck, wrist, etc today?  Do you wear a shirt for work that represents the company you work for, the church you attend, or the school you go to? Do you wear jewelry with crosses, or one of those rubber bracelets that says that you are supporting a friend with an illness? Do you even think of it when you put it on in the morning?

I am going to be honest, I didn't think much of it in the past.  I do remember in High School if we didn't represent our school in a way befitting the values we were taken to the balcony and told by Mr G. (A very intimidating but kind person) that our privileges would be taken away.  We shaped up pretty quick, as we did not want to lose our freedoms and open lunches. If you wore something that said Roseau Rams on it you had to uphold that standard, as you not only represented your school you represented the whole community.

Flash forward a few years (or decades) and my fears of losing lunch privileges has diminished, but I was thinking about how I represent.  I was thinking of how often people look at you and feel a connection and or rivalry with you for what is written on your shirt.  I just happened to have a Wisconsin Badgers sweatshirt on last Friday (not that I am really a fan, I like Red), WoW was I harassed at work (apparently there was a big game this weekend).  So many people asked if I was a Packer fan too?  I was caught of guard at first, forgetting my shirt had a Badger on it, and quickly felt like I needed to defend myself.  My first answer was "Umm no" then once I realized why they were asking, I simply said "My nephew goes there and I love and support him".  I could have also said "I don't really cheer for any one team" (but that would have devastating to the true die-hard's).  Sporting events are often on too late, too long, and my anxiety cannot take the stress.

So all weekend I was paying attention to the colors folks had on, were they all being judged as friend or foe by the color of their jersey?  Next I was thinking when I wear my work shirt if I act like a jerk people could Google Replenex and see that my core values are not being used in public.

SO now my mind is flying with "what do others see in me?"  I have concert shirts that I have purchased over the last year, and my cross I put on every morning.  I go to Christian concerts where I worship and sing with others that have my same values (or so I can pray).  I then usually buy a shirt, because along the way the lyrics of these artists have touched my heart.  "Grace Wins Every Time", "Jesus is my Hope and Stay", "If I tell you my story it will be of HIM"...These are some powerful statements! These are words of truth and strength.

I love wearing these shirts, and I love the response I get from strangers that have a chance to see what they say.  I feel a connection to those brothers and sisters, as they do to me, and in that moment we are not with strangers, they are family in Christ, we are on the same team!  BUT, it is not my brothers and sisters I should be so concerned with, it is those that are walking away from the Church.  Those strangers that don't know Jesus as their Savior...what do they see when they see me?  Do they see his light or a hypocrite.  I know when I wear these symbols of my love for Jesus I am representing his true love and that I am his child.  I need to carry my shoulders a little higher, make eye contact with strangers, add a smile and for sure be a shining HIS light in what may be a bad day for one of his children.  They may be searching for a light and I have his right there to shine! One little shirt that says "I'm A Whosoever" can open a dialog, and I know at that moment God will provide the words I need to represent His light.

There are days I am in meetings and just want to lash out,  speak down to someone, or "gasp" walk out (yes I have done that).  It is at those moments of weakness I put my hand on the cross around my neck and say a little prayer.  I am representing him and possibly in a room with a few non-believers I am shining His light.  I am becoming quite aware of his presents in every moment of my day.  He is not just there to get me through, I am here to let his light shine through.  I am his child, his worker, his representative, His beloved!

So how do you represent?

Colossians 3:12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

1 Peter 3:15-16
15) Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life, And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.  16) But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Chris

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Where were you...?

Where were you?

That question has been asked millions times over the last 15 years on this day.  How can it possibly be 15 years?Anyone that is over the age of 20 can remember that day and the days to come as if it were yesterday, and most of us don't remember what we did last week. It seems like only a year ago but to look at the kids heading off to college I realized they don't know what they were doing that day.  They may remember their families hugging them a little tighter that night but they don't know that for a moment on a fall day the country stopped and prayed.  The country was in grief and the stages were happening all at once.  There was denial, shock, anger, bargaining...but there was not acceptance.

I remember where I was, as I am sure you do too, and I remember the days that followed.  I remember coming out of a meeting and hearing about the first tower.  I remember walking down the stairs in the office and hearing of the second tower...the pentagon, the missing fourth plane.  I remember how quiet the office was as we were trying to understand what was happening.  I remember the silence.

Most of us didn't live through the cold war, and all other acts of war were in someone else's backyard.  We were a big, strong country, we were in control and we were safe. As we watched from halfway across the country that was our family, our sisters, our brothers...our family.  It was so quiet, I guess now you would call it shock but we didn't even have words like that.  Our hearts were breaking as story after story came out.  Stories of the last calls, the desperate attempts to escape, and the hero's that were heading towards the danger as most were trying to get away.

We know where we were, we know how we felt, and we know that many of us prayed.  We know how creepy it was when the planes started flying again and how sad we were as they looked for bodies.  We saw the hurt but honestly we were not even near the real pain.  We were not in the homes that got those last calls and the calls to follow. I am sad every year on this day and Proud to be an American when I see the local Firemen and Police standing on the corners with the trucks and flags. I have lived with grief but I don't even know how they feel, the families, survivors and friends. I can only pray for them.  I did not know any of them personally, I did not have to talk to anyone about how I felt then or how I feel every 9-11  I just have to answer "Where were you"... I was at work like most of them, but I was safe.   I was just and American trying to figure out what I could do.

So what I continue to do pray.  That day I went to a church full of strangers and prayed.  We as a country prayed...I wish that had continued.  We clung to each other, we became a family, we prayed for each other. We said God Bless America, we cried out to God to Bless us and the families...WE all believed in God and there was no holding back.  I remember the media saying it, the politicians saying it, everyone was saying God Bless America!  I believe they know the truth at that moment even those with some fear of shouting out there love of God in public they knew where they needed to go.  They needed to look to God for comfort and hope.

I saw it then but it fades in and out. It seems to take a tragedy for our country to cry out to Jesus.  I was that person that didn't dare show faith in public, I don't even know that I knew God at that time, but I know him now.  I will be praising him, I will not be afraid of being judged as only he can truly judge me and I am following him..

Where was I on that day?  I was being changed.  Our Country was being changed. And I pray that our Country can live by the promise that God will hear us as we call out to him. He is here, he know the plan, and he just wants us to follow him.

I pray for the families on this day that lost loved ones, I pray for our country, and I pray that I can shine the light that points the way to our God.

Isaiah 33:2

Saturday, September 10, 2016

What's in the Name

Wow, so I have finally after months of not believing I had anything worth saying decided to speak truth.  I am a talker, or so I have been told, and for years have been the laughter in a room.  But what was below the surface was a lot of pain, doubt, and self-hate. The light entered me two years ago in a very dark place and since that day I have been changing.  That light and that truth will be the basis for my blog.  That love of Jesus entering my life is where my life began.

I am a forty "something" female.  Due to many factors,  I have never been married, never had children, never learned how to love, and my idol was my work. All of these were factors in my life that made me daily question "Why am I here?".  How do I fit into this cookie cutter world, how will I ever explain to people when they ask "why aren't you married, why don't you want kids, do you really want to be alone in a nursing home someday?".  Yes I have heard all of those questions.

I am not a "normal" forty something women, or so I thought.  I am still searching for my place in this world daily.  I am trying to figure out where I fit it, will I ever want to be loved, and will I ever find out who Beth is?

I will travel through the truth of the Bible as I continue to write but for now I am going to start with a quick answer to "who is Beth?"

Not sure if everyone in the 70's had the little sign on there wall that said what their name meant but I did. In our little town there was a store called The Loft that sold these.  I don't remember any of my friends not having these little wood signs.  I am guessing there were those kids that didn't fall into the name file (which I am sure causes it's own therapy sessions), but there was Beth.

The meaning of Beth:
House or habitation.  Dwelling place often followed by another word to create a place. Beth el = House of God.  Beth = House or Dwelling

I look at my siblings and there are Joni "God is Gracious", Gregory "Watchful Vigilant", Joy (need I say more) and Steven "Crown"....I was a dwelling.  To be truly honest this seems like such a little thing to worry about but I did.  I didn't want to be a house and when trying to find your place in the world who really wants to be a house.

Two years ago I was at the lowest point of my life, I was searching for answers in my faith, my past, and my future.  I decided to try a Bible Study.  I did this alone, and not with a group, as I was not ready for the vulnerability of a group.  Plus in my mind the church was full of wives, mothers, and grandmothers...not me. After some discussion with S.J, my counselor, I went with another Beth, Beth Moore. "Children of the Day" seemed like a good place to start,(not sure why but I believe that God knows and sometimes he is very clear!)   Day 1, page 4..."If you know what your given name means, share it here. If you don't know what it means, consider doing some research.."  For a moment I was thinking I knew the answer, and I didn't like it, but it said your whole name.  I had never looked at that before and so goggle I did (millennial research).

Beth Ann, short and simple.

Beth = Dwelling of
Ann = Gracious/Merciful

Beth Ann, are you kidding!  I am more than just "Dwelling of..." my heart now smiled, what a cool name! I had two definitions to work with, "Dwelling of Grace" "Dwelling of Mercy".  My little house that was so sad was now filled with Grace and Mercy!  How exciting!  My journey was only beginning with Grace and Mercy!

This was such a simple little assignment but that is sometimes where God starts our story.  Little questions, little Bible studies, little ways to serve him and little families in Christ.

I am not a writer, grammar expert, or theological expert...But I love Jesus, I am a Child of the One true King, and I want to share his love and HOPE.

So that is where it starts, just a name.  For now while I am here I will love my name. I know that is was chosen for me before I was even born, and someday I will have a new name that only God knows! If he had that much love in my short term name I can only imagine what my forever name will be!

Revelation 3:12 (NKJV) "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God,  and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name."

How Exciting!