Sunday, October 5, 2008

Praise & Influence

My heart is light today... lighter than it's been for a while. I'm not sure why, but maybe it's just the love of the Holy Spirit in my soul - deep in my soul. It's the love of family and friends that has surrounded me over the last week, reviving my spirit. It's knowing that my heart has indeed found a home in HIM, and that I'm never alone. I think that although most of us know this, we (or maybe just me) need to be reminded frequently of that small, but so important, fact.

Today's sermon was on "Influence". There are many capacities and facets in our lives in which we have an influence with other people. Of course the primary one is with friends and family. Because you have a relationship with those people, there is a bridge of trust, compassion and understanding. I know for me personally there are many people that have an influence in my life, though it doesn't come immediately. It's built over time as one witnesses their behaviors and actions toward other people, how they conduct themselves, and the love they give. I know that those who have shown me compassion and love when I've needed it the most seem to have an "in", and though I may not do always what they recommend, I absolutely seek their counsel and guidance (and Prayers!) as I go through my life. I TRUST them with the deeper issues and hurts. The sermon was on how we can share the gospel, but I pulled something else from it as well. I think that so many times we may not realize just how much of an influence we have on those around us. People are always watching us and how we respond to things. And I'm not saying that it's only Christians, but I think often because you say you are a Christian you carry a heavier cross in terms of ridicule and opportunity. Do you conduct yourself differently when you think people are watching? Or are you always the person you claim to be? I know that at one point in my life I wanted to be someone I wasn't... I tried to be that person, but the real me always came out. Looking back, I can see all of the reasons why that was the case, and I can thank God for pulling out the bad and untrue things, refining me so that I may have freedom to become all that He wants me to be. So my take home from this sermon was to be "aware". Yes, I do have many opportunities with which I can witness because I have close relationships in my life, and I love those people so much that I should be able to share Christ with them. But my other take home is that I need to recognize that I could have an influence in areas that maybe I hadn't given much consideration to. As Brandon (our youth pastor) ended, so will I: *Show practically the love of Jesus and *Tell about the love of Jesus.

And my praise.... :) I've been reading a book by Beth Moore called "Breaking Free". This book covers so many areas in our lives where we may be held in "bondage", but some hit much harder than others. Anyhow, there are just a few things I want to share because they are beautiful reminders of how very much we are loved by God.

As the anniversary of my mom's death approaches, I face the loss that still claims hold of my heart frequently. And although I have come so far, I still recognize that pain in my every day activities that I can no longer share with my mom over a phone call or a family dinner. Thus, the chapter on "Hearts Broken by Loss" hit a tender spot in my heart... and it's full of promises that God has for those that have experienced loss. A few things really struck me in this, so I'm going to share them: "Christ never allows the hearts of His own to be shattered without excellent reasons and eternal purposes". WOW! Although I pulled away from God when my mom died, (the words bitterness and resentment come to mind) I am so much closer to Him now than I've ever been in my life. When I finally accepted His grace and came to terms with my loss, I learned a deeper love than I had ever known. Praise him! And then one more quote from this chapter, "Perhaps the most profound miracle of all is living through something we though would kill us. And not just living, but living abundantly and effectively - raised from living death to a new life. A life indeed absent of something or someone dear but filled with the presence of the Resurrection and the Life". My soul is forever changed! AMEN!

My eyes have been unveiled to see the many blessing He has bestowed upon me, and how he has used so many wonderful people to help me grow and move through my pain. "I don't believe God allows surrendered hearts to continue to long for things He will not ultimately grant in one way or another." (Breaking Free) God has used many women in my life to support me and love me in a mothering way. No one, and I mean no one, will ever come close to loving me as my mom did, or to taking her place. But God has provided for me countless times by using the friends I've made to comfort me and provide the spiritual guidance that will keep me moving forward and running toward Him. Even though I'm thankful for this everyday, today I'm sharing that praise because I know that I'm being taken care of by our Almighty Father in Heaven with each and every breath I take. And I'm overflowing with the love I've received.

I hope that each of you are able to see the blessings in your lives, and that your cup runneth over with the love you receive. If you are lacking, come see me and I'll love on you! :) I'm grateful for each of you for supporting me and loving me, and reminding me that even if it's not in the capacity I was used to, I'm going to be taken care of and encouraged. I wouldn't be where I am without the love of my family and friends. I love you all so much!

1 comment:

The Cohen's said...

How much I learn from you every time I read your blog...not about you but about our Savior. You just remind me to put my trust in Him and LEAVE it with Him...which is something you know I struggle with. Oh how much you are loved.