Thursday, December 18, 2014

mr. miller

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

While traveling to a party this week, we found ourselves in front of an old church. Our timing was such that we paused at a red streetlight situated in front of the chapel. While waiting for the light to turn green, I noticed that the evening Christmas service had just concluded and those who had attended were in the process of exiting the building. I sat and smiled, watching the many festively-dressed folk joyfully shake each other's hands then merrily walk past the outdoor nativity display to reach their vehicles and head home.

Our exposure to this scene lasted the duration of the streetlight's traffic cycle. But during this time, I found myself looking past the busyness of the crowds and onto the silence of the church's small cemetery located in the field next door. By the looks of the gravestones, I had guessed that many dated back at least 100 years. In the center of the cemetery was the largest headstone engraved with the name "Miller" on it. As all the families and friends hustled around the exterior of the church, none bothered to glance at Miller's headstone sitting darkly, quietly. Coated in seasonal snow, I thought it was both ominous and beautiful... a reminder of times past and times ahead.

As we drove on, I started to think about how many Christmas services Mr. Miller had enjoyed in his time. I wondered about what his life may have been like. How big his family was. What his occupation may have been. How old he lived and how satisfying his years had proven. And in those years, I speculated about how often his lips might have spoken of Jesus's grace. How frequently did Mr. Miller seek after God with all his heart, soul, mind, strength. How intimate had he become with the Creator of all time, space, matter? Did Mr. Miller know Jesus as his Savior? Did he acknowledge and trust Him not only every Christmas, but as the King of his life? I wondered, did Mr. Miller hear the Almighty Father proclaim, "Well done, Miller!" once his last breath had concluded... after his time on earth had ceased?

The psalmist was right. Teach us, Lord, to number and take notice of our days. Guide us through each holiday and happening of this human life. And always... ALWAYS remain our eternal focus. May we fill ourselves with your Word. May we live knowing and speaking of your love to everyone we encounter. Our time here on earth is short and specifically designed by your hand to draw us closer to YOU. May our hearts be open to the wisdom of your Spirit so that we may enjoy the ominous beauty of your lasting presence... yesterday, today, forever.

One day, my body will turn to dust and a gravestone will likely be engraved in my own name, just like Mr. Miller's. In time, my life will fade away from this earth. I will be forgotten. My name will be passed by generations who did not know me. But not my Jesus. Not my eternal King. He will always remain. He will always be noticed. And His love for me will always endure. Yes, Jesus... He is my Rock and Redeemer... The Beginning and The End... The Alpha and the Omega! He is whom I wish to live pleasing and seeking and speaking of.

Really, what more in this life is worthy of our limited time?

This is the day!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

go and sin no more

You know, the only thing that separates us from God is sin. So, why do we continue to accept and seek after the very thing that prevents us from being close to our Master?

Let's unite in Jesus Name to only love what He loves. To only desire what He desires. To be deliberate in weeding out that which is corrupt in our lives.

Let's make obedient choices that will result in our growing closer and closer to Jesus rather than continue to fill our world with selfishness. For what have we to gain in doing things our own way? What temporary pleasures compare to the eternal benefit of enjoying God's love and blessings forever? Is eternal, spiritual death really that more attractive than this short human life that we fail to seek only what is right and holy according to God's law?

Let's resolve today (and every day that follows) to humbly adhere to Jesus' command in John 8:11, "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Why?

Because our Savior desparately wants to be close to us!!!

He loves us soooo much.
He made us to thrive and succeed in His presence.
We need Him.
We can't live without Him.
He hates the thought of being without us.
He doesn't want anyone to remain infected with corruption...
Rather, He longs to intimately be with us.
He wants to bless and protect and care for us.
He is inclined to turn His head to us...

Yes, the God of the universe stops to listen when we approach His throne and seek after Him. That is how important and precious we are to the King of all kingdoms! This is why He died for us - so that we could be with Him and glorify His goodness... intimately bound together forever. This is love! TRUE LOVE!!!

The only thing keeping us far from God is our sin. So, let's repent and turn from that which is keeping us from our good King. Let's walk away from it, no matter how attractive it may seem today. It is not worth it. It can only hurt us in the end. Lose it and choose Christ!

I encourage you to be renewed in your faith... to do all things with the intent of growing closer to your Redeemer... to seek after whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy... seek after these things. Seek after His ways. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness with all your heart, soul, mind... with everything you are!

Lose the sin and gain HIS LOVE.
Lose the sin and gain HIS LIFE.
Lose the sin and gain GOD ALMIGHTY MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH!
(There is nothing better, trust me!)

Bind yourself to Jesus... FOREVER!

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:14)

Love you all!

Blessings!

~Victoria

Saturday, December 13, 2014

our personal, parsimonious, prejudice for the performance of perfect persons

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”  (Matthew 7:3)

How embarrassing it is when Christian's behave stingy and judgmentally towards each other. How sad a testimony is that of the believer who endlessly seeks to control or find fault in another. For what right do any of us have to become “testy” over someone else's shortcomings? What narcissistic superiority do we carry in our pockets that permit us to focus ANY energy away from correcting our own sinful “planks”?

The simple answer is NONE!

Yet, so many "could-be-great" Christians spend endless amounts of energy disobediently and disrespectfully picking at their neighbor’s outward scabs and sores rather than diligently seeking after God's Word to bandage and mend their own inwardly bleeding hemorrhages. Rather than being kind and uplifting, we criticize the “speck of sawdust” we see in another while destructively taking delight in the ruse of our own self entitlement to point out their said flaws.  Ohhhh, the lengths we will go to in order to sweep our own corruption under the rug of malignant satisfaction.

When we attempt to take on God's role and try to control and judge others - expecting people to jump through hoops that meet the traditions of our own human-imposed manipulations - we establish a false privy that measures someone else a little lower than ourselves on the ethical scale of holy performance. Sadly, in this particular sin, we become secretly comforted that a more flawed brother and/or sister exists in the body of Christ. For without the failures of these "others" to point out and condemn, we might have to face the reality that our own planks still exist and need work. Then we would need to address them head-on and be forced to acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s call to personally get right with God in the areas we have yet to surrender to Him.  Oh my..., without the faults of others to analyze, debate and relish over, we would be free to intimately learn and obey God's Word!  And if we all did this, every "could-be-great" believer could actually BE GREAT by choosing to LOVE FIRST because Jesus loved us first!

Friends, there is a universe of difference between spiritual discernment and legalistic imposition. Jesus, the only One worthy of judging mankind, said we must spend our time being vigilant to recognize and confess our sins to Him... and Him alone. We must seek Him first and allow Him to change our old, broken ways by teaching us to mirror His perfect example of LOVE. Clearly, to accomplish this call successfully, there is no time acceptable to spend belittling or scorning after another.  Rather, let us re-adjust our selfish attire and choose to put on the whole armor of God!  Why?  So that we might each be edified by the hope of His kingdom come!  Let’s humbly see one another through the Shepherd's tender eyes of grace and live worshipping His perfection alone.  Because folks, only Jesus is perfect... and as His ambassadors, we are responsible to live holy and together in His Name.  So, no more grumbling in the flock, please.  No more personal, parsimonious, prejudice for the performance of perfect persons.  Because (again), only Christ is perfect... and right... and able to save and restore each of us to full health and righteousness.  Look to Him and LOVE because He instructs us to do so!  Hallelujah to the King of kings for His eternal, sovereign wisdom!

With this in mind, this is the day to love and support each other joyfully!
Most importantly, this is the day to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength!

Be a great blessing today in His name and reflect God's love ALWAYS!

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (Romans 14:19)

Be kind to one another and LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, December 12, 2014

new every morning: a reminder from Boudreaux

Boudreaux Hercules "Marshmallow Head" Anderson
As I begin to write this, it's quite early here in Houston.  My family is still asleep, but I've just finished feeding all our pets, changing cat litter, fluffing couch pillows, turning on Christmas lights, making coffee, and organizing the things I wish to address and accomplish today.  And just now, I have sat down with Bible and laptop prepared to share with y'all something God has been teaching me.  WHEN ALL OF A SUDDEN(!)... Boo (aka Boudreaux - my American Bulldog/Great Pyrenees mixed rescue dog) stops licking his current squeaky toy of choice, stands up and looks directly at me with his sweet eyes.  With great resolve, he breaks the silence of the morning and sings at the top of his lungs in determination...

"Roooooowwoooorrrrroooooooooo!"

I laugh aloud and think, "Oh Boo (Boudreaux), you are so silly!"

Seeing that he has not made his point quite clear, Boo chimes in again (this time with an intensity and vocal range that would surely land him a spot on American Idol or The Voice)...

"Rrrrrooooooouuuuuuuuwwwwwoooooooooooooooo, Mamma!"  (Ok, I may have added the "Mamma" part.)

He looks at me blankly - waiting to make sure I realize and acknowledge his important message.  And as I scratch behind his ear and pat for him to lay down next to me, the still small voice in my head reiterates in agreement with Boo...

"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."

"Wait.  What?"

"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."
(That sounds like "Roooooowwoooorrrrroooooooooo," right?)

"Lord, where is that passage again?"  I curiously grab my Bible and frantically start searching.  "Oh yes, Lamentations!"

It dawns on me that I am quite capable of lamenting while being a holiday-crazed-busy-body these days.  But, as Boo so kindly reminded me a few moments ago, the Lord's mercies are new every morning.  God's blessings abound and are everywhere, and to miss them in the hubbub of our many tasks and chores (and trials) is to miss seeing Jesus.

So, dear readers... although this may be shorter and sweeter than I originally intended, Boo and I have only one thing to say to you this lovely Friday morning...

"Rrrrrooooooouuuuuuuuwwwwwoooooooooooooooo!!!!"

Translation: Great is Thy faithfulness, precious Savior! Thank you for this brand new, glorious day!  Thank you for food, and couch pillows, and Christmas lights, and squeaky dog toys, and coffee, oh... and thank you for Boudreaux Hercules "Marshmallow Head" Anderson!  Might we all follow his lead today and praise you aloud!  Might we remind one another that you are sovereign and in full control of all matters.  That you will make everything happen for your good.  That you, alone, provide mercy so that we are not consumed by death, but rather passionately adored!

Yes, great is Thy faithfulness, precious King, this brand new December day!
(See Lamentations 3:22-23 and REJOICE!)

XOXO!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

my prayer today at the mall

We are told that you have to be tough to survive in this world. You have to have a thick skin and not let anything really get to you in order to succeed... But Lord, I am not tough! I am tender and tearful. I am deeply affected by most things... all things.

Take this young man that I passed by today who didn't want to be gracious to the senior citizens beside him. Instead, he chose to be unkind and intentionally caused added difficulty to some elderly people who obviously had trouble seeing and getting around. Furthermore he blatantly commented on it... he knew full well that he was being a burden to others and didn't care to change. He didn't want to be kind. He didn't want to love or lead others closer to You. How my heart sorrows for this man. How my stomach churns at his unwarranted and unnecessary words filled with resentment, hatred. Is this the person the man whom I am called to love and minister to? Is this the one whom you have instructed me to turn my cheek and pray for? Indeed. For surely he does not know the joy and refreshment of your Living Water. He has not found your Way! If he did, he would not have scoffed and carried on so abusively... so destructively. Would he?

Such moments prove that there can be no absolute peace without you, Jesus. Oh, how we need you to rule over our lives as King! Come, Lord Jesus. Come!

As I think about this further, I know that the condition of this young man is not exclusive.  I quietly watch the dissatisfied expressions of others who pass by. The man with the colorful tattoo down his arm who is swearing under his breath as he texts vigorously on his phone. The disgusted mother dragging the hands of her two young children while yelling loudly about their bad attitudes. The spoiled teenage girls clucking like chickens as they fuss over a store window filled with "sparkles for sale" - agreeing about how fat they all feel and how inadequate they compare to others. The two more mature women with a bit more life experience, adorned with fancy designer handbags, rolling their eyes at the teens and their gaudy store displays - poo poo'ing the fashion on yet another mannequin while habitually talking over one another with their own language of social negativity and annoyance. Business colleagues waiting in line to pick up a quick lunch while gossipping about the failure and inadequacies of another co-worker who is not present to defend themselves... And the list goes on.  We are indeed a discouraged and dissatisfied people, aren't we? We are broken, depraved, perverted, and in need of a solution!

So, is this the manner in which we are to live, Lord?
Is this all we humans are capable of being?

Of course not! You created us to be more! You made us so that we might accomplished so much goodness in your Name. But sin has corrupted. Satan has deceived. Sorrow has erupted and created a domino effect across the globe.

And to this I wonder... where are YOUR people, Jesus?
Where is the love you have instructed your disciples to share with all the world?
How are we each spending our time and resources?
What are we choosing to do and say in the more common moments of every day at the mall, at the gas station, at the office, and in our homes?
Are we too rolling our eyes?
Or are we praying, loving, embracing, and motivating others - leading them closer to YOU?

I find that many times we talk a great talk about the good news of Jesus in the presence of those "like-minded" and in places and/or during holiday seasons where such dialog is comfortable. But sadly, in truth we have forgotten Christ in our more "normal" moments of day-to-day life. Yes, most of us are also dissatisfied and lacking. Most of us have dropped the ball and are living lukewarm - apart from God - with little interest, little offering, little lives. It is indeed a narrow road, isn't it?

"But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13)

Lord, I pray that you would revive the hearts of those who claim to know you. Let us live boldly for your kingdom and seek after you each and every day! Teach us to love like you love. To be kind to one another. To give everything we have without fear, without greed. And most importantly, might we each follow through in action once we hear your teachings. Might we apply what we have learned from your perfect Word whenever we are called to do so. For this world cannot know peace without you, Savior. You are the Way, the Truth, the Life - the only solution to our deepest needs.

Yes, come Lord Jesus! Come!
Come and worship, believers!  Come!

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." (Revelation 22:12-13)

YOU, dear Jesus, are the answer to every craving, every need. So, TODAY, may we live obediently and feed your sheep. May we boldly represent your love to a desperate, dying world. May we live anxious for your return - for your reward! Use us, Master... use us TODAY!!

For THIS is YOUR day!  So, we who love you will seek you.  We will rejoice and be glad.  We will pray!  We will worship!  We will feed and take care of your sheep with WHO nourishes! Yes, come Lord Jesus!  Come!

Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep." (John 21:15b-17)


Blessings!
Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

why aren't we singing, folks?

I've attended many-a-church service in my years that frankly appear DOA. What I mean is, nobody enthusiastically seems to rejoice in public anymore unless, of course, they are paid to do so, or they are selfishly longing for recognition as a record-worthy performer.  For me, however, it is a rarity to find a congregation that sings joyfully, openly, and robustly together simply because we are all deeply in love with Jesus.

Why is that?

Today, it seems a rarely for self-proclaimed Christians to publicly lift up their voices - glorifying and dancing in appreciation of our salvation, redemption, and new life in Christ without fear or apology.  Nope, for most, it seems like singing together in participation is more of an act of hard labor.  Something we just have to suffer through until our Pastor finally stands up to preach the sermon.  As such, the first 15-20 minutes of many church services are nothing short of sad to witness. Usually it consists of an audience being "performed to" by a select few of worship leaders who come with well-rehearsed sets and Powerpoint presentations.  Sure, we are encouraged to sing along, but most church-goers do not seem to know the style and songs that are being blared loudly throughout our chapels.  This has produced a congregation of blank stares and lip mumblers rather than a congregation of corporate worshippers.  DOA!  How many have told me that they miss the days when organized choirs and familiar church hymns would save us from such torture.  Yes, I too miss the norm of hymns and choirs, but that shouldn't excuse us from singing to the Lord, folks.  What a tragic testimony for God's church to not want to sing aloud together for His glory.

So today, I am asking the question... Why aren't we singing, folks?  What's the problem?  Are we too cool for school?  Are we ashamed of being heard off-pitch?  Are we just too darn tired from our work week to take a moment to open up our mouths in praise?  Why aren't we really singing to the One whom all life was made to honor?  Are we not commanded to rejoice?

Read what God's Word says... (no, don't skim through... really, read these verses...)

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

The Lord was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the Lord. (Isaiah 38:20)

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)

O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth.  Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; show forth his salvation from day to day.  Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.  For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.  For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens. Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.  Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength.  Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.  O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.  Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.  Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.  Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth. (Psalm 96)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16)

Be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;  Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Ephesians 5:18b-20)

Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. (Jeremiah 31:12)

Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. (Isaiah 52:9)

Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.  Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.  Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise. (Psalm 33:1-3)

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)

Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious. (Psalm 66:2)

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. (Psalm 100:4)

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. (Hebrews 13:15)

And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is...And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.  And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. (Acts 4:24, 31-32)

There are so many verses in Scripture commanding us, reminding us, teaching us, and encouraging God's people to sing, rejoice, praise, and lift up our voices together to God Most High.  So come on, people!  Don't you realize what the Lord has done for you?  Don't you love Him?  Don't you want to do what is pleasant and good in His eyes?  I know I do!

Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the name of the Lord; praise him, O ye servants of the Lord.  Ye that stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God.  Praise the Lord; for the Lord is good: sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant. (Psalm 135:1-3)

Let's congregate and praise.  Let's love one another and rejoice.  Let's feed our churches with joy, and choose to lift up our voices together and SING!  For our God gave us Jesus... the WAY!  He wishes for us to acknowledge the honor of His Name together!  So, let's motivate one another to offer a sacrifice of praise continually!  Let's give unto the Lord the majesty and glory due His Name!  This is the day to rejoice, peeps!  We are His Church... not DOA!  We are alive!  Breathing His breath!  Living in Christ!

So let's LIVE, Church!  Let's show up ready and willing to REJOICE together!

WOO HOO!

:)

~Victoria

© 2014 The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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