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Guest Post ~ Naomi Fata Discerning the voice of guilt

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How often do you hear yourself or someone else saying,  “ I just feel so guilty for not______________”?

Many times we fill in that blank with something we feel we should be doing but aren’t doing or some area we feel we aren’t measuring up to a standard (God’s or men’s).

Among women I find this to be more prominent than men – maybe because guilt is imprinted on our hearts since Eve first ate the forbidden fruit and so for that rest time women feel like it is our fault – we aren’t good enough – the enemy grabs onto our floundering emotions and continues to speak these lies into our minds.

As women we have a standard of perfection – the perfect house – the perfect kids – involvement in every activity under the sun (whether in church or out of church) – if our kids are lagging behind in some area we feel we have failed as a mother and feel guilty that it is our fault. The list goes on and on.

Is there a difference between false guilt and true conviction of the Holy Spirit when we have sinned against our Father? I believe there is. The guideline for me is that repentance of false guilt brings no alleviation to our feelings – conviction brings reconciliation and restoration. When we are convicted of sin and confess our sins He will forgive us and cleanse us (I John 1:9) Also Romans 8:1-4 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (http://biblehub.com/niv/romans/8.htm)

But if you step back for a minute……ask God this question

Is it God’s will for you to continue to live in continual guilt?

Before we can move forward in dealing with our guilt we must understand that God does not intend for us to constantly be in a state of guilt. Jesus died on the cross, paying the price for our sin, bringing us to reconciliation with the Father when we receive Him. Therefore the only time we should feel guilty is if we have sinned and not confessed. Continual guilt that stems from what we think we should be doing or how we think we have failed God’s standard often has to do with a false set of standards.

It is easy to build our Christian lives on standards of involvement with church, attaining holiness and becoming a great Christian. However God’s standard is ‘Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’  (John 15:4-5) To abide or remain is to fellowship continually with Him – to have our hearts resting in His presence – to be listening to His voice – receiving spiritual food from His Spirit (through the reading of the Word and through our personal relationship with Him)

Guilt can be a form of bondage. I say this from experience. False guilt held me in a place away from the love of God. It had to do with inner issues of insecurity, shame, lack of self-worth. All this comes when we do not know who we are in Christ and therefore do not know how to protect ourselves from the attack of the enemy when he speaks to us as the voice of guilt.

A common problem is that many (including myself at one time) never consider guilt as something that could come from the enemy but always think it is the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

The enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). Guilt kills, steals and destroys our fellowship with God. And false guilt has no avenue to reconciliation because repentance of false guilt only brings further condemnation rather than restoration to fellowship. Often this false guilt has more to do with a vague sense that we should be doing better for Christ than a true conviction of sin which comes from disobeying God’s law.

Once we know the truth about guilt – that it is not God’s will for us to live in a continual state of guilt – we have a choice.

We can choose to continue to live in the condemnation of guilt which is also choosing to deny the power of the cross, through which we can be set free from this bondage. Or we can choose to go to God moment by moment, day by day, asking Him to give us the power through His Spirit to discern between false guilt and true conviction. We can diligently seek to work with Him to renew our minds with truth, counteracting the enemies’ lies with the truth of Scripture. We can read books written by godly people which will help us recognize our inner issues which may have been feeding our guilt.

The choice is ours – what will we choose?

 Naomi writes for Christian Resource Ministry you can find her here : http://naomifata.com/

Cross:  http://www.freefoto.com/preview/05-08-5/Cross-on-a-Hill

Dark clouds: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/pictures/20000/nahled/dark-clouds-1300481177Gy4.jpg

Guest Post by Sally Meadows “This New Year”

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Last January, I quit my day job – cold turkey.

There was nothing terribly wrong with where I was working. But after years of pushing myself beyond my limits, I was exhausted. Whereas the thrill of working on my music and writing ministry – on top of my day job – once gave me energy, now I struggled, hampered by health issues that reared their ugly head mid-2012 and couldn’t seem to resolve even with medical intervention.

Deep down in my heart I knew that God had something better for me.

 So I quit. I needed to rest. And I needed to find out God’s unique plan for my life.

The very day after I quit, I wrote a song. As difficult as the previous year was, I know I would never have come up with this song without going through what I had.

Writing a song is a process. It can draw on many aspects of your life. At the time, I was in the midst of a yearlong bible study on Genesis. My small group leader happened to email me around the time I quit with this phrase of scripture: “…where have you come from, and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8). She said she thought of me when she read it. It impressed upon me so much that I have included this line in the first verse of my song.

This scripture came from the story of Hagar. In the quote above, the angel of the Lord was asking Hagar, pregnant with Abram’s child, why she was running away from her mistress, Sarai, Abram’s wife. The angel of the Lord (on behalf of God) commanded her to go back. Then He blessed her with an incredible promise of fruitfulness – uncountable descendants.

Hagar’s response was both simple and profound: “You are the God who sees me…” (Genesis 16:13) She recognized Him for who He was. It reminds us that no matter what our circumstances, God sees us. We need to remember that.

Unlike Hagar, I didn’t have a choice to go back. It wasn’t the right choice for me anyway. Yet God still has a great blessing for me. I know it in my heart – He has already given me a glimpse.

I am not advocating quitting your job, your relationships, your project, or whatever it is that is challenging you in your life today. I AM encouraging you to seek God’s voice whatever your circumstances. So whether God is calling you in 2014 to “go back” or “move forward”, I pray that you are obedient. I pray you seek the will of God for your life earnestly, and often. He is and always will be a God of possibilities. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).

He is also a God who “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20)

 Please enjoy this song the Lord gave me the day after I quit work. “This New Year” tells the story of a woman who leaves her past behind and follows her dreams. While the song tells my own personal story, I’m sure you can relate. You have your own hopes and dreams for your future.

 May you continue to pursue those hopes and dreams in this New Year.

 To view the video “This New Year”, please go to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psz10ElkvYo

Sally Meadows is a singer/songwriter and freelance writer who lives in Saskatchewan, Canada. The title track of her debut CD “Turn the Page” was shortlisted for a national 2013 “The Word Awards” in the category “song lyrics”. The Word Awards are Canada’s biggest and most prestigious awards for those who write from a Christian perspective. “This New Year” is from her second CD, “Red & White”, released in December 2013. Both albums are available for digital download on iTunes, amazon.com, and cdbaby.com. The album is also available from her website store. 

Website: http://sallymeadows.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SallyMeadowsMusic

Twitter: @SallyMeadows

Quest Post ~ Without a vision? Finding God’s Vision

Guest Post by Naomi ~ Without a vision?

Christian Resource Ministry

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Looking back two years ago I had no vision. There was a desire to do something for God, but I was frustrated at my inability to do so. I was stuck in my concept of what I wanted to be. We all have this idea of what we want to be when we grow up but when it doesn’t happen discouragement and disillusionment often set in. (Read Vanessa’s article about growing up when you get a chance).

One day in January of 2012 I was listening to Joyce Meyer, and she spoke on how she had not attended seminary or formal training but the Lord taught her through every day life practical application of Scripture. Part of my frustration was because I never finished college and settled down instead. As I listened to Joyce’s testimony, the Lord began to show me that my real desire was to learn and…

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Guest Post by Naomi Fata ~ Stressed or Joyful

untitledSnow falls softly Christmas Eve. The children are tucked into bed.

Mother and Father are busy wrapping last minute gifts, baking cookies and . They remark to each other that soon this busy season will be over. This year has been too stressful. All of December had been filled with holiday parties, school plays, baking and so much more. Once again they had overspent their gift  giving budget and dreaded the thought of the credit card bill which would arrive in a couple weeks.

On the mantle, dwarfed by the largess of the Christmas tree, sits the nativity as a quiet reminder of the first gift of Christmas. The Christ Child; whose birth brought the promise of peace, love and joy to our hearts.

Looking around at the stress-filled holiday season I wonder where is the promised peace. A precious gift given to our hearts, peace would mean stress free.

Snow falls softly. Inside wrapping last minute gifts Mother sighs. It has been a busy season, she’s exhausted. Looking at Father she comments that next year they should try something different. Maybe something different. Something simpler. Year after year it seems the holiday season is filled with more activities, more spending, and less joy.

……….

What are some things that you can do differently this year to reduce Christmas stress and focus more on the true meaning of Christmas?

Rather than worrying about the importance of a big gift can you give gifts of time, memories, and love?

During the advent season let’s all remember that it isn’t just the baking, shopping, and interior decorating that matter most. He has called us to be His light in this world. This is a season His light can shine most brightly if we rest in Him, allowing His joy and peace to fill our hearts and flow out of our lives.

Feel free to stop by our website at http://www.christianresourceministry.com and make use of our printable

Christmas cards downloadable at the bottom of this page http://christianresourceministry.com/the-
first-christmas/

By Naomi Fata

Guest Post by our Favorite Gina ~ Thankful to Be Thankful at Thanksgiving! (In the US)

imagesHello faithful readers, I have been blessed to become friends with a wonderful group of woman through writing.   Gina is one of these individuals, we have some similarities in our journeys so no coincidence that we found each other.   Her blog site is located : http://ginaquarles.com/ 

In the US it is Thanksgiving on Nov 28, in Canada we celebrated it in Oct 14th.  But I do believe this post is timely, we all have so much to be thankful for and during this time of year it is really easy to get wrapped up in the “wants” vs the “needs”.  What are you thankful for?  Take some time to read Gina’s post, and be blessed!

Thankful to Be Thankful at Thanksgiving!

The month of November is one of my favorite months out of the whole year.  Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it is a time when the seasons are changing right before our eyes. We can see this beautifully, as nature unfolds itself for all to adore. It is  a time of reflection for many and a time of feeling pure appreciation for several things in our lives. What are you thankful for?

Just like nature and all of its wonder, it is a time many go though change as well. When we tend to appreciate even more in our lives we feel thankful. When we are thankful, express gratitude, we are happy and smiling and we are feeling the “feel good” chemicals in our body that it naturally produces. We seem to radiate and send out more of the positive energy that can often be contagious.  It is such a good thing!   It is so awesome when you can notice and feel this type of spirit going around.

I have plenty to be thankful for as I reflect on this past year.  I tend to be more thankful for the non tangible side of things this time around and I think I know why.  As many of you know, I was in a life threatening car accident in January 2012. I have come to realize that for myself, when you go though a near death experience as I did, your perception of life itself changes dramatically.

I was incredibly thankful that GOD had spared me.  Even with all of my limitations and many threats of death at first, I did not care. I was so thankful to be alive.  Of course I was in shock and wasn’t thrilled about my halo or my broken leg and many ribs.  That was all so minor in the big scheme of things. I will say, I was extremely scared when I woke up eleven days later.

Knowing I was alive and even NOT knowing what my outcome would be, I was thrilled to be back with my family.  My husband, my children, my life just wasn’t finished yet! But what could I do? Not much that was for sure.  But fortunately, the future dictated differently.

I am thankful for my miraculous outcome.  I was blessed with coming home to recover and have my hubby as my nurse. The joy of being home, in my familiar surroundings and seeing my children again, left me feeling elated. I felt safe after not feeling safe for a very long time. I did not want to be in a rehabilitation center miles away with more staff caring for me. I wanted my family. I missed them terribly after being away for months in the hospital. I was truly blessed.

My recovery, while very long has been an experience that wasn’t as hard as one may think. I know that sounds crazy to some of you.  So many things that could have gone wrong have not. Again, GOD is good to me. The biggest concern now, is walking without a limp and my pressure wounds healing. But, because of YOU my surgery is happening much sooner than I expected.  If you saw my box of medical bills you would understand. For that, I am so very grateful. Not the bills, the surgery:).

I wont sugar coat and say it was all smooth sailing.  There were days I would just breakdown crying.  I wondered why me and what does this all mean for my future?  I felt fear, sadness, loss and I was grieving my old self. I dealt with some people in my family of origin that completely let me down.  The emotional pain of that is slowly getting better. Time does heal all wounds.  But with all of that, a strength held and comforted me  and got me through it. I know much of it was the support of good friends, family members, all of your prayers and I will say, my attitude.

When you face a life altering experience like I did, you have a choice.  You can let it break you or make you.  There were unfortunately those who tried to break me and or your thoughts can try to as well.  Key word, “try”.  You can imagine the worst. Do not allow any of this to happen.  You do have control. You may feel as if you do not, but trust me, you do.  Your thoughts and what you tell yourself is so vital to recovery. I realize it matters to all of us even without an accident or in the face of tragedy. Just for mental sanity, it is important and a wise practice for a much more stress free way of living.

The nice thing  is that the reality you are making becomes easier over time  You are the one creating it.  If I told myself I would let my condition define me, then it would. Then I became vulnerable to what my situation dictated. That lack of support from those in my family of origin coupled with physical pain I was in was a complete set up for some very real depression.  Everything mattered  more, if that makes sense. I was vulnerable and very sensitive.

When I told myself I was in charge and would not allow anyone or my condition to confine me to an identity I did not want for myself or that was true, I was free. ” I ” made myself into who I knew as Gina. We just work that way. It is so freeing.  Words cannot describe this. It is a personal experience.  But, the nice thing is, you do not have to have a near death experience like I did in order to do it!

The thoughts you allow yourself to have and who you surround yourself with matters.  What you read and fill your brain with matters.  What you seek you will find.  So seek happiness and appreciate the priceless things that surround you every day.  Make yourself a priority. Take the time to get quiet and “be still” and focus on your life and where it is going. Are you happy with it? Are you contributing? Are you loving others? Ask yourself and answer these questions. Reflect.  Love yourself and say, “thank you” often.

We get our priorities mixed up at times. Life is crazy busy like that and if we do not pay attention, it  flies right on by and we can miss out on timeless experiences and feelings. We can fall into a rut so to speak.  Take that time I mentioned and make “you” a priority. Examine your life and ask yourself many different questions more often. You have one life friends and some of the things that we let consume us, you will find are just not worth it. Others, do indeed  deserve much more of our time. You are not obligated to anything or anyone, only to those persons and things that fill you up and surround you with the love we all are worthy of.

Time is like money….spend it wisely!

I hope you all have much to be thankful for. I know I do. I choose to not just think about it in November anymore.  I am thankful everyday.  Everyday presents us with many things to be thankful for.  We just need to stop and take notice  to see them more often:).

XOXO,

Gina

http://ginaquarles.com/

What is the definition of a miracle?

Loved this post by Naomi, The definition of a miracle… Modern day miracles happen every day! I am a testament of it 🙂

Christian Resource Ministry

what is a miracleI don’t write as one having the answer, but as one who has questioned, “what is a miracle?”

It could be through the healing power of God as told in Vanessa’s testimony. Or as written about in Martha L. Shaw Blessings in a  Tattered Cardboard Box. I am only coming to see as The Lord opens the eyes of my heart, that He is working miracles all around me and sometimes I just don’t see them. This musing led me to write the following articl for Novembers publication of the Hudson River Sampler.

What  is a miracle?

By Naomi Fata

When Jesus walked the earth he healed the sick, opened the eyes unexplainable healingof the blind and performed numerous other miracles. Have you been a little bit envious of those who lived during that era, who were able to see His miracles? Ever thought that those who lived at Jesus’ time…

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