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This is from one of our blog contest winners, run by Mark Showalter!

Bearing Witness; My Uncut Hair by: Nancy Watrud

https://i0.wp.com/www.gospelgifs.com/art_pages_19/images/trans3s.gifI was praying. Tears were streaming down my face as I let my long hair down and draped it over my hands.  I studied it carefully, noticing the deep browns and the glistening auburn where the sun was shining on it. I pulled the length of it through my hand, then I held it out and studied the varying shades from the ends upward. It had been almost thirty-five years since it had been cut, thirty-five years of an unwavering conviction that the Word of God desired women to not cut their hair.* This standard had been strongly upheld within my organization for generations, but now this rich heritage; this unexplainable blessing was fading in relevance in the churches and rarely preached or taught over the pulpits.  It was becoming simply a tradition passed from generation to generation. The trouble is, convictions cannot be “caught” or “passed along”, convictions are a matter of an individual’s beliefs as they grow in faith and are convicted by the Word of God.  Families may plant the seed of these beliefs in their children, but they are not convictions until the individual owns them.  True godly convictions are the moral rudder of an individual and are rooted deeply in the Word of God.  How do I explain to someone the power that is in a woman’s uncut hair that has been consecrated to God?** How do we explain the power in a handkerchief that has been prayed over and anointed with oil?*** or how do we explain the power of Peter’s shadow to heal?**** Some things must be spiritually discerned. *****

It may be, those of us who were not raised in this way are more hungry for it because many of us have experienced the coldness and emptiness of a life without the peace and power of the Holy Ghost. Once we experienced it, we desperately want it in our homes and in our lives. Those that have lived in their own hell already, gladly count the cost of dedicating their life to God and do not hold any price too dear. I had already lived in such a hell and knew that this life of consecration to God was a good life. It was the way I wanted to raise my children and I wanted it for my children’s children. I remember the moment I consecrated my life to God.  I was standing in my kitchen at the foot of the stairs and was praying.  I said to Jesus, “There’s a lot in my life that needs to change and most of it’s going to take a while, but there are some things that can be changed this very night.”  I was ruthless. I packed up all of my slacks(ref i), leaving me with very few clothes. I knew I had to get them out of the house and I did. I packed up all of my jewelery except a few sentimental pieces that loved ones had given to me; the rest went into the trash along with my makeup(ref ii).  You see, I was not just hungry for God, I was desperate for God. I never wished for any of it back. These were the easy changes, but important none the less. No one had twisted my arm or held me over the fire of hell to do this. I knew it wasn’t going to buy my way to heaven. Jesus had done that for me on the cross. They simply showed me the scriptural basis for it in the Bible and that was all I needed. Because I was desperate for God and desperately wanting to consecrate my life to him.

I wondered, as I looked at the ends of my hair, if I was looking at hair that had laid on the altar in that old church where I first repented. I also thought of the many years my tears had fallen on my hair as I prayed in my home for my lost loved ones. Memories flowed before me as my hair slid through my hands and it occurred to me that my hair was a witness of my years of striving to live for God. I thought of the different times in my life that I had struggled with personal failures but had hung onto the grace and mercy of Jesus. Inch by inch my hair bore witness to times of  heartache and times of joy, times of power with God and times of great weakness.

 Then I stood and held my hair up to God.  It would once more bear witness.  I prayed, “Jesus, I will not remove the old landmark, let my hair be a witness today and may it testify to man and to the angels that I will continue to live for you every day for the rest of my life.  Let my hair declare it!”

Proverbs 22:28 “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.”

*I Corinthians 11:15; **I Corinthians 11:10; ***Acts 19:11-12; ****Acts 5:15; *****I Corinthians 2:14-15; ref i Deuteronomy 22:5; ref ii I Timothy 2:9-10

 

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Posted by on December 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Characteristics of Living Organisms–Physical and Spiritual, Part 1

English: A collage of organisms.

English: A collage of organisms. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Feeding – All living organisms need to take substance from their environment to obtain energy, to grow, and to stay healthy.

Luke 4:4 – And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Matthew 6:11 – Give us this day our daily bread

1 Peter 2:2 – As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby:

If we don’t take in the word of God and apply it to our lives, if we are hearers only and not doers of the Word of God, then just like in the natural, we won’t have energy, we won’t grow, and we will not be healthy Christians. The very first thing that we need to do is begin to digest the things of God: Bible reading, prayer, faithfulness. These will be the things that sustain us. When we feel like we don’t have the energy to go on, the Bible declares that when we are weak then He is strong. Matthew 11:28 says “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Movement – All living organisms show movement of one kind or another, whether it be internal movement (moving substances from one part of the body to another) or external movement (move from place to place)

2 Corinthians 5:7 – (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

Psalms 101:6 – Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way

There is a point where you must stand your ground. Moses declares to the children of Israel to stand still and see the glory of the Lord, but there is also a time where we march. Where we take that leap of faith and move toward the high mark that God is calling us to.

The Bible says that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. The Bible declares that if God is for us than who can stand against us? I submit to you today, that we put on the whole armor of God and march, in faith, knowing that God has already given His church the victory. We just need to increase our faith in God and know it.

James 2:26 – For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Without faith, it is impossible to please God. I submit to you today, that if you have faith, you won’t stand still, but you will march and claim that victory that God has already given to you. There is a war. There is a spiritual battle for your souls. There is a lost and dying world out there and we have been put here for such a time as this. It is time to move. ‘Satan this is it. We’re tired of taking it. Satan we declare WAR!!!’ Satan is not just going to give us these souls. He’s worked hard to build his kingdom. Are we supposed to believe that he is just going to hand souls over? NOW is the time. TODAY is the day of salvation.

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of sitting still. I just heard a story of an Apostolic taking her life. In my short time of being in church, I have seen soul after soul backslide and fall away from God. We have the truth. We have the revelation of who God is. We have the Victory. We just have to walk in faith and claim the victory as our own.

This is excerpted from an Inspiration preached by: Vernon McCoy

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2012 in encouraging posts

 

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The Way to Be Perfect

: A mirror, reflecting a vase. Español: : Un e...

: A mirror, reflecting a vase. Español: : Un espejo, reflejando un vasija. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the issue of mercy and forgiveness and perfection. The Lord has been showing me that His idea of perfection is vastly different from the world’s definition—or even my own personal definition.

The world says you have to be perfect in every way, the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect employee, etc. You have to be the perfect homemaker with a spotless house at all times, especially if people drop in with no notice. You have to be a gourmet chef making nutritious and delicious meals daily that everyone loves. Your children have to like vegetables (seriously?!). You also have to look perfect, with the world’s idea of a beautiful, flawless face and perfect body. (Don’t forget you must have perfect hair too!) You have to act perfect, never getting upset over anything at all, unless it would be politically correct to do so. You have to be brilliant, always having the right answer, able to do something new exactly right the very first time. You have to be talented, able to play several instruments—with no previous training! You have to be athletic, no klutzes allowed! Frankly, it’s a bit ridiculous. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that you are somehow of lesser worth if you don’t fit this impossible profile.

God’s idea of perfection is vastly different. His idea of perfect is simply…beautiful.

II Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

God’s idea of perfect can be found in studying and applying Scripture. His idea of perfection is having us be ‘thoroughly furnished unto all good works’. He wants our focus to be not on ourselves, but on ministering to others. He wants us to be holy, set apart, a beacon of light to a lost and hopeless world. He wants us to align ourselves and our lives with Him and His ways. What are His ways? He forgives. He loves. He changes us and makes us better, right. He gives hope—here and in the life to come. Through His Word (the Bible) and walking daily in a close personal relationship with Him we can learn how to truly live a life worth living.

II Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

We are to reflect His image. Like a mirror, we are to reflect Jesus to the world. We are to reflect His very glory. As we become more and more like Him, we are daily better reflecting His glory, from glory to glory.

However, a mirror can reflect nothing if it is faced the wrong way. As mirrors, we must continually turn our ‘mirrors’, our lives to face Him so we can reflect Him to the world. When we fail, instead of beating ourselves up, we must confess our wrong-doing, ask for forgiveness, and then simply ask the Lord what He would have us do next. Again, instead of reflecting our failure, we need to reflect Him. That is His mercy. And that is where we can find mercy.

 

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in encouraging posts

 

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My husband said the most interesting thing the other day. He said, ‘The Lord wants us to become untouchable, but we want to remain untouched.’

Think about that for a moment. How can we ever be overcomers if there are never any challenges in our lives for us to overcome? I admit, I don’t like dealing with stress. There are days when I feel like I’m being pulled in about fifty different directions. Sometimes life is difficult. Homeschooling five kids is no easy walk in the park. Just being a wife and mother isn’t always easy either. It’s not always easy following the Lord’s call in my life. But, it’s good. I would never exchange my life for all the world has to offer.

It’s so easy to get annoyed when we think something unfair has happened. When we’re trying to get out the door, of course that’s the time the baby needs a diaper change (and complete new outfit!). When we’re tired, of course that’s the time that someone loses something (for the fifth time) and needs it right now! When we’re not feeling well, of course that’s the time a child is grumpy and frustrated with math.

God wants us to learn to not hold it all together ourselves. He wants to walk closely beside us. He wants to answer our prayers. How can we learn to delight in Him if we never bother to talk to Him? Or worse, we spend hours in prayer and walk away unchanged?

We’ve got to grow our faith. We’ve got to seek the Lord in our lives every day. If I don’t come out of my prayer time unchanged, I just wasted the Lord’s time and mine. If reading the Bible doesn’t change me, that time spent was hardly better than reading the latest best-seller.

What does it mean to walk WITH Jesus? What does it mean to DELIGHT in the Lord? I know it isn’t always easy or fun or even safe.Take a closer look at Psalm 23:

(v1) “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
(v2) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (v3) He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
(v4) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
(v5) Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
(6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

Say what?! This has me walking through the valley of the shadow of death and sitting down with my enemies standing in the same room! We think of Psalm 23 as being so pastoral and ‘relaxing’, but it’s not. There’s tough stuff going on there. I’ve sung such lovely songs with those verses, but what’s the reality?

I want to draw ever closer to the Lord. I want to dwell in His house forever, but I don’t want to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I don’t want to eat at a table before my enemies. Unfortunately, I can’t have one without the other. Pastor Forkpa said, “God cares less about your comfort than He does about your character.” If I really want to get close to Jesus, if I really want to become untouchable, then I have to do things His way. You know what, that’s really the best way!

Related article: ‘Mess…or Miracle?’

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in encouraging posts

 

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God Loves YOU!

Recently, I was challenged by my pastor to let God love me for five minutes every day. I’ve been doing it and it has been amazing. I have been so humbled. I’ve been able to allow the Lord to deal with old ‘baggage’ that needed to be thrown out. As my tears flow, I feel the Lord washing my spirit. It’s wonderful.

There are so many, many verses in the Bible that talk about God’s love for us. John 3:16 “For God so loved…” God loved you and me so much that He gave His life for us. He has called us and chosen us. He bought us with His own blood.

Jeremiah 31:3 “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” It is so easy to build walls in our lives because of fear of rejection. If you go after God, He will meet you. If you reach for Him, He reaches for you. He wants you. He has drawn you to Himself. You aren’t rejected. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Remember the story of the Prodigal Son? It’s found in Luke 15:11-24. I want to focus especially on Luke 15:20 “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” The father RAN to his son. He tackled him to the ground ‘fell on his neck’ and kissed him! That father loved his son so much, he RAN to meet him. That’s just how much God loves YOU. You are so precious to God that if you just start toward Him, He will RUN to meet you. He will pour out His love onto you. He will overwhelm you with His love.

Although there are many verses in the Bible that talk about God’s love for you, I want to focus in on just one more bit of Scripture: Rom 8:35, 38-39 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The only thing that can separate you from the love of God is your own thoughts. If you refuse to accept God’s love, you can’t receive it. (That’s true of any relationship.)

So, here’s your challenge: Spend five minutes every day allowing God to just love on you. I guarantee you, you will never be the same. In the comments below, tell me about how you allowed God to love you and how you were changed.

 

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in encouraging posts

 

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A Little Bit of Encouragement

This blog post, by Pastor Mark Showalter, shows us a Biblical view of esteem. Excellent reading! Click on the link below to read the full article.  http://mshowalter.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/get-some-confidence/

One more bit of encourament comes from TullaTalk. Tulla is an amazing woman and a pastor’s wife. Her insights are wonderful. Click on the link to see her thoughts on how Jesus views us. http://tullatalk.blogspot.com/2011/05/you-are-favored.html?spref=fb

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2011 in encouraging posts

 

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How to Be Saved–and How to Stay That Way!

There are so many people out there with sermons and pamphlets and books about how to be saved and make it to heaven–and this is just in Christian circles. I’m not even including other religions out there. I just wanted to be a little radical and throw out into cyberland what the  (gasp!) Bible actually has to say on the subject.

First off, a quick overview. The Old Testament is basically the story of the Jewish people and their relationship with God. He chose them as a race for His own to be a witness the rest of the world. God’s idea was to bring all people to Himself through the Jewish witness. The Old Testament is divided into several parts, history, prophecy, poetry, and law. You cannot fully understand the New Testament without the Old Testament. It’s like starting in the middle of a book or movie and not knowing what went before. My purpose of this post is to focus on the subject of salvation, so I won’t go into much detail on the Old Testament. Just read it for yourself. It’s great stuff and very useful for today.

The New Testament is divided into several sections too, just like the Old Testament. The first four books are the Gospels, which tells about Jesus, which means ‘God is my salvation’ coming in flesh. (That means God put on flesh and came to live with us humans in order to die for our sins.) After the Gospels, is the book of Acts. This is where you see people getting ‘saved’ for the first time. This is the book where the church was born and this is the book which shows people getting saved. After Acts, you have a bunch of letters, written to established churches, essentially about how to live the new life you’ve been given. Finally, the last book of the Bible is Revelation, a prophecy about the end of the world as we know it.

All right, how does a person get saved? Well, that’s easy: Acts 2:38 states it very plainly: Repent of your sins, Get baptized in Jesus’ name, and Get filled with the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues as the Spirit moves. It’s there, read it for yourself. It’s real, it’s a blessing. It’s from God. Jesus said in John 3:5 that in order to enter the Kingdom (be saved) you need to be ‘born again’ of the water and the Spirit. The ‘water’ here means baptism in Jesus’ name. The Spirit means being filled with God’s Spirit. How can you get the victory over sin without help? It is only through God’s Spirit that we can do anything worth while. Read the book of Acts. It’s great stuff and shows over and over and over how people got saved for the very first time.

Now, on to staying saved. Many, many people hate the idea of ‘losing your salvation’. Well, yeah! Wouldn’t it be awful to find yourself in hell? Hello! However, what does the Bible actually have to say about it? First off, you can’t ‘lose’ your salvation in the sense of suddenly waking up and finding it gone. God is not looking for us to make a single mistake. The only way you can lose your salvation is to walk away from it. Losing out with God is a conscious choice. Now, of course, no one is going to choose to walk away from God outright. Rather, it is much more subtle. It is through being tempted to go back to your old life. Revelation 3:16 is pretty clear about being either hot or cold, not lukewarm in the faith. God says He will spew or vomit them out of His mouth. This letter is written to a church, not the unsaved, but the supposedly saved! Over and over in the first few chapters of Revelation, Jesus talks about the things He has against these different churches. That’s the saved ones, folks! Jesus says to get it together or you will lose out!

So, now that you’re terrified, how do you stay saved? That’s actually easy. Seek the Lord. Read His Word (the Bible) and apply it to your life. If you read something in Scripture that says you should stop doing what you’re doing, Stop! If you read something in Scripture that says you need to be doing something you’re not doing, do it! Get to church. A United Pentecostal Church–UPCI preaches the truth–but search the Bible for yourself to see if it matches what you are hearing in church. If they don’t match, stick with the Bible. That’s your bedrock. That’s your foundation.

Seek a church that preaches truth and then submit to that truth, even if you don’t like it or it doesn’t feel comfortable. God isn’t interested in your comfort, He’s interested in your character. He wants to save you from yourself. Staying saved isn’t that difficult, but it might (no, really it will) require change. I just hope I’m more than a little different in five years. I want to be more like Jesus, more mature, more kind, more good, more godly.

Staying saved isn’t something to be afraid of, it’s all about drawing closer to Jesus. It’s a joy. Staying saved isn’t something to be afraid of, it’s something to yearn for, to seek after, to rejoice in. We get to know Jesus personally. What could be better than that?

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2011 in encouraging posts

 

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