Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Spiritual Exchanges



He gave me beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
Isaiah 61:3
The line at Returns and Exchanges wound from the Customer Service area to the food vendors. As I expected, I would be waiting a while. It was December 26th, a day known for its number of  returns and exchanges, no matter what store you visit.

Did you know that God is in the business of returns and exchanges?

Isaiah 63:3 lists just a few of the unwanted aspects of life that God replaces with blessings--beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, praise for heaviness.

What about us? Couldn't we offer others the same kind of exchanges? When a co-worker criticizes another employee, might we find the courage to point out that person's positive traits? When someone laments over what they no longer have, could we show them an area of joy in the situation that they may have overlooked? In the midst of a friend's discouragement, can we help them see a blessing for which they can be truly thankful?

And dare we take this to a more personal level? When someone condemns us, can we not only resist lashing out in return, but interject beauty into the conversation? When we are feeling a deep sense of loss, might we be lifted up by reaching out to someone else who is lonely or hurting, who needs our overture of friendship? During times of stress and pressure, could we share our concerns with a friend who will pray with us, transferring those responsibilities to the shoulders of the One who can carry all of our heaviness?

What would you like to exchange? How has God taken a burden and replaced it with a blessing in your life?

Blessings!

Pam
©2013 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, December 24, 2014



Bernard (the elf): Did you or did you not read the card?
Scott Calvin: Yeah, I read the card.
Bernard: Then you're the new Santa. In putting on the hat and jacket you accepted the contract.
Scott C.: What contract?
Bernard: The card in the Santa suit. You said you read it, right? So when you put on the suit, you fell subject to the Santa Clause.
Scott C.: The Santa Claus? Oh, you mean the guy that fell off my roof?
Bernard: No, no, no, not Santa Claus, the person. Santa Clause, the clause.
Scott C.: What?
Bernard: You're a businessman, right?
Scott C.: Yeah.
Bernard: Okay. A clause is the last line of a contract. You got the card? Okay, see. The Santa Clause: "ln putting on this suit and entering the sleigh, the wearer waives any and all rights to any previous identity, real or implied, and fully accepts the duties and responsibilities of Santa Claus in perpetuity until such time that wearer becomes unable to do so by either accident or design." from The Santa Clause

I love the Christmas movies that air during the holiday season. The other evening, I watched The Santa Clause. In the above scene from the movie, Scott Calvin discovers that he is the new Santa Claus. Scott’s entire life changes because of this new identity.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17, God says “Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come.” Just as Scott Calvin waived “any and all rights to any previous identity, real or implied,” at salvation, our old life ends and we take on a new identity—that of God’s friend.

When we trust Christ, how we treat others, what is important to us, our level of integrity, and our perspective are all affected. At salvation, God begins to transform us. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to Him and is perfect.”

Just as stunning as the physical make-over we often see a person go through on a TV show, our spirit receives a make-over at salvation. Ephesians 4: 23-24 says, “Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, and you must put on the new self, which is created in God's likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy.”

This transformation process is both instantaneous and gradual. Our sins are forgiven immediately. But, like Scott Calvin, whose attitude about his role as Santa took time to change, we require re-education to bring our old habits and mind-sets in line with Scripture.

How can we help the process along?

Be willing to be transformed by God. (Romans 12:2)
Get to know God better by reading the Bible and talking with God.
Spend time with other Christians in fellowship and study groups. (Hebrews 10:25)
Persevere. When we fall, the Lord will help us up. We need to keep going. (Psalm 37:23-24)
Keep focused on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:2-3)

As you watch other Christmas specials and movies this year, I would love to hear about the lessons God revealed to you through them.

Blessings!
Pam

©2014 Pamela D. Williams

“The Santa Claus”



Bernard (the elf): Did you or did you not read the card?
Scott Calvin: Yeah, I read the card.
Bernard: Then you're the new Santa. In putting on the hat and jacket you accepted the contract.
Scott C.: What contract?
Bernard: The card in the Santa suit. You said you read it, right? So when you put on the suit, you fell subject to the Santa Clause.
Scott C.: The Santa Claus? Oh, you mean the guy that fell off my roof?
Bernard: No, no, no, not Santa Claus, the person. Santa Clause, the clause.
Scott C.: What?
Bernard: You're a businessman, right?
Scott C.: Yeah.
Bernard: Okay. A clause is the last line of a contract. You got the card? Okay, see. The Santa Clause: "ln putting on this suit and entering the sleigh, the wearer waives any and all rights to any previous identity, real or implied, and fully accepts the duties and responsibilities of Santa Claus in perpetuity until such time that wearer becomes unable to do so by either accident or design." from The Santa Clause

I love the Christmas movies that air during the holiday season. The other evening, I watched The Santa Clause. In the above scene from the movie, Scott Calvin discovers that he is the new Santa Claus. Scott’s entire life changes because of this new identity.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17, God says “Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come.” Just as Scott Calvin waived “any and all rights to any previous identity, real or implied,” at salvation, our old life ends and we take on a new identity—that of God’s friend.

When we trust Christ, how we treat others, what is important to us, our level of integrity, and our perspective are all affected. At salvation, God begins to transform us. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to Him and is perfect.”

Just as stunning as the physical make-over we often see a person go through on a TV show, our spirit receives a make-over at salvation. Ephesians 4: 23-24 says, “Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, and you must put on the new self, which is created in God's likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy.”

This transformation process is both instantaneous and gradual. Our sins are forgiven immediately. But, like Scott Calvin, whose attitude about his role as Santa took time to change, we require re-education to bring our old habits and mind-sets in line with Scripture.

How can we help the process along?

Be willing to be transformed by God. (Romans 12:2)
Get to know God better by reading the Bible and talking with God.
Spend time with other Christians in fellowship and study groups. (Hebrews 10:25)
Persevere. When we fall, the Lord will help us up. We need to keep going. (Psalm 37:23-24)
Keep focused on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:2-3)

As you watch other Christmas specials and movies this year, I would love to hear about the lessons God revealed to you through them.

Blessings!
Pam

©2014 Pamela D. Williams

“The Santa Claus”



Bernard (the elf): Did you or did you not read the card?
Scott Calvin: Yeah, I read the card.
Bernard: Then you're the new Santa. In putting on the hat and jacket you accepted the contract.
Scott C.: What contract?
Bernard: The card in the Santa suit. You said you read it, right? So when you put on the suit, you fell subject to the Santa Clause.
Scott C.: The Santa Claus? Oh, you mean the guy that fell off my roof?
Bernard: No, no, no, not Santa Claus, the person. Santa Clause, the clause.
Scott C.: What?
Bernard: You're a businessman, right?
Scott C.: Yeah.
Bernard: Okay. A clause is the last line of a contract. You got the card? Okay, see. The Santa Clause: "ln putting on this suit and entering the sleigh, the wearer waives any and all rights to any previous identity, real or implied, and fully accepts the duties and responsibilities of Santa Claus in perpetuity until such time that wearer becomes unable to do so by either accident or design." from The Santa Clause

I love the Christmas movies that air during the holiday season. The other evening, I watched The Santa Clause. In the above scene from the movie, Scott Calvin discovers that he is the new Santa Claus. Scott’s entire life changes because of this new identity.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17, God says “Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come.” Just as Scott Calvin waived “any and all rights to any previous identity, real or implied,” at salvation, our old life ends and we take on a new identity—that of God’s friend.

When we trust Christ, how we treat others, what is important to us, our level of integrity, and our perspective are all affected. At salvation, God begins to transform us. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to Him and is perfect.”

Just as stunning as the physical make-over we often see a person go through on a TV show, our spirit receives a make-over at salvation. Ephesians 4: 23-24 says, “Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, and you must put on the new self, which is created in God's likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy.”

This transformation process is both instantaneous and gradual. Our sins are forgiven immediately. But, like Scott Calvin, whose attitude about his role as Santa took time to change, we require re-education to bring our old habits and mind-sets in line with Scripture.

How can we help the process along?

Be willing to be transformed by God. (Romans 12:2)
Get to know God better by reading the Bible and talking with God.
Spend time with other Christians in fellowship and study groups. (Hebrews 10:25)
Persevere. When we fall, the Lord will help us up. We need to keep going. (Psalm 37:23-24)
Keep focused on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:2-3)

As you watch other Christmas specials and movies this year, I would love to hear about the lessons God revealed to you through them.

Blessings!
Pam

©2014 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Snow Job

Photo by Pam Williams

Are you always honest in your prayers? I have to admit, I am not. Sometimes I am afraid to tell God how I really feel. What if I offend him? I can be reluctant to ask for things because of what God’s answer may require of me. Sometimes I try to give him a snow job—obscuring my true feelings with empty phrases.

There are lots of ways I am not completely honest with God in prayer, and that is just ridiculous!  God knows my heart; He knows my thoughts. (Jeremiah 17:10) So why do I try to hide my real self from him? There is nowhere and no way to hide from God. (Hebrews 4:13) He knows me—inside and out. So I might as well be honest with Him.

The book of Psalms is full of honest prayers. The words we read there are simple, truthful outpourings of the heart—no frilly smokescreens, no sidestepping of issues, no cowering fear.

As I read through the Psalms, I find reflections of what is in my own heart. At times the words express disappointment and even anger. Where are you, God? (Psalm 10:1) Others share praise from a heart full to overflowing with wonder at God’s mercy and provision. O, Lord, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:1) Some psalms beg unashamedly for God’s intervention. Do something, God! (Psalm 82:8)

Psalms show me that God is okay with my honesty. In fact, he welcomes it over flowery, empty phrases that try to cover up the truth. God wants us to be real with him. Jesus said, “When you pray, do not use a lot of meaningless words, as the pagans do, who think that their gods will hear them because their prayers are long.” (Matthew 6:7)

So, will you join me in being more honest this year? Let’s give God the stark truth in 2015. He can take it. After all, when we aren’t honest, the only person we are fooling is ourselves.

Blessings!
Pam

 ©2015 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

#1 Best Seller


“Although it is impossible to obtain exact figures, there is little doubt that the Bible is the world’s best-selling and most widely distributed book. . . Recent estimates put the number at more than 5 billion.” –The Guinness Book of World Records

Most of us own at least one Bible, and many of us own two or three. We have given Bibles as gifts to children, graduates, and newlyweds. But how much of the Bible have we read?  How much of God’s Word do we know?

One of the spokes on the wheel of Christian growth advocated by the Navigators, an international, interdenominational Christian ministry, is the Bible. So, what makes it so important?

One reason the Bible is so important is its author. Thirty five different writers, some educated, some uneducated, penned the 66 books of the Bible over a period of 1500 years. Among them were an adopted prince, several kings, a few fishermen, some public officials, a farmer or two, a couple teachers and at least one doctor.

Despite the varied backgrounds of all these writers, the Bible presents a unified message with a common theme woven throughout. How do we explain 35 different people writing in absolute harmony? In 2 Timothy 3:16 we find the answer: “All Scripture is inspired by God.” The true author of each of the 66 books of the Bible is God; therefore it makes sense that they are unified.

If the Bible is not inspired by God, then it is merely the writings of men. If we do not believe that the Bible is God’s Word, then we are saying that what it teaches may or may not be true, and we have no basis for our faith. But the Scriptures ARE inspired by God and ARE true.

Not only was the Holy Spirit needed in penning the Bible, He is needed in order for us to understand it. (1 Corinthians 2:10-16) He knows the mind of God and can explain it to us. John Wesley recommended we begin Bible reading and study by praying that the Spirit will teach and guide us to a better understanding of God’s Holy Word and end our time in it by praying that the Spirit will help us follow God’s command in James 1:22, “Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to [God’s] word; instead, put it into practice.”

The Word of God is certainly worthy of living out. John 17:17 tells us it is truth and Isaiah 40:8 says it lasts forever. Hebrews 4:12 proclaims that the Word of God is alive, active and judges our hearts. Psalm 19:7-11 reminds us that it gives us new strength, wisdom, happiness, understanding and knowledge. Romans 15:4 declares that God’s Word gives us hope, patience, and encouragement. 2 Timothy 3:15-16 advocates that Scripture teaches truth, rebukes error, corrects faults, and gives instructions for right living!

Wow! That’s a lot of powerful direction and loving encouragement to be gained from one volume! No wonder it’s a best seller!

What other great reasons have you found for reading, studying, and applying the Word of God?

Blessings!
Pam

©2014 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Brooke's Dog

Photo by Brooke Suter

My niece recently found the St. Bernard pictured above and took it in. What a sad, bedraggled sight! This poor dog needed food, water, a bath, and medical attention. Somehow he knew when he found Brooke, that his needs would be met, that he had stumbled across someone whose loving heart would embrace him—and she didn’t disappoint. His trust was well placed.

Earlier that day I had read the following prayer on SacredSpace.ie. Brooke’s post brought it back to mind:

“I am in your presence O Lord.
I will take refuge in your loving heart.
You are my strength in times of weakness.
You are my comforter in times of sorrow.”

At times the world can be a cold and cruel place—for people as well as dogs. We all need a Brooke from time to time—someone who will love us as we are, take us in, soothe our hurts, clean us up, and help us find our place.

Jesus is that person. He loves us so much he gave his own life for ours. He has the power to carry us through when we are too overwhelmed and beaten down to take another step on our own. Like Brooke with the dog, He notices our hurts and recognizes our needs, and gathers us to him. He sees the stains sin has left on our souls, and carefully, thoroughly washes us clean, leaving us forgiven and pure in his eyes.

And just as Brooke found a good home for the lost dog, Jesus welcomes us into his family and promises us a room in his mansion. When we feel lost and abandoned, there is a Rescuer reaching out his loving arms, calling to us, waiting patiently for us to turn to him--and he never disappoints. 

“Cast all your cares on him, because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7

Blessings!
Pam

©2014 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Abundant Blessings


Photo courtesy of crosscards.com
For me, “Thank you!” often seems so inadequate when it comes to expressing my overwhelming feelings of gratitude towards someone who has lovingly cared for me in a way that required effort on their part—

--Sent a well-chosen card of encouragement
--Brought a meal
--Patiently taught me a skill
--Took over a task I didn’t have time to do
--Connected me with needed professionals
--Drove me places
--Sat with me at the hospital
--Unpacked my kitchen after a move

The list could go on and on and on.

The problem is, while saying “Thank you” seems like the least I could do sometimes I don’t even do that. I put it off and then forget, I don’t know how to put it into words or show my appreciation so it never gets said, and sometimes I am just so self-focused it completely slips my mind.

While contemplating this, God led me to a post on my friend’s blog, The Write Soil. Dawn has started a card ministry at her church and is sharing her tips. Thanksgiving seems like a good time for me to begin—by catching up on some long-overdue thank you notes!

My lapse in showing appreciation is especially true when it comes to giving God thanks for what He has done, and continues to do, for me. So, in following Dawn’s advice to be intentional, I am taking a few moments to give God thanks for just a few of His blessings, even as inadequate as a simple "Thank you" really is:

  • First and foremost for Jesus, who gave His all for me. You are my Savior, Companion, and Friend. I don’t know why you love me, but I am so grateful that you do! J 
  • For a loving, devoted, husband, who is perfect for me—we are the truest of friends, lovers, and laborers together in God’s field. Thank you, Lord, for Dicky Wiliams, my heaven-made soul mate.
  • For the gifts of a son and a daughter of whom I couldn’t be prouder—they are both such loving, responsible, and committed individuals. Thank you, Father, that I can call them not only my son and daughter, but, now that they are grown, I can call them “friends”.

Again, I could go on and on—my loving extended family, my dear friends, my perfect job at Hillside Farms, my writing that lets me pour my soul out through my fingertips, and so much many more of God’s abundant blessings!

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you. May your cornucopia of life also overflow with the fruits of God’s blessings!

With love,
Pam 

©2014 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Aha!

Aha! image from Bing.com
“The Lord Jesus will appear from heaven with his mighty angels, with a flaming fire, to punish those who reject God and who do not obey the Good News about our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from his glorious might, when he comes on that Day to receive glory from all his people and honor from all who believe.”
2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

I know that I have read this scripture many times before, but it never jumped off the page and into my mind like it did one morning a few weeks ago. I had been searching for a Scripture to share with my teen Sunday school class that explicitly stated the consequences of unbelief. And God led me to 2 Thessalonians 1. Aha! It doesn’t get any clearer than that!

I have found that when I dig deeper into the Bible to find references to back up the truths I blithely spout off, God often takes me down a road of discovery that culminates in an “Aha!” moment—that awesome instance when He sheds new light on His Word and brings verses alive that I previously have glossed over. Preparing to teach Sunday school frequently does that for me—it’s one of the main reasons I teach.

God also brings about “Aha!” moments when I set aside time for quiet conversation and listen for Him to speak to my heart instead of bending His ear with my never-ending list of requests. A few months ago I was pouring out my woes to Jesus, whining about being so far away from my kids and grandkids, my mom and siblings. I was bemoaning the fact that I can’t be with them when they go through struggles or celebrate victories. “I love them so much, Lord! They need someone there with them,” I lamented, and then sat in silence.

Suddenly God spoke to my heart. “They have Someone with them, Pam. I am always with them. And you can be assured, I love them even more than you do.”

Blessed peace flooded my soul and has remained with me ever since. I realized that going round and round in my thoughts trying to figure out how to “fix” things was pointless. I could not change my situation, nor could I change theirs. Stressing about it did them no good, and certainly didn’t help me. But God IS there with them! And His capacity for loving them far exceeds mine! That “Aha!” set me free. Yes, I still miss them terribly, but God showed me my loved ones are in His hands and I don’t need to fret.

Don’t you just love those moments of clarity? Where have you found a spiritual “Aha? What “Aha!” has stuck with you? Wouldn’t you love to read each others?

"Your word is lamp to guide me and a light for my path."
Psalm 119:105

Blessings!
Pam

 ©2014 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Veteran's Day


My husband, my son, and my daughter all served in the Air Force. For some reason, this Veteran’s Day I heard and read more expressions of gratitude to those who have sacrificed to ensure our country’s freedoms than I have other years.

The words touched my heart and, as feelings triggered memories, my thoughts traveled back to the mornings Dick and I watched first our son and, five years later, our daughter follow in their Dad’s footsteps and leave for basic training. During those bittersweet moments I remember wavering between beaming with pride, praying for safety and success, and aching with grief. With a flurry of last minute instructions, endearments, and hugs, we tearfully said our good-byes knowing our grown child would now be far beyond our daily contact and guidance.

In previous conversations with our children, we had discussed the influences they might encounter in the world. As young children, both had trusted Jesus as Savior and throughout life had been taught Christian values and morals. As each took flight (quite literally!), Dick and I had to trust God to care for them. I remember clinging to the scripture, "The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you." (Deuteronomy 31:8).

After the first ten days, Seth was allowed to call home. "Mom, you know how concerned you were about the kind of influences I would run into? Well, you don't need to worry," he said, "God is taking care of that."

He excitedly told us that he had been to church with two Christians he met in the barracks and they shared the same taste in Christian music. At a time when Seth really needed the support and fellowship of Christian friends God abundantly provided for him.

Erin often called and asked for prayer—that a friend wouldn’t “wash out” of basic training, that she and others in her flight would pass the many, many tests associated with their job training in the medical field, and that relationships strained by anxiety, peer pressure, homesickness, and lack of sleep would be mended.

Dick and I thank God for answering our prayers for our children. Where we had expected negative peer pressure, Seth had met other young men dedicated to serving God while also serving their country. When distance and circumstances separated her from our guidance, Erin never lost her trust in the power of prayer.

Is your son or daughter serving in the military? Are you struggling with releasing them to the unknown? Be assured, we do not send our children out alone. God is right there with our sons and daughters, encircling them with His love, offering them opportunities to grow closer to Him, and exerting His influence, as only our Heavenly Father can.

Thank you to all who have given of their time and talents, their hearts and their souls, in the military, so that we can live freely. God bless you, every one.

Blessings!

Pam

©2014 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Re-Inventing the Wheel

Image from Navigators.ca

Dawson Trotman, evangelist and founder of The Navigators, (a Christian discipleship organization), wanted to help the Sunday school classes and boys' clubs that he led to better understand living the Christian life. Trotman used the illustration of a wheel to explain the critical areas Christians need to concentrate on. I have found this to be an incredibly useful tool in my own spiritual life and wanted to share it with you.

Let’s look first at the center, the hub. The hub is the main support for a wheel. It allows the wheel to spin freely while keeping it attached to the vehicle. For us, Jesus must be at the Center, the hub of our lives.

According to Philippians 4:13, when Jesus is our source of strength, we can do all things. We can face whatever may come our way. Making Jesus the “hub” of our lives means "keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end." (Hebrews 12:2)

The outer edge of a wheel, the rim, helps the wheel retain the shape of the hub. For Christians, obedience to God forms the rim of our spiritual wheel. Romans 12:2 cautions us to conform to God, not the world. Obeying what Jesus says shapes and molds us spiritually.

On vehicles like bicycles or wagons, spokes radiate from the center of each wheel, connecting the hub with the rim. These rods transfer power from the hub to the rim. In our walk with Jesus there are four spokes that serve as conductors of His power. There is a direct correlation between the strength of these connectors and our power to obey.

1. The Word of God is one spoke on our spiritual growth wheel. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says all "Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed."

Reading and meditating on God's Word is essential for obedience and moving forward on our journey with Jesus.

2. Another spoke is prayer. In Philippians 4:6 we are urged to pray about everything. When we share our heart with Jesus, God’s power is released. As we talk one on one with God, we grow closer to Him.

3. The spoke of fellowship helps us to build each other up as Christians. Hebrews 10:24-25 admonishes us to gather together to encourage one another. Proverbs 27:17 notes “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” By fellowshipping with other Christians, we can hold one another accountable and thus grow as Christians.

4. Matthew 28:19 sets forth our God-given responsibility to tell the world about forgiveness through Jesus. How does sharing this spectacular news with others help us grow as a Christian? Witnessing reminds us of what Jesus did for us. Sharing the Good News with others helps hold us to the task of living out our faith.

Keeping up these four avenues for Christian growth isn’t easy. Sometimes we get a little lax in one area or another. What happens to a bicycle wheel if one of the spokes is broken? It causes a flat area on the rim and the tire wears out more quickly. It also affects the ride, making it wobbly and uneven. When we are missing one of the spiritual spokes that connect us with Jesus, our Christian life will be just as bumpy and unsteady as that bike ride.

Where is the Holy Spirit in this illustration? When asked, Trotman answered that the Holy Spirit was woven throughout, and absolutely necessary for us to reap the full benefits of each component of The Wheel.

With the aid of the Holy Spirit, each of the different parts of our spiritual wheel can work properly together to move us forward in our walk with Jesus. We grow as a Christian and God is able to use us to encourage others both to believe in Jesus for themselves and to allow God to work in their lives.

Are you serious about living out your faith in obedience? Is there a weak spoke in your spiritual wheel? What steps can you take to strengthen that connection to Jesus and move forward on your journey with Him?

Blessings!
Pam

©2014 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

On the Road

On a recent trip to see my mom,“Jill”, the GPS, mapped our way and kept us on track, informing us of upcoming turns along the three and a half hour drive. Jill’s directions reminded me of a “road map” of sorts that I came across many years ago called “The Roman Road”. The Roman Road was created to help us find our way, step by step, to a relationship with God. It shares God’s plan for saving us from sin, in a form like signposts along a highway, or directions from a GPS. It shows us the right turns in the right order and keeps us on the right path. It leads to the adventure of a lifetime. Are you ready to start the journey?

Image from holyisthelamb.com

Romans 3:23 Everyone has sinned and is far away from God's saving presence.

Most of us think, "I'm a pretty good person. I’m not as bad as some people." However, we all have lied; we all have lashed out in anger. And can anyone say, “I always obeyed my parents”? Our sin cuts us off from God, regardless of how great or small the sin may seem. In God’s eyes there are no "little" sins or "big" sins. When it comes to living a life that pleases God, we all fall short.

Romans 6:23a Sin pays its wage—death;

Disobedience has consequences.  Just as a good judge won’t let the guilty go free or the criminal get away with murder, God cannot allow sin to go unpunished. There is a penalty for sin and that penalty is death, not only physical death, but separation from God and His love forever. BUT WAIT! DON’T MISS THE GOOD NEWS!

Romans 6:23b God's free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.

Because God loves us so much, He sent Jesus to die in our place. Jesus took our punishment—He paid the price so we could be forgiven for our sins.

Romans 5:8 God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!

God doesn’t wait for us to straighten up or “get our act together”—He takes us as we are! Despite our sins and shortcomings, He loved us anyway and died for us, even when we are at our worst! What powerful love!

Romans 10:13 As the scripture says, “Everyone who calls out to the Lord for help will be saved.”

God promises to receive ANYONE and EVERYONE who comes to him by placing their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Romans 10:9 If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you will be saved.

We can be saved only by confessing and turning away from our sins, and placing our faith in Jesus, who died on the cross as punishment for our sins. We must also allow him to be in charge of every area of our lives because we now belong to him.

Do you believe what these Scriptures share? Then begin talking with Jesus about what you believe. You may find this prayer helpful in getting started:

"Dear Lord Jesus, I realize I need you in my life. I know that I am a sinner and that I am separated from you. I believe that you died for me on the cross and rose again so that I can spend eternity with you. I ask you to forgive me of my sins. Please come into my life and take total control. Help me to begin a new relationship with you. Thank You for forgiving me and saving me. I ask this in your name, Lord Jesus. Amen."

Did you express to Jesus your trust in Him for your forgiveness? If so, tell someone. I would love it if you would share your first steps of faith with me.

Blessings!
Pam

Excerpts from Holy is the Lamb and Teen Missions

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Walking With My Father

Photo by Pam Williams
Autumn reminds me of walking with my father. Daddy loved to hike through the woods on Sunday afternoons. We would drive out to the rustic cabin that he and his five brothers used during hunting season, and we would enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. It was always an adventure.

Sometimes we would shoot mark, firing shots at tin cans set up on a fence post a good piece away. Daddy and his brothers often would “sight in” their guns as hunting season approached. Other times we scouted out Daddy’s “spot”, the place in the woods he would claim as his own during deer season. But my favorite part was tramping around on the paths that meandered through the woods.

Daddy tried to encourage us to be quiet so we could see wildlife, but it was like talking to the wind. The only critters we saw with any frequency were squirrels, high in the trees, barking in irritation at us for trespassing on their territory. Occasionally we would spot a deer or two, but they usually saw us at the same time and, in a matter of seconds, gracefully leaped far from us.

We were warned to watch for snakes, though we rarely saw any. Daddy got such a kick out of taking a long, slender stick and slyly flicking it at the back of someone’s leg or at their dangling fingers. The person would squeal in fear and jump like a kangaroo! I have to admit it was hilarious, at least when he did it to someone other than me.

We often heard, “Don’t get too far ahead of us! There’re bears, you know!” Though Daddy knew the woods, he was well aware that kids can wander off the path in search of the perfect stick and soon get all turned around. Besides, along with the harmless deer and squirrels, not-so-harmless bobcats, coyotes, and black bears actually did reside there.

I loved it when we found monkey vines—thick wild grape vines that wound themselves over tree limbs and were great for swinging. Daddy always tested the monkey vine first to be sure the tree branch was strong, and then showed us how to wrap our hands and feet around the peeling, rope-like stem. What fun to glide back and forth over the forest floor like Tarzan!

After trampling through the woods for a couple of hours we gradually worked our way back to the camp. We always stopped at the spring house for a cold drink from an old tin ladle that hung inside the dilapidated little building. The water was sparkling clean and icily refreshing.

Thinking about those moments with Daddy remind me a lot of the journey I am walking with my heavenly Father, who invites each one of us to meander life’s path alongside of Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). Like Daddy, He encourages us to “Be still” (Psalm 46:10) and shows us the many wonders around us. (Daniel 4:3) Father God protects us from “hidden dangers” (Psalm 91:3) and warns of potential pitfalls. (Hebrews 12:25) He invites us to “stay close” (James 4:8) and calls us back when we “wander off”. (Isaiah 30:21) He is constantly with us (Hebrews 13:5) and His loving care for us never ceases, no matter what our age.

Will you join me in walking with our Heavenly Father? I guarantee, it’s the adventure of a lifetime!

Blessings!
Pam

©2014 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Facets of Autumn

Back Mountain Trail
Photo by Pam Williams

“The hay is harvested, the autumn grasses begin to grow, and the herbs of the mountains are gathered."

Proverbs 27:25


Autumn floods our senses with sights and sounds and tastes and smells and textures unique to the season. What glorious beauty God poured into this time of year! I feel blessed to live where we experience all four seasons to the fullest. Every October here in Pennsylvania we are privileged to share the many facets of Autumn:

The colors:

  • Goldenrod Yellow
  • Acorn Brown
  • Marigold Orange
  • Maple-leaf Scarlet
  • Sky Blue

The fragrances:

  • Tangy wood smoke
  • Musky fallen leaves
  • Fresh baked pies
  • Ripe apples
  • Spicy Nutmeg and Cinnamon
Back Mountain Trail
Photo by Pam Williams

The flavors:

  • Caramel Apples
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Zucchini Bread
  • Apple Cider
  • Oatmeal Cookies

The sounds:

  • Leaves crunching
  •  “Touchdown” shouting
  • Crickets chirping
  • Campfires crackling
  • Rain blowing

The feel:

  • Soft flannel
  • Chilly nights
  • Warm blankets
  • Nubby sweaters
  • Scratchy hay bales

What senses does Autumn tickle for you? What do you love most about it?
Back Mountain Trail
Photo by Pam Williams


“Valleys are covered with a carpet of autumn-harvest grain;
the land shouts and sings in joyous celebration.”

Psalm 65:13

Blessings!
Pam



©2014 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Rooting Out Wild Onions

Photo from Wikimedia.org
Wild onions grew out of control at our former home. Whether I wanted to plant mums, hosta, or lamb’s ear, no matter where I dug up the ground, I unearthed tiny onion bulbs. I tried pulling the weeds out by the leaves but that didn’t work too well. They just seemed to multiply year after year. I had to dig up the plant, pull out the onion down to the bulbs and roots, and sift through the dirt. Even then, I never got it all; I had to be vigilant week after week. The onion persistently grew in our soil.

As I worked at ridding our yard of the wild onions, I felt God asking me, “Are you working as hard at keeping sin out of your life, Pam?”

Sin can proliferate as easily as that weed. Like the propagation of a single onion bulb, one little nasty word, one small act of selfishness, can escalate quickly. Left un-repented and un-confessed sin can become a habit—with amazing speed and devastating results.

What can we do about it? How do we root out sins before they sprout? Here are a few Scriptural tips I have found helpful:

  • God is very good at pointing out where I need to do a bit of weeding. All it takes is a few moments at the end of the day. When I take the time to confess my sins to God, He digs out the root of the problem, brings about forgiveness, and restores my relationship with Him. (1 John 1:9)
  • James 5:16 recommends confessing our downfalls and weaknesses not just to God, but to another Christian. Being held accountable makes me less likely to fall back into a behavior that is displeasing to God. Knowing someone is praying for me strengthens my resolve and loosens sin's grip.
  • Studying God’s perspective on a particular sin sheds light on just how seriously God views it. His Word reveals what God thinks and gives me reasons for NOT disobeying. As Hebrews 4:12 says, “The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart.”

How do you weed out “wild onions” in your life before they proliferate and spread? What Scripture do you find to be a powerful tool in getting to the root of the problem?

Blessings!
Pam

©2014 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

God IN Us

Photo from Bing.com

Does God sometimes seem far away—separate and unconcerned about what is happening in our lives? According to John 14:16 the feeling is merely an illusion, for Jesus promised He would constantly be with each one of us, in the form of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit links heaven and earth—God and each of us.

The Holy Spirit has been active among people from the beginning of creation. In Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit ministered through select national leaders, prophets, priests, and kings. However, after Jesus rose from the dead, every believer is privileged to be touched and set apart for ministry by the Spirit.

Regretfully, many of us walk around unaware of this holy Power present within us. In preparing a lesson for my Senior High Sunday school class, I listed some of the ways the Holy Spirit ministers in and through us:

The Holy Spirit reveals the truth about God.
John 14: 17a

The Holy Spirit is our helper.
He teaches us.
He reminds us of Jesus' words.
John 14:26

The Holy Spirit teaches what is right and wrong
He announces God's judgment.
John 16:8

The Holy Spirit brings us messages from God.
He gives insight into future events.
John 16: 13

The Holy Spirit empowers us to minister.
He helps us be witnesses for God.
Acts 1:8

The Holy Spirit strengthens us when we are weak.
He prays for us.
Romans 8:26

The Holy Spirit gives us gifts to use in ministering.
1 Corinthians 12:4

The Holy Spirit produces spiritual fruit in us.
Galatians 5:22-23

This list is very incomplete. There is so much more that God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, does.

Personally, what struck me the most as I prepared this study is that the Holy Spirit is God present within every believer. GOD IS IN US—in you and in me . . . ALWAYS—all day, every day. Now that is an awesome thought fact!

What Scriptures would you add to this list? Out of all that you know about the Holy Spirit, what brings you the most peace and comfort?

Blessings!
Pam

©2014 Pamela D. Williams