Tuesday, November 20, 2012

#252 - Are You Being Pruned?

John 15:1-7 (GNT) “I am the real vine, and my Father is the gardener. He breaks off every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so that it will be clean and bear more fruit. You have been made clean already by the teaching I have given you. Remain united to me, and I will remain united to you. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it can do so only if it remains in the vine. In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me. Those who do not remain in me are thrown out like a branch and dry up; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, where they are burned.If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it.
Proverbs 31:15 - She rises while it is yet night and gets [spiritual] food for her household and assigns her maids their tasks. 
I got a Word this morning from the Lord that ROCKED me to the core! Not every morning is a morning that rocks me to the core... but this was one of those mornings! The revelation that I'm going to share with you will ROCK you and CAN change your life if you let it! Strap in my friend, strap in.

Tyler & I are coming out of a 4 year valley... a 4 year lull... a 4 year blah. After this mornings time in the Word, I have found it was a 4 year pruning! Now THAT is some pruning!!! Let me tell you a story...

For a little background, Tyler and I met on a mission trip in England in 1998. After 18 months of waiting and pleeing with the Lord, I finally saw Tyler again for the first time since our mission trip December 23, 2000. A little over a year later, we were married. Tyler gave a salvation message AT OUR WEDDING, offered the opportunity for people to accept Jesus as their Savior, and we were then married! That's different, huh?! We became youth leaders at the church we attended.... and 18 months after we were married, we also started our own business where we spent several years aggressively growing and having great success. Until 2008.

Over the next four years, we continued with our business at a less aggressive pace, but immersing ourselves in the Word, especially Tyler. I remember coming home from work on Wednesday and loving it! Tyler took off on Wednesdays during that time, committing to having a Day of Rest (DOR). He grew, changed, meditated on the Word... but continued to feel a strong sense that he was not released yet to build our business again with intensity. Though every bone in his driver body wanted to go and grow, like reigns on a horse, he was pulled back in.

Here is the Word I got this morning.
A bulk of the pruning is complete. Do you realize why? You both went for several years with NOT having a solid Quiet Time. You sought Me only out of need and desperation, not out of pure love and desire. Amy, the pruning was GREAT because the garden had been untended for a LONG time! A great gardener prunes daily! You never have to go through YEARS of pruning again IF you only allow Me to DAILY prune you!! Stay in communion. Stay in counsel with Me & you won't ever get too far off track!! It doesn't have to be painful. It will just be like daily maintenance. Daily maintenance is not like a MAJOR pruning of an untended garden. We had to do an overhaul, that's why it took so long. Weeds, even unwanted trees were growing up in your garden.
Wow. Talk about a wake-up call. I envision a garden with trees and tall weeds growing up everywhere.  A courtyard that could be beautiful, but instead is a weed-stricken mess. Do you remember the original movie, "The Karate Kid"? The one with Mr. Miyagi? Envision him trimming his Bonsai bushes in his courtyard. He had tiny scissors, trimming with accuracy and perfection. To the ordinary eye, you couldn't even tell anything needed to be trimmed. Why? Because he pruned daily!

What a revelation! If we STAY connected to the TRUE VINE, Jesus, like Mr. Miyagi's bonsai trees, we will never have to undergo major pruning. When we stay connected to the vine, when we allow the Holy Spirit to prune us daily, in a daily quiet time, large weeds or even trees won't have a chance to grow up in our garden. The Master Gardener will just daily trim with perfection. Bitterness, unforgiveness, envy, gossip and any other ugly thing will not have a chance to take root and begin to decay the inside of our hearts.

Allow yourself to be pruned, then STAY pruned! Allow the Master Gardener to prune you daily!

My challenge to you. Find a time, make a time, to be in the Word daily. Commune with your Father daily.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Part 2: Democrat or Republican.

At 10:00 pm last night, the race was too close to call. Some stayed up to realize victory, some stayed up until defeat was inevitable. While yet even others called it a night early heading to bed. The Democrat & Republican alike saying "I'll find out in the morning." 

The iPhone alarm sounded. Rolling over, he turns off his alarm. Immediately feeling the pit in his stomach return. "Did my party win last night?" He sighed and wondered, "Do I even want to look?" It won't take long to find out. In the darkness of his room, he pulled up his twitter feed, then Facebook feed.... 

Let's jump into the word this morning. 
Romans 13:1 - Let every person be loyally subject to the governing (civil) authorities. For there is no authority except from God [by His permission, His sanction], and those that exist do so by God’s appointment. 
Romans 12:15-16 - Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief]. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 - First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, requests, and thanksgivings be offered to God for all people;  for kings and all others who are in authority, that we may live a quiet and peaceful life with all reverence toward God and with proper conduct. 
Some, woke up to a day of rejoicing, while others woke to mourning.  Nonetheless, for the Christian, Democrat and Republican, we have a great responsibility to pray for our leaders and our country. It's easy to remember during such a crucial time for our country as an election, but it is actually a responsibility that is ours day in and day out of every year, not just an election year. 

If you follow me via our social networking options, you may already know how I felt this morning upon waking up. Whether my party came out victorious or not. But Tyler, as he always does, reminded me of a good verse. Romans 13:1, For there is no authority except from God, and those (authorities) that exist do so by God’s appointment. Like it or not, authority is put in place according to Romans 13:1, by God's appointment. Did you not like the results? Then pray. Allow your prayers to work and effect the next election. Allow your prayers to raise up the the Christian man or woman after God's heart. 

In response to taxes? :) What a fun subject, huh? I have an interesting view, that out of pure frustration, can forget at times. Often, when I look at the amount of money that comes into our house, sometimes I'm really excited until I look at the large chunk that is taken out to go to taxes. Argh. You may feel the same. Well, that brings me to a story that may help on the issue....

Several years ago, when we lived in an apartment, Tyler's vehicle got broken into for the second time. He walked out to see the window broken, the multi-disk CD player still in tact, but had obviously been pried, jimmied, and ratcheted until to no avail, the thief could not get it out. All of the ministry CD's were left untouched in their spot, but one main thing was missing. At that time, iPod's were a high commodity, just having come out. His new, shiney, sleek silver iPod was gone. It made him sick. 

The police came. A report written up. We were one of many in the area who had been broken into. 

Days went by. Nothing. Tyler was still angry. All of the valuable things he had loaded onto the iPod were important to him. He was frustrated. It was disrupting his normal routine of it's use. Until one conversation changed everything. Not naming any names or anything (uhhh, emmmm) but the most wild idea came out of the frustration. "Tyler, why don't you forgive the person and willingly sow the iPod into him? Sure it wasn't right, what he did, but God can turn things around in your favor." Tyler thought on it and decided it was a great idea! So that is exactly what he did. He prayed, forgave the thief, and though the iPod was already gone, in his mind and spirit willingly sowed it into the person. Knowing God is a God who operates on laws, one law we are familiar with is the law of sowing & reaping. Tyler sowed and was expecting to reap a harvest from that iPod he sowed. He believed for something better. He believed that he would receive something better than the iPod that he "sowed." :) 

I don't remember the exact timing of it, but about 1-2 weeks later, Tyler received a phone call. He had been chosen from a company we do business with to receive free cell phone service and the hot, new  iPhone that was getting ready to come out. He was going to be piloting an app, and they wanted his feedback. So... within days, my techy husband opened a box and drooled over his new iPhone. The gadgets, the apps, the features and even the free service were all part of the Blessing of the Lord! 

Call it coincidence? I don't. I believe because Tyler forgave and Tyler chose to sow, he reaped something better! And FREE cell phone service to boot! 

I say all that to say this. What about taxes? Each month, what if instead of grumbling and complaining about the big chunk of money going towards taxes, why don't you take on a new attitude? What about when you see the money go out, you verbally say, "Thank you Lord! I sow this money into our government. I gladly give and pray that you would bless our government. I pray that this money would bless everything it touches. I pray for a nation that has come back to you. I sow this money! I lift up President Obama, I lift up those in authority and thank you IN ADVANCE for a nation coming back to YOU!! In Jesus Name, Amen!" 

Try that and see how long it takes for the Blessing of the Lord to find you! For a raise at your job. For the new job you've been wanting. For blessings to find you wherever you are! Because last I checked, The BLESSING of the Lord makes rich and He adds NO sorrow with it! (Prov. 10:22) 

Even though you have no choice whether to pay your taxes or not, it's coming out regardless, but choose a different attitude. Like Tyler chose to do. Give with a cheerful heart, not begrudgingly and WATCH what happens.  
Deuteronomy 15:10 - You shall give to him freely without begrudging it; because of this the Lord will bless you in all your work and in all you undertake. 
2 Corinthians 9:7 - Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving].
2 Corinthians 9:7 (GNT) - You should each give, then, as you have decided, not with regret or out of a sense of duty; for God loves the one who gives gladly.

Monday, November 5, 2012

#251 - Democrat or Republican?

Deuteronomy 15:10 - You shall give to him freely without begrudging it; because of this the Lord will bless you in all your work and in all you undertake.
Proverbs 19:17 - He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and that which he has given He will repay to him. 
Proverbs 22:9 - He who has a bountiful eye shall be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor. 
Proverbs 31:20 - She opens her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her filled hands to the needy [whether in body, mind, or spirit].
We are on the eve of a very important day. The day we vote for who will be President #45 of the United States of America.

This morning, I'll just be honest with you, in my quiet time I was heavily rebuked! Put your stones down for a minute and I will be transparent with you. In my heart and in my mind, I have extremely strong convictions where politics is concerned. Granted, I don't take the time to study all of the in's and out's like I would like to. I think it would be so fun and interesting to really get into the details, but at this stage in my life, time does not allow. Nonetheless, I still have strong beliefs as a Christian. In the past, as I would be driving and get behind a certain bumper sticker shouting the opponent of how I vote, inside me it was like this different person would come out, almost like I wouldn't recognize myself. I would feel like I would get road rage, and immediately decide I did not like the person behind the wheel of this other car. I know, I know.... put your stones down, I know that that is not the right attitude to have. On the contrary, I would see someone with the other bumper sticker, the one whom I'm voting, and I would immediately think, or even say out loud to Tyler, "Oh look, there is one of my friends." I would classify them as one of my friends without even knowing them.

This morning, I was heavily rebuked. As I spent time listening to the Holy Spirit, in a rather unexpected rebuke, he said the bitterness and almost hatred I was carrying around was dark and hurting me. He said BOTH candidates needed prayer! And He is right. As it stands and according to my Christian beliefs, I'm pretty sure that neither candidate has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. There is something to pray about!

As I received my rebuke and asked for forgiveness for the bitterness that I had, He gave me direction, He told me when I saw either bumper sticker that I am to PRAY. But what He said next was what got me really excited!!! Check this out!!!
"Amy, pray for the godly to rise up in politics. Your prayers DO MOVE things. The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective. Pray for a nation after Me. Pray for the RIGHT people into office that this nation would come back towards Me. Amy, I forgive you, but I need you to turn the rage into compassion. Prayer. A nation after My heart! A leader, spirit filled who can hear my voice, receive a plan and implement it! I CAN get this nation out of debt. I can bring the country out! Imagine the President pulling together a Pastor's Conference and asking the Pastor's, based off the Word of God to put into place programs that would financially help the poor. That a plee would go out to Christians to budget in their finances to give to the poor. To help the widows and orphans and poor. What if the President would speak in churches across this nation pleeing, preaching for the BELIEVER to take the responsibility to help the poor. The widow. The orphan. Start with YOU!"
Whoa. Honestly, I would consider myself a "good Christian." I have a regular Quiet Time. I spend time daily trying to listen to where the Lord would have me and doing what. I do my best to help people. We give our tithes and offerings gladly. I love Jesus! I have a passion for Him and growing and learning. But honestly, even as what I feel I was, a "good Christian," we have been dropping the ball in this area. We do give to our church, and I know they support ministries that give to the poor, but we have never fully taken that responsibility on as our own. As THE BELIEVER, we have never owned that responsibility. BUT, it is rightfully ours! As the BELIEVER, it IS our responsibility to help the poor, the widow and the orphan.

Imagine.... if believers across the nation were to take 5% of their income and give to the poor. Allot that money to the needy... or even $10 per month! Imagine the hundreds of thousands of Christians giving. Do you think that we would need a welfare system long? If believers were giving like that, and millions of dollars were going to programs that would help the poor, just IMAGINE what would happen! The trillions of dollars that this country is in debt with, would dwindle. Imagine a country FREE of debt! Wow! Imagine the burden that would be released if just YOU were out of debt. What a grand scale for our nation to be out of debt.

Whatever your political affiliation, as a believer I'm going to ask you to do three things.
  1. Make sure to VOTE tomorrow!
  2. Pray for both candidates. Pray for both parties. Pray for the godly to rise up into position. Pray that right as we speak, the godly would be moving into position, they would be raising up wherever they are, that we could see the hand of God move on this country. Pray for the people running our nation to KNOW JESUS. To come to know Him as their Savior if they do not now. That ultimately the great commission, Matthew 28:19-20 would be in effect and people everywhere would be getting saved! "GO! And make disciples of ALL nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." 
  3. Choose to GIVE! We are FINALLY making this a priority in our lives! Today, we are beginning our monthly giving to Oliver Gospel Missions. Feel free to give to this ministry, and/or pray for how and where you are called to give. Though, the responsibility is now known, need I point out the blessings that are coming back to you for abiding by the Word?!? :) Proverbs 19:17 - The LORD will repay you for giving to the poor! That's good stuff! Proverbs 22:9, you will be BLESSED for giving to the poor. Deuteronomy 15:10 - When you give freely not begrudgingly, the Lord will bless you in ALL your work. EVERYTHING you undertake, (ie: the new business, losing weight, your marriage, your relationships, your finances, writing that book) in ALL you undertake YOU WILL BE BLESSED! 
Wow! That is good stuff!! So... friend, believer.... let's get in the flow! Will you join me? 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

#250 - Tips from my Brother: Losing Body Fat %

Proverbs 31:17 - She girds herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task] and makes her arms strong and firm.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body. 

Physical fitness. Some of us like it, some of us don't! Nonetheless, to honor God in all aspects, means also honoring Him with our body. Working towards getting or staying physically fit as well as eating healthy foods that make us strong.

Today, I'd like to share some tips with you! Tips from my brother, WBFF Champion Body Building Pro, Fitness Model, Hollywood actor... James Ellis. I have some weight loss and fitness goals with a timeline on them and was talking to my brother yesterday for quite awhile. I'm into details. I like to know what works and how to maximize the minimum amount of time that I plan to work out during the week. The 4321 (or 4321 x 2) program that I have been doing has worked very good for me (10 minutes) in helping me get from 160 down to my current weight of 133 and MAINTAIN. If you are anything like me, I don't want to spend an hour working out. I put my time in as a collegiate cross-country and track runner, so I have ran my fair share of long miles, 5, 6, 10, 15 mile-runs. Now with kids, goals, a successful yet growing business, a home, etc, etc.... fitness is something that I want to do and get it done, then be able to go about my day. 4321 is a great option for that. I also know that it's important to "Muscle-Confuse, Muscle Confuse!"Or as my brother says "SHOCK" your body. Once you've been doing something for a long time, it's important to chance things up to confuse your body, shock it and allow other muscles to work. If your body/muscles get used to the same things done daily, over and over and over, the results will not be as good as they could be.

Today I implemented one of the changes I got from my brother. I figured if it can help me, I might as well share so it can help you too! We're on the pursuit of being STRONG Proverbs 31 women (as well as strong, and fit men!). As it reads in the amplified version of Proverbs 31, that means strong spiritually, mentally AND in physical fitness. Here we go....

Tips I picked up from my brother: 

    1. If you want to have the greatest amount calories lost that are FAT BURNING calories, do your cardio work out first thing in the morning
    2. Do your cardio workout on an empty stomach. What happens when you do your cardio workout on an empty stomach is that it grabs existing EXISTING fat that is on your body. When you have eaten first and work out, it grabs the fat from the food you ate. The carb you ate, the banana, the egg, etc. (Granted, if you plan on doing a weight workout after your cardio, you are going to need to have some protein. A protein shake or protein bar.)
    3. "When I was trying to lose body percent fat, I speed walked on the treadmill for 30-35 at 4-4.5 miles per hour (mph) at a 2% incline." - The Fat Burning Zone is done at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. In this zone, 85% of calories burned are from fats!
    4. When speed walking make sure to move/pump/swing your arms. This helps to also burn body fat in your arms. 
    5. Ultimately, keep things switched up! SHOCK your body. If you do the same sort of work-out all the time, make sure to switch things up sometimes to get maximum effects.  
So... I learned some good things from my brother! He knows his body inside and out and is REALLY good about knowing what to do in order to get a specific desired result.

If you want more info on the subject, he wrote a helpful blog that breaks down some more details. Check it out: Cardio With a Purpose. 

SO.... as we pursue our relationship with the Lord, work towards becoming that Proverbs 31 woman, let's not forget the importance of fitness and taking care of our body! :)

Thanks JW for all the great tips! :) Love you!!

FB: James Ellis
FB: Scientific Body Sculpting
follow on twitter: @jamesellis3
website: James Ellis Fit

Thursday, November 1, 2012

#249 - Mental Growth!

Proverbs 31:17 - She girds herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task] and makes her arms strong and firm.
What causes this Proverbs 31 woman to have strength? Personally this morning, I was looking into the mental aspect of strength. As I sat, meditating on this verse and the idea of mental strength, I started thinking of many things that would cause this Proverbs 31 woman to grow mentally for her God-given task.

Wouldn't you agree, for you or I to accomplish our God-given task, the actual assignment which we were put here on earth for, wouldn't you agree that we may have to stretch and grow? That most likely, we are going to have to do things that are, at first, maybe a little uncomfortable? That may mean, coming out of our comfort zone to make some phone calls to stretch us. It may simply be changing up our schedule to accomplish those God-given assignments. It may mean taking time away from the "normal" to begin a project, start that Bible study, volunteer as a youth leader, start that book, get certified as the instructor. All these take one thing, a step. A step, stretching, to do something we have never done before.

Maybe you have heard the saying, "Once you stretch a rubber-band, it never goes back to it's original state." Sure, it may go back to a similar shape and size, but once it is stretched, it does not go back to it's exact original form. This is the same with our minds, with our mental capabilities.

I began making a laundry list to these questions: "How do you gain mental strength? What would be mental exercises to get stronger." Here are a few of the things I came up with...

To Gain Mental Strength...
  • Organize: I must stop toiling in my mind! All those "To-Do" Things, lists, etc, I must get them down on paper so that they stop clogging up my mind. So I can stop constantly feeling like I have to "remember" them because they are important to complete. Once I put that item to paper, I can remember it just by looking back at the paper. "Oh yah! I need to purchase this item online so it can get here in time for me to finish that Christmas present! Wow! I need to get that ordered right away." 
    • Ways to do this? 
      • USE a calendar. It's not enough to just HAVE a calendar, I must USE it!
      • Utilize an organization system like GTD, Getting Things Done by David Allen. - Get things out of my mind to free up MENTAL energy to be able to handle/take on more. Have a systematic approach to actually getting the things completed that I have committed to paper. As David Allen says, "Having a next action item" for each item on my "To-Do List."
      • Get up earlier.
      • Follow a SCHEDULE. Allot things a time period.
      • TURN OFF notifications on phone, like FACEBOOK. Have certain times in the day that I check social networking. AVOID being like Pavlov's Dog, when I see that I have a FaceBook "1" or "2" or "3" on my phone, "*panting like a dog* Oh I've got to check FaceBook now, I have a message. I have a notification. Someone has communicated with me. I have to check it NOW! Now! Now! *more panting and fidgeting until I see WHO and what it is.*" - Check Social Networking during scheduled times so it doesn't STEAL time through out the whole day. 
  • Stretch: Do things that I am nervous to do...maybe scared to do. If it's making the phone call, "Eat That Frog!" (A book by Brian Tracy about not procrastinating!) Do the thing you don't want to do first! When you do this, not only does it clear things up mentally, allowing you to think about and do other things, but you've just stretched. You've just grown mentally. Once you stretch, once you've done something that you were scared to do, you have grown and like the rubber-band, you won't go back to your original state. Next time, you will "Eat That Frog" quicker, you will get that thing done that you didn't want to do quicker because you realize it really wasn't that bad. Hmmmmm.... like finishing taxes maybe? :) (Yikes.... speaking to myself there! I need to eat the tax frog!!) 
Those are just a few things that I thought of in regards to growing mentally. To working towards becoming the best Proverbs 31 woman I can be, that you can be. If we view our minds like the muscles of a weight lifter. Once a weight lifter begins doing the bench press, he'll gradually be able to lift more and more. 100 pounds may lead to 150, then 200, maybe 250 pounds or 300! BUT, the weight lifter doesn't try to lift 300 pounds from the start. He gradually increases it, growing those muscles, developing them, getting stronger and stronger. A new runner isn't going to start with a 10 mile run the first day. They are going to start gradually, working up to being able to run a mile. They may have to walk and run, on and off for awhile. Eventually, as they continue to work at it, they are able to run 1 mile, then 2, then 3, then maybe 5. As they gradually stretch, they will be able to do more and more. 

Mentally, as we gradually stretch, grow, organize, we begin to be able to take on more. We begin to be able to accomplish more. "Growth involves risk. Progress involves risk. A baseball player can't steal second while his foot is on first." What are some ways that you can begin to grow mentally? 

What are some other areas that you think help us grow mentally? What are some mental exercises that can help us to grow on our way to becoming the Ultimate Proverbs 31 woman? 

I'd love to hear your thoughts! :) 

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