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Posts Tagged ‘Julie Cosgrove’

Say this sentence: What do you want to change?

How did your mind read it? It could have placed the emphasis on the word you, meaning an action on your part is needed.  It’s up to you. Your choice, your decision.

Or your brain could have latched on to the first word what. Now the emphasis shifts. It assumes change is happening, but asks about the object of that change. That means choice.

Then again, the mind could have zeroed in on the word want, perhaps distinguishing it from “need.” There is a difference, though often times we don’t get that.  It also implies a more passive approach to the question. The power to change it not in your control. It becomes a matter of asking for help.

And he [Jesus] said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

Why do we often assume we need to be in control? It as if the right of passage into adulthood is paved with “It’s up to me” stones. However, too many time we stub our toes on them. Still, we plod along, nursing the throb. “I can’t assume anyone else will do it, so I must.”

Jesus challenges us to revisit the emphasis of the sentence. To return to a holy dependency on our Father for instruction, guidance, comfort, and yes, for discipline.  Just as we once did as children.

We were never designed to go it alone. Humans were created to be in communion–with each other and with our Creator. Somewhere along the line, we forget that fact. Always have…from Genesis, Chapter 3 to today.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t take responsibility. Far from it. We are all inevitably responsible for our actions, thoughts, and choices. But I, myself, have been learning the humility of dependence upon others, which includes leaning more on God.

Truth is, if I am honest, my word emphasis to the question, “What do you want to change?” has changed over the past year as I struggled with health issues soon after receiving a call into missionary work (funny how those two things happened almost simultaneously). Due to both,  I am mostly dependent on the donations of others for my income.  And I am more dependent on other’s prayers.

In 2016, I would have definitely put the emphasis on me. I, the widow, must go it alone. Make it on my own. It’s up to me.

Today, my response is: “Lord, I want You to change me…daily, making me dependent upon You so I am totally aligned with Your will. I can’t do this by myself.”

More than ever, I need to grab Daddy’s hand to lead me. Does that make me a weaker person? Yes, and no. To acknowledge my weakness makes me stronger. (I Corinthians 4:10) To lean on His understanding and might, instead of my own, bolsters me to go onward in this journey.

Kind of ironic this missionary organization I have been called to be a part of is called Power to Change, right? Well, perhaps not.

How about you? Read the sentence again. What do you want to change? Then talk it over with your Lord.

 


The internet is a vast mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s  Power to Change, I edit and write for two websites that draw people closer to God:   Issues I Face  and The Life.   Our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month. Some are believers, others don’t know what to believe. All are seeking. We help them know Jesus, one mouse click at a time.
But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. And at this moment, an anonymous beneficiary will match any and all donations up to one hundred thousand dollars. 
Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html 

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HAPPY REFORMATION DAY!

“On this day in 1517, the priest and scholar Martin Luther approaches the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nails a piece of paper to it containing the 95 revolutionary opinions that would begin the Protestant Reformation...A number of princes and other supporters of Luther issued a protest, declaring that their allegiance to God trumped their allegiance to the emperor. They became known to their opponents as Protestants; gradually this name came to apply to all who believed the Church should be reformed, even those outside Germany. By the time Luther died, of natural causes, in 1546, his revolutionary beliefs had formed the basis for the Protestant Reformation, which would over the next three centuries revolutionize Western civilization.” * 


Out of one man’s protests five hundred years ago, many denominations, and even non-denoms, have sprung. Bibles, in the native language, have been placed in the hands of billions. Revivals have defrosted the frozen chosen.

Reformation – revival. Throughout Scripture God has used prophets, angels, His Son and His apostles, to realign His people with the Truth. We humans have a tendency to muddle it, complicate it, and even add conditions to it.

Every once in awhile the Church needs correction. Many believe it does today. Theologically, some pulpits have veered from Biblical straight and narrow path. Others have become too complacent and put the Great Commission on the back burner. Still others have divided over what hymns to sing, or what color the carpet down the center aisle should be.

Realign yourself with the Truth today. Nothing spooky about it, trust me. But it often takes gumption, and that can be a bit teeth chattering!  The outcome, however, is a treat--eternal life in the presence of the Lord as He smiles and says, “Well done good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21) No tricks.

Lord, may October 31 remind us to safeguard the faith. Give us the fervor to always seek Your ways and not our own interpretations of it. Through your Son, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen.

*http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/martin-luther-posts-95-theses

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 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved..John 10:9

I live in a gated community. In reality, it is little more than a false sense of security. I have lived here four years, and the code has never changed. Every pizza and package delivery knows it. The tenants who move in and out every six months to a year know it.  But even if the manager was more diligent in changing the code, it wouldn’t really matter.

The same gate that lets a car in also lets a car out. In this warren of residencies, one usually only has to wait a few minutes before another car appears, wishing to exit. No code needed. Slip right on through as they drive out. To avoid lawsuits, I imagine, the gates open and close very slowly, and if they detect a car in the path, they will stop and reopen. This allows at least two or three cars to zip through at a time.

What we need is a guard 24/7 to monitor who passes in and out. But that would be too pricey.

Why am I telling you all this? We each put up barriers and boundaries to keep us safe in our personal space. Rules, internal alarms, habits. However, there is also a gate. A gate you assume will stay closed during the times you want to stay safe, but in reality, can allow lots of things to seep in. That whisper that tells you this one time will be okay. You won’t really be breaking the rules. You are being bold, adventurous, trying something new. That new idea which makes you think perhaps your boundaries have been too rigid and unfair. An interpretation of Scripture that opens your eyes to a more broad understanding, adding a new lane along the road to salvation.

Jesus told His first-century listeners that He was the gate for the sheep. The people who heard His words understood the analogy. Shepherds would lead their sheep from pastures into a communal enclosed area at night. This was in order to watch over them and protect them from predators and poachers. The shepherds then laid down in the gap and guarded the entrance. Nothing came in or out without their permission.

The Holy Spirit is our mind’s gate. The gate code is the Word of God. Whenever something rattles our thoughts, we should ask, does it jibe with what I know to be Truth? Even so, if we rely solely on our own understanding, it can be a false security. Many people use the gate code, and not always for good purposes.

We need the Gatekeeper, 24/7. Don’tworry, He already paid the price.

 


Besides writing this  blog, I  have a digital ministry. The internet is a vast mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month. Some are believers, others don’t know what to believe. All are seeking. We help them know Jesus.

But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html

 

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Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4
I have a horrible sense of direction. No internal compass. As a child I was told my eyes faced north, the back of my head faced south, my left hand pointed west, and my right hand east. But no one explained they had purposely positioned me so this would be true. Later I learned to look for the sun. That gave me an idea where westward sort of was, so I had some sense of direction.
Today, we seem to no longer have a moral compass in our society. We have laws, but the goal now seems to be who has the smartest lawyer who can find a way for the law not to apply to their situation. Children are taught over-tolerance in school, to the point that all behavior is okay and acceptable.

When the Hebrew nation left Egypt, they had a physical guide–God’s compass-ion. Because He cared for them, He guided them safely in the way they needed to journey.

“Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.Nehemiah 9:19
In our life journey, the Bible is our best compass. When we look to the Son, Jesus, as our example, we get our moral and spiritual bearings. He shows us which way we should go. He is the Way (John 14:6). Because of His compass-ion, once we accept him as our Savior, He embeds an internal compass in our souls called The Holy Spirit to be our guide.
I may not know north from south at times, but I know Who to look for to point the way, be it a decision I need to make, a direction my life needs to go, or whether I should just stand, be still and wait. I look for the Son.
If you are feeling a bit lost today, seek the Compass-ion of God. Let Him direct your path. He won’t steer you wrong.

The internet is the new mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month.  But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html


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Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.

 

Houseplant lovers know that different ones require different care. There are low-light plants and then there are those that won’t thrive unless the sun is gleaming on them most of the day. Some prefer diffused light near a south or north window or their leaves will burn while others relish the afternoon western sunbeams.

Those exposed to the sun the most often need to be watered the most. You can tell when they are parched. Their leaves droop dramatically. Others you have to stick your finger into the soil to determine their need for water.

Some cacti and succulents will absorb and retain water.  They relish the water they get and store it up so they always have enough, even in drought times. But they need the bright sun all the same.

Low light plants thrive with a  slightly moist soil. They need steady applications of filtered sun and smaller amounts of water regularly to keep the roots dampened. In fact, too much of either will thwart their growth.

Many plants need more water when they are young or newly transplanted into a different soil or pot. Once their roots are well established and can retain what has been given they do just fine with less.

What sort of plant are you, spiritually speaking? Are you always in need of God’s light shining on you or you will not thrive well? Do you constantly need His Word, worship, praise music, quiet time, prayers of others and other spiritual stimuli to keep you going?

Or, are you a low-light plant? A little of God’s mercy and grace goes a long way, however you do need it regularly…in small doses. Too much is a bit overwhelming. Sitting in the corner or off to the side of the window is fine with you.

Perhaps you are a cacti. Not to say you are prickly… but you thrive best with the brightness of God shining constantly in your life and still have the ability to store up His Word for times of need. You can take a lot of heat, too.

The point is, God created you and He knows your needs. One plant is not better than the other. An ivy should never think it needs to be a cactus nor an orchid think it should be an air plant. All make the world (or the home) a better place. All absorb carbon monoxide and produce oxygen. All add green lushness, vitality, and  a peaceful beauty to a room.

We thrive best in different environments. My plants rely on my knowing their needs in order for them to thrive and grow. How much more so does our loving God, the Master Gardener, knows what it takes to keep each of us alive in Him?

I found a message from God today while tending to my plants. Where will you find Him?

 


The internet is the new mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month.  But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html

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It can happen in a matter of minutes. A beautiful sunshiny day can become overcast, gloomy, and dank. A wet fog rolls in and blankets everything. It clings to you as you strain to see beyond a few feet in front of you. You feel closed in, almost claustrophobic. Your hands are tempted to swoosh it away like you would debris when swimming in a river or lake. But it closes back in after a millisecond.

Life imitates nature, doesn’t it? I know there have been times my outlook was quite sunny. My world was just about perfect and I felt happy, accomplished, blessed. Then a situation or circumstance hit. Suddenly I felt as if I was encased in a fog. All sense of direction lost. I couldn’t see my way. My dreams and plans vanished in the thickness of the now.

Peter, John and James experienced this. I’d read the transfiguration story in the Gospels many, many times. But recently,Luke 9:34 leaped out at me. And God whispered a lesson to me. Because you see, I’ve been in a fog lately.

Jesus took these men up on the mountain to pray, as told in Luke 9:28-36. It must have been a gorgeous vista. Their Lord had gone up into the mountains to pray before, but always alone. Now He invited them. Not all of the twelve, just these three. Can you see their proudful struts, their smiles? What could be better?  Then they see Jesus’ countenance change into a dazzling white as the two most important, holy people in their tradition, Moses and Elijah, descended to be by his side. Wow. Talk about a Kodak moment! But they didn’t have that modern invention. No phones for selfies. So, Peter suggested they do what their patriarchs had done when encountering God breaking through to earth. Build an altar. Erect a tabernacle. Mark the moment.

As he [Peter] said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.” (Luke 9:34).  In rolled the blinding fog. Their view of the holiest thing they’d ever witnessed blocked off. The moment gone. Their breaths stolen.

But God didn’t leave them there. “A voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!'” (vs.35). Focus not on yourselves, but on Jesus. Erase your self-oriented thoughts. Let Him lead you. This isn’t about Jesus acknowledging you, it’s about you acknowledging my Son.

The good news is that God doesn’t leave us either. Even if we can’t see Him though the circumstances that are clouding our faith, He can still break through to comfort us, correct us, and lovingly guide us back to what we need to be focusing upon–Him. Just as He did for me as I read this passage in Scripture.

Fogs don’t last forever. The sun will break through again. But in the meantime perhaps we are supposed to stop and no longer rely on our own abilities. Instead, let us listen for God’s directive voice. Then when the sun does break through and we can see again, like Peter James and John in verse 36, let us continue to focus on Jesus alone.

 

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Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3 NIV

Christian writer Jon Davis states in his commentary on the Book of James 1:2-3, “We don’t give up or give in. We persevere in faith…”  *

It is a matter of direction. Where to do place this trial I am experiencing right now? What do I do with it?

God whispered to me, “I know you are frustrated. After months and months you are not healing. The pain keeps hanging on. Don’t give up or give in. Instead give it over.” I’m to take my trials and give them over to Christ to use as He wills, be it to train me up, to make me more empathetic to others, to strengthen my faith, and above all to give it purpose.

When we know something has purpose, we have hope. And when we have hope, we open our hearts, minds and souls to give…

– God-focused

I – Intellectually  – with my mind

V – Vocationally – with my body and ability

– Emotionally – with my heart

Then pure joy will be possible despite what is going on in our lives.

No matter who we are, how old we are, or how physically capable we are, we can all give. God has blessed us with experiences, talents, and Spirit- guided incites that we can offer to others. When we give it all over to Him — the good, the bad and the ugly — then He can mold it into something of use. As we begin to see the purpose taking shape in the potter’s hand, we have the ability to persevere. But when we can’t see it taking shape yet, we must ask God to give us the faith to trust HE will eventually use it. One day, we will look back, smile, and say, “OK. Now I get it.”

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

What is He calling you to give over, today?  Give it in joy. It’s better than holding on to it as you pout, or tossing it away angrily. The only way to not boomarang our trials is to place them in nail-scarred hands that never let go.

 


The internet is the new mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 a month.  But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html

*The Journey, God’ s Word for Daily Living  May-August 2017  Bible Reading Fellowship

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