Making the Climb-- Level Paths Week Five Devotional & Small Group Lesson

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: March 23, 2015

A Psalm of David

1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart;3 whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others;4 who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind; 5 who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things will never be shaken.  
Psalm 15 (NIV)

A psalm of Mara, a devout Christian woman, which she sang to the Lord concerning herself. To the tune of--

“I Did It My Way”.

“God, you are good. I love praying to you. I love going to church because I get to accessorize and look at what everyone else is wearing. Dear God, help me today. Hmmm...help my family and friends...help me in all I do.

Help me at the grocery store. Ground beef, God. I need ground beef and milk. Oh yes, and sugar.God, I need to focus on your word. Yes, you are Lord.I lift up my friends and Sue. Yes, especially Sue.Please guide her on what not to wear, like those shiny spandex pants.I forgot, I need plastic wrap at the grocery store.

Yes, I lift up my family to you. Make them perfect so I can learn not to yell at them.
I thirst for your word.God, I am hungry for you! Lunch...I know I promised I would go to lunch with Lisa but I can just text her that something came up.

Thank you for making me a daughter of the King, your chosen one,
holy, anointed, and consecrated to do amazing things for the kingdom of God.
Gifted and talented in every way by you and ready to serve in all areas except those that are out of my gifting.

I am ready to shine for Jesus except in children’s ministry, or as a greeter, or in the parking lot, food bank, coffee...coffee.
Yes, pick up coffee like I had with Katherine.
Yes, Katherine ...Lord I lift her critical spirit up to you. I can’t believe what she said to me after we had coffee last week. After we had just prayed about Joe and Marie and the mess their marriage is... of course I only know this because Alice told Monique and Monique heard about it from Terry who read it on Rebecca’s Facebook page. Facebook. I need to check my account before I go to the grocery store.

Guide me in all the things of your will and let me still do it my way. Lord, I am ON FIRE for you. In Jesus’ name I pray!”

Well, our dear sister Mara may be partially correct. With that distracted thought pattern and uniquely poetic prayer, a part of her is on fire, but not for Jesus. Unquenchable fire from an unruly tongue fueled perhaps from a tiny spark of gossip with tasty morsels dished out al la carte on a platter of pride.

To reach His divine address and live on His holy hill your heart, soul, mind, and body must be in top spiritual condition.

Are the arteries leading to your heart blocked by anger critically impeding the flow of God’s love?

Your soul distended and inflated by pride, displacing all humility? Is your mind overcome by the world distorting your faith?

Is your body crippled by dry bones, your dance for Jesus reduced to a shuffle?

Where are you today, shaken by the world or ready to make the climb? 

 

"Augmented Eternality"  Level Paths Small Group Lesson Week Five

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

Have you ever sent a text message and later realized that what you meant to text had been edited by autocorrect? Awkward and embarrassing as it may have been, take a minute and share your texting tragedy.

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What if all people knew about you was information they gleaned from an Internet search? Every social networking site, every tweet, every blog, every purchase, everywhere you have lived, every aspect of your past and present would determine your future. We can take a step further and search for words associated with your name. It has been suggested that these searches will be combined to form a “social background profile”. It’s from the SBP that credit, background checks, and hiring information will be used to establish your social portfolio. Assuring that nothing will remain hidden about your past. Your past sin will anchor you to the inanimate cyber world incapable of human empathy, but fully able to display human frailties.

Each time we stroll through cyberspace, we expose a bit of ourselves. We leave a trail of “augmented reality” potentially allowing the enemy to come back and “byte” us in the comfort of our own home - an augmented reality devoid of God’s grace.

21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant—I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.

Psalm 73:21-22 (NLT)

If someone did an Internet search of you, what words do you think would be linked to your name?

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How would your social media posts reflect the Holy Spirit imbued in you? _____________________________________________________________

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If someone could hold up their cell phone and scan your heart like a QR code, what would they see?

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12 Do not let sin control the way you live;[a] do not give in to sinful desires. 13 Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Romans 6:12-14 (NLT)

What if everything we needed and even what we thought we needed to lead someone to Christ was embedded in a QR code? All we had to do was share the QR code. What if your testimony, the story of your salvation, was a QR code, capable of being scanned by anyone seeking Jesus? Would someone turn from their old life and became a follower of Christ? Why or why not?

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And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30

The very instant you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you were marked by the Holy Spirit with a seal and you don’t need a QR code. That seal overlays our spirit, transcending our past, erasing our history. Before you accepted Christ, you were molded by the hands of the enemy but now you are molded by the hands of your Creator, becoming a new creation. You are empowered and equipped to share the power of His redeeming work, unfettered by your past, leading others from augmented reality to an augmented eternality.

Personal Declaration: I will live a God-honoring life as a testament to your consuming love and grace. You have set me free for a a purpose.

We live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7
I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. Psalm 119:32

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-4

God, renew my mind and give me spiritual eyes to see your glory. Remind me who I am in Christ Jesus. Direct my path to show your glory in my life as I walk in your grace and truth.

Agape,

Kristianne

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Email kristianne@compassionthatcompels.org. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

 

 

It started with a letter and a sweater

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: March 16, 2015

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. 2 Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. 3 They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. 4 You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. 5 Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! 6 Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. 7 As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! 8 I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!                                       Psalm 119:1-8 (NLT)

I watched through the day as sunbeams moved across the waiting room like solar spotlights, settling along the length of a piece of furniture, highlighting its occupant’s emotions. The day had passed and I was alone in the hospital waiting room. I’d read and reread my sister-in-law’s letter. Her words were written in red.

 

“I want you to know I’m secure and very peaceful with you being here waiting on me to wake up. So while you’re in the waiting room, you show someone your heart and make their wait a little more peaceful.”

My thumb ran imaginary creases across the folds of the letter. Rather than waiting on a call, I made my way to the recovery room and slipped past the nurse’s station. The chorus of beeps and bleeps emitting from machines guided me to Sonja’s lone bed. 

“Sonja, I’m here.” I watched her fingers pull lightly against the sheets. “Kristianne, I knew you’d come. I kept calling for you but I knew you’d come. I’m so cold.”

I pillaged every piece of wheeled furniture around me for a blanket with no success. My eyes fell to my bag and a wrinkled cardigan sweater. I picked it up and laid it weave-like under and over the tubes that disappeared within the sheets, and into my precious sister-in-law.

I didn’t know it at the time but what started with a letter, a sweater, and my two sisters-in law and sister's cancer battles; began my Bible studies and ministry, Compassion That Compels.

BAG: Anyone who has walked through cancer or alongside a cancer overcomer has at one time stuffed their clothes into an oversized plastic bag, closely resembling a reusable cold bag.

JESUS CALLING DEVOTIONAL: God’s word reminds you, a cancer overcomer, that you are first an overcomer in Christ.

JOURNAL: To record those thoughts just between you and God.

SCRIPTURE TEA:  Because hospital coffee at 6 pm is often thick as glue.

REUSABLE CUP OR MUG:  For when even coffee glue can’t be found.

NOTEBOOK & PEN:  To phonetically write down all those big, Latin sounding words that confirm this won’t go away with antibiotics and wish you’d paid more attention in science class.

SCRIPTURE CANDY SOFT MINTS:  During treatment your mouth is always dry or suddenly becomes dry when you see a doctor approaching with your chart in hand.

WARM BLANKET:  Covers you with His love and besides, if you’re not freezing, the person next to you probably is.

CHICK-FIL-A CARD:  Just to get away from a hospital cafeteria to a land flowing with sweet tea and nugget sauce.

I am a stranger and a temporary resident on the earth; hide not Your commandments from me.      Psalm 119:19 AMP

This life is just a waiting room. So while you’re in the waiting room, do what Sonja wanted everyone to do -- show your heart.

Agape,
Kristianne

  

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Email kristianne@compassionthatcompels.org.  Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels.  Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

 

 

Sequence Failed Continuity --- Level Paths Week Four Devotional & Small Group Lesson

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: March 15, 2015

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. 14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me,and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. 18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; then bulls will be offered on your altar.           Psalm 51

Psalm 51 begins with a repentant King David, singing a remorseful melody to God and to an understandably, very upset prophet, named Nathan. King David: the shepherd boy, mighty warrior, wandering minstrel, poet laureate, inspiring leader. Only one spring, when it is time to head to out to war, as all kings do, King David takes a little furlough.  Kind of a vacation or rather a “staycation”. One night he is lounging around the palace rooftop, perhaps playing his harp, looking for inspiration for his next psalm, when suddenly he spies Bathsheba. In short order he goes from the scintillating heights of glory-seeking after God’s own heart to the murky depths of sin becoming an adulterer and murderer.

“Sequence failed continuity” is an aviation code word for a flight that does not make it to its destination; whether due to mechanical failure or worse yet, hijacked, it simply never arrives.  In my own life, I’ve have had sequence failed continuity.  Where the internal combustion of my sin imploded, and I didn’t quite make it to where God had called me and there were always consequences to my sin.  When asked which biblical character I most identify with, I find at times when I want to glamorize my walk and be who I know God calls me to be, it is always a more prominent figure like David.  King David who for his sin had a life flight that should have been labeled a “sequence failed continuity” but instead was redeemed by God’s grace and mercy. I have come to know when I see the weight of my past and present sin, I realize what Jesus did for me.  My sin didn’t deserve his grace.  My life wasn’t deserving of his mercy.  

It hit me one day, that had I lived in Jesus’ time that me and my sin, would have spent a lot of lonely time outside my tent, and on the fringe of polite society.  Perhaps I would have been like the woman in Luke 7:36-50, who simply sat weeping, and washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair.  Saying nothing, pinned to the floor by the weight of sin, speechless and perhaps crying for the first time in years?  Maybe never allowing herself to cry, because she didn’t know when she would stop?

Psalm 51 doesn’t just end with God’s grace. That’s where it begins. God didn’t grant His grace to David so that after throwing out a few apologies, he could return to his sin.  David was repentant. He knew his sin and knew it was evil. He was ready to be repaired, like a fractured clay pot, pleading for God’s grace to smooth his divided spirit and make a steadfast and loyal heart.  He wanted God to restore his joy and then he would teach transgressors, those who crossed the line, violating their relationship with God. But David wasn’t about about to stop there. With the zeal and fervor of a reformed smoker, David, a repentant sinner exhaled the stench of his sin’s internal combustion and inhaled the cleansing minty hyssop-symbolic of God’s cleansing grace. He promised to find those that reeked with the stench of their sin and return them to God. All the while, he would be singing praises to God and knowing that then, and only then, that his life would be a pleasing sacrifice to God.

Today in our society, the lines of sin have blurred. And yes, perhaps even in our own lives. What God considers sin, current culture has renamed and put a balm on what is reprehensible to God, to soothe and not offend the sinner. Leaving out a desire to repent, to change, and live a life pleasing to God.  

As Christians, we must ask ourselves, “When man’s laws change and legislate our society, what will we use as the benchmark for our moral code?  Will we allow our morality to be defined by what is legal or illegal?” If we stop having a desire to live our lives the way God wants us to live, in reverent fear of Him, we begin to have a schism in our heart.  It is across this heart divide that we can call out to Jesus for reconciliation.  

11Teach me Thy way, O LORD; I will walk in Thy truth; unite my heart to fear Thy name. 12 I will praise Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Thy name for evermore. 13 For great is Thy mercy toward me, and Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.      Psalm 86:11-13

Will a person ever be free from their sin if they are just “episodically repentant”?  Remorseful, accepting of His grace but still self-appeasing?  If David lived now, with all his “evident collateral damage” sin. Would we call his transgressions slip-ups and his iniquities bad behavior? Or even more, would we bother to frame it in the context of sin?  Reducing it to a man consumed by his passion and fearing no one’s reprisal? In his pursuit of happiness, who could deny him his constitutional rights?  If we read his about his story today, would we simply say, “Gee, I’m disappointed...but I still like his music”?

 

"Your Destination is Ahead on the Right" -- Level Paths Small Group Lesson Week Four

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.  Proverbs 3:5-6 

When was the last time you used a paper map or atlas for directions?

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Remember when if you needed directions for a road trip, you just reached across your dash and pulled a map from the glove compartment? Then after unfolding it across the entire front seat, deciding on the best route to take, and making several unsuccessful attempts at neatly refolding it, you were ready to go. And if you needed directions along the way, you’d stop and ask someone (unless you’re a man). Today, most of us rely on a GPS to guide us.

Have you ever had your GPS tell you to turn one way when you knew your destination was in the opposite direction? What did you do?

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21 My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them,
22 for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace. 23 They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble. Proverbs 3:21-23 (NLT)

On a recent out of town trip to an airport, I had my GPS redirect us at every turn! My friend who was driving, and who possesses common sense told me she didn’t think the directions were correct. She was relying on the position of the sun and experience to navigate us. Thankfully, she did and we shared a laugh when we saw the airport to our left as the GPS told us to turn right.

It’s the same when we ignore the instructions from the God of the Universe who hung the stars, perfectly aligning the planets in the sky, and rather trust in the globally positioned satellites that dot the night sky.

Do you know the difference between a transgression, iniquity, and sin? I know, it’s all sin. Just thought I would provide the ingredient list for a recipe for personal disaster. Transgressions are those seemingly innocuous fibs. The word trans means “from the act of crossing over.” It’s when we cross the line with our willful, rebellious nature. Iniquities are wrongful conduct and “white lies.” It comes from the root words for uneven, unjust, unlevel. So forget my unlevel paths that lead to wrongful conduct. Forgive me when I knew better, but chose to take the wide, destructive path. Sin is a total disregard for God’s will. There is always a consequence to our sin. This is when your Holy Spirit GPS tells you to “make the legal U-turn.”

12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. Psalm 19:12-13 (NLT)

Most GPS’s are equipped with options to direct route, avoiding tollways, traffic. Everyone stumbles. Stop and take a moment to think about something you repeatedly trip over in your life. Is it the same thing as last year? Map out your best route to your eternal destination. List below some of the ways to “avoid the tolls and roads under construction.”

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Personal Declaration: I YIELD my life to the Holy Spirit

16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. Galatians 5:16

God, show me how to strengthen my walk and make level paths with your strength. I want my life to reflect your will, plan and purpose.

Agape,

Kristianne

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Email kristianne@compassionthatcompels.org.  Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels.  Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

Seeking A Vineyard -- Level Paths Week Three Devotional & Small Group Lesson

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: March 8, 2015

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.

She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.  Proverbs 31:10-13

Proverbs 31...okay, so who can really challenge this gal’s bio? No skeletons in her closet. Her man doesn’t question her value. He knows because it cost him more rubies than he had. She is a half-full, glass kind of woman and an expert in retail products. An early riser, she is packing a healthy lunch and extras to share with others. She has her eye on prime real estate and drives such a good bargain that she can plant a vineyard. That’s where I stumble.  

The vineyard gets me. She had a place of her own from her earnings. Something that represented her intellect. I hold my breath as something stirs in my heart-envy.

I want this woman’s vineyard. I covet and am blinded from what I do have, embracing what someone else has because there are times that my “field” as a wife and mother is defined and measured by repetitive tasking and asking.

How many times do we find ourselves questioning the field, our life God has given us? How will we ever be able to gain any earnings when we just scrape by on what’s in our field? When we are so easily overwhelmed by the day’s challenges and defeated before our feet hit the floor each morning?

In the parable of the sower the seed falls onto different soil, that soil being the condition of our hearts. For a woman, the seeds of envy are found just beneath the soil of our heart. They grow at random and germinate from our insecurities. First as the little girl seeking love and approval, shouting, “Watch me! Want to see do that again? Hold me!!”

Then the thorny stems plucks through our adolescence with, “Do I look pretty? Why don’t they like me?

The plant reaches out, engulfing the blossoming flowers around it. “Why doesn’t he like me? She is prettier than me, more popular. She doesn’t have acne or even body odor!”

This starts the unrealistic comparison game that follows into young adulthood. “I would have had that job if I were smarter, funnier. He would have loved me if I was more spontaneous. My life would be different if only I ______”.

Unfortunately, the insecurity plant’sroots can infiltrate our heart soil when we become mothers. There are times in our life that we try to live vicariously through our children. We celebrate their developmental milestones as infants, their achievements, their victories as our own, and then we brag.

I often think of Mary, Jesus’ mother. Picture Mary and a friend we’ll call Naomi, on a play date. The kids play while Naomi and Mary sit by chatting about the kids activities, then Naomi casually mentions that Benjamin’s ram’s horn and lyre teacher thinks that Benjamin is quite talented and gifted. 

In fact, she blushingly admits, “My Benjamin is a prodigy.” Mary sits there quietly seemingly appreciative of Benjamin’s rare giftedness. Doing that “treasure and ponder it in her heart” thing. Now, don’t you think Mary could have quickly replied, “That’s lovely, Naomi, but my son’s the Christ. You heard me, M- E-S-S-I-A-H: Messiah!” Certainly it would have silenced Naomi. I mean after all, who could top that?

Perhaps that never happened to Mary, but what about to you? Have you felt the sting that you can never measure up? What if you truly believed your field was God’s plan for your life? It’s then we should stop, and consider God, ruler of the universe, who hangs the stars in the sky. He gave you your field and expects you to tend to it.

We can’t be imitators of Christ, aliens to the world system if we define ourselves by the latest trends or others. If we can’t get past the insecurity, we can never allow Jesus to heal the wounds of inadequacy.

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you. 2 Corinthians 10:12-13

What if all the little things in life that we are faithful to; the acts of service which go unnoticed, were to fill our hearts and out of the overflow, the scraps, God began making nutrient rich compost?

Would your bio read, “She has compost but she covets a vineyard.”

Or would you allow the Holy Spirit, the master gardener to till your heart soil changing your bio to, “Out of her abundant compost, she helps other women tend their field-reaping an eternal harvest.” 

 

"Gone with the Wind" -- Level Paths Small Group Lesson Week Three 

Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind. Ecclesiastes 4:4 NLT

Did you ever take a dreaded pop quiz in school?  You walked down the hallway towards your next class and heard the murmurings from the last class.  Panic would course through your body when you realized you hadn’t reviewed the all important notes from the day before.  As the bell rang, your fate and notebooks were sealed and the teacher stood writing the questions on the blackboard.  For those of you 39 to 20 something, that’s the whiteboard.  And for the Milleniums, it’s Promethean Boards. Let’s take a walk down memory lane with a little pop quiz.  This is a closed Bible test.

1.  What is an Ebenezer? 

  1. A town in ancient Israel
  2. An old man
  3. A rock
  4. All of the above

Just answer and then we’ll get back to the Ebenezer, I promise. 

2.  What can cause bone loss?

  1. Lack of calcium
  2. Abundance of envy
  3. Lack of vitamin D
  4. All of the above     

3.  If the roots of envy are insecurity, what is the opposite of envy?  Fill in the blank

     P __ A __  E .  Hint: Rhymes with lease.

4.  Where can we find our peace?

  1. Jesus
  2. God
  3. Holy Spirit
  4. All of the above

Answer key:

1) 4  All of the above

Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah.[a] He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!”        1 Samuel 7:12 (NLT)

Let’s look at the original second stanza of Come Thou Font. Robert Robinson’s autobiographical hymn. The lyrics have been changed because most people wondered why you’d lift up a grumpy old man. They just aren’t as Bible savvy as you are now.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer; 

hither by thy help I'm come; 

    and I hope, by thy good pleasure, 

    safely to arrive at home. 

    Jesus sought me when a stranger, 

    wandering from the fold of God; 

    he, to rescue me from danger, 

    interposed his precious blood. 

2.) 4  All of the above   A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.   Proverbs 14:30 

3)  PEACE   For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.  James 3:16 

4)   4    All of the above     Open your Bible and read the letters in red.

The Ebenezer rock symbolized a new beginning and restoration for Israel. For you today, it stands for a time of rededication to the LORD.  A turning away from the former things that slander our Christlike character.  Envy is a thief who specializes in identity theft and robs us of our peace.  Open your Bibles and find a scripture pertaining to peace.  You may not have a large stone handy, so use a sticky note.  When you’re finished, I want you to place your sticky note in the “open door” of where you allow the thief to rob you of your peace.  It may be in the area of physical appearance, so put it on your bathroom mirror or makeup case.  You may struggle with illness and plant your Ebenezer next to your meds.  You might hide your insecurity in grown up material things. Stick the note in your wallet.  If you have a doubt where to place your note, pray and ask God to reveal those hidden hurts.

Personal Declaration--

I will never substitute a world identity for myself, my family, and fellow believers. The world does not name me, you are my creator, and YOU have created me for your purpose.

9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests,[a] a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

10 “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people.  Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”[b]

11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.   1 Peter 2:9-11

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.[a] Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”[b]          Romans 8:15 

Today, I rededicate my life to have my walk on a level path, level ground.  I will live by faith and not by sight.  It is you El Roi -the “God who sees me.”  You see me. The world does not name me, God names me and I am HIS.  No matter what I have done, I ask for forgiveness and it is done. LORD, this day, this moment, I recommit my life to serving you.  I COMMEND my life, my will, my very breath for you.  

Agape,

Kristianne

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Email kristianne@compassionthatcompels.org.  Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels.  Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

How are you going to love? -- Level Paths Devotional & Small Group Lesson Week Two

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: March 1, 2015

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  37  Then he said to his disciples,  “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  38  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”     Matthew 9:36-38

Jesus had compassion for the distressed,  the dejected, the lost.  A few years ago,  I was so hemmed in by my need to serve on God’s personal God Squad,  handing out sin citations,  that my love for the lost was overridden by my prideful need to defend God’s truth.  I was still moved by the innocent who were maligned and hurt,  but immune to the sinners birthed from a corrupt culture.  It was then God showed me if I were to love the lost,  I would need more empathy for the “guilty” than for the innocent.  I would need compassion.  And slowly,  He gave me a heart of compassion,  a compassion that compels me to love in action.  A voluntary act of my will, a yielding to the Holy Spirit.

Compassion that compels forces your heart to pay attention with intention.  It kneels down to your child to listen with your eyes. It reaches across the table at that next family gathering.  It knocks on your neighbor’s door.  It extends itself at a ragged shirt sleeve and outstretched hand. 

Do not forget to entertain strangers,  for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.       Hebrews 11:12

Close your eyes and think about someone whom you love with your whole heart.  Someone easy to love. Then create a mental montage of those who may not have loved you in return.  Now stop,  and think about the family member you are called to love,  but just can’t?  If they died today would you know where they would spend eternity?  If you doubt it is in heaven,  do you feel that is their just reward?  Or do you feel compelled by the same compassion to serve the helpless, to leave the ninety-nine sheep, and seek the one that is lost?  In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus identified the needs and saw that the workers were few.  

Do you think he was only speaking to His disciples after a series of mega-picnics that fed thousands?  Or is His word living and active today and it includes us?

The answer is yes,  we are His disciples. In verse 38,  Jesus tells us to ask  (pray)  the Lord to send,  some translations say force,  the workers into his harvest field.  

What if,  just what if,  you were praying and God commanded you to harvest the field?  Could you do it steeped in the confines of judgement and condemnation with arms crossed?  Or suffused in His grace and mercy like those loving arms, outstretched on the cross?

... “Simon son of John,  do you truly love me more than these?”  “Yes, Lord,” he said,  “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”  16  Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”  He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said,  “Take care of my sheep.”  17  The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”  He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep."         John  21:15-17

Jesus posed the question to Peter three times, “Do you truly love me?”  By the third time,  Peter was hurt.  How could Jesus ask him three times?  Peter said,  “You know that I love you.”  If Jesus knows all things, why was he asking?  He certainly wasn’t asking Peter because He didn’t know.  He was relentless in His questioning not for Peter to affirm his love, but for Peter to decide how he was going to love.  Jesus asked Peter and today He asks us to display His love through compassion.  A compassion that should compel us to feed the innocent lambs and take care of the lost sheep.  

The question remains, how are YOU going to love?

 

Agape -- Level Paths Small Group Lesson Week Two

When you were a kid did you ever play the game Hokey Pokey? You know, you put your left arm in, you put left arm out.  If that doesn’t ring a bell with some, let’s try, Father Abraham. “Father Abraham had many sons...”  Good, just want to make sure the song was firmly glued to your mind and possibly settled into your REM sleep patterns. I usually made it to the “whole self in” part, but with a degree of frustration. The song took so long and with my short attention span, I wanted to jump in with my entire body and whip it around in some sort of Hokey Pokey frenzy. The only problem was most of the group was still on the limb thing.  

There are some of us who have the Hokey Pokey approach to love. We step on in with part of ourselves based on the expectation that someone will do the same. We pause and wait for the next cue or their next move. There are others who throw themselves in with the whole self and their whole heart.

Why is it sometimes difficult for us to love someone with our whole self and our whole heart? 

 

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34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”    John 13:34-35 

 

That’s radical. When I love others it PROVES I am a Christian. It’s the agape love God calls us to in our lives.  Agape love is love without condition or requirements. When we show agape love, we grow in our walk with Christ because He calls us to love one another. 

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] No other commandment is greater than these.  Mark 12:30-31

 

Is there someone you are called to love but find it hard to do? Why?

 

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 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Romans 12:10-11 

 

How are you going to love? What will that love look like to the world?

 

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Personal Declaration--

I will not compromise my reverent worship of Jesus for the world’s relevance.

Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.        1 Peter 1:17 

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. 12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.      Psalm 86:11-13 

Holy Spirit, compel my heart, soul, mind and strength to move in love and compassion.

Agape,

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Email kristianne@compassionthatcompels.org.  Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels.  Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

 

The One Thing -- Level Paths Devotional & Small Group Lesson Week One

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: February 23, 2015

My original intent was to write an article about forgiveness. I quickly realized that it wasn’t forgiveness, but unforgiveness that mires us to pain. Living in unforgiveness leaves Jesus out, and ushers in the dark side of human emotion.

As I sifted through the Internet one night, I came across a forgiveness program based on a series of studies. The forgiveness program was created to show people the ways to forgiveness. Through their research, nine steps to forgiveness were formulated. It wasn't the nine steps that grabbed me, but rather the "psychological disclaimer at the bottom of the page." “The practice of forgiveness has been shown to reduce anger, hurt, depression and stress and leads to greater feelings of hope, peace, compassion and self confidence. Practicing forgiveness leads to healthy relationships as well as physical health. It also influences our attitude which opens the heart to kindness, beauty, and love." I was intrigued.

Really? You think true forgiveness can be achieved through nine steps and some intense seminars. You’ll have to read the rest, I didn’t. Instead, I’ve decided to tell you a story that I have permission to share.

Sarah had a hard life-pregnant and married at fifteen. Divorced, then remarried, two more children, divorced again. She was devastated when her father died, the only man who had shown her unconditional love. Sarah was very close to her two brothers, especially the younger one. So when he married, she wasn’t really happy about sharing him with anyone, especially with his wife, Kelly.

Kelly’s life was filled with brokenness and poor choices-saved at twenty-seven, married at thirty. Kelly envisioned gatherings with her in-laws like a Christian/ Norman Rockwell scene. Right? Wrong! Sarah was bitter and only tolerated Kelly because of her brother’s child, her only niece. Kelly was just as bitter and not any better. Her tangled heart was full of unforgiveness, just like Sarah’s.

Distance and time didn’t improve their relationship. One day, Kelly received a call that she would always remember. It was the day that Sarah’s cancer collided with Kelly’s Christianity, propelling her into action. Kelly picked up the phone and called Sarah. “Sarah, you will never be alone. I’m going to help you.”

They were an unlikely pair in the treatment center. They laughed and they healed together. On a surgery day, Sarah handed Kelly an envelope, “Open during Surgery”. Kelly waited and read a letter filled with a love that caused Kelly’s life to change, because there was no room for unforgiveness in a terminal diagnosis. At Sarah’s funeral, her small group leader read from her prayer journal.

“Forgive each other. Love each other. It all comes down to that doesn’t it?”

What the forgiveness program left out was the why. Why forgive? What compels us to forgive? Or rather, who compels us to forgive? You may be thinking, I did forgive. But I can't let go. How many times do I have to do this? Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22.

There may be some of you that keep the forgiveness tally, and have surely hit the seventy-seven mark and still counting.

Now, I know some of you are reading this saying, “I can’t do that. You don’t know what I’ve been through.” You’re right, and I don’t know. And you don’t know what I’ve been through-but God does. He even knew when it all happened. He still asks you to forgive.

“Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:24.

I ask you to consider this, if you can’t forgive, have you ever really known the eternal blessing of forgiveness? “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15. It took me a while to understand it all too.

By the way, Sarah’s real name is Sonja, my precious sister-in- law. And Kelly, that’s me, Kristianne.

 

A New Heart -- Level Paths Small Group Lesson Week One

 

Name an animal that terrifies you the most.   _____________________________________________________________

I am so traumatized by snakes that I can’t even wear them as shoes or in accessory form. I couldn’t watch a Saturday morning Tarzan movie as a kid without screaming to the explorers in the khaki shorts and those safari hats to look out or they’d end life as an entree. Unforgiveness is the anaconda of spiritual death. The anaconda waits for its prey at night lying at watering places as unforgiveness waits for its prey, drinking from the waters of bitterness in the dark hours of our life. When the anaconda strikes, it holds its captive with its rear facing teeth, forcing you to look behind, to the past.  And like the anaconda, unforgiveness slowly suffocates its prey with its coils around the heart-crushing your spirit.

Have you ever played with modeling clay?  Can you still feel the moist clay and the unending possibilities to your creation?  _____________________________________________________________

In Ezekiel 36:26-28 (NLV), read what God promises to the Israelites.

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My Laws and be careful to do what I tell you. 28 And you will live in the land that I gave to your fathers. You will be My people, and I will be your God.

Did you ever talk to your clay attempting to “self-mold”.  Or how about shouting at it, maybe even an inspirational speech? Did the clay ever become anything without your hands molding it?

It’s the same with our Creator.  God is a potter who gives us a new heart and a new spirit.  Together, over the next few weeks, we will seek God and ask Him to mold our lives.  At the end of our journey, you will have formed your personal declarations.  Declarations that answer, “Why do I believe what I believe?”  Your personal declarations can simply be a sentence including a scripture or it could be a paragraph or more.  Personalize them to reflect you.

Hungry for His words

Jeremiah 15:16  (NIV)

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.

Eternal life 

John 3:16 (NIV)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Accepting of His grace

John 1:17 (NIV)

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Redeemer of my life

Job 19:25  (NIV)

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

Thankful for His mercy

1 Timothy 1:16 (NIV)

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

Most of us have someone in our lives we need to forgive. Is there someone you need to forgive?  Close your eyes and ask the Holy Spirit to free you from unforgiveness and bitterness. Then do it.

 

God, create in me a new heart. Roll away the empty air pockets causing spiritual cracks in my life. Let the grace and mercy from Jesus’ shed blood moisten my hard places and mold me to a pure heart.

Agape,

 

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Email kristianne@compassionthatcompels.org. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

 

 

Everybody's Love Smells Different

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: February 9, 2015

Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.         2 Corinthians 2:14-16

Grace’s ringlet curls wrapped around her spangly bracelets as she leaned across our bubble gum tea party. She wiggled her index finger in the space between our faces. “C’mere, Mommy…real close and breathe big with me,” and we did as if together, we could breathe in tiny moments like solid molecules. “Mmmm…I love you. You stink really good today, Mommy.” Of course, I completely understood that it was the scent of my perfume but what Grace really smelled was my love.

Everybody’s love smells different.

My Italian grandma was never a gushing geyser of sentiments but I do remember the endless flow of Little Debbies that grew within the pockets of her flowered, polyester housecoat. They'd send me on cream filling waves across her kitchen linoleum to the gold shag carpeted guest room. I never knew what treasures waited behind the real imitation wood closet doors with their shiny brass knobs. There were always stacks of toys, games, and primary colored striped clothes that if they were too big for me, I could pass to my older sister and too small, given to a younger cousin.

My grandma’s love smelled like a mix of garlic and mothballs.

In the Old Testament around the time of the battles between the "ites" and the ambivalent Israelites, animal sacrifices were pleasing aromas to God. I’ve read the New Testament starting with the red letters enough to know what Jesus saw, heard, tasted, touched but what did Jesus smell?

But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:16                                  

 Lazarus was dead for four days

A woman with an issue of blood for 12 years

Legion and his tomb dwelling demons

And how about that mid-dinner pedi Jesus did for all of his disciples?

Let’s face it, what Jesus had to smell would leave us gagging. Nowhere do we read about Jesus priming his hand sanitizer bottle or getting into a Febreze spraying frenzy after each encounter.

Not a mention of what He smelled, because maybe what Jesus smelled was love.

Live a life filled with love following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.       Ephesians 5:2

Retracing the steps across and around the decades of my life, I see first my 20’s “if God loved me."  30’s “when He loves me." Now in my 40’s and no longer an “unsecure person," but firmly rooted in faith and realizing that grace isn’t acquired like a scouting merit badge, it’s because He is love. God loves me because God is love and to Jesus, I hopefully stink really good.

Agape,

Kristianne

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Email kristianne@compassionthatcompels.org. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

Soul Dimensions

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: January 19, 2015

Our soul within the confines of our body is bound by geo coordinates wherever we are but one day, our soul will have celestial coordinates unbounded by latitude and longitude. I sometimes set my soul’s coordinates based on what is before me. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gratitude and the depth of my own “soul dimensions.” By faith, my capacity to praise and glorify God regardless of what I see before me.

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32°4′42.08″N 87°16′49.33″W are the geo coordinates to Gee's Bend, AL and the town where Arlonzia Pettway was living when she asked the Lord what He wanted her to do in His vineyard. He told her to sing.  She stopped praying and asked Him again, because she loved to sing but really wasn’t a singer. God showed her again “standing singing” and sing she has for over 40 years, along with her quilting group, “The White Rose.” Singing, quilting and praying with a community of women whose slave and share cropping heritage quilted out of necessity for warmth. Made from dress and shirt tails - parts of the clothes not too worn, and flour and cornmeal sacks bleached with hand picked cotton for inner lining. Whatever they had, they were thankful for. They, “Didn’t buy nothin, ‘cause we didn’t have nothin’ to buy nothin’ with.”  (The Quilts of Gee's Bend).

So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.  John 11:41

Jesus had expectant gratitude, anticipating the miracle as the stone before Lazarus' tomb was rolled away. Gratitude wasn’t a polite, “Thanks God, that was a close one back with the demon possessed pigs.” Jesus displayed His gratitude by a a total glorification of God whether through a prayer of thanks for bread and fish meals multiplied, defying any potluck dinner. So, it’s safe to say that Jesus expressed His gratitude outside of a meal, a church service and a miracle. 

At a distance, ten lepers spent their days shouting, “Unclean” for anyone and everyone to hear until they saw Jesus enter their village.  Until the ONE, Jesus Christ, heard them.

“Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. 15 One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” 16 He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.

One healed man whose geo coordinates had been set by his disease. But when he saw Jesus, his soul dimension of faith, repositioned him ready to glorify God. Today, I pray we chart our soul coordinates on the unseen and through faith in Jesus Christ, we can stand confidently becoming all that He has in mind for us to be and do.

For because of our faith, he has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be.  Romans 5:2

Agape,

Want to know more about the Gee's Bend quilters? Click here

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Email kristianne@compassionthatcompels.org. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legacy Scaffolding

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: January 12, 2015

So often in life, we know what we don’t want to do, but not what we do want to do. We stumble through days and trip over years until a major life event collides with our life, challenging or strengthening our beliefs, our way of doing things and altering life's rhythm.

What if each of your experiences and your reaction to them, became legacy scaffolding - platforms used to build your living legacy?

Look up into the heavens! Who created all these stars? As a shepherd leads his sheep, calling each by its pet name, and counts them to see that none are lost or strayed, so God does with stars and planets!  Isaiah 40:26 (TLB)

Ever bent your head nearly to your back to look up at construction workers on scaffolding, wondering what possessed them to pick their profession?

Well, I have and what I’ve noticed is that workers rely on the scaffolding for their support but never the structure under repair or construction.

My legacy scaffolding started with a foundation of Christianity where I learned to be unshakable because cancer shook me. One of my scaffolding platforms started with my sister-in-law’s cancer diagnosis, a letter and a sweater. Scaffolding has guardrails but I think legacy scaffolding has both guardrails to keep us from far flung pain that pushes us to the outer realms and bumpers to insulate where we’re vulnerable.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV)

Your legacy is never built alone because we're not called to do life alone. Like scaffolding is braced by triangles, the most rigid geometric shape, so is our legacy scaffolding. It’s reinforced vertically with cross braces aligning and keeping it central, unwavering because without the triangular brace, the platform collapses.

To sound really credible here, let me use a big word that I had never heard of before but will pretend it’s a part of my everyday vocabulary - generativity.  A psychologist, Erik Erikson, defined generativity as the “concern for establishing and guiding the next generation,” for passing on cultural traditions and leaving a legacy. As he described it, generativity is “I am what survives of me.” That is, your legacy after you’re gone.

I ask you to challenge that today. Whether it’s triumph or tragedy, it becomes your legacy scaffolding; a living legacy of what you have survived because through Christ, you are greater than what you've overcome.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4  (NIV)

Agape,

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Email kristianne@compassionthatcompels.org Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

 

 

 

Who’s Your Scheduler?

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: January 5, 2015

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.   3 John 1:2 

ONCE UPON A TIME, not so long ago, there was a woman with great balance! No, not like a circus performer but the kind who could extend grace and never consume grace. 

THEN ONE DAY she found herself in the middle of saying something and wondered what her point was. 

THE NEXT DAY she started praying and finished with her grocery list  “What is happening to me? Do I need a multivitamin or more omega 3?” she asked herself.

THE NEXT DAY she was cramming her vitamins into her mouth and a one minute devotion into her spirit quicker than a two year old with candy just so she could be early to her meeting...when SUDDENLY she remembered the meeting was yesterday! OH MY!

AND THE NEXT DAY, she drove her car all the way to work and was surprised when she pulled into the parking lot because she didn’t even remember driving there.  She pulled her compact out of her purse and started to call her doctor. “NO! NO! Not a compact but a phone is what I need, she cried. I don’t have time for a doctor today so WebMD on the way,” she thought.  As she listed her symptoms on the screen, the diagnosis was clear. She had a chronic case of TIME SLICING!  A symptom of having a faulty scheduler...to be continued next week.

My friends, in the techie world, time slicing is where the single processor system or CPU, performs one part of a program and then returns to the first one. Each computer has a scheduler that determines which task is next and how much time to allocate. Think of your brain as the CPU and it’s like working on a report then stopping to text someone.  Time slicing is what allows us to multitask. If your brain is the processor, what part of you is your scheduler?  

Take a minute and think of the meanest mean girl you ever knew...mentally frame her and name her. Ouch! It hurts all over again, doesn’t it? But based on my life experience, I’d say her cruelest remarks knifed at your ego can’t outshout your own internal critic. So my friends, I’m going to ask you to leave her, your internal frenemy, wherever she finds you most vulnerable because she is the one relentlessly scheduling your thoughts and actions. Chain her to a fitting room where she forces you to try on clothing under fluorescent lighting and then critiques you in front of a trifold mirror! Ditch her in the grocery store aisle next to the cereal that looks like chicken feed! If that doesn’t work and she keeps on mentally chatting with you, then get your earbuds out and stick the plug in your pocket a la hands free cell phone. Then you can speak out loud and say, “Stop it. I’m not listening,” without anyone giving you a second look. 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.     Matthew 6:33 

The Holy Spirt should always be our scheduler. Most online calendars have a feature that once you schedule an appointment, it allows you to note whether you’re busy and unavailable. In 2015, let's forget the multitasking and start multiASKing, “God what do you want me to do today?”  

Agape,

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

What's Your One Word?

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: January 1, 2015

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.  For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?...Isaiah 43:18-19

For the past few years, I have used a defining word- a “power word” to shape my life approach. It’s my one word depicting how I will choose to live my life and build my character.

An envelope with “Open during Surgery” written across it gave me my first word-forgiveness.  Up until that point, I was an empathetic, kind person, operating from a heart of unforgiveness. But my sister-in-law, Sonja taught me there’s never room for unforgiveness, especially in a terminal diagnosis.

 

A year later, cancer again provided me with my next power word when Pam, my other sister-in-law, was diagnosed. My new word was faith and until that year, my faith had operated from my intellect and not my heart. 

Another year later and cancer gave me a new word, compassion when Vikki, my sister, was diagnosed. Compassion compelled my heart and I began reaching out to the hurting and the lost with hurricane force evangelism, God’s spiritual first responder.

My power word this year is repurpose. Jesus repurposed three nails for my salvation and yours. He repurposes every experience to complete restoration, never wasting anything, not even our pain. Rick Warren wrote that “your greatest ministry will likely come from your deepest pain.” You see, God repurposes every chapter of our life story for His glory. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your one word. I'd love to hear your one word that will display His power in your life in 2015 -- kristianne@compassionthatcompels.org

 

Agape,

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

 

Spiritual Freeze Tag

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: December 29, 2014

From Kristianne's heart...

I used to think that “Be Still and know that I am God” was some sort of spiritual freeze tag; statue-like waiting to hear God. If I moved, I lost somehow the message, path of my life, etc. Being still seemingly unaffected by the flow of humanity around me is an impossible task because along with my short attention span and vivid imagination, I yearn for grand adventures like a yard dog seeks life beyond the fence.

Since January 2014, with the support of thousands of people and by God's grace...

  • 880 BEAUTIFUL women were blessed with Compassion Bags 
  • 24 cancer center deliveries
  • We held 12 fundraisers
  • We partnered with 16 Altar’D State stores for their Mission Monday
  • I spoke at 10 events
  • There were 5 TV, 4 newspaper, and 3 magazine interviews given
  • We started 3 state chapters: Alabama, Pennsylvania & Virginia/DC Suburbs
  • I had my final reconstructive surgery 

and...

I put 42,000 miles on my car.

But through the continual movement of Compassion That Compels this year, I learned two things:

DO NOT QUESTION GOD

and

NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST

I don’t know what noisy reality faces you today but I pray you “Silence your spirit…to listen to His Spirit" because being still is found within God's spacious place where our wanderings lead us.

Agape,

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

 

The Gift of the Love Letters

By: Gwen Plauche
Posted: December 22, 2014

 

My husband slid the worn stationery box across the table and told me I would love what was inside. He’d discovered the box tucked away in the attic not too long after we had moved into our house in Boulder, Colorado.  I opened the box and found a preserved collection of love letters from the summer of 1955, in date order with a tally on top of how many the two lovers had personally written.  What a precious possession! Unfortunately, the names on the letters were not people we knew.  Our young children soon demanded my attention and I placed the special box on a closet shelf.

Fast-forward three years, we had received a job offer with a move back to Louisiana bringing us closer to grandparents, and had begun packing the house. My husband found the forgotten box and again put it in front of me, telling me that we were not packing it. I could not imagine tossing the precious letters. One of our elderly neighbors recognized the names as the original owners of our home in 1965 - it was now 1992. The best news was their current address was just across town!

My plan was to deliver the letters within our last two weeks in town, but it came down to the last day.  I drove to the address and was determined to tuck the box by the front door if no one was home. I rang the doorbell and heard the door open.  I held the box behind my back and introduced myself.  She responded that my address was her first house many years ago.  When I told her I had a surprise and produced the box, she begged to know who told me  –  I had no idea what she was talking about. “Today is our 35th wedding anniversary and these will be the best present anyone could have given us!”  I stepped back in amazement. God, Creator of the Universe,  had used me to deliver a special gift to these precious people on this special day. These were truly love letters from God.  Can you imagine reading love letters written to you from more than 35 years earlier?

We each have the opportunity to read our own love letters from God as we open our Bibles daily.  Through multiple authors scattered over a timeline of years,  His love message to us rings true.

The Christmas season may be a different one this year.

You might be facing limited funds, forcing a no-gift rule.

Your health may be changing the activities you participate in.

You may be celebrating in a hospital room or waiting room.  

You may be celebrating the first Christmas without a special loved one.  

You may feel that no one cares.

No matter the circumstances, God’s love letters apply. Read His letters daily, as if you were separated from a loved one and finally receiving correspondence. Soak the message up, memorize the words. They will be as a balm to your soul. One of my favorites is reading and knowing, that I am the apple of God’s eye!  (Psalm 17:8)

These selections are love letters from God written years ago for you to read today:

You are the apple of My eye, ( your name )  Psalm 17:8

I have called you one of My children because I love you, ( your name ) 1 John 3:1

Your name, ( your name ), is written on the palm of My hand  Isaiah  49:16

I am greater than your heart and I know everything about you, ( your name )
1 John 3:19-20

You did not choose Me, but I chose you,  ( your name ) John 15:16

My love endures forever,  ( your name )   Psalm 136

If I go and prepare a place for you,  I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am,  there you may be also, ( your name )    John 14:3

I loved you so much that I sent My Son to secure your future with Me, ( your name ).    John 3:16

As we celebrate the true meaning of Christmas this year,  take time to thank the Lover of our souls,  God Almighty.

Blessings & remember that God’s gift of love is for you,

Gwen

Gwen Plauche, aka Momma Gwen, is married to the greatest man on earth, mom to five (ages 16-26) and loves to find encouragement between the covers of her Bible. Her blog can be found at: www.MommaGwen.com and follow her on Twitter@MommaGwen. #giftoftheloveletters #spirtualplacecards

 

Cancer Free

By: Nancy Backues
Posted: December 15, 2014

Cancer Free. Those were the two beautiful words I had waited so long to hear. Even though the surgery to remove the final tumor had been almost two months ago and my journey was not yet over, I breathed a sigh of relief. Yes, there would be years of follow-up appointments and scans. There would be the continued focus on my health, and every little ache or pain that didn’t “quite feel right” would be cause for concern. But I had moved from the “Cancer Patient” column to the “Cancer Overcomer” column.

It’s fitting that I heard those words in the month of December—almost a year to the date of my last chemo treatment. Last year I cherished every moment of my holiday, even though treatment forced me to slow down and stay close to home. This year I would celebrate cancer free.

I left the treatment center with those beautiful words still ringing in my ears. I drove home with tears of joy—of relief—stinging my eyes. As I thought about the significance of the season, I reflected on the sermon I had heard the previous Sunday.  

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, ESV).

Wonderful Counselor—the Hebrew word for “wonderful” in this text literally means ‘miraculous,’ because that is what Christ is. He is the Miraculous Counselor. When we reach the end of our knowledge, the end of our abilities—when doctors and specialists say they don’t know what else to do—Christ is just getting started. There is no end to His knowledge or His wisdom. And He has promised to lead us into all understanding:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)

Mighty God—God is the One whose power is unmatched. He’s the hero—the One who shows up when everything has fallen apart. When we’ve made a mess of things, or life has left us shaken, and we don’t even know how to begin putting things back together, God steps in to make a miracle out of our mess. He not only has the wisdom to know what to do, He has the power to bring it about. He is bigger than our circumstances and greater than any obstacle we may face.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Everlasting Father—Christ loves us as the Father loves us—with an everlasting love. His love will not run out or wear down. He is not impatient with us. He does not grow weary of our presence, our mistakes, or our requests. We can come to Him again, and again, and again until we receive the answer. He never grows tired of us, and His love never gives up.

What great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1, NIV).

Prince of Peace—He is our peace. He does not simply give peace; He is peace. That is how we can have peace in the midst of trial, in the midst of conflict, in the midst of pain. It’s not something that God gives us that we can lose, misplace, or can be taken away. It’s His very presence that gives us peace because He Is Peace. And since He has promised to never leave us, we can always have that peace no matter what we face.

For He himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).

As Christians, we often toss out the obligatory reminder of the “true Reason for the season” at Christmastime.  But we should be careful to also consider the why of Christ’s coming. That Baby, born in a manger, came to save the world, yes. But He also came to be our miraculous Counselor, our hero God, our Father who loves us eternally, and our peace…even in the midst of the storm.  

Nancy is an author, speaker, wife, mother, cancer-fighter, and lover of all things chocolate. When she’s not playing cook, chauffeur, maid, or referee to her family, she can be found writing about embracing grace at There is Grace. Nancy lives in Missouri with her favorite people in the world, her husband and two children. Follow Nancy on FacebookTwitter, or Pintrest.

Discouragement is a Bully

By: Monica Steely
Posted: December 11, 2014

Discouragement is a bully.

It comes at you on the playground as you're running and laughing and enjoying the swings and delivers a sucker punch that brings you to a heap on the ground gasping for breath and crying silently.

Discouragement is a bully.

It interrupts the moments of contentedness and peace and just when you're feeling like the vision is actually a possibility, it throws a ball directly at your head and it knocks you to the ground and impairs your vision.

Discouragement is a bully.

It yells obscenities at you, tells you you're ugly and not good enough and confirms your deepest fears. It preys on those fears and taunts you with them and convinces you it's best just to quit -- quit showing up, quit working hard, quit trying.

Discouragement is a bully, and I just realized it today.

When I was a child and in a heap of tears over bullying taunts and jabs, my parents would gather me up and pray for me. And then they would encourage me to pray too; not just for myself, but for the bully. Not that the bully would receive vengeance, but to pray for love. For peace. That the bully's heart would change.

All the things I didn't want to pray, they told me to focus on.

Discouragement is a bully, but the rescuer is prayer.

The bully showed up unexpectedly yesterday, picking up on me nonstop. Suddenly, everything I saw and read and heard confirmed the bully's lies. I locked myself in the bathroom more than twice to silently cry and was ready to give it all up -- the dreams, the visions, the joy, all of it.

The ball the bully threw knocked me out cold and I just couldn't see anymore.

I believed his lies and I am ticked off today that I fell for it.

Because in my heart of hearts, here is what I know:

He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries. (Matthew 10:30-31)

When the bully shows up and intimidates me, God gathers me up on his lap and prays that I would realize how the bully's words mean nothing. He reassures me how much I'm truly worth and reminds me to use my shield of faith to deflect the piercing, untrue words.

But he [God] didn’t let anyone push them around, he stood up for them against bully-kings: ‘Don’t you dare touch my anointed ones, don’t lay a hand on my prophets.' (I Chronicles 16:20-22)

And when the bully shows up and intimidates me, God deals with it Himself so I don't have to. When I'm a crushed heap under the weight of words that feel so real, He jumps in and stands up for me and takes the bully out.

And He reminds me to pray for peace…for love, for a heart change. Not for this bully, because he's unchangeable to the core. But that I would pray it for myself...that I would accept the peace and love God has to give.

And for my heart to change so I will stop believing each time discouragement shows up on my playground.

Yes, discouragement is a ruthless beast, bullying its way into every corner of my life that means anything. But my rescue is in prayer and the One to whom I pray.

My Daddy will always stick up for me.

--

Monica

Monica Steely is a writer, speaker, coffee iv’er and transformation whisperer. She blogs at Elevate Ideas and procrastinates anything related to cooking, cleaning and other domestic activities. She’s also the co-founder of Be Still Be Free…a mindset revolution seeking to encourage women to BE first and DO second. Listen to BE’s podcasts on iTunes or Buzzsprout