The Gift of Perspective

By: Michelle Marullo
Posted: May 19, 2015

In an instant, she has clarity, vision, realization of her purpose. Opening the unexpected door ushers her into a new room of the soul, the place where faith is tested, character is revealed.  She stares from the window and sees people driving during the lunch hour, as if their lives are in a state of panic. Wasn't she just on the other side of this glass?  If only the busy people could see their lives from this perspective.

The waiting room table is covered in pamphlets, brochures... "State of the Art Cancer Care" reads one. "The Importance of Diagnosis and Treatment" reads another.

Nothing happens by chance, she remembers, I am still on a mission for God wherever He leads me.  Today and maybe even tomorrow and the next, this is her mission field. God's promises begin to counsel her thoughts, a lifeline at a time like this:

"He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength."- Isaiah 40:29

and then this one...

"Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing." --James 1:2-4

A "joy"--really?  How, God?  Why me?

And now, she has a choice to make.

Is God who He says He is?  Is His word true? 

She would soon take her greatest test, the one she had prepared a lifetime for, but always thought she would be exempt. Would she have the level of faith that she often assumed in times like these?  Would she trust in God's love above the doctor's facts, knowing that He still had a plan in the midst of the pain? It was much easier telling others to trust God, but today, it was her turn.

"Mrs.... the doctor will see you now."

Dear friend, are you, too, in that waiting room, where your greatest fears are battling your greatest faith?  Are your current circumstances looking "half-empty" when God still sees them abundantly full? Has the enemy planted weeds in God's beautiful landscape of your life?

 What portrait of your situation are you seeing today?  Are you looking at the facts or are you looking at God's truth?

It is a fact that we will have adversity on this side of heaven; it is the truth that God has already made a plan to use our adversity for goodHe is still in control even when we're not.

Perspective--the eternal ability to see, know, understand as God does, not as the world interprets.

"We know that in all things God works together for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." --Romans 8:28  This means that in every trial, God transforms our adversities, our "weeds" into beautiful flowers--meaningful, purposeful lives.  "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." --Genesis 50:20 

Will you receive these promises right now, whatever you are going through?  Will you trust that God is up to something really big in the midst of the confusion?  I believe you will.

She left the office on a mission, determined to make the most of this unexpected detour.  The birds chirped, the wind blew; creation had come alive to her birthing senses.  She was captivated with an eternal awareness of her purpose, a knowing that this "weed" was meant for more. No longer would she question how or why, but instead she would claim, it is well with my soul!  The weeds that were once growing along the side of her road were suddenly popping up daisies--she had been given the gift of perspective.

Love,

Michelle

Michelle Marullo’s calling is to inspire teens and adults to discover God’s plan for their lives, especially in the midst of challenging situations. She blogs at Intentional Living where she encourages her readers that “all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.”  Follow Michelle on her blog and Twitter, Her stories have been published in Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul and Lifeway’s Homelife Magazine. She is the creator of the high school elective course, Discovering God’s Plan for College & Career and was recognized for a declaration written to high school seniors at the Southern Christian Writers Convention.  When she isn’t writing early in the morning or late at night, Michelle’s number one job is being Momager to a busy teenage daughter. Sharing life and a cup of coffee with Mark, the handsome boy from her youth, Michelle is passionate about her family and filling life to the brim.

 

Grace like confetti...

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: May 12, 2015

It was my simple prayer for God to show me His goodness through His people.

 I don’t know if you’ve ever had someone speak a blessing over you, but  that’s exactly what Jack did for me. Jay and I had just finished our conversation when Jack, his special needs son came back to the table for his dad and to bless us, the especially needy. He turned the full attention of his pure heart and after reminding me that I needed to stop somewhere (an errand I had already forgotten) said, "You are a nice lady for what you do for women with horrible cancer.” There was more but as my eyes clouded and my heart squeezed, all I could see was a celebration of Jesus’ love in a spacious place where God’s mercy is festooned like ribbon, and grace rains down like confetti. Then Jack took off his baseball cap, angled it across his heart and bowing his head, honored his mother who had battled cancer. 

Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”    Luke 7:47

Forgiveness releases God’s love for others within us. His agape (love) wipes out pride and eclipses our fear. It invites us to worship with a wild abandon of self, before His throne of grace. Agape is a fierce love without limits. 

And later, after a trip to our Compassion That Compels mailbox, two letters. I am certainly not unused to the power of a letter as one from my BEAUTIFUL sister-in-law written to me, started Compassion That Compels. On this particular day, as I read those letters in my car, the Holy Spirit tied me forever to a moment. Both were letters from parents opening their frailties, their tragedies, and reminding me again that God’s love writes our untold story. His sovereignty is written like invisible ink across the pages of our life. His goodness is revealed through His people. 

My prayer for anyone reading this, is that you as His children, will feel the full force of His love in an embrace of your uniqueness, created for His purpose and good pleasure.     

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

 

 

 

From My Head to My Heart

By: Michelle Bollom
Posted: May 6, 2015

Have you ever been so badly wounded by someone that you grieved at the same depths you did for a devastating death?  A betrayal so hurtful you just could not ever imagine a rainbow ever reappearing after the soul-damaging storm?  That long road to recovery is brutal.

My head knows that no one is perfect.  We are all fallible and fall short. We all say and do things we regret. My head knows people will disappoint us, but God never does. 

My heart wants an instant miracle - I don't want to walk this long road to recovery from these woundings. I want to do like my kids did when they were little and grab God’s face with both my hands and give a deep eye-to-eye stare.  I want to say to God:  "Look at me! I need You!  I am drowning here! I am hurt.  It is not well with my soul!  I am trying to forgive, I am trying to forget.  I am trying to pray for those that hurt me and love them and live life but right now I am anything but fine!  If You are counting all my tears and saving them in a bottle, I think You got more than you or I bargained for on this one."

My head knows that You restore every heart that is broken. Your word promises that.  However, healing takes time and restoration comes only in Your perfect timing.  But right now, my heart is not too excited or happy about it.  My heart is aching and I am just plain miserable. 

 I know we are to forgive even when sometimes we don't ever get the apology we deserve. 

 I know You are the only one that rights my wrongs. 

 My heart wants this situation changed, but My head knows You sometimes put them there to change us.

 The journey from head to heart is not an easy one…  

 The head knowledge that has to come first is this: forgiveness is the ultimate act of obedience to the Father.  He forgave us freely and commands us to forgive those who trespass against us. The journey from head knowledge to heart knowing is a much longer and more tedious process.  It is a long, winding and, at times, unsteady road.  It takes time, tears, much prayer, and a constant surrendering of our jumbled-up, raw emotions to God.  There will be days you will feel like you can barely grasp enough air to keep breathing or the strength to even stand.  That’s okay.  The fragments of your shattered and wounded soul, like the potholes or deep grooves on a rough road, are in the process of being slowly filled and smoothed away.  But forgiveness is a process, not an instantaneous feeling.  It can't be rushed. Just as you have to take a rough road slowly, so is the same with the road to forgiveness.  Each encounter with rough terrain can only be navigated from God’s perspective and with His help. The restoration in the forgiveness process is something that only He can do to heal you properly.  Eventually, the road to recovery and to forgiveness is complete when the head knowledge is now your heart-knowing that God is the Great Restorer of all things broken. This rough road must be traveled in order to reach wholeness again.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.  Psalm 56:8

It is true that you planned to do something bad to me. But really, God was planning good things. God’s plan was to use me to save the lives of many people. And that is what happened.  Genesis 50:20  ERV

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 NIV

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV 

I will make their going easy, level the mountain road and smooth the path that leads them home.  Isaiah 49:11

 

~ XXOO Michelle 

 

Michelle Bollom is the founder of Restored Ministries www.restoredministries.org. She's the wife to Joe for almost 20 years and mom to 16 year old twins, Connor and Curran.  

"I believe the words of our testimony is us being truthful about the issues that we have struggled with so that others can be set free from theirs. We at Restored Ministries believe wholeheartedly in and use God's love letter (the Bible) to teach of His kind, loving intentions towards the lost and broken. God's love is the opposite of the pain people find themselves trapped in." Connect with Restored Ministries on Facebook  Twitter 

Become a part of Compassion That Compels!

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: April 30, 2015

 

Become a part of Compassion That Compels!

 

Since July 2013, 1460 BEAUTIFUL women blessed with Compassion Bags in 37 states and Canada

 

Help us spread the word that when you shop Amazon Smile you can support Compassion That Compels! Here's how:
 



 
 

Support Compassion That Compels when you shop at Kroger grocery stores. Read More

 

A special thank you to Altar'd State!

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BreathE life...

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: April 27, 2015

When I was a little girl we used to take long road trips in the big family car.  My parents would get us up early; often before the sun was up to get on the road with the promise of syrup covered pancakes further down the road. Sometimes we would return from our trips late, late at night; everyone would seem to fall asleep~ except me (I can’t sleep in moving vehicles!) and my father who would always drive. As a little girl,I had anxiety that my dad would also doze off as the driver so I would sit behind him and try to continually engage in conversation with him. I needed to know he was wide awake!! I think I thought I was somehow doing him a favor~~I am sure I must have driven him crazy!!  I remember one particular time that he turned to me and said “You just talk too much!!”  He had every right to say that; but my little heart was wounded that day. The OUCH of words. My father is a wonderful, wonderful man, one of my greatest supporters in my life, but he must have been so exasperated with his chatty daughter!! Interestingly enough though, I still remember how it made me feel as a little girl and had left me wondering if what I said held value.

Our words.

I can remember as a young mother mindlessly making statements to my sons in frustration or weariness. These words were irritable and negative. I am sure these words hurt their feelings. These words did not bring “life”. Looking back I probably owe them many apologies for things I said in haste!

Our words.

It’s funny how our words can impact lives so deeply, for good and for harm. Statements like ” Don’t be stupid”, “You’re just not good at that”, “You’re a pest”, or “Can’t you be more like  ___________” are so harmful!  These words cannot bear fruit in anyone.Sadly enough, sometimes we say these things to ourselves long before anyone ever says them to us. These hopeless words cause us to become downcast and insecure.

Hawk Nelson has a new song out called “WORDS” where some of the words say:

Words can build us up, words can break us down, 

Start a fire in our hearts or put it out!

Let my words be life……………….

Life giving statements like, "Yes, you can!”, “You are full of potential", “I enjoy being with you”, and the “Sky’s the limit for you!” are equally as powerful! These hope-filled words breathe life into dreams and we believe in the possibilities.

How do you speak to your spouse, your children, co-workers, or extended family?  Do your words bring life? Are you intentional and mindful about what you say? That little old “Golden Rule” still applies “Do (say) unto others as you would have them do (say) unto you! :-)

But if you need a little more back up the Bible is full of verses on the power of the words we say so it must be an important issue for us all to address.

Proverbs 16:24      Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

Matthew 15:18       But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.

Proverbs 25:11       A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

Colossians 4:6       Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Life is full of challenges for us all and we want to be around people who breathe life with their words….so let’s BE those people! :-)

 

Love,

Dianna

Dianna Salciccioli co-founded and leads alongside her husband Greg, at Coachwell, Inc.- Coaching & Consulting Company. Dianna's been a pastor’s wife, pregnancy resource director, teacher’s aide, youth pastor’s assistant, and coach in her life but her highest calling is being a quality wife to her precious husband, as well as a hands on mom to her incredible sons!  Over the past five years she's been blessed to add to her “roles” that of mother- in- law to two of the greatest young women she knows! This year, Dianna's role grew to grandma x2 and her heart swells at the thought! Follow Dianna on her Blog, Facebook and Twitter

Soul Dimensions

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: April 21, 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,

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support Compassion That Compels when you shop at Kroger grocery stores

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: April 17, 2015

TO USE THE KROGER COMMUNITY REWARDS PROGRAM TO SUPPORT COMPASSION THAT COMPELS:

  • Register online at krogercommunityrewards.com
  • Be sure to have your Kroger Plus card handy and register your card with your organization after you sign up.
  • If a member does not yet have a Kroger Plus card, please let them know that they are available at the customer service desk at any Kroger.
  • Click on Sign In/Register
  • Most participants are new online customers, so they must click on SIGN UP TODAY in the ‘New Customer?’ box.
  • Sign up for a Kroger Rewards Account by entering zip code, clicking on favorite store, entering your email address and creating a password, agreeing to the terms and conditions
  • You will then get a message to check your email inbox and click on the link within the body of the email.
  • Click on My Account and use your email address and password to proceed to the next step.
  • Click on Edit Kroger Community Rewards information and input your Kroger Plus card number.
  • Update or confirm your information.
  • Enter Compassion That Compels and select organization from list and click on confirm.
  • To verify you are enrolled correctly, you will see your organization’s name on the right side of your information page.
  • REMEMBER, purchases will not count for your Compassion That Compels until after your member(s) register their card(s).
  • Do you use your phone number at the register?  Call 800-576-4377, select option 4 to get your Kroger Plus card number.
  • Members must swipe their registered Kroger Plus card or use the phone number that is related to their registered Kroger Plus card when shopping for each purchase to count.

Roots Come First -- Sabrina Nelson

By: Sabrina Nelson
Posted: April 15, 2015

Have you ever compared yourself to a tree? Most will answer, “no” unless they do a comparison on a much deeper level. 

 

They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.  Jeremiah 17:8 

A tree isn’t a tree without roots. Our spiritual roots keep us grounded when we are grounded by God and His word. A tree's root is stability and steadiness like God’s word is for guidance and strength. A tree's root seeks water to survive just as we search and reach for God’s word. When we live our lives dependent upon God’s word and guidance, our leaves will always be green. If we will stumble, just as drought comes to a tree and its roots, we should seek the help from God just as that tree reaches out for water. 

So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Matthew 7:15-20

Christians are fruit bearing trees that flourish when we build and expand His Kingdom. God’s word challenges and charges us to bring others to know Him. It’s difficult to convince someone to join you to be a Christian if you bear no fruit. It’s important to bear fruit of the spiritual kind.  We should strive to bear the beautiful fruits of the spirit that God so desires in us.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.  Galatians 5:22

People sometimes come to me for prayer, counseling and just a shoulder to lean on and I am certainly not perfect.  But I want my “spiritual fruit”, my life witness, and the very essence of who I am to shine God’s love on others.  We may be the only taste of Jesus, the love of God that someone feels that day.  A willing vessel is one that bears good fruit.

The LORD will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life.  Psalm 121:7

Spring is here and as we all love looking at the beautiful blooms and flowers that God created, we should be reminded that they require water and nurturing to survive. Just like we need God’s word to keep our own roots saturated with His guidance to flourish with His love.  Remember, you can’t be a tree without roots!

Blessings,

Sabrina

Sabrina Nelson is a loving wife who is blessed beyond measure.  A servant’s heart is woven into her being and her focus is giving to others and leading them to know Jesus on an intimate level.  She is the Alabama area coordinator for Compassion That Compels; a ministry and non-profit organization that reaches women battling cancer with Compassion Bags. Sabrina is married to her best friend JP.  She has an amazing mom, two incredible step-daughters, and one precious granddaughter. Follow Sabrina on FacebookTwitter@sabrinamnelson or Instagram sabrina.mixson.nelson

 

 

 

 

Listen with your heart...BEAUTIFUL Joanne

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: April 9, 2015

Cancer is hard enough but imagine being completely deaf, along with your husband who is also deaf, and having to navigate your way on a cancer journey! That doesn't stop BEAUTIFUL Joanne from being an ENCOURGER and reminding us all that God is always with us. BEAUTIFUL Joanne found us from the Jesus Calling by Sarah Young post about our Compassion Bags.  We edited only a little and this is BEAUTIFUL Joanne's story in her own words.

"My name is Joanne. I'm totally deaf. I was 49 years old and last summer I found a lump. It was funny and I thought it was a cyst or something. I decided to call my dr an appt on July 24, 2014. Dr told me that mammo on August 11 th . On August 19th my Dr told me that referred other Dr for biopsy. In September 11th at the hosptial for biopsy I was scared and eyes wide open during biospy. I talked to Jesus hold my hands and in Jesus name over and over. Ouch put first numb needles then ultrasound where is spot then big needles took out two biopsy and send labs . On sept 24 I was so nervous and I trust in The Lord .Dr came in exam room and he wrote u have cancer on the paper. I read I was so numb and overwhelming and what do I do I'm short in my life on the earth . Dr want me send to other Dr  for consultation about chemotherapy cancer on an appt on December 5 th. My friend Cindy gave me read a Bible in verses on Isaiah 41:10 everyday . 

Other Dr who is surgery for my lump . on October 20th at the hosptial . I was so surprised that Dr who is surgery asked me that all of us let's pray together. Praise The Lord  and God is so good. I said yes please. Of course one lady is interpreter with me.Dr did took out my lump and three tissues lymph nodes  so went goes well surgery. Next on October 23rd Dr who is surgery called me through sorenson video phone one of lady interpreter said Dr says Good news results that lymph nodes was three negative and no spread cancer. I had earlier stage one . God is so good. I m always prayer and sing song servant to The Lord everyday I don't give up . Yes I had bad bruise breast pain for a month . One of lady interpreter our church gave me a gift Hand hold cross for bring to the hosptial next on November 21st before in two days ago my birthday I am 50 years old . I went to same Dr who is surgery put a port in under my skin. Yes, other interpreter lady was with me at the hosptial . Glad was over surgery . I'm glad still alive . Thank Jesus .  On December 10th went to the hospital for echo my heart how is strong or weak cuz before chemo starting . My heart is stronger. 

Now Journey first on December 16th 2014 I was so fear and scare and shake hands and my heart fast beat start chemotherapy I had every two weeks 4 x times of 8 weeks . AC Docetaxel treatment .  Chemo made me sick neaseau but Dr gave me rx for prevent neaseau a pill that s help . No threw up or dirrehea. Glad . But yes I was a lot of tired and sleep . Yes , our church , other churches , my family, my relatives , friends , doctor , Dentist , my schools and board building prayer for me and send to bring food and cards and gifts . God is so good. Next chemo on Feburary 11th new chemotherapy treatment Taxotere every once a week 12 weeks of 12 times. This treatment Taxotere made me sleepy iv medications  and pain nails and one of thumb bruise will itself fell out cause made chemo effects side :(  . I had a pill steroids every tuesday at night and every Thursday at day . This steroids made me stronger build up . But it s sad I lost my appetite . Don't forget different person individual not same as me . I can't wait 5 more weeks left go on end of April 29th.  lady of day whooo ohhh ! It will be celebrate ! No more chemo --sucks! Remember Jesus loves you and verses 1 John 4 : 4 you and I can overcame of cancer.   

Listen with your heart to her praises to God and all the love she felt in her Compassion Bag. Momma Rosie faithfully washes, rolls and prays over every blanket and she also happens to be severely hearing impaired. When BEAUTIFUL Joanne’s request came through, I just knew Momma Rosie should write her a special message.

... I lovely those it was awesome stuff ! Yes I use this two every different versions of the Jesus Calling books , I'll put candy verses in bowl , scripture tea , mug verses , pen , Jesus calling enjoying peace in his presence from Sarah young , blanket lovings beauitful Judy and special it s perfect those stuff . I want to thank you very special message from momma rosie made me inspired and made touch me melt heart . Gift chick- fil card . Thank you so much again . God blessings many more u guys rocks! Love you I love you and prayer for you . Still hold Jesus is always with you everyday."

 

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels-a ministry and non-profit that reaches women battling cancer with Compassion Bags. 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

Vignettes of God's Grace --- BEAUTIFUL Sheri

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: April 6, 2015

At Compassion That Compels, God reveals His grace and His glory through BEAUTIFUL women who bravely fight cancer. We wanted to honor these BEAUTIFUL women, their families and those who love them, by sharing their stories. After watching my two sisters-in-law and sister, battle cancer and our BEAUTIFUL overcomers, I've been taught how to embrace life wide-open to truly live. We have a simple mission, to reach every woman battling cancer with God's love and compassion, and remind them they are never alone. Thank you to everyone for your prayers, love and financial support. We receive requests for Compassion Bags daily and we need your help. Please consider donating in any amount and join us on this journey to touch the hearts of these BEAUTIFUL women and their families. Please pray for BEAUTIFUL Sheri and her precious family. 

Agape,

Kristianne & Your Friends at Compassion That Compels

BEAUTIFUL Sheri

Kristianne,

Thank you so much for the Compassion Bag! It warmed my heart and blessed me so much. My husband cried as he saw my reaction to everything that was inside of it. The amount of thought and love that is used to make each bag is very apparent. 

I just want to share a bit of my story:

I married my high school sweetheart and we immediately started a family, we were blessed with 2 daughters in 2 years. Less than 6 weeks after Brianna was born I was diagnosed with lymphoma. I was young and naive to cancer- but with my faith, family and friends by my side I successfully completed treatment and life went on.

Five years later we were surprised to find out I was again pregnant since the doctors had said that conceiving again would be unlikely due to all the chemo I had been given. But God had other plans for us..... we had 4 boys in 5 years!! Talk about a blessing!

In 2009 we learned that our 10 year old son (our oldest boy) had Leukemia. What a shock that was! We were no longer as young or naive as we were in 1993 when I got sick, but quickly learned that God had prepared us for Billy's diagnosis and 4 1/2 years of treatment. Strangely ironic that a lot of the same chemo and medications he had- I had been given too! Our faith remained strong and God was faithfull.

May of 2013 came with a gift..... baby Bentley was born! He was another surprise blessing that rocked our world! What a joy, and how crazy to have a 21 year age difference between our oldest and youngest. :)

I went to the doctor in August for headaches and mentioned a small spot on my scalp that I could feel changing. My doctor checked it and suggested a biopsy- it was a basal cell carcinoma. I was in the prime time for secondary cancers to start popping up. I followed up with my oncologist and she suggested a mammogram..... just routine- "for fun" and here we are.

Breast Cancer. Ugh

Invasive, but caught early.... but aggressive complicated cells. One year of chemo, radiation, delayed reconstruction is the plan for now.  

Gods plan is so much different than mine!

You blessed me so much. When I stumbled across your Instagram, when I looked up your website, when I got my bag and everyday since! I am sending you a picture of myself with the bag and a picture of my family. 

I pray for you, your volunteers and your ministry- God will bless you because you are so faithful to him!

In His love,

Sheri

 

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

Sanctifying Our Sewage Level Paths Week Six Devotional & Small Group Lesson

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: March 30, 2015

10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.  James 3:10-12

If you live in America today it is highly unlikely that you will suffer the physical affects of water deprivation. True dehydration with cracked lips, mouth open trying to speak but throat choked closed on the brink of death from lack of fresh water. The reality is that fresh water is a scarce resource in many parts of our world today. The problem is not just supplying the world population with safe drinking water, but providing a continual source to millions of thirsty people. A revolutionary water reclamation project commonly referred to as “Toilet to Tap” provides fresh drinking water to millions of people worldwide from sewer water. Yuck! Safe drinking water from our tap originating from our flush? The thought causes an immediate internal repulsion. Followed quickly in thought with how do they do it and are we drinking recovered sewer water?

The water purification process is not unlike the process of sanctification where we grow in God’s grace, free from the bondage of sin. It is when as Christians, we don’t just linger complacently in His grace but grow in His grace. We are led by the Holy Spirit to a life of holiness as we submit our entire being to God. This is in direct conflict with a culture placing the pursuit of our happiness over our holiness.

On our life path, our footsteps should fall within the ones Jesus has left for us as He leads us. God has also given us free will by which we make choices sometimes moment to moment as to what we expose our spirit to. What we see, do, hear, and speak can be an “a-salt” of our senses. Without continually renewing our mind with God’s purifying words, we quickly go from flowing spring water to salty seas.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.        2 Timothy 3:6-7

Could that be a woman you know, full of small groups, Bible studies, godly friends, a good person? But when temptation hit she faltered, fell, and succumbed to the enemy. The media, technology, the people around us can become an intricate sewerage system rapidly transporting polluted thinking with such velocity to our spirit, we struggle to not drown in the volume of filth.

Sometimes this sewage will seep into our spirit exposing the corrupted culture we live in and how difficult it is to be culturally aloof to the sin around us. As women we can allow our emotions to override God’s truth. We might know grace and mercy but never allow it to completely saturate our spirit and when doubt comes we are spiritually squeezed out and rung dry.

3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:3-7

Renewing our thoughts is part of sanctification. When we believe and trust in Jesus, our lives should be transformed, our thoughts, actions, words like water will undergo a purification process. Much like the sewage water that first undergoes a microfiltration process, we should allow God’s word, the Bible to filter our thoughts. As the filtered water undergoes a second step of reverse osmosis, improving the drinking water by forcing it through a filter so do you when you used to think this way, you used to act this way, but now you are turning away. The final purification step is a high intensity ultraviolet light combined with hydrogen peroxide that destroys any remaining organic compounds. The end result is clear drinking water for our spirit as we yield to the Holy Spirit and live in the light of Christ. The ultimate purification of our thoughts.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:8-9 

 

DIY Faith Level Paths Week Six

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”  Luke 8:24-25 (NIV)

Have you ever been caught in a thunderstorm and counted between the zips of lightning and rumbling thunder to see how close the storm was? How did you feel as the numbers decreased as the storm closed in? How did you feel as the numbers increased and the storm moved away?

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My dad taught me the trick. He wasn’t a meteorologist but I had total trust and faith in him to guide me through the storm with every passing second. Eyes closed tight, relying on my dad to tell me when lightning flashed and waiting for what seemed like an eternity, straining to hear a distant thunderclap. I knew if I just hung on, that eternity of time was really no longer than a minute and I also knew every storm has to run out of rain. Do it yourself (DIY) faith say, “I can do it on my own without faith in God.” DIY faith operates from your intellect and not your heart.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

What does the question, “Is seeing your only way of believing?” mean to you? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Life tragedies can rage a violent storm, blowing through your reality, chasing you across your fragile mortality, and ripping a hole in your faith and prayers.

Was there a time when your faith was tested by your circumstances and limited only to what you could see? You might not have questioned your faith, but you questioned God’s sovereignty? How did you respond?

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Night and day we pray earnestly for you, asking God to let us see you again to fill the gaps in your faith. 1 Thessalonians 3:10 (NLT)

God’s love perfects your faith and His people are there praying and filling those gaps in your faith. Anyone who seizes triumph from tragedy will tell you, DIY faith never works.

Personal Declaration: I will live a life of love unconditionally and with my whole heart because you have crowned me with love and compassion.

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

4 who redeems your life from the pit 5 and crowns you with love and compassion, Psalm 103:4-5 (NIV)

You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:3 (NIV)

Jesus, grow my faith and bring spiritual family to help fill in the gaps of my faith as I walk on level paths toward your plan for my life.

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

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