Thankful for a Change of Heart

by Christy Pearce on November 27th, 2016

 

  But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart
Romans 6:17
My heart just wasn’t in it.

As I sat warming the wooden bench at church camp, the Gospel message was sprinkled around the room. I counted the cost that sticky night as a 10-year-old girl. I had other plans that would interfere with waving the white flag for Jesus sake.

“Not now,” I breathed in my young ignorance. I arrogantly believed I had plenty of time to follow Jesus whenever I was done with all the (sinful) things that I wanted to do first. I whole-heartedly obeyed the only master I ever knew—sin.

Sin in our hearts opposes obedience from the heart.

Paul takes an adamant stance about the buoyancy of obedience in the heart and life of a Christian. But before obedience can flow from our hearts, we must first be changed by the power of the Gospel, specifically, by sharing in Christ’s death. (Romans 6:4)

So what exactly does Christ’s death do for us?

Paul puts it this way in verse 6: “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

“That the body of sin may be brought to nothing.”

Marinate in that thought for a second or three.

See the rest over at Sweet to the Soul blog:
http://www.sweettothesoul.com/blog/2016/11/27/thankful-for-a-change-of-heart

Christmas Through the Looking Glass-5 Ways to Not Lose Sight of Christmas

Some thought to help us as we head into the Christmas season. It is a recycled post that originally appears over at Shattered Magazine! (Check us out: https://shatteredmagazine.net)

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Okay, I admit it.  I am the first one to become nostalgic this time of year.

Songs with the sound of bells tinkling playing over department store speakers melts my little heart into a puddle.  All I have to do is smell a little cinnamon while looking at Christmas decorations to feel that “It’s Christmas time again” feeling, and it doesn’t even matter that there are cobwebs and witches on the next aisle. I get giddy when I see snowmen and Christmas trees pop up in the mall, and I love the big puffy metallic bows on shiny gifts and stockings overflowing their capacity.

I confess. I’m a sucker for all things Christmas.

And yet I feel guilty, because I get so carried away with the holiday festivities, I need a microscope to find Jesus in all of the fanfare.

Even though the holly and jolly stuff isn’t inherently evil…

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When a Walk Through the Sisterhood Hurts Your Heart – Guest Post Over at Ask God Today

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Today I am over with Brenda McGraw and our friends of Ask God Today sharing how God helps our hurts-even when trusted friends leave us. (And linking up with Grace & Truth for the first time in a while!) PS there’s a give away over there today!😉

For it is not an enemy who taunts me—then I could bear it.” Psalm 55:12 (ESV)

I scrambled to fill the gaping hole her words left behind.

Blows loaded with phrases like “I don’t want to get together” and “This will be the last time I respond” shot straight through my heart. Worst of all, they came from my sister-friend—my prayer companion and accountability partner. With the flip of a switch, the closeness we shared blew away like chaff quicker than you can say “David and Jonathan.”

Those messages she wouldn’t respond to were pleas laced with prayer and hope that we’d be restored to friendship. But now, four years of hoping and praying later, nothing. If anything, it feels like the chasm only grows deeper and wider with each passing day.

And the shadows of what we used to be makes my heart hurt. @christylouhooCLICK TO TWEET

I admit it was complicated. Our pastor (and my husband) was all but kicked out of the church. There was intense emotional wreckage in the wake of his resignation. I thought sisters knitted together in Christ could weather the storm together, but she wanted to get away from the storm even if it meant getting away from me.

Truth: Our earthly relationships are never going to be all sunshine and pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows. No way. We’ll all have tough times, empty space and hurt. But I know this—God has enough love to heal our hurts and enough grace to fill our empty space.

I totally get David’s heart in Psalm 55 when he writes “For it is not an enemy who taunts me—then I could bear it.” He aches that loyal ones have turned against him. In the blink of an eye, my faithful friend turned away, too—and it was unfathomable.

But David knew his loving God would pull him out of the mess. He says this later on in verse 22:

“Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain you.” Psalm 55:22 @christylouhooCLICK TO TWEET

David “cast his cares” on our trustworthy God to lift him out of sorrow, and as promised, the Lord sustained him. The Lord sustains us, too. My friend fell short, but the best friend I’ll ever have is Jesus. And it’s humbling. I’ve never been as good a friend to anyone as Jesus is to me. Not ever.

Jesus is the only thing that can cauterize our hurting hearts. Jesus loves us when we’re hard to love. Jesus loves us when we reject Him—even to the point of death on a cross. He loves my sister-friend the same way.

Sadly, there’s no happy ending for my friend and me. Just the hope that when Christ comes back all that’s broken will be mended. What’s lost will be found. Hurting hearts will be healed—forever.

Until then, I pray in the power that overcame the grave. I pray that my friendship will be revived one sweet day this side of eternity.

If you have lost a sweet girlfriend and want to share your story, tell
us about it below!

 

Full story originally posted over at Ask God Today, http://www.askgodtoday.com/2016/08/26/when-a-walk-through-the-sisterhood-hurts-your-heart-a-lesson-from-psalm-55/.

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“You Don’t Mean Me Do You, Lord?” #ComeWithMe

The Come With Me online bible study is in full swing at over Suzanne Eller’s web home and all across Facebook! Click here to join us!

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Suzie’s words are challenging women to “step out into the deep” toward what Jesus is asking them to do! You don’t want to miss being a part of this community! Don’t have the book yet? Get it here!

Today, Suzie lets me share how God has used this study in my life! Check it out over at tsuzanneeller.com!

You Don’t Mean Me Do You?

They won’t come, so why even bother?

Maybe, maybe not. Leave that to Me.

But you can ask.

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Seven weeks ago, God was nudging me down deep to come with Him. It was simple, but hard. I was compelled to invite some young ladies to study the life-giving message of the Bible sprinkled throughout the mind-changing lines of Suzie Eller’s new book, Come With Me.

I ARGUED with God as the idea hatched.

I TOLD God exactly why it would never work…

Find out the rest of the story at:

http://tsuzanneeller.com/2016/07/29/you-are-chosen/

Want to read more about Come With Me?

Suzie shares her heart over at Encouragement for Today hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries. Click here to check out her post for today!

 

 

Is There a “Grace Card” Left For The 9 Pakistani School Shooters?

Today we are writing about Grace over at Suzanne Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday. This is an older post, but fitting… Check out the others here:
http://tsuzanneeller.com/

creation swap, mountain christian, burning questions,Is There a “Grace Card” Left For The 9 Pakistani School Shooters?

 

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

“At a city hospital, staffers laid out a row of children’s bodies as armed guards stood over a pile of small wooden coffins.”

That shooting in Pakistan yesterday?

It makes my guts ache deep inside.

I have three kids, and this tragedy forces me to see my babies’ faces on the…

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I Wanna Lay Down, Not Fall Down

Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” Mark 14:29, ESV

I didn’t plan on my mouth flying open, but suddenly it did.

The thought bubbles floating around my brain shed their delicate membranes. They mutated into words with sharp talons, and they flew straight out of my very own lips. Shooting harsh words wasn’t what I set out to do. But in the end, it’s what I did.

I fell down.

Have you ever fallen down? If you have, you are in good company. Falling is a reality for each of us. And our dear ancestors of the bible fell down too. A LOT. Even when they were they weren’t planning to—like Peter. Just like zealous, big-mouthed Peter who denied Jesus.

“I will not,” Peter said. But Peter did.

The fatal error of Peter is obvious to us, but Peter didn’t have a clue. Peter glanced around and piously set himself on a pedestal saying, “Even though they fall away, I will not.” Peter thought he was better than falling—better than the others.

Deny Jesus? No way! Peter arrogantly believed “the others” were subject to failure–certainly not him. But arrogance is the staircase we climb with nowhere to stand at the top with a guaranteed fall to greet us. All too often, we are confident in our own skin instead of dependent on the God who owns our skin. And we can be so bent on success that falling isn’t on our radars. But it should be—because if we don’t plan for a fall, we can count on a fail.

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Failing to plan truly is planning to fail.

Man Woman with a Plan

Even though we walk with the Lord, we are still prone to wandering off faster than a three year old at the Dollar Tree. We’ll slip, trip and fall. It’s just in our nature. Knowing ourselves is half the battle, and it’s key to our plan of attack.

So, let’s just say it out loud together-

“I can fall. And sometimes, I will fall.”

But we have hope! Though our flesh is weak. the Spirit is willing! True—Peter had Jesus in all His glory right in his face, I believe we have a leg up on him. If we are new creations in Christ, we have the SPIRIT OF CHRIST IN US. And a mark of God’s presence in us is the move of His Spirit through us.

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We literally have the power of Heaven residing in us. The power to keep us from falling if we would but plan to tap into it.

So, what’s the plan Stan? The plan is to know and decide to do the will of God:

To decide Christ is worthy of our sacrifice.

To decide Christ worthy of our time and resources.

To decide Christ is worthy of our obedience.

Basically, we decide to lay down instead of falling down. We lay down on purpose to live out our purpose.

If we are in Christ, our calling—our purpose is clear. To make disciples. To love others. To follow in the footsteps of Jesus. And Jesus laid down more than any of us could ever lay down. He laid down His very life, taking on human form to atone for the sins of man.

1 John 3:16 says this:

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (ESV)

And John 15:13 says,

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (ESV)

Laying down is leaving behind sin that besets love’s reach from our lives. A preemptive strike is order. It’s time to plan. It’s time to lay that thing down before we trip and fall over it.

What causes you to fall down?

What verses can we plan to obey and prescribe to our hearts so the love of Christ prevails in our lives?

If you need help planning, I’d be happy to help! Do not hesitate to ask!

Linking up with Suzanne Eller, #LiveFreeThursday, Kelly Balraie #RaraLinkup, Arabah Joy Grace and Truth

Photo Credit:

Pixabay
https://pixabay.com/en/slip-up-danger-careless-slippery-709045/

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When You’re Stuffed But Not Full

I was STUFFED.

I had eaten so much; there was no room to even breathe. Our anniversary celebration at a fondue restaurant was a rare treat. From the steaming pot in the center of our table, we drew bite after bite of delectable veggies, succulent meats and mouth-watering desserts.  It was the source of pure joy—or so we thought.

After about 20 bite-size pieces of decadence too many, we were miserable. A moment that should have left us satisfied and completely full rendered us feeling gross and miserable.

Stuffed With Food=Stuffed With Stuff

As we sat down to the sumptuous meal it was no doubt, a beautiful spread. Granted, it was a fondue experience, so the meat was RAW—yet it was so beautifully placed on the plates ready for us to dip into the boiling pot.

Boil…Eat…Repeat. Boil…Eat…Repeat. Until all was consumed. In the end, we had nothing to show for the dining experience other than a fat bill and an equally fat gut.

We began ravenously hungry and ended up totally miserable. And oddly, about 12 hours later, we could have repeated the entire process, AGAIN.

Enter the world of STUFF. Things that should satisfy us often leave us feeling miserable. Or gross. Or overwhelmed. Or… And the truth is, no amount of stuff (or food) will ever fully satisfy.

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World<Soul

Matthew 16:26 says this, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” There are so many things from our own lives we can apply in this verse:

What will it profit if I gain all the food that I want and yet lose my own soul?

What will it profit if I gain all the money that I want and yet lose my own soul?

What will it profit if I gain all the toys, fun and adventure I want and yet lose my own soul?

What will it profit if I gain all the blessings, safety and comforts I want and yet lose my own soul?

ANSWER?

NOTHING. Comforts, adventures, food, money—STUFF—will be of no use. Zero. Because like Grandma always says, “Ya ain’t takin’ it with ya!”

The stuff that matters so much in the now, doesn’t really matter that much in the end. So, where does that leave us?

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It leaves us to view things as God does. Does God bless us with stuff? Absolutely. He gives us good gifts all the time. (Luke 11:13) And we humans require provisions to make it in this life. But I can say with all certainty stuff isn’t what God cares about the most.

In Matthew 16:22, Jesus begins showing the disciples He will suffer, be killed then raised. And Peter, true to form, throws a little hissy-fit. He says, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”

Well-meaning Peter wants to preserve Jesus here on earth, but Jesus corrects him saying, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (emphasis added)

Woah. Peter loved Jesus and didn’t want harm to come to Him. That is a good thing right? Even a “God” kind of thing, right?? Apparently not. Not when it is motivated by a human mindset.

Often, good stuff can even be a hindrance to a Godly mindset. And those things profit us zippo, nada, zilch.

No wonder we feel so bad when we’re stuffed! Stuffed after an extravagant meal, stuffed to the brim with earthly possessions, even stuffed with ideas that God would surely approve of…

Everything always boils down to this: Jesus’ suffering, death and rising from the grave is what matters most. Period.

It is ours to set our minds on the things of God. To set our minds to filter everything through the lens of the Gospel. It starts with a thought that this world isn’t all there is, but all that’s in the world can be used to point us and others to the cross.

Then we can moved from “stuffed” to fulfilled in Christ.

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How do you struggle with the burden of stuff?

What ways can you change your mindset about stuff to think about it with a kingdom focus?

How has this posted encouraged you today?🙂

 

Linking up with Suzanne Eller, #LiveFreeThursday, Kelly Balraie #RaraLinkup, Arabah Joy Grace and Truth

Photo Credit:
Pixabay
https://pixabay.com/en/chaos-room-untidy-dirty-messy-627218/

https://pixabay.com/en/fondue-swiss-fondue-cheese-708186/