Exceeding Text Elevation: More Than Typography

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Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 (NIV)

Warning-moment of truth!

Looking back at the time in my life when a devotional Bible seemed ideal, I was cracking open God’s Word maybe once a week. I used God’s Word to find verses highlighted during a bible study, sermon, or devotional. Mainly, just to find Scripture presented in a different translation because I felt mine was easier to comprehend.  

Unfortunately, my craving and value for His Word had gradually faded outside of church and beyond the daily devotional conveniently appearing in my inbox each workday morning. It crushes me to tell you this. Nothing captivated my heart to dig deeper into the Bible at the time. The surface level reading seemed sufficient. I was satisfied with my limited exposure. I probably would have even justified my actions as proficient at the time. (If you are in the education world, remember proficient is good for an evaluation rating.)

Permit me to explain. See, my focus and a large portion of my energy was spent on a multitude of earthly loves. A period of time where I wanted to move up in my career, make an impact in the community, be the perfect wife, participate in a ton of events, and the list continues. BUSY-Being Under Satan’s Yoke! I had goals and ambitions. I had very little time to sleep let alone get past the mere printed text after I read it once. (Lesson learned, but that’s another book!)    

After going through a season of discipline, my love for God’s Word grew exponentially. It rebirthed the same hunger I exhibited as a child. I even wanted to revert to finding a closet, grabbing a flashlight, snagging the bed pillows, propping myself on top of a wooden toybox, and getting lost in God’s Word. Oh, the sweet craving of Scripture was back. This newfound reverence and desire finally outweighed everything in life.

Without a doubt, the Bible is more than text on a page yet, many copies of God’s Word are only consumed as print on a page. The potential elevation level of the text remains flat, especially when the Bible remains closed. Even when being read, God’s Word can often become a checkmark on a “To Do” list.

Unfortunately, I know this Scripture relationship all too well.

It is read, but not consumed.

It is treasured, but no life value displayed.

It is highlighted, but not truly understood.

It is set apart from any other writing, but so many other books are used.

It is God’s own voice, but everything else is heard above and beyond it.

It is paired with good intentions, but the follow through is overshadowed by “life”.

Yes—you could probably add more statements and I dare to say they too would probably be familiar to my past.

So, how do we break free from these chains? What can we do to ensure our relationship with God and His Word are more than lip service? Where can a person start? I am not sure I can answer these questions for each reader, but I can share my journey and the ways God captured my heart for Scripture.

It began with a simple prayer of asking the Lord for help to grow closer to Him and know Him more. The Holy Spirit reminded me if I truly wanted more of God and less of me, I had to love His Word as much as I loved Him. It required me putting skin on Timothy 2:15, which states, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (NIV).

From this humbly plea, my quest to investigate the importance of Scripture was birthed.

Since then, I can personally attest Scripture is the very words of God:

Living

Miraculous

Powerful

Set Apart

No matter the print arrangement, the Bible is filled with life instructions, promises from the LORD, filled with His attributes and characteristics, and many examples of what-to-do and what-not-to-do.

It is clearly a beautiful love story revealing a God who gave His blameless Son to die for our sins. Book after book of the Voice of God is printed for our engagement and supported by the Holy Spirit’s ability to convey its wisdom.

So much more than typography—an opportunity to go beyond text elevation!

Why “Mountain Tops” are Brief Moments in Life

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North Carolina’s Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains offer an attractive area with waterfalls and streams of water flowing all around. I am intrigued by the mountain tops and even more so by the view they offer. The breathtaking perspective at its peak makes me appreciate the climb.

I recently partnered with a couple of other leaders to deliver a women’s retreat weekend in the quaint area of Burnsville, NC. It was an opportunity filled with personal discovery for each woman to encounter who GOD IS…for them. The location was lush, green, and nestled amongst tall trees.

One of my favorite views each day was a mountain top glimpse-a place high above the rest. Oh, to live at that uppermost area-on top of the world. The brief thought of living at the top sounded peaceful, relaxing, and charming. What a captivating dream until realistic thinking kicked into gear.

Being on a “mountain top” broadcasts the perfect life when people mention it. However, it took on a different angle the minute I heard someone say, “You can’t survive at the pinnacle of a mountain-if you do you will wither away.” (Talk about bursting my bubble even though I consider myself a beach bum!)

There is great truth to the statement I heard. Although the crest of a mountain offers amazement and an amazing viewpoint of things below, it is not meant for everyday living.

Let me share 3 reasons why:

1. First, what is the purpose of a “Mountain Top” in life? To celebrate the struggle and hardship to get to the summit, right?

It is not easy graduating from college, there is major work in overcoming addictions, it takes sweat equity to break generational strongholds, the battle of a nagging ever present temptation takes skills beyond a solider, the years of facing cancer face-to-face, and the list goes on and on.

But oh, the glory once it is conquered-a mountain top of life-a moment worth celebrating. It is here where we take the time to express gratitude and sincere love for the LORD. A commemoration for what God has brought us through and reflecting on the valley of hardship survived.

Much like a birthday party or anniversary, it is an observance, a remembrance and it is a great treasure forever in our hearts. Nevertheless, the celebration is brief and daily tasks await.  

The “Mountain Top” is a salute to survival and a glimpse of God’s training in life’s trials.

2. Next, the conditions atop the mountain doesn’t sustain life.

Yep, the air is thin. It is not meant to be a place where one should abide. The higher altitude places a restriction on the oxygen level-sometimes the point of unhealthiness. Also, let me add the fact that the climate conditions can be extremely harsh.

Therefore, maintaining this “mountain top” lifestyle becomes harder than the struggle that got us there.

Think of it in vacation terms. Boy, what joy to go relax and take a break from day-to- day pressures of life. Kick back and enjoy while someone else cleans, cooks, drives, etc. But, at some point if I want to stay at this level of “resort” I will need to put in all the work myself. This level of luxury isn’t free and money can only stretch so far.

I think I would quickly see it is impossible for me to provide for myself at this level. It would begin to choke the life right out of me. There wouldn’t be time to even sleep let alone rest. At some point I would be begging to go back down the mountain.

The mountain top has boundaries and restrictions that are meant to be experienced as brief moments in life. It cannot provide a healthy daily supply of what we need.

3. Finally, there is very little growth at the mountain top.

Water is scarce and the soil is usually lacking the proper nutrients. Take a good look around. What happened to that lush forest and streams of water? It somehow disappeared.

Why? Because a mountain peak wasn’t designed for growth. It only provides a view of how far you have come and what lies ahead. It is a mere pinnacle of life to celebrate and encourage. But in order to continue to mature, grow, and truly live you have to enter back into a valley.

It is in the valley where you will find life-sustaining air, streams of refreshing water, comfort in the vegetation, perseverance in the trials of life, and true growth in your faith. The LORD is able to refine us to become more and more like Jesus in these oxygen rich conditions.

THOUGHTS:

Enjoy the Mountain Tops in life. Celebrate them for what they are worth! Yet, always remember the ascension, descension, and valley is where trust, faith, and endurance abide.

CLOSING THOUGHTS:

Regardless of the amount of Mountain Tops you encounter in life’s pathway—cling to the true Living Water, feast on His great substance, and live fully in the valley.    

Happy Salvation Birthday!

A gracious gift from God
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What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. 1 Peter 1:3-5 (Message)

Salvation. What is it to you?

For me, it was definitely a new life! A birth into a new family and a new identity where I am loved and treasured. It is a regeneration I took for granted for years. I precious gift freely given that took decades for me to really appreciate and fully understand.

His grace choose me and I didn’t deserve it by any means.

The LORD really captured my attention through the mountain of trials. Dates began to unfold-new births in our family, more anniversary dates to remember, and many dates of death. A moment in time and I could quote them one-by-one. Why? Because I deemed them important.

Yet, you could have asked me my salvation birthdate and I would have had to ponder and ponder and ponder. The date in my life where I received a magnificent gift from God and I couldn’t remember. When I realized this, it broke my heart. Why had I let this become a fading memory?

This beautiful salvation Christ brought you and I is often forgotten. It seems “life” gets in the way and clouds our memory of a treasured date-the day we trust in the LORD and join God’s family. How this must break the heart of the father!

Today I choose to remember. I celebrate the beautiful gift and give thanks to all who will listen. Jesus is in charge of my life for eternity. I trust in His words and rely on Him to live my life. He is the only reliable source of hope and joy. I rely on Him to change my heart and keep me ever grateful for August 8th.

I pray God will fill me with the desire to always say YES to His calling and purpose. May I never forget this date and the price paid for it.

Thank you LORD for my beautiful gift. HAPPY SALVATION BIRTHDAY!

Do you know yours?

COME MEET MY FATHER

I am grateful for your life!

When I was learning to walk and talk, my birth father was enticed by other women, sex, and money. They were more appealing than his wife and child. After receiving divorce papers, he accepted a large sum of money from his own family to walk away from me.

I craved a father. For years every man in my life was selfish, abusive, and untrustworthy. They took what they wanted and discarded me as an irrelevant misfit with a different last name. After all, I was fatherless and my mother was working long hours because the financial support rested on her shoulders..

I always dreamed of the sound of my father’s voice, a glimpse of his smile, and the touch of his love. If only I could meet him face-to-face! And then it happened. His own father died. At the age of 16, I pedaled over to his parents’ house and knocked on the door.

There he stood-the father I longed to meet. “Hi! Are you one of the neighborhood kids here to see my mom?”, he greeted. “Yes and no, I am your daughter and I came to meet you as well.”, I replied. After the surface level conversation, my expressed condolences, and his unfulfilled promises, I left unknowingly that it would be the last time I heard his voice.

I can’t tell you the numerous times I wrote him. I tried filling my life with lots of “stuff” to satisfy the hole he had created. I became a workaholic and prided myself in my own efforts. I fought anyone and everything in my way. I was determined to leave a life of poverty, go to college, move away, and never look back.

I later got married, moved to Europe, and had twin boys. I just knew grandkids would entice him, especially boys. NOPE! I continued to send Christmas cards and letters. Then one particular letter struck a chord with my stepmom and half-sister. They reached out and became part of my family circle from that day forward.

For decades I heard about my biological father. His sex addiction lingered. My stepmom and sister went to church every Sunday. As they drove off, he would leave, choose a “lady”, bring her home, and return her before church dismissed. My stepmom and sister spent endless hours on their knees on his behalf.

I choose to spend my time differently.

I didn’t care about him anymore. He was nothing to me, but a mere form of a human. I quit asking about him and they stopped talking about him as well.

You see-I found a father! I discovered my Daddy and His name is GOD. He is truly the one who formed me in my mother’s womb and protected me above any earthly father. He extended grace, mercy, and everlasting love that will never run dry. He made a way for me to become whole. I know the sound of His voice, the warmth of His smile, and the embrace of His saving love. He calls me His own and He will never leave me nor forsake me.

Cancer took my stepmom home in 2013 on January 21st. Eight years later to the day, my birth father died from heart issues. Less than seven months later, my sister went to be with Jesus.

I buried my dad and sister’s ashes beside my stepmom. I even performed the graveside service.

As I uttered my finally goodbye, I said, “I love you dad.”

You see my heart had changed towards him. I cried big grateful tears after saying goodbye because his life had meaning for me—his absence drove me to the arms of Jesus. For once, I was glad my dad never invested in my life.

Christ changed my heart. He taught me to love when others could not. He healed my bitterness and imparted a forgiving spirit.

This is only the beginning of what God can do for you. Accepting Jesus can bring radical change for your heart, thoughts, actions, words, perspective, and on and on. Christ can fill your life with much more than anything or anyone can! If He can save me, He will and can save you.

If you have never accepted the LORD as your personal Savior, today is the perfect day. Come find the comfort in His voice, the warmth of His smile, and the embrace of His love.

Your Father awaits. Come meet Him today.

JEREMIAH-Bible Study online

Sign Up Today!

Our latest Bible study is HERE! We start on Monday, September 12th. Join us?

We are so excited about our upcoming online Bible study! We’ll be walking through the first half of the book of Jeremiah.

This study is FILLED with numerous opportunities to experience the power of God’s WORD.

This study is designed to be FLEXIBLE so you can tailor it to the time you have available each day.

  • WHAT: A seven-week Bible study Jeremiah (Chapters 1-28)
  • WHEN: September 12th-October 24th (Reading plan starts Sept. 6th)
  • WHO: Anyone ready to dive deep into God’s Word through Bible study
  • WHERE: Online via zoom, Monday nights 6:00-7:00 p.m. (CST)
  • HOW TO JOIN: Contact us via email to get started. The study packet (pdf) is $10. We will send the Zoom link and study packet after receiving your completed registration. Deadline is September 5th.

THROUGH THIS ONLINE CHAPER-BY-CHAPTER STUDY YOU WILL

  • Gain a better understand of the book of Jeremiah
  • Get a deeper look at God’s character and patience
  • Receive discernment and direction for your own spiritual life
  • Enjoy a committed community of women sharing like desires to walk with God and dive deeper into Scripture

If you are interested, email us at refiningjourney@gmail.com prior to September 5th.

We hope you can join us!

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