Saturday, January 22, 2011

Getting Started in Newness of Life

So you have prayed a prayer of faith and accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord!

Hallelujah! What a savior we have in Him!

And now you are ready to begin taking your first steps in this newness of life which He has so freely given to you.

That's fantastic. Ask Him for specific guidance as well, but here are some important, general pointers for you to work through to help get you started.

It might be a good idea to read just a couple (or a little more perhaps) of the ideas listed below a day at first. You can review them later more quickly once you have begun to work through each point individually.

Do make sure you take each of these points very seriously though. They are all important to your new life in Him.

1. First of all, keeping praising Him about all of His goodness towards your past, present and future. Praise Him with your heart, your mind, your spirit, and with your actions too.

Now it is time to thank Him. How can we best do that?

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:17


If you do better with writing down your thoughts, here are some ideas to get you started:

Some people find it helpful to list things they are thankful for in a journal of sorts. It's not something you must do. You do need to praise Him and thank Him throughout the day, but you don't have to write anything down. Some people just find it helpful to do so.

Here's a list of amazing things He has already done in your own life to get your started:

--He has removed the shame which was a burden to you in the past.
--He has enabled you to turn away from sin today.
--He has empowered you to do what is right today.
--He has also removed the penalty of eternal death in the future.
--He has created some amazing things in the world around us.
--He died for you and rose from the dead! Hallelujah!
--He gave you His Word in the Bible to help guide you in walking in newness of life.
--He overcomes evil with good!

If you decide to keep a praise and thanksgiving journal, make sure that the words you write in your notebook are not merely from your head, but that you take time to be still and look at Him. To be still regarding thanksgiving, simply take time to see each of those blessings as having come from Him.

If you want to keep a journal, you can use a simple notebook, or a nicely bound journal of your choice, or journal online, or jot some things down to help you think 'out loud', then let the paper go if that is best for you.

Another thing you might do in a journal is keep a running list of things He means to you. Ladies at my own church encouraged me to do that recently, and it is a wonderful blessing. They referenced the rather well known Shepherd's Psalm and pointed out that the first line says, "The Lord is my _____".

They suggested filling in the blank each day with whatever God has been for you that day.

If you have time, let me know what God has been to you, so I can praise Him with you!

2. You are now able to overcome sin in your life. It is a daily choice to live according to the new spirit which He has given you.

First of all, depending on your life before receiving Christ, you might need to go through your belongings and give away or even destroy things which have to do with things that are contrary to the love, goodness, and righteousness of God. If you have actually worshipped another 'god', you should actually burn anything related to that worship. Any statues which are formed in the images of idols should be treated in the same way, even if you only collected them as 'art'. Other items that God puts on your heart to remove from your home might just need to be given away.

If you are unsure about some things, pack them away until you find a godly mentor to help you know the right thing to do with them. It is probably a good idea not to get back into that box until you have the help that you need to make the right decisions.

Simply go through your home prayerfully considering if there are things which He would want you to get rid of. There might not be anything, but then again, there might. Taking care of those things now can help you to overcome sin tomorrow.

Then, just keep casting your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. We aren't in heaven yet, so our life won't be perfect around us. We are now free to trust Him to work out the details of our life that might not look so good.

He is an amazing god who promised that He will use all of life's circumstances for our good simply because we love Him. We might not know how God will use tough times in our lives, but He has provided us with lots of examples in the Bible, and in the lives of Christians whom you can go out and meet for yourself as well. Here is His promise to you:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

You might not know yet how He will work your imperfect world out for your good, but you can wonder how He will and look forward to those blessings when He is ready to give them to you.

Think of those future blessings as presents that you will be allowed to unwrap later. They really are something to look forward to.

So praise Him and thank Him again.

3. Forgive those who have hurt you, or who are hurting you.

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Matthew 6:12

Trust Him to work out any problems in your life in His time. In the meantime, be sure to forgive others the same way He has forgiven you. You did not deserve forgiveness when He died for you. You don't have to climb up on a cross to forgive others, but you can forgive them even before they accept that forgiveness from you.

Actually, God expects you to forgive everyone. He considers it ungrateful, unloving, and prideful to be frustrated with, angry, or bitter towards others who have wronged us while, at the same time, accepting His forgiveness of our own sins towards Him.

If this seems difficult for you, then read this story which Jesus told, and then pray fervently for God to help you to forgive others as He forgave you.

Thank Him again for forgiving your sins. Thank Him for helping you as you work through forgiving others too.

4. Ask Him to help you find a solid church home. Not all churches are alike. Some churches seek God earnestly. Some churches are filled with people and leaders who like to hear whatever they simply want to hear, convincing themselves that what they want to hear is right.

Don't worry. God can help you recognize other Christians who believe in Jesus as He revealed Himself to us (as per His Word found in the Bible).

Look for a church where the people who attend there regularly carry the Bible, read it, love it, learn to love others more fully by studying it, are ready to be corrected any time the Bible says something different than they thought it said, and believe that the Bible is inherently true and can lead us to increasing grace, peace, and righteousness.

Ask the more mature Christians there who have experience relying on God's Word as a guide to help you in your new walk with the Lord.

God tells us to meet with other Christians and to worship with them, encouraging each other in righteousness, worshipping and singing songs of worship.

He always keeps His word. Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on. Hebrews 10:25 (The Message version of the Bible)

5. When God has provided you with a church home, ask the leadership there about baptism and ask them to baptize you as soon as possible. When God helped you to pray the prayer which you prayed a minute ago, you were saved right then. It is faith that saves you, but you will need to walk in obedience, and one of the things He tells us to do is to confess to others that He is our savior.

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me, him will I deny before my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 10:32-33

Baptism is one important way to let others know that you have been saved.

He also tells us specifically to be baptized if we have relied on Jesus for forgiveness.

Repent, and be baptized, everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Acts 2:38

6. As soon as possible, get a Bible. You will need to grow in understanding. God's thoughts are higher than the thoughts of man, and without learning from Him and rejoicing in His thoughts and His ways, you will find that your physical mind will be inclined to lean back into your old ways of thinking, or that you might listen to another man's ways, or the world's ways, instead of continuing in the newness of life.

Study at least a little every day with patient prayer, asking God to protect your mind from misunderstanding scripture. Listen to guidance from men who respect and study God's word since we can sometimes misunderstand the Bible on our own, but always test their counsel with what the Bible says itself.

There are many versions of the Bible today. If you are unsure what you will want to use down the road, pick up an inexpensive Bible for now to get started, and then in time, you will have time to discern what God wants you to use for your own study. Don't be deterred from getting a Bible because of the growing number of translations to chose from. I might personally recommend the New American Standard Bible and/or the King James Version, but it might be that you should study another version. Be careful, the Living Bible and the Message Bible have been a great encouragement to many, but they are not translations and are less likely to be fully in line with the original languages (the Bible was not written in English first....). In other words, I do recommend that you get a direct translation of the Bible first.

Ask God where to start, but many people do well starting with the Gospel of John, so you might do well to simply start there.

As you start to read and study, you might find that some things seem confusing to you at times. Ask God and your church for help. There are answers for anything that is confusing to you. He might take His time to help you find the answers, but if you continue to seek Him, He is always faithful in answering your concerns.

You can do this. He does not ask you to do anything that you cannot do. (Phil. 4:13)

It is important that you know that God has provided you with a guide, His own Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to help you understand His Word. Jesus Himself said:

But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things. John 14:26a

If you find yourself tending to slip back into old ways, then you should seek to be renewed in your mind (once you are saved, your spirit is born incorruptible, but your mind can be tricked into leaning on old ways; at which time it needs to be renewed in order to be in line with your new, righteous, incorruptible spirit). (Romans 12:1-3)

You need to learn to listen to His thoughts using your new spirit which you received at the time of salvation. Learn to listen to the Holy Spirit's guiding of your spirit instead of following your fleshly mind's reasoning. Test your own reasoning against scripture often.

The best way to learn to listen to His thoughts and to guard against leaning upon your fleshly thinking is by studying and meditating on His word as revealed in the Bible, which tells us His thoughts.

7. Memorize verses that help to build you up in your new life.

Thy Word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee. Psalm 119:11

It is powerful to meditate on His works, his promises, His prinicples, and His instructions.

There are helps online if you need help getting started. You might try printing off memory verse cards. If you like those, you can find others, hand write some yourself, and/or /make your own online. This particular rotational review method is the method with which I am most familiar. It has been very useful in my own home. Some families report using this method using a notebook to track previously memorized verses with good success as well.

Ask someone at your church to hold you accountable regarding your Bible study and scripture memory work. It can be encouraging for them as you share with them what God's word begins to do in your life.

I have not used this approach from The Navigators. Of those who seem to retain individual verses the most, this seems to be mentioned as the supporting source most often.

After first memorizing scripture, continue to review it and think about it often.

8. Share your faith in Jesus Christ with others.

Sometimes they might give you a hard time - especially your friends who are not Christians yet. Most often, they will just be testing you out to see if you are really different and if what you have would actually do them any good too. Assume this is true when they start in. It can help you to roll with their proddings when you realize where it is coming from.

Sometimes others might actually hate you because of your love for Christ. Don't be surprised when/if that happens in your life. Jesus explained that to His disciplines when He was here with us:

He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth Him that sent me. Luke 10:16

Remember that even Jesus was despised to the point that he was murdered upon the cross. He knows what it is to be despised and rejected by men. He can bring you comfort when/if you actually face that.

There are also promises that come with being persecuted as Jesus was, so there is something to be thankful for, even if you are being persecuted!

Whatever happens, remember to praise God in all things (see point #1 above!).

9. Praise Him and thank Him again and again, casting your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. I cannot emphasize this point enough, which is why it is included more than once.

Praise Him!

10. Then be quiet!

Just be still and look at all that you have learned about Him.

Just look at Him in wonder.

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

How to Fix What's Broken!

All of us are good at something. However, no matter how good we are at some things, all of us realize at some point in our life that we aren't always the best captain of our own ship.

We're all different, but it goes something like this:

A lot of us have some bad habits which keep us from doing what we should be doing. Others of us simply mess up in big or little ways and do things we know we cannot be proud of. Then there are times when some of us actually do what we should do, but for the wrong reasons. Of course, at times many of us secretly want to be really ratty, even though we'd be too embarrassed to behave that way in front of others. If we are honest about it for a moment, a good many of us know that we do some things that hurt people without even realizing it - which is being careless. Lastly, some people who are tired of feeling guilty, twist their mind around this way and that way with one argument or another until they feel justified or even proud about doing wrong things, at least for a while.

We've all felt bad about things we've done wrong (or failed to do) in our lives, but why?

We know we are meant to do what is right!

We even know down deep that doing right all the time would be rather glorious somehow or other, and down deep, we wish we could live that way all of the time. Instead, we find ourselves doing wrong things which are anything but glorious - but is there really a way to change all that?

Actually - there is an answer for all those problems, and it begins with the truth:

The truth shall make you free. John 8:32

First, we need to realize that there is a word for the wrong kind of behavior which we have all fallen into. It is the simple word 'sin.'

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

Sin is something we should be ashamed of. It is not sophisticated. It is not cool. It is actually quite unglorious.

Today, many people are trying to do themselves and you a favor by suggesting that the shame you experience deep down can simply be ignored, or by sometimes saying you are sorry (again), or by trying to do better (again), or, amazingly enough, by deciding that the shameful behavior is really okay after all.

The problem is that none of these options really makes the shame go away down deep where it matters most.

The problem is still there - shame. It all needs to be gotten rid of, because (and they are right about this), shame is toxic.

But it's not just the shame that is toxic. The sin that brings about that shame is toxic too. Actually, it is utterly deadly.

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Is all death alike? No! The most forboding 'death' is actually facing eternal death in hell.

The wicked shall be turned into hell. Psalms 9:17a

None of us want to face that.

The good news is that there is a way to get rid of sin and shame. There is a way out!

The 'gift of God - eternal life in Christ Jesus' is available to us because Jesus paid for that gift with His life already.

This is how it works.

When we sinned, we actually earned the penalty of death for ourselves. Someone has to pay that penalty. You know, "There's no such thing as a free lunch"? I'm the one who is supposed to pay for my sin. You are the one who is supposed to pay for your sin, and so on.

The problem for humanity is that once any of us pay, once we die eternally, there is no coming back. But like I said, there is a way out!

God's gift to you was paid for by Jesus himself when He died on the cross.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness. I Peter 2:24a

Better yet, when He came back from the dead, He conquered death with eternal life!

He could do this because throughout His entire life He lived unto righteousness. Sin brings the power of death. Righteousness brings the power of life! His righteous life gave Him power over both life and death.

The question begs to be asked then: Can't we just start living righteously in order to conquer eternal death?

The answer is, 'No.'

For one thing, living better today isn't enough to wipe out our previous penalty, just like driving better today doesn't mean we don't have to pay a speeding ticket if we got one yesterday.....

For another thing, well, let's cut to the chase, He said we are to be saved through faith, and if He said it, that is the program:

It is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and that (faith) is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

We've proven we are not the best captain of our own ship.

Even when there was only one rule, humanity failed. That one rule, "Don't eat the fruit from this tree," can be summed up in two or three general principles:

--do what you say you will do (it's sort of inferred that Adam & Eve agreed to obey God)
--don't take what belongs to another (stuff, authority, glory, place, etc.)
--don't try to be something you are not (like, don't try to be god; he's better at it anyway; and don't try to write your own laws, God is better at it than we are......, which is why we aren't the best captain of our own ship)

Any sin we commit boils down to these basic principles today as well.

Adam and Eve only broke that one rule one time to bring the sentence of eternal death to their spirit. The only hope they had was that God promised that the seed of woman would come and offer us a way of escape.

Because of that one promise, they had hope. Because Jesus fulfilled that promise, so do we.

We have more than a hope! We have been offered an incredible gift!

You can accept His gift, and if you do, not only will His death remove your sin (so there is no more penalty to be paid by you), but the power to live unto righteousness, which empowered Him with the power of life, will become available to you in your own life as well.

There it is: The power to do what is right!

Along with the power to live eternally. And..... there's this too:

It's actually pretty amazing when you think about it - that He would die for any of us. But He did it because God, His Father, loves us.

God loves you!

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

Because His Father loved you, Jesus loved you too, to the point of death:

Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins... to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Revelations 1:5b, 6b

He cares about everything in your life. He wants to take care of the problems in your life His way:

....overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21b

Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you. I Peter 5:7

It's really that simple: sin brings death; living unto righteousness conquers death. Jesus loved us, so He lived a life unto righteousness here on earth to conquer death here on earth for us.

His life in us can conquer sin and death in us.

We simply need to ask for God's mercy and forgiveness, accept His gift which Jesus made available to you through His death and resurrection. Then He will wash away the sin and shame, breathe new life into your spirit, and provide you with the power to live unto righteousness, along with the promise of an eternal life in the future, free from the ravages of sin, in heaven with Him for eternity!

You can do that right now simply by praying something like this:

God, I know that I am a sinner, and that I need your forgiveness. Thankyou for your gift of forgiveness which you are freely giving to me even though I cannot begin to deserve it, simply because you love me. I do believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins, and that He rose to create a newness of life for others, which you are now sharing with me. Thank you, Jesus for dying for me. I know that I cannot walk in newness of life without your help. Right now, I cast all of my cares upon you and trust you to take care of them. They are yours. What an amazing God that you would die for me and take care of my cares. You are truly a glorious God. Help me to begin living my life in a way that helps others see your glory too.


If you just prayed that prayer humbly, in faith, then there is much rejoicing going on in heaven just because you have accepted His invitation to join Him there someday!

There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Luke 15:10

I really hope that you will let me know so that I can rejoice with you as well!

It will be important to begin to prepare for your new life in Christ Jesus. You can find some information here to help you begin that new life.

Feel free to let me know how you are doing as you begin to work on these different things. It would be a blessing for me to have an opportunity to encourage you and pray for you.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mom's Commentary - Genesis 1:1b (part 1)

Genesis 1:1b God created (part 1)

Here is the report per the Bible:

No one else created the heavens or the earth. Just God.

Yes, that is the report:

That God created everything we see, from the world which we see and touch and smell and hear, to the macrocosm beyond our largest telescopes, to the microcosm too small for our most powerful microscope. An intricate design from the grandiose to the infinitesimal.

It is also reported that He created the spiritual realms we do not see (though Elijah and others have had at least glimpses into that world). (Col 1:16, II Kings 6:17 - and some of those principalities are spiritual Ephesians 6:12)

But did He finish with creating at the end of Genesis 1?

No! For example:

He creates in us a clean heart when we call upon Him with sincere hearts - ready to obey Him as god! (Ps. 51:10)

He also began to create, and continues to perfect, out of chaos: 'Us' (that is, the body - the church). (Phil. 1:6)

Oh how I long for the perfecting of 'Us'.... not just myself - but 'Us'.

'We', the church, might seem to be too chaotic for anything to reign us in, but He has promised that even now He is holding us together and perfecting out of 'us' - a new 'Us.' (Phil. 1:6)

God created!

God IS creating!



If you would like to become a part of those of 'Us' whom God has saved, and in whom He has begun to raise up a more perfect love, you can learn more about how to do that here.


Mom's Commentary - Genesis 1:1a (Part 1)

Genesis 1:1a In the beginning,


Wow, not 'at', or 'for', or 'to start the beginning', but 'in'. So..... the question begs to be asked:

What else was going on in the spiritual realms 'in the beginning'? I long to sit at His feet someday after I am finally put back together (I figure I'll fall apart when I first finally enter His glorious presence).... anyway, I do long to sit at His feet someday and find out what else was going on 'in' the beginning.

In the meantime:

Have we all had a spiritual beginning with God? If not, that is the place to start.

If we have, where are each of us headed? What has been, and what is going on in each of our spiritual realms?

Do we need any new beginnings in Him? (in this post, the discussion revolves around 'we' as individuals......... in the next post, we'll address 'we' as a body........)

Each of us has a 'beginning' to physical life, and we are all also invited to begin a spiritual life through which we learn to walk with God - through which we learn to glory in Him - through which we learn to glorify Him.

When/if we respond to that invitation, we have a 'beginning' to a spiritual life.

God has moved over the course of the last year to show His provision for my spiritual life through the course of time-past. That is being penned in a separate file, but through that process, He has emphasized the 'beginning' of my own sense of the peace of God.

My first memories are of playing under a laundry basket in Olga Reebie's backyard where the peace of God first dawned in my life - while she shared the love of Christ with my mother, who, up until that time, was struggling in life without Him.

That first sense of the peace of God was His first calling to my heart. I didn't know how to respond fully back then, but the peace of God was something towards which my soul aimed ever since until He finally birthed in me a new life - in the spirit. That was when His Spirit began to bear witness with my spirit that I was indeed finally born with a new life (Romans 8:16). I was finally a child of God - a child of the God of peace. What grace and mercy.

Over time God has encouraged me and challenged me in wonderful ways. I hope to give a brief overview of that in a more formalized version of my testimony later this year.

In the meantime, the short of it all is that, upon looking back, it is plain enough to see that when I spent time studying and meditating on His Word, He caused my life to prosper. When I was not faithfully meditating on His Word (due to less study, less sensitivity, more focus on issues in my life, etc.), circumstances came along which have impacted my life (and other lives such as those in my family and church) in contrary ways ever since those periods of time.

He has at times 'given back the years the locusts have eaten.' (Joel 2:25) At other times, He has allowed circumstances to set in that are having a cumulative strain on our family or etc.

Of late, there has been some rewarding and significant study and meditation in my life, but it was sporadic at best.

With the encouragement from Bill Gothard's Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar, it is clear that study, and particularly meditation needs to have a renewed emphasis in my life.

There are other 'beginnings' (and/or renewings) that need to occur in my life as well. At the end of this entry, I've included a list of things I need to begin and/or renew efforts towards finishing.

That list includes 'Mom's Commentary', being written more for my own study, but with an eye towards providing any grandchildren I might have some day a chance to meet their granny more spiritually. This is the first entry towards that end. (but since I'm not a granny yet, I'm not calling it Granny's Commentary yet either.......)

Now, with a new beginning in the study of His Word, may He grant the grace and peace in which to walk in His love more fully each day. May He help me to not resist His grace with pride, but transmit His love with humility (But He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. James 4:6-7a)

May He do the same for you too!

Hallelujah, what a Savior!


Recently, He has been calling me to 'begin' new studies, and to begin to pick up old projects in my life.

--setting Colossians to music....... (!? .....yeah......! - Not quite half done...... )
--reviewing hymns (and psalter settings of psalms) I've learned with my children
--reviewing Bible verses and passages I have learned in the past
--spending specific time meditating on His Word
--writing out a commentary for my children's children to get to know their granny some day.... (this is the first entry towards that end)
--getting back to organizing the music lessons He put on my heart (which I left at the cabin...*blush*)
--printing out the family cookbook that's almost organized, and binding it one way or another
--mind-mapping the reading lessons that finally make utter sense to me!!! (woohoo! - that was a breakthrough straight from God....... wow!)
--helping our sons who are still home to set spiritual goals (began writing lists of things they should be attending to, such as taking on the task of ordering their memory work and review more independently, addressing struggles they might face due to 'sins of their fathers' (and mothers), etc.)
--getting back to work with 'godly-lady' lessons in a more pointed way with our daughter
--finding the hard copy of the rough draft of my testimony and reworking that