Devotionals

I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N

What does it mean to be a Christian? It means I am who HE says I am.

Shout out to my 80’s Bible School buddies!  Where’s the s’mores? Did y’all sing this too?
This song just brings joy to my heart. I remember being so proud of myself when I  could sing it and spell it faster and faster right along with my mom and the big kids.

Life was so easy when I was little, living in my little Texas town, where my Daddy was the  preacher and my Momma played the organ every Sunday morning and the piano in the little chapel every Wednesday evening. Wednesday evening church was a favorite of mine because we always sang out of the Cokesbury hymnals. Everything was simpler then. Weekend Revivals were gospel music-filled, Holy Spirit motivated community events with three-legged races and homemade ice cream. I always wondered if it was as magical for the grownups as it was for me. I hope it was. I loved that time in my life.

It’s a different world, and I’m one of the grownups now. Being a Christian is a life I choose to make for myself and for my own children to grow up in. The magic of being a Christian as a grownup is that now I get to experience the renewal of life. I know what it feels like to be called to action by God. I understand WHY those gospel songs are so amazing, and I sing Victory in Jesus at the top of my lungs every chance I get.

So what does it mean to be a Christian, now that I’m a grownup?

I am who HE says I am:

I am a child of God.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. ~ John 1:12
I am renewed.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17
I am redeemed.
And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. ~ Romans 3:24
I am accepted.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. ~Romans 15:7
I am created to do good.
For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God  prepared beforehand so we may do them. ~Ephesians 2:10
I am chosen and dearly loved by God.
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy,  kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. ~ Colossians 3:12

Hallelujah Thine the Glory! Hallelujah Amen! Hallelujah Thine the Glory! REVIVE US AGAIN!

Devotionals

The Little Keychain by the Washing Machine

“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” ~ Matthew 8:5

When I take a step back and look at my life, with everything I’ve been through, and everything I’ve done, I wonder how could anything pure could still exist in me? No one gets through this world untouched. And like a lot of people, not only have I been touched by the world, it’s flat out beat me down a time or two. And that leaves a mark just as surely as sin does. That’s where bitterness, anger, coveting… all stem from. Broken dreams, broken promises, insensitivity, frustration, betrayal, battle, condescension, these are all things that destroy what was once pure. And that’s just lightly touching the surface.

So when I read the first part of the verse, “Blessed are the pure of heart,” I say, Yes, bless them, we need more of them, bless their pure, sweet, innocent hearts. And then I read the rest of the verse, “…for they shall see God.” And I think, “Just them, or does anyone have a bible with a different version that’s maybe a little more vague and encompassing? No? Then what does that mean for me?”

What does it mean to have a pure heart? How can I ever get one of those?

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”

That tells me right there, in and of myself, it is impossible for me to have a pure heart.

But, what is impossible for me, is possible for God. By the grace of God, I can have a pure heart.

I think a pure heart is a forgiven heart.

One night at a bible study, our lesson was based on a Rob Bell video we watched. The message had this to say: There is nothing you could ever do to make God love you less. Nothing you could ever do to make him love you less. Nothing. This message really meant a lot to me because I grew up hearing these words from my parents my whole life. “There is nothing you or your brother could ever do that would make us love you less.”

When I was about 7 years old, my brother and I accidentally broke something of mom’s. I don’t remember what it was, but we were afraid to tell because we didn’t want to get into trouble. When Mom found out (as Mom’s do), she decided she needed to come up with a way for us to feel like we were able to come to her with anything we’d done. So, one day, she got us together and showed us a keychain. It was a simple little keychain with a picture of a puppy on it. She told us that any time we did something we were afraid to tell her about, we could bring her the keychain. It didn’t mean we wouldn’t be punished, but Mom promised us that if we brought her the keychain, she would not get mad or yell, but she would talk to us about what had happened or what we’d done. We didn’t have to be afraid because she would always love us, no matter what we did. She hung the keychain low on the wall on a nail beside the washing machine and told us it would always be there when we needed it.

I remember, vividly, one occasion when I used the keychain. I had been sent to my room as punishment for something I had done. I was so mad about getting into trouble, I wrote on my bedroom wall in big, little kid letters, I hate mom. I don’t remember what I used to write it with, but I do remember that it didn’t come off with an eraser, and it didn’t come off with water. I instantly became afraid, and ashamed. I knew three things for certain. I knew I was going to have to tell mom what I’d done. I knew that it was going to hurt her badly. And I knew there was no way around it, because there was absolutely no hiding it.

So, I walked into the kitchen. With trembling hands I removed the keychain from the nail, and with tears streaming down my face, I went to find my mom. She didn’t get mad, but when I told her, she started to cry. She hugged me, and took my hand and led me into the kitchen. We got a small bucket from under the sink and filled it with soapy water, my mom handed me a sponge, and together we walked back to my room, and to my wall. The worst part of the whole thing was the guilt and shame of having to face those blatantly mean words again in front of her. She knelt down beside me, and together we scrubbed the words off the wall…every last mark. I still, to this day, feel terrible for writing it. But I don’t remember ever talking to mom about it again.

I decided to use this story as an illustration at one evening service when I volunteered to give the message. I thought I’d better let Mom know and make sure it wouldn’t upset her again to hear it. I asked her if she remembered the keychain she gave my brother and I and she told me that she did. She said she’d even thought about that keychain just a couple of days earlier. I took a deep breath and I told her what I planned to say about my writing on the wall and what a horrible daughter I am. She sat and listened until I’d finished. And do you know what she said? She said, “I don’t remember that.” She remembered the keychain, and she remembered that my brother and I had both used it a few times, but she didn’t remember a single thing we had ever done.

How many times do we fail to come to God with our sins and anger simply because it hurts so badly to have to face that sin in front of Him? How many times have we been mad at God, or too busy for God, and turned our backs to Him only to find ourselves standing in front of a wall, facing the sin in our lives, with no way to hide it, and no where else to turn? It begins with a simple prayer of complete surrender, “Lord, forgive me. Have mercy on me.”

We can’t wash away our sin without God’s help. God faces our sin with us. He washes it clean. He forgives us. And then through Isaiah 43:25 He tells us, “I – yes, I alone – will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” He forgives us because He loves us. And there is nothing we could ever do, to make Him love us less.

Blessed are those who are forgiven, washed clean, for they shall see God.  Achieving a pure heart is not something we can do once and maintain. It is a constant renewal by the grace of God.  Blessed are the pure of heart, the forgiven heart, the willing heart, for they shall see God.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a faithful spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10.

Devotionals

Focus on Faith

When you focus on your faith, you find a new perspective. You get a new angle on dealing with the world around you.

Focusing your faith can mean something different to each of us, but if you need a place to start, here are three steps to get you on your path:

1. Understand that God is not looking down you, watching you suffer in your situation. Instead close your eyes, take a deep breath, and know that He is with you, feel the comfort of His presence, and hear Him whispering these words in your ear, “I’m so sorry, sweet child. I’m so sorry you’re sad. But there is a plan. There is hope.”

2. Focus on praying for strength and do not doubt. When you do not doubt, faith is present. It’s already there. Focus on Jesus and not on your circumstances.

3. Be ready for action. Pray for guidance to know when it’s YOUR move, and use every ounce of your faith to cast any doubts you have aside.

Read Matthew 17:20, then pick up your mountain of doubt or bitterness or whatever it is standing in your way, and chunk it!

❤️❤️❤️🌻🌻🌻❤️❤️❤️

Devotionals

Dangerous Intersections

Psalm 138:7

There is a road that runs through the center of my city. Just past the university, there is a stoplight followed by a curve, then another road splits off the main road to the right. Typically, as many cars take that turnoff as continue straight. People are changing lanes at the last minute to turn off, while other cars are lined up to cross the street from both sides. It’s a busy, rushed, and at times confusing intersection. Houses line the turnoff road on the right-hand side.

One morning I was taking my daughter to daycare on my way to work. She was four years old, and I was 7 months pregnant. I’m always in the right-hand lane on this main road because I take the turnoff as it splits to the right. As I rounded the curve after the stoplight, I saw a little girl, not more than two years old, laughing and chasing a little puppy out of the open gate on the side of her house. The puppy ran right into the street just in front of me, and the little girl followed.

I slammed on my brakes. As a few thousandths of a second passed and I tried to decide what my part was going to be in whatever would happen next, the passenger door of a plumbing truck in the left-hand lane next to me opened, and I watched in absolute amazement as a man jumped from the truck that was still trying to stop – he just jumped from a moving vehicle. He landed on his feet already in a dead sprint across traffic, right in front of my braking vehicle, toward this tiny, happy, toddling girl. He scooped up the smiling child and her puppy, and ran for the sidewalk. I instinctively turned on my hazard lights, watching this unselfish act of heroism in stunned amazement. Thankfully, the cars in the lane behind me and those in the left-hand lane quickly became aware of the situation. We all just stopped and watched in relief (I cried) as this brave young man hugged the girl and her puppy close to his heart, while he talked to her and smiled at her and carried her safely up to the door of her house. The door had a lovely painted wooden heart decoration hanging on it. I often wonder how the person who answered that door must have felt, hearing about the moment I had just witnessed.

I drive that route every single day, and I always think about that morning as I pass the house. Things could have happened very differently that day. So many things could have gone wrong. But they didn’t. Because one man did not think – he just jumped. At that moment, nothing on this earth was more important to him than that child. And he didn’t even know her.

We may not always have the benefit of seeing God swoop down from above and physically pluck us out of a bad situation, but he still does it.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me. ~Psalm 138:7

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. ~ Colossians 1:13

As creatures of this world we so easily chase dreams and goals and desires – seeing only what’s just out of reach in front of us – without realizing the path we’re running full speed down ends at a dangerous intersection.  

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

I really like the first sentence of this passage. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” God is so much bigger than the temptations of this world. And in the next sentence we read, “…he will also provide the way of escape.” This says to me that when I find myself overcome by the difficulties and pressures those dangerous intersections surprise me with, there will always be a way out. There is always a choice. There is nothing I cannot be rescued from.

Read it again – out loud. “There is nothing I cannot be rescued from.

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. ~ Hebrews 7:25

God’s intervention alters the course of events for YOU and ME.

These two scriptures offer great advice to help us stay on the right path:

1. For we walk by faith, not by sight. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7

Walking by faith means we consciously ask for God’s guidance – and we follow it.

2. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. ~ Peter 5:8

Be alert, be aware. Use self-control and be ready, so that when you are confronted with something new that steals your focus and entices you to follow down a dangerous path, you will recognize when the hand of God is reaching for you, to pull you out of the way of danger.

Walk by faith, not by sight. There is nothing you cannot be rescued from.

Let’s keep looking out for each other, friends.

~Be Intentional. Be Strong. Be Faithful. Be Delivered. ~

Carrie-Anne

Devotionals

The Weight of the World

I love feeling the weight of my family. The weight of my daughter snuggled up tight to me on the couch while she plays on her phone. The weight of my son sitting on my lap while he drinks from his sippy cup and gets sleepy and heavy. The weight of my husband blanketing me, holding me.

The weight of my world.

I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Corinthians 1:4

There was a time when I lived a flighty, selfish life and let my closest loved ones down on many occasions.

Then I met my husband who rooted and grounded me in love.

There was a time in my life when I didn’t think I would be a mother, and my baby-less, infertility obsessed thoughts had me headed for a self-destructive breakdown.

Then I allowed Christ to fill and heal the broken emptiness in my heart. And through faith I was blessed with my children – who have rooted and grounded me with an unfathomable comprehension and understanding of unconditional love.

17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19

Rooted and grounded in love.

Now, when insecurities make me want to give up, when anxieties make me want to hide, when the weight of the world feels like it’s pushing me off the edge, I blanket myself with the weight of MY world.

The weight that loves me and holds me and strengthens me and covers me and forgives me.

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8

Rooted and grounded and heavy and solid and intentional and weighted in love.

~Be Intentional. Be Strong. Be Faithful. Be Delivered. ~