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Welcome, Holy Spirit

Have you thought about the Holy Spirit? God’s Holy Spirit?

Francesca Battistelli’s song “Holy Spirit” greeted my mind this morning as I awoke. Maybe because I’ve been practicing the harmony for it for Sunday’s worship.

It caused me to think about the words more carefully, probably far more than I ever had.

“Holy Spirit, you are welcome here. Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for. To be overcome by Your presence, Lord.”

Friends, is He really welcome? Do we only ask for Him to be present when we remember or when we pray in church? Is He just for the ‘feel good’ moments of worship?

I have noticed that we ask the Holy Spirit to join us at certain moments, mostly in prayer, but forget to start and end our days welcoming Him into our lives.

“The Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost, from Old English gast, “spirit”) is the third divine person of The Trinity: The “Triune God” manifested as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; each aspect itself being God.” – Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology

God’s Holy Spirit is an extension of God. While we cannot see Him, Jesus told His disciples just who the Holy Spirit was and is at the Last Supper in John 14:26. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”

The Holy Spirit is so much more than just God’s Helper. The Holy Spirit is God’s power in action, His live and active force (Micah 3:8). He is God’s breath (Habakkuk 2:19); the wind (Genesis 8:1; John 3:8); God’s hands and fingers (Luke 11:20; Matthew 12:28).

I could write on the many characteristics of God’s Holy Spirit and never really scratch the surface. He is so much more than our words could express.

My point in all of this is to bring our minds to this realization: we tend to invite the omnipresent Holy Spirit to join us at times most opportune for us, mostly in church worship.  We forget that we have the privilege of His presence every. moment. of. our. lives.

We can invite Him into our everyday lives, moment to moment. Ask Him to be in all things we say and do, in every aspect of our existence.

Know that in our asking, it isn’t “one and done”. The Holy Spirit is like a gentleman, He won’t go where He isn’t welcomed. We must ask and invite him daily.

Welcome the Holy Spirit like your oldest and dearest friend, because He is just that. Ask Him to inhabit your life, your prayers, your praise, your worship, your home, your church, your community – each day. Ask Him to dwell among you, to come upon others and to ignite your heart with His holy fire. And, thank Him for His presence in your life.

We may not always “feel” the Holy Spirit’s presence like we wish, but we can be assured that we have been given a Helper, Comforter, Counselor, Advocate, Guide, Teacher, Witness, and Spirit of Truth.

Welcome to this day and into our hearts, Holy Spirit. Please align our hearts with God’s Word, convict us of our mistakes, and guide us to make holy choices for His kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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Resolutions

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I’m not normally a New Year’s resolution kind of a person. I believe that we need to make goals and strive to accomplish them year ’round.

However, I’ve decided to change that for this coming year. I am making my first goal my most important one to accomplish for the entire year. Call it a resolution, if you must.

A resolution, by its’ definition, is a firm decision to do or not do something; the quality of being determined or resolute; the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter. It means to loosen, release and/or resolve.

So, with that in mind, I share my 2017 Resolution with you. I resolve to allow myself to be set apart as God wills it in my life, knowing that it will separate me from people I want in my life or want to get to know better.

I assure you that this is a positive change for me. It means that I will let go of the “need” to make people like me, especially the 56 people at church whom I struggle internally with knowing they absolutely do not like me at all. I’ve also decided to pray for each one of these people by name as the Holy Spirit guides me.

So, how do the two of those actions go together? They are a release of the “Why don’t they like me? What did I do wrong? What is wrong with me? Why does soandso talk about me that way?” negative self-talk that takes up so much of my mental space. The release of all that combined with holy prayer on behalf of nay-sayers and detractors is what we are called to do.

Matthew 5:44 – 47 says “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even Gentiles do the same?…”

I’ve wasted precious time in a needless mental struggle that has unwittingly become my idol because it has come before God and permeated my daily prayers. Now is the time to do a new thing, give this struggle entirely to God and pray for the people instead of the situation itself. And also give myself the grace to let go of it all as He sets me apart to do His perfect will in my life for His glory.

What change will you make for God’s kingdom in your life in this new year?

Provisions

The day started off as a regular day. I got up, showered, dressed, fed the dog and small child, got her ready for school, made her lunch, and took her to her first day of preschool. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Then I went to a popular box store to get a few things before I went to the grocery store. Which I never made it to. Because something irregular happened there.

As I was shopping, reading the labels intensely in the cracker aisle, a man approached me from the back of the store and asked if I could help him. He showed me a receipt and a store gift card and asked me if I would be willing to use this legit card to make my purchases but give him $100 because he had to go to court in an hour and needed money to pay his court costs.

I looked at the receipt that he had used earlier that morning to return an item worth $110 and saw that the card had over $116 on it. He said that I could keep the extra $6 and change as a good will gesture. I asked him if he had asked anyone else to assist him. He admitted that, yes, he had asked another lady but she said no.

Hmmm, I thought.  Interesting.  I wonder why she didn’t just help him.

My heart wanted to help him. I almost said yes. I’ve been in tough spots like his (not exactly his, but similar) and knew the desperation of not having enough and trying to find a way to make it all work out legally. I knew the life of not enough and struggle.

And then I heard my mouth say, “I want to help you but I need to think about it. Can you give me until the next aisle to give you and answer?”

My brain exploded with “What? Just help him? What if he is honest and really needs help? What would God want you do to here?” He said he had lots of time and he would see me over there at the next aisle.

Just as he walked away, I turned the other way to see a lady with her cart near mine and a man standing near her. The man said “I am a police officer. Don’t do it. It’s a scam.” The lady seconded his statement. I jokingly asked him to pretend to be my husband and help me refuse the first guy because I was a little uncomfortable. He said, “Sure” and walked down the aisle to presumably find the guy.

I thanked the lady for sharing her hubby with me and she said, “He’s not my husband, I don’t know him. We just overheard the whole thing and didn’t want you to get scammed.”

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Big fat, hairy goosebumps jumped up all over me. The “police” man came back with a manager in tow, telling him everything that had transpired. And then, right behind me, the first guy came back!  I just turned and told him that I couldn’t help him, I wasn’t comfortable with it. The manager got a good look at him. The guy left. I told the manager my story and the other two corroborated it. Everyone left. End of story? No, God always finishes what He starts in His ultimate protection.

Not even thirty seconds later, an acquaintance from church walked by and I greeted him.  I was still a bit stunned and joked that he should have been there a few minutes earlier.  I shared the story with him and he asked if I wanted him to walk with me, but I declined.  His presence was comforting, knowing that I knew someone there in that moment.  I was just amazed at the timing of it all.

Just then, the manager came back with a lady from security and my friend left. As we fleshed out the story with further details. I start to shake with a bit of fear, which is not like me. I normally get mad and am ready to fight. Not today. I felt vulnerable. Exposed. Scared to move.  But, nothing bad had really happened to me.  I was so confused.

	 Fear, fright, shadow on the wall

After the manager and I explained the events again, the security person revealed that it most likely was a scam and that if I had helped the man, it would have erased the trace of money flow.  That freaked me out even more. I forgot why I was even in the store at that point.  They continued on to look for him again.

I had to muster the strength to get to the milk aisle and remember that I still had my shopping list in my hand. I was so distracted and absent-minded that my shopping list looked like it was written in a foreign language.  I knew I needed to leave the store.

As I was a few aisles away from the checkout counters, the manager came back and approached me again to let me know that the guy had left the store.  I felt a bit of relief.  Not much, but enough to keep walking.  He escorted me to the checkout lanes.  We chatted some more and I thanked him for being there.  I then remembered another tidbit of information, shared it and went to leave.

As I walked to one lane, a clerk waved at me to join her at another lane to check out.  I was a tad bummed because the lady at this checkout was one of my favorites and I hadn’t seen her in a while.  But, I went anyway.

As we were chatting about my shopping experience, she asked if I was ok.  I told her that I was working on it.  After a few more questions, I revealed my earlier experience and she said, “He was in here yesterday doing the same thing!”  I started shaking more.

Our conversation brought out even more details about his appearance that was worth noting to the manager so I urged her to call him and share it.  She said she would and went to get the head security person to walk me to my car.  I don’t think I have ever been so afraid to walk to my car before, but the staff were more than willing to assist me to ensure I felt, and was, safe.

What is the point of me retelling this whole escapade?  Do you see it?  God’s protection and provision!  I questioned myself for not helping the man outright and two people came to aid me before I knew I needed it. The manager got a first-hand account and sight of him and I was never left alone in the store or premises.  Even the checkout lady had a piece of this puzzle to add to its’ conclusion.  God covered me from start to finish in His complete provision.  I was never alone.

God covered me from start to finish in His complete provision.  I was never alone.

It is so easy to feel alone, especially when bad things (or potentially bad things) happen to us.  But, we aren’t.  God is always with us.  He may not prevent something from happening but He never leaves us.  I have been praising God since that time.

1 Corinthians 10:13 states “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

And 2 Thessalonians 3:3 says, “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

I will say, I am not ready to go to the grocery store just yet, but I will do that later in the afternoon when I’m not alone.  And when I do, I will be holding a piece of paper in my hand from Isaiah 41:10 that says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Friends, God is always with us. His Word says so!

Clout or Confidence?

Image: David Flaherty

Sweet Friends,

Can you think of a time when you might have shared in conversation the busyness of your life?  I think we do that a lot almost every day.  One person shares that she feels overwhelmed with having to do A, B, C and we share that we have that and X, Y, Z to accomplish.  Most times, it is in a conversation where we are hoping to share a frustration of having too much to do but it might be construed as having a full plate, being too busy or just boasting.  Did I step on a pinky toe?

Our hearts don’t want to admit that we might be using our busyness as clout, sort of a mommy business card that outlines all of the many things we do in one day to keep our family alive, fed, clothed, chauffeured and healthy.  My friend, Kay, shared that it’s hard for her to not say “I was a Specialist Office Manager but now I’m a Specific Worker” because she found her identity and, sometimes self-worth, in her lofty position.  Nowadays, she realizes that when she catches herself saying that introduction to her customers, it is less of a heart issue than a bad habit.  But there was once a day, not too long ago, that it was a heart issue.  She found that her title gave her clout with her customers and her co-workers.  While clout isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is our attitude with it that becomes the big issue.

I know this lady, Mabel, who regularly shares of her busyness for all of the things she volunteers to do.  We often volunteer to do the same things at different times but I’ve noticed that when she shares her volunteer schedule, she boasts to anyone who will listen of how important she is to those people and places that call her to share her talents.  It was so hard to hear all of her busyness that I felt like I didn’t want to be around her.  I began to dislike her.  Others shared of how that one thing of boasting caused them to dislike her and not want to work with her.  My heart had become so hardened that I found myself getting angry and resentful whenever I saw her.

But, friends, God had a much bigger plan – which He always does.  The Holy Spirit stirred my heart to pray for her each time I saw Mabel in a leadership position that I had wanted or when she was performing a volunteer work.  He caused me to pray for her boasting but, more importantly, for my bad attitude towards her.  It took two years to get through to me. Then, as you might guess, God allowed us to work together in a place I never would have chosen for the purpose of us getting to know each other better.

I found out that she didn’t quite dislike me but that she didn’t care for me because I am a direct person who doesn’t sugar-coat my words. (Honestly, that is why many people don’t like me; I’m not their cup of strong tea.)  I had already guessed that she didn’t like me so that wasn’t quite a surprise.  I learned why I had judged her when she boasted of her works; she feels insecure about a few things.

Isn’t that true of all of us?  When we feel insecure, we blow up like a puffer fish to seem bigger than we really are so others will see our “importance”.  However, if we are naturally confident in our abilities and selves, we are more quietly humble with our talents and works.  We have nothing to prove to anyone.

I must say, these scripture verses struck me to my core on this very subject:“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.  Avoid such people.”   ~2 Timothy 3:1-5

There is so much meat in those verses.  The chewy parts that made me hit my knees was “people will be lovers of self…proud, arrogant….having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”  I immediately thought of Mabel and myself.  Hadn’t I done exactly what she had done?  Hadn’t I given the run down of the five weekly Bible studies I was in to a young mom who had asked me how I fill my days?  I pooh-poohed it as having more time than she, but I was boasting of my own abilities while “appearing to be godly”.

OUCH!

“Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.  But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you.”   ~2 Corinthians 10:12-14

I had compared myself to Mabel and had found her to be boastful, but not myself so.  UGH!  Big heart prick!  It doesn’t matter what she says or does, my heart matters to God when it comes to me.  I don’t get to continue to judge Mabel like I had been doing but I do get to pray for her….and myself.  Yes, I choose to volunteer in places that tend to be visible.  But I don’t have to announce my works to anyone to be important and get approval from others.  I must die to myself so that He may be greater.

“I must decrease so that He can increase.” ~John 3:30

Sweet friend, where do you find yourself sharing your busyness to others?  How can you minimize your chosen busyness for God’s glory and still share with a trusted friend when you feel overwhelmed?  The conviction I feel is great. Not condemnation, conviction.The Holy Spirit is guiding me to refocus my choices to reflect God’s glory.  It is ok to have a full calendar. That is how life unfolds many times. It is not Scripturally ok to boast of all the good works we do in the name of volunteering, helping others or serving at Church.  Puffer fish never make it through the doors without poking someone else in the neck.Let’s resolve, sweet friends, to deflate our egos so that God can be inflated, revered and glorified in our “busyness” of life.

Best-Dressed

To keep our friendship full of love and fellowship, my sweet SheSpeaks Conference friend Michelle Moore kindly agreed to guest blog.  She is such a wonderful, God-loving girl that oozes Jesus’ love all over you.

Please welcome Michelle Moore!

Growing up I used to watch the Miss America pageants and imagine myself walking down the runway wearing the most beautiful gowns with trains that flowed over the floor and gave me the illusion of floating.

Glamour, spotlights, grandeur… I loved watching the award shows like the Oscars or the Emmys and whenever the t.v. host handed the mic to a celebrity they would ask the same question: Who are you wearing?

With responses like Valentino, Prada, Armani… I marveled at the intricate detail and handmade gowns and suits that graced the red carpet. Only one thing stays in my mind…those beautiful garments will never be worn again. So much careful thought, designing and planning went into each of these dresses by the designer. They are worn by the celebrity, danced in, perhaps even spilled on and never thought about again.

There is a designer who makes attire that is available to every single one of us that not only sparkles in its’ glorious magnificence, but also empowers us to be the best version of ourselves, makeup and hairdo aside. That outfit is the Armor of God!

The armor covers all of us, the helmet, the breastplate, the belt, shoes and shield protect us from the schemes that Satan puts in our way to distract and destroy us. It also offers us a weapon, the Sword of the spirit, to counter the attacks and gain ground using the Word of God to pierce through the various forms of darkness the devil uses to prohibit us from reaching our full potential.

When you pray on each piece of the armor everyday, it is hard to not imagine yourself as a confident, fearless woman of God. You can handle anything that comes your way that day. Work, family, friend, church obligations are tackled with ease in knowing that you are not alone and the God of angel armies walks with you every step of the way.

I think sometimes as Christians we forget how powerful we are when we are equipped with the proper attire. With the knowledge of the armor being strapped on, we can become the bold, courageous, fearless women of God we were intended to be.

So the next time you hear the question: Who are you wearing? You can rest easy in knowing that you are wearing a God-breathed and inspired design – The Armor of God! Don’t leave home without it!

Dive deeper into each piece of the Armor and understand how to battle an all too common epidemic among women today: depression and anxiety, in Michelle Moore’s book, Arm Yourself: Equipping Ourselves with the Armor of God, available online wherever books are sold.

You can read more from Michelle at http://www.myhearts-song.com/

Author Bio

Michelle Moore is described as real, engaging, and practical. She is the author of Arm Yourself: Equipping Ourselves with the Armor of God which she self published the fall of 2014. She is also the creator of the blog, My Heart’s Song, which is endorsed by Family Christian Store and posts a weekly devotion, as well as offering books, concerts, movies and music reviews and giveaways. She has a passion for women in helping them to navigate through the negative stigma of mental illness. Michelle is also a down to earth speaker that is able to break down biblical principles and relate them to the modern day woman.