The majority of my friends and family members are Awesome and help to maintain my Faith in humanity. Then there are those few that stretch me. At times, they really tttrrrrry my pa-tience and offers of grace, or even desire to show grace! Jonathan, my husband, will sometimes say the latter are the ones who are there for our “perfecting,” meaning that they make our faith grow. And I think, ‘Gee, how much more does my faith need to e-x-p-a-n-d?!!’

He’s right though, because if they are irritating me by the things they do and/or say, it shows I have not reached my own maturity in Faith. If and hopefully when I’ve come to a point that their actions, which are intended to provoke, do not irritate, but bring forth a response of love and compassion, then I’m getting closer to the patterned son, who treated sinner and redeemed alike. What greater love did he show than to give up his life to those who mocked and scorned him? 

What love can face a person who figuratively speaking, spits in their face and turn that anger to repentance without one word? What kind of love can heal? What kind of love, when weary will still minister to those in need? What kind of love is not angered when a close friend doubts their existence and allows them to touch him so they believe he exists? It is love full of grace; it is Perfect Love. I’m not there, but Jesus IS. May I grow to be more like him and exhibit His Grace!

Saved by grace… what does that mean?

Grace (charis in the Greek) is a free gift; something given without expecting anything in return; an undeserved kindness; a favor given by God through Christ Jesus. The one who gives grace offers a kindness or a favor; their speech is pleasing and courteous. One who bestows grace is not hindered by another’s sin or triggered by another’s good works. They are motivated by the heart of Christ Jesus, manifested in and through them. Grace is actuated by joy and imparts joy.  Grace prompts its possessors to confer benefits to others. Grace sustains and aids the efforts of those who labor for the cause of Christ, assisting those who are devout followers to be strengthened in their troubles. Grace is the ability to love those who don’t love you, to lend to others and expect nothing in return, to do without being asked. The one who receives and accepts grace feels gratefulness, homage (honor and faithfulness towards the giver) and respect (esteem) to the giver.

Divine grace – ‘Status gratiae’ in Latin – is the spiritual condition of someone who is governed (held in check) by the Spirit. Salvation is a gift of divine grace; it is a heart changing reality. Divine grace is also a Corporate Expression of the gifts given by God. 1 Peter 4:10 “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.”

Jesus is the epitome of grace; he knew how to answer every man, even as a child in the temple, his words were gracious. Luke 4:22 He lived out a life of grace to the very end of his human life. Grace and Truth come from Christ alone. Righteousness is declared by grace to us through Christ Jesus. Romans 3:24 Grace frees us from sin and the penalty of sin. Romans 6:14Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law.  Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.”

Grace is to be shared with others. When it is shared and received it brings glory to God. 2 Corinthians 4:15

There is victory in grace, even in the midst of trial because there is joy in the acceptance. Grace given is multiplied. Grace is the sufficiency of God in all that we face in our earthly life. Grace replaces the law. Galatians 5:1-4 Grace produces words seasoned with salt–put into fertile ground – healthy people, salt preserves & purifies. Grace produces wisdom. Malachi 2:7 & Colossians 4:6

Hebrews 12:28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. (NKJV) “Let us have grace” means let us continue to hold onto grace.

Grace Is inherited. 1 Peter 3:7 & 4:10 Grace can be multiplied through growth. We are encouraged to grow in grace. 2 Peter 1:2-8 The more grace we understand and walk in – the more we copy the pattern of Christ Jesus – the more grace we will be able to show and share with others.

Prayer: Father help me to grow in your grace and use the gifts you have placed within me to serve others. Help me to continue to hold fast to the grace you have shown me that I might grow in the knowledge of you and be able to share your grace with others. Thank you that your grace is Sufficient! In Jesus’ name – Amen

(Note: Words in blue are hyperlinks to some of the verses I based this study on, click on the words to be able to view them.)

The Ripple Effect of Love

I have found through the years, that any research can lead from one subject to another. This morning I was researching a phrase that led me to a mathematical theory, called ‘chaos theory,’ which then led me to the phrase ‘butterfly effect.’ I was thinking of examples of the theory and the effect. If I understand them correctly, an example would be skipping stones over water. As a young child, skipping rocks was one of my favorite things to do on one of the farms I grew up on. I would wander down the creek away from where my grandparents were fishing. We had an area on the creek, that has a ledge of shale. Those pieces of dark gray, thin, shale rock that flaked off the ledge, made for awesome rock skipping! I always looked for the ones with the least variation in thickness, so the aerodynamics would yield the best results. But I didn’t know at that age what aerodynamics even were, I just knew the rocks needed to be thin and smooth to skip the most number of times. Now I know that there are variables which can change the way the rocks react to skipping and sinking. Those variables include the type of spin the rock is thrown with, the force of the spin, the shape of the rock, the degree of angle that the rock has when it hits the water, the calmness of the water, etc. All of these occurrences can change how many times a rock spins and skips. Skipping stones is a past time that is known and practiced around the world. It is probably one of the few things that can cross barriers of language and understanding.

But I’ve also learned something that cannot be explained by a mathematical theory or change with effect, which also crosses all boundaries, language barriers and does not involve chaos. It is the Love of Jesus. It doesn’t matter how hard a person’s heart is, Jesus’ Love is penetrating, constant, sincere, and His redemption is for everyone. We cannot win others by condemnation, but we can reach them with love and allow the Holy Spirit to soften their heart. It is the way that God provided to bring man back into his original purpose, which is to have fellowship with all mankind. This morning during my prayer time, I was thinking of the death chants by the radicals in the Middle East and I prayed, “NO! I do not agree with this mindset! I call death to any spirit that calls people to desire the destruction of others, not death to those people personally. I call death to the evil they engage in and I speak LIFE to them! I speak that the Spirit of God will arrest their hearts into true understanding. I speak LOVE & PEACE!

I pray that Jesus will be revealed to them and that the corruption of their hearts will cease. I speak a Healing to their land. I claim a righteousness to invade their land like nothing they’ve ever experienced before. I call for a stirring in their souls to be awakened to God’s original purpose, to know and love each other and the world around them. It can start with one man, and then another, and another, like a skipping stone causes a ripple effect, and it will continue forever. When we start seeing with the eyes of spiritual understanding we will see Jesus all around us, we will see others with the potential to return to God’s original purpose. Many today are aborting the Spirit because they are holding onto the law of religion and the traditions of man. God put his spirit within us to be birthed over and over again, but many use spiritual birth control by hanging onto the law and false religions, which Christ already redeemed us from. (See Colossians 1:1-14) When we recognize his seed, his original purpose, which came to fruition by Christ’s resurrection, we will start watering it and see it spring forth Life!

I pray for the mouths of all the governmental, religious, and system leaders around the world who speak or contribute to the destruction of any man to be softened to hear and to know PERFECT LOVE. I pray that their misguided leadership, anger, fear, and hatred is replaced with love and acceptance. How will they know HIS LOVE if they do not hear? I pray for ministers to be called into their midst and into their personal lives, who can reach their hearts by your Word. I pray for a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the people and the land that all their barbaric customs cease. I pray for an encounter with God who is the only one who can change hearts.

I claim these things through the redemptive power of Jesus. I pray for doubt and unbelief to stop in their land and ours. I pray that we quit calling others barbarians and perverts, but that we call them redeemed. Father I thank you that your will is being performed throughout earth to transform the hearts and minds of people towards each other. I call the scattered to come into one accord as you desire and that we will seek to live in peace and trust, with our fellow man, both in America and abroad.

I pray for awakening in our own land in our leaders and our citizens to seek you and your will. I pray for Heaven to come to earth by your people who are called and I pray you would give them understanding that condemnation cannot heal, hate cannot heal, despising cannot heal, corruption cannot heal, but only your Love can heal our land and the world. I praise you that we will see the manifestation of your will on earth as you have instructed us to pray in

Matthew 6:9-10 “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”

Give us the courage and realization to point to the answer and not to the problem. Give us Peace where there is chaos. The answer is Jesus Christ. How can we say we believe in a Living God if we do not share His love and His answer to a lost and dying world? Help us to share His answer. We have the answer!

Luke 5:31-32 Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor-sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

Time Well Spent

The first year my husband and I were married, he was helping pastor a small church, plus teaching and administrating their Christian school. During that year, we didn’t have many funds. Most of the students’ families did not have the money to pay their tuition, but it was a need in our community and still is. Through God’s provision and the generosity of others, we never went without having our needs met. We never missed a meal and we managed to keep a roof over our heads. Sometimes we lived on beans and rice, anything in our pantry, or what Jonathan refers to as ‘COW’ (cream of wheat). We passed on all the little luxuries that most people take for granted, like going out to eat or buying things we liked, but didn’t truly need. Both of our vehicles were paid for, so we didn’t have any car payments. We still own the same cars, an ’04 and an ’07 model. Our cell phones were not smart phones and we were on a pay-as-you-go plan. Most of the time, we only had one cell phone between us. We never subscribed to cable or satellite TV and still don’t. Jonathan installed an antenna in the backyard that his father had given him and hooked it up to our TV for local stations. We picked up internet at hotspots. Because of a health condition, I have not been able to work outside the home. But that is another story, which I’ve written before. You can read it here if you’re curious: “Peace.”

By the world’s standards, we were poor, but by God’s standards, we were rich! What we did have was time, and we’ve tried to use it well. Many times we spent ministering to people at the church or helping out our family by offering assistance in whatever way we could that didn’t require money. We planted flowers, flowerbeds, and did landscape work for those who didn’t have the ability and we traveled with people during difficult situations to help out emotionally and physically. We helped take care of a brother who had undergone massive surgery. I’m not saying this to brag, but to share that our perspective on life, was and still is different than many people. We don’t do it for rewards, but we do it out of caring hearts. We happily give of our time to help others and to assist those we love and care for. For our ‘luxury time,’ we explore areas nearby us, by hiking in the woods or camping. We enjoy the scenery around us. We grow a vegetable-herb garden, which keeps our grocery bill down. We can and freeze vegetables, make jellies, and share our abundance. I make gifts at Christmas, and we make food for special events. We send e-cards or call to let others know we love them. During that lean first couple of years, we bought individual cards for others at Christmas. While we stood in the aisle, searching for the perfect cards, we saw cards we wanted to give to each other, but couldn’t afford. So we started a tradition of showing those cards to each other, to express our love and we would savor the moment; then we would put the cards back. Now that my husband is back in engineering, we have the ability to give monetary gifts on occasion, but we still like to peruse the card aisle and show each other cards that we don’t purchase that have ‘just the right verse’ to express what we feel towards each other. And we still like to bless others with our time and our cooking whenever possible.

A few days ago, as I was shopping for craft supplies at Hobby Lobby, I decided to look through the anniversary cards, because our anniversary was coming up. I found a card, but decided not to buy it, but to take a picture with my phone and share it with my husband. It captured perfectly what I feel about the man God put in my life. I would gladly pay the price of the card, but if you want to know where you can purchase it, because it says what you feel about your spouse as well, they have it in the card department at Hobby Lobby. I just wanted to remember our tradition in this way and I did buy another card while I was there. This is the card:

Happy Anniversary!
Happy Anniversary!

Some of my favorite family memories are when we’ve sat around the table after dinner and sang songs or made jokes, and always our vacations, because we were/are together as a family, away from all the distractions. Even times we’ve gathered together to celebrate the life of those who have passed before us, have been precious, because we were together supporting each other, through the sorrow. During those times, we found comfort and joy by the fond and similar memories we shared. I loved hearing the stories as a child and I still do as an adult, even when the stories don’t include me. I remember the hours spent together with my grandfather on the farm, growing vegetables was time well spent, because it was our time alone and I could ask him questions about life, and believe me, I asked questions galore! But my favorite times spent with my grandfather, who was a gentle giant in my eyes, were sitting in their huge front well-maintained yard on any fresh summer evening, off an old country road, that was once well traveled, under huge pecan trees, with my grandmother’s prized red roses waving in the breeze behind us, their scent was heavenly! My grandfather stood an erect, shoulder-back, 6’4″ tall, with broad shoulders, strong arms, and had a stylish crew cut, with hazel green-blue eyes that twinkled behind his glasses and usually wore a smile. He was well-tanned from years of working on the farm that he paid cash for. He didn’t believe in buying anything on credit and I heard that lecture often. “Anything worth having is worth waiting for.” There we sat, with me in my little handmade dresses or short sets that my grandmother lovingly and skillfully sewed, many times without a patten, because of her skill and frugality, not because of lack. My grandfather usually dressed casually in his seersucker, untucked, box-hemmed shirt and khakis, in the afternoon and evenings, off this road which had been bypassed by a major highway, but was once the main thoroughfare from Tulsa to Muskogee.

As we sat in those old metal lawn chairs, under the shade of the massive pecan trees, we guessed the color of the next car that would go by, which were few and far between. He carried singles, tens, twenties, fifties, hundreds, two-hundreds, and five-hundred dollar bills in his wallet, not because he loved money, but because he had grown up during lean times, when his family didn’t have money for shoes for the six boys in the family and because he didn’t trust banks. He had lived through the great depression, the bank collapses, non-insured banks, and the dust bowl. My grandfather would quiz me about which president was on what monetary value and if I knew the answer, he would show me. I was always astonished by the variety of bills he had! He was a wealthy man by worldly standards but he didn’t flaunt it or dress to show it, he was humble and to me he was far wealthier because he spent time with me. He usually was one of the first to help out someone else in need. As we sat there under the long lush nut-laden branches, wafting in the breeze, he quizzed me on history, presidents, politics, science, nature, weather, faith, and anything else he thought I should know. He would tell me stories of how he and his siblings (10 kids in all) traveled by conestoga from MO to TX to OK; looking for work. He told me about the jobs he’d worked over the years and about how he dated my grandmother. Many times, we sang silly songs when there weren’t any cars, with me giggling at my grandfather’s dry wit. On lucky nights we went back out after dinner and cranked ice cream or had ice cold watermelon from the garden and watched the fireflies twinkle in the night sky – those were the days we didn’t have any electronic devices, distractions, or ‘Google.’ Those memories remind me, what do I want to be remembered for? Do I want to be the one who gave lavish gifts and seemed to care little for others, always busy and defending my lack of time? Or do I want to be remembered as someone who listened and devoted my time and energy by interacting with others?

My encouragement for today is to make sure we have time for our family and friends. To me the most valuable gifts are those that come from the heart and involve time, either set aside in each other’s presence, in making the gift, or in doing something for someone they can’t do but would like to be able to do. Another valuable gift is to spend time teaching others skills they want to learn, which we know. These are useful gifts that last and are appreciated. When someone invests their time, it says they feel the other person is valuable. Let’s put down our phones, turn off our TVs and video games, and just enjoy other people’s company. Let’s Interact with each other. Above all, let’s spend time with our Father, but not just in prayer. Let’s spend time in worship, thanking him for all he has created, the abilities he has given us, and the sacrifice he made for all of us. Let’s reflect on the life of Jesus, by reading the Bible. Let’s think of the 33 years that Jesus spent on earth because he Loved us — that is a chunk of change that can’t be measured in Benjamins or McKinleys! Thirty-three years of Jesus’ life, mostly spent in ministry, and then he was rejected by those closest to him at the end of his life on earth. Who have we rejected in our life that we might need to make amends with? Who have we neglected spending time with because we ‘can’t find the time’? Who have we shut out? Let’s put aside our petty grievances and realize that time doesn’t go on forever in this life. Yes, we have eternity, if we have committed to God, but what have we invested with those around us? Have we given them our time and energy or have we spent it in self-driven pleasures or ways to make more money? Have we appreciated the things they’ve done for us? Have we shared Jesus with those around us, not just by talking about him, but by expressing his love? The luxuries will not stay with us when we die, but the memories of time well spent, will stay in the hearts of those we leave behind.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:9-18 NLT

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:36-42 NLT