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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

God_provides

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11

I am so grateful for the provision of God. He gives us life, and breath, and hope. He knew us before we were in the wombs of our mothers, and has a plan and purpose for each of us. He provides ways for us to work, talents for us to use, gifts for us to share. He cares about every detail of our lives. God does not live in some far off place, moving the affairs of men as chess pieces…He is a loving heavenly Father who weeps when we mourn, rejoices when we are happy, and gives us so many good gifts. Of course, His greatest gift was sending His only Son Jesus to die in our place, that we would not be punished for our sins, but will instead be welcomed into His Presence once we have accepted that gift, and proclaimed Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

I cannot imagine my life without God’s provision. There are some in this world who deny His existence, and yet they breathe the air He devised, they walk the earth He formed, they exist in the body of man, who He created to walk with Him.

God’s promise to renew my mind gives me access to His deep thoughts. The presence of the Holy Spirit in my life gives me a Comforter, Teacher, Guide and Friend…Someone who will instruct me throughout this turbulent and sometimes, terrifying journey of life. God has given us armor to wage war against the enemy of our souls. He has given us His Word to wield as a living weapon more powerful than any man made missile. He has provided each of us with spiritual gifts to bless and build up the Body of Christ.

I cannot name one provision of God that I am more grateful for than another. I am dependent on Him for everything I am, everything I do, and everywhere I go. I pray He will always provide me with words to encourage and uplift, talents to build up, and strength to finish the race He has set before me. That is my prayer for you as well.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter  1:3

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I love that memories feature on Facebook. If you have a consistent social media presence, you know what I mean. It pops up in your notifications once a day, reminding you of what you posted on that date as far back as you’ve been on Facebook. I enjoy seeing what I’ve written throughout the years. It gives me perspective on what I was going through that day, or the events and activities I was a part of. Yesterday was a significant anniversary in the McGarvey family. It was seven years ago that we made a pretty big announcement.

The next step…

It’s now official.
What our family has known for certain for the last six months is now public knowledge.
The McGarveys are making a step of faith and joining with God in a new adventure.
God has somewhere else for us to be.
He’s preparing another church, another town, another home for us.
It’s all uncertainty and sadness and apprehension…yet, also excitement and joy and anticipation.
The Lord is for us – we are not afraid.
The Lord is for us – He has somewhere that He’d really like us to minister.
The Lord is for us – His plans are perfect for each of us.
So we wait, and listen, and pray.
We’d love for you to join us on this journey.
Maybe you can’t move with us – but through Facebook and other technology, we can keep you up-to-date on all that’s happening, or not.
We’d love to have you praying with us.
We’d like direction, guidance, wisdom, discernment for our decisions.
But then again, who wouldn’t?
Can’t wait to see what God has in store!

 

Golly! Look at my kids! So young… By the way – I still have that sweater and Don still wears that suit.

Hindsight – we were so excited, so sure we would be moving away, positive it wouldn’t be long before we’d be set up in a new church, confident in God’s provision and timing (but secretly hoping it would be very, very soon). My boys were still in high school so I was filled with mixed emotions. How could I tear them away from their friends or the only church they had ever known? How would David handle his senior year of high school in a different city? What if they hated it? We had many, many more questions than answers. And that turned out to be our new normal.

We started boxing up belongings – to get a head start on what we knew would be happening. We researched open churches across the country. Updated and sent out our resume. Regrettably, I even took Sean out of basketball for a year, because we were confident we would be moving away from Cedar Rapids and headed to our new church. Somewhere. Remember this sentence – God’s ways are not our ways – it’ll save you grief if you just believe it and live it and not argue about it.

We were right. The Lord was (and is) for us. He did have places for us to minister. We worked beside and made friends with wonderful people in many churches and ministries, yet never had a “place” we knew was for us.We learned some hard lessons, cried buckets, saw God’s provision every. single. day. We learned about faith, and trust, and pride. We received answers to prayers for direction, guidance, wisdom and discernment…but never for the one we really wanted. Where do you want us, Lord? Well, not until last August. When God’s sweet Spirit said…here. Here in Troy Mills. Until last summer, when a little church 25 minutes north of Cedar Rapids emailed and asked if “maybe you’d be interested in being our pastor.” For seven years, God was working on the people of that little church and really, really working on us. Preparing us for them, and them for us.

We absolutely love our little church. It is filled with wonderful, generous, kindhearted people who, for some reason, really like us. They work hard to reach out and serve their community. They are our friends and we treasure each and every time we are together. God has been so good to us. And I still have stuff boxed up. God put us exactly where we needed to be. And He’ll do the same for you. But it may not be easy. Actually, it definitely won’t be easy. But it’s worth it. It is so worth it.

 

 

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Horace quote

“May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

It’s time. Time to change things up again. Time to get back to some basics. Time to confront old habits and create new ones. Time to encourage others to be all God wants them to be. Time to “play detective” on myself and be the best “me” I can be.

Today marks Day 1 of my 90-day journey to renewing my spirit, soul and body. I’ve used a book by Donna Partow called “Becoming the Woman I Want to Be” at least twice before, and I’m picking it up again. The last time was almost 4 years ago so I’m sure there are a few things I’ll need to review and remember this time around.

There won’t be any surprises within the content of the book – Partow focuses on helping the reader concentrate on the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible reading, and journaling, as well as developing healthier eating and exercise habits. Since the last time I completed this journey, I’ve lost 30 pounds so I can testify to the success of the eating/exercise disciplines, at least in my own life. We are all unique so I cannot guarantee anyone else’s success but it never hurts to eat more veggies or take a walk every day.

I’m hopeful for a few unexpected turns in the road. Even though the book’s content is known, the way the Spirit of God will lead me this time will be new and different. He is a creative God and I’m looking forward to hearing His voice with fresh ears and listening to His instruction with a clean and receptive heart. This 90-day adventure includes 18 passages of Scripture to memorize – which has never been my strong suit – but I’m committed to giving it my best shot. The Bible says if I study and read God’s Word, it will always be valuable in my life. It is never a waste of time and energy to meditate on Scripture. Looking forward to seeing insights I’ve never noticed before. The Scripture at the top of the blog is my first one to memorize…I’m working on it. Thankfully no tests – yet.

Partow includes a daily affirmation to read out loud…a way to transform my mind with positive statements of Biblical truth. I’m very sure these encouragements will bless me every day. And I’ll probably share a few on social media. Apologies in advance.

I’m going to continue through my own personal Bible reading guide. I’d fallen behind but instead of cramming to “catch up” to where I should be, I’m just continuing where I left off. There is no condemnation from God and no list to check-off that anyone sees but me. Letting go of my “Bible Reading Guide OCD” and embracing freedom today!

Today’s affirmation spoke to me (and I hope to you as well) – “I forget those things that are behind me, including all of my personal shortcomings in the area of spiritual disciplines, diet and exercise. I am pressing toward what lies ahead: a bright future filled with health in my spirit, soul, and body.”

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Fear of the Lord is fountain

Not all fear is bad. Not all fear puts you under the table in a fetal position. Not all fear keeps you bound up and irrational. Not all fear is a trap from the devil. In fact, the Bible is full of encouragement (and even commands) to fear…to fear the Lord.

Most of us would define fear as a “distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.” And that is one definition. But the dictionary includes another definition of fear – a reverential awe, especially toward God. And that’s the very best kind of fear…one we should embrace and encourage, not shrink from.

I want to be wise, don’t you? And I want to live a long life. Those are just a few promises for those who fear the Lord. Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 10:12

 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…”

So what does it mean to fear the Lord? I’m not a theologian but I guess, for me, it means wanting what God wants, loving Him with all my heart, seeing people as He sees them, doing what He has placed in front of me to do, and obeying the Holy Spirit’s voice. It means reading and studying God’s Word, serving the Body of Christ and telling (with my voice and my actions) others about this wonderful Savior who died for my sins, and yours. It means repenting when I’ve sinned, praising Him in good times and bad, trusting Him when I don’t see any possible way out of a crummy situation, and knowing He loves me, no matter what I’ve done.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (according Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10). It is pure, enduring forever (Psalm 19:9a)…a fountain of life (Proverbs 14:27) and can lengthen your days (Proverbs 10:27a). The fear of the Lord leads to life (Proverbs 19:23) and of course, what self-respecting Christian woman hasn’t claimed Proverbs 31:30 a time or two:

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

Our fear of things (part 1) and our fear of man (part 2) are snares the enemy wants to trap us in to keep us ineffective in life and most especially, in the kingdom of God. Fear is never from God. In fact, 2 Timothy 1:7 specifically says that God does not give us a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love and a sound mind. I think that was the first Scripture my kids memorized after John 3:16. Spirt_of_fearWe used (and still use) it to ward off nightmares when the darkness threatens to overwhelm and our hope seems gone. Another favorite “fighting fear” Scripture is 1 John 4:18a – “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…”

God has given us these weapons to defeat the schemes of the enemy in our lives. The Holy Spirit will give you the wisdom you need to wage warfare against the wrong fear. Commit once again to fear the Lord – the very best kind of fear!

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

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spic_and_span

This beautiful day gives me energy to take on some spring cleaning. After a long winter, I love to open up the windows, let in the beautiful sunshine and fresh air and get rid of the mustiness of a closed up house. Time to turn off the furnace – though in Iowa I know that’s a day-by-day, sometimes hour-to-hour, decision. There are three specific areas I try to take care of during my spring cleaning efforts.

(1)    Closets.

I don’t know how it happens, but my closets fill up with lots of junk over the winter. Sweaters, coats and boots take up more room than tank tops and sandals. My hall closet seems to bulge with the accumulation of hats, mittens, scarfs, and sweatshirts along with items no one knew what else to do with except shove it in and quickly shut the door. For you old radio show aficionados, it’s like Fibber McGee’s closet. So I like to go through each item, determine whether it’s worth keeping, and if not, it goes to Goodwill or the trash. We took 3 large trash bags today and I’ll have more as the spring progresses

(2)    Corners.

Our home does not have an abundance of natural light so we rely on lamps for most of our illumination during the winter. As a result, we don’t always take time to examine closely the corners of our rooms. When spring’s light shines in, those cobwebs show up big! Time for a little broom action to rid us of those little creepy-crawly homes.

(3)    Windows.

My least favorite area to clean but probably the one that needs it the most is my windows. We have a nature trail and cement manufacturer behind our house so I could clean my windows one day and they’d be just as dirty the next. So I don’t. I just get overwhelmed with the enormity of the task and don’t do anything at all. Guess what? My windows are filthy, especially the back ones. I finally tackle the project in the spring and of course, it’s amazing what a little soap, water and elbow grease can accomplish. The hardest part is getting started. 

'It must be Spring. I can't see out the window.'

‘It must be Spring. I can’t see out the window.’

I need to do spring cleaning in my spiritual house too. I don’t know about you, but I allow the dullness and routine of life to keep me from the regular maintenance we all need to do on our hearts. So how do the three cleaning areas in my house translate spiritually?

(1)    We all have junky attitudes that accumulate if we aren’t diligent about keeping our spiritual closets clean. Where God intends us to “store” our spiritual gifts and talents, we sometimes keep our unforgiveness, greed, selfishness and pride. We hide it away from prying eyes, but it’s still there. Now is a great opportunity to clean out those closets of your “old” self and fill it with God’s blessings of grace and favor.

(2)    I don’t think I’m the only one who needs to closely examine the corners of my heart. Old habits tend to grow and spread without the illumination of God’s love. Time to take the broom of God’s Word and sweep away the webs of deceit and lies. Allow the Holy Spirit to show you what needs to be cleaned up. He’s just waiting to be the “merry maid” in your cleaning adventure!

(3)    Finally, the windows of my soul need regular maintenance. The dust and dirt adhere so strongly if I don’t scrub them clean on a regular basis. It’s no fun. Who wants to see just how dirty you get throughout a season of life? But it needs to be done and not just once. We need to work out our salvation or do what’s necessary to keep ourselves saved. That means keeping those windows clean by continually being washed by God’s Word, praying (even when you don’t feel like it), forgiving those who’ve hurt you, serving those in need and allowing the bright light of God’s love to shine out from those beautiful windows.

So tackle that spring cleaning soon – both physically and spiritually. What a great way to begin a new season – uncluttered, clean and shiny!

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Sean and David 1

Parenting is hard.

In fact, the actual act of giving birth is the easiest part. Once those big brown (or green or blue) eyes look into your soul and those little fingers get a grip around your heart, you are toast. And the pressure to be everything they need is overwhelming. It’s really the hardest and longest battle of any parent’s life ~ the battle to let them go.

It starts around age two. Some call it the “terrible 2s” – not sure why – just because my beautiful compliant baby has now learned the word “no” and refuses to wear clothes in public?

We work so hard to help our kids learn right from wrong. We teach them colors and numbers and letters…we listen and love…doing fractions homework and science fair projects…agonizing together through middle school, watching them struggle, succeed, struggle, succeed, over and over and over.

This parenting gig is gut-wrenching.

High school – late nights listening for the garage door to open or the text to ping. Meeting new friends… people of both genders passing through your living room. You pray the lessons on purity and kindness and integrity are being lived out away from your watchful eyes. Attending the “last” of anything brings out the waterworks – last band concert, last baseball game, last youth group, last family vacation, last Christmas together in one house.

That empty nest feels like a staycation…for about a week. Then the house is too quiet, the bedroom too picked up, the laundry basket and kitchen sink too empty.

It is not easy…releasing the chick to fly on his own. And now I know – releasing would be easier if you absolutely knew they would never encounter any obstacles.

So I sit and pray…listen and love…give advice only when asked but trusting always in the wisdom that only the Holy Spirit can give…to me and to him.

He must face life now, somehow without the seat belt we buckled him in 20+ years ago. The pressure on him is intense…pressure that I know can crush. If I didn’t trust in the only One who loves him more than I do, I would be lost. He faces struggles unknown – financial, emotional, mental – as all of us do in this life journey. The adventure which was once exhilarating is now lonely and dark and fraught with danger and shadows. Fear of failure threatens him – broken dreams and battered promises line his path. He must now rely on his own faith journey, without me or his dad as a buffer.

Parenting never gets easier. A pattern never develops. There is no book that has all the answers (even the Bible couldn’t help me with the “why won’t he wear clothes?” question).

I’ve gone from parent to teacher to coach to cheerleader with stints as referee here and there. Just when you think you’ve got it, you either have another kid who is the polar opposite or the first one changes personality and temperament overnight.

My husband and I pray every morning that our kids make good choices, that doors will open and doors will close, that they would be salt and light wherever they go, that they would have favor and financial provision and wisdom. Always wisdom. May they have the courage they need to fight each battle with bravery and conviction. And that they would never give up on themselves or their dreams.

I’ll pray the same for you today…as you parent your children. We love these little bundles of joy and heartache ~ may you be armed with strength and courage, love and kindness, hope and long-suffering. May the Holy Spirit guard your mind from doubt and give you wisdom for the darkest nights and brightest days ahead.

jeremiah_hands

 

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pause-and-rest-1

The Monday after spring’s Daylight Saving Time adjustment is rough. For whatever reason, I can handle that first day – maybe it’s because I’m absorbed in church activities all morning. But come Monday – I’m toast. Today I was determined to get in my 6 a.m. workout but the alarm seemed extra loud, and the morning extra dark and damp. Coffee was definitely my best friend all day!

What a great day to be reminded to rest…to take the time to relax my mind, my body and my spirit. The Word of God is full of references to resting – taking a break from work and activity to enjoy the presence of the Lord. As we know, God created the Sabbath as a day of rest – not as a legalistic tool to give us more guilt, shame and condemnation – but a spiritual discipline to develop our relationship with the God of the universe, and the Lover of our souls.

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2

psalm-62-5

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

No matter the day of the week or the number of hours in your day, God is waiting for you to find your rest in Him…lay your burdens at His feet…put your head in His lap…allow His Spirit to comfort you, refresh you and give you the rest your soul needs today.

lion resting It’s kind of like a God-massage!

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