Our Ability to Create

While riding my bike I pray and ponder. Sometimes my husband and I can get into deep theological discussions. Yesterday when we stopped for got a drink we discussed the wonder of our Infinite Creator. I was struck by all the plant-life visible before me, more than a dozen distinct plants. My husband went on to add the myriad of bugs and creatures we couldn’t see living within those plants. My eyes looked to the cars and buildings just beyond the narrow patch of plant-life before us.

What an incredible reality that God would intentionally place within us, His creation, a part of Himself, the ability to create. Yes some animals use tools but none create them. Monkeys use tools of opportunity to break open a seed pod to satisfy their bodies need to eat. Most animals will build a nest to give birth to their young. But they don’t build lasting structures like we do. Things humans create are novel and designed to last.

We not only create homes from resources like wood, we combine substances to create new materials for our creations. Bricks, steal, and plastic are all formed from naturally available substances man has mixed and worked into something new. Animals don’t do that. Humans are touched with the fingerprint of God and entrusted with the incredible ability to create.

There are somethings we create that serve an important purpose for a season and are eventually discarded for an improved version or something entirely new. Horse and buggy for primary transportation has been replaced by the automobile. The airplane is preferred to driving or boating for long distances. But we all have our preferences, Amish don’t own cars but will ride in one. There are several different manufactures of automobiles and people will readily tell you they prefer XYZ brand. Does it matter if you need a ride and your friend shows up in his ABC model? No.

I don’t know anyone who refuses to ride in a different brand of car, or would refuse to accept a car given to them for a gift. I have preferences for my home but if I got one as a wedding gift I would have moved right in and enjoyed it. I think most people would agree with me. So why do we become so divisive about other things?

After our discussion about creation, man, responsibilities, and being good stewards of the earth while not falling into worshiping the creation we continued our ride and my pondering continued on worship. Believers worshiping the Creator. Yet, Sunday morning continues as the most segregated times in America. I’m not talking about race, although that remains an issue within the church it is lessening. The more disturbing division lies in denomination.

I don’t consider myself non-denominational because that has become a denomination defining a specific group or type of church. I am Anti-Denomination. This is new for me and I know God has directed me to this place. Several years ago I heard a Baptist pastor speak on this and called denominations divisions. I have begun to see denominations as man-made brokenness. Can we speak about loving your neighbor, those who hate you, or the person who strikes you, while at the same time declare my church is better than yours because we are XYZ and you are ABC? I know people who will refuse to enter an ABC church, even with family while visiting their home! I used to be one.

Let me clarify, I am not saying one must attend a service for a non-Christian faith. Nor am I saying it is a sin or forbidden to attend one either. If Jesus went to bars and hung out with the prostitutes and crack dealers of His day, if Paul, Peter, and other disciples attended Jewish Synagogues where they did not believe in Jesus, then what are we to do? They all faced criticism for their actions, Jesus was condemned for being with the lowly and Peter was attacked for teaching truth. Yet we can’t even get over a church if it sprinkles or dunks.

Revelation chapters one through three are letters to churches. Churches that existed then but are also representative of churches today. John, the Disciple Jesus loved, was still alive so this was not long after Christ Himself taught. Yet not one church is without fault. Are we so arrogant to believe that two thousand years later one denomination above all others has it perfectly correct? Do you really want to know the Family of God? Go visit a different church or a denomination you left years ago. Ask God to give you eyes to see and ears to hear. If you seek, and call out to Him, God will answer no matter where you are, a jail cell, boardroom, mosque, even an XYZ church.

Has God led you to visit other churches? Have you resisted when invited? I would love to hear your stories and what you have experienced. Comment below and like me on Facebook.

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Water Cycle

The Earths Water Cycle

I took Monique to a festival this weekend and she stopped at a booth that had a poster of the water cycle. She looked at the cloud and blue arrows headed toward the earth with trees, layers of rock, sand, dirt, and water below the surface. We talked about the process of precipitation, filtration, and respiration leading to more clouds.

The water cycle poster had other elements but this was enough in its simplistic beauty and profound importance to life. She told the man in the booth her teacher taught about the water cycle. He was satisfied and I didn’t have to listen to his spiel, win-win. We walked on and the cycle looped through my mind and again on Sunday. The water cycle not in the physical sense but the spiritual truth it represents.

Water Cycle
The Physical reflects the Spiritual in the water cycle as well. What we absorb as truth we express in words and deeds. Do you need a Spiritual Soaking in God’s Word?

Significance of Water

Water is a profound substance of God’s creation. Vital to all physical life, and vital to the spiritual as well. The physical water protects a baby in its mother’s womb. Unlike other substances water expands when it freezes to protect the abundant life hidden within all bodies of water. Otherwise lakes would freeze from the bottom up. Spiritual Water brings life, protects, and sustains us, without water we will die.

Spiritual Water Cycle

Spiritually water represents God’s Word and Wisdom. I water my plants on Wednesday – water Wednesday – by giving them a good soaking. On Sunday I saw that same connection – I get a good soaking on Sunday of God’s Spiritual Water for my thirsty soul. I read my Bible, pray, and talk about spiritual things but there is something special about Sunday service gathered with others to soak deeply from God’s Word and Wisdom.

I was reminded of the water cycle, God precipitates Wisdom and Spiritual water for us when I gather with others on Sunday, and any time I seek His Truth. It filters through me and I can become transformed, revived, and energized. And when opportunities arise I have the privilege of respiration – sharing God’s Wisdom and Truth through my words, and actions.

Soaking Sunday

Sometimes I am profoundly touched by what is said on Sunday, or what I read in the Word. Sometimes it’s a reminder of what I know to be Truth. God uses it all as I live out His Spiritual Water cycle. It brings life, encourages, sustains, reminds, and protects in so many ways.

It’s your turn. Have you heard something at church or Bible study that someone needed to hear from you a few days later? How are you soaking in God’s Word and Wisdom this summer? I would love to hear about it. Comment below and share your thoughts.

 

©2016 ElayneJCross

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Who I am

Who am I?

I recently had to give a 3 minute pitch to an organization describing who I am and why I should be elected to leadership. It wasn’t something I prepared and it wasn’t difficult.

I told them my name, my history with the organization, and my vision for the future. I was asked one question, how? That is a loaded question. I answered it with a new idea that had been percolating in my own mind for years.

My opponent was asked another pointed question, why? All the voting members were instantly looking back on past activities and decisions. The account was being called and an answer demanded. The only wrong answer is a lie, there were no lies given that I could identify.

One day I will face the same question, why? I’m no stranger to it, neither are you. We all have to give an account from time to time, particularly if you are a parent. When we begin to talk, we demand a justification for how the world works.

Why, why, why…

Why do I have to push my glass in from the edge of the table? Why can’t I go out with friends? Why did dad leave? Why did I fail? Why do you …? Why looks back.

History

It all started there. What brought me to this time and place in my life? My story is complex and complicated with multiple layers of experiences and decisions. I am what remains. John Kasich recently said we can choose to be a victim or push against the wind.

I spent years as a victim waiting for someone to help me or change my situation. But then, I got up and changed myself, helped myself, and chose who I allowed to influence my decisions. I have some very ugly answers to why, but the story doesn’t stop there. But now, is the answer I am proud of. But is a transformative transition if you choose to push against the wind. I was a victim as long as my mind built retaining walls out of poor choices and bad experiences. When I realized I built my victim cell, I could destroy it. Gone was my isolation and in time people who like who I am filled its place.

Who am I?

I am me and I’m good. My vision for my future is brighter than the why of my past. Things I thought were barriers were lies I told myself and others reinforced. You can’t, you’re not, you will… But now they are stepping stones and course corrections to who I am. How it proceeds now matters, and it’s up to me.

Who I am defines me.

I get to say who I am. I can say I am a six foot tall man, but I’m not. When I define myself others immediately begin to test me. Does my history support my claim? Does my behavior, appearance, and attitude fit the definition? If she is who she says she is, where do I expect her to go from here?

Who – Why – But Now

I was able to move from ‘who I am’, to ‘why I’m here’, and define my ‘but now I will’. Now I – looks ahead. Where I go from here. How I use who I am including all the good and bad to make a bright tomorrow – a better tomorrow. Don’t get stuck in your why, define your ‘who’ and link it to a bright future with a ‘but now…’ . Today is what remains of yesterday and your vision for tomorrow – What are you going to do now?

Have you followed your why with a but? Have you turned barriers into stepping stones or course corrections? Watched them disappear like the wind? Let me know how you see your future as brighter than your history. Are you ready to define who you are? Cast your vision and change your now.

Share your comments below, I would love to hear from you.  Share it with your friends.

©2016 Elayne Cross

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Big G little g what begins with g?

Big G
George lost his gold in a gorge! What is he to do?

Big G little g what begins with g?

Identifying objects by the first letter is an activity used to teach people the relationship between a letter and its sound. Giraffe and gold both begin with g but represent the two different sounds of the letter. J and g sound the same but are used differently. There are rules to help students learn, such as I before e except after c…

Big G little g

Capitalization is based on whether a noun is proper or common. Proper nouns include names and titles; George versus gorge. One a person’s name, the other a valley. Is government a proper noun? Should it be capitalized?

The word government describes the controlling structure of an organization or country. The United States government is divided into three distinct branches: the legislative, executive, and judicial. These separate-but-equal branches were established to function as checks-and-balances to prevent the rise of a governing class.

What is the difference between God and god?

Little g god, represents a non-specific object of worship. Big G God, refers to the Most High God, the God of the Bible for Christians and Jews. God is a specific god.

Government or government?

On the other hand government is not a proper noun and should only be capitalized at the beginning of a sentence. Yet many people look to government is if it’s God, or Government.

Government overreach is a subjective topic, how far is too far and what can or should be beyond the governments reach? Before you answer, first let’s define the responsibilities of the individual. People of faith, Christians and Jews, look to God as the source of life, liberty, happiness, provision, protection, peace, and strength. Subjective to these truths, God established the provision and authority of government.

Moses followed Jethro’s advice to created a leadership network over the Israelite’s. God set apart the priest’s to complete all the requirements of the Law, and Prophets to speak for Him. Within the relationship between God and government individuals rely on God, and the church, with their needs related to life, liberty, happiness, provision, protection, peace, and strength along with the essential human connection of community.

When government possesses the responsibility to meet the needs of individuals its role is elevated to God. Making government – Government. Let me offer an example.

Desperate and broken people looking help are sent to the government welfare office. The help they receive is machine-like. Their unique situation is quantified in generalities of dollars and cents. In essence the individual becomes dehumanized to a number on a piece of paper. The government solution includes a set of regulations and limitations creating in essence a master-slave relationship. Individuals quickly become entrapped and true freedom becomes expensive. There is little human interaction in the process leaving the person with a fish but no skills to fish. It’s important to eat. It’s hard to teach yourself how to fish when you are in distress. So more and more freedom is willingly relinquished to the master-government for some daily fish and bread.

God not government

God is a proper noun. Proper nouns signal a distinct person, place, or thing. The One and only God versus generic government. God gives you a name. He knows how many hairs are on your head, and cares deeply for you. To government you are a number, case number, social security number, ID number all easily sorted, tracked, and forgotten.

Government isn’t evil, it’s ordained by God. But when we look to government to fill the role of God, it blocks the true source of life, liberty, and happiness. It strips your identity to a number: social security, welfare, or prison ID. Government serves a God ordained role in society but it’s limited, and mechanical.

No one is without value to God, therefore no one should be without value to us. People in distress desperately need someone to care and human connections. Finding value as a child of God ignites the spark of encouragement to learn to fish.

Human connections make the difference. Your identity comes from the Father and is unique and special just for you. God desperately wants a relationship with you. When people in need seek the big G of God and His people, blessings flow. Chains are broken. Identities are restored. And Freedom reigns.

Your Turn

How are you serving others as an ambassador of God? Where do you turn first? Are you accessible to those in distress around you? Share your story below, I would love to hear about it

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Anxious Mom

Anxious Mom Trusts

Praying Mom

Motherhood is no laughing matter. I have prayed with Mothers of sick babies. Kindergartners before the first day. Before middle school. Before the first date. I prayed during the pregnancy and delivery of my grandchildren. Mothers of preschoolers, football players, new drivers, toddler and teenage temper tantrums, I have prayed about it all. I am a praying mom! I recently learned first-hand what it’s like to be an anxious mom.

Anxious mom
Anxiety feeds on fear that can only be overcome through trusting the Lord.

Peaceful Mom

I have had my share of fears and concerns but I learned long before I had children peace was available after a conversation with Father God. The Holy Spirit rushes my heart like a balm washing out the concern with peace. Things didn’t change instantly, sometimes they even got worse before they got better but I changed. How I approached the situations changed and prayer became my crutch.

Crying Mom

I’m not saying I was perfect and without concern. I cried when we didn’t have money to buy the toys everyone else had. I cried when my kids did or said things that hurt me. I cried when my kids were left out, called names, or were suspended from school. I cried at IEP meetings and parent teacher conferences. Yet the crying led to prayer and prayer led me back to peace even when I didn’t understand anything God was up to.

Confused Mom

Because I had my crutch I was confused when people I knew were anxious about their children. Some people I discounted as disconnected from God. The ones I knew loved God and trusted Him left me scratching my head. I would often include “I just don’t understand” within my prayers as I prayed for them and their situation. I didn’t.

Then my daughter came home and said she wanted to go to Prom.

All those opportunities with all those kids and when my youngest, age nineteen, told me she wants to go to prom, it hits. Anxiety knotted my stomach and trickled down my spine. Being the confidant prayer warrior I prayed. I would like to say I prayed with faith and trust that opened my heart to the Holy Spirit’s comfort and peace. NO, I prayed out of anxiety, fear, and dread. My focus was “what if” and “let her forget”. Therefore I did the logical thing and forgot about it.

Problem

Nine days before Prom I got a call from the school. Monique’s teacher called to see if I knew Monique wanted to go to Prom. And that she had asked a boy to be her date. She didn’t forget, she got a date.

That little taste of anxiety I had boiled over into an ah-ha moment. I get it. Even when I wanted to pray fear seemed to surround me. The little peace I received seemed fleeting. This was happening and I had no escape and no control.

Fear of others

I wasn’t anxious about drinking, reckless driving, or sex. I was anxious for Monique; rejection, isolation, bullying seemed not only possible but probable. Additionally I was anxious about Monique contributing by reacting or behaving in a way that would exacerbate a stressful situation. Prom is a big deal for many teens and I didn’t know how they would respond to her and her autism. But Prom was coming so in a week she got a dress, haircut, nails painted, flowers and dinner plans.

God stretched My Trust

God has stretched my trust and my confidence. The Holy Spirit had settled my spirit before Prom but I thought it was a resignation to an unknown. Little did I know how much my trust was growing. A few days before Prom I started to tell God, and myself, I trust Him. I was trying to convince myself that I trusted God, but I still had doubts.

Monique and her school community make me cry. Prom was yesterday and it was GREAT. We picked up her date and took them to dinner then off to Prom. They were greeted and welcomed wholeheartedly. She danced with her date till she tuckered him out then went out to dance with others. She got pictures with friends and memories for life.

Blessed is the Mom who trusts in the Lord … She is deeply rooted in prayer and will not be anxious.

(from Jeremiah 17:7-8)

© 2016 Elayne Cross

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Easter follows Passover

Easter’s branch with Jewish roots?

Easter follows Passover. I really enjoyed my Advent Son series as I prepared for Christmas but while studying the Book of Esther in February my spirit was filled with confusion and questioning. Not about my faith or the significance of the impending Holy Day but at the calendar. Maybe you noticed, maybe not but Easter was a month early this year. So was yesterday a better day to say Happy Easter? I think so.

Happy Easter!

Easter was March 27, 2016. But if you are Orthodox you won’t celebrate till May 1, 2016. That is a huge difference. I know you’re asking “How did Esther lead me to Easter?” If you recall Esther established a holiday called Purim which is in the last month of the Jewish year, Adar, and Passover is in the first month, Nisan (or Abib). Passover started at sundown Friday April 22, 2016 linked with the week-long feast of Unleavened Bread that runs through April 30, 2016. It appears Easter is severed from Passover.

What happened to separate Easter from Passover by 26 days?

First let’s make sure the link is clear. Jesus being Jew along with His disciples celebrated Passover together. This is referred to as the Last Supper because Jesus said He would not eat again till later. After the Passover meal Jesus went to the garden to pray before being taken to be judged and crucified, all leading to His resurrection that is celebrated on Easter. Easter is currently always on Sunday because it is the first day of the week following Sabbath. There is a little more to the story.

Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the month Nisan in the spring. The Jewish months are based on the cycle of the moon while the Gregorian calendar is based on the sun. The Jewish calendar has 12 months plus about 11 days with leap year, an additional month, to keep the months in season. Jewish leap years are on a 19 year cycle with additional months in the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 19th years. The Gregorian year (the calendar used by most of the world) has 365¼ days with a leap year, an extra day, every four years to reset the 1/4 day. The result is Nisan and April are always in the spring.

Christian – Jew Disconnect

The disconnect began sometime near the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE (Current Era aka AD). Most of the Christian church had already separated from Judaism and the time of the Gentiles hit full throttle which unfortunately led to a hatred between the two. Around 330 CE under the rule of Constantine I, the Council of Nicaea gathered Christian leaders to accept a modified calendar and a set day for Easter. Sunday became a day for Christians to worship, celebrate most holidays and it unified with the pagan society. Up to that time Christian’s celebrated Christ’s Passion concurrently with the Jewish Passover. This new calendar fueled the marginalization and persecution of Jews. Constantine II forbid the Jewish leaders to tell Jews world wide when to celebrate Holy Days and distribute their calendar. In response Hillel the Patriarch is credited with using science and math to establish the standard Jewish calendar not dependent on communicating.

Constantine’s Consequences

Easter and Passover would never be celebrated simultaneously again. Three times in twenty years Passover (Pesch) and Easter have been as much as four weeks apart. Seventeen times they are within seven days. Never did they nor will they ever fall on the same day. The severing of Easter from Passover fueled distrust and dislike between Christians and their Jewish roots.

Although the Jewish community has unified behind their calendar the Christians disagree about their Holy days. Orthodox and Western Christians only celebrated Easter seven times on the same day in the last twenty years. Orthodox Christians celebrated nineteen times within seven days of Passover. Additionally many Christian churches celebrate Good Friday commemorating the Last Supper and Jesus betrayal and trials in some form. These celebrations may include teaching, reenactments, a Seder meal, blowing the Shofar, and answering questions about the significance of this night.

Unintended Consequences

Although I am deeply disturbed by history and the treatment of Jews I see God has always protected a remnant and with them the tenants of their faith. Because of their mistreatment they have held tightly to their faith and ensured it has been passed along. I am blessed to live in a time and place where I may be able to learn and experience Passover without relying on a broken and distorted version handed down through generations of non-Jews or reading ancient text. While I have been curious about Passover, the Seder, participating in a Haggadah I’m not prevented from learning. I believe Christians are more able to learn about our Jewish roots now than in any time since 70 CE.

Happy Passover

 

Have you celebrated Passover? Are you curious like me? What are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you, comment below.

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Charlie is

Charlie is smart!

Many years ago I took a job at a small branch of a large corporation and was told Charlie is an addict. Charlie is actually a funny, intelligent, and wise man. One day Charlie mentioned his soon-to-be-ex-wife wanted to take one of his paintings he was reluctant to give her.

My Christian neck-hairs stood on end. Not because he was an addict but because he was getting divorced. I’m frustrated because good people seem to throw in the towel because marriage is uncomfortable, inconvenient, or they just don’t feel it anymore. UGH

So of course I stepped through the door he opened and asked why he was getting divorced. I wasn’t prepared for the answer. He was divorcing the wife he loved deeply, to save his life. It took some time for me to fully grasp his reasoning.

Charlie was relatively fresh out of rehab and working to stay clean. I had no understanding of that. Oh I know my share of addicts but none who were in this stage of recovery. Past admitting there is a problem but before fifteen years sober. In fact about eight months later he gave me a 1 year coin celebrating his first year clean-and-sober.

How does an addict move from user to fifteen years clean? One day at a time. I know it sounds cliché but watching Charlie at work taking hundreds of one-day-at-a-times impacted me in ways I am just now realizing.

Charlie is taking control

So what did he do?

Charlie went to rehab and took an account of his life, his trajectory, and confronted himself. He had the added encouragement from work that said this is your one-and-only chance with us. External motivators can have some influence but ultimately change only lasts when it’s internally driven.

Charlie returned from rehab and started the real work of living without hiding behind drugs and alcohol. This is where life happens, daily choices really matter. You can drastically change your trajectory by making one tiny shift today then adding to that shift by agreeing with it tomorrow. Then increase the shift by adding a little every day.

For an addict the first day without using feels like an extreme shift. Extreme because they’re out of their comfort zone, but the zone is very close at hand. All their friends, contacts, sources, and enablers are right there. They don’t like the change because it’s their comfort zone too.

Charlie is wise

Charlie recognized his circle of influence would impact his success.

Work became a safe place for Charlie because one person who partied with him was fired and another quit because of his behavior. When he returned from rehab two of the three other employees were new and had no reference to his old habits. He was honest and open about his history but he worked clean and sober. I only knew the true Charlie, not Charlie the addict.

Home life was not as good. Charlie’s wife insisted she didn’t have a problem and she should be able to drink or use drugs if she wanted. Charlie agreed. But her choices impacted him, so he filed for divorce. He knew he had to take responsibility for who he allows to influence his life. The risk was too great to stay. His life was more valuable than his marriage.

That was hard for me to wrap my head around.  

Charlie is
When you let life control you it can define you but you always have the option to take back control of your life and change.

All the time I say “nothing is wasted in God’s economy.” This is one harvest I am reaping years after it was planted. I still have that 1 year coin that has the serenity prayer on one side. On the other it states “To thine own self be true; recovery, unity, and service. It’s one of my most treasured possessions reminding me I must be my true self, made in the image of God, for His good service.

I am responsible for me and my choices. What I allow to influence me impacts my walk with God. Every knee will bow before him and all the finger pointing ended in the garden. Spring is a great time to confront myself, look at my trajectory and take an account of my life.

  • Where am I headed – what’s my trajectory?
  • Am I an influencer where I need to be?
  • Who or what influences me?
  • What influences positively impacts my relationship with God?
  • What have I allowed in my circle of influence that negatively impacts my relationship with God?
  • Have I elevated something above my relationship with God?

Charlie’s wife was a type of idol to the god of addiction. He knew if he remained with her he would bow his life once again to addition’s will. Things that we can’t live without sit on the throne of our heart. These are idols and we weren’t created to worship idols. Idols can be people, activities, and things.

It’s your turn. Share how you have taken back control of things in your life. What type of things get in the way of growing your relationship with God?

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Cultivating a Worship Lifestyle

Worship Lifestyle

When a person first comes to Jesus, it can be compared to the first blind date in a new relationship; the history is short, but the future is bright and promising. Corporate worship at church is a platform for believers to communicate with God and to learn how to hear Him communicate with us.

Creating a personal attitude of a worship  lifestyle is how we give thanks in all things and in all our ways acknowledge Him. The more history we have with Jesus, the more we are able to know the love He has for us. The more we love God, the better we get at loving others. A Worship lifestyle is acknowledging God in all things, His “worth-ship.”

Your body is called the temple of God because when you trust Jesus, He sends the Holy Spirit to live within you. The Holy Spirit speaks with your spirit, the part of you that desires a relationship with God. The Holy Spirit interacts and can influence your soul, the human part of you that is your thoughts, will, and emotions.

The Holy Spirit also gives each of us gifts. The first gift He gives each of us is the sense of completeness as that missing piece, the God-shaped hole in our spirits, is filled. The Holy Spirit assists you in living the Christian life. The evidence of this is a more keen awareness that some of the things that you enjoyed now seem wrong; that is the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Another is in the fruit of the Holy Spirit; love, joy, peace, mercy and other responses seem more authentic than they did before. As you learn more about God’s character through worship, the Spirit’s fruit will become more abundant and effective in your life. Challenging situations become less challenging when you know more about trusting and depending on God through the Holy Spirit.

worship lifestyle
“In response to all God has done for us, we worship.” Wounded Church

In response to all God has done for us, we worship. The worship lifestyle we develop as a result of the relationship we cultivate with Him. Some of the sweetest ways we communicate to God is when we acknowledge the abundant, expansive blessings and love that He has shown us. When the presence of God becomes profound, the cares and thoughts of life flee and the abundant grace of Heaven fills every space. Worshiping God for all He has done for us is not just an event but a mindset and a way of life.

Exposing a Worship Lifestyle

  • When you accepted Jesus, the Holy Spirit came to live within you.
  • When you go about your day and realize God does not ever leave you because He lives within you, you develop a lifestyle of worship.
  • When you go to work and do what needs  done, you worship by using the skills and abilities He has given you.
  • When you come home to your family and love your spouse and children, you worship.
  • When you collect your pay check, acknowledging God’s provision and gifts, you worship.
  • When you honor and acknowledge the gifts and talents of others, you worship.
  • When you do things for others or give your offering, you worship.
  • When you sing praise to God, you worship.
  • When you take time to learn about God and listen to His small voice within, you worship.

So as you prepare to attend Sunday Service keep in mind that you are in training to see and hear what God has for you. Then use the rest of the week to acknowledge God in all things, Worship!

Excerpt from my book Wounded Church to be published soon! Stay connected to read more about it.

Share your worship by commenting below a way or two you live out your worship lifestyle!

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Be My Vision

Opportunity fuels a vision, you do your best then wonder was it good enough.

Have you had the privilege of having God stir your heart? It sounds profound and it was, it is. Who am I that the creator of the universe would reach out and so clearly remind me I matter to Him? Wow, God touched me!

Over the last two weeks I have studied to facilitate a lesson for my life group. Ordinarily Sam, a gentleman twenty years my senior and even more in faith, fills that roll. Yet, he asked if anyone would like to lead a lesson. I love the opportunity to study and share, noticing one lessons was Esther, I volunteered.

He was pleased and I was excited.

On Saturday my excitement turned to unrest. It was the day of the meeting. I tried to go over my notes, seek God’s direction, and be well prepared. It didn’t go unnoticed I was a woman facilitating a group of couples from a conservative denomination. When I offered, I rejected the gender issue because the topic was Esther. Whispers of doubt and rejection flitted through my mind trying to discourage me. Music soon took over my thoughts.

During the week I had heard a hymn I wanted to share. I hadn’t heard it in a long time but it constantly came to mind. On Saturday I saw how it reflected Esther. She must go to the king, uninvited, and plead for the life of her people.

I felt an anxiety I haven’t felt about teaching for a long time. I have grown to love and respect these people, would they – did they – hold enough favor for me to show up, respond, or participate? As my husband drove I found the song on my phone and my nerves settled immensely. Pulling into the drive I knew it was time to step out and just do it.

We were a minute late and only one other person had arrived. Discouragement tried again as Sam offered me his seat at the head of the table. More arrived, we filled our plates and cups and I began with the hymn. Be thou my vision performed by Rend Collective. A determination to finish filled me even while a constant awareness of who participated and who didn’t kept picking at me through the evening.

Vision
When God uses a song, over and over again He is trying to encourage you or direct your path. Stop and seek Him in prayer.

When all was finished, I closed the meeting with prayer. Doubt dance through my thoughts. ‘Should I have had Sam or Bryan close the time of prayer?’ I responded thinking “I drew out the important points, made applications to life, and many people participated.” I had completed the task yet …

I realized it wasn’t her, or any persons approval I was seeking but God’s.

As we drove home my husband said we could attend Sam’s church. We had visited a few times but still had our own home church.

I have to admit I wondered if anyone would mention how I did. I didn’t want approval or praise as much as I didn’t want rejection even if it was just through silence. When I approached Jeanette and she told those with her what a great job I did I realized it wasn’t her, or any persons approval I was seeking but God’s. Had I completed the task I volunteered for? Was Father God pleased with how I shared His truth for us today?

The service got underway and I felt calm but not an assurance. As the intro to the second song started my heart leapt. I knew immediately what the song was and assurance was mine. At some time the music director planned this hymn, and God knew it. God touched me with an ‘atta-girl’. Even the sermon resonated with God being there when we need Him.

Keeping my vision in line with His

I try to keep the Lord ‘my best thought in the day and night, His presence my light.’ I want Him to be my “inheritance now and always; the first in my heart; the Sovereign of heaven my treasure, not man’s empty praise.’

  • High King of heaven, my victory won.
  • May I reach Heaven’s joys, O heaven’s bright sun,
  • Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
  • still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Have you had an opportunity you turned to a vision you executed but needed assurance that God sent? Have you had God send several versions of a similar verse or song that increased your courage and strength to carry on? Comment below I would love to hear your story. If you like this or it has encouraged you share it with a friend or share on Facebook.

©2016 Elayne Cross

 

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Tuesday with Monique

Tuesday seems to be a day I have to be ready. Several Tuesday’s last year and two this have required strength I lack. What is with the second day of the school week? As I sat to write this I turned on Pandora and the first song that played stopped me and reminded me what I need is just a prayer away.

Tuesday
This school year has been rough to say the least. Growing up with autism is hard work!!

Week One

Tuesday following Christmas break I had to pick up my daughter Monique because she refused to go to ‘work’. Work is a transition training program with the local high school to prepare her to work/serve in some way after graduation.

Wednesday I kept her home because she refused to shower on Tuesday. Can’t go to school or work stinky.

Week Two

Monday she refused to get out of bed because her alarm didn’t go off, she forgot to turn it on and I forgot to check. She was late but had a good day.

Today is Tuesday!

She was argumentative and forgot her key. I texted her teacher to see if Monique could make it without me bringing her key to school. She has to use a lock with a key because the combination is too difficult. He responded he was home sick and the kids would not go to work. Immediately thinking, ‘I should just go pick her up, she has a substitute aid and now a substitute teacher.’ Before I could decide the school name showed up on caller ID. Expecting her voice I was only slightly surprised to hear the principal greet me.

She kicked another student and would be suspended for three days.

Really what is the point in her going on Friday? It’s one day then the weekend. Then it’s just one Monday away from Tuesday!

Perspective

From the schools side they are looking toward the ten days of suspension mark. Where protocols collide with disabilities at a manifestation hearing.

We already had one manifestation hearing this year. At a manifestation hearing the education team gathers (special education teacher, regular ed. teacher, administrator, director of student services, school psychologist, parents, case manager from county DD, and others).

  1. First determine if the behavior is related to the disability. Absolutely.
  2. Second establish a plan of action to understand, control, or modify the behavior in question. I wish I knew how! This behavior is new and unpredictable.

Silent tears fall. I pull myself together, scrape the new fallen snow from the van, and head out, praying all the way. I pray through the Stages of Grief by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. I add Surrender.

Prayer anchors me

I can’t imagine riding this roller coaster without the comfort prayer offers. Is it a crutch? You bet it is because I would never be able to stand on my own. When we return home the tears fall again and I begin gathering support. A call to action, my texts go to family and friends explaining the situation and our needs; wisdom, tools, insights, and clarity to help Monique communicate clearly and express her emotions, needs, and wants less aggressively and violently. Peace for my heart and good decisions. Prayer is the first and best reaction when life blind-sides me.

Response

When we call out for assistance the worst thing that can happen is no response. I had called out, to God, to friends, to my husband. Assurance and support came from those who love me, texts of prayers and encouragement blew up my phone. The most powerful was the response I got from God. It could have gone unnoticed but I have practiced my listening, and I work to maintain connection. Not only did God use people I know but music by Casting Crowns and Brandon Heath also touched my weakness with His strength. I opened a document that held encouragement from my other daughter from 2012.

Do you know someone who has special needs? Autism? Downs Syndrome? Birth Defects? Genetic Defects? Do you know someone who cares or helps support them? Comment below with a first name and commit to pray for them, I will join you and together may God’s Kingdom come into their lives and bless them.

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