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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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How to Find Joy and Peace

Matthew 10:30-31 says, “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows,” (NLT). The Lord doesn’t care so much about our accomplishments. He created each and every one of us to be unique and special. He values even our hair—whether it’s a lot or only a little! God loves me. God loves you. He loved you when you were only a child, with mud on your nose and peanut butter in your hair. He loved you when you succeeded and when you failed. His love is completely unconditional.

Take a moment to think about that truth. You don’t have to prove anything to God. He just loves you because you exist. God loved you before you were born. He loved you before you even knew Him. He loved you when you were lost in your sins and He came to take care of that! You don’t have to look a certain way or do a certain thing to earn His love. He loves you and He values you, more than you can ever fathom. Even when you mess up and fall flat on your face, He still loves you. Believe this truth. It will set you free.

Our world teaches that the only person you can really trust in is yourself. Unfortunately, that’s a lie. For one thing, the Bible teaches that you cannot trust yourself at all. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death,” (AMP). We, left to our own devices, are headed for destruction, death, and hell. However, Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take,” (NLT).

Sometimes, it’s really hard to trust anyone else, especially if you’ve been hurt in the past. Trusting in God can seem extremely difficult because of the simple fact that you can’t see Him or touch Him. However, anyone and everyone can EXPERIENCE God anywhere, anytime.

The great thing about Jesus (God) is He never lies and He always keeps His promises. He is completely reliable and absolutely faithful. If He said it, that settles it! Every promise written in the Bible is for you and me. The Bible was written not just for a few people, but for the entire world. Jesus does not force Himself on people; He simply offers Himself and His Spirit. He wants to walk with you. He wants a relationship with you. Matthew 11: 28-30 says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly,” (MSG).

I’ve heard it preached that the Lord wants to show you what a real Sabbath is. If you are living a life of perpetual fatigue, perhaps you are carrying around too many burdens. Jesus wants you to have a life that is light. He wants to show you a better, more joyful way to live. When we finally let go of our worries and believe the truth that God can handle our lives better than we can, suddenly we sleep better. We awake refreshed and energized. And joy quietly fills us. It’s there, exactly where it’s supposed to be, felt freely and fully.

Remember Psalm 37:4? It says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart,” (AMP). This means that if you will walk with the Lord, He will make your dreams come true.

Excerpted from my book Allowing Joy Into Your Life coming soon.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in encouraging posts, Excerpts

 

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Found this on FaceBook today and wanted to pass it on. Sometimes it is easy to fall into wanting to receive love a certain way, but the best way is to give it. If we delight ourselves in Jesus and the things that He considers most important, we will have all of our needs and even many of our desires fulfilled. We will be fulfilled. This will find its way somewhere into my next non-fiction book, Delighting Daily in Jesus.

Pictures like these and more can be found on FaceBook.com/ACoffeeBreakWithGod.

May your day be one of victory that overflows with His Spirit housed in you!

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2012 in encouraging posts

 

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Dyin’ Inside, Guest Post

This is from one of our Blog Post contest winners.

Dyin’ Inside

I’m the kind of girl who hates to cry
I cover up with a laugh but really I’m dyin’ inside
I’d stay up late into the night
Crying because I couldn’t face the light,
I was dyin’ inside
Dyin’ inside

Mia put down her pen and began strumming on her guitar; her lips moved as she silently mouthed the words of this first verse of a song she was writing. If there was one thing she knew, it was pain. Not physical pain, but a constant pain she kept inside.

Her parents had no idea how she felt, and she didn’t know how to approach them with something like this. She’d never felt very special. She’d always been overshadowed by the achievements of her younger brothers and sisters. It hurt, knowing that her parents weren’t as proud or as happy about what she was interested in. What hurt even more was the fact that when she expressed an interest in music, neither of her parents seemed to notice, whereas when her younger sister expressed an interest in it, they went out of their way to teach her what she wanted to know.

She picked up her pen again and began writing.

Do you know what that feels like?
People not seeing through your disguise?
I’m waiting for someone who’s brave enough to see
That through this mask that something’s killing me
I’m dyin’ inside
Dyin’ inside

Mia brushed away another tear and picked up her phone and read the text message. It was from Tammy.
Hey, it said, how are you doing?
Heyyy Tammaayy I’m doing okay I guess, Mia quickly texted back.
That’s great! Tammy replied.

Mia pressed her lips together and kept writing the song. Then, another text came, and the personalized ringtone sang, “I love you more than the sun and the stars that I taught how to shine…”

Is everything okay? Ashlynn, the youth pastor’s sister, had just texted her.
Another text from Ashlynn: I just felt an overwhelming urge to pray for you. I just wanted you to know that I’m here for you whenever you need anything!

Mia felt tears welling up in her eyes as she continued writing.

I’ve fooled everyone with a laugh and a smile
I try to shake these feelings for a while
But then I heard Someone whispering my name
You said, “Come here child, I’ll hold you tight
“I’ll give you peace to deal with this hectic life,
“I’ll give you strength so that you can keep holding on tight,
“I’ll give you hope so that you will keep going on,
“I’ll give you life so that you can stop dyin’ inside.”
Dyin’ inside

Thanks, Ash! I’ve actually been battling feelings of inadequacy and bitterness.
After a short pause, Mia quickly sent another text. Sorry, I sound like I’m whining!
It’s okay, girl! Never feel ashamed to tell me what’s really bothering you, came the reply. But I think God wants you to know that He’s holding you right now. Even when you can’t feel it. He’s always got your back! And I do to!

Mia continued writing the song.

So now I can finally see
And I finally accept and believe
That Jesus has got my back
He’s got it through the attack
But for anyone who is struggling with life
For anyone who’s dyin’ inside

Hey, Mia! Greg, a friend from her church who was like the older brother she never had, texted her. Got some pretty amazing news: you don’t have to die anymore. Jesus is right by your side. Just keep holding on! P.S. Hebrews 13:5 “…I will neither leave thee nor forsake thee.” P.S. 2… I really don’t know why I just told you that…but I hope it helps!
The amazing part was that Mia hadn’t even told him about how she’d been feeling.

Another verse was added to the song:

You don’t have to die anymore
He’s here to calm all your storms
So go on, run into His arms
Where He’ll keep you safe from all harm

Her phone rang. At first she ignored it, trying to think of what seemed to be missing, until she heard the lyrics from the personalized ringtone: “…If you’re a ship and you’re lost in the ocean, I’ll be the wind in your sails, give you motion, I will guide you home…”
She answered it.
“Hello?”
“I wanted to say this so that you could hear it, instead of just reading it through a text,” the person on the other line said. She recognized the voice and smiled. It was Jackie, her friend back in Wisconsin.
“Hey, what’s up, Jackie?”
“Remember that melody line that you sang right before you moved?” Jackie asked.
“Yeah…”
“I had an idea. It’s just a few lines, but I’ve got something.”
“Okay, let’s hear it.”

Those last four lines were the end of her song:

Now I’m not saying life won’t be hard
But I know that God is never far
He’s always been by your side
He’s always been holding you tight

Soon after hanging up with Jackie, her phone rang again. As she reached for the phone, Mia sighed and smiled through tears that she hadn’t realized had been falling down her cheeks, wondering if she’d ever get some peace to actually play through the whole song.
“Hey, Dad!”
“Hey, Mia,” her father said. “I just wanted to say that I’m proud of you. Love you!” then he hung up.

Mia cried. She’d never felt so happy. God knew exactly what she’d needed. And His timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

And she was finally able to play through the song.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in encouraging posts

 

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3 Thieves Keeping You From Doing God’s Call on Your Life–And What to Do About Them

Did you know that God has great plans for YOU? He has work for you to do that is fulfilling, exhilarating, and challenging. Do you know what your calling is? You probably do, but there are three thieves that will work against you fulfilling your calling. Here they are–and here’s what to do about them:

1. Distractions. It is so easy to get distracted with all that is going on around you. There are e-mails, phone calls, text messages, children, housework, jobs, church work, and the list goes on and on. Some of these are responsibilities that need to be prioritized. Some, not so much.

The solution to distractions is two-fold. First, pray. Ask the Lord to direct your day. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” (KJV). The second solution piggy-backs off the first and is simply this: prioritize. That doesn’t mean you take over and figure out how to run your day. What it means is submit to the Lord your day and ask Him what and how you should prioritize all that is in it. As you work together with Him, you will see that you have plenty of time for all that He has for you to do. It will be a joy to you.

2. Intimidation/Fear. Sometimes, you just don’t feel qualified. Why on earth did God call me to this anyway? I can’t do this. Such and so would be a much better choice. And it goes on.

The solution to this is submission. God does not care so much about your ability. After all, if you can do it all yourself, you don’t really need Him, do you? Who gets the glory then? That doesn’t excuse you from working hard to learn new skills or practice to get better. However, the bottom line is the fact that God is more interested in someone who is WILLING than in someone who is able. He can handle your short-comings. He created you. Just as God helped Moses’ speech issues, He can help you with whatever you struggle with. Just obey Him. Someone once said, ‘God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.’ I would add to that, ‘He qualifies those who submit to Him and seek to do His will regardless.

3. You just don’t have the ‘want to’. Sometimes, you simply don’t feel like doing what God has called you to do. For instance, one of the things God has called me to do is play piano in church. There are days I just don’t want to practice. Sometimes, I even feel like running away from the call. After all, other people play much better than me. Who am I? I can’t do this.

The solution to this problem is a combination of the other two. Submit and Pray. It doesn’t matter how you feel. If you are called to play the piano or write or teach Sunday School, you need to submit to God’s call on your life and obey Him. Trust Him to work out the details. Pray about each step He wants you to take. He will show you. He will lead you.If you get stuck, pray. Ask others for prayer and godly counsel. Jesus will help you if you simply ‘trust and obey’.

Jesus loves you and has a purpose  for your life that is tailor-made just for you. As you grow in your faith, you will be amazed at all He does in your life. You will be amazed at the insights you gain. As you work to submit your life to Him and walk with Him, you will have a life filled with adventure and joy.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in encouraging posts

 

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Jesus–He Will Never Leave You

Psalms 34: 4-10, “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing,” (NIV).

Recently, the Lord has been dealing with me about letting Him work in my life. Sometimes I can be a bit, shall we say, over-responsible. I try to get everything done and be responsible for all the things in my life that need attention. Now, that’s not a bad thing all by itself. However, the problem is when I try to do it all myself–without letting the Lord lead me. I get overwhelmed, cranky, and basically difficult to live with.

My husband had to go to Brazil on a business trip. Of course it was a wonderful opportunity and I was glad for him to go. Many, many wives have to deal with these things and are fine staying at home with the kids. Well, I missed him (not a surprise) and I didn’t sleep well. So, I tried to stay up late so I’d be tired enough to sleep. Unfortunately, I kept going to sleep later and later, and still getting up at the same time. As I got less and sleep, I started to get just a little impatient with my sweet children. We were all having a tough time dealing with Daddy being gone. (It’s been many years since he’s gone on a business trip. This particular one was part of his new job here in Chicago.) So, there were lots of emotions to deal with. Anyway, a dear friend of mine put her arm around me at our prayer meeting and prayed for me. The Lord spoke and told me that just as she was here for me, He had never left me–and He never would. Stop trying to control things and just trust Him.

Our pastor preached about lambs staying close to their shepherd and following him. Sometimes, when lambs get to wandering too much, the shepherd has to do something drastic. He breaks the legs of the lamb, carefully binds them so they can heal, and carries it on his shoulders. In this way, the lamb feels the shepherd’s heart beating and hears his voice. Once the legs are healed that sheep never goes astray.

The Lord showed me a vision of myself as some crazy lamb with its legs broken trying to pull itself around on its own. I had to chuckle. I am that goofy to try to do something like that. I am so glad that He patiently just picks me up and puts me on His shoulders. I want to be near Him always. I want to depend on Him and not try to do things myself. It is so good to trust the Lord. He won’t leave me.He won’t leave you either.

Isn’t it wonderful that the Lord would talk to us personally? He wants to speak to us throughout our days. We just have to learn to listen.

As I give up control and learn to trust the Lord more, I am so blessed. I get to see Him work amazing things around me and even through me. What could be better than that? I get to be the mom and wife that I yearn to be, all because I finally let go. It’s good to be carried around for a while. I like sitting on my Lord’s shoulders. There’s no safer place to be.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 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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