Join Me At Grace Table Today

Have you ever entered a space…a home, a store, a church, a website…where you instantly felt hospitality and friendship? That is what I want for the people who enter my space….my home, my website.

There are a few places like that on the internet that I visit on a regular basis. Places where I find conversation, hospitality, and encouragement. One of those places is Grace Table, the creation of Kris Camealy. Grace Table is a beautiful website that is all about hospitality and home and the heart. A lovely bevvy of hosts pour out their hearts there each week with the purpose of extending hospitality to all who enter. I always find a blessing at Grace Table.

Today, it is my distinct privilege to offer a guest post at Grace Table. Kris welcomed me to share a bit about my new book, Tasting Grace, with the Grace Table family. I am so pleased to do so….AND to be giving away an AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF TASTING GRACE to a Grace Table reader.

 

Grace Table Tasting Grace

 

Here is a bit of what I am sharing at Grace Table today.

In the kitchen.

So much of life happens there. We celebrate the good times and mourn the sorrowful times over plates laden with food. Homework papers are returned to the classroom, randomly decorated by ketchup splatters. Friendships and romances happen over coffee and dessert. The kitchen is always the heartbeat of any home-based gathering, even when there is generous conversation space in the living room or the deck outside.

I was blessed to grow up in the kitchen, watching my Grandma, my Mom, and my aunts create tasty homemade dishes that nourished the tummy and soul.

Please click HERE to pull up to Grace Table and read the rest of my post AND enter the drawing for a copy of Tasting Grace.

The Loft Link-Up ~ Pot Luck

THE

 

We are a topic driven link-up, which means that we link posts that pertain to the topic of the week. Posts that are not on topic will be deleted.

We will offer a month’s worth of topics each week so you can plan and prepare for a post that helps you enter into the conversation. Here are the topics for the next month:

July 27 ~ Pot Luck

August 3 ~ Back to School

August 10 ~ Knowing God’s Will

August 17 ~ Social Media

Just a reminder that the link-up goes live on Wednesday morning at 5am and will stay live until the following Monday at 5pm. If you link up at The Loft, please do not link-and-run. We want to create conversation and community, therefore, we ask that if you linkup one post, please visit two others. There are some beautiful people who link-up each week, and visiting their posts is the best way to get to know them.

Now, it is time to get to today’s link-up. Our prompt today is POTLUCK. Share a post…any Christian post.  You will find the linky at the bottom of my post. Enjoy the fellowship at The Loft.

 

The Loft

 

#TheLoft

 

The Loft

 

Now it is time to linkup!

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The 6th Seal ~ Devastation and Terror

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood,

And the stars of the sky fell to earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.

The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains,

Calling to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb,

For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” Revelation 6:12-17 (ESV)

 

Revelation 6 closes with a terrifying account of what happens when Jesus breaks the 6th seal.  Let’s look at all the things that take place. I am going to divide these things into two categories: natural phenomena and human actions.

 

The 6th Seal of Revelation 6
 

As the 6th seal is broken many things take place in nature:

  • Earthquake
  • Sun blackens
  • Moon becomes like blood
  • Stars fall to earth
  • Sky vanishes
  • Mountains and islands moved from their places

Heaven and earth is forever changed at the opening of the 6th seal. The earthquake that takes place is the first of four we will read about in Revelation (Rev 6, 8, 11, and 16), each bringing greater devastation to the earth than the one before it. Some commentators have sought to explain the happenings of this passage by tying them to natural occurrences that are familiar to us. For example, the sun could be blackened and the moon appear like blood as a result of a nuclear blast. There is nothing to suggest this is the answer, but it is an interesting idea.

The sky vanishing, or receding like a scroll, could have been John’s only way to describe a tornado. Mountains and islands moving from their places could certainly be caused by a massive earthquake.

Whatever the cause, be it one that we can explain, or one that is unexplainable in the human realm, the fact remains that the earth will experience devastation unlike anything we have seen with our eyes. Jesus spoke of this time in Matthew 24:29 (ESV) when He said,

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

The human actions we see as a result of the opening of the 6th seal are quite dramatic. People of all stripes are filled with terror over the natural disasters. They hide in the mountains and beg the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. Dr. Vance Havner once said that the day would come when the most expensive piece of real estate will be a hole in the ground!! These people recognize that no human can stand against God and His anointed, however, it does not seem that they repent and turn to God.

It is important to note that this is the beginning of the wrath of the Lamb, and the only time this phraseology is used. Jesus, the Lamb of God, begins to execute judgment on the earth at the opening of the 6th seal.

Whew! That is some heavy stuff today, friends. Let’s stop here and engage.

  • Did anything in today’s lesson challenge or encourage your faith?
  • I know there are different interpretations of this, and many passages in Revelation, so please, please do not hesitate to offer your thoughts and ideas. My goal here is not to have my voice be the only one. I want us to teach each other.

It’s Time to Get Rid of Stinkin’ Thinkin’

Today I want to share a bit of what God is doing in my own heart in hopes that it will resonate in your heart. I am only sharing ‘a bit’ because I’m pretty sure that God is nowhere near finished with this particular work in my heart, so there will probably be more sharing in the weeks and months to come.

If you have walked with Jesus more than a pair of days, you might just have experienced something similar to what is going on in my heart. I feel like periodically God does an assessment of my heart, very much like a homeowner looks at their home. He opens doors and cabinets. He pushes back stuff and junk. He swings doors back and forth to see if they squeak. He wipes away the cobwebs so He can get a clear view of the rafters.

Once He has assessed the situation, He begins moving in the demolition equipment. Suddenly, a renovation of the entire east wing of my heart is underway, and it feels like the jackhammers and crowbars are going full speed. Just as with a home renovation, there is dust and shaking and pulling down. Things need to go in order for light and truth to take up residence. AND IT IS PAINFUL!

THAT is where I am currently.

 

It's Time to Get Rid of Stinkin' Thinkin'

 

 

There are two tools that God is using in my heart reno. Two verses of Scripture. Let me share them with you.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14 (ESV)

And the second one:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

 

Y’all, God has shown me very clearly that the meditations of my heart…my thoughts…are not always acceptable to Him. Ouch!!!

Let me show you how this might work in my life. Let’s say that my husband or a co-worker does something that irritates me. It would not have to be a big something, but maybe something small and insignificant in the whole scheme of things. Instead of either A) addressing it with the person, or B) letting it go, I choose, instead, to replay it in my mind a bazillion times. And each time I do, the offense grows larger and larger. This causes me to become the ‘victim’ of their offense. Over time, these offenses build up and my heart begins to become bitter toward the person.

I have the power to STOP these thoughts from taking me into Bitter-land. God is doing a renovation on my heart and showing me that I can, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, take those thoughts captive and replace them with thoughts that are pure and holy and true and right. The kicker is…..will I do it? Will I choose righteousness over bitterness? Will I arrest my STINKIN’ THINKIN’ and put it in jail? The choice is entirely up to me. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I am learning to be aware of my STINKIN’ THINKIN’ and take it captive.

What about you? When is the last time God did a renovation on your heart? It is only when we are willing to allow Him free access to all the doors and cabinets that He is able to do His work of holiness. While the process is painful, it is GOOD and FREEING. I encourage you to allow Him to do His work.

I’d love to hear how God is working in your life to conform you more and more to the image of Jesus.

Until next time, friends.

The Loft Link-Up ~ Teachers

Over the course of my life, several teachers stand out in bold relief as having made a significant contribution. May I share those with you today as a way to honor these teachers, and all teachers who dedicate their lives to education?

Linda Hunter Nichols was my 6th grade science teacher. Mrs. Nichols made learning fun. I can still remember playing science jeopardy on several occasions in her class. It was easy to learn when you also had so much fun doing it. Mrs. Nichols was also the one who gave me the only spanking I received in school…..for talking. Imagine that!!

Jack Parker was my middle school gifted class teacher. He is also my uncle. He is another teacher who made learning fun and interesting. He used creative methods to help us learn, and taught us to set high goals for ourselves. He shepherded the middle school debate team, which I enjoyed participating in. That is probably where I first discovered my enjoyment of public speaking.

Todd Kimsey was my Young Harris College biology teacher. He, too, made learning interesting. He was a teacher who was genuinely interested in his students. He wanted them to succeed and went the extra mile to help us do that. TK is still living nearby, and I see him occasionally. We always take a trip down memory lane when we visit.

Four teachers, one of whom I was privileged to be taught by, are extremely special to me. Charles and Betty Adams, and Angie Adams Burns, are my in-laws. Janie Collins is my aunt. Charles was my high school chemistry teacher and was such a great teacher. He, too, was genuinely interested in the success of his students. He poured into our lives and made learning fun. Betty taught elementary grades, and Angie, my sister-in-law, taught math in the local school system. Janie taught physical education and library science in the local school system. All four are dedicated educators who are greatly loved by many students.

The very best teacher of all, however, has been the Holy Spirit. He teaches and guides me. He has my best interest in mind. His instruction and correction are for my good. His goal is not just to ‘graduate’ me to heaven one day, but rather, to help me become more like Jesus as I walk the dusty path of earth.

Those are some teachers who have blessed me. Thanks for joining me at The Loft.

 

THE

 

We are a topic driven link-up, which means that we link posts that pertain to the topic of the week. Posts that are not on topic will be deleted.

We will offer a month’s worth of topics each week so you can plan and prepare for a post that helps you enter into the conversation. Here are the topics for the next month:

July 20 ~ Teachers

July 27 ~ Pot Luck

August 3 ~ Back to School

August 10 ~ Knowing God’s Will

Just a reminder that the link-up goes live on Wednesday morning at 5am and will stay live until the following Monday at 5pm. If you link up at The Loft, please do not link-and-run. We want to create conversation and community, therefore, we ask that if you linkup one post, please visit two others. There are some beautiful people who link-up each week, and visiting their posts is the best way to get to know them.

Now, it is time to get to today’s link-up. Our prompt today is TEACHERS. Share a post about Freedom. You will find the linky at the bottom of my post. Enjoy the fellowship at The Loft.

 

The Loft

 

#TheLoft

 

The Loft

 

Now it is time to linkup!

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The 5th Seal ~ Martyrs Beneath the Altar

Four seals. Four horsemen. Four events that forever change the landscape of earth.

We have made our way through Revelation 6:1-8, and now we arrive at the breaking of the 5th seal in heaven by Jesus. As this seal is broken, our gaze, and that of John, is shifted from earth to the throne room in heaven.

 

The 5th Seal Martyrs Beneath the Altar

 

 

Let’s observe Revelation 6:9-11 (ESV). As you do, take a gander at the drawing you downloaded in our first session in Revelation 6. If you have not downloaded the drawing, please go here to get it.

 

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.

They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

 

In case you did not notice, this does NOT constitute one of those sweet and comforting stories we were told in Sunday school as children. These verses are all at once disturbing and encouraging. Disturbing because we are clearly told that there is a set number of believers to be martyred AND that number has not been reached yet. Encouraging because God tells us that He WILL judge and avenge those who harm His kids. There is a judgment day coming!

As we look at verse 9 we see that these souls are that are under the altar in heaven are people who have been killed because of their faith in Christ. Many scholars believe them to be tribulation martyrs, while others hold to the belief that these are martyrs of the faith from down through the millennia. Perhaps Nate Saint is there. Maybe Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Stephen the Apostle. Peter, James, and myriads of others who gave their lives for the cause of Christ. Perhaps you are there. Perhaps I am there.

It is likely that the altar referenced here is the altar of sacrifice, which sat in the outer court of the Old Testament tabernacle. This is where the Israelite would bring his lamb or goat, tie it to the altar and slit its throat as a sacrifice for his sin. When that happened, the blood of the sacrifice was poured beneath the altar. The martyrs mentioned in Revelation 6:9 were sacrificed for the Word of God and their testimony, so it seems reasonable to believe the altar of sacrifice is what is being referenced here. Some scholars, however, link this altar to the altar of incense in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle in the wilderness because of the prayers these saints are offering up to God. (Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4)

These martyrs ask God how long it will be before He goes after the ones responsible for their deaths. This question is not one asked in anger or with the desire for revenge. The apostle Stephen, and our Lord, Jesus, prayed for grace for those who harmed them. This is the era in which you and I live currently. Yet, here in this Revelation 6 passage, we come to a new era….an era of judgment. These martyrs know that God is holy and righteous and just. They also know that He takes very seriously any harm that is done to His children. In effect, these martyrs are saying, ‘your kingdom come, your will be done’. They long for God to establish justice and righteousness on earth, and for that to happen, evil must be punished.

 

For those who like to read, I suggest Randy Alcorn’s book entitled Safely Home. It is the fictional story of the final martyr…the last Christ-follower who dies and sets in motion the events that take place in the end. It is a moving story that makes one ponder if that final martyr is alive today.

Now, let’s engage:

  • Was there anything in today’s lesson that encouraged or challenged your faith?
  • I would love to hear some thoughts on the happenings of the 5th seal. Let’s talk!

Your Life Matters ~ Giving Others What They Need

Over the course of my journey with Jesus, I have been prompted to examine my heart and life in order to make changes that cause me to look more like Jesus. Sometimes the prompt is a gentle nudge, but other times it is a not-so-gentle smack that stops me dead in my tracks. Regardless of the intensity of the prodding, the motive behind it is always sanctification, or making me conform to the image of Christ.

The more I fall in love with Jesus, the more of those nudges He gives me. I recall a time in my life when I rarely felt the need or the nudge to make changes. I was saved, but that was it. I had no relationship with Jesus. I had fire insurance only. It was not until I developed a hunger and a thirst for more of Him that I began to also long to be more like Him. Romans 12:2 became the cry of my heart:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)

May I offer it to you from The Message?

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

 

Sanctification, or the changing of a Christian to look more like Jesus, is something that I always thought of as being for my personal, spiritual enhancement…and it is. It makes me look more like Jesus and brings me into closer, more intimate relationship with Him.

Recently, however, I have been reminded that my sanctification can be, and should be, a blessing to those around me. As I am conformed to the image of Christ, the fruit of His Holy Spirit should be pouring out of my life. I should be serving up a ‘love smoothie’ to those around me, a ‘patience’ smoothie to my family, a ‘kindness’ smoothie to my customers.

 

 

Your Life Matters Give Others What They Need

 

 

Your Life Matters! People need what we can give them as a result of our relationship with Jesus. We live in a hurting, hell-bound, desperate world. Not only do those around us who are not believers need to see Jesus in us, but our Christian brothers and sisters need to be washed in the overflow of the Holy Spirit in us. Think about what a blessing it is to be around a believer who exudes kindness or gentleness. It makes us want to be more like that person, doesn’t it?

There are people in my life, people in your life, who need to see and experience the overflow of Jesus from our lives. It could be that there is a soul who circles around your life who is just barely hanging on by a thread and needing a teaspoonful of kindness or forgiveness from you.

So, today I ask you to do a bit of soul searching. Quiet yourself before the Lord and ask Him to speak to you concerning who in your life might need a little or a lot of the following things from you. You might be able to place a different name beside each one, or perhaps the same person needs all of these things from you. Allow the Spirit to guide you, then write those names down and begin to look for ways to minister that specific attribute to that person.

 

Compassion

Faithfulness

Kindness

Humility

Gentleness

Love

Patience

Acceptance

Forgiveness

 

Friends, your Life Matters! This is one way that you and I can be salt and light in our generation and our family. I would love to hear from you if this post has spoken to your heart.

 

Tasting Grace Cover

There are only a few more days to PRE-ORDER my new Bible study, Tasting Grace. Thank you to those who have already ordered. You bless me so much. If you are interested in taking advantage of the PRE-ORDER specials, please click HERE.

The Loft ~ Still

THE

 

We are a topic driven link-up, which means that we link posts that pertain to the topic of the week. Posts that are not on topic will be deleted.

We will offer a month’s worth of topics each week so you can plan and prepare for a post that helps you enter into the conversation. Here are the topics for the next month:

July 13 ~ Still

July 20 ~ Teachers

July 27 ~ Pot Luck

August 3 ~ Back to School

Just a reminder that the link-up goes live on Wednesday morning at 5am and will stay live until the following Monday at 5pm. If you link up at The Loft, please do not link-and-run. We want to create conversation and community, therefore, we ask that if you linkup one post, please visit two others. There are some beautiful people who link-up each week, and visiting their posts is the best way to get to know them.

Now, it is time to get to today’s link-up. Our prompt today is STILL. Share a post about Freedom. You will find the linky at the bottom of my post. Enjoy the fellowship at The Loft.

 

The Loft

 

#TheLoft

 

The Loft

 

Now it is time to linkup!

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The Rider on the Pale Horse ~ Revelation 6

The ‘four horsemen of the Apocalypse’ in Revelation 6 have been the focus of our study for the past three weeks. Each horseman was loosed by the breaking of a seal by our Lord, Jesus Christ. In case you have not been read the three previous lessons, I encourage you to use these links and go do that before you read today’s lesson.

 

Seal and Horseman #1

Seal and Horseman #2

Seal and Horseman #3

 

In the first post (Seal and Horseman #1, you will also find a FREE download. It is a drawing by my friend, Lisa, of the events of Revelation 6. For the visual learner, these drawings are mighty helpful.

Okay, let’s dive into our study for today. Here is our Revelation 6 passage. Revelation 6: 7-8 (ESV)

 

7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!”

8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.

 

Whew! As if the first three riders did not paint a grim enough picture, now we have a rider named Death, and his sidekick, Hades. You can be sure this will not have a good outcome.

 

Rider on Pale Horse Seal 4 Revelation 6

 

 

A pale horse. The Greek word used for ‘pale’ means greenish, probably referring to the color of a person’s skin when they are dead. The horse’s rider is Death, with Hades, or Hell, as his companion. Death takes the body, while Hell takes the souls of those who do not know Jesus, so these two villains work in concert with each other.

Can you see a natural progression that occurs as each successive seal is opened? Seal 1 allowed the antichrist to conquer. Seal 2 brought war and violence to the earth. Seal 3 brought famine, while Seal 4 encompasses all of the desolations of Seals 1-3, plus the addition of wild animals.

The opening of this fourth seal brings widespread death to the earth. Consider the implications of a fourth of the earth dying. The current population of the planet is 7.4 BILLION people. The number of people that would perish if one-fourth of the earth died is 1.85 BILLION. That is 1,850,000,000. The United States has a population of 324 million, while China has a population of 1.3 billion currently. Can you comprehend the devastation that would be present if 1.85 billion people died? Governments would be impacted. Social services like water treatment and sanitation would be stretched beyond their limits. Medical care would be severely limited. Everything would be impacted. Everything! Simply dealing with that many dead and decaying bodies would be a horrific undertaking. Diseases caused by decaying bodies would kill untold numbers of people. The whole thing is, frankly, unimaginable. But it will happen according to Revelation 6.

Obviously, it is easy to figure out that Seal 4 has not been broken yet. At best, I think we can assume that Seal 1 might have already been broken, but Seals 2, 3, and 4 are likely yet to come. AND I cannot even know for sure that Seal 1 has been broken. This is one of those things we simply have to trust God about.

 

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

 

 

Next week we will move on to the opening of the 5th seal. Until then, let’s talk about what we have learned today.

  • Did you learn anything today that challenged or strengthened your faith?
  • What are your thoughts about the opening of Seals 1-4? Do you think any have been opened yet? Are we living in the age of any of the seals?

Let Us Tell You About Tasting Grace

I’m SO eager to share a couple of videos about Tasting Grace: A Mentoring in the Kitchen Bible Study with you today. If you are receiving this post via email, please click THIS LINK to be taken to my website where you can view the videos.

 

Tasting Grace Pre-buy

 

The first video is from my precious co-author, Jan Morton. She is such an adorable woman and you will fall in love with her when you watch this video.

Jan Morton shares her new book Tasting Grace from Warner Press on Vimeo.

 

 

This video is a quick and dirty one that I shot today. God prompted me to share how He appointed and uses Tasting Grace, the event, to expand the ministry that He designed for me years ago.

 

PRE-BUY is still going on for Tasting Grace, so click over to THIS LINK and order yours today. Once you order, email a copy of your receipt to wporders@warnerpress.org to receive your FREE .pdf version of the book!!!! FREE IS AWESOME, y’all, so take advantage of this. Pre-buy ends July 18th so order today.