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