Keep My Eyes on You Lord

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Each time I start reading my one year chronological Bible, it is smooth sailing until I hit Exodus and Leviticus. Isn’t that sad since they are right after Genesis! These chapters are hard. So many rules. And I am a rule follower. So I wonder if they are hard because I know I could never follow all of the rules.

Anyway, I pray each day that God will let me see this text differently. I don’t want to skim over it or get bogged down. My prayer is usually, “LORD, let me see you here. Let me see the people as people, not stories.”

So, here I am, in the middle of Exodus when I begin reading about the dedication of the priests. This goes on for chapters. There are very specific instructions. God is a good God. He tells you exactly what you need to do in order to please Him. You don’t have to wonder or guess. He is clear.

As I am reading through this, the Holy Spirit whispers into my spirit, “not anymore.” Because of Jesus, we don’t have to worry about what we eat, what we drink, what we wear, even the condition of our heart. Jesus is the bridge that allows me to come before God just as I am. When God looks at me, He sees Jesus and I am fully acceptable to Him. Once again, God is very clear on His instructions, when we realize how much we need a Savior, when we put our faith and hope in God, He is pleased with us.

What an incredible God we serve. He is clear, authentic, loving and a pursuer. We don’t have to wait to be good enough. Jesus makes us good enough.

As I continue on through Exodus, I read about how Moses met with God on Mt. Sinai. The Israelites knew where Moses went and they knew why he was gone. He was having a conversation with God about them. And just to make sure they were not without a leader, Aaron was left in charge. Now Aaron was not only Moses’ brother, but also his right hand man. When Moses was afraid to speak to Pharaoh, God allowed Aaron to speak for him. Aaron had seen the power of God first hand.

The Israelites began to worry about Moses. They began to worry that he was not coming back; so they went to Aaron with a solution. “Come on,” they said. “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:1)

You might think after all that Aaron saw, he would scold them for even asking. They were God’s chosen people. He delivered them out of captivity in Egypt where they had been for 400 years. Not only were they free, but Pharaoh and the army that pursued them was drowned in the Red Sea. You know, the sea God parted so they could walk on dry land to the other side.

During other times in my life, I would judge the Israelites harshly. How could they really be so shallow and have such little faith after all God has done for them? How could Aaron listen to them? The gold they gave Aaron to form the calf, it was the same gold God had provided to them through the Egyptians as they left Egypt. The whole scene boggles the mind, until I hear that whisper again in my own heart.

Don’t I do the same thing? God has delivered me from captivity. He delivered me from habits, people, sin and thought patterns that kept me captive for years. But once I was delivered, I cleaned myself up and started to believe that somehow I did it. Or at least had a part in it. Or maybe it was the medicine provided by doctors? Or that I learned my lesson? I begin to take the credit away from God and instead give it to myself, loved ones or just things. I form my own golden calf.

Aaron and the Israelites were not bad people. They took their eyes off of God. Anytime we take our eyes off of God. Anytime we look around, instead of up. We risk becoming just like the Israelites that day. We can trick ourselves and begin to believe we can take credit for where we are. Or that someone or something deserves credit for what God has done.

This is also dangerous because it begins to give us license to judge others. Just like I judged the Israelites.

LORD, help us to keep our eyes on You. Forgive us for taking credit for what only you can do. Thank you for Your Son who makes us righteous in Your sight.

So, what are you studying?

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Teresa Neal is a Christ follower, wife, and mother. Her passion is to see women grow in their relationship with Jesus and understand how great His love is for them. She is attends LCBC Church in Waynesboro and leads a women’s life group. You can email her at connectingwomenwithgod@gmail.com.

The Truth About Your Sweet Feminine Self

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There was a lot of commotion out there this past weekend regarding our role as women in our society and in this world. If we are not careful, we can get ourselves caught up in trying to find our self-worth from someplace outside of God’s Word.

To be crystal clear: our value, our self-worth and our acceptance will never come from a law, a march or a shifting-sand political platform. They come to us from one place and one place alone – Jesus Christ.

Remember this: God-given identity is true for all women. Every single soul has value and is an image bearer of the one who created her — whether she knows Him or not.

In Genesis 1 and 2, God created the heaven, the earth and everything it in it. Each time something was created, He said it was ‘good’ – until He created man. After man’s creation, God decided something wasn’t good.

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” — Genesis 2:18

You have seen this verse before and in some translations the word ‘helpmeet’ is in place of the word ‘helper’.

Helpmeet? Helper?

They sound kind of weak, don’t they? Both words feel like God created us to stand a few steps back with eyes lowered to the floor. No abundant life for us – we simply are here to ‘help’.

But it isn’t so.

In the original language, ‘helpmeet’ is translated back to the Hebrew word ‘ezer’ and this word has a very, very different meaning.

The word ‘ezer’ means, strength, power, and rescue. One commentator translates it as a strong power and lifesaver!

So, let’s take a look at Genesis 2:18 again and place the real meaning in the text.

The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a strong power and rescuer for him.’

Our sweet Lord created us not as an afterthought, but as the crowning glory of His perfect creation!

This world was not complete (and neither was man) until our feminine strength, fueled by God’s power, arrived on the scene! He has given us large hearts to love and carry life – by our very nature, we are life givers, lifesavers and rescuers.

And anything that goes against how God created us, goes against Him.

Now girls, ever since Eve tangled with sin, our God-given qualities have been distorted.

Oh my, how they have been twisted and turned and defiled! It’s no wonder so many of us have searched for our identity and value in unsafe places.

But the truth is, no matter how messed up our value may be in our own eyes or in the eyes of others, it has never ever changed in the eyes and heart of the One who made us.

We are life-bearers.

We rescuers and lifesavers.

We possess God’s strong power expressed through our big feminine hearts.

We are smart and possess keen intuition & wisdom via the Holy Spirit.

We are valuable.

We are servant leaders.

We have God-given dignity.

And so does every little girl on this earth and those yet to be born. All are image bearers of God Almighty.

The Bible is full of women who used the attributes God created them with to influence their world for His glory.

One such woman was Esther.

Her name means ‘star’ and it is so appropriate! She used her strong power to be a bright light in a very dark time. Her courage, strength and keen wisdom led her to become the lifesaver of her beloved people.

There is also Rahab, Mary, Elizabeth, the Samaritan woman and on and on. These women — and many, many more (some named and some unnamed), have left us a legacy as God’s crowning glory.

Creation wasn’t complete without our feminine strong power!

As designed, we can illuminate His voice of life, calm, wisdom, kindness, love, empathy, loyalty and of understanding in this lost and hurting world.

We don’t need anyone out there to affirm our dignity or value. We don’t have to go looking ‘elsewhere’ for it either. It’s ours. We only have to look at God’s perfect creation and listen to the lives of our sisters in the pages of scripture.

Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. — Hebrews 13:7b

Blessings to you, my girlfriends!

Laura Acuna

 

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Laura Acuna exudes warmth, fun and authenticity weather speaking to her Bible study sisters, in front of a large group or in a one on one conversation. She passionately shares the truths the Lord has taught her through His word and through life lessons learned along the way. Married to her closest friend and encourager, she and Pat are the proud parents of three adult sons.

Laura is a graduate of Liberty University where she earned a degree in Christian Counseling and a Minor in Biblical Studies. She’s the cofounder of Sisters in Faith Ministries which includes The Manorwood Café Bible Study, Step Up Coaching for Women in Ministry and Sisters in Faith, a day conference which is in its 17th year. Laura served as a women’s ministry leader for 15 years, is a volunteer chaplain for her church and is a 2012 and 2013 “She Speaks” graduate.

Visit Laura online:  www.Laura-Acuna.com

The 8th Day of Christmas

Welcome guest writer, Laura Acuna! Laura will be speaking at our Weekend Getaway in March. Read her bio at the end of this post. Enjoy!

 

Did you know that Christmas isn’t over yet? As I write this to you on New Year’s Day, 2017, it is only the 8th day of Christmas – and there are 12!

The 12 days of Christmas began on Christmas Day, December 25, and will end on January 5 – the eve of the traditional date of the Epiphany. Epiphany commemorates the night that the Magi visited the baby Jesus.

Our culture says that Christmas began around Halloween and ended a week ago – but don’t you believe it! Christmas tradition has it right!

The Christmas story itself doesn’t end on the day of Jesus’ birth, either. The book of Luke records that on the 8th day after His arrival, Jesus was named and circumcised. Then, His parents took Him to the temple. When they arrived, they met two remarkable people. We don’t hear their names sung in many Christmas carols, but their stories are very important just the same.

Simeon and Anna were devout, elderly Jews who had been waiting a very, very long time to see their Messiah.

As devout believers, this meant that they had prayed and fasted over decades for Israel’s salvation to come.

Here is how Scripture describes Simeon:

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. — Luke 2:25

And Anna:

There was also a prophetess, Anna, She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. — Luke 2:36-38

These were two faithful people who were prayed-up and in the right position to see the answer to their prayers.

And that is exactly what happened.

As soon as Simeon and Anna laid their eyes on the infant, they recognized Him!

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No one knew the Messiah would come as a baby born to two teenagers from Nazareth, but that didn’t matter. Both Simeon and Anna had eyes to see the answer to their prayers – even when the answer came in a surprising way.

They knew Him when they saw Him.

Prayer and worship move us into the right position to see the blessing when it comes.

Anna was widowed at a young age – life certainly did not turn out the way she planned. She could have been bitter and remained focused on her loss, but Scripture says she spent her life praising God.

How many times have I missed seeing the blessings or the answered prayer when it arrives because I am dwelling what I don’t have? 

Years ago, I lived through a season of what I considered ‘unanswered prayer.’ I was so discouraged. It wasn’t until a wise, older woman brought to my attention that I needed to lift my focus off of what God wasn’t doing so that I could see what He was doing.

I was so hyper-focused on what I wanted to see happen that I had completely missed many blessings that were occurring all around me. He was answering my prayers, but not in the way I expected.

Girls, we need to lift our eyes to see the big picture.

God is working in our lives and He is answering our prayers, even if the answer doesn’t come as we thought it would.

Like Simeon and Anna, we need to be in the right position to see the blessing when it comes. Devout and faithful were not just who they were. Devotion and faithfulness are the disciplines they practiced for a very long time.

Here’s the thing – there is no shortcut to a relationship with God that can be described as devout and faithful. It takes investment, commitment, and a true desire to be a follower, not just an ‘admirer’ of Jesus Christ.

With a bright and shiny clean slate to begin the year, I pray that you will consider where your eyes have been focused. Is it time to lift your gaze to view where your prayers are being answered? Don’t miss it – they may arrive in a most unexpected way.

Much love and many prayers for a blessed new year,

Laura

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Laura Acuna exudes warmth, fun and authenticity weather speaking to her Bible study sisters, in front of a large group or in a one on one conversation. She passionately shares the truths the Lord has taught her through His word and through life lessons learned along the way. Married to her closest friend and encourager, she and Pat are the proud parents of three adult sons.

Laura is a graduate of Liberty University where she earned a degree in Christian Counseling and a Minor in Biblical Studies. She’s the cofounder of Sisters in Faith Ministries which includes The Manorwood Café Bible Study, Step Up Coaching for Women in Ministry and Sisters in Faith, a day conference which is in its 17th year. Laura served as a women’s ministry leader for 15 years, is a volunteer chaplain for her church and is a 2012 and 2013 “She Speaks” graduate.

Visit Laura online:  www.Laura-Acuna.com

Simple Joy

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love everything about it! The music, the lights, the smells, the MOVIES! Over the past few years I have been wondering why exactly it takes longer and longer for it to “feel” like Christmas to me? I keep waiting to feel that spark ignite, but it’s not what it used to be. It seems to have lost its wonderment and excitement as I became an adult.

Christmas as an adult looks much like this:

  • Decorating
  • Shopping
  • Not blowing the budget
  • Baking/Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Parties/Family Gatherings
  • Christmas Cards
  • Volunteering
  • Church Events
  • Kids
  • Trying to keep all the “traditions” alive
  • Remembering to move that stinking ELF every single night!

You know, the stuff that causes STRESS. These are not bad things at all, but there’s just so much of it! Every year I tell myself that I will do less, plan better, budget better and not procrastinate. It never seems to happen. I find myself year after year running non-stop until we finally get home on Christmas night and tuck the kids in. Can I get an AMEN?

I was amazed watching my daughter spend literally hours cutting out paper snowflakes the other day. She was so thrilled and excited with the “blizzard” she created to decorate her room with. When I look back on the things that made Christmas memories for me as a kid, it wasn’t in the perfection. It was in drinking hot cocoa and watching a Christmas movie as a family. The first sound of Christmas carols playing on the radio. Taking an extra-long drive home to see the lights. The smell of the Christmas tree farm as we cut down our tree. My dad screaming at the tangled lights every year. Baking cookies with my mom. Fighting with my sister over the hidden German pickle ornament on the tree to get an extra present. Going to church on Christmas Eve. Putting on a nativity play with my cousins. Eating way too many sweets at family parties. These are the things that made Christmas full of wonder and charm when I was a kid. I think that’s why kids truly find joy in this season, because they experience it instead of putting it on.

Do you find yourself spending so much time making sure that others enjoy their holiday that there is no joy left for you? We need to let the perfection go and focus on the things that matter. The commercialism and consumerism is just that-it consumes you. Christmas is a time to worship our Savior. To spend time with those you love and bless those who need it. The other things are wonderful, but if we want to experience joy this Christmas, let’s take off our Martha shoes and sit at the feet of Jesus.

Think of this old acronym J.O.Y. this Christmas season when you start to feel frazzled:

J- Jesus Take time to be with Him and thank God for the wonderful gift of His Son.

O- Others The greatest thing you can do is to spend time with those you love and bless       someone who is in need (whether it be physically, spiritually or emotionally).

Y- Yourself Take time to be still and be present. The dishes can wait!

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:8-11 (ESV)

What are some ways that help YOU to manage the stress of the holiday season? What helps you to refocus on what really matters and experience joy?

Love,

Diane

diane-haupt

Diane Haupt is a stay-at-home wife and mother and serves on the board of directors for The Connection. She is a fellow sinner saved by the grace of God and is an active member of LCBC Church in Waynesboro, PA where she serves on the worship team. She has a passionate desire given by the Holy Spirit to mentor and disciple other women.  You can email her at connectingwomenwithgod@gmail.com.

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9 (ESV)

 

No doubt, you’ve been tuned into the media over the past few weeks. It is safe to say there is a great level of unrest among the citizens of our great country. The two sides seem to be at war with one another, both as passionate as the other in their agendas. Our country will not stand if it is divided and consumed by quarrels and differences of opinion. United we stand and divided we fall. I’m not minimizing the weight of the issues that our country is facing. We are upagainst some very real, difficult obstacles and the single best thing that we can do as followers of Christ is to pray for our nation and its leaders. Whether or not we agree with the decision, we are ALL flawed human beings and God can use even the most flawed to still carry out His ultimate plan. Look at who He used to begin the Church!  He requires only that we trust Him and that we call on His name.

One thing that I have learned through watching these events unfold is that words matter. They cut deeper than any knife and they cannot be taken back once said.

“But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8 (ESV)

Of course, apologies can be made and behavior changed, but the scars remain. Wounds take time to heal. The same is true within the Church. Conflict within the Body of Christ is not an easy topic to discuss, but it is critical, now more than ever. Satan has been working overtime to dismantle the Body of Christ, piece by piece.

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV)

We are well aware that the first several items in the list are despicable to the Lord. Right now, I’d like us to take a moment and focus on the last phrase “one who sows discord among brothers”. This is a rampant issue within the Church and one that many turn a blind eye towards or may not even realize that they are partaking in.

Let’s look at some possible ways that this can happen:

-Not going to your brother directly when there is an offense, but discussing it with others to gain affirmation.

-Gossip and Slander OR disguising either as a “prayer request”.

-Lying or twisting the truth to suit your own interests.

-Disagreements or quarreling over minor issues that hold no weight in the bigger picture (i.e. hem length, music style, etc.).

-Listening to others only to insert your own opinions.

-Basing your opinion of a situation on hearsay, with no knowledge of it yourself.

 There are many more, but these items seem to be a common thread among women. We just love to get all wrapped up in each other’s business, insert our two cents and take sides! It’s like we feed off the energy or something. I know that I’m guilty of it too.

We must come to realize that the Church is ONE body. Not individuals. Not political views, denominations, separate places of worship or a building with four walls. When we sow discord with a brother, sister or even a group of fellow believers, we are not only harming them as individuals, but we are actually INJURING the Bride of Christ. For those of you that are married, how do you feel when someone says or does something harmful to your spouse?  I think it hurts even more than if it were done to you personally! That is only a very small fraction of the love that Christ has for His Bride. When we argue over political candidates, personal preferences or trivial things like how long a hem should be or what style of music is best, we don’t solve problems, we create discord. While at the same time, our focus is on that issue and not on the bigger picture, which is to make disciples. Satan LOVES this! He may not be able to have us, since we are children of God, but he CAN make us a poor testimony or too distracted to bother with our main mission.

To be clear, I’m not talking about theology and items that blatantly go against scripture. There is a proper way for these to be handled and an extremely long and weighty discussion for another time. I’m simply speaking to petty arguments.

My challenge to you (and myself) is:

-Be mindful and prayerful of your words. Wisdom wins over emotion.

-If you have an issue or offense, go directly to the person who offended you instead of others.

-Ask if you are sowing discord or creating unity before you speak or  when you comment on social media. Is what you say pointing others to the Lord?

And as all our mothers once told us, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!”

 

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)

 

I’m praying with you and for you dear sisters!

Love,

Diane

diane-haupt

Diane Haupt is a stay-at-home wife and mother and serves on the board of directors for The Connection. She is a fellow sinner saved by the grace of God and is an active member of LCBC Church in Waynesboro, PA where she serves on the worship team. She has a passionate desire given by the Holy Spirit to mentor and disciple other women.  You can email her at connectingwomenwithgod@gmail.com.

Our Setbacks Are Set Ups For God

Recently, my church had the opportunity to listen to Michael J. What a wonderful talent. His speaking was not only funny, but so incredibly deep. He reminded us, that those things in our lives that may seem like a setback are really a set up for what God has for us. Those very setbacks can be used to glorify God.

This has been on my mind a lot during the last week. I, like everyone else, have had hard things occur in my life. Some were done to me, but many I chose to walk that path. Sometimes I feel shame. Sometimes I think God could never use me because I have done so much.

I am currently reading through a study by IF: Gathering, “Anno Domini, The First 500 Years of The Church. I am only in the first week, but a story we have all read many times came to life for me and reminded me of what Michael J. said, “Setbacks are setups for all God has for your life.”

In Acts 9, we are introduced a second time to Saul. We first met him at the stoning of Stephen where he approved of the action, stood back and watched Stephen die. Sometime after this Saul asked for permission from the high priest to go to Damascus and continue to arrest Christians.

This might be a good time to stop the story and remind you a little about Saul. Saul was a devout Jew. He studied under a very famous Jewish Rabbi, Gamaliel. Gamaliel served in a senior position in the highest court in Jerusalem. He was highly respected for his understanding and practice of Jewish law. So, Saul would not only have a firm understanding of his faith and its laws; some of the power and celebrity of Gamaliel would have been bestowed on Saul. Another important thing about Saul was that he was also a Roman citizen.

When Saul has the amazing encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road in Acts 9; he is literally knocked down by the awesomeness of Jesus. He is blinded. Please read “The Conversion of Saul” in Acts 9:1 – 31. It is beautiful. But after going blind to Damascus and later being met by Ananias, receiving his sight and the Holy Spirit, Saul was baptized.

“For several days [afterward] Saul remained with the disciples who were at Damascus. 20 And immediately he began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “This Man is the Son of God [the promised Messiah]!” 21 All those who heard him continued to be amazed and said, “Is this not the man who in Jerusalem attacked those who called on this name [of Jesus], and had come here [to Damascus] for the express purpose of bringing them bound [with chains] before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased in strength more and more, and continued to perplex the Jews who lived in Damascus by examining [theological evidence] and proving [with Scripture] that this Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed).” Acts 9:19-22 Amplified

When we have an encounter with Jesus, we are immediately changed. Our hearts desire is to tell others and spread His name.

But Saul, wasn’t he the devout Jewish man? Wasn’t he known as the persecutor of Christians? Didn’t he have A LOT of baggage?

Oh he did, but God used that very baggage to spread Christianity. Because Saul knew the Jewish faith and he knew the laws, he was able to show people how the Old Testament time and time again pointed us directly to The Messiah, Jesus.

He had persecuted Christians. I think that once He met Jesus, this would have been a constant reminder to him that he needed the Savior and His forgiveness. I am sure like me, he struggled with shame. He also had to return to Jerusalem and face the very Christians he persecuted. Humbling.

But, there is one other thing we learned about Saul that was also very important; he was a Roman citizen. So when the Jewish leaders tried to stop him from preaching about Jesus by throwing him in prison; he reminded the Romans of his citizenship. The Jewish leaders had no power over him. He asked to be tried in Rome.

It took Saul, now Paul, years to reach Rome. And all along the way, he shared the truth with as many people as he could. While on house arrest in Rome, he shared the truth with many Romans.

Here, this is where I am reminded how incredible God is. God used Paul’s ugly past and even his imprisonment and harsh treatment to continue to further spread the Gospel.

So much so, that as Andy Stanley pointed out when he preached at our church; Rome is now the seat of the Catholic Church. The very coliseum where Christian were tortured and murdered; they are now in rubbles, but with a perfect cross at the entrance. And as he mused; “people now name their children John, Peter, Paul and their pets; Nero and Caesar.”

God, forgive me for making you small. Forgive me for ever thinking that your sacrifice was good for everyone else; but somehow I was too bad. What hubris! Thank you Lord, for taking our little and using it to make much for you; even those things we hate to remember. Father, Your ways are perfect.

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Teresa Neal is a Christ follower, wife, and mother. Her passion is to see women grow in their relationship with Jesus and understand how great His love is for them. She is attends LCBC Church in Waynesboro and leads a women’s life group. You can email her at connectingwomenwithgod@gmail.com.

Blindspot

I’m a fixer.

A doer.

When I see that something needs to be done, I do it. When I’m facing a problem, I need to find a solution to that problem ASAP. When things are uncertain, I need to know what the PLAN is to make things steady again. I literally cannot stand being in limbo. Sometimes I think this is a great trait to possess, while other times it feels like a handicap. I struggle to just be still and trust in the Lord’s provision or timing. When you are a fixer or a doer, you don’t always take the time to process and have the potential to make impulsive rather than sound decisions.

I’ve learned that it’s ok to push pause. We serve a sovereign God. Whether we are following in His steps or we decide to use our own GPS, His purpose will be fulfilled one way or another. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy when we try to rush through and “fix” things that either don’t need fixing or that need to be temporarily out of service for His greater purpose. Sometimes the obstacles in our way are actually His provision and protection. There is a lesson in everything that we encounter (good or bad), and if we choose to trust God for guidance, HE will show the WAY and HE will PROVIDE.

I can think of countless times where I have gotten impatient and thought that I could expedite God’s plan. Or stormed down doors that were not for me to open because I thought my timing was better. Every single time I got nowhere real fast. I have even audibly heard Him say to me before, “Diane, if you would just get out of the way, I can do MY work here.”

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8 (ESV)

Here’s the thing, we don’t need to see the whole picture at once. That’s His job. We only need to push pause and ask for the next step. Not the entire staircase, just light for the next step.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” Psalm 119:105 (ESV)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

Next time that you are faced with an unknown path, remember to (in this order):

-Pause

-Pray

-Trust

-Follow

He doesn’t leave His children without a flashlight.

 

Love,

Diane

 

diane-haupt

Diane Haupt is a stay-at-home wife and mother and serves on the board of directors for The Connection. She is a fellow sinner saved by the grace of God and is an active member of LCBC Church in Waynesboro, PA where she serves on the worship team. She has a passionate desire given by the Holy Spirit to mentor and disciple other women.  You can email her at connectingwomenwithgod@gmail.com.

The Unexpected

My small group has just started a slow read and study through the Gospels. I have prayed God would open my eyes to the treasures in each chapter. Even those that I would normally rush through.

Matthew 1 lays out the ancestry of Jesus, “fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile, and fourteen from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah.” (Matthew 1:17)

All of this was done to prove to the Jews that Jesus was truly the promised Messiah. In my NLT the commentary states that despite His lineage, the Jews still did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. He was not who they were looking for.

The Jews were looking for Him. They had been looking for him for centuries. But Jesus came in a way they were not expecting. See, the Jews no longer had a true king, not like David or those that came after them. They had found themselves once again governed by an enemy.

God had delivered them over and over. But, for reasons only He knows, God decided to let them have what they wanted; their own way. But in pursuit of doing life their way, they found themselves conquered over and over again. As the New Testament begins, the Jews were now under Roman rule. They longed for the days of King David. To live as their own nation. To rule themselves. They wanted another king.

God sent them the only King they would ever need, the very thing they asked for. He sent himself. But, He didn’t seem like the king they wanted. Not as a baby or as a young man. Didn’t they already know His parents and the shady circumstances of His birth? He was not what they were looking for. God would not use Him.

As I pondered this over the last two weeks, I have asked myself many times, how often do I miss Jesus? How many times does He show up for me in my circumstances and I completely miss Him?

I am at a crossroads in my own life. My daughter has flown the nest. She is doing exciting things in Georgia and I am home. I have spent every minute of the last 18 years taking care of her. Now, I am not sure what to do with myself. While I still have work, my husband and my beloved pup; I feel untethered. I am anxious. I am frightened. A little lonely and sad. I find myself looking for a new ‘thing’ to fill my time.

But my next steps have not come as I thought they might. There hasn’t been a great revelation. No dynamic offer. There hasn’t been a huge road sign telling me what to do next. No, my next steps have been to get quiet. To turn down the noise in my life. To focus on praising God. To focus not on what I need to do next, but on who He is in my life. Where have a not made room for Him.

I was looking for something to fill my time. I turned up all the noise in my life. I didn’t want to feel lonely or disconnected. I wanted the next opportunity.

But God is so merciful. He pursues us. He loves us so completely that He won’t leave us where we are. He has been whispering and knocking. “Come with me Teresa. Rest in me. I am more than enough for you. I don’t need you to do anything for me. I want you to be with me.”

Forgive me LORD, for missing you. For looking for you in media and busyness. Thank you for never leaving me. Thank you for never getting frustrated with me. Thank you for whispering to me “you are my beloved and I am yours.”

Let’s not miss Him. Take time each day to praise Him. Take time to look for Him in the ordinary. He is there. He is always there.

bio-pic

Teresa Neal is a Christ follower, wife, and mother. Her passion is to see women grow in their relationship with Jesus and understand how great His love is for them. She is attends LCBC Church in Waynesboro and leads a women’s life group. You can email her at connectingwomenwithgod@gmail.com.

Focused

 

My attention can be so easily swayed. I have trouble staying on task sometimes because I look at the big picture ALL of the time! I end up starting a bunch of things at the same time leaving me with several started and nothing complete. Take cleaning for example- I’ll start cleaning one room, then notice something in another room that needs my attention. Before you know it I’m way off course with nothing to show for my time. Remembering to just focus on the next thing helps me to stay on course. Routines and lists help me tremendously. I have no idea where I would be without my lists!

Can I get an AMEN from all my fellow list makers???

I need to remember to keep the main THING, the MAIN thing.

A sure fire way to stir the enemy is to get your prayer life in order and spend time in the Word. Much like praying for patience. Be ready when you ask for that one! You have to be vigilant—the enemy is always looking for a cracked door to get in and grab hold.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)

When you determine to follow the Lord’s leading and it’s impacting others for Christ-watch out! Satan loves to render us ineffective by our fears and insecurities. He preys on the tiniest lack of trust in our Heavenly Father. The enemy will even use mundane everyday “life” things to get you off course. To shift your focus and priorities. As believers, we can no longer be claimed as the enemy’s, but he can use other things to paralyze us into inaction and furthering the kingdom by being distracted.

Here is a great example from the Bible of yielding to distractions versus the Lord:

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)

I definitely can identify with Martha. She spent so much time being concerned about all the details and distractions around her that she completely missed out on getting to know Jesus! Mary, on the other hand, realized that Jesus deserved her full attention and the details faded into the background.

Remember what’s most important—Don’t forget to keep the main THING, the MAIN thing!

 

Love you,

Diane

 

diane-haupt

Diane Haupt is a stay-at-home wife and mother and serves on the board of directors for The Connection. She is a fellow sinner saved by the grace of God and is an active member of LCBC Church in Waynesboro, PA where she serves on the worship team. She has a passionate desire given by the Holy Spirit to mentor and disciple other women.  You can email her at connectingwomenwithgod@gmail.com.

Guilty As Charged

This past week I had seen many Facebook ads from a streaming Christian movie subscription service. They were offering a free one-month trial, so I signed up to see if I liked it (I knew I would!). Clearly they have a very successful marketing strategy—It worked quite well on me. It turns out that it was a fantastic decision. The movies have been so inspiring to say the least!

One of the movies that I watched impacted me in an earth shaking kind of way.

Like a hammer to the head.

It’s called “Do You Believe?”. The movie tells a story of how the lives of several people collide all at once and challenge their belief in the cross of Christ. In the beginning of the movie, a pastor is stopped at an intersection and a homeless man carrying a cross across the street asks him, “Do you believe in the cross of Christ?” He answers, “I’m a pastor.” The homeless man responds by saying, “That’s not what I asked you. Do you believe in the cross of Christ?”. Still puzzled, the pastor quietly says “Yes.” and drives away.

Later on, another character poses the question, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Like a ton of bricks, this question hit my heart dead on. Would there be enough evidence to convict me? Do I live my life like I believe fully in the cross of Christ? Do others see the fruit that I bear? Am I bearing good fruit? Do I point them to the cross? Do I live boldly and fearless in my faith? Do I share my faith regardless of the social consequences?

Millions of rhetorical questions along with the following verses started buzzing through my head:

Revelation 3:15 (ESV)- “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

What’s your temperature? I know that mine has struggled to maintain before, but I don’t want to stay quiet and complacent anymore. I want to be boiling and bubbling over!

Matthew 12:33- “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.”

Galations 5:22-25- “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”

The world will know who we belong to by the fruit that we bear. They will recognize us as HIS because we live in the power of the Cross.

I Corinthians 1:18 (ESV)- “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Do you take the Cross for granted? Or do you recognize its power?

Ladies, the ship is sinking fast and those who believe in the cross of Christ are in the lifeboat. I don’t know where you are in your walk, but I know for sure that I want to throw a lifeline and boldly share my relationship with Jesus without any reservations! The Cross has changed my life and I know what it can do for them too. The world is perishing and HUNGRY for it. Where would you be, right this second, if the person that introduced you to your Savior chose not to? What if they were too scared or self-conscious?

You could be the catalyst in their life.

Everyone deserves to hear the Gospel.

John 3:16 (ESV)- “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

So what do we do?

Jesus said to His first disciples, And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men’. And immediately they left their nets and followed him.” Mark 1:17-18 (ESV)

When Jesus first appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, He gave them the Great Commission- “And he said to them, Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:15-16 (ESV)

You do not need to “have it all together” to point people to the Cross. Heaven knows I don’t! The disciples sure didn’t. Christ does not call us to be perfect. He calls us to be willing vessels. The Lord will guide you to the right words and scenario. When I was working for a local Christian ministry, during the training program I was taught a valuable lesson—Always have a hand out (to those you are ministering too) and a hand up (to the Lord). You are simply the “vessel” or the “medium”, so to speak. The Holy Spirit does the work.

This post was not meant to be preachy, but to inspire those who claim to be believers into action! I was heavily convicted over this area in my life and perhaps it has struck you the same way. The two main challenges I leave you with are this:

Do you live like you fully believe in the power of the Cross?

Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone and share it?

 

Maybe you don’t have a personal relationship with Christ, but would like to begin one? Check out the verses below. Christ has made a way!

We are all sinners.

Romans 3:23 (ESV)- “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

There are consequences for sin.

Romans 6:23 (ESV)- “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God sent His only Son to be the perfect, once and for all sacrifice for our sin.

Romans 5:8 (ESV)- “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

There is a way to a restored relationship with God.

Romans 10:9 (ESV)- “Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 5:1 (ESV)- “Therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

There is grace!

Romans 8:1 (ESV)- “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

We are FOREVER His!

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)- “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

How awesome is that?!?!? NOTHING can separate us from Him!

We would LOVE to share with you and pray with you! Contact connectingwomenwithgod@gmail.com

Love you girls and praying for boldness in ALL of our hearts,

Diane

 

ediane-haupt

Diane Haupt is a stay-at-home wife and mother and serves on the board of                             directors for The Connection. She is a fellow sinner saved by the grace of                                   God and is an active member of LCBC Church in Waynesboro, PA where she                             serves on the worship team. She has a passionate desire given by the Holy                                 Spirit to mentor and disciple other women.  You can email her at           connectingwomenwithgod@gmail.com.