It's All Grace

Amazing things can happen when you allow the Lord to work in your life.

How will you run, & will you conquer?

Hebrews 12:1-2   “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

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A race implies an exact distance, a measured course, a starting place and finish line.  It is not a continuous loop that we can repeat over and over until we get it right.  Once the race has started, you cannot start over, go back and erase.  You must keep pressing forward.

The Christian life is also a race, one to endure.  It is not a sprint, it is more like a marathon, and similar to conquering the gauntlet.  There will be those who will not reap benefits, because they won’t run with patience (meaning to persevere & endure).

Many marriages won’t make it because they won’t stay together through the hard times.  The world says, “enjoy NOW” and God says “WAIT NOW & enjoy later”.  Marriage brings with it many obstacles, wounds, and weights even when there is rough terrain that may leave scars and hurts.  Stick it out.  Keep running, laying aside your weights that beset you.

Recently, I participated in an event with friends and family, knowing in advance I would be tested, stretched, left physically exhausted with possible bruises and cuts from trauma to my physical body.  I not only participated, but I had to register and pay a fee that would allow me to endure such things I did not know I would encounter.

Conquer the Gauntlet is an extreme 4 mile run/race/event with 30 + obstacles on grueling terrain, fire, barbed wire, walls to climb over, mud pits, etc., that will challenge you in every area that you can imagine, just as the Christian walk will do.

To endure and succeed in such an event, you must have determination, purpose and will-power.  Qualities required are honesty, courage, integrity and the like.  You will have to overcome or surmount physical, mental or moral force to be victorious, just as you do in your daily life as a Christian.

On this 154 minute journey (for me) in 96 degree temps, to “conquer the gauntlet”, I realized just how deceitful the heart can be.  Your mind and your body are not always in agreement when you are faced with an obstacle you must overcome, by going over, under or through it.  Going AROUND the obstacle that was provided to stretch you, only means you did NOT endure.  Your mind says you can do it and yet your body begins to argue, or vice-versa.

As we set out to run and conquer the gauntlet, we endured and encountered many things that I would like to share, but too many to write in one post, so I hope that you will check in and read the posts to follow.

How will you run the race, and will you finish well?  Will you finish the race standing up or will you be carried out on a gurney needing oxygen to help you breathe, etc?  Will you see it as an accomplishment or a regret and never run again?  How we view what is ahead, is in direct relation to how well we will finish.

Stay tuned as I will be writing about obstacles, weights, accountability, encouragement, thoughts, enduring & persevering, wounds, and even humor!

Conquering the Gauntlet was a journey I gained so much from . . . too much not to share!

One thing is for sure:  We look much different at the starting line, than we do the finish line, when we choose to overcome and conquer!

 

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Present your body

         “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye PRESENT your bodies a LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service”.  Romans 12:1

Once we have given our hearts to Jesus Christ, we are beseeched (ask, implore, plead, beg) to present our bodies to the Lord.  It is the least we could do, when we consider what he gave for us.  When we present our bodies, we willingly lay it in the hands of our Lord.  HOWEVER, it is not fully presented until we take our hands completely off of it!  Picture yourself laying lifeless in the arms of Jesus Christ.  That is what  our lives should look like when our bodies are presented.

A LIVING SACRIFICE means that I die completely so that Christ can live.  We need to quit trying and start dying, because the best that we can do is not good enough.

God wants more than just our hearts, he wants our bodies also.  Let Christ live in you daily as you fully & completely present your body a living sacrifice for him!

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Pouting Pains

Rebellion has many faces, and the big pout on my daughter’s face was definitely one of them. With three other children in our homeschool classroom, she didn’t like being the one who had to wait for help with her questions. Watching her body language, I realized there was a much bigger problem waiting to be dealt with than the one in her math lesson.

My daughter’s actions brought back memories of the beginnings of my own rebellious days. What had started as simple, little pouting episodes to get my own way had turned into all-out, get-in-your-face rebellion toward my parents as a teenager. Being the last of seven children, my parents were usually too busy to put out the flames of my sinful rebellion when they erupted. Because these seemingly small pouting sessions were left unchecked, they burned a hole in my character and my life. Many years of pain from getting my own way passed before my heart was humbled before a mighty God.

Have you bought into the world’s lie that you deserve what you want, when you want it? Dear one, don’t go down that path of destruction! Although there may be joy for the moment, pain and suffering will meet you at the end. “An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him” (Proverbs 17:11). Jesus loves you too much to let your pouting spoil things. Trust Him to meet every need you have, and you’ll never get burned again by the world’s empty promises. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:16-17).

Jesus, I submit my life to You again this day. Forgive me when I try to take control and fail to trust You. Help me fight off the fiery darts of the devil that tempt me to rebel against Your will. In Your name, Amen.

AOP Homeschooling Devotions

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Honoring our Veterans

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Yesterday, our church body paid tribute to our Veterans who served our country, fought and even died for our freedom that we experience daily in America.  Two of our children (Brady & Olivia) along with one of our grandchildren (Landen), voluntarily participated by singing, and our youngest son, Brady carried the Navy Flag to honor my Dad, two nephews Ryan and Tyler, as well as others who are or were in the Navy.  The branches recognized during the service were the Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

Many people today, have chosen NOT to honor our soldiers, paying no respect by spitting on them as they walk by, calling them names or act as if they don’t exist!  How sad.  I have members of my own family who have served this country and I want to take this opportunity to honor them publicly and thank them for all they have done – contributing to the freedoms I enjoy today.

My Dad and two nephews served in the Navy, to which I am grateful and want to say “Thank you for thinking of others more than yourself, for valuing the life of others higher than your own, and for loving your country enough to fight for her and defend what we stand for.”  Thank you Dad for making this a better place to live because you chose to serve your country, accepting your call as an honor to make a difference.”

My sister in law Karen, served in the Air Force as a flight surgeon.  Thank you Karen, for sacrificing your time away from home and from your children, to serve your country while purposing to make things better, leaving behind an example for others.

In our “service to remember” stood not only 23 veterans, but in our small country church, there were Purple Hearts, a World War 2 Veteran, Viet Nam Vets, etc.  Some of their stories, I’ve heard and are heart wrenching.  In one of the photos above, stood the WWII vet (with a cane) helping one of the purple hearts (with a walker) to his feet when his flag was brought out!  Can you imagine, giving up YOUR life to fight for others freedom, losing limbs, coming home with mental disorders, etc., only to be mocked and ridiculed, hated and cursed?

I am grateful that my children and grandchildren not only witnessed this type of service but were actively involved in something so great of value!  I hope they will remember it always, as they see difficult days ahead.  I rarely can sing a patriotic song, or pledge allegiance to the American Flag, that I don’t get choked up remembering why we are free!  When I see the military flags, I am reminded of the sacrifices so many made . . . for ME and for you!

Just as many made sacrifices and died for our country, there was ONE ULTIMATE sacrifice that also brings the greatest freedom we can ever experience!  JESUS CHRIST.  He died for our sins to save our soul from hell, so that we could spend eternity in heaven with HIM and desire to live FOR HIM while here on earth.

Our pastor reminded us that our military is only as great as our nation.  As our nation goes downward, so shall the military follow.  No matter how bad things may get, I still believe that America is the greatest country in which to live.

Don’t forget to honor and thank each veteran and soldier for their commitment to serve and defend, no matter the cost.  They have left behind spouses and children to fight for your freedom.

May God continue to bless America!

“If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  II Chronicles 7:14 

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Just One More Day

Pharaoh wanted one more day with the frogs . . . The prodigal son wanted just a few more meals with the hogs . . . and Israel desired the fog rather than to trust in the Lord completely.

What are you hanging onto that’s keeping you from “walking daily with the Lord”?  Pastor Tim Turner

 

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What Are You Housing?

THE wagon

God loves Roy Ratliff!  I love sharing our lives with you and all that the Lord allows us to be a part of.

One afternoon, as we passed Texanna Rd Fire Department, the kids yelled, “hey look!”  They saw something that DID NOT look like modern transportation!  A wagon with horses and a bearded man unharnessing his horses.  They wanted to stop and see, but I was on a mission to get Olivia to her piano lesson, while dropping Brady off at the ranch with dad on the way.

Barry and Brady drove back by the fire department on the way home and saw the wagon and horses, turned around and stopped to visit with the man for about an hour and took the opportunity to share the gospel of Christ.  His name was Roy and had been traveling this way for about the last 10 years and gone through 5 teams of horses exclaiming, “JUST CUZ he wanted to!

“Roy’s Stage Lines” houses a team of horses, 2 chickens, 1 dog, a solar panel for electricity, small flat screen tv, a laptop, a sock hanging on the wall to hold his “mouse”, 3 large barrels on the roof to hold his water, outdoor shower and an old seat bolted in the front for driving the team!  He explained to my husband as he opened up one of the feed drawers underneath, that about a week prior, one of his chickens were inside feasting, and much to his surprise, the opening of the drawer cut off the chickens head!  Oops!  The rear view of the wagon displayed approx 10-12 car tags.  Olivia noticed a sign on the front of the wagon that said, “redneck wind sock” that was screwed to an old white sock.  What a unique collection for all to SEE!

I had to ask myself, that just as this mans wagon was his home and a picture of what was important to him, how much more does what I possess, how I chose to live my life and what I allow others to SEE, affect the Kingdom of God?

During my family’s visit with Roy, he said he wasn’t a “religious” man, just an old country boy that doesn’t know nothing! Barry shared his testimony, his life and about his dads salvation (who was just another old country boy who didn’t “know nothing”), etc. and left him with information to seek out the scriptures.  Roy DID SAY that he had a Bible he reads every night!

The next morning we were headed out to a funeral and the kids wanted to stop and say “good-bye”.  Roy gave the kids a shirt and a cap with his name on it!

I just LOVE the things God allows into our lives for HIS GOOD PLEASURE!

Please pray for Roy Ratliff and his salvation, as God loves him too!

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Ever Tried Walking on Water?

Ever tried walking on water?  You’re safer out walking on the water . . . in the center of God’s will, than in the boat WITHOUT Jesus!

When Peter stepped out of the boat, he had his eyes on Jesus. To let go of the boat, meant he gave up any “plan B” he might have had.

Just like Peter . . . when you take your eyes off Jesus, you will “begin” to sink.  Jesus will ask you to follow HIM when it’s difficult.  So, don’t let the wind and waves deter you.

Don’t undo in doubt . . . what you DID in faith!

Are your eyes on Jesus? Do you have a “plan B”, just in case (you might believe that) Jesus doesn’t come through for you? Matthew 14:29-31

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Retracting Mosquito Antennae

If we don’t look, research and educate ourselves about the Lord and HIS handiwork, we will miss SO much interesting facts about the ONE who not only created us, but created every creature and critter uniquely – ALL FOR HIS GLORY and for a purpose!

Psalm 40:5a  “Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done…”

Most people are aware that it is only the female mosquito that feeds on blood.  The male feeds on plant juices.  It is also easy to “see” the differences between male and females in most species.  The male has a distinctive pair of antennae.  While the female mosquito’s antennae are difficult to see, the male’s look like a pair of branched feathers coming out of its head.  And if it weren’t for a very special feature, these large, antennae would make it difficult for him to fly.

Each antennae is planted in a socket, next to which there is a pad made out of special protein.  This pad is actually a water-powered engine.  When flying, the mosquito’s antennae are flattened against its head.  But when he lands, he raises the antennae so that he can hear.  To raise the antennae, a small amount of water from his system is pumped into the pad that increases its size by 25 percent and causes the pad to unfold, raising the antennae.

Nature is full of so many wonders that it would be easy for us to get lost in them.  But every one of these wonders is designed by God to lead us to desire to learn more about Him — especially to learn from His Word that He wants a relationship with you through His Son, Jesus Christ.

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Why is Grace so Amazing?

But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ—by grace ye are saved—and hath raised us up together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:  That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.   —Ephesians 2:4-9

While all believers have a God-given measure of faith (Romans 12:3), what saves us is the work God’s grace accomplished in Jesus Christ.  No matter how big or small our faith, it could not be effective if God wasn’t graciously willing to save us.  We are saved by grace—through our faith in Christ.

G – God’s

– Riches

A – At

C – Christ’s

E – Expense

Scripture drives home the point: not a result of works, so that no one may boast. If it’s all God’s work by God’s grace, there’s no room to claim we contributed ANYTHING to our salvation.  Grace saving us through faith means we stop working to try to save ourselves!

Grace is unmerited favor.  It is in no way a result of your performance, your attitude, your victories, or your defeats.  Why is the fact that it is undeserved important?  If you had to earn it, you could lose it—or more likely, you would never get it in the first place.  If somehow you received salvation because of what you did, it wouldn’t be grace.  It would be wages or reward.

One of the ways we show the world how God’s grace is amazing is by living out that grace, as well as returning it to others.  We fall.  We get up.  We fall.  We get up.  Why do we get up again?  Because His grace allows us to endure.  His grace makes His strength available to us.  His grace will be sufficient no matter what we meet each day.

Whether you have been living in victory or defeat, if you are in Christ, God has graciously set His love upon you.  And that is truly amazing!

God’s grace is like an ambulance.  That ambulance does not arrive at your address, unless you have first humbled yourself acknowledging your need for help and assistance.  God gives grace to the humble.  (James 4:6)

** If you had to describe your own experience of God’s grace, where would you start?

When we realize just how much grace HE has poured out on our lives, we are humbled.

Lord, Your grace is amazing to me because the more I understand what You have done for me, apart from anything I could have ever done, the more I am convinced of my own helplessness.  Thank You that though I was lost, You came and found me.  I was sold into sin, but You bought me back.  I was a determined rebel, but You won me over.  This was all You.  I’m looking forward to an eternity of appreciating just how amazing Your grace has been toward me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Prayers & Patriot Missiles

Prayers are like Patriot Missiles!

No matter where they’re sent off from, they always hit the target!

God Answers our prayers in 3 ways:

1.  He says yes and gives you what you want.

2.  He says no and gives you something better.

3.  He says WAIT and gives you the BEST!

 

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