Be Transformed by the Renewing (Renovation) of Your Mind

- (Romans 12:2)

Womb

September 17, 2022

First of all, let me start by stating I am not a theologian. 

But here are some thoughts I had while reading on the elliptical at the gym yesterday (God talks to me a lot there):

…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. (Eph 1:4-6)

There is some controversy in the Church about the concept of “predestination.”  Now I did not launch a big study on the use of the term in the New Testament.  I did look it up in the Strong’s Concordance.  In the Greek, it simply means to “determine before” or “to ordain.”  Ordain means “to invest with ministerial or priestly authority,” to “authorize,” or to order or decree by virtue of superior authority.” (American Heritage Dictionary).

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it like this: “to destine, decree, determine, appoint, or settle beforehand.”  The Free Dictionary adds, “To fix upon, decide, or decree in advance.”

The Cambridge Dictionary asserts, “If an action or event is predestined, it is controlled by God or by fate.”  Is this true???

I think perhaps never in my lifetime have I ever witnessed the accepted meaning of words to undergo more alteration than in just the last few years.  In addition, I think it is safe to presume that the definitions in dictionaries are not a result of divine inspiration in the way that the Bible is. I am always saying that the meaning of any Biblical passage must be understood through the grid of Scripture.  In my mind, the true meaning of predestination as it is uttered by God through the writers of the New Testament has to reconcile with the Biblical reality of “free will.”

Let me appear to digress.  God teaches us a lot about spiritual and natural truth through the experience of parenting.  And even if you’ve never been a parent, you have at least been a child of parents, or perhaps have some idea of what the heart of a parent is supposed to be.  Each time I gave birth to a child, and even while my babies were still in my womb, I had great plans.  I had intentions of striving to be the best mom ever!  I greatly desired my children to be healthy, happy, loved, and successful in life.  I purposed for them to be in church, raised to know the Lord, and to be born-again. I planned to do everything I could to make all of that happen.  You could say that I “predestined” my children to have GREAT lives.  This was the destiny “I” had planned for them.

Did all of that happen because I predestined it?  Sadly, no.  Enter free will and bio-psycho-social-spiritual forces that acted on and in each of my children, apart from my feelings, wishes, decrees, expectations, authorizations, support, and intentions.

I propose that God’s “predestination” might have similar constraints.  Just like I have loved each of my sons, regardless of anything, from the moment I knew of their pre-born existence until now, God declares that “He so loved the world” (I assume that “the world” includes everyone).  He’s a Father!  He loves every single human being He has ever woven in a womb, and His intention was and always has been to include each person into His family and lead them in an amazing, fulfilling life. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). But there was a condition, a caveat: willingness and obedience.  Of their own volition.  Free will.  Who was God talking to back then?  Unregenerate Israelites in exile, pre-Christ. Who is He talking to now?  You and me and, I think, everyone else.

In the song, “Beautiful Boy” about his son Julian, John Lennon offered the lyric, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”  Boy, howdy!

Does everything “intended” happen?
Does everything “authorized” happen?
Does everything “decreed” happen?
Does everything “willed” happen?

Have you ever “invested” in something or someone who did not rise to their potential?  Has God invested in people who did not rise to their potential?

My experience has been that few things, if anything, have gone exactly according to plan. Sometimes very much not so!

But we’re not God, are we?  God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, we are decidedly not. He has all power and authority and we don’t.  I hear it said all the time, “God is in control.”

I ask myself, does God, as a heavenly Dad, always get what He wants?

Does everyone get saved, or do some choose the path to destruction?

Does God want children to be molested?
Does God want human beings to be sex trafficked?
Does God want natural disasters that kill thousands?
Does God want terrorists to blow up cars and buildings with people in them? Does he want armed robberies and school shootings?
Does God want animals to suffer sickness, torture, or abandonment?
Does God want people to fork themselves to death, or die by the needle, bottle, pipe, or pills?
Does God want broken hearts, loneliness, deformities, disabilities, mental illness, cancer, and car wrecks?
Does He want bone-crushing, life-hemorrhaging loss?

God is in control, but is He controlling? Is He exerting His will over mine or yours or anyone else’s?

If God controls everything, then He must “will” these things, right?  He is using it to “teach” or to bend a person’s will, to avenge, or punish.  I’ve heard it all.  But how do we reconcile those notions with the fact that good and perfect gifts are FROM God (which implies they are willed, or wanted, by God) and that He tempts no one with evil? The testimonies that arise from overcoming hard things can be gifts too, but the horrors like those listed above are not gifts.  They are a result of sin, sickness, and death coming into the world through transgression.  Not gifts!

What about the people who ARE overtaken?
What about the people who don’t cope and kill themselves?
What about the circumstances that DO overwhelm and destroy?
What about the people who don’t make it, in any sense of the word?

Could it be that God, in all His authority, wisdom, and power to “control” has chosen to self-limit?  I think so.  Put another way, could it be within God’s ability to control that He chooses not to, and simultaneously that He’s brilliant enough to “work it altogether” for the good of his overarching purposes, down to the minutia and in spite of the choices of individuals, groups, and nations?  I temper these ideas with the understanding that I am thinking out loud, based on the encounter I had with Scripture yesterday at the gym. These are evolving thoughts, and I am sort of still just in the “wow” mode.  It’s like contemplating eternity.

And the manifold wisdom of God.

He gave us the right and capacity to choose.  He wants us to love and choose Him, just like I want my boys to love and choose me.

Verse 4: …just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…”  Wait, what?  Pretty sure the sperm and egg that created my physical body did not exist before the creation of planet Earth. Did my spirit and soul exist before the world did?  I don’t know.  I’m fairly certain my consciousness did not. But I do know that God exists outside of, and apart from, time.  It makes sense to me, then, that He already knew who would exist before they existed and what choices each person would make once they existed. In other words, He already knows who is and who isn’t His.  He is at the beginning and at the end of all stories, so of course He knows!  Haven’t many of us had the experience of coming back into the fold of God’s family, after a season of indifference, rebellion, or outright rejection, and concluded that God had His hand on us the whole time, even though we could not perceive it?  For US, those who love God and are called according to His purpose, He has been and will be “working all things together for good (Romans 8:28). “All things” to include ALL--good, bad, joyful, painful, just, unfair, righteous, evil, and everything in between. I think this promise possibly predates and is active disassociated from our loving Him, in the sense of time.

The benefits of the cross—salvation, healing, and deliverance—in my present understanding, were pre-planned, pre-ordained, and pre-destined for us, God’s spiritual children.  While His hand is retroactive, we could not and cannot tap into our inheritance without…..CHOICE.

Furthermore, Ephesians 1:13 states, “…after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

Different translations of this verse word it a bit differently, but I think the KJV gets it right…. the Holy Spirit living inside of us, by virtue of God’s offering and our acceptance, is the “seal” or “proof” of His ownership and is the “earnest” of our inheritance.  When I bought a house, I put down “earnest money” --- that is an exceedingly small portion of the total purchase price. This was to indicate my intention and “seal” my promise to move forward with the purchase and pay the whole amount.  So, what I recognize this verse is saying is that the “holy Spirit of promise”—and all that He makes available in salvation (another good study)—is but a down-payment, a preview, a miniscule representation of the FULL inheritance that is to come when our redemption is complete at the end of time.

WOW!!!!  What does this mean to you and me, and why is it such a potential source of emotional comfort???

Because every blessing named in Deuteronomy 28, the 23rd Psalm, the benefits of the cross, and the many promises asserted throughout the Bible—all of it is included in the combination of the “earnest” (down-payment) and the full inheritance.  Whatever you don’t get here you will get there, because every promise of God will be fulfilled when we choose adoption as sons and daughters, heirs with Christ!

2 Corinthians 1:20: For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen.

Isaiah 55:11: So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Matthew 24:35: Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

2 Peter 3:9:  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise…

This has incredible implications for the things we are standing on God’s promises for, which in my case is primarily the salvation, healing, and deliverance of my children and restoration of damaged family relationships. My pastor told me recently that the significance of an intercessor is that it ensures God will avail my loved ones the greatest opportunities possible to accept Christ, and the eternal inheritance that comes with that.  Glory to God!!

While I am believing to see the “goodness of God in the land of the living” concerning the healing of my family, I am quite certain that if I go to my grave having not seen it, but open my eyes in heaven and they are there, that anything that happened or didn’t happen down here on Earth will be swallowed up and cease to matter in that moment, or ever again. For example, I was shut out of first apartments and the 21st birthdays of my sons. So many milestones have been missed, so many holiday celebrations and family gatherings have been marred by their absence, and on some occasions I have been uninvited. So much has been stolen from me, from them, from you and from yours.

“What I am doing is better than a thousand 21st birthdays!” is what He told me one day.

So when I say it’s coming, I truly mean I know IT’S COMING!!!  The only thing that can get in the way is a choice.  And this praying mamma is believing for a Jonah experience, if that is what is necessary to get the job done.

I heard this Sunday school song in my spirit just now as I was typing:

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart 

Where?

Down in my heart

Where

Down in my heart

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart

Where?

Down in my heart

Where?

Down in my heart

I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart

Where?

Down in my heart

Where?

Down in my heart

I have peace today because my eyes are fixed on Jesus, and every day He leaves me manna on the ground.

health

September 4, 2022

It matters, but it doesn't.

I'm going to talk about being healthy, being fit and trim, taking care of our bodies, eating right. Those who know me know this is an issue that has been a source of trial and victory throughout my entire life. I have been a big proponent of healthy living and "whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. " (1 Cor 10:31) And I still am.

But the Lord has been dealing with me on the subject lately. All of those things--healthy, fit, eating right--those things can become an IDOL. Yes, imagine that! And perhaps not news. But even when we try to be temperate in our focus on it, are we really?

When you don't have time for both, have you ever been faced with the decision, "Should I read my Bible or go to the gym? "

Do you spend more time on being healthy, fit, and eating right than you do on your spiritual life?

Do you spend more time THINKING (aka "obsessing") about it than on kingdom matters?

Have you ever felt worse about an episode of overeating or skipping the gym than about missing a spiritual meal or an opportunity to be a blessing?

I have recently had some struggle in the area of eating and fitness after many years of solid victory, and have found myself intermittently obsessing....and now pondering the questions above.

Being healthy, fit and trim, and eating right matters, but it doesn't.

All I have is this moment.

In counseling couples, I use the concept of the Love Bank developed by Willard Harley, Jr. Every interaction between partners is either a deposit or a withdrawal into the other's love bank. That concept can also be applied to kingdom living. Every choice, every action, is either a deposit or a withdrawal into the kingdom of God. Each and every moment is an opportunity, and I can ask myself what is most beneficial in that moment. If I binged on a boat-load of ice cream last night and feel terrible today, does that even matter when I step into my counseling office? Do any of my clients care if my pants are tight or my arms are flabby? Or are they coming to benefit from my tender compassion, the Word of God, the wisdom, and all the treasures stored up in my heart? When a hurting friend calls me to talk, does the fact that I haven't gone to the gym in two weeks have any bearing? When my husband wants to go for a walk, take a jaunt to Anderson Island, or make love, how does it matter that I experienced a personal disappointment in myself earlier in the day?

It matters if I let it matter.

I am my own worst enemy!

An important tool in the overcoming toolbox is the wisdom and ability to shake off the blunder that just happened and make the next right choice. This tent my spirit and soul live in needs proper care if I am going to stay here on Earth and remain useful. Probably. Some people manage to live to a ripe old age even having sorely abused their bodies. It's definitely a risk, though. But my flesh-and-blood body is not going with me. It's not eternal. PEOPLE are eternal. What I store up in heaven is eternal. This earthly life in a flesh body tends to be fraught with temptations and set-backs, but each moment is still alive with the opportunity for me to choose something with lasting value. When you approach overcoming this way, crappy patterns of behavior lose their muscle. The stronghold loses its ability to impact.

You may have heard me talk about the 12-Step principle of "Act as If." Act as If you are FREE in this moment. Because in this moment you can be.

Then do the next right thing.

Anchor

August 26, 2022

There is no doubt that I am an over-sharer. I live my life on the transparent side. There is a reason. Over 30 years ago, I requested of the Lord that no painful thing in my life would be for nothing or go wasted. I am here today because certain people, as my husband would put it, would not “shut their hole.” I am here today because in 1935 two men wouldn’t shut up about what and Who helped them to overcome alcoholism, going on to develop the 12 Steps and the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. I am here today because a chaplain in a hospital blew through my resistance and gave me a fresh revelation of Jesus’ love for me. I am here today standing strong because of the many testimonies people aired publicly. I am bold today, because of the dirt others allowed me to see that informed me I am not alone or terminally unique. I am here because of the unapologetic preaching and teaching of the Word of God.

I am sure that there are people who are bothered by me, that have such personal knowledge of my life that they are offended or disbelieving. I decided to not worry so much about that. My kids are not friends with me on FB and probably have blocked me. My sharing personal things is never to shame or embarrass anyone. Maybe some people think my honesty makes me a navel-gazing wallower, or that I am an attention seeker….they can go ahead and think that. Maybe there’s a smidge of truth because I did once want to be a singer in a band! –LOL! But mostly I just want it all to matter and to make a difference. And I want to keep my own sanity! When I share real life, for every twenty people that cringe or roll their eyes, there is one who is inspired or encouraged. I love that!!! I want everyone to know it’s okay to cry in church. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to have days when you’re not okay, and it doesn’t make you weak or faithless, or mean you are a hypocrite. I want to encourage everyone with a hard story--TELL your story so that others may benefit. The picture I have in my head is of being in a boat, and all around me are people drowning, clawing and grasping, choking for air. I am reaching out to any who will take my hand. If you know Jesus and have a story--even if it's a work in progress--you are in the boat and have a life-saving, sanity-saving message!

Some of my best work has been during times when I was personally very sad. It reminds me that it’s not about me, it’s about Jesus in me.

"You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart." (2 Cor 3:2-3)

Morning blog

July 23, 2022

When I was a child, my mom took me to church. I asked Jesus into my heart when I was 11 years old, and I participated in all the church things, but there was something missing. I couldn't seem to connect with God in a personal way. I didn't understand the Holy Spirit or what prayer was supposed to be or do. God seemed like a satellite in the sky, and me?--a random number on the earth with no real significance. I was too embarrassed to admit I wasn't dialed in, and became increasingly disillusioned over the next several years. At 14 I wandered away in search of something....

Something more impressive, maybe.

As an adult, I heard my own son, who was a church-goer at the time, but in terrible crisis, say, "I cried out to God for years, and He never came."

Since then, I have heard countless clients tell of similar experiences.

You would think of all people, children would connect easily with the Lord, but it doesn't always roll out that way. God doesn't always rescue us when or in the way we would prefer to be rescued.

I want to speak to those of you today who are believers, but still feel deep down like you are on the outside looking in.

I've been there. Lots of people have been there. There are a lot of pretenders, even in the Church.

I want to encourage you, beg you even, to not give up! There is something there worth having, something worth pressing in for. The something that is missing is there. The power is real. The acceptance you crave is available. The new life others talk about is available for you. That peace, joy, and wisdom you've witnessed in some believers is not an act. Transformation from the parts of yourself you despise is more than possible. Broken pieces, shattered hearts--there is healing for that.

Jesus is a real person, and He actually does want you. Desperately, longingly.

But you gotta go for it. Jump in, all the way in. State your intentions to God and ask Him to meet you where you're at. Admit you're struggling, humble yourself. He will come! Just don't ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up!!

Someone needed to hear this today.

https://youtu.be/Z9V0_hd886E

May 6, 2022

One of the scariest things is when a person replaces the Bible with their own understanding and reasoning. If I was the devil, I would do two things: lead people to subjugate the authority of the Bible to their own thoughts and feelings and I would target people in the Church to be enticed into sin, causing others to cry, “hypocrite!” and turn away from the truth and toward their own folly.

Without Biblical authority, there is no definitive right and wrong; there is relativism, chaos and confusion, self-will run riot. Without God’s all-wise and loving boundaries, temporal suffering and eternal death abounds. Paradoxically, there is joy, peace, freedom, and eternal life when we voluntarily enslave ourselves to Christ—that is to simply love and obey.

Wherever there are people, there is imperfection--sometimes gross imperfection. God alone is perfect. His Word is eternal. His prescription is effective. His roadmap is trustworthy.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Renovation Biblical Counseling

April 10, 2022

Front Porch Friends Conference--Cleveland, TN

From my notes, first night, Karen Wheaton

"What the enemy meant to break me has failed!" (from worship)

I don't know about you, but of all the devastating things I have experienced, having a child in peril, having a child turn away and against me, having a child rewrite history and malign my love and character has no equal, no parallel.

BUT HERE I AM, STILL STANDING!!!! Here you are , still standing! The enemy has drug us through fire and water, but we are neither burned nor drowned! HALLELUJAH!

In fact, the opposite is true. Karen called it her "sweet revenge." Not only is it not taking me down, but the enemy is going to wish he'd never messed with me because I'm going to go BIG!!!

Now most of what I just wrote wasn't actually said, this is just one thing that exploded in me during worship.

Miss Karen said, "Only weapons are mighty through God."

These weapons are:
The blood
The Name
The Word

Foolish people (the foolish things of the world) are God's "special forces" to confound the wise. I am chief among those.

For my own self, it started to crystalize in a much bigger way than ever before that all the craziness that has followed me through life....the enemy has been trying to take me out, to abort the call and the mission.....because I am a "transitional person," and perhaps you are too. More on that later, but suffice it to say that many testimonies are hinged on your testimony, on your willingness to persevere and fight. And the devil knows it. He wants to destroy you. He wants you to quit or at least shrink back.

We need to know our enemy's weapons:
Ignorance--not knowing the Word, not knowing who we are in Christ. We should continually seek revelation and wisdom. Fear -- fear is a tormenting spirit and a thief. Worry is a fear that you are meditating on.

"IF YOU WANT YOUR WORST FEAR TO COME TO PASS, MEDITATE ON IT!" (Yes, I am shouting)

Worry is SIN. It doubts and questions God's character and whether or not He will keep His Word.
How do you not worry? Miss Karen says, "Pray about everything!" He that dwells in the secret place--not occasionally, but lives there--surely He will deliver! (Ps 91, Mat 5:6) Furthermore, perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Get to know His love. That has been what I have been earnestly seeking for the past couple of years....to know Him like a Daddy.

I would add that you also stop worrying when you meditate on Him, His promises, His love, His faithfulness, His ability.... Fill your mind with HIM!

It is completely our responsibility to keep ourselves stirred up in faith. No one is going to do it for us. It wasn't cheap to go to this conference, but it has CHANGED MY LIFE! Because I am changed, it is going to change the outcome for my children and many others; it is going to change ETERNITY! Think about that!! It was worth a thousand vacations, cars, entertainment, or anything else I could think of to buy or think of as a necessity. I am not saying that you have to spend a bunch of money to have faith, but I am suggesting that you aggressively seek opportunities to stir yourself up so that you can stand against the mental assaults of the devil. One idea is to start an envelope and stash money away, so that when a conference like the one I just attended is announced, you can go without a financial hindrance or crisis. For me, this was a Divine Appointment and God met me there. Start planning your life around what it takes to stay HOT and full of faith and vision for the mighty works of God to explode into your story, and your children's story, and their children's story and other people's children's stories, and whatever else God has called you to.

As Miss Karen rightly stated, "It's going to cost you. It's going to cost you everything."

And it's worth it! They are worth it!

February 02, 2022

FEBRUARY CHALLENGE

"When He (God) becomes your chief joy, all other aspects of life find their proper place." (from the First15 devotional)

I have been thinking about this and what it means for me and for you. What are the "aspects of life that we may desperately want to be in proper place?

I want to lose weight.

I want to go to the gym consistently.

I want to be more organized.

I want to read the Bible more regularly.

I want to cultivate a more fulfilling marriage.

I want to get a handle on my finances.

I want to manage the household better.

I want to finish the project(s) I started.

I want to move up in my line of work.

I want to overcome an addiction or bad habit for good.

I want a better relationship with someone I care about.

I want to worry less and have more peace.

I want to practice better self-care.

I want to find my purpose in life.

I want to __________________________________

Consider that the satisfaction of these things may result as more of a bi-product of prioritizing your life around knowing the Creator and basking in His love and fellowship, rather than being centralized goals in and of themselves. Maybe the gumption and wherewithal to do the things you know to do, and to balance them in a healthy way, results from the mysterious transfer of clarity and strength that comes from walking with God intimately.

When you think about it, what are you trying to muscle your way through in your own power and understanding ? What are you constantly on your own back about?

You may fear that if you let up for one moment, if you shift your focus off of "the thing," that it will only get worse.

What if you tried a different way for, say, six months. An experiment. What if for the whole month of February, you concentrated the most on getting to know your King and Friend better, and opening yourself up to Him like you never have before.

This is my challenge to myself this month. Lay down the whip of condemnation and seek Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength!

October 16, 2021

WHAT WERE YOU DOING WHEN HE ATTACKED?

This morning I listened to the First15 podcast from a few days ago, about seeking God in solitude. This song was the featured worship. I wrestled with it at first, thinking "NO! This is not my experience! This is HARD, not effortless." But then as I let the words wash over me, and meditated on them, I reflected on some realities. "When You're this close" is not about God being close or not close, for the Bible is clear on that subject. Rather, it's my perception of His nearness, which has everything to do with what I am or am not doing to spend time with Him.

I am just coming out on the other side of a pretty significant battle. One of the questions I have learned to ask myself when I finally realize that I have been attacked by the adversary is, "What were you doing when he attacked?" That will usually provide the answer to what he is trying to distract me from and get me to stop doing. What I was doing this time is I was hot and heavy in intercessory prayer. I had a designated prayer closet (Tyler's old room) and it was a place of incredible power and peace. I was walking around the lakes near my home, interceding. I was worshipping. I was listening to Karen Wheaton on Wednesdays and the World Prayer Network calls on Sundays. I was on FIRE!!!! The first hit was I lost my prayer closet because my step-son moved into it. Then a cascade of other things started crowding out and/or distracting me from my spiritual life and practices. The "want to" started to wane and guilt and condemnation crept in, until I was I pretty depressed and mad at myself.

But God is faithful, isn't He? In various ways, He has reminded me that this load I am carrying and the peace I'm craving....it IS effortless when I carve out the time daily to seek Him in solitude. There have been so, so many times when I entered my prayer closet with grief so big I thought I might die, or frustration so overwhelming I couldn't imagine being able to move forward, but then after just a little time in His presence I came out refreshed, empowered, and able to get through the next 24 hours triumphantly.

I am thankful for the support network I am a part of, where I am able to have a sounding board, share in a common journey, and hear from God through others. It is in part because of this important facet of being part of the Body of Christ that I am able to stay in the saddle on this very, very messy journey.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)

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June 15, 2021

FOR PARENTS of PRODIGAL CHILDREN

You know how you read a passage 100 times and then one day you see it with fresh eyes? OMG, this is what jumped out at me today: We were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many. (1 Cor 8-10) As I have shared in tears with many moms and dads over this plight that has overtaken our children, we often describe it as a death. The death of the child we knew, and an anguish within ourselves that is like a death. Yet here in this passage, Paul speaks of God's deliverance from "death," real or figurative--past, present, and future!!! Furthermore, as we spoke of in last night's share and prayer call, the gift of deliverance, of life, is procured through intercession, in particular CORPORATE intercession. That we come together and intercede for one another and our children is the vehicle through which God operates to His glory in answering our prayers.

March 11, 2021

IT SHOULD TASTE AMAZING Back in the late 80's and early 90's when I was in the process of overcoming an eating disorder, I made a couple of commitments to myself: first, that I am important enough to take the time and effort to prepare delicious meals for myself, even if it's only for me. Second, everything I eat has to meet two criteria: it must be good for me and it must taste amazing! I've been keeping that promise to myself for about thirty years. Those two commitments were transformational. I morphed from fearing food and viewing it as the enemy, to celebrating the gift of eating. I know many of my readers have struggled, and perhaps continue to struggle, with food/eating/body issues, so I just wanted to share this snippet of my testimony to give you hope and maybe some inspiration. I could write a big long article to expound on that, but it's already done for you on my website at https://livrite.com/eating-disorders/ Today, I am going to share some of the quick and easy things I've been eating and enjoying this past week, just as an example. BULLET-PROOF COFFEE: My version, without the added fat. I love my coffee in the morning, and it is an integral part of having "Coffee with Jesus" to start my day. I make it by placing two super tiny pieces of good dark chocolate in the bottom of my favorite 16-oz. coffee mug, adding a fingernail of cayenne pepper, a few drops of liquid vanilla stevia (current favorite brand "plnt") or a pinch of monk fruit, 3 cups organic coffee, Kauai Coffee Coconut Caramel Crunch, or Coconut Coffee, and a splash of plant-based milk, such as unsweetened coconut or vanilla almond milk. Benefits of cayenne: reduce hunger, lower blood pressure, aid digestion, relieve pain, reduce cancer risk, anti-inflammatory, boosts metabolism, and more! BREAKFAST BURRITO: Can be gleefully consumed any meal of the day. I like to grill my filling ingredients on the BBQ, but you can do it stove-top or in a wok (add additional chicken broth, if needed), too. I chop up my favorite veggies: sweet onion, bell peppers, various other peppers including half a habanero (I like everything hot), zucchini, lots of mushrooms, and garlic. I make enough to fill a medium mixing bowl so I can eat this every day for several days and/or share. I tend to have cooked chicken on hand, so I chop up some of that, or shrimp, along with some tomato and cilantro. I then take a medium mixing bowl and add about 2 tsp. of oil and about a T. of chicken broth. To that I add liberal amounts of various seasonings to taste, such as Kroeger Nashville Hot Chicken Style Seasoning, Weber Kickin' Chicken, Weber Roasted Garlic & Herb, Weber Garlic Habanero, Grill Mates Spicy Montreal Steak, Grill Mates Sweet & Smokey, Trader Joes Chile Lime, and Olivelle Habanero Heat. Yes, I use them all! I toss the veggies in the bowl, with meat if it's raw, and put on the BBQ, stirring occasionally. (I have a great long-handled grilling pan for that). While the stir-fry is cooking, I scramble one whole egg with two or three egg whites and set aside. When the veggies are close to being done, I add the garlic, tomato, and cilantro, along with pre-cooked chicken or shrimp if that's what I am using and heat 2-3 more minutes. When this is finished, I put the stir-fry in a bowl, add the scrambled eggs, and toss well. Next, I take a large whole wheat tortilla (I like the Ole' brand), or wheat/corn blend, and sprinkle it with just a tad of three-cheese blend (grated Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano) and nuke for 25 seconds. Then I place a slice of avocado, a dollop of fat-free sour cream, and a good splash of steak sauce on the tortilla, mash it around with a fork, top with burrito filling, wrap and ENJOY! NOTE: With or without the egg, this stir-fried filling by itself makes an excellent meal. SALMON OR POLLOCK BURGER: I like the Trident brand sold in the frozen section at Costco. Super quick and easy to make. While your frozen fish patty is cooking, sauté some sweet Walla Walla or Vedalia onion in water or chicken broth. Toast a whole-grain thin bun (I like Fred Meyer's brand of 100% whole wheat sandwich thins, usually the cheapest around; it saves about half the calories of a regular bun). I top my burger with the onions, pickled jalapenos, sliced tomato, lettuce and a good dose of Southwestern/Sweet & Hot Sauce sold at most grocery stores under the store brand. ASIAN MEAL SALAD: I use baked or grilled chicken, salmon, tuna, or shrimp for this dish. On a small dinner plate or in a large soup bowl, I tear up red leaf and romaine lettuce and sometimes add spinach. I top with my choice of meat, chopped green onion, purple cabbage, red, yellow, and/or orange bell pepper, pickled jalapeno, and grated carrot. Then I add cilantro, toasted sliced or slivered almonds, and avocado chunks. I make my own dressing (1/2 c. brown rice vinegar, ¼ c. + 2 T. canola oil, 1 tsp. sesame oil, ½ tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. sea salt, and ½-1 tsp. rapadura , coconut sugar, or granulated stevia or monk fruit, shaken and chilled). I top with a few croutons, a tiny sprinkle of three-cheese blend (grated Parmesan, Asiago, & Romano) and sometimes a sprinkle of toasted sesame seed. This is especially yummy when the meat is warmed before adding to the salad. Sometimes I add some dried cranberries for fun, but it's hard to find them without added sugar and oil. I might try dehydrating my own in the air-fryer. STUFFED POTATO:I make mine with chopped cooked chicken or shrimp sauteed in chicken broth with minced or mashed garlic. With the meat cooked and set aside, I first cut up some broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms and steam it. While veggies are steaming, if I haven't baked a potato, I nuke a small-to-medium red or Yukon Gold potato. I cut open the potato and mash it flattish, top with the steamed veggies, and meat, pour salsa all over it, and top with a tiny sprinkle of grated pepper-jack cheese for flavor. Then I microwave until heated through and the cheese is melting. I top with a dollop of fat-free sour cream and I go to heaven and am quite full and satisfied. FIT FARE VEGGIE SKILLET: When I think of restaurants I have historically not been very fond of, Denny's is definitely on that list. But a while back I discovered this amazing, tasty Veggie Skillet on the menu, and I have been going to Denny's on purpose and re-creating the meal at home ever since! The Veggie Skillet consists of chunked red-skinned potatoes with the skin on, broccoli, peppers, and onions, topped with spinach and scrambled egg white, and served with salsa (I also add ketchup) on a sizzling skillet. It is the bomb! I eat half and save half for the next day. MOON MILK: I discovered this recipe and modified it to my liking when searching for stress reduction and sleep remedies. Sipping Moon Milk at night is now a much looked-forward-to part of my sleep hygiene. I heat one cup of unsweetened coconut or vanilla almond milk. To it I stir in 1 tsp. Ashwagandha root powder (I bought a 1-lb. bag of Organic Spice Resource brand through Amazon—inexpensive and may be a 20-year supply), ½ tsp. cinnamon, ¼ tsp. ginger, pinch of nutmeg, several drops of vanilla stevia, and a super tiny smidgeon, maybe 1/16th of tsp. of coconut oil for mouth feel. Blending with a small hand blender would be ideal, but mix very well by hand at the very least. Smooth, creamy, and comforting. I have read it takes 4-6 weeks to experience the therapeutic benefits, and I am still in that time frame. Benefits of Ashwagandha: boost brain function, lower blood sugar and cortisol, increase energy, increase concentration, reduce anxiety, stress, and depression, improve sleep and help with insomnia ; benefits of cinnamon: loaded with anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory, reduce risk of heart disease, improve sensitivity to insulin, reduce blood sugar, and protect against cancer; benefits of ginger: help with weight-loss, lower blood sugar, anti-bacterial/viral, lower cholesterol, aid indigestion, help prevent cancer, and protect against Alzheimer's; benefits of nutmeg: pain relief, soothe indigestion, improve cognitive function, aid skin health, detoxification, reduce insomnia, alleviate oral conditions, enhance immune system, prevent leukemia, and improve blood circulation. Committing to a life of healthy eating does not have to be a jail sentence or an endeavor in deprivation. Most of your favorite foods can be "healthified" and made to taste AMAZING! Cooking often from scratch, emphasizing "God Foods" (foods that grow on trees, bushes, stalks, or come out of the ground), and portion control has simplified my eating style and obliterated any need for a "diet" to follow. No need to count or weigh anything. With years of practice, I pretty much know what and how much to eat to maintain, and there just isn't a lot of stress around it. I eat to live and enjoy it as well. You can, too!

January 20, 2021

This morning, the Lord led me to Psalm 37. This is a well-worn chapter of scripture that I have often read, meditated on, and decreed over events in my life. But today God invited me to review it with fresh eyes as I lifted up prayers for our nation.

This Psalm is PACKED with good advice and reassurance for the perilous times we have been in and are facing.

We are to:

Trust in the Lord

Do good

Dwell in the land

Feed on His faithfulness

Delight in the Lord

Commit our way to Him

Rest in the Lord

Refuse to fret

Cease from anger

Depart from evil

Wait on the Lord

That's it. That's what we're supposed to be doing while God unfolds His plan for this nation and the world in the time we have left. I don't believe this is a call to passivity, for "doing good" and "committing your way" can and should include putting hands and feet to your persuasion. Christians ought to be engaged.

A few quotes to bring comfort and peace:

For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who WAIT on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.

The wicked plots against the just, and gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, for He sees that his day is coming.

The Lord knows the days of the upright, and their inheritance shall be forever. They shall NOT BE ASHAMED in the evil time, and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. But the wicked shall perish; and the enemies of the Lord, like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish, into smoke they shall vanish away.

Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell forevermore. For the Lord loves JUSTICE, and does not foresake His saints.

The wicked watches the righteous, and seeks to slay him. The Lord will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.

I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a native green tree. Yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more. Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.

But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them; he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, BECAUSE THEY TRUST IN HIM.

We are told to trust and to wait, because everything is in God's timing. Don't be moved by what you see and hear, but keep your eyes fixed on God. There is certainly more going on behind the scenes than we can even know. The enemy works by sleight of hand and hopes to deceive even believers that we would become discouraged and cast away our confidence. Don't be charmed!!

Remember, trust is worship and rest is warfare!

And no matter what does or doesn't happen, we know God wins and His children with Him.

March 27, 2020

How Long Do You Want To Chew That Corn?

When my younger sister and I were little girls, there was a policy laid down by our parents that we had to eat at least one bite of the vegetable that was served at dinner time. Now there were a few vegetables that we could get down without too much trouble, but some were more problematic. My sister despised corn in particular, and it happened that she often would still be at the table, a half hour after everyone else had finished their meal, still chewing that bite of corn.

I often wondered over the years, why would my sister chew that bite of corn for so long? Why would she choose to keep on tasting that yucky taste, when she could just swallow it and get it over with so much more quickly? Perhaps she was more afraid of gagging than suffering the taste a little longer...

I was listening to a particular Karen Wheaton video this morning for about the fourth time, and this time the Lord brought to my mind my sister chewing the corn. In the video, Karen talks about trials, that some trials are a testing of our faith, and that they each have a date on them. However, our response to the trial, may impact how soon that date is. I got to thinking about the trial I am currently still in and the trials that some of you are facing.

I am the mother of three prodigal children, complete with estrangement from two of them--that's my current ongoing trial. Exceedingly painful! Maybe you are going through something similar, or wrestling with the effects of a painful childhood, a troubled marriage, financial stress, mental health issues, sickness in your body, the death of a loved one, a shattered dream, a betrayal, or something else. How are you responding to your trial?

Some people respond to a trial by running or numbing....coping with alcohol, drugs, sex, relationships,

pornography, gambling, gaming, shopping, sleeping, etc. to momentarily distract and mask unpleasant feelings.

Other people respond to a trial by conceding (at first resisting, but then embracing) because the pressure to accept the trial as fate or even God's will is deemed too intense and the journey of faith too difficult to traverse.

Still others respond to a trial by freezing, unable or unwilling to make a definitive choice about what to think, believe, or do, which amounts to doing nothing and is a choice in and of itself. They perpetually waffle between fighting the good fight of faith and caving, and continually gasp for air in the sea of doubt. This is perhaps the

most turmoiled, beat up group of all.

And all of them, in an attempt to spare themselves from gagging, are electing to keep chewing the corn. The date on the trial is being pushed further away.

There is a a better way. There is a way to swallow the corn and usher in the power of God to deliver what has been promised to you.

When Karen Wheaton was facing the trial of her life, God told her this: "Trust is worship and rest is warfare."

When we trust God in the trial and believe that He is faithful to His Word, that is the highest compliment, the highest form of worship we can offer Him. As Karen points out, our prayers made in faith are the "conduit" through which God brings the answers and manifests His promises.

That kind of faith brings a peace, or a rest to our souls, because we know that we know that we know that He has heard us, He is working (even if we can't see or feel it), and He will keep His Word. Then, even while the storm is still raging, we can live our lives joyfully and productively in the waiting. Brothers and sisters, that is when the battle becomes His and not yours!

Thus says the Lord to you: 'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's. (2 Chron. 20:15)

Is this an easy walk? No! We need to spend time with God and we need the love and support of each other. God has communicated with me as I've studied His Word and sent many messengers through the body of Christ (sermons, prophecies, conversations with individuals, things in books and articles, videos, and seemingly random other avenues) to strengthen and encourage me as I continue to stand on the promises of God for the miracle I am believing for.

God cannot speak to you to guide and encourage you if you are not seeking Him, listening for Him, and putting yourself in a position to receive. You position yourself to receive by participating in the spiritiual disciplines of studying His Word, worship, prayer, and fellowshipping with other believers through a local church and other ministries.

If you've been chewing corn, make this day the turning point. Commit yourself to earnestly contend for the faith, (Jude 1:3) and run your race with endurance, so that after you have done the will of God you may receive what has been promised you (Heb. 10:36 & 12:1).

When I am down, and, oh, my soul, so weary
When troubles come, and my heart burdened be
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit awhile with me

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be.
--Josh Grobin

December 31, 2019

Yesterday, I needed to hear from God.

As I was praying and doing housework, a familiar but not-recently- thought-of verse popped into my head: 'Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)

I was prompted to go look it up in my Bible to read the surrounding text.

Sunday, I don't know if it was in church or something I read, but I had been pondering since the notion that overcoming is fostered when the emphasis is on drawing closer to Christ rather than on resisting temptation or trying so hard to be perfect. When our relationship with Him becomes the priority, whatever we are struggling with begins to lose its power. Zechariah 4:6 seemed to strongly speak to this and the whole issue of trials in life, whether personal weaknesses or awful situations.

Here is the larger passage:

So he (the angel) answered and said to me:

"This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts.

'Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone

With shouts of "Grace, grace to it!" ' "

(Zechariah 4:6-7)

I felt impressed that God was saying we can appropriate those verses to our current challenges.

"This is the word of the Lord to Gretchen: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts.

"Who are you, O great mountain of __________? Before Gretchen you shall become a plain (level ground,

insignificant)!

The power of such a statement is readily apparent. This is the word of the Lord to us, if we will walk closely with Him = and wholeheartedly believe that to us the promises of God are yes and amen (2 Cor. 1:20) and that He will always lead us in triumph (2 Cor. 2:14). Our mountains will be leveled by His Spirit because of our trust, our confession, and His great grace toward us.

What mountan are you facing? Sickness? Financial strain? Addiction? Sexual brokenness? A prodigal child? Mental health problems? A shattered relationship? Bad habits? Try speaking to your mountain this way: "Before me you shall become level ground!"

If you believe it, there will be levity in your heart and a spring in your step.

Happy New Year, my friends!

December 23, 2019

Have a minor or adult kid you're worried about? This article will encourage you.