The Bread of Life

Do you know what it’s like to be starving all the time?

I bet you are starving right now, and you don’t even know it!

I’m not talking about physical food- we usually have plenty of that. I’m talking about spiritual food.

Most of us walk around day in and day out starving spiritually. Oh, you may go to church once or twice a week or month, hear a sermon, or read an exert from a devotional, but the rest of the time you are not feeding your spirit adequately. And when you do feed your spirit, its with junk food….tv, movies, social media, etc etc etc….Not everybody, but a lot of us!

Have you ever eaten a diet of not real food like french fries, hamburgers, and processed food? And then changed your diet to healthy protein, fruits and veggies? And then you went back to the fake food? What happened? You ate stuff- you put stuff in your body….but it didn’t nourish you! You weren’t satisfied. So you went back to the real food (hopefully).

That’s what it’s like when we read the Bible- The Bread of Life.

Photo credit Julie Anna Johnson, WoW2013

Photo credit Julie Anna Johnson, WoW2013

I love the Bible!! I remember when I began to read my Bible as an adult, and the verses jumped out at me. The words became life to me.  Still, I’ve struggled often with reading my Bible regularly. When I did read it, I could feel the truth seeping into my spirit like a gentle rain soaking dry ground. Sadly, I would let too much time pass before I was starving again.

Sometimes, I would study the Bible for a certain topic, to teach a class, or prepare a talk. It would feel so good to study like buttering warm bread straight from the oven, the words would melt in my mouth. But life was so busy, I would usually study when I needed the Bible for a specific purpose. Still, the nourishment was not often enough. (During this time, I’m specifically talking about when I was caring for young children. If you are in a season of caring for small children, read when you can and give yourself some grace. He understands.)

In the past couple of years, I’m trying to get more regular with my spiritual diet (because the kids are older) and with the help of websites and apps, I would have a bible reading plan on my desktop at work. When I had a minute, I would read a passage or two. Sometimes I would even try to read and re-read the same passage all day. The nourishment trickled in like bite-sized gummi bear vitamins:)

Last fall for my 40th birthday, my husband bought me a new, leather-bound Bible. I haven’t had a new Bible in several years, and it was just what I wanted. I have to tell you since I’ve had my new Bible, it has felt so good to turn the pages and read the words straight from the crisp, thin, silver-edged pages. Again when I read the words, it’s like truth seeping into my spirit. I feel satiated and satisfied when I read it.

Hear me….. listening to sermons and doing studies from our favorite authors and getting devotional doses of the Word..all of that is Awesome!! I’m not knocking any of it. All of those “meals” are excellent ways to get nourished. We need a variety to keep from getting in a rut. Oh! but feasting on the simple, yet satisfying Word of God! There’s nothing better!!

When was the last time you had a good meal? When was the last time you feasted on the Bread of Life?

Oh, sweet friend…..Taste……. and see that the Lord is good!

~Amy

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On the Outside of the Circle

womenofthewaytn:

If you see someone outside the circle….pull her in!

Originally posted on Women of the Way:

She sat across the table from me. She didn’t say a word. We were a bunch of women who  attended a workshop together, so the hotel restaurant seated us at one table. Some ladies knew each other and chatted away about this and that. Most of us were strangers. I knew a couple of ladies on my left and spoke to them occasionally, but mostly, I watched the others around me.

I watched to see if any of the other ladies would strike up a conversation with the woman seated across from me.  I thought that maybe I should talk to her. But, I was stubborn. I was grumpy for being at this particular restaurant. I had wanted to go some place else, but for the sake of the group, I went with what they wanted. I selfishly thought “I always talk first, let somebody else talk, why doesn’t someone…

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Mundane or Ministry??

womenofthewaytn:

The sacred ordinary is getting easier…what about you?

Originally posted on Women of the Way:

In this pursuit in becoming more like Christ,  I have to stop and ask “am I allowing God to use every area of my life for Him?”

Even though I have been raised in the church, a Christian most of my life, and I love working and serving in ministry, I have been confronted with the areas of my life that I don’t allow God to use as “ministry” . I have been guilty of a mindset that qualifies “church work” as ministry and other parts of my life as just….life. Sure, I’m a Christian in everything I do, but do I allow God access to my job, parenting, etc as ministry?

In his book “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”, Peter Scazzero says “It is so easy to compartmentalize God to ‘Christian activities’ around church and our spiritual disciplines without thinking of him in our marriages, the disciplining of our children, the…

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Being Made in His Image (or..I’m turning into my mother!)

It was bound to happen.

All my life, people told me how I favored my mother…blue eyes, round cheeks, smile. However, as I’ve become older, I notice how I am acting like my mother! It started with my husband saying, “you sound just like your mother when you said that!”…or….”you squinted your eyes just like your mother.”

I mean, I’ve heard plenty of times how women would say they looked in the mirror and saw their mother. That was no big surprise. But, in the last couple of years, I notice all kinds of little habits that are just like her! How I hold my hands, making a gesture, asking a question…..or even how I LOVE my favorite fountain drink on ice in a styrofoam cup complete with lid and a straw! I actually get giddy! (except I love Diet Mountain Dew and momma loves Diet Coke)

The good news is I don’t mind! I kinda laugh to myself when I do something that is just like her. What I find so interesting is that I never set out to try to do any of these things like her. I’ve never sat across the dinner table observing her subtle moves and gestures. I’ve never calculated and taken mental notes to consciously mimic her. Sure, part of it could be genetics. Maybe. But most of it is just from being around her for 40 years.

I’ve been formed in her image from being in her presence so much!

One-Bella-Casa-I-Am-My-Mother-Pillow-70588PL (2)

Now, she’ll be the first to tell you I’m not a carbon copy of her. There’s a lot I don’t do like her (I rarely iron…sorry mom…I just don’t!). So many little parts of her have formed into me from simply being around her that I subtly pick them up!

It’s the same with our relationship with God.

Hopefully, I am being made into His image from being in His presence. When I spend time with Him in prayer, study, meditation, and worship, I began to pick up his characteristics of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control and goodness. I began to love people like He does and want to reach out to minister to them.

If I tried to exert effort to act like Jesus, I would most likely fail because I am trying to be something that is not in my nature. But….if I am in His presence so much that His nature subtly changes me, then I find myself looking and loving and acting more like Him. Simply being around Him is going to affect the way I behave.

I think being like Jesus has rubbed off from my mom too!me&mom

So, next time you us zooming down the road, we’ll likely have our fountain drinks in hand!

How about you? How are you turning into your mother? How are you being made into His image??

~Amy

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How Wonderful!

I have fallen in love all over again.

Just when I think I know this Jesus and have Him all figured out, He uncovers a new revelation of Himself or brightens a part of Him I had let grow dim.

This past Women of the Way 2015 series He did just that for me again.

I was well aware of how Jesus hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes. Nothing new. However, through contemplating our theme, Women IN the Way, I rediscovered just how much Jesus loved women. Jesus response was always to welcome those of low standing in society. He not only welcomed them, but was drawn to them. He took delight in them. And he was always tender to their needs. We heard stories during our Bible studies about the women who got in the way. The Woman with issue of blood got in the way out of desperation for her own health. Mary got in the way to worship Jesus because he had forgiven her so much and had loved her so much more. The woman at the well whom Jesus had gotten in her way to give her what she had always been looking for in others. There are so many more… Anna the prophet, Widow’s Son, woman caught in adultery.

Woman and after woman, story after story, they were in society’s way. They were in the disciples’ way. The Greek, Roman, and Jewish cultures of the day said that women were basically property, had no rights, and were utterly dependent upon their fathers and husbands. All of us younger gals take granted the opportunities we have now, but back then they had no voice in the public arena.

But Jesus did this radical thing that broke the cultural standard of the day. He raised the status of women everywhere he went. He listened to women, he communicated with women, and he met their needs. He was sensitive and caring, he didn’t treat them like property without thoughts or ideas, but He treated women with respect. He even allowed some women to follow Him and support Him financially! Mary (his mother) was the first person to “carry” the Gospel. Women were the first ones to tell that Jesus was risen from the dead! Jesus loves women!!

I am reminded of the gentleness of his gaze, the understanding way he knew the unspoken words of their hearts, and I am won over again at how He loves me just the same!!

Oh how wonderful, Oh how marvelous and my song will ever be

Oh how wonderful, Oh how marvelous is my Savior’s love for me!!

WoW Prayer Breakfast, Dunroamin Pavilion, Aug 2013

WoW Prayer Breakfast, Dunroamin Pavilion, Aug 2013

This spring, as the flowers bloom and the trees burst forth, I pray you are reminded of this same love our Jesus has for you!!!

~Amy

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We Belong to Each Other

Now more than ever, I’m convinced we must be more about building the Kingdom of God than our own denominations (If you know my story, you know that I am a Heinz 57 mutt of denominations…..so, I am not against denominations). I do believe building His Kingdom happens better when we are unified.

Roman 12:3-5 “Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.”

Sometimes, we get in our church box where it’s comfortable and familiar, and we might have the tendency to start comparing our brand of church to other churches….that’s like comparing apples to oranges. Instead we need to compare our fellowship by the faith that God has given us. Are we fulfilling the specific mission that God has called us to do?

The reason we shouldn’t compare each other’s churches is because we each have a special function and purpose within the Body of Christ. Each part has its own way of ministering to and reaching all different kinds of people. So, it’s ok for us to have our own functions and missions as long as we remember that these differences are meant to compliment each other instead of divide us.

When we realize that we are all parts of One Body, then we’re going to see that “we all belong to each other.

See, Jesus doesn’t see us as separate parts. He sees us as One Body….His Body.

With this uplifting perspective, we don’t have to compare our ministries or fellowships. We can support and cheer for each other and work together because we are all working for the common goal of building His Kingdom!

If fact, Jesus prayed that we’d all be one:

John 17: 20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me”

We belong to each other! If you believe in Jesus Christ, you are my sister and let’s be about the Father’s business building the Kingdom of God!

~Amy

PS…One of my favorite new groups says it in such a fun, toe-tapping tune…..

 

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Chocolate

Let’s all pause for a moment and reflect………….

Aaaahhhhhhh……………………………………….

Anybody who knows me more than a few minutes knows that I am a Gen.u.ine. Choco-haulic. Yes, I admit it. I need therapy.

The honest truth is that once when I was little girl I kept begging and begging to eat the Reese’s cups, and mom decided to “cure” me by letting me eat all I wanted until I got sick. Yep, I ate all I wanted. And Yep, I got sick as a dog. It’s been a down hill addiction ever since.

This chocolate love-affair has also brought with it the whoas of battling the scale, but that is another story for another day. Let us, for now, just think about the chocolate…..

Used to, I’d eat anything that was called ‘chocolate’. Sure- some was better than others, but I didn’t care. I HAD to have it. Literally, it would call my  name. But then as I grew older and wiser and my tastes matured, I experienced a whole new level of bliss. My taste buds and my heart discovered the likes of Lindt, Godiva, and…..Ghirardelli<3<3<3

No longer did that cheap stuff from the Dollar Store satisfy. And even that common, household  chocolate pales in comparison to the richness of those mentioned above only pure enough to be called…..Chocolate.

Even so, it dawns on me this is exactly how it is with my relationship with God. I have spent so much time and energy feeding myself with sub-par substitutes…..tv, magazines, facebook, food. I’m looking to nourish myself, relax and unwind. Sure, it feels good at the moment but vegging out on junk for the mind and the spirit leave me sluggish and tired and not really rested and nourished.

But, during those times I put down the remote, close the laptop, and clear out artificial flavors, colors and additives, I find God waiting for me. When I feast on His Word and soak in His Presence, there is nothing on this earth more satisfying. Nothing.

His Word is bread. His Spirit is water. His Presence is……..Chocolate!

What is it that you feed yourself? Is it the fake, mind-numbing diet of the world? Or, is it the richness and creaminess of God?

 Taste and see that the Lord is Good Psalm 34:8

How have you discovered to be satisfied by God?

Happy Valentine’s Day

~Amy

Ps…I might need to consider what to give up for Lent, but that is another story for another day:)

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