Wednesday, April 20, 2016

In Christ (Inseparable Chapter One)

Thanks for joining me again as I reflect on the Bible study Insepearable: Who I Am, Was, and Will Be in Christ by Ashley Linne!  I am glad you are here.

Chapter One reached out and grabbed me from the beginning just like the introduction.  I love this sentence: "The truth is, no matter who I am, Christ is the same today as He was yesterday and a thousand years before that."  This is a concept that gives me great comfort.  He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  He is not a fickle God.  He does not change His mind as the wind blows.  He is faithful, steadfast, and true.  I can depend on Christ because He is forever unchanging.  When I am in a rough spot, Christ will still be the same loving, just, gracious, protector as He is when I am in a good spot.  No matter who I am, or what I am going through, I find peace in knowing that I am talking to the One who created it all.

I wrestled with the next part of the book.  And I am still wrestling with it.  Here Ashley says that the key to being shaped in Christ's image is to stop "putting Jesus first."  Anybody else just do a "Say what?  Stop putting Jesus first?  What kind of book is this anyway?"  The rationale here is that putting Jesus first indicates that there are some areas of our lives where He is not allowed at all.  I wasn't sure I agreed with that statement.  But discussing it with my breakfast buddies gave me a new perspective.  Instead of viewing my life as a ladder with Jesus at the top rung and everything else falling under that, maybe I should think of it as a wheel.  Jesus is the center, and everything should be a spoke coming out of that center.  Every spoke--every part of my life--must go through the center of the wheel.   If every single area of my life is centered on Jesus, then I will be radiating His image.  That makes more sense to me.

The main theme of this chapter is that the Holy Spirit lives in us, and that makes us in Christ.  The Holy Spirit guides us and directs us, leading us to be more Christ-like.  He comforts us, prays for us, and helps us make decisions.  We are in Christ because the Holy Spirit lives in us.  "Not only is God the Holy Spirit always there; He is the most important thing about you.  He defines you.  If you're anything like me, you've spent a whole lot of time trying to figure out who you are."  How would you answer this question?  Who am I?  I am IN CHRIST.  And nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, neither depth nor height nor anything else.  (Romans 8:38)

I really connected with the next part of the text.  She said through all the bad times of her life, it was the Holy Spirit that held her together.  "And through all this brokenness, at the end of myself I discovered God."  That is exactly my experience after my divorce.  Through all the heartache and brokenness is when I really, truly discovered God, and He carried me through that difficult time.

We are all made in Christ.  This is a common bond that ties us together.  But we are also uniquely gifted and talented.  We can appreciate God's goodness and creativity in making us all different while binding us all together through the power of His blood and the grace of the Holy Spirit.  

Romans 8 talks about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  There is no condemnation for those in Christ.  (8:1).  We are liberated from the law of sin, like setting a slave free.  (8:2).  We are brought to life by the Spirit.  (8:5).  We can be sure the Spirit lives within us.  (8:11).  We are to abandon the oppressive regime of our flesh and sinful natures (8:12).  When we are too weak to pray on our own, the Holy Spirit will take over and pray on our behalf (8:26).  All things work together for good, according to His plan, when we believe in Him (8:28).  Nothing, absolutely nothing, can come between us and the love of God. (8:38). That chapter has so many promises to give us hope.  We can cling to these truths when we are feeling discouraged or unworthy.

In Christ, we are Inseparable.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

One Liners by David Taylor

In honor of my dad's birthday, I have compiled a list of his "One Liners."  Many of these come from TV shows or commercials or from old jokes or from other people.  There may even be a little bit of original material in there somewhere.  If you know my dad at all, I am sure you have heard him say many of these lines!



That was before my time, but I heard the Big Boys talk about it. 

I had to walk uphill to school...both ways.

I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

Only when I'm by myself or with somebody.

Only on days that end in "y."

All done but the finishing.

I can jump higher than the table.

It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

I had to get up before breakfast.

No, wait.  I'll get it.  Could be the phone.

Taylor Residence.

Yes, is this the party to whom I am speaking?

Do you have an appointment?

Let me see if she is taking calls.

Honey, it's your favorite daughter.  No, not that one.  The other one.

Is that Laura?  Tell her she owes me money.

Check's in the mail.

Did your parents have any kids that lived?

Who's on first?

What does that have to do with the price of beans in China?  I don't know.  How many ice cream cones does it take to roof a doghouse?

What are you wearing, Jake from State Farm?

Walk this way.

The sky's the limit.  You can have anything you want, up to a buck-two-ninety-nine.

Soup's on.

Tastes like chicken.

Tastes like MORE.

OO-EE!  That be good.  Just like Grandma used to make.

What if we never get ready?

Oh no, we are not going to stay for the drawing.

You're all right.  I don't care what that other guy says about you.  I didn't believe it all anyway.

Are you running away from home?

Was it something I said?

Write if you find work.

Don't quit your day job.

Are you writing a book?  Leave my chapter out.

Did you bring me something nice?  Is it bigger than a bread basket?

If I'm not here, I'll be in the other building.

I'll either be upstairs or downstairs.

Say, "Good night, Chet."

Thanks a lot, Ollie.

And that's another thing.  Don't call me Shirley.

All day unless it rains.

You can have the rest of my time.

Oh, Margaret.  I think it's the best one.

Elvis has left the building.

Doctor, it hurts when I do this.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Just driven by a little old lady on Sundays, back and forth in her driveway.

Are we keeping you up?

Say Uncle.

Don't ever say I didn't give you anything.

Diamond Jim Brady.

Have I worn out my welcome?

I sold them to the gypsies.

Oh No, Mr. Bill!

No, wait.  Not that one.  I wanted that one.

Would I?  Would I?

Could have fooled me.

I gave at the office.

I love it when a plan comes together.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Inseparable: An Introduction

Two weeks ago I started an early morning Bible study.  It is something I have been thinking about for several months.  When I came back from the Declare Conference last August, I felt like there were two things I needed to accomplish.  Write 31 Days in October on what He had been teaching me from Psalm 139.  (I did that.  Check.). Lead a Bible study.

I wrestled with that one for awhile.   It wasn't that I was opposed to doing it.  But right when I returned was when I got back into the swing of a new school year.  Every year is busy, especially at the beginning.  This year seemed double other years for some reason.  Maybe it is because my kids are old enough now to be involved in activities, and there was an increase in chauffeuring.  Maybe it was because of some additional responsibilities and expectations at school this year.  Maybe it is because of some additional tutoring that I do at home.  Or maybe I was just making excuses.  

Anyway, the idea of doing a Bible study never went away.  It kept popping up in my mind, day to day, week to week.  But how?  When?  Then it hit me.  Maybe I could do an early morning Bible study.  Who said it has to be in the evening?  I liked this idea.  But would anybody else be interested in meeting at 6:00 in the morning?  I began praying over who would also want to do this with me.  

Then the was the question of what to study.  I had asked several people if they had any ideas.  Suggestions were given, and I checked them out.  None of them felt right though.  One day I was shuffling some things around, and a book literally fell at my feet.  I picked it up and smiled.  In the chaos that followed my return from Declare, I forgot all about this book.  Inseparable: Who I Am, Was, and Will Be in Christ by Ashley Linne.  I spent more than a month writing about how God made me perfectly and how I can set my anxieties and insecurities aside because of my completeness in Him.  This book, covering Paul's letter to Romans, seemed to be a pretty good follow up.

The next morning during my study and prayer time, I asked God if this was what He wanted.  I felt like I got affirmation.  On a leap of faith--before I had a single person definitely committed to meeting with me--I ordered five copies.  No backing out now!

Fast forward to two weeks ago, we had our first meeting.  We were all a little nervous.  Even when you know everyone, it still is hard to get a new group going.  But I thought it went well.  (They must have all thought so too because they all came back for week two!)

Following are some quotes and stand out moments from the Introduction.  

The opening paragraph grabbed me.  The author Ashley quoted a pastor she knew as saying, "When you study the Bible, you're spending time getting to know a person, not just reading a book."  Wow.  I love that.  It is so true.  The reason I love reading my Bible every day is because of what it teaches me about God and how I relate to Him and how to be more like Him.  I really am getting to know a person.

Another concept that stood out to me from the introduction is the acknowledgment that we are not all in the same place.  Some of us have a lot of time to give, and some of us don't.  Some of us have a vast knowledge of Bible theology, and some of us are just getting our feet wet.  She suggests, "I want to encourage you to do what you can with what you've got right now... what pleases God is our coming to Him in faith that He loves us and wants to interact with us.  And I promise you--even a little bit of time spent in God's Word can change your life.  It may be just a very slight, almost unnoticeable change.  But it will be change, and even the slightest adjustment in your walk with Him can set the course of your life."

A third idea I liked was the encouragement to do something with what He is teaching you.  Our output may look different from person to person, but we should act on what He is telling us.  Aside from meeting with a group of ladies to discuss what we are learning, I also want to put it into words and share it with my digital community.  Not everybody loves the idea of breakfast Bible study, so this is a way I can share what I am learning and for you to read on your own time.

(Shout out to Britta Ellis Lafont for inspiring me to blog along with the study!)

The opinions in this post are my own, and I am in no way getting compensated for writing about this book.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What's Your Story?

     What's your story?  I know you have one.  How has God worked in your life?  How have all the pieces--good and bad--worked together to bring you to Him?  As I was flipping through some old journals tonight, I realized that I haven't shared my testimony through this format.  Now seemed a good time to do that.

I encourage you to share your story with someone today.  You never know how much they may need to hear your story of God's faithfulness.


     My grandparents had been high school sweethearts before they got married.  My mom and dad had also been high school sweethearts.  I thought that was so sweet and so romantic.  I was sure that would be my story too.  From the time that I started dating, I looked at every guy I met to assess if he would be the guy I would end up marrying.  I was a girl looking for that special someone. 
    All through junior high and high school, I never felt like I really belonged.  Even when I was with my closest friends, I felt like I was on the fringes of the group.  I so desperately wanted to belong, to feel accepted just as I was. 
    By the time I was 17, I began seeking God.  My family had fallen away from regular church attendance, I had started to miss it.  I heard of a new church that was starting, and I felt completely drawn to that.  It's something I can only attribute to God.  I went the first day they had service.  By myself.  As a 17-year-old girl who did not know a single person there.  That could only be God pushing me there!
    I got very involved and felt accepted.  I got baptized pretty quickly, although I don't think I truly understood what that meant at that time.  I remember meeting with Pastor Randy Smith.  Over a Coke at McDonald's, he nervously shared with me that he had never baptized anyone before.  I told him that it was okay because I had never been baptized before.
    So I had this dichotomy in my life....a new found faith and a near obsessive desire to be loved and accepted.  Although I've always been a "good girl," my need to fill that emptiness inside me was so strong that I found myself doing things I never intended to do.
    I was 21 when I got married.  Brad seemed to be a good guy, although he had more red flags in his past than you can imagine.  He loved me, and I loved him.  And I thought that would be enough.  In retrospect, there were so many things that I overlooked before we were married.  It didn't take very long before our marriage fell apart.  I saw a personality emerge in him that I did not know existed.  There was tension, manipulation, and emotional abuse almost from the beginning.  What made it even harder for me was that he had a deceptively charming public face.  I didn't think anyone would believe me... and I couldn't talk about it anyway.  I didn't believe it myself most of the time.
    When we got divorced was the most emotionally difficult time of my life.  I was broken and so ashamed of how I had been treated and where I had ended up.  How could this be my life?  Divorced at the age of 23.  My family and close friends were completely supportive of me.  But in so many ways, I felt more alone than I ever had been. 
    This is when my relationship with God really started.  I look at that part of my life as "Just me and God."  I began talking to Him because I didn't know where else to turn.  This is when I first started reading my Bible regularly and beginning to memorize Scripture.  He began to show me how that longing I had always felt, that emptiness inside, was Him calling my name.  I now know that the only thing that can fill that void in my heart is God Himself.
    Eventually I began to feel human again.  Even after getting divorced, I really felt like I was meant to be married and to be a mom.  The desire had changed though from trying to find someone to fill my holes to trying to find who God wanted me for my partner, my friend.
    I am so blessed and very grateful that God allowed Todd to come into my life.  I was damaged goods when he met me, and he never gave up on me.  There were many, many times when he got blamed for something Brad had done years before, but he stuck by me, telling me that he wasn't like that, and we would work through it.  I don't often give him enough credit, but I would not be the Christian woman I am today without his love and support.
    One of the best things Todd and I ever did was find a church where we both felt like it was home. 
From the sermons, Sunday school, Bible studies to all the people we call friends, God continues to work in me, showing the next step and the next step. 
    I have come so far and learned so much since that time.  I just always wanted to be loved and accepted for who I am and to feel like I belonged.  I found what I was looking for in God.  He promised in Philippians 4:19 that He would supply ALL our needs.  He supplies my need to feel loved and accepted, and I know that I belong to Him.