My Soul Cries… S-t-r-e-t-c-h

Let me ask you; “Have you ever felt an inner unease or restlessness in your spirit where you can’t quite pinpoint the source of the feeling?” I’m sure this sounds eerie to some, but I’ve learned to pay attention to this feeling because my past has proven that it is seldom without merit.

I don’t watch the news or keep up with current events, politics or the such so I can’t pin it on those outside factors. Yet, I know something is in the wind, heading my way, and experience has shown it will become an exercise in spiritual and mental stretching. This I know: I must prepare myself for whatever is coming by praying in earnest.

Needing encouragement, I grab my first book, and find these words:

Philippians 3:13-15 – Page 37

In order to press forward to do that which we are called to do, we must make peace with the past! God has brought us this far for a reason and the past has already played its part in developing a part of our character.

Aim to do better, and be better for Christ with each new day. Do you want what God has for you? Then, press for excellence in the call God has placed upon your life. If anyone deserves the efforts of our very best it is Christ who gave His very best unto death!  Maybe you are facing something that is trying your patience or endurance.  Like me, you can probably use a little encouragement, so for all who may need a dose of uplifting, here’s a few words of comforting encouragement to help you along the way.

Matthew 7:12-20 Page 62

“The fruit of Love is an action word best confirmed by attitude and deed. The real thing shouldn’t be hard to see or feel. It will be sacrificial and compassionate in spirit, just as Jesus was. However, rotten fruit may still appear to be usable until you draw near and are met with a horrible smell that repels. For that reason, it is better to cut off anything that corrupts to keep from ruining the testimony of the Christian faith.

Psalm 22:22, 25 – Page 63

When we are knowledgeable about both our enemy and our Savior, there is little that should surprise us or catch us off guard. When you know that you are the prize in a spiritual tug-of-war, wisdom dictates that you prepare for the battle, that you stay alert, and that you map out your strategy for a sure victory.

Zephaniah 3:12 – Page 46

When there are no problems in our lives we tend to get lazy in our daily communion with God. We kind of get a faulty way of thinking toward God that says, “out of trouble, out of mind.” We mistakenly forget that troubles don’t last always, but neither will the calm days. Satan never, ever rests; he just changes tactics and disguises.

When my soul cries, “Prepare Arms,” my spirit says, “STRETCH”

to meet the unknown encounters that are ahead.

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Who Do You Love?

Are You Sure?

I was listening to this wonderful song by Zach Williams titled “Old Church Choir.”  If you get a chance, you should click on the link and go listen to it!  It made me think about why people go to church.  However, I realize I can’t answer that question for any one but myself.

The first and foremost reason why I attend church faithfully is because I LOVE THE LORD and I’m learning to demonstrate that love for him by practicing it in the church and in the world.  Not only that, I WANT TO STRENGTHEN MY RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM!  Doing so requires a daily relationship of talking and listening and learning – not just being religious-minded.

I love my churchI love my church family; the people and their heart for worship and serving each other and Christ.  It’s truly a family atmosphere where the majority is like-minded in their reasons for being a part of our church body.  I love the teachings that cover church history, bible doctrine, discipleship, sharing the word of God, rightly dividing the word, and so much more.  Being a person who doesn’t like history, I love learning, and there is so much I still don’t know.  But, I am building a knowledge base that helps me in my relationship with Christ and with others.

I’m a relational person which simply means I like getting to know people so I can connect with them, love on them, minister to them, be an ear to bend, and most importantly be a source of inspiration.

That’s the gist of my message today.  I love the Lord and I NEED HIM EVERY DAY! And that’s the message I hope the imagery below conveys!

Im Relational 112117

BE INTENTIONAL: Honor Those Called to Duty

Spiritually empowered Shepherds understand the full dynamics of the battle & develop well-trained troops

Our nation recognized its veterans this pass Saturday. Many businesses offered free services to military persons who are serving or have served this country. It is an honor that bears year round observance.  As an Army veteran, I count it a privilege to have had the opportunity to be used in preserving the freedoms this country enjoys! To those who gave so much more than just their time and service I say – THANK YOU – GOD BLESS YOU – GOD KEEP YOU!

Today, I want to honor another group that has been called to dutyThe Good ShepherdThe PastorI firmly believe God is the only Commander-in-Chief who directs one to this very important office and God directs and guides the Shepherd in the abundance of his duties toward the sheep.  Without God operating from the very seat of the Shepherd’s heart, it is easy for the church to be infiltrated by those who have today, have crept in unawares, to cast shame upon the gospel of Jesus Christ:

Jude 1:4 (KJV) – For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Moses gives us an awesome picture of what the Shepherd’s mission is – to bring a people out of bondage. Moses was called to bring a nation out of bondage, which in itself is a far cry from just managing a congregation of 50-3000 people. His call was simply stated:

Exodus 3:10 (KJV) – 10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

Egypt is a picture of the world, and Moses was called to pull this great nation out the world, which is a picture of bondage.  No true Shepherd nonchalantly throws his hat into a ring like this shouting, “pick me, me, me, pick me!”  A true Shepherd spiritually discerns and recognizes that there is an overwhelming responsibility appointed to those in this position, and he bombards heaven with his prayers for confirmation. Moses was described as one who was very meek and faithful.  I wonder if in addition to his fear of being rejected by his people for his past, if a part of his reluctance was also his experience with the inherent difficulties of getting sheep to follow directions.

Today, I want to honor those Shepherds who, totally dependent on God for guidance and instruction, organize their bodies through the teachings of the bible, to the mission ministries, into a fitly joined body working together to accomplish the main goals of ministry.  I have observed some qualities I associate with good Shepherds I’ve admired and been under:

They Have A Heart For Making Disciples – Matthew 28:19-20 (KJV)

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

They Devote Themselves To Studying The Word Of God – Acts 6:3-6 (KJV)

But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

They Sacrifice Their Lives For The Ministry – Acts 20:23-25 (KJV)

24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Their Ministry Is Christ & Mission Centered – 2 Corinthians 4:1-5 (KJV)

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

Their Ministry Is Focused On Reconciling The Lost – 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (KJV)

18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

They Strive To Maintain A Blameless Ministry – 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 (KJV)

Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:

They Build The Ministry Through Servanthood – Ephesians 4:8-16 (KJV)

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Their Ministry Endures Through Hardships – 2 Timothy 4:1-5 (KJV)

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Believers are the sheep of the congregations where we worship and learn the ways in which God desires his children to develop their Christ-likeness and impact the world that surrounds us.  We stumble, we go astray, we are afflicted, but God uses his Shepherds to draw us back to the way, the truth and the life. We are no different than the Nation of Israel in the wilderness:  we complain; do our own thing; do our dirt; and then, cry out for God to deliver us from the error of ways.

If you think it is easy to Shepherd people, I question if you understand the full picture given in the wilderness experience for both the shepherd and the sheep.  I want to leave a picture from the wilderness experience in the hopes that there would be a greater honor associated and demonstrated daily to those who answered the call of duty to Shepherd God’s people, and who do so with a heart sold out entirely to building the spiritual kingdom of God; not a kingdom on earth.

True Shepherds don’t want to be put upon a pedestal and/or treated as kings. True Shepherds are Christ servants serving God’s people to expand the kingdom of God.  True Shepherds train men, women and children to be dedicated, faithful, and steadfast soul winners.  True Shepherds look for open doors in the community to serve and share the gospel message of redemption.  And, True Shepherds thrive on going beyond the four walls into the mission fields to minister in the word of reconciliation.

To the True Shepherds Called to Duty

THANK YOU FOR YOUR HUMBLE SERVICE

THANK YOU FOR YOUR DAILY SACRIFICE

THANK YOU FOR YOUR DEDICATED LEADERSHIP

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVANT’S HEART

THANK YOU FOR ANSWERING THE CALL TO DUTY!

Psalm 106

We as Sheep…

Sometimes …

  • Lack spiritual discernment – v.7a
  • Forget God’s mercy of before – v.7b
  • Provoke God – v.7c

Yet God …

  • Saved us for his namesake to prove his might – v.8
  • Leads us through dry land and valleys – v.9
  • Protects and redeems us from our enemy – v.10

We then …

  • Believe his words and sing his praise – v.12

But we …

  • Again forget his works and his counsel – v.13
  • Lust after the world’s offerings – v.14
  • Gain the world, but lack grace and spiritual comfort – v.15
  • Exchange God’s glory for other gods – vv.19-20
  • Forget yet again – vv.21-22
  • Despise his provisions & word – v.24
  • Complain more & listen less – v.25
  • Join ourselves to the unrighteous – v.28
  • Provoke our Shepherds to do them a disservice – vv.32-33
  • Mingle with the works of the world – vv.33-39

An Apology to My First Love

Bowing of the head comes before the lifting of the soul…

Today’s post is a very personal and emotional one. I feel sometimes like I’m sinking into a deep pit where only by looking up can I see how far I’ve fallen. When you fall down getting up and climbing out of an abyss isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

Something has been missing in my life these last six months. A subtle decline in eyesight, a muffling of the ears crept in unawares. I miss filling pages with thoughts generated by what I read in my KJV bible. My brain desperately needs a clearing service to remove all the clutter of an overindulged imagination. Reading, listening to music, and watching movies helps provide other balances, but writing has always been the most effective choice for release.

In the midst of self-imposed idleness these words penetrate my sleepy spirit …

First Love embed

Trembling inwardly, I attempt to arouse myself from my sluggardly slumber. To my shame, I have somehow allowed myself to be lulled into forgetting that I am a purchased possession with a divine earthly mission.

I confess that I have minimized the importance of my ambassadorship. This is far too important a privilege; I dare not continue to slumber. The alarm has sounded, and I can see now that I have slowly been veering from the straight and narrow path. Somehow, I’ve allowed life to wedge itself between me and my First Love.

See, in my flesh dwells no good thing, even in my best intentions, when they are born out of my human effort. I am in danger of straying onto the broad road where silly women are led into captivity (2 Tim. 3:1-7)! I have gotten too comfortable in my self-centered existence. The spinning wheels of my mind drive me to works that aren’t always profitable. This, followed by mental fatigue, attaches itself to the hidden areas of spiritual blindness so that I don’t even recognize that I am operating out of the spirit of my first birth.

To her credit, Momma didn’t raise no fool, and I wasn’t born yesterday (physically or spiritually). I will not allow myself to stay in this comfortable space. My enemy’s plot to create a bigger gulf between me and the Love of my life has been exposed. I will exercise a mustard seed of faith and of wisdom to bring about the immediate remedies at my disposal to start repairing the error(s) of my ways.

I will be like my brother David. I will humble myself before my God and pray:

First Love (Forgive) embed2

according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sinFor I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward partsand in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdomPurge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.  Psalm 51:1-12

Oh, what foolishness has befallen me! I cannot live without my First Love! My human capacity to love is at best, limited and conditional at times. But My First Love’s love remains unconditional, never ending, tried and proven. When I withdraw into myself, my First Love is there waiting patiently for me. When I have no words for my fears, He comforts me. When I’m in that dessert place dying of thirst, He leads me to living water. When I am wounded by the falsehoods of others, My First Love demonstrates truth that stands forever. Knowing I am without righteousness, He supplies me with his own. Like a beautiful garment, I am covered thoroughly so that my heavenly Father sees only my First Love in me!

I will awaken from my slumber. I will unsheathe my Sword and bear my spiritual arms. I will boast of my First Love’s Glory. I will bow the head of my reawakened soul, and start with that which must come first … an apology to My First Love!

First Love (Bow) embed

Circumspectly Preparing

There’s a reason why the early bird gets the worm…

CIRCUMSPECTLYadverb  Cautiously; with watchfulness every way; with attention to guard against surprise or danger.  [Webster’s Dictionary 1828]

Ephesians 5:15-16 (KJV)

15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

I turned 55 years old last month.  My body is changing.  This vessel feels the effects of 18 years of improper maintenance.  Immediate changes are necessary because I want quality of life more than I want quantity.  Watching tears form in my 98-year old grandmother’s eyes as she painfully walks short distances is an additional douse of sobriety following on the heels of recently starting high blood pressure meds.

In a recent class the question was “Are You Prepared?”  Spiritually, I feel better equipped than ever before although not quite the seasoned vet.  My past is a checkered history of spiritual and emotional highs and lows; of extremely stupid decisions; of daring and foolish risks, with some truly good insights and choices thrown into the heap. I’ve had moments of spiritual deafness and blindness, and times of spiritual lightbulbs bursting with insight and wisdom.

I don’t know who penned the saying, “once a man; twice a child,” but I feel like a child some days.  I randomly cry…tears come out of nowhere, and I don’t always know the cause.  While the tears are bewildering, I find them refreshing and humbling at the same time.  I also find myself praying more frequently for situations, family, friends and total strangers.  I haven’t figured out all that God will do in my life, but I’m hoping not to miss out on much.

I am acutely aware that time has caught up to me.  Less time for wistful dreaming of things to be; it’s midnight and I must adapt to this season of life.  Retirement is no longer a distant thought but a looming fact.  Retirement benefits; debt-to-income ratios; health insurance; housing; necessities and expenditures have all moved to the forefront of noteworthy consideration.

I am ever changing and I like the me that has been emerging.  In my youth, I feared being alone whereas over the years I’ve learned to take pleasure in my solitude.  Peace is a steady friend and I like living a drama free life.  Plus, I make a really great date…lol…but more importantly, being a solo doesn’t equate to being incomplete!

Circumspectly, what’s needed most at this time is a plan for a future that sustains me in my latter senior years.  My children are already practicing being overseers so I’d like to ward off that part of my future as long as possible, physically and financially, especially since they are showing signs of enjoying “protecting me” by attempting to put limits in place.  And truthfully, I don’t want to give up my freedom nor intrude on their lives no sooner than I may have to.

Aging is a no-brainer each day God opens my eyes.  And late is better than never in preparing circumspectly for the surprises that life may throw my way!

Copyright © Wanda Murry, October 12, 2017

I’m Trippin!

For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. [Mark 13:34]

Life can be Harsh and I’ve been assaulted by it!

Life can be Unfair and I’ve been victimized by it!

Life can be Uncertain and I’ve been confused by it!

Life can be Painful and I’ve been scarred by it!

Life can be Overwhelming and I’ve been hijacked by it!

Life can be Ravaging and I’ve been devoured by it!

Life can be Terrorizing, and I’ve been paralyzed by it!

Yet …

Life can be Sweet, and I have savored its offerings!

Life can be Carefree, and I have soared upon its wings!

Life can be Deep, and I have explored its flowing depths!

Life can be Beautiful, and I have painted upon its canvas!

Life can be an Adventure, and I have found its treasures!

Life can be a Symphony, and I have hummed its Arias!

Life can be a Test, and I am its student, striving to graduate with honors!

Copyright © Wanda J. Murry, August 2017

The Beauty of Balance

Life viewed from the right angle is its own beautiful landscape…

It has taken a few weeks, but I am getting settled in my new home. The feelings of fatigue, anger, frustration and fear are all but gone. I had been in a head space that opposed my mental and spiritual well-being. My life seemed a dysfunctional hot mess. Mostly, I lacked the balances and boundaries needed to feel peace within and without. Regaining my equilibrium meant taking steps from my mental checklist:

  • Make a home. It needed to be more than a place I occupied and filled with stuff; it had to embody my personality, my vision, my décor.
  • Get revived. I had to make quality alone time with ABBA to once again enjoy the relational intimacy I craved as his daughter.
  • Restore leisure. Enjoyable things that had fallen by the wayside like writing, reading, music, movies and bubble baths, were once again gaining their place in my life again.

Sometimes it’s easy to get off track in life with all the distractions this world has to offer. Distractions make it easy to forget how to enjoy the beauty of living. For me, this means taking time to enjoy my hermitic side without guilt; to step back from life’s crowding demands and just be; and, to get the rest I need to avoid feeling like a mindless, murderous zombie.

Sleeping under the stars from the vantage point I now have makes for sweet slumber and tranquil living. Though not as beautiful a view as the Norway image used for today’s blog, it will suffice as an anchor for my balancing act.

Whatever it takes for you to gain a balanced life, I surely encourage you to find it and continue your life on a beautiful journey.

Image by Eamon – Blogger at https://waywardwheeler.wordpress.com and https://www.facebook.com/waywardwheeler/.  Used with permission.

You Are Loved!

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God;… 1 John 4:7a

Song:  Beloved by Jordan Feliz

I wanted to save this post for this day wherein the idea of love is celebrated, however misunderstood it may be. This day we associate with a display of physical or emotional attachment coupled with gift-giving as a token. Meant to be a demonstration of souls knitted together, its true essence is loss in commercialism.

Though people experience the word on various surfaces, the soul captivated by its author understands the depth and layers of its reality. They gain wisdom in what it looks like, what it feels like, how it behaves itself, what it does and doesn’t do. Though there is much written about it, its demonstration and teachings fall short of its heavenly discipline.

In the Song of Solomon 2:16 we read:  My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies. Although Webster defines beloved Loved; greatly love; dear to the heart, we miss the fullness of it if we are without a personal relationship with its originator.

Whether in a relationship or solo, wrap your heart around the lover of our souls, for the Beloved is ours, and we are his!

Will Power

Some battles aren’t worth fighting…

Music Motivation Monday:  Will Power

SongThy Will by Hillary Scott & The Scott Family

On Sunday, our Pastor expounded on the difference between what is meant by the “chastening” of the Lord versus the “correction” of the Lord, using Proverbs 3:11-12 as the base scripture. In the examples given of God’s hand upon his stiff-necked children, I was reminded of how foolish I have been in my lifetime. As I age, my fear of God is continually shaped into the reverence due a holy God. If you have ever had a spiritual spanking, you know it hurts a lot more than a paddle to the backside.

If you can identify with me, by all means say…“Amen!

Only you and God know what your spiritual condition is. God’s will, will be done and continual defiance will leave you battered and bruised. You can’t win any battle against his omnipresence. Instead, hear the supplication of a man after God’s own heart…and take heed.

“8 Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee…10 Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.” (vv. 8, 10)

Psalm 143 (KJV)