Halal: Overwhelming God

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6 ESV)

I had the most overwhelming experience when my daughter led worship for Truth Group, our bimonthly Bible study. I love these ladies.

My daughter shared her heart, and I got to witness an inner love for Jesus pour out for all to see. Then she shared about a word that means so much to her: Halal! It means praise God out of the innermost passion you have for Him. She taught us how to do this, and we ended up in a full-blown party, celebrating our awesome Father God.

I am honored God allowed me to be a part of this amazing night, and I am confident God will complete the GOOD work He has begun in my girl!

Thank you to Mabel Chang for teaching Spencer guitar, to IHOP Awakening Teen Music Camp for growing her up in worship and allowing her to play and sing on the teen team, and to Amy Niles for growing her confidence in singing and every other area. I am so blessed to have you mentoring my daughter. One day we will see the full fruition of God’s work through these people and experiences. 

How have you seen God reveal His work in your children?


Why Read the Bible?

Meet Jemma. She is a dear friend and a ministry partner. We love her family. She reads the Bible every day, and it is in that journey that her life has been forever changed. She shared about this recently on her own blog, and I just had to use it here!

I’ve been reading and journaling through Psalm 119 (the longest chapter of the Bible) this week. King David wrote this psalm that talks about God’s word, how wonderful and vital it is. After going over this chapter, it is even more clear to me why it is so important to read, meditate on, and know God’s word.

I’d like to share with you some things that really jumped out at me:

~Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are those who:
-walk in the word of God
-keep God’s word
-seek and crave Him with their whole heart
~God’s word is my delight and my counsel
~Your word strengthens me
~It removes falsehood and unfaithfulness
~It gives me answers for those who taunt and reproach me
~In Your word, I walk at liberty and ease and will not be put to shame
~Your word gives me hope
~It is my comfort and consolation
~It revives me and gives me life
~Your word promises mercy and grace
~Your word is faithful and sure
~Forever Your word stands firm in the heavens,
Your faithfulness from generation to generation

~Unless Your word is my delight, I will perish in my affliction
~I will never forget Your word; it is what granted my life
~The wicked wait to destroy me, but I have Your word and all
its testimonies

~Everything human has its limits and end, but God’s word is
exceedingly broad and extends without limits into eternity
~Through Your word, You make me wiser than my enemies
~Your word is forever before me

~I have better understanding and deeper insight because 
Your word is my meditation
~I understand because I keep Your word
~God teaches me, HIMSELF, through His word
~Through Your word I get understanding; therefore I hate
every false way
~Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path
~When I am afflicted, Your word renews me and gives me life
~I can rejoice in the testimonies; they are my heritage

~The word is my hiding place, my shield
~Your word is wonderful, far exceeding anything conceived by man

~The unfolding of Your words gives light; their unfolding 
gives understanding (discernment, comprehension)
~God establishes my steps and directs them with His word
~God’s word is very pure (tried and well-refined)

~Your word is truth

What does all this mean? 

First, God’s word is truth. It’s the only truth. The devil doesn’t want us to know this truth and sets out to destroy us with his lies. When we read, meditate on, and KNOW God’s word, we won’t be subject to these lies. When you seek God through His word, He will implant His truths in your heart so you can quickly discern the devil’s schemes and replace them with the truth you know. 

Second, there will be times when we face trials and afflictions. God’s word provides comfort and consolation. The Bible is full of stories (testimonies) of groups and individuals that went through some really tough situations. Time and time again, these stories reveal God’s faithfulness. These stories are our heritage. We can look back and see how God was always there and know that He will be faithful no matter what we go through. Finally, God’s word renews us, giving us life and hope. The Bible is full of His promises, and He will reveal them to you if you seek Him.

I encourage you to OPEN YOUR BIBLE and let God reveal His truths to you. Stepping away from books and Bible studies and turning directly to God’s word has transformed my life. Don’t misunderstand. Christian books and Beth Moore studies are wonderful. I’ve learned a lot from these. BUT, there is nothing like sitting before the Author of my life and letting Him teach me directly rather than getting someone else’s interpretation or opinion on Scripture. God has implanted His truths deep in my heart. He has spoken clearly to me and given me direction and dreams. I have comfort and can stand firmly in my faith when trials come. All of this because I seek God through His word. You can, too.

Don’t know where to start? Pray. Tell God that you want to know Him better. Ask Him for revelation to know and understand His word. Start reading in the New Testament. Keep a notebook or a journal and write down things that jump out at you, things that God reveals to you.

I’m not going to suggest a typical study, but I have found a tool that has been very useful in my walk to know God more. SOAR (Seek God, Obtain Truth, Abide in the Spirit, & Reach Out), written by my friends, Sheri & Amy Groeschel, is designed to get you into the word of God. It is not these ladies’ opinions or narration on the Bible. It is a guide that leads you in seeking God, that you may come to know Him intimately; in obtaining truth, that you may find freedom in God’s word; in abiding in, living by, and walking by God’s Spirit; and in reaching out and sharing the Good News. SOAR has been amazing for me. It was just what I needed to get me into reading my Bible. I have a freedom like never before. 

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
(John 8:32 NIV)

 Find this freedom in God’s word!

The Word

Most of my life, I remember picking up the Bible to search through it for answers to the trouble in my life.

I would search for the word ‘anger.’ I would find verses on anger, and the message would be something like, “Do not be angry.” Then I would think, “Okay, that did not help me! I am still angry!”

Why didn’t it help me? Because I didn’t really know the author of the words, so they were just words to me.

Later, I was trying to follow the Lord. I was going to church. I was a serving MACHINE! People would say, “If you need something done, ask Sheri. She’s amazing. She can do anything.” Oh, how I loved hearing those words! They made me feel valued. I have always had deep-rooted feelings of rejection and unworthiness, so these comments made me feel important.

One of my serving roles was preparing slides for church services. Before I could type the scriptures, I actually had to open my Bible and find the verses. I began to love reading the words in this book, the Bible. I began reading from the verse I was typing until I would fall asleep—sometimes it would be three hours later!

Before I knew it, I fell in love with reading the Bible and with the author, God.

This was the beginning of my REAL journey. After that everything changed. I changed.

Today I love to read the Word! I might end up reading one scripture or several chapters at a time. I jump around sometimes, and sometimes I don’t. I never like to be stuck on a plan for plan’s sake. 🙂

I am going to blog about things I see in the Word. It will probably be from all over the Bible.

I hope you will pick up the Bible and join me on this eye-opening journey.

Do you read the Bible consistently? If not, will you start?

Are Negative Thoughts Running Your Life?

Resist the devil.
There are many times when negative thoughts will pop into your head and cause you to feel as if youre not loved by anyone and youre all alone. Recently Robin Williams committed suicide. He had depression. You know, this whole problem had to start with a negative thought. One negative thought is not a big deal until it builds into a mountain of negative thoughts.
It is essential we learn to differentiate between good and evil thoughts. As Jesus put it, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV). If a destructive thought enters your mind and tries to steal the hope, faith, love, and peace you have in Jesus Christ, why would you even consider letting it be okay? Well, the truth is you probably wouldn’t think much of it because one negative thought isnt a big deal unless you allow it to take root. Then other negative thoughts creep in and build on it, and destruction takes hold.
We must learn to recognize that those stealing thoughts are from the enemy. They are from the devil. James wrote, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NIV). It sounds simple, right? It is simple, but it also requires hard work. We need to be active in our resistance. This mental effort is part of submitting ourselves to God. When were not resisting those negative thoughts, were actually submitting to the devil.
There is no gray area, no middle ground, no in-between. You cant accept a destructive thought and claim you’re submitting to God. When we submit to God, “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV). If we are fully surrendered to God, we actually want to rid our minds of every harmful thought. We don’t want to keep those thoughts because we know they are not His.
I have noticed many Christians struggle with determining whether the thoughts and influences peppering our minds are from God or from the enemy. We have trouble sorting through everything. Many of us are living in a constant state of confusion. The uncertainty provides a foothold for negativity. We start to recall all of our sins. We know we’re guilty. We know the punishment our sin deserves. We start to believe the destructive thoughts are God’s way of punishing us.
I can assure you with 100 percent certainty that God is not looking for opportunities to bring you down. He is full of compassion towards you. He is not trying to find reasons to be mad at you (Isaiah 54:9–10 NIV). The devil, on the other hand, stands ready to leap into every gap in our faith. The enemy wants to deceive you. He wants you to believe the damaging thoughts are from God because then you will receive them. 

Once you allow negative thoughts to take hold, they will poison your mind. They will shackle you and prevent you from moving forward in the work God has for you to do. Pessimism will hold you in captivity. You will be a slave, and you will remain in bondage so long as you allow the negative thoughts to consume you. You wont be living in the fullness of the freedom Jesus paid dearly for you to experience.
The good news is God provides us with everything we need to resist destructive thoughts. If we “take up the shield of faith,” we “can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16 NIV). We possess the equipment; what we need is a battle plan.
Step one: Pay attention to what you are thinking. We need to be aware of all our thoughts, and we need to learn how to distinguish between thoughts in step with God’s truth and God’s ways and thoughts from the enemy or our own flesh. The best way to learn the difference is to study the Bible. God will speak to you and teach you as you read His Word. You will learn to recognize His voice.
Step two: Resist the devil. Isolate destructive thoughts and refuse to accept them. When you feel tempted to view pornography, when you notice an attractive man and start wanting him more than your husband, when you are shopping and covet clothes you can’t afford, when you envy someone who seems to be more successful than you are, when you view your reflection in the mirror and start criticizing the way God formed you—those are the times when you need to surrender your thoughts to the cross of Jesus Christ.
Turn to God’s Word. Keep it nearby, in your heart and on a notepad or on your phone. Seek God’s truth and rely on His promises. Put your full faith in Him. Be sure to replace the sinful thoughts immediately with the truth because, as Jesus warned, if you kick evil out and dont replace it with anything, it will return seven times as strong (Luke 11:24–26 NIV).