The Look of Love

February 1
Quote: "A teachable heart grows wise, not old." Jan Carlberg

When the calendar turns to February, my mind turns to red paper hearts, edible conversation hearts and quotes on love. It is a happy holiday for those in love or those too young to care about having a lover...you know, the ones just wanting some candy, heart shaped cookies or pretty Valentines.
My mind always shifts to those who are looking for love and I try to think up ways to make them feel loved. I will share some of those as the month goes on.
As we launch into love thoughts the best way I know to start is to look at some of the top love stories in the Bible. There is a website called: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com.
We will kick off this month taking a look at their top five picks of great love stories in the Bible and ask God to teach us something about how we love and how we long to be loved from these stories.

#1 Jacob and Rachel- An Old Testament Love Story
After Jacob ran away from his brother Esau, he went to live with his mother's family in Haran. While looking for his uncle Laban, Jacob met Rachel, Laban's daughter. She was caring for her father's sheep. Rachel took Jacob to Laban who gave Jacob a job and a place to stay. Jacob negotiated with Laban to work for him for seven years. In return Laban, would give his daughter Rachel to Jacob as his wife. The Bible says in Genesis 29:20, "And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her."
At the end of the seven years Laban offered his daughter's hand in marriage. However, at the wedding Laban tricked Jacob into marrying Leah, the older sister. Because, he said, it was not right for the younger daughter to marry first. The Bible says that Jacob continued to work for Laban another seven years to be able to have Rachel as his wife.
Jacob originally consented to a seven year contract to wed the girl he loved. Even after the deception, he continued to work another seven years for the hand of Rachel.

Thoughts...so 14 years Jacob worked to be able to wed Rachel.
It is about the same amount of time parents invest in the lives of their children to get teenagers!
It is much longer than most people invest in the education needed to launch their careers.
It is longer than some marriages last.
It is less time than it takes for most of us to begin a sincere love relationship with Jesus.

???????

What are the things you have invested more than fourteen years into at this point in your life?
Why have you stuck with it?
How many years did God wait for you to start loving Him?
If a love relationship with Christ isn't active and flourishing, start it today!

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:4-5



Start Fresh Once More


January 31
"When we dive deeper into God's heart, all the turmoil of our daily lives-
the problems that crash around us like huge waves-seem somehow…distant."
Joni Eareckson Tada
Joni knows, as well as anyone, how tough fresh starts can be. As a teenager, she dove into shallow waters in the Chesapeake by and broke her neck becoming a quadriplegic. Every day is a challenge, but she faces it gaining faith from the Lord. Learning to paint with a brush in her teeth, to write books, accept speaking engagements, marry, and start a major ministry, she has made herself useful to the Lord.

And that's about it, friends. Be cheerful. Keep things in good repair. Keep your spirits up. Think in harmony. Be agreeable. Do all that, and the God of love and peace will be with you for sure. Greet one another with a holy embrace.
2 Corinthians 13:11
Our January focus of Starting Fresh has come to an end, but the exercising of our faith in this fashion will be necessary until He calls us home, where there will be no trials or travails.

So be ready to hold onto Jesus and start each new day with the confidence
that you are loved beyond measure
and that God has had a purpose for your life since the day He decided to make
YOU, you!

Pray
Our eyes are fixed on You, God! When we call to you, please come quickly. May our prayers be set before you like incense and the lifting of our hands be like the evening sacrifice. Do not let our hearts be drawn to what is evil. (PS. 140) May the mountains and valleys of life be a learning ground and may we see each new start as an exciting adventure to embark upon with a loving Bridge Groom! In Jesus' Name, Amen


Start Fresh

January 30
Here are more instructions, which come as godly advice, when we are looking for a "do over."

So let God work his will in you.
Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper.
Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time.
Quit dabbling in sin.
Purify your inner life.
Quit playing the field.
Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out.
The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious.
Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet.

"When we try to get our needs met apart from God, our efforts lead only to disappointment, discouragement, disillusionment, and despair. Lord, what do you want me to do.?"
Charles Stanley

Pray
Lord, we exalt You and sing praises to Your name! How blessed we are that Your love endures forever and your faithfulness stays true to all generations! We praise You with all our heart and pray that all the kings on this earth will praise You too. May we take the words written in James 4:10 seriously and quit dabbling in sin. We bow low and meditate on the importance of seeking Your will. Have Your own way today, Father! Have Your own way. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Start Fresh with Your Mother in Law



January 28-29
No, this is not a lecture on being nice to your mother in law. It is a look back at one of the dearest fresh starts in the Bible...the story of Ruth and Naomi. The book of Ruth is a quick read if you want to get the whole context. Naomi and her husband left their homeland in Judah, because of a famine, and moved to a foreign land where their sons ended up marrying foreign wives. Naomi's husband dies and then the two sons die, leaving the three widows from two generations. Naomi, instructs her daughter in laws to move back with their Moabite families and she is returning to Judah. In the end, one daughter in law goes back to her family, but Ruth chooses to stick by her mother in law. Ruth loved not only her mother in law, but the God her mother in law served.
But Ruth said, "Don't force me to leave you; don't make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I'll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I'll die, and that's where I'll be buried, so help me God—not even death itself is going to come between us! Ruth 1:16-17
Ruth realized the best fresh starts are the ones with God and worth the risk. Sounds like she would have agreed with Paul who said in Philippians 1:21
For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain.

Pray:
God, You are our Dwelling Place. Whether we are on the mountain top, sailing out at sea, or drudging through the desert, knowing Jesus allows us to be at home. Help us to be content wherever You have placed us at the time and watch for the wonder of Your ways at that time.
Keep us close, even when we feel far away. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Start Fresh


January 27
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17
Lawsie, lawsie...did I learn a lot about making all things new the other day. Five years ago I bought a necklace to wear to a party for our son's wedding. By the time I traveled home, this necklace with 12 tiny gold chains and one pendant was a tangled mess, the likes of which I have never seen. While going through a box of old jewelry I thought, "I'd really like to wear that necklace." After about a twenty minute attempt to untangle the chains I realized the only solution was to disconnect the chains at one end, take them all out of the link holding the pendant, straighten them out and re-thread them. My best friend sat patiently by me the first ten minutes, then quietly disappeared from the room. Frustration sank in as I was unable to get the minute links on the chains to thread back onto the link on the catch.
What an amazing picture of our lives the Lord put before me. Sometimes we make such a mess of our lives that at first glance we think the only solution is to give up or even toss our life away. We feel like we can be no good to anyone.
But the truth is we belong to a Creator who sees all the beautiful elements He placed within us and He is willing...painful as it can be for us, to help us lay the parts out and slowly put them back together to create something beautiful.
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11
While working on the jewelry, after only reattaching four of the twelve chains, my hands and fingers began to cramp. Two of the four chains fell back off. I wanted to cry. My friend came back into the room and I asked, "Why did you abandon me and not sit by me and support me?" The reply...."Isn't it good we have a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

At this time I have decided the best solution may be to take this trinket to our jeweler and ask her to assist in attaching the final chains. Thus, another lesson for Starting Fresh...
Sometimes we need to be honest and ask for help!
God designed the body of Christ to build one another up!

Pray:
You are a perfect God who is in the business of untangling messes! We praise You Lord and thank You for your patience. Forgive us for becoming discouraged, that shows a lack of faith in what You can do. May we turn our eyes upon You, the author and Perfector of our faith. In Your name, we pray, Amen




A Grace Filled Fresh Start

January 26

God is flat out amazing. If you are not walking and talking to him everyday, you are missing out on SO much. It is the ultimate relationship!
This morning I said, "Lord, we are 26 days into this starting fresh thing for the month of January and I need a fresh idea to write about this morning.
Look to the WORD!
We've got the OLD and the NEW testaments!
One governed by the LAW and the other governed by GRACE!
There's a fresh start!

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith?
Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
Romans 3:31 NIV
There is a quote I jotted down, which I believe the credit should go to Charles Spurgeon:

Grace is the mother and nurse of holiness,
and not the apologist of sin.

We get a redo through the New Testament relationship.
We go from being slaves to children.
While we are not bound by the Law, we are still under an authority, our heavenly Father, and have a role of obedience to follow his desire for us to be made perfect like Christ. The magic potion, which should make it work, is JOY. As in any parent-child relationship, we need to get to the point where we are grateful God/our parent loves us so much that He is going to discipline us and direct us on the path which is best for us. We start to see God's rules as healthy habits!
He desires for no harm to come to us, but happiness!
Oh, I like that one! When dark clouds come and we don't get our way if we stop and remember "He desires for no harm to come to us, but happiness, " then we can ask ourselves:
What good can come from this time of travail we are facing?
How does God want me to walk through it?
What is He fine doing in me, by allowing it?
OK, this next thought is a little out there, but paints a good picture and prompts a fun tradition. When potty training a child, one suggestion is to give them a treat after they use the bathroom. Lots of moms keep an M & M jar handy to use as the reward. I think maybe jewels in our crowns are more in keeping biblically with how God functions, but while on earth we may want to have a concrete way of reflecting and reinforcing the realization that God is at work in us.
Maybe it is a written time line or journal.
How about a marble jar on our kitchen sink where we plop one in each time God guides us through the web of life.
Ladies, we may want to have an add a bead necklace!

It's a new day! Let's face it God's way!

But by shifting our focus from what we do to what God does, don't we cancel out all our careful keeping of the rules and ways God commanded? Not at all. What happens, in fact, is that by putting that entire way of life in its proper place, we confirm it. Romans 3:31 MSG

Pray:
Lord, there is a song lyric which goes...He will make a way, when there seems to be no way. Thank You that you call us your children and you take joy in training us. Give us eyes today to see the good You are up to. May the love You have for us, spill out upon those who are not feeling loved today and help us to relay to them how very well YOU love them. May we tell of Your amazing grace. God's Riches At Christ's Expense! In our Savior's name we pray, Amen.


Start Fresh Manicure

If you really want a lift, go to www.mentormemoments.blogspot.com and read Ruth Myers' entry in 31 Days of Praise for today. It was written for Fresh Starts!

January 25th

Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Philippians 4:8

Years ago, we had a new minister come to our church and I went to their home on moving day to help them. It was a good thing, because no one else showed up! Introducing myself to his wife, she took my hands in hers and said, "Oh, I am going to like you! You are my kind of woman. I can tell by your hands! You are a worker!"
Rarely do I polish my fingernails, because the activities I pursue tend to tear up a polished look rather quickly! If I had fake ones they would probably end up cake batter, at the bottom of the lake or pull off in a knitting project or a dirty diaper! LOL.
The other day I was painting my toe nails, which aren't aging well and tend to get a coat of lacquer right often, especially in open toed shoe season! The old polish had to be rubbed off, the nails trimmed and the cuticle pushed back. Looking at those old toes, with their shinny new coat of polish, I thought about all that fresh starts require.
They require:
...recognizing what we are presently doing with our lives isn't working and most likely isn't appealing to the Lord.
...cutting out or off something or someone. That process can be painful.
...pushing back old habits or ways of thinking and replacing them new ones.
When the process is complete and we stop and look at the creation it is pleasant and pleasing and was worth the effort!
The greatest thing about "starting fresh" with Jesus is that the Holy Spirit helps...we don't have to do all the work...we just need to be willing to let Him scrub us and begin the manicure! It is a team effort! Amen!

Pray:
We look to you, heaven-dwelling God, look up to you for help. Like servants, alert to their master's commands, like a maiden attending her lady, we're watching and waiting, holding our breath, awaiting your word of mercy. (From Psalm 123) Forgive us for our stubbornness and for being satisfied to allow decay to continue in our lives. You created us for a freshness, a vibrancy, a very alive relationship with You. Today we choose to say, "Out with the old and in with more Jesus!" In whose precious name we pray, Amen.


Stepping Towards a Fresh Start

Just an aside thought here to brighten your day...
And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Matthew 10:30

(Maybe bald men and bald babies are to help cut down on God's counting task!)

January 24

"In some way, every single scrap of my life, every step and every struggle, is in the process of being fitted together, into God's huge and perfect pattern for good." Claire Cloninger


Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
James 1:2-3

January is almost over and it seems as if each day in my quiet time the concept of "suffering being for our benefit" comes up. Even at fifty-five years old (and having loved the Lord for the majority of those years) I still fall into the trap of contemplating that maybe if I "get it right" often enough He will be pleased and things will go more smoothly, but no where is that promised.
The other day I read a devotional by Nancy Leigh DeMoss that had me realizing how the Lord wanted me to seek deeply into my heart to consider something. It was as if there were little pieces of dirt under my fingernails and He wanted to get those out. The end result of the probing was refreshing.
Here is what it looked like to encourage you if you feel him getting out the fingernail brush.

I received a very special note from a friend. It was so uplifting that I tucked it away in my Bible to read on a rainy day! Then I read the noted devotional, which was on humility. The writer explained that after a speaking engagement, to a group of ministers, she received numerous notes saying what a great job she had done and how much she had helped them. Being pleased with the notes she filed them away. Later it hit her that she was taking God's glory in what He had done at that conference and she burnt the letters.

My thoughts were promoted to a drawer I have of precious notes written by dear friends and our children over the years. The searching of my heart began and I wondered why I had kept them. While, pride was not the issue, I searched deeply into the possible reasons I had kept those and shared these with my daughter and a friend.
First Possible Reason:
I saved them so that when I die and my children are cleaning out my house they will find them and see I really was a nice person! :) LOL...then I realized with all the junk in our house there is no way they were going to sit down and read letters! (My daughter said, actually she would.)
Second Possible Reason:
I've watched my father pour over old photos since my mother's death and it has kept memories fresh for him So many of those letters are from people God briefly brought into our lives at times of need and I think the written record of what we walked through and the depth of love we shared will keep those times fresh for me. (I wish I had a picture attached to many of them to help me remember the faces.) It also is an excellent reminder of how important it is to get outside ourselves. (I'm struggling with only wanting to help grand babies right now!)

Searching our hearts is a good exercise though. If an endeavor is not about Jesus, it is on the wrong track and we need to switch tracks and start fresh
If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. James 1:5

Pray:
We look to You, heaven-dwelling God, we look up to you for help. Like servants, alert to their master's commands, like a maiden attending her lady, we're watching and waiting, holding our breath, awaiting your word of mercy. (From Psalm 123) Search our hearts and find any unpleasant corridor and cut it out, forgiving us Father for our wrong mindsets and misgivings.
Thank You that you care about us enough to remove our tarnishings. In Jesus' Name, Amen



Start Fresh with a List

January 23
Did you make New Year's resolutions? Charles Swindoll, in The Finishing Touch, writes...
"Invariably, a new year prompts us to make our own list of things deserving our diligent attention and pursuit." He goes on to suggest a godlier guideline than what the world might have a tendency to tip us toward. Looking towards those who have gone before us he records lists made by Moses, Paul and Peter.

Moses' List (Exodus 19:3-17)
Don't ever place substitute gods before the Lord your God.
Don't make an idol out of anyone or anything.
Don't take the Lord's name in vain. It is holy.
Remember to observe a Sabbath rest every week.
Honor and respect your dad and mom.
Don't murder anyone for any reason.
Never, ever commit adultery.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Never lie or give a false impression.
Don't covet another person's image, benefits or belongings.

Paul's List (Galatians 5:19-23)
Stay away from the things which flesh produce, such as immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, arguments, jealousy, angry outbursts, heresies, envyings, drunkenness, and running around with the wrong crowd.
Emulate the things which the Holy Spirit produces, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Peter's List (2 Peter 1:5-8)
Be a diligent person.
Don't waiver in your faith.
Be known for uncompromising moral excellence.
Enlarge your reservoir of knowledge, keep learning.
Stay balanced: guard against extremes.
Persevere
Make sure you godliness is free of hypocrisy.
Treat others tactfully, graciously.
Let your Christian love flow, let it flow, let it flow!

Those are quite the lists! Not is our power can we stay within them, but in the Lord's power it is possible!
Pray:
Lord, we look up to the mountains and say, "Where does my strength come from?" Then we know it is not from the mighty mountains, but from You who created not only those mountains but the heavens and the earth! How blessed we are to have a King who will not let us stumble and who never sleeps, but keeps a watchful eye upon us, protecting us from every evil. Guarding us when we leave and when we return. Loving us and encouraging us when Starting Fresh is the best option! Whatever list, changes or hurdles we face today, we know we do not face them alone. Hallelujah! What a Savior in whose name we can come humble to You through prayer. Amen



Start Fresh a New Perspective

January 21-22

Here's a little visual exercise for the weekend. The email I received said this is labeled an anti-Alzheimers exercise. Below each picture will be directions to find the picture within the picture.
It is a good reminder to us that things are not always as they seem. Usually there is something that lies much deeper below the surface. Whether we are trying to understand ourselves or others it is good to pray and ask the Lord to help us see situations in another light.
"For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7


Can you see the three women?




Can you see the couple kissing?



Can you see the baby?



Can you see the face?
Can you see ten faces in the tree?

Let's ask the Lord if there is a perspective we need to change?

Pray:
Lord, You see all things and no one can fool You. Forgive us for our limited vision. So often we see things only from our perspective. Open our eyes to see others as Christ did...totally loved by You and in need of salvation. When we look at others may we not judge or condemn, but see an individual created by God, one of His master pieces, planned with a specific purpose.
In Jesus' Name, Amen

Blueprints for Starting Fresh


God doesn't give blueprints to any of us for the entire span of life ahead.
We need daily communication with Him to know one step at a time.
Edith Schaeffer
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will guide you with My eye.
Psalm 32:8

Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.
Luke 24:45

January 20
Lying on the floor yesterday for a time of stretching out my back, I brought my Bible along to meditate on the Word. Finally, I rolled over and asked the Lord, "Would you just tell me where it is You want me to go now? I am willing to obey, I just want to know the way?"
The past two months, those of us in SW Virginia have had to stay daily connected to the weatherman. Day to day fluctuation of temperatures between 35 and 60 have made the morning inquiry a necessity. We don't know what any day holds, so why is it we are not willing to go daily to the One who holds today?

"If I not only seek an answer but seek after the God who gives the answer, then I receive the power to know I have obtained what I have asked." Andrew Murray

Pray:
We will praise you, O Lord, with all of our hearts, we will tell of your wonders, being glad and rejoicing in you through song. Lord, you are a refuge for the oppressed and a stronghold in times of trouble. Your ways should be the blue prints for our lives as You are our Guiding Light. Forgive us Father, when we stand far off and hide from you in times of trouble. You are the God of Fresh Starts and we come to You today seeking to be shown what You have for us this moment. Rebuilding takes time. We will be patient. In Jesus' Name, Amen


Even if yesterday was a disaster,
we are to enter God's gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise today.
Charles Stanley

You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

We are not alone in our Fresh Starts.
January 19
Moses, our old bulldog, follows our grandchildren around as if it is his given duty to protect them. Whatever task they are about to undertake he is willing to accompany them. We can enter into God's gates and His courts with praise, because we are always in His presence. Yesterday, morning, our grandson and I ran to the window to look at the skyline before sunrise to see what color God had decided to paint with. "PINK!" our grandson exclaimed. "God painted with PINK today!" The exercise was a simple reminder that each morning is a NEW day and God is still on His throne, being God!

Pray:
Oh Lord, open our lips and our mouths will declare your praise. Do not cast us from Your presence or take your Holy Spirit from us, but create a steadfast spirit within us. Restore to us the joy of your salvation and grant us a willing spirit to sustain us as we face yet another "fresh start". In Jesus' Name, Amen


Start Fresh Pattern By Paul

January 18

Paul was such a people person! I delight in his letter to the Philippians. He overflows with thankfulness for the generosity and kindness of these people and he takes very seriously the ministry of encouragement to which he feels a calling. Paul has recognized that following Christ means accepting a new set of standards (deny self and following Christ) which is a high calling.

The verses I have selected below are great steps to readying ourselves for a fresh start of any kind!


Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Philippians 1:27a

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Philippians 2:13

. . . I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Philippians 3:12b

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19


Pray:

There is none like You Lord. Whatever You set before us, You will meet our needs and show us the way to press on in the strength of Christ if we just make our requests known. Help us to lay our anxieties aside and conduct ourselves in life with a confidence that You are a God, who works in us for good and for a planned completion. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Start Fresh

January 17
I am the LORD; that is my name!
I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.
See, the former things have taken place,
and new things I declare;
before they spring into being I announce them to you.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise from the ends of the earth...
Isaiah 42:8-10





God will use every experience of your past
to position you for the fulfillment of your purpose in the future."
Tom Paterson



January 17
Age, ailments and a whole lot less income have caused us to change the appearance of ministry here at Shiloh. Docksiders was an exhilarating ministry we had for teens and college students. Sixty to eighty young people would pour in here on Thursday afternoons for water activities, DINNER, a concert, a time of testimony and prayer. Do we still work with young people? Absolutely...it is just seen in a different frame.
Just as athletes age and become coaches, encouragers of a younger breed, or expert fans, often our ministries take on a different appearance. God is always calling us to trust HIM and START FRESH. While Billy Graham's message is the same PURE simple "gospel call" he is no longer the one traveling to crusades and on stage. His role still can pack a punch for heaven from a rocking chair and the ministry is most likely magnified through the extended time he has for prayer. Ministry has not lost its potency for him, it is just projected from a different position.
Life is a series of continuous fresh starts!
Whether you are in full time ministry, mommying, memorizing studies in school, money making mode, or you are somewhere in between right now, the landscape will change. Those you are ministering to may move on and new faces will or appear or the steadfast ones will be transformed and have new needs. The children will grow and eventually leave, if you are a student, hopefully you will graduate and for the money makers the job will end or change. Starting Fresh will be necessary in some form. It happens everyday in the kitchen and the laundry room!

So let's sing to the Lord a new song as we experience the changes in life and be excited like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon!
“I never lay my head on the pillow without thinking that perhaps before I awake the final morning may have dawned. I never begin work without thinking that He may interrupt it to begin His own.” G. Campbell Morgan

Pray:
We shout for joy to You, Lord. We worship You with gladness and come before You with joyful songs, recognizing it is You who made us and we are yours. Life is full of ups and downs, trials and triumphs, tragedy and majesty. You, Father, are steadfast and forever. Your faithfulness continues through all generations although the backdrop of life takes on different forms. Fresh starts require us to come to You daily Lord, to be on the alert, and to seek guidance. Hallelujah! Starting fresh keeps us close to You. That's where we want to be. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Remodel

January 16
Our bathroom remodel mess.
One of our sons is a contractor and thoroughly enjoys remodeling. The first part of a remodel is the tearing out. You have to get ride of the old, before you begin to build and put the new in place. What an awesome example of the way a FRESH START occurs in our own lives!

"Christ wants to transform our troubles into trust,
our problems into promises,
and our fears into faith!"
Henry Gariepy

This process begins when we believe and follow Psalm 119:114

You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in Your word.

Anne Ortlund wrote:
"It's not your circumstances that shape you.
It's how you react to your circumstances that shapes you."

You will keep in perfect peace, those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in You.
Isaiah 26:3

Yes, STARTING FRESH is a process, but the end result allows hope which is waiting to shine to burst through.

The finished product.
Pray:
We sing to You, Lord, a new song for you have done marvelous things! Because of the cross, You have taken our sins and tossed them away for those with repentant hearts. We come to You with grateful hearts, humbled by Your provision. Forgive us for those sins and remodel our hearts. Tear out all bitterness, anger, anxiety, jealousy and greed. Build up our faith, nail in place pure hearts and install attitudes of gratitude, which overflow with love and forgiveness for You and others. In the name above all names....precious Jesus.

Tebowing

Peaks of Otter, VA Poses
January 14-15
OK! Time out from Starting Fresh...or maybe not.
A New Year's resolution appeared on a dearly loved friend's facebook page:
"I don't usually make a New Year resolution, but for 2012: I will not be shy about praising our heavenly Father, praying in public places, sharing my joy, love and faith.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18

wOOt! Girlfriend...
Facebook is a good place to go BOLD and Start Fresh!

This theme of outwardly expressing our faith has come up time and time again for me this past week. A radio show's theme (It may have been on Haven Today) was on Christians being obedient like Tim Tebow and giving God the glory due him in all aspects of our lives. There is even a tebowing,com site. While many are making fun of Tim, God is using this for his glory and I believe working all things together for His good!
Another dear friend and godly mentor emailed me Anne Graham Lotz's January 12th devotional which packed a powerful punch with this grandmother.
Speaking Up for Jesus
"We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."
Acts 4:20, NIV
It has been several years since our youngest daughter, Rachel-Ruth, gave birth to our first grandchild - a little girl named Ruth Bell Wright. Since that very first day, my husband and I have been totally enthralled with this little girl. She fills our hearts! We can't help talking about her to anyone who will listen. I'm not afraid to talk about her. I don't plan in advance how I will talk about her. I don't worry about offending someone with my talk about her. I don't go to classes to learn how to talk about her. I don't read books on how to talk about her. I hug that little girl, feel her snuggle up against me, touch her soft cheek, and melt! Little Ruth Bell fills my heart! And what fills my heart comes out on my lips!
Why do we seem to make speaking up for Jesus so complicated? If He fills our hearts, He is going to come out on our lips! Like Peter and John, we will not be able to help "speaking about what we have seen and heard" of Him!
Blessings, Anne Graham Lotz
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Then, yes, I reached the trifecta when my January 12th evening devotional by Charles Spurgeon confirmed....
I have yet to speak on God's behalf.
Job. 36:2
"We should not court publicity for our virtue or fame for our zeal; but at the same time, it is a sin to be always seeking to hide that which God has bestowed on us for the good of others. A Christian is not to be a village in a valley, but a city that is set on a hill (Mt. 5:14). He or she is not to e a candle under a bushel (v.15), but a candle in a candlestick giving light to all. Retirement may be lovely in its season, and to hide oneself is no doubt modest, but the hiding of Christ in us can never be justified, and the keeping back of truth that is precious to ourselves is a sin against others and an offense against God...Seek in the name of Him who was not ashamed of you, to do what you can to tell others what Christ has told you....From the hidden springs within, let sweetly flowing rivulets of testimony flow forth, giving drink to every passerby...To speak for God will be refreshing to ourselves, cheering to saints, useful to sinners, and honoring to the Savior. Lord, unloose all your children's tongues."

And wait! There is more...look what the daily verse on Biblegateway was:
God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you. 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 MSG
WOW, well said.
So are we willing to start fresh in our faith walks by not being ashamed of Christ.

Pray:
Great are You, Lord, and worthy of praise. We declare Your glory among the nations, Your marvelous deeds among all peoples. We say among the nations, 'The Lord reigns." (Ps 96) Or do we Lord? This weekend will we enter Your courts with praise and thanksgiving. Will we stop in the midst of weekend projects, sporting events, or date nights and simply say..."God is so good, He reigns on high."? Forgive us for becoming consumed with worldly issues and worry what others think. May our minds be controlled by the Holy Spirit and steadfast on You. May the joy we have in being Your child spill out of our mouths and expressed to others. In Jesus Name, Amen

Start Fresh

Bunko Men
Bunko Babes
January 13
I've been a member of a Bunko Group for close to 20 years. We know we aren't the norm in that our men are still alive and they are still living with us. Two other friends buried their husbands this past December. Another widow friend called, asking me if I'd like to go to yoga with her in the evenings. She liked the 6:30 class because it was at dinner time and that was the most painful time of the day for her....when her husband no longer walks in from work.
Equally as painful is the heartache of divorce. Not being loved, by the one you love and have shared all vulnerability with for years, cuts deeper than anything I can imagine.

Starting fresh in a romantic relationship at any age has to be tough.
Starting fresh in any relationship where hurtful words have been tossed finds us tentative.
Below are some quotes which hold healing and help for fresh starts in all kinds of relationships.

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does unlock the future!
Richard Exley

And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you. 1 Kings 8:50

God forgets the past. Imitate him. Max Lucado
Blessed are all who put their trust in Him. Psalm 2:12

Here is a great confidence builder for fresh starters!
God will use every experience of your past to position you for the fulfillment of your purpose in the future. Tom Paterson

Peter has a pep talk for us!
So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love; each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can't see what's right before you, oblivious that your sinful life has been wiped off the books. 2 Peter 1:5-8 The Message

Pray:
Lord, what a joy to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night! How great are your works and how profound your thoughts. Forgive us our trespasses Father and find us quick to forgive others. Hold our hurts in Your mighty hands and steady us when new starts are necessary. While the past is gone, may our present possess wisdom from the wear, which we apply to our hope for the future. We can start fresh with the vision not to step into troubled waters, but onto the paths You place before us. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Stop before we Start Fresh

January 12
One of our sons came in our bedroom the other day and Moses, our bulldog, crept over and placed his paw on our son's foot in an effort to keep him there. Do you ever feel like the hand of God is on you saying,
"Stop, stay here with Me."
God loves us too much to want us to go our own way. Elisabeth Elliott

Before we start a fresh it is in our best interest to
STOP, DROP & ROLL.
Stop trudging ahead with our own plans.
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Drop to our knees and seek the Lord in prayer.
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. Psalm 95:6

Roll, by faith, with where we hear the Lord leading us and start fresh in radical obedience.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Pray:
Lord, You are our refuge and our fortress...our God in whom we trust. Forgive us when we become fearful, doubtful, or apprehensive. We need not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day. Remind us to STOP and remember that You will cover us with your feathers and place us under Your wings for refuge. We can DROP to our knees and cry out knowing You have angels ready to guard us at the sound of Your command! Your ways are good and trustworthy. Help us learn to ROLL with them by faith and delight in the fresh starts a life in Christ affords us. In Jesus Name, Amen