Friday, April 29, 2016

the fluency of our faith (part 4)

Lots of scripture today, gals.  Please don't overlook it.  Take time to read every word and consider what it is saying as it is crucial to this study and your new life in Christ.  OK, here we go...

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1)

I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father - Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.  We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:1-6)

When last we met, we discussed the genuine, unwavering, agape love of Jesus Christ and His astounding offer to save us from death and restore us to full holy health in God's Kingdom.  What a gift!  And as John so eloquently writes in the verses above, it is a gift that we can claim today and live out immediately under the security of Jesus' Name.

John recaps the validity of Christ's existence and power while encouraging us to recognize the loving fellowship made available again with our Creator due to Jesus' sacrifice.  His agape love is what we must follow in order to move closer to God's holiness and further from our own sinfulness.  But while here on this earth, we are not without sin.  Sadly, sin is still very real and present in our lives.  It consumes all areas of mankind's existence and corrupts everything it touches.  Thankfully, Jesus has promised to faithfully forgive us of our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness... and He is the only One with the authority to do so!  With Jesus as our atoning sacrifice, we receive a new Name... a new Life... a new Way to live and know God's love.  And once again, our gracious Maker allows us the freedom to choose His perfectly planned path instead of our own.  To love Him.  To follow Him.  To obey and worship the Righteous One who advocates on our behalf in order to make us complete once again.

So, how does comprehending Jesus' love help us express love well?  Let's read a little more from John's letter...

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.  Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. (1 John 2:7-11)

Mentioned in several of the gospel books, Jesus gives us the most important commandment to follow.  This is what John is referring to above.  Read with me from Mark 12...

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions. (Mark 12:28-34)

Friends, true love always leads men to the Kingdom of God!  We cannot survive without it.  We cannot overcome sin and death without Him.  We cannot live fully, holy, healthy without God WHO IS LOVE.

With all our heart... with all our soul... with all our mind... with all our strength...  God Almighty calls mankind back to the life we were originally created to live.  We were made to know and worship His perfect, healthy, wondrous agape love.  From the very beginning, we were designed to live in perfect fellowship and peace together.  And despite our foolish betrayal, Jesus sacrificially demonstrates and makes available His salvation, grace, hope, health.  He is our living, loving, lighted life manual, if you will! He is the only Way, Truth, Life to the Kingdom of God.

So, let's break it down.  What exactly does true love in Christ look like in real time?  How does God's Word instruct us to love well?  Consider the mature characteristics He invites us to learn/adopt as we surrender our old nature upon His altar.  (When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me...)  Read more from 1 Corinthians with me...

Love is patient, 
Love is kind. 
It does not envy, 
It does not boast, 
It is not proud.  
It does not dishonor others, 
It is not self-seeking, 
It is not easily angered, 
It keeps no record of wrongs.  
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.   
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Wow.  That is quite a wonderful list for each of us to obediently choose as we live worshipping Jesus!  Clearly His love is uplifting to anyone it reaches.  His love is the guiding light in a world blinded by sinful darkness.

In our next discussion, we will break down God's mature love further.  We will look at His nature verses our own sin-filled nature, and consider why the fruits of His Spirit are the only path to reunite us into His Righteousness and restore us into His Holiness.  I hope you will continue to join me in this study.   I also pray that you will consider how you choose to love one another more specifically and sacrificially as it relates to Christ's example.

Until then.... always choose His LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

God bless!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, April 25, 2016

the fluency of our faith (part 3)


For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Wow!  What a statement is made in Romans 8!  What a promise we are offered from the Throne of the Creator!  Here, we are informed that despite man's mistake to sin... there is nothing that can separate us from God's agape love if we choose to follow Jesus Christ.  Not even our own physical death from this earth!!!  This is why we are told in 1 Corinthians 13 that, "Love never fails!"  God never, ever fails us.  It is we who fail if we continue to reject God's perfect, healthy love.  Consider more from 1 Corinthians 13...

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:8-12)

These verses are talking about mankind's existence now (here on earth) vs. Jesus' promised eternal life in His presence.  Here on earth, mankind speculates.  We study, and examine, and reason, and debate all sorts of intellectual nonsense - always arguing a case "for" or "against" God's very existence.  But spiritually speaking, the Bible says we are children.  We do not have the scope or wisdom of the omniscient God.  Fortunately, He gives us His Word... and it is everlasting.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... (John 1:1)

Right now, we can only see glimpses of God's goodness because our eyes are tainted from sin.  Our hearts are corrupt.  Our human nature defaults to turn away from God, who cannot tolerate sin.  But thankfully, Jesus says, "I am the Way," and offers a solution to our original betrayal.  He invites us to look to Him.  To follow His teaching.  To accept Him as Lord of our whole life.  To mature and grow spiritually under the security of His Name.  Jesus shows us true love in both word and action.  He is our example and goal.  He is God who overcame sin in human flesh.  The perfect sacrifice, He paid the price of death on our behalf so that we may gain His eternal life forever!  This is why His birth, and death, and resurrection are celebrated over and over.  Jesus lives on as our light in this darkness of sin.  Once again, gracious God sacrifices Himself so that men might be blessed to live in His fullness.

Hallelujah, LOVE never, ever fails!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5; 14)

This brings me to now... to today.  There are those who will receive and follow Jesus Christ, and there are those who will deny Him forever.  As God remains consistent in His agape love to all mankind, Jesus invites each of us to choose our Creator wholeheartedly (being reborn in His Spirit), or discredit and reject Him completely (choosing to separate ourselves from God forevermore).

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  (1 John 4:10)

How does comprehending God's love help us express love well?  In my next blog, we will return to 1 Corinthians 13 and begin looking at the attributes of God's love while considering how Jesus' Way can mature us further spiritually and love well.  Until then, I encourage you to meditate and rejoice on Psalm 136, giving thanks to the Lord because His love never, ever fails!

God bless!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, April 21, 2016

the fluency of our faith (part 2)

In my last post, we touched upon the subject of God's agape love: the truest, most genuine and real love there is.  This form of love is the perfect love that every single person truly longs for.  However, only God can supply agape love.  His is the unwavering unity and passion that we attempt to reproduce within our human condition.  Sadly, our efforts always seem to come up short due to our own sinfulness.  Because without God, man's sin ultimately consumes and destroys.  For sin can only guarantee us one thing: death.  Thankfully, according to scripture, God's true love lasts.  His agape love remains eternal.  God's love is... because God is.

On some level that statement is hard to digest, isn't it?  How can Almighty God be complete LOVE yet still allow all that is wrong in our world to continue?  I mean, come on... why permit all this heartache in our lives?  That doesn't seem loving at all!  No one can argue, mankind is indeed plagued with pain, and loss, and sadness ALL THE TIME, and yet we still seem to want, need, desire, and seek after true love.  Why?

Before answering this question, I think we should re-visit who we are first.  Whether you believe in God or not, let's breakdown the creation of man as it is outlined in Scripture.  The Bible says that, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1)  

Here, we are given no explanation or context about God, except that He existed already.  He was there at our beginning.  He simply was while creating all mankind and the universe in which we now live.  And this would make sense that God begins our timeline alive and with us.  For the Bible tells us that He is eternal.  He is the Alpha and Omega... The Beginning and The End.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)

Genesis proceeds detailing God's formation of the heavens and the earth.  But at the climax of this sixth day creation process, God makes mankind.  And He does so in a manner unlike anything else He has created before.  Here, God deliberately pauses to take note that He is making man in His own image!  WHAT?!!  Yes, from the very start, we are designed as His own familiar, special beings... mini-me's to the Most High, if you will.

In fact, mankind was so important to God that He structured the entire universe around his arrival.  Then, after days of simply speaking all matter into existence, Almighty God lovingly chooses to make us differently... and in His image, no less.  With His own hands, He molds us.  With His own breath, He gives us His eternal life.  We become living, breathing souls encased in an efficiently designed physical flesh package.  We are made exclusive - from the hands and heart of an availably-present Creator.  Wow!

All of this sounds pretty loving, doesn't it?  So, why now does this loving God allow so much wrong to occur in the very world He created for us to live?  How can we believe that this Agape Creator is still availably-present when we spend our days burdened with war, disease, illness, tragedy, heartache, and death?  Something isn't right... right?

So what has changed?

Well, that something "not right" isn't God, my friends.  That something is, unfortunately, US!
We changed.

Loving God created man so that we could know His fullness and live in the beauty and perfection and completeness of His glory.  He didn't need mankind - for He already was complete in Himself.  No, He wanted mankind.  He wanted a relationship with us.  He wanted to share His awesome glory.  God selflessly chose to make us to love us.  He made us in His image and gave us His eternal breath so that we might best know and commune with Him!  What an astounding honor our life actually is!  To be made with a purpose to glorify real love!  Surely, this is why we center everything around finding and knowing true love.  Why we crave it so deeply!  We were actually, in fact, created to do so!  We were made to worship and commune with THE GOD WHO IS LOVE!

And yet...

In His perfect wisdom, God does not ask mankind to unwillfully submit to His Agape, even though we were created explicitly for that purpose.  For true love cannot be forced or demanded upon with oppression.  No, instead God continues to selflessly give to His most special creation a free will... a choice... to receive or reject His gift of LIFE.  He lays out the canvas of our existence and affords us first the joy to experience His infinitely satisfying company with every good tangibility and sensation.  But then He also freely allows us to know ALL options - - even the option to go against His desired plan for us.  We are given the choice to love Him wholeheartedly, or to discredit and reject Him completely.  One choice promises us the peace of His agape love forever.  And one choice guarantees a spiritual death and separation from His holy throne forever.

So what happens next?  Well, mankind chooses wrong.  We sell out our birthright in order to fill our selfish bellies and betray the Word of our loving Father.  We sin against God... and the consequences of our free-will choice devastates all of creation.

And yet...

After we make the biggest mistake of our life (quite literally), God still agape loves us.  Why?  Because the Lord is unchanging.  Because God IS love.  Because our Creator desires to commune with us even though we are slaves to sin.

Yes, the free will of mankind now knows death's heartache firsthand, and we clearly regret the reality of the sin infected into ourselves.  But true love cannot be forced or demanded upon - especially through our oppression.  So, to fully know the brilliance of God's agape love, we are invited to align ourselves in His new hope.  You see, rather than immediately destroy us dead (post sin), God once again selflessly gives Himself to us - but now in the form of Jesus (God in flesh).  We are thrown Christ's spiritually saving lifeline as we live out our days in this contaminated human flesh. Once again, we can choose to love Him wholeheartedly, or to discredit and reject Him completely.  Once again, one choice promises us the peace of His agape love forever.  And one choice guarantees a spiritual death and separation from His holy throne forever.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  (1 John 4:10)

How will comprehending God's love help us express love well?  Phew!  We are still on this journey and there is definitely much to learn.  Again, I can't promise that I will be able to post a consistent daily blog entry due to my own health issues...  but God's timing is always perfect, and He will give us exactly what we need when we need it!  Until next time... LOVE!!!

God bless!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

the fluency of our faith (part 1)

I've been thinking a great deal about the importance of expressing love well.  How to speak someone's love language, if you will.  How to show my truest adoration both transparently and honestly, yes,... but also in a way that proves immutably and receptively beneficial to whomever my love is focused.

Most of you are likely familiar with renowned Christian author and Focus on the Family marriage counselor, Gary Chapman.  His life's work on the topic of The Five Love Languages rocked many households way back when his "flavor of the month" mass-media book hit the shelves.  In it, he concluded that there are five distinct and basic love languages (five ways) to express love to one another.

They include:
  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

According to Mr. Chapman's research, "Each person has a primary love language that we must learn to speak if we want that person to feel loved."  I remember reading this and thinking, "This list is definitely important, but can we generalize love that simply?" What followed (at least in my life), were months of Christian friends and family buzz-wording their primary love language amongst one another with hopes to more personalize the book's formulaic breakthrough.

While I'm not certain that such a broad outline is realistic or healthy in identifying one's personal capacity to give or receive love, I do respect the position that love indeed requires a fluency.  For language is only useful with comprehension.  As such, we cannot know love if we do not understand what true love really is.

Scripture has so much to say about love.  The Hebrew and Greek text break down varying interactions of love into many categories such as provisional/caring love (between Boaz and Ruth), friendship-based love (between David and Jonathan), intimacy-based love (between Solomon and the Shulamite woman), commitment love (Hosea to Gomer), and even parental love (Paul with Timothy).

However, there is one form of love that Scripture identifies exclusively: Agape love.  This love comes only from God.  In fact, this love IS God.  It is His nature, and showcases His character and devotion.  Agape love is not a paint-by-numbers human way to feel or act.  It is not a cliche list that caters to our emotional stimuli.  No, agape love is the truest, most genuine real love.  It is... because God is.  And God is unchanging, eternal, sovereign, solid.

Astoundingly, God does not require us to be "worthy" in order to receive or know His love personally.  In fact, He actually created us with a free will to either choose or reject Him.  Mind-blowing, right?

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  (1 John 4:10)

So, how will comprehending God's love help us express love well?  That is what we will be studying and sharing here in the days/weeks to come.  I can't promise that I will be able to post a consistent daily blog entry due to my own health issues...  But no matter.  I believe God's timing is perfect, and He will always provide exactly what is needed in order for us to seek and know Him better!  I hope you will join me on this journey and share accordingly in the comments section (below).

God bless!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, April 18, 2016

for The Rundalls

Aggressive thunderstorms loom overhead. 
Crashing, clacking, crackling, clattering.
Every raindrop loudly announces its individual but brief lifespan; 
Deafening drumbeats that pool and disappear, 
Flooding the earth, 
Refreshing the soil for a new day.

Once again, I think about sweet Radley.  
His heartbeat. 
His health.
His importance.  
His life.  
His purpose in my Master's creation.  

I sip in a lovely vintage and consider the brevity of all humanity.  
Then I remember my Savior's words.  
His sacrifice.  
His hope.  
His promises.
His cup.

He will not forsake, even through this storm.
He will command peace and stillness.
And He will show us more...
Make us more...
He will change our dirtiest water into the finest wine.
He will catch every tear and restore, renew, rebirth our very souls into holy floods of living grace.
Binding us to His comforting Spirit.
Bending us to know His New Day will indeed come again.

For God so loves us,
He gives.
Even when all seems taken away and lost.
Even when the lion roars ready to devour and destroy.
Even when we drown and gasp and choke in horror.
God sooo loves this crashing, clacking, crackling, clattering world that he gives us His own Son.
Allowing Him to be nailed to our death.
Why?
So that whoever claims Him...
Whoever believes that Jesus is Lord, 
They will be bound to His Life forever!

Glimpse his goodness through the rumblings, sweet friends.
Remember His truths in these worst times of trouble.
The whole earth pains for our King's return. 
And He will return and complete His new covenant.

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." (See Luke 22:15-20)

Love you.

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, April 15, 2016

focused forward: past the trial... past the pain

Hi everyone. As I type this, it is VERY early in the a.m. hours. I have just enjoyed a warm bubble bath to try and alleviate the sciatic pain that has been shooting down my legs. Also, I took a pain killer about fifteen minutes ago and am starting to feel it's drowsing effect, so I may have to make this post short and sweet. That said, I wanted to share with you my thoughts this morning.

As many of you already know, I struggle physically with my lower back. Over the years, I have receive many epidural shots filled with steroids to help lessen my pain and aid my endurance. That said, I always seem to be coping with much daily pain while living moment to moment and realizing that I must be deliberate and disciplined to exhale my breaths while attempting to find a comfortable position. However, even as I suffer, the Lord has continued to show up to reveal His light.  (Thank you, Jesus.)

A while ago, my doctor and I were talking about what pain medications I should be taking. This is the same doctor who has treated my life-changing injuries within the last decade. Needless to say, he has seen me at my very worst. Anyway, through the course of our meeting, my doctor commented to me, "Victoria, I have witnessed you endure a tremendous amount of pain every day for several years and still you seem so upbeat and positive whenever I see you. What's your secret?" I proceeded to tell him that strangely, being in pain somehow becomes familiar. In short, you just get used to the constant annoyance of being uncomfortable. Yet outside of dealing with these daily disabilities and shortcomings, God has graciously shown me the freedom that awaits ahead of me... past my trial... past my pain.

This morning in the tub, the Holy Spirit reminded me about this conversation with my doctor. While rubbing my legs in the hot bath water, I began thinking about all the "simple" things I take for granted in life - like the ability to walk. Sadly, I shouldn't have to be reminded of this... I should know and regularly acknowledge this gift! For walking is something I had to re-learn several years back from a former accident. I never want to forget how valuable it is to progress forward step by step. So, this morning I am in pain, but extremely grateful that my legs have been recently weakened from sciatica. Why? Because once again - even through the hurt, I am reminded to pause and give thanks for the blessing of being able to walk. (Thank you again, Lord.)

From a spiritual sense, all this has caused me to further consider the ever-present pain of sin in my Christian walk. You see, sin remains uncomfortably familiar in my every day on this earth. When I look to sin, it hinders and disables my progress for a new, healthy, holy life. But thankfully, God is always good. He continues to provide the solution of Jesus Christ - allowing me to see past my own corrupt human shortcomings and move forward toward His eternal hope.

So, today I am compelled to ask you also to consider this: How are you walking in your new life? Do you view each step as a blessing? Even past your current trials? Even past your present pain? Ladies, our Shepherd is waiting to lead us forward and out of our sin. He is ready to restore our souls no matter how intense our suffering. All other distractions, no matter how great or tremendous they may feel, are insignificant when compared to His glorious grace.

Will you look ahead? Will you believe His promised hope of good things to come? Can you rejoice and be glad no matter how difficult your pain? Can you acknowledge Him in all your ways? I hope so. For He has promised to direct your paths! He longs to restore your soul! He will lead you to the steps of His kingdom if you let Him... so let Him, and walk accordingly.

Today, my hope, my health, lies in the capable hands of the Great Physician... my Holy Comforter. Join me and let's choose to walk disciplined in faithful obedience to Him. Let's focus forward to His good, eternal kingdom and be deliberate to breath in His truths every moment of every day. His kingdom will indeed come. So, let's live enthusiastically in joy - for His will is already done. His plan cannot be altered. Our eternity and peace is made complete by His blood. So, let's walk in agreement and praise our King. Let's focus forward and see our Savior - past the trial... past the pain. Yes, let's only see the wonderful, perfect Savior. For our assurance is secure in His promise!

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
(The Solid Rock; Written By Edward Mote)


Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matthew 7:24-25)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, April 14, 2016

the momentum of kindness

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  (Ephesians 4:32)

Love is kind.
And kindness is considerate, generous, responsive.
Kindness serves all of God's creation.
Kindness produces a momentum that shares the heart of Jesus to everyone and everything it touches.

It is not difficult to be kind when we are close to God.  For servanthood is at the core of all kindness.  We serve others when we choose to love them as we would want to be loved.   When we make their well-being our priority.  In every step God allows our feet to walk, He also offers us the gift to showcase His miracle of kindness all over the planet.

Kindness is a glimpse of Jesus in action.
Kindness is a real-time reflection of God's character, goodness, holiness, and peace.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:7-21)

There is nothing more important in this life than love.  And since God Himself is love, clearly it is vital for us to share His Name as much as possible.  Kindness is that avenue, my friends.  Kindness is the delivery system of God's love.  His glory matters.  His presence heals.  His majesty brings order.  His perfect love wipes out all fear.  Thus, our obedience to be kind to one another will always expose whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, whatever is excellent or praiseworthy in His Holy Name.  God's kindness is the solution to man's hostility.  Without His love, all we would know is hate, sin, death.

Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves. (Proverbs 11:17)

Love is kind.
And kindness is considerate, generous, responsive.
Kindness serves all of God's creation.
Kindness produces a momentum that shares the heart of Jesus to everyone and everything it touches.

So why not choose to be kind?  I would like to challenge every reader to give, to share, to benefit, to uplift, to care for as many and as much as you are able this brand new day.  Be kind simply for the Lord's sake.  Why?  Because, friends... He first, and most kindly, loved us.  Hallelujah!

I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us - yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. (Isaiah 63:7)

Today, how will you choose to be kind in Jesus Name?

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

get up!

I was just waiting.  Waiting for the Lord to return.  Waiting for Jesus to come and change something... anything!  Waiting for the next big or small thing to happen.  The next whatever or whoever to show up and demand my attention.  For what more was there except the distraction and demands of other people and events, tragedies and strategies?  What more could I know, or see, or do, or experience that hasn't already been?  This was my life.  There was always something wrong with my health, always some bill that needed to be paid, always some annoyance to address, some work to do, some person to accommodate.  So yep, I was just waiting.  But, sadly, I wasn't waiting on the Lord.  I was only waiting for Him to arrive... to show up... to do something more.  There is a difference, you know.

I think I forgot about His grace.  You know, the gift he gave with His own Son's life?  The promise that insures every recipient a starting place into holy freedom.  Grace to know God intimately.  Grace to be with Him endlessly.  Grace to live in His Name eternally.  That grace that insures He loves me in spite of my imperfection.  That grace that provides me mercy, sympathy, understanding, aid, love.  Yep, I forgot to focus on His grace, and instead, I was just waiting for Him to do something.  But what more was there for Him to do if I wasn't seeking after Him?  Instead, I was stuck in pause... wading in the lukewarm... sleeping upright in my own sinful expectations and mediocrity.

Sometimes we can't see the forest through the trees.  Sometimes we are so busy looking at ALMIGHTY GOD in capital letters, and the vast splendor of His magnificence, that we forget to see Jesus.  Jesus who, yes, is GOD..., but also, Jesus who is, and was, a man.  Who lived and suffered as we do on this broken earth.  Jesus, who was also tempted, and betrayed, and tired, and alone, and overcrowded.  Jesus... who ate, and slept, and worked, and played.  Who enjoyed time with His family and friends.  Who was imposed upon and challenged by bullies and scoffers.  Jesus!  This God is the One who hand delivers to us GOD ALMIGHTY's wonderful, perfect grace.  This God is the One who serves and sacrifices and sits beside us in real time.  Who heals us because He is able and can.  Who loves us - even when we spit in His wounded face... even when we torture, and ridicule, and ignore His message.  This God is the One who accepts in spite of our imperfection.

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. (Mark 5:21-42, NIV)

"If I just touch His clothes"...

Yes, I had forgotten about His grace.  I had forgotten the urgency in the pursuit of being close to Him.  The privilege of forgetting my fear and fighting with all I have to touch the cloak of His glory.  I had forgotten to lay aside my ongoing disappointment and expectations and instead look upon His astonishing, healing presence.  Yes, He is ready to take my hand and commands me, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!"  Beckoning me to LIVE!  Inviting me to believe, to not fear, and to reach for His holy Son, my Savior... in spite of all internal and external imperfection that surrounds!

No, I was not waiting on the Lord.  I was waiting for Him.  And, although waiting for Him to return in person is so very important... waiting on His Spirit NOW bothers to bring me into the Teacher's holiness!  Touching Him is attainable today - in this very moment!  Hope indeed can be found now!

So, won't you join me in reaching for His cloak with all you have, believer?  Won't you wake up and get something to eat from His everlasting Word? Let's feast on His mercy, savor His sympathy, chew over His understanding, be nourished by His aid, and revived by His never-ending love!  For ALMIGHTY GOD is here in Jesus!  He is with us as we live and suffer!  He is with us as we are tempted, and betrayed, and tired, and alone, and overcrowded!  He is with us as we eat, and sleep, and work, and play!  He is with us as we enjoy time with our family and friends!  He is here with us as we are imposed upon and challenged by bullies and scoffers, and Satan, and sin.

Let us accept God's gift of grace TODAY... in spite of every imperfection.  For He is our perfection!  And His experience, His wisdom, His headship, His holiness will free us from all our years of suffering.  So, let’s stop expecting from our King and start seeking after Him!  Let's get up and live!  For there is nothing more important than being near the Lord TODAY!

To live is Christ!

XOXOX!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, April 11, 2016

keep calm and carry on

"Keep calm and carry on."  Honestly, in the past I used to hate that slogan.  I used to think it was insensitive and unrealistic.  How do you just keep calm?  Especially in volatile times?  Especially when war is inevitably underway?  Furthermore, how do you simply carry on during those crazy moments in which you need to assess the necessity of your own calmness?  It just seems foolish to assume such an option is possible.  Keep calm.  Carry on.  Really?

Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart... (Isaiah 7:4)

For those who don't know the origin of this gem, let me share some history with you.  The slogan was issued at the beginning of the Second World War. It was distributed to strengthen public morale considering the likely event of wartime disaster soon to be faced.  In fact, the slogan preceded two others from the same poster series issued by The British Government's Ministry of Information.  The first poster in the series encouraged, "Freedom Is In Peril. Defend It With All Your Might."  And the second rallied, "Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory."

Each poster was designed to have unique lettering and recognizable characteristics - showcasing their important message from King to Country. Most identifiably, the royal crown icon was placed at the top of every poster to remind citizens of their duty and ongoing loyalty during the ensuing wartime.

"Keep calm and carry on."  Only recently have I started to reconsider these instructions.  You see, for whatever reason, this year my Almighty King has frequently placed this poster in front of me.  Not only has it turned up in the usual catalogs, Internet images, varying apparel and knickknacks, but it has been showcased excessively, everywhere, and in the strangest of locations.  For a while there, I think I saw this poster at least once every day for over three months.  Weird, right?

Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:20-21)

Anyway, after seeing this poster so much, I started to realize that the Holy Spirit was encouraging me to think further about it's slogan... to dig a bit deeper concerning it's strange message.  A message, mind you, that I've simply not been thrilled about.  For I can safely say that I am not usually one to keep calm.  I struggle with sleep.  I agitate easily.  I'm nervous, introverted in thought, overwhelmed, and in regular physical pain ALL THE TIME.  I'm exactly the opposite of calm!  To callously assume that I would carry on with calmness.... ugh!  Again, what a silly notion!  Lord, why do you keep showing me this poster?  What is it that I need to consider?

When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. (Mark 13:7)

Wait.  God says that we are not to be alarmed - even if the worst of enemy warfare is looming? Even if we are challenged with sinful human distractions? We are to continue on bravely - with a joyful heart, and with an attitude of steady obedience - no matter what the trial?  No matter what is to be faced, felt, or forged?  Yes.  We are to keep calm.  We are to carry on.  For the future is already written and stamped with the King's royal approval.  Our days are already ordained and overseen by His sovereign rule.  How comforting is it to know that Jesus is in full control, right?!  How surprising is His perfect peace in all moments of our weakness!

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. (Luke 8:24)

Yes, keep calm, Believer.
Carry on with devoted resolve.
For Jesus is your King!
Be still and know that He is God.
Defend His Name.
Defend your eternal freedom in His Name!

For your courage to do so... your cheerfulness to showcase complete loyalty toward His throne... your resolve to carry on while trusting that He is always overseeing all things will bring about spiritual victory against the enemy!  Yes, following these simple instructions wins battles each and every day!  Knowing His Word and believing in the promised freedom of Jesus Christ secures whose army you are loyally representing!  Oh, what glory is to come in the end days when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess His headship... His reign!  Peace will be with us, His own!  Calm... ah, His perfect holy calm will be ours forevermore!  (Are you purring over such truth?!  I am!!!)

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (Luke 24:36)

“Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength.’” (Isaiah 45:22-24) 

"Keep calm and carry on!"

Yes, now I love that slogan.  For surely Jesus is my strength when I am faced with any earthly upset or weakness.  HE is... and is always able to see me through every disaster, every trial, every discomfort, every war!  Blessed be my great Redeemer who brings promised peace!  For HE is my calm!  In Him, I can carry on.  Lord, help me to carry on defending YOU with courage, cheerfulness, and resolution - forever believing and joyfully representing your sacrifice, your victory, accomplished by Jesus at Calvary!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, April 8, 2016

to my hubby-man...

My soulmate. My love. My whole life. My forever. I love you my wonderfully charming hubby-man! I love every second I get to be with you! I love you more, and I married UP! Like the words of our favorite Smashmouth song say... "I can't get enough of you, baby!" XOXOX!!! (P.S. Happy 48th Birthday today! Let's celebrate the honor and joy of YOU!!!)

what would happen if you "washed" his feet?

It's about a quarter after 3:00 in the morning as I write this.  I am upstairs in our media/family room sitting in a recliner, and next to me my husband sleeps soundly in his favorite chair.  He fell asleep in that same spot several hours ago after we enjoyed a quiet evening of watching West Wing re-runs off our Netflix account.

Right now, I'm listening to my sweetie's heavy breaths while enjoying a fragrant candle burn on the table nearest me.  Here I sit in a quiet, comfortable, dark room illuminated only by candlelight and my laptop.  I am choosing to stay upstairs tonight in order to be near my unconscious hubby-man.  For in the back of my mind, I am staying up here to pray over him for his welfare.  However, in the forefront, I am dialoging internally with the Savior about something I stumbled upon earlier this week: a book written as a circa 1950's guide on how to be the perfect wife. The thing is, it is clear that the book/topic was purposed to be given away at bridal showers and bachelorette parties as a gag gift - poking fun at the idea of modern women pampering their husbands in a June Cleaver'esque type of way.  I gather, it was written in the tone of today's feminist-driven audience who would find humor in the extreme concept of "helping" any man.  But, what I found most interesting in it was the author's ability to mock and scoff at the idea of making any effort toward cooking a nice meal for your husband after he worked a long day, or keeping one's house clean and orderly so your man's time is used efficiently, or treating your hubby as the king of his castle, or taking extra time to improve one's appearance for simply the benefit of pleasing your sweetie.

The reviews written about this book were contributed by women whose opinions suggested that the topic was retro-thinking, hysterically funny, and somewhat insulting - not to be taken too seriously for today's society - for today's modern woman.  I mean, can't our husbands make their own meals?  And heck, most of us work full-time and have our own busy careers... so the only pampering going on should be for ourselves, right?!  Also, why should we get "gussied" up when all we are doing together at night is relaxing at home watching West Wing re-runs?  And, after all, if he really loves me - wouldn't he just accept my "a-la-granola" ways as I lounge about in my favorite pajama-jams?

Sure.  Good points.  But what knaws at me this early morning is a new thought that the Lord has put in my head. That thought is this: "Victoria, what would happen if you 'washed' his feet?" Meaning, what if I physically sat below my husband and cared for him, cherished him, treated him as master of our home?  What if I admired, adored, appreciated, cared for, clung to, defended, doted on, embraced, encouraged, entertained, fancied, guarded, honored, nurtured, prized, revered, safeguarded, supported, and treasured his personhood and position like a historian would oversee the treatment of a fine, rare relic?  What if I valued him more than the most expensive of items?  What if my job, my purpose, my life focused first and foremost on his happiness... His comfort.  His well-being.  His health.  His growth.  What would that mean to him?  How would my choice to sacrifice everything for him make him feel?  What tone would that decision - that commitment - produce in our marriage, and how sacred a place would our home become?

Now, it must be noted that I am already a believer in the concept of wifely submission  Furthermore, it should be noted that I do not live in an abusive or unusual marriage that would warrant separation, outside counseling, or protection in order to insure my own safety or the safety of children.  No, my husband is the most giving and patient person I know.  He frequently insists on cooking for me.  He goes out of his way to make sure my every need is attended to and showers me with nice things simply because he loves to see me smile and please me.  He is a good man who gives generously, loves endlessly, and cares deeply about my feelings.  He listens.  He snuggles.  He protects.  He remains faithful.  So, let's be clear that I am speculating this moment about my life - my situation in particular - when I talk about my marriage.  Sure, we have both come from abuse in our childhood years.  We have both lost parents at an early age.  We have both been flat broke and jobless.  That said, today I am looking at my marriage as a picture of the average middle-aged American couple who has spent the last decade or two together.  We live in a modest home, in a modest neighborhood, drive a modest car, and have, well... a modest life.  To date, we have both navigated through success and regrets in our careers, experienced personal health trials, witnessed great family drama, and survived whatever else life has thrown at us.  We are two people who love the Lord and each other.  We are committed to one another... we enjoy being together... and we have every intention of living out our lives giggling at the same things we consider silly.

I also must point out that I am no Holly Hobby or Little House on the Prairie type of wife/woman.  I enjoy classic but edgy fashion, good food, fun music, simplicity and order, peace, humor... and, like any true girly-girl, the color pink.  I strive for fairness.  I appreciate chivalry.  I encourage respect.  And, above all, I love, love, love the Lord and wish to honor Him in all I say and do!  With that in mind, this week in particular my Lord has challenged me to think beyond what my marriage has been.  He is asking me to further defend what some might consider to be moving backwards as I share the core sacrifice of a wife's role in marriage.

When I saw the gag book, God touched a nerve in me and has now pressed me to evaluate my homemaking, my words, my attitude, my efforts, my heart(!) towards serving my husband fully.  He has asked me to continue taking very seriously the importance and impact of my role as helper, lover, friend, and wife.  For my dear husband is indeed the master of our home.  He is the king of our castle.  He is in charge and I default to his leadership.  (Although sometimes not so willingly or with the right attitude.  Forgive me, Lord.  Forgive me, Chuck.)  That said, I do choose to trust and support his wisdom and respect his position in this agreed union.  I choose to be the woman behind the man.  I choose to be the neck that influences the direction of the head.  But I know I am not the head.  I will never be the head.  And, contrary to my sometimes selfish displays of immaturity, I really do not want to be the head.  For there is a freedom in being the bride.  There is a peaceful relief when we accept Godly submission in marriage.

Sure, I know that my husband is an average good-hearted guy.  But at the same time, I also know he makes frequent mistakes, doesn't always listen to good counsel, and rushes into things like a bull in a china shop.  (Then again... so do I.)  But I am still called by Christ to respect him.  To submit to him in everything.  He is the most important person on my list (after Christ).  He wins me - over anyone and anything else in this life.  He is MY husband!

But right now... the Holy Spirit is challenging me with this question, "Victoria, does Chuck know this?  Have you remembered to outwardly treasure him?  Do you treat him as well as you speak and write about him?  Do you place him first as I have taught you in Ephesians 5:22-24... or, has all this become a gag amidst the "real" truths in My holy scripture?... What would happen if you 'washed' Chuck's feet?"

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.  (Ephesians 5:22-24)

I share this thought today with y'all, knowing full well that I too need to stay humble when it comes to marriage.  Wifely submission is a touchy subject and clearly mocked/scoffed at by many women today - even Christians women.  But instead of rolling our eyes, pointing our fingers, and laughing off the idea of wholeheartedly serving a husband, I challenge every married DW to focus on what God's word actually instructs to you pertaining to this matter.  Sure, we all know what the Bible tells our husbands to do!  But what would getting down on our knees today and "washing" his feet prove and produce in our lives?  Think about it.  Pray about it.  Because, we both know, God's Way is the right way to live.

Oh, how great a love is displayed when our decision to sacrifice selflessly allows us the privilege to resemble the Master to those we love most.  How wonderful a testimony is the peaceful freedom of the bride who chooses to be loyal, faithful, respectful, and loving to the one (the One) she has committed her whole life to.  Let our husbands win our whole hearts with our commitment to make them first  - before anyone or anything else on earth!  Let us be the women behind the men... the disciples behind the doctrine... the servant behind the Master... the sheep behind the Shepherd!  Wives, submit.  Make him first.  Make him everything!  And, make HIM (Jesus) sooo proud because you have embraced the honorable, blessed role that God has intended for your life!

Just a thought from the Anderson camp.  Just a glimpse of this one Devoted Woman's wifely considerations as I pray and deliberate over God's law and how I might best serve the King of kings and my husband this day.

Lord, use me for your good.  Use me to lift up and help Chuck first.  Use me to be the help-meet/mate you intended.  I submit and will "wash" his feet.  Let me love like you love, Jesus!

XOXOX!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, April 7, 2016

God and you... or just you?

Lately, I have been praying through some very difficult situations that the Lord has allowed to occur in my life.  That said, I am certain these circumstances are purposed for teaching and drawing me nearer to Jesus. However, these matters have definitely made me re-evaluate all my goals and "the bigger picture" of my existence, if you will.  Right now, I am heavy-hearted, overwhelmed, and at a point where I am quite aware of the enemy's physical, emotional, and spiritual warfare.  And yet, through all this, I wish to share only one thing with you, my dear audience... and that news is this: Every aspect of our lives breaks down into one simple choice that we each, alone, must decide to choose daily, hourly, and in every single moment...

It's God and you... OR it's just you.

WITH GOD, we have rest in knowing He will provide every security and every need whilst always blessing us in His Name. He knows our future. He holds the plans! With Him, we are never alone or forsaken. We are held up, protected, and loved... always!

WITHOUT GOD, we have nothing... no health, no hope, no life, no future, no plan, no peace... no love! All that we may try to attain and fill ourselves with, and all that we think we may urgently need for ourselves, falls tragically outside the boundaries of the King's decree and is foolishness. Indeed, without Jesus we are lost, broken, empty, void.

You see, without the interceding love of the Savior in our lives, and without His proven WAY guiding our every step, we are merely mounds of corrupt dust who have settled atop a temporary planet of loaned-out stuff from a gracious Creator.

But with Him, we are alive, adopted heirs to the Almighty's rich, eternal kingdom - a kingdom where we have a real purpose to glorify His throne and thrive in His restorative presence forever!!! WOO HOO!

Fully grasping this truth changes earthly viewpoints and puts all attraction of worldliness on the superficial level it belongs. Godliness is all that matters, because only God is everlasting. Life with Him - loving Him with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, with all our strength - that is ALL we need to be focused on! Why? Because God, with you, is the correct choice.  God is ALL that really matters... FOREVER!

WITH GOD = Peace and Life!

WITHOUT GOD = Chaos and Death!

So, no matter how difficult this moment may be... no matter how hard the enemy abuses us in our current circumstances... what choice will you make today, this very hour, and in every single moment ahead...

God and you... OR just you?

As for me and my house, we choose to be with God.  We choose to move forward in every circumstance seeking His eternal vision and believing His promise.  We choose to faithfully serve the everlasting, restorative Lord Almighty.  For within the grace of His protective righteousness, Jesus alone is the proven WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE forever and ever!  Amen!

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

the vagueness of "a higher power"

Recently I was talking with someone who informed me that they believed in a Higher Power.  Without pause, I immediately assumed they were referring to Jesus and continued on with our discussion.  But later, I started to really think about their comment.  What higher power?  Who exactly were they referring to?

God?
Angels?
Satan?
Demons?
Flying Spaghetti Monsters?
The Spirits of Deceased Relatives?
Past Saints, Martyrs, Religious Leaders?

There are many definitions of higher powers out there competing against God and His rightful throne.  In my opinion, those who refer to a higher power are referring to a power greater than man... a supreme being, a deity.  So it is important to pinpoint what deity are we actually talking about?  What supreme being?  Perhaps the term "Higher Power" is a vague way of stating one's belief in God Almighty, but then why not claim Him by His Holy Name?

Furthermore, some folks consider themselves to be the highest power known.  They do not accept the big-G God of the Bible.  They reject the notion of a supernatural, spiritual entity, and are more comfortable solely acknowledging the abilities of naturally visible living creatures.  So perhaps their higher power is a belief in themselves?

Clearly, I should never assume your higher power is the same as my Higher Power: Jesus Christ.  And this brings me to today's thought...

Christians, our Salvation has one Name, and our God will not share His glory with another would-be higher power.  He alone is the big-G God!  He is whom we must acknowledge boldly and without compromise, apology, or fear.  We are His sheep and were created to acknowledge His glory.

"I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols." (Isaiah 42:8)

"Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth - everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:6b-7)

Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”’ (Luke 4:8)

The Jews who were there gathered round him, saying, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.’ (John 10:24-30)

Our jealous God will not share His glory with men, with the idols of man, or even with nature.  We are never to serve anything or anyone more than The Creator (see Romans 1:25).  We are always to give God full credit, full glory, and avoid all forms of idolatry (even comfortable vagueness for the sake of political correctness).  We are never to “exchange” His glory in favor of the “glory of man.”  For everything else... every so-called "higher power" will always, always fail.  Yes, there is only one eternal God... one King... one Way... and His Name is Jesus Christ.  He is constant.  He is forever.  So, let's remember to always praise and acknowledge Him clearly, confidently, openly.

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. (Psalm 62:1)

Thank you, Jesus!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

the narcissism of victoria anderson

So, there I was... hanging out with my hubby on the island of Curacao for a quick trip to the Caribbean to take care of a little work and a lot of play. The sun was shining. The air was warm and inviting. The scenery was beautiful. Surely, this was the place for "movie star" Victoria to come out in her zebra print swimwear and rock her husband's world as she sported her Jackie Kennedy sunglasses and snazzy, studded sandals.

Yes, I was ready to look all fi-yan (fine) in my wild one piece swimsuit and sarong. Working it. Owning it. Being the "super model" that I knew I was... Ahem. Ok, maybe not. But for some reason, during this trip, I thought so. For my waistline was a little skinnier and I was feeling a little sassier, if you will. And wasn't I just so cosmopolitan to be traveling to the beach? Yes, this was going to be the place where I would be the trend setter... the fashionista... the "IT" girl! Look out Curacao, here comes Victoria!

Poor Chuck. All he wanted to do was go eat lunch and swim in our hotel's fancy pool, but what he got was THE DIVA who's vanity required much time, preparation and attention.

Ohhh, but it would be worth it! (At least that's what I kept telling myself.)

So, alone in a hotel bathroom illuminated by florescent lights, I spent an hour and a half fixing myself up. I curled my hair. I shaved my legs. I painted my nails... all while Chuck patiently waited for me to join him outside.

Then, after my husband was about ready to send a search party in to find me, I made my swimsuit debut. BAM! That's right... BAM! Eat your heart out world. Check out your woman, Honeyman! I... (could I make the capitalization in that "I" any bigger?)... I had arrived.

My husband (who clearly could not contain his enthusiasm and gratefulness for all the work I put into my hair) smiled, rolled his eyes, and playfully said, "Glad you could make it."

Oh, Chuck. He's such a silly.

Then I caught a glimpse of my hair in the reflection of a nearby window... WHAT? In less than five minutes, my perfectly feathered hair-do had flattened into a hair-don't. Oh my, this island is a little more humid than I anticipated. Hmmm, I'll just say that it was the look I was going for... yeah, the flat hair look. OK, now back in the zone... Yes, I'm soooooo fine. I'm all that and a bag of potato chips. Check me out, Hubby Dudeman. Aren't you glad you brought this hot Mamacita with you? Mmmmmm hmmmm.

Then Chuck (clearly overwhelmed by his "rockstar" wife) calmly made his way over to kiss me to whisper what I could only assume would be something sweet and complimentary in my ear...

"Vic, your bathing suit has a ripped hole in the butt."

WHAT?

Embarrassed, I scrambled myself together and ran as fast as I could to the nearest public restroom. Sure enough, Chuck was right. I had managed to snag the delicate fabric of my zebraliciousness and was now showcasing a 1/2 inch hole on my nether region! (No wonder they call it the Netherland Antillies.) My left "cheek" was exposed in a very obvious "glamor don't" fashion. (Bad fashion!)

It finally dawned on me that I was not the starlet that I had hoped to be. In fact, I was quickly turning into a flat haired raccoon (my mascara had started to run) with a predominant hole on her behind! Yes, ladies... THIS was The Devoted Woman in all her glory. I had become too big for my britches and the Lord had express delivered a homemade humble pie to my space ship door just to bring me back down to earth.

We've all been there. We've all puffed up our ego's so much that we end up creating an image of ourselves that is inaccurate. We metaphorically climb high on our pedestals and convince ourselves that we are the bee's knees... that we are more important, more interesting, more worthy than those around us. But the truth of the matter is this, only Jesus is worthy... not us! In fact, Jesus wants us to climb down from our perch and then kneel. He teaches us that servanthood is more important than glory. That humility outweighs selfishness.

Paul says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” As Christians, we are to be modest and humble (Colossians 3:12), and live in submission to God (1 Peter 5:5; James 4:7), and to love one another with all lowliness and meekness and long-suffering, always forbearing one another in love and endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:2-3).

I can honestly say that I did not have any of these verses in mind while visiting Curacao. I didn't care how long poor Chuck had waited outside for me, wondering when we could actually start vacationing together. No. I was clearly more concerned about receiving my husband's attention rather than giving him mine. Certainly, God needed to stop the madness of my psychotic "ME" moment and did so by wilting my ego (and my hair). You see, I forgot that humility sees the best traits in others and the lowliest traits in one's self. It does not envy the graces or gifts of others, but rejoices in them. It does not wish to steal away moments by turning the attention to one's self. Rather it allows heads to turn to Jesus. The truly humble woman seeks to serve others... not to narcissistically seek all the attention for herself.

Sadly, for a short while on this vacation, I was a self-absorbed prima donna in need of an attitude adjustment. I considered myself the center of the universe and forgot about making the man I love my top priority. Thankfully, God would not have it, and quickly removed me from my make-shift throne.

I left the public restroom that day with a different attitude than when I had entered. I checked my ego at the door and was back to the old Victoria. Broken and repentant of my selfishness. Humored by the holy lesson (literally) that God had chosen to teach me while far from home. Now, I was committed to stop focusing on myself and start serving... start loving my man.

No more would I expect Chuck to spend his vacation shielding me from the paparazzi. No more would he need to worry about holding all my calls from the media frenzy of reporters. No more would we spend all our time dewy-eyed and completely infatuation with MY presence as I signed autographs and ate bon bons. (ROFL - yes, I'm kidding!) No, I'd rather we both save all glory and honor exclusively for Jesus. I'd rather we pause to appreciate God's creation and marvel oceanside at His beautiful handiwork. Yes, I'd rather my husband and I spend our time together in both love and praise of our King!

Ladies, does the world revolve around you or God?
Do your efforts involve building up others or boasting for yourself?
Is your life about self or about service?
Is today about ________ (fill in your name).... or is today about Jesus?

Consider, are you making every effort to reflect God's holiness... or are you simply full of holes?

P.S. ON SALE NOW... One Used, Vented, Zebraliscious Swimsuit! LOL - just kidding. God is good. Love you all!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, April 2, 2016

plastic fruit (...and dirty diapers)

I don't know what triggered my memory this morning, but I was thinking about the plastic fruit that used to sit in a pretty bowl on display in my Aunt Evie's home. For those of you old enough, do you remember when folks used to decorate with plastic fruit? Sure, some still do today, but not as much as they did when I was a child. It seemed like all the rage when I was a kid... along with orange shag carpeting and wood paneled walls. (A child of the seventies... yes, I know. I'm old.)

Anyway, back in the day it wasn't too hard to spot the fake fruit from the real. It would usually be cloudier in color; sometimes with a layer of something fuzzy molded to the top of it... probably in an attempt to make it look more authentic. But let's face it. It never looked quite right. For, it was fake fruit. And to be quite honest, I could never understand why someone would want to put out plastic fruit when real fruit was, well... real! However, the weird thing is, as a little girl, I still tried to eat that darn fruit. I would pluck a rubbery grape off it's plastic vine and chew it for hours like an idiot. Granted, I was a five year old blonde explosion who was still learning about the ways of life. But come on... why keep eating when you know it's plastic fruit?

But today... ah, today you can buy plastic fruit that looks soooo real. You would never know it. Pottery Barn and the Crate-n-Barrel catalogs tout apples that mirror the exact likeness of a Granny Smith apple. If compared side-by-side, one would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the real and the fake because both visually look the same and are exact in weight and feel. Only until you bite into a mouth full of plastic do you tragically realize that the fruit is fake. (Not that I have done this. Ha ha.) YUCK! What once looked realistic enough to eat and enjoy has now chipped a tooth and left you with a bad taste in your mouth.

I have found that many people are the same. They show up at church or Bible study and talk a great game. They fellowship and speak in authority and agreement about spreading the gospel to the world. They carry their Bible under their arm and look exactly like any other Christian out there. But unfortunately, they are as fake as the plastic fruit that once sat on my aunt's coffee table.

For when the time comes to actually minister... to actually DO the work of the Lord... they disappear. When the moment to step up and speak out on behalf of Christ arrives, they zip up their lips and cower. Sure, they are comfortable in the midst of other believers because they love to socialize. And they full-heartedly appear to be on-board in helping to advance God's Kingdom. But in reality, they have never broken open their Bible in private study. They do not know how to navigate through scripture to share various truths about Jesus. They have never shared the gospel message to anyone (not even once). And although some of them have attended church there entire lives, they know very little about the Lord. These are the lukewarm. The unsaved "saved" folks who darken the doors of God's house each Sunday and lie through their teeth about holding a relationship with Jesus. These are the folks who fall under the radar because they are standing beside us as we worship.

Now, like me, you may ask... How can you go to church your whole life and never share or know Jesus? How can you claim to be committed to serving God's kingdom, but never lift a finger to minister or help the poor, the widowed, or the orphaned of this world? Is that possible? Does that really happen? Well, let me share with you a little story.

Chuck and I have no children. However, Chuck comes from a large family with four older sisters and many relatives. I also come from a large extended family filled with many cousins, and we all grew up living in close proximity to one another. Throughout both our lives, both Chuck and I have been blessed with many babies joining our large family. Both of us have bounced little cousins, nieces, nephews on our laps. Both of us have watched over, cared for, fed, burped, and loved each wonderful infant that has graced our family tree. But only one of us has ever changed a diaper. Yes, it's true. For forty-plus years, I, Victoria Anderson, hereby announce that I have never changed a dirty diaper... EVER!

To know me, you would think I would have mastered this skill. With all my little cousins to cuddle and care for, you would think I would have HAD to take care of such business at one time or another. But alas, no. I always seemed to get out of it. Not intentionally, mind you. There just never was an occasion for me to step up as THE ONE to change someone's dirty diaper. Someone else would always offer to pick up the slack and take care of the responsibility... and I was never sorry to let them. So, I guess I could see how someone could appear to be something they are not.

Too many churches are filled with masses of people who enjoy the goodness of God from a distance. They enjoy socializing and spending time with believers but don't actually subscribe to following Jesus in their hearts. These people are the plastic fruit that showcase themselves within the pews of our congregations. But the Spirit of Truth is not in them. They do not know or share the real love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness of God. No, they would rather enjoy the "show" and take part in the fun of social fellowship. But Jesus... no, not interested.

Here is what God says about such things:

They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. (1 John 4:5-6)


No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence. (Psalm 101:7)

Although they say, "As surely as the LORD lives," still they are swearing falsely. (Jeremiah 5:2)

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. (Matthew 7:15)

This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you. (Galatians 2:4-5)

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them - bringing swift destruction on themselves. (2 Peter 2:1)


At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:11-13)

Ladies, Jesus tells us in Matthew 7 that we will know His followers by the evidence of their fruit. He also warns us throughout scripture to beware of false prophets. Why? Because God knows that Satan's whole scheme to lead others astray from His Holy Throne is to appear to be like God and fool them away. The enemy is a counterfeit... a fake... and some of his most clever followers are equally counterfeit and fake. Because of this, we must be diligent to insure that those holding leadership roles and primary places in our churches are indeed following Jesus and practicing what they preach. We must consistently pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal to us those who hold true to His kingdom... and those who don't. Equally so, we must be careful to consider the messages promoted by evangelists and speakers whose underlying intent is for monetary gain rather than the advancement of the gospel. (That is not bearing fruit... that is making a profit. Should not the gospel be shared freely.... just as Jesus share it? It is a gift, you know.)

Most importantly, we must take time to minister to the lost... all lost... especially those that walk the corridors of our chapels.

God took great care to warn believers against those who are false prophets... those who claim Christ, but do not follow Him. We are not to foolishly assume that everyone who holds the title "Christian" is automatically trustworthy. No, there must be real fruit. Many fake fruits have led well-intended believers off course - away from Jesus. We must remember that true followers of our King actually abide in Christ. They follow His way. They know His word. They yield to His life and produce.

Let's be sure to ask God to keep our hearts on fire for His purpose and hold one another accountable to follow His way. Let's always speak up and minister on His behalf and encourage and motivate one another to do also. Let's ask our King to ripen us and make us delicious, holy fruit... REAL FRUIT! He is our Vine, ladies! May we make every effort to flower in His grace while standing against the thorns that He will one day remove forever!

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does. If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:22-27)

Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:20)


Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, April 1, 2016

trust trust trust

Seeking God.
Looking at Jesus.
Trusting Him to provide for all my needs.
Trust trust trust.

But wait, look ahead.
I see something ahead.
Oooo, Lord I want that.
I desire to have that.
I NEED that! (Trip!)
I MUST have that! (Stumble!)
I WILL have that! (Fall!)
Greed.  Gluttony.  Lust.  Covetousness.
Self self self.
Me me me.

Uh oh.

Oops..... Forgive me, Lord.
Rewind.
Refocus my lens.
Reset my appetite.
Create in me a pure heart.
Renew in me a steadfast spirit.
A steadfast, quiet, still and faithful spirit.
Please come Lord Jesus.
Unsnare me from every entanglement.
Guard and protect me from distracting thorns.
Remove every idol, every false god.
Carry me in Your wisdom.
Yes, the Lord is my Shepherd.
I shall not want.
Lead me, my King.

Seeking God.
Looking only at Jesus.
Trusting Him to provide for all my needs.
Trust trust trust.

Letting everything else go.
Choosing to surrender, to give.
Choosing love.
Choosing generosity, sacrifice, devotion.
Leaning not on my own understanding.
Believing that He is trustworthy.
Knowing that The Lord's Way is good.
Cultivating my faith by clinging to His promises.
He will always supply.
In Him... I am joyful.
With Him... I am peaceful.
To Him... I am prayerful.
Today, I am thankful.

Seeking only Jesus.
Wanting only Jesus.
Desiring only Jesus.
Needing only Jesus.
Remaining close to Jesus.
Savior, abide in me!
YOU are ALL I need.
YOU are everything!

Seeking God.
Looking only at Jesus.
Trusting Him to provide for all my needs.
In all my ways acknowledging Him...
Trust.  Trust.  TRUST!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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