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A word about……Your heart (and the intentions thereof) by Laura Grace

heart and soul We’ve all heard those sayings, like this one: “I had good intentions!” Or how about this one? “The road to hell is paved with (good intentions!). That last one is a harsh one, in today’s society! Saying things like that could get you in big trouble! 

Check out these words concerning the choice of David for the next King:

 The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1Samuel 16:7
I was in church about three years ago, and I heard a woman say to another person, “I heard that minister didn’t even go to ministry school, He just preaches!” She was all aghast. I also remember my reaction which was to think, “So?” I pondered the disciples who became Apostles in the bible, and how they followed Jesus, learned of him, and were baptized in the Holy Spirit. They turned the world upside down, every one of them, without a “degree.” 
Fast forward now, to me sitting with a pastor’s wife, who said something like this: “Man does look at the outward appearance.” I realized at that moment, I had only pondered the second half of that passage, for most of my Christian life. 
You see……I had been telling her I didn’t understand why I am now in Bible College, pursuing a degree. I said “I felt like the Lord wants me to do this, but I don’t understand why. Well? Man looks (at credentials) … God wants me equipped (for EVERY good work) And if it means a degree……I will not say no to him! 
God does look at the heart, yes, over and above our (outside) appearance. He looks at intents, and our motives too. What God wants for us is first, and foremost, over what man thinks we ought to do (yes!). But we do have to keep in mind “our ministry” will be affected by how we look to others. I’m pretty sure God doesn’t need any “rebels without a cause” running around snubbing their nose at those who want to clean up their act, on the outside, as well as on the inside. 
I’ve lost track of how many times I have heard this statement: “You’re a people pleaser!” 
Really? They don’t know me. I (at times) do appear that way. What they don’t know is, I used to despise people! (before I met Jesus) and for those who really know me, they know I used to not care a bit what anyone thinks (about me). In fact, I went out of my way sometimes to let people know how much I didn’t care (what they thought). 
If I appear that way, it’s because I am intent on not losing any opportunity to get across God’s message (of love, mercy, healing, and grace!). I do not have to prove I care, or that I don’t care. God knows my heart. The crux of this message is to say this: WE need to know the motives of our own hearts! If we know why we do what we do, We’ll always have a ready answer for those who ask……
“Father I thank and praise you that you look at our hearts first, and not the outside appearance. However I do thank you also, that you get around to helping us clean up our act. You do clean the outside (and the inside) OF US so that we are more useful and Holy (set apart) for the great works you want to do for us. In Jesus’ name!”  Amen! 
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The second mile…..according to Jesus…

a ROAD Matthew 5: 41 “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. ” 

Right after Jesus sat on the mount (speaking to the multitudes) He continued to speak about other topics. One was this passage- (above) which came to mind this morning as I was pondering and waking up. 

You see, I have dreams in my heart, which I believe God placed there. Dreams of travelling, speaking, sharing all the treasures he has bestowed within me. Dreams of sharing with others (who are hurting) all the beautiful testimonies God has given me of redemption, healing, restoration, and reasons for praise! 

I have boldly declared “I will go” (travel and speak) but I seem to be ahead of my time in most everything I do. In Other words, Sometimes a vision is so real to me, I think it’s going ot happen tomorrow! I just want you to know everything I”ve ever said is going ot happen HAS happened. But not in the year or day I thought it would happen. 

I was asked to help with music in my local church about three years ago, starting with the children in an after school program. That led to more singing (in the church) and later on, a semester of teaching music at the local school (grades K to 12) and this was without a teaching certificate by the way. AMAZING!

I can’t tell you how much it blesses my heart that even recently, I sang at church (a song God put on my heart to sing with guitar) and a local person chased me down the other day saying: “I forgot to tell you, that song was so great, please do that more often!!”. It’s 2017 now. Twenty years ago I was crying and asking God WHY He would not use me in church to sing. I had learned almost every song on guitar that church did at the time. EVERY SONG …It took hours to learn them all….hours and hours and hours of time……

I prayed “Thank you Father that if I am faithful you will TRUST ME to sing and minister to your people” …..(as I learned all these songs, and practiced them over and over) And I have to tell you….I had given up on the whole thing, a few years ago.

Oh sure- I sang at this one place but for the most part I’d “thrown in the towel” Given up…..said Okay Father what’s next I surrender! Obviously I”m NOT called to sing or do music in my local church! 

Now I’m in school (full time) Pursuing a degree at a christian college, I’ve written books, I’ve made brochures…..I’ve gone on some speaking engagements…..and I’ve done a mission trip this past summer in my local region. The pastor of the church I attend now is telling me “this other church” wants you to come and sing………” 

             I wanted to keep writing books…bag the singing…..Give up on it now…

 BEING REAL HERE! See it hurts to be disappointed, and if we don’t allow God to keep working in our hearts….we may just slam the door on him! 

Well? Do I go the second mile? Or do I just say “I have other plans now, Lord!”. I asked him to open doors! I asked him to use me! (for his Glory)….who am I to decide what I should or should not do? Who am I to say “this life is MINE I will do what I WISH to do?” …….hmm …..and when I asked him “Should I be singing or should I be writing books?” He gave me that passage (Matthew 5:41) “Someone is asking you girl!! What’s the problem?” ……Incidentally I CAN Do both if I trim some corners. 

So “Father I trust your timing! I don’t understand it, always, but I trust in you! I know whatever visions you have given me that you’ve put in my heart….will come to pass. Eventually ….they will! and please Forgive me for giving up all those years ago…….because I thought you were not quick enough to answer my prayers.” and Father thank you that when something in your word Is true FOR US you will cause it to leap off the page at us! Just like this one you gave me today! It’s for me Father! and I praise you for this! IN Jesus’ name. amen ……..Laura Grace, Author, Grace to Grow the Study guide (a self contained book With studies) Available on Amazon. 

DENTON 7 the grinch.jpg

This picture is me Christmas Concert 2016 directing the music program (Without a teaching certificate) but God was with me……..Laura Grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Truly is Adultery toward God? The Fiery book of James: Letting the Fire of God purify your heart (and mind)

105_1354.JPG How well I remember the first time I heard the word: “World-ly.” It was from a congregation member in an independent pentecostal style church, and they were referring to watching television. ‘Friendship with the world is hatred toward God, ” they declared to me with much confidence. “It’s in the book of James,” they said. 

SO I went home and read the book of James. I have to say I didn’t much care for James (my brother in the Lord by the way) When I first read his book. I thought, “Wow,” and was stunned by these words; “Adulterers and Adultesses! Don’t you know friendship with the world is emnity (hatred) toward God? Wow. Wrecked all my love theories in a big fat hurry! James 3 and 4, preface to 5 where the solution is given, without a lot of fanfare. It wrecked my pride, right then. See I was faithful to someone who wasn’t (toward me) and I had serious pride about it too. 

I wasn’t too happy with James that day, for causing me to see how Adulterous I was, but once I had read the words, I could not possibly “Un-read” them either. 

I remember when I heard television watching, listening to (worldly) music, smoking, eating too much, and even talking to those who are not preaching the bible every day of their lives was considered to be “worldiness.” I wanted you to know where this doctrine came from. It came from someone who loved the bible, but didn’t study it too well. They saw something on the pages (of their beloved bible) and ran with it. 

What is the cure to this (adulterous) Worldiness James is talking about? Well he tells you in his next words, “Draw near to God,” He says (James 4:8) “Purify your heart” (oh I just thought of Matthew 5, blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall (see God) Oh maybe this is the cure for blindness, eh? Purify my heart? What does that mean? 

So I asked God about it (over and over again) in my personal friendship time with Him. For if he is my friend, he is willing to show me, right? I would think so! 

OH here’s the answer: “He gives us more Grace.” More Grace? More unmerrited favor when we are so messed up? How could it be, I wondered? 

James mentions weeping (over our own sing) getting humble, enduring, and patiently waiting for God to do the work (in us) and also “admitting” to others we have faults. 

He says nothing about going on witch hunts to find people we think are worldly and nailing them to the wall. Nothing about being all puffed up and smug about our “lack of worldliness,” And nothing about Judging others (for being so messed up). Furthermore He (like his brother Jesus) Just said we are adulterers and adultresses JUST for loving the world (or any part of it) More than we love God. WOW. 

So, there we go. No more judging others for what YOU consider to be worldly or the worst sin, eh? Get your eyes on yourself (and your relationship with God). It’s the only way. The only way! And now you know why I don’t easily submit to the judgment of others. Let God be the Judge! Let (the words) of man fall to the ground, and let every Word of God stand true! I love James (now) Why? I Prayed I would! And God answered me! Because this is the types of prayers HE REALLY LOVES TO ANSWER! “Father change my heart, make me more like you……Help me love what you love, and turn from what you hate. Amen” 

 

Your sister, lover of James, lover of God and lover of truth in God’s Spirit, 

As Christ is formed in you ……(Let it begin) God’s peace (and Mercy) to you all…….

 

Laura Grace 

 

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“Swing with me mommy” …..

colton swimming 3“Mommy, Swing with me”

Remembering when I was too stressed out to rest

By Laura Grace

How well I remember a summer day, long ago, when my children were ages 7 and 4.

We were at a park in Washington State, and I can still see myself juggling my purse, snacks, half a bottle of soda, car keys, and who knows what else.

We pulled up in the parking lot and my daughter ran full blast toward the playground. “Carolee wait,” I hollered, cringing as I saw a car pull into the parking lot.

My mom-brain was running full blast, eager to protect her from things like, well, cars that might drive too fast in the parking lot.

I was (and am) a committed Christian, taking my children to church every week, praying with them at night, trying to keep my husband happy, shopping on a budget, striving to become more virtuous, and reading books about how to organize my closet more efficiently.

I was attending bible studies, working part-time, and ran full-blast trying to have healthy meals on the table, send out thank you cards when needed, and remember everyone’s birthday on time. In other words, I was striving to do it all, and do it well.

I remember well I had a friend who said to me; “We have to strive to enter the Kingdom of God.” She was a go-getter, and new to Christianity like I was, at the time. She had leadership qualities, so I looked up to her.

I’m not sure she noticed Hebrews 4 which says, “Enter my rest.” PS (God was saying, “Settle down girl, or you’ll mess yourself up. Enter my rest (well-being found in him.)

So, on that great summer day, now so far away in my mind, I saw nothing wrong with what I was doing, which was, deliberately not resting, or enjoying myself! I needed to be vigilant! The devil prowls like a roaring Lion, you know? 

I was so busy being VIGILANT I forgot to Rest. 

I really thought I had to help God get everything done. I really thought if I rested, I was slacking, or not striving to “enter in” To the Kingdom. Goodness, talk about misunderstanding one word! (and how it can mess us up!) I was upset about this, and that, and the other thing and all the problems I “needed to solve.” right now.

I’m a Grandma now, and I’ve learned how to rest. I can sit and smile, look at the smudged faces of my grandchildren, and delight in every word they say without worrying they will grow up to be horrible people. And yes part of it is because my children have grown up, and they are quite obviously NOT horrible people.

This is not all because of my age, however. A few years ago, the Spirit of God arrested me, and reminded me of that day. “You only have memories of stress, He said, and now that day is gone forever.”

It is gone. I can still see my kids playing, and having fun, but I remember I did not have fun that day, and “come on mommy, swing with us” fell on deaf stressed-out ears. I can never retrieve that day.

Take it from an old war horse Christian and grandma; I can honestly tell you, there is nothing so urgent that you can’t take a few minutes to swing with your children, who are going to need those happy memories with you someday.