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Confused By God’s Behavior

The assigned reading for my BSF study today was Joshua Chapters 5 & 6.  Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), is a worldwide non-denominational Bible study- an amazing place to learn about God’s word, they have studies for women, men, children, and teenagers.  Several years ago I visited BSF with very little understanding of the program.  I recall walking into the church expecting, superficiality, judgement, and a lack of authenticity.  However, I found the exact opposite of what I expected.  As I walked in women flocked to greet me, to lead me to my destination, and accepted me into the community with open arms.  Most importantly, I found a level of scripture reading I haven’t received in any church or arena to date, the study was purely based off of Scripture.  In fact, within the first month I grew to love being in God’s word, developed a passion and yearning to know and understand the truths found in the scriptures, and my heart was changed/renewed.  After a long period of struggling, needing a reminder of the basics of the gospel and who I am in Christ;  I was able to go back to the basics of the gospel (the BSF study at the time was John).  Within the first month my faith was renewed, hope was restored, and I once again remembered exactly who I was “A Child of God”!  My heart had been battered and broken down slowly for several years and the solid biblical teachings of the Bible, helped me to find my grounding and hope!  God knew what I needed, when I needed it most!  Sorry,  I wasn’t anticipating this blog post turning into a mini commercial for BSF, but it is a program I would gladly advertise any day!

Moving on…

Today’s passage is found in Joshua chapter 5 & 6-

Funny story- After looking at Joshua 5 & 6 and reading the words, I initially found myself struggling to understand or draw any nuggets out of the text.  Seemed like am boring Old Testament passage that would have bore me to shreds in the past.  However, BSF has this way of asking tough questions that forces you to dig into God’s word to find answers.  This socratic method of learning has helped me to discover meaning and applicable answers to my present day life each and every time I read God’s word!

God shows up to Joshua in the form of a “Commander from the Lord”… Which is God, because Joshua is told to take off his sandals for the place he was standing was Holy Ground!  Joshua in the presence of God fell facedown in reverence to God (which is typical of the human response to God’s overwhelming power and sovereign grace).  The Lord gave Joshua very specific directions regarding taking over the land of Jericho.  In the picture above you will see the exact words from my NIV Bible and the commands given to Joshua.

As I read the commands God had very clearly given to Joshua in Chapter 6, I found myself confused!  Thinking to myself, “What kind of battle plan is this?”  Friends, I would have been terrified of going into battle with a place where no-one who went in, ever came out, with the commands given by the Lord to Joshua!  As I continued reading and processing; looking for understanding:  The meaning suddenly hit me, like a heavy encyclopedia to the head… God was giving commands as a sign of testing their obedience, the directions had very little to do with the siege of the city.  The city was successfully taken by Joshua and the Israelite’s because of their obedience to God and trust in His perfect plan!

As I thought back on the events of my life and the times when God seemed to make little or no sense.  Friends, there have been many times when I felt he was asking me to walk around cities, remain silent, and wait for His perfect timing!   I wish I could say I was stronger in these moments – or that I was always courageous and obedient.  However, that would be a lie!  At my core I am a big baby; I struggle with questions, doubts, impatience, and have even gotten downright angry with God at times.  I can promise you this;  Never have I looked back in hindsight at God’s provisions and felt he had failed me!    In the process, I have always come out stronger, closer to Him, and my faith has always grown through these difficult times.  I have learned he is more than capable of handling me;  He is patient and desires all to know him intimately.  I wasn’t always able to see or understand how God was working during the seasons of difficulty in my life.  After the season came to a close, in hindsight I could always see his hand working in mighty ways!  God is looking for hearts of surrender and obedience!  He is not looking for perfection, intelligence, or talent – He is looking for hearts who will trust him in the battles of life!

Friends, Are you struggling with the inability to fully understand what God is doing in your life or the lives of the people you love?  Are you feeling overwhelmed with the demands of life?  Are you fearful of health screening results or tests?  Have you been waiting on a much needed job, answer to prayer, or a broken relationship to be mended?  You are not alone!

If you’ve lost hope today, let me lend you my hope for awhile!

“God is there!  He is more than capable!  He is working things out according to his good and perfect will!  He is in control, even when you feel life is out of control!”

Let’s determine to be a Joshua in a world full of anxiety… Focus on God in the midst of the trails and battles in your life!  You too, will eventually see… “He was always by your side and in control of every facet of your life!”

Blessings, Crystal

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My Best Friend

This guy is my best friend! Even though I can be difficult, emotional, and down right needy at times… Somehow he always has my back! He reminds me that God is in control, when everything is is spiraling out of control! He tells me I am loved, when I don’t feel lovable! He tells me I am special, when I feel unseen! He makes me feel grounded, when nothing in life seems certain! He is my safe place on this Earth! My favorite place to be! My best friend! He’s my person! Thankful for the blessing of being loved, even during my weakest moments!

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Loving A Teenager

I am proud of this young man! Raising him from birth to a junior in high school has been an adventurous ride! He has always had a strong personality, since the moment he took his first breath! Raising him has required increased strength and endurance, which thankfully we found in Christ! As we’ve watched him grow up from a strong-willed little tyrant (this is an accurate description) to an amazing young man, who is committed to God, his family, his friends, and his work; has truly been a blessing!

Due to his innate determination, the two of us often butt heads, but he knows he’s loved and I know he loves me! We’ve become a team as he’s grown up! We’ve become friends! We have not seen eye to eye from time to time! Thankfully, I know that being a loving parent doesn’t mean your child will always be happy with you! In fact, at times, it will mean their downright furious! In these times it is vital to remember “It’s in the valleys that we grow!” It’s how we respond in the more difficult waters, that determines the overall success of a parent/child relationship! It’s laying a boundary, while saying “I love you!” It’s teaching through loving correction that builds the bonds of a firm relationship!

Together we live to serve the same loving and holy God! There will continue to be moments over the next couple of years, when correction is necessary and times when we will have some long conversations, this is the love of a Godly parent! There will be times when he will minister to me, in helping me to see where I need to grow and mature in this walk of faith! Regardless, we know that the love of a mother and a son runs deep, steadfast! I know he loves me when I am difficult! He knows that I love him when he’s being difficult! Isn’t this how God is??? Loves us even when we’re being difficult! Raising teenagers is a new & unique journey for us… “It’s a journey with a few bumps, but enormous joy!”

I am proud of this young man! I am proud of his bold stance against Satan’s present day evil schemes! I am proud of his confidence in who he is in Christ! I am proud that underneath his strong-willed determination, he has a teachable spirit! I am proud to call him son!

Deuteronomy 22:6 “Train up a child in the way they shall go, and when they are old they shall never depart from it!”

Blessings, Crystal

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Be Prepared

Today’s passage is Joshua chapter 3 and chapter 4. As I read this passage, such a feeling of peace came over me! Today’s passage is a reminder of how God prepares us in advance to do his works.

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Joshua remained in careful prayer and continually listened closely and attentively for God’s instruction! As Joshua prepared to move the Israelites into the Promised Land, he recognized his need for God! He could have easily allowed his flesh to get the best of him, as the nation looked to him for guidance. Joshua remained steadfast in prayer and was careful to listen to God’s voice!

Joshua was prayed up! He didn’t run into this big moment with an ounce of fear, pride, or confusion! Why? He had spiritually prepared himself in advance. He was focused on obeying God’s commands and recognized his need for God!

Friends, What big life situations are lying in your future? We all have things looming in the future, the unknowns have the potential to create considerable anxiety. Although, we don’t know the outcomes of future events, we can rest assured that God knows and is already there!

How can we ease our anxiety and fear regarding future events? Joshua Chapter 3 & 4 answers the question… We are called to prepare ourselves spiritually, to pray, read God’s word, and seek wise Godly counsel! This is the answer to courageously heading into the future, whatever may come!

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Be Strong & Courageous

Today several “firsts” of the year events took place today. 1. First pumpkin spice latte of the season. Yummy! 2. Started another great year of Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). This year’s theme is, “People Of The Promised Land” Part I. The lecture was amazing and I am confident that this year BSF will be a wonderful place to grow, learn, and mature as a believer!

So far, it’s been a great fall day!

Sitting in my home in the woods, working on my first Bible Study worksheet of the year for BSF, I am drawn to the many wanders surrounding me. Sitting in the living room, with my windows open, birds singing, my dog incessantly barking, and the sound of the wind blowing through the endless number of trees encompassing our home, I am hushed in the presence of God.

Living out in the country is soooooo quiet! Although, I love the peace and serenity of the country. After 2 years, I still find myself struggling with one aspect of country living; the lack of movement from people living life around me. I’ve never lived in the country and for the most part I am a “neighborhood girl”. The quiet of the country for me is a blessing and a curse (or just something i’m learning to get used to). Actually, the country is not quiet, it’s simply different noises, resulting from the creatures of the forrest living their lives to the fullest. This afternoon I came home to a quiet house, my husband is working and my children are at school!

For a moment, I find myself disoriented with the noises and scenery around our home.

Once, I get focused on reading and processing God’s word, I easily forget the fact that I’m alone in the woods. This was especially true today… God says to Joshua chapter 1 “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU! and to “BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS!” As I read this amazing passage of scripture I was reminded of one important fact… “Although, I am in fact alone in the woods, I know that “I am NOT alone! I know that, “God is with me and is my best friend, who will never leave my side!”

As this awareness washes over my spirit, I have a sudden realization… “I appreciate the nature surrounding me more, when I stop and remind myself that the artist of the beautiful scenery surrounding me, is sitting right here next to me! Wow!”

Friends, do you like me struggle with being alone? Maybe, your struggle is being around people? Regardless, of the specifics of your struggle, always remember whether in the woods alone or an over crowded mall, “YOU ARE NEVER ALONE!”

Have a wonderful day!

“BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS! GOD IS WITH YOU!”

Blessings, Crystal

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Overwhelmed By the Heartbreak’s of Life

Today I am a woman of few words… Last night I heard news that left me and many heart-broken. I was called in this morning to provide grief counseling in a school, this is when my words fall short. There are no words… only feelings… OVERWHELMING feelings! When I struggle to find words to comfort my soul and the soul’s of those in my presence.. God guides me to the comfort found in his Word!

Today, I don’t know what your heart is feeling, I don’t know the pain and heartache you struggle through daily, but I remind you “GOD KNOWS!” He knows! He cares and he loves you! Despite the lies of the enemy, you are not alone in this world, and you are loved! You are enough for a loving, perfect, wonderful God to send his very own son to die for your sins, all for the purpose of saving your soul!

Today will be a short post… Simply due to a loss of words. God is always near the broken hearted and is our strength and our Salvation! He is the well that never runs dry!

Friends, I don’t know what your struggle is today, I do know the Lord is walking with you and you never have to walk alone!

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Trust & Obey

This afternoon, I’m finally finding time to meet with God and read his word! Sitting in this amazing coffee shop, with this even more amazing coffee, lovely hymns playing on my ear buds, and amazinger {made-up word, don’t worry 🙂 } blueberry plum crumble cake, I’m feeling pretty close to Heaven!

The past several weeks my heart has been overwhelmed with the demands of life. As a mother, wife, friend, studier of a tough exam, and counselor, my plate is over flowing. One struggle I’ve been working through, which is sadly all to familiar in my life, is the pain I feel watching people rebel against a loving and saving God. Seeing the present day hell people are living in {unnecessarily} and being unable to save them from their bondage, this truly breaks my heart! Throughout my life, I’ve learned that you can beg, plead, and cry for someone to see the truth and until they are ready, they will reject your best intentions. I must remember in these moments, as God has been teaching and reteaching me over the years is this one vital concept…

“If people reject God, the creator of the universe, their Savior… They will certainly reject my pleading and guidance! My job is to simply to trust and obey, to be a vessel of love, and to speak truth into a darkened and heart-broken world.”

I am not responsible for the finished product! Not in my husband’s life, my children’s lives, my friend’s lives, or my client’s lives! This is each and every individual’s responsibility and placing this pressure upon myself is an unbearable weight! Sadly, I too often I find myself doing this very thing! As a result, I find myself tired, exhausted, overwhelmed, unable to handle the everyday demands placed before me, and as a result I find myself sinning more! Hmmm??? Ouch! Perhaps, God simply wants me to do my best, follow His will, and leave the final product up to Him?

Wow! My shoulders suddenly feel 5,000 pounds lighter! 😊

Today, I am reading Isaiah Chapter 1, as I follow my daily (not-so-daily) Bible reading plan.

In this passage you see the Lord trying desperately to get people to see the truth and to recognize their sin and desperate need for a Savior. Sadly, you see the people of this nation actively refuting God’s perfect will for their lives. You also get a pretty vivid picture of the pain they’re enduring as a result. God used this passage to reiterate a common lesson he’s been teaching me for what seems like 100 years… “If the God of the universe is unable to get their attention and they continue living the consequences of their rebellion, I in my human flesh am certainly incapable of saving their souls!” Again, I can pray for, love, and share the good news of the saving grace of the Gospel… but I am NOT their savior! Not sure where you’re at today or what your struggle is along the journey. It is my hope that this reminder helps you in your struggle or encourages you along the journey is some way!

“Have a great day!

Love, Crystal