Saturday, December 19, 2009

WHAT? It's almost Christmas?

I have been so busy thinking "Wedding - Wedding - Wedding" that I haven't got my tree decorated!

It is standing but it does not have a single ornament on it and Christmas is less than a week away!

I haven't wrapped any gifts yet either!


I better get busy!!!

A New Season of Life

Life has been crazy lately! My beautiful baby girl, Kate, is engaged!

Kate & Jake
She has set her wedding date for this coming May and we have been very busy making wedding plans!! It is SOOOO much fun!! I am relishing every minute of it and want to make the most of sharing this very special season with my daughter!
So far we have booked the venue. She wants an outdoor wedding and reception and selected Vance Vineyards. It is a beautiful setting and will provide minimal decorating and a gorgeous backdrop for pictures.

Vance Vineyards

We have also shopped for and bought the wedding dress. What an exciting day that was. Kate tried on somewhere between 10-15 dresses and the one she selected seems to have been made just for her. Sorry - no pictures to be posted of the dress! You will have to wait for the wedding!
Kate and Jake have selected the wedding party and last weekend I was blessed to shop with Kate and her bridesmaids for their dresses. Not going to post these either. But I will say that her colors are hot pink and lime green. That usually gets one of two responses - "Ooh that will be pretty" or "Really?" I have to admit my response was "Really?" but after shopping with her and seeing everything, I think it is going to be beautiful!
She has picked out and ordered her cake.
She has book the photographer and scheduled engagement pictures for this weekend.
She has booked the pastor.
And last weekend we purchased a whole bunch of silk flowers and accessories.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Religion and The Gospel

I grew up in church and lived most of my young life in and out of God's will. Most of my 'life choices' were made when I was out of God's will and have had a lasting impact on me. However I always felt His presence and could hear him whispering to me that I was making a mistake - I just didn't care enough to listen. The battle within me was raging between my flesh and the Spirit. I couldn't quite turn lose of myself and trust God to run my life. Several years later I decided that I needed to get my act together for God. So I began doing the "right" thing. You know following all the rules - serving in the church doing whatever I could to make me feel good at the time. I wasn't doing all those really big bad sins anymore and the good things I was doing were most certainly cancelling out the little sins in my life. Then God slowly began to teach me about grace. I began to realize I couldn't do enough because He had done it all!!! I had no trouble accepting God's love - I just needed to understand the concept of grace. Through the power of the Holy Spirit I do understand God's grace - I know that there is NOTHING I can do to warrant His magnificant abundant grace. That concept alone makes me want to worship and praise Him!

However, I have still struggled with some theological issues. I guess because I grew up in a strong denomination and in a Christian home I have always had some strong beliefs. I recently have come to realize alot of those beliefs are legalistic, not very scriptural, and have not been very healthy for me and my relationships. God has been teaching me about the spiritual war that has gone on in my life for a very long time! Conquering Addictions has helped me lay to rest several things from my past that have haunted me; and it continues to teach me new truths from God's Word. I have become aware of the battle between religion and The Gospel. I think I have had a clear understanding of The Gospel, but I have been guilty of holding on to man's laws and judging others based on man's law instead of leaning on The Gospel. It can be a struggle to live under the umbrella of God's grace and not get tangled in the web of legalism. The past few years I have felt a release from being judgmental. Today I was reading Galations 5 and felt a fresh understanding of God's Word. So I decided to see how this scripture was worded in The Message.

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. ...
Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. ...
Why don't you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law dominated excistence?

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat compettion; all consuming yet never satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

But what happens when we live God's way?
Galations 5: 13-22

I love the wording of these verses in The Message!

I want to 'live freely and animated' for Christ!
I want to be 'motivated by God's Spirit'!
I want to 'escape the erratic compulsions of a law dominated existence.'

And that list of destructive behaviors - 'a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; all consuming yet never satisfied wants; divided homes and divided lives; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions' - Why do I let myself get caught up in such things when I know there is so much better for me! God has such a better desire for me!!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galations 5:22-25

(The Message vs 26 - That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.)

Lord Jesus - Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for stretching me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for your abundant grace that continues to cover me. I pray that I will be motivated by Your Spirit; that I will live freely and animated for Christ. I pray that the Fruit of Your Spirit will empower me each day. Remind me each and every day to ask for Your power and strength to live for You. Help me to escape the erratic compulsions of a law dominated existance. I want to avoid emotional garbage and chaos. May You be the only thing I am addicted to!