Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I DARE you to read my testimony!

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things, I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know the power of Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."
Philippians 3:7-11

I would like to testify to all that will read this that my Lord Jesus is real and mighty and powerful! He has done such an amazing work in my life that I am overcome with joy and want to shout it from the mountaintops! He has revealed himself to me in a mighty way!

I have to tell you that as a Christian I have been trying to live in my own power and have been miserable. I have never felt true peace and true joy that we are promised through his word. I never understood what that was like but I have always desired it. My entire life has been spent *trying* to do all the right things that I thought God desired of me. Trying to please him in my own power, but not truly surrendering to him. Because of this I now know why I have struggled with depression my whole life. I now know it was because my soul knew something was out of whack and desired something more.

I would see Christians who were so on fire for God and I would think, "Why don't I feel like that?" I have also thought, " Why don't I desire to read his word, why don't I feel excited to go to church, why do my prayers feel so empty? Many times I would sit in church and just cry during the singing and not know why.

I have always believed in God and was taught to love him and respect him and try to please him. I mentally accepted Christ at the age of nine and was baptized. Then my family went through some difficult times searching for God in different denominations and I was baptized in what I would call a cult and then in another denomination. So I had been baptized 3 times in 3 different churches by the time I was 13. I have had to sort out some very strange thinking that I was exposed to during those years. Then through my teen-age and early adult life thinking if I did A, B, C and D.. I was right with God. Almost thinking like a modern day pharisee. But never really experiencing his power.

God has been faithful to me through all those years and I can look back and see how he has used experiences to mold and shape me and draw me to him. I really don't know at what point I was truly saved, but what is important is that now I KNOW for sure. Was I saved way back at age 9 and have just been a baby Christian all these years and being messed up by strange thinking? Was it at the point when I truly felt his joy and peace and power? I don't really know, but that is not important.

Like I said before I have always read my bible off and on and prayed off and on and gone to church etc and have sometimes felt close to God but mostly just living a selfish life. Focused on me, me, me and my problems, worries and concerns.

I have felt his presence and love all throughout my life but can tell you that I never truly surrendered my entire life to him. I am so amazed at how the Lord has drawn me to him over the past year or so. In so many ways he has been shouting out to me,"I am supposed to be your best friend and you have been ignoring me!!"

I will share with you some of the ways that God has revealed himself to me and has made me feel his presence. About a year or so ago, not sure of exact time. I was really down in one of my low times. Going through the motions, not feeling a thing. Too depressed or stressed out to read my Bible at all. I'm sure I cried out to God many times to take these feeling away, but I never could get out of it. Sitting in church and just crying.

One day at church I just happened to pick up the little daily devotional book called, "Our Daily Bread." I took it home and I know this may sound gross, but I put it in the bathroom and every morning when I went in there I would read the short little devotional. This was the only consistent godly thing that I did everyday. And each day as I read that, those little devotionals started speaking to me and chipping away at my hurting heart. I started to desire Gods word more and more.

Another thing that God used in a mighty way was, believe it or not the book, "Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan. I started reading it with Callie in our home school curriculum at the beginning of last school year. Several years ago I picked it up thinking I should read it because it was a Christian classic and I just could not read that thing. The old english just seemed too hard to wade through so I gave up. But now HAVING to read it with her it has truly blessed my life. I came to the point in the book when the character 'Faithful' was speaking to 'Talkative'. This man Talkative knew the gospel inside and out. He knew the Bible inside and out. He wanted to talk about the knowledge of God and his ways. This is a quote from Talkative,

"To talk of such things, is most profitable, for by so doing, a man may get knowledge of many things as of the vanity of earthly things, and the benefit of things above....by this a man may learn the necessity of the New-birth, the insufficiency of our works, the need of Christ's righteousness, besides, by this a man may learn by talk, what it is to repent, to believe, to pray, to suffer, or the like, by this also a man may learn what are the great promises and consolations of the Gospel, to his own comfort. Further, by this a man may lean to refute false opinions, to vindicate the truth, and also to instruct the ignorant."

Faithful was amazed at this mans knowledge and understanding of all God's ways but when he talked to 'Christian' he was told that this man was greatly decieved and said,

"Remember the proverb: They say and do not: but the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in POWER. He talketh of prayer, of repentance, of faith, and of the new-birth, but he knows but only to talk of them".

Faithful went back to speak with Talkative and asked him about the 'power' of his religion...Talkative replied that the Grace of God made him cry out against his sin. Faithful asked him if it caused his soul to Abhor his sin. Faithful explained the difference:

"A man may cry out against sin, or policy but he cannot abhor it, but by virtue of a godly antipathy against it: I have heard many cry out against sin in the Pulpit, who yet can abide it well enough in the heart, house, and conversation"

I hope this has not all confused those who are reading this...but I have to tell you after reading this something truly convicted my heart. I was so moved by these words and I realized that I was guilty of this. I was just talking about wanting to truly know God on a deeper level, there was no power in my Religion. I was 'sorry' for sin but did not abhor it. All my life the verse, "Faith without works is dead" was drilled into me but there was no power in the understanding of it.

I cried out to the Lord as David did in Palms 139 "Search me, Oh God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Immediately the Lord brought to my mind past sins that I had not truly repented of. I wrote every single one of them down on a piece of paper and cried out in repentance of these. I told the Lord that if he convicted me to act on any of these I would follow him without question. In a few instances God convicted me to go to certain people and make things right with them. The guilt of some of these things had been keeping me from a powerful relationship with the Lord and fueling my depression!

What a release I felt as I gave these over to him! I felt like a completely changed person. I felt his presence and his power in a way I never have before. The scriptures became precious to me and I could not get enough of them. The Lord drew me to the book of Phillipians. I have been reading that book and only that book for about 3 months. Meditating on it each day....Reading Warren Wiersbe's and J Vernon McGee's commentaries on the book. And through that God has given me the JOY that I had always longed for!! Praise his Holy name!

Whereas before my prayers were selfish inwardly focused of: please help me here, help so and so, blah blah now I feel the power of my prayers. I long to spend time in prayer and just praise him for what he has done in my life and to intercede for others. Wow I am seeing amazing things happen! I listened to Brother Lawrence talk about "Practicing the Presence of God" which are the writings of a 17th century monk who described how to meditate on God all throughout the day and how that every small task we do brings him glory!

During this time of spiritual renewal God has used many other things and people to wake me up and speak to me at the same time and these were : preaching and teaching from Christians at church, Christian music, like the song, "The Motions by Mathew West", christian biographes like "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom, Preaching on the radio/internet: specifically Chip Ingrim's messages called "Ancient paths to intimacy with God" and "Counterfit Christianity" and many others.

Now as the scipture says that I listed at the beginning, I count everything as loss and rubbish compared to Christ Jesus my Lord! I can earnestly say that, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the POWER of God for everyone who believes." Romans 1:16 This 'Good News' is not just that I will be saved from hell....it is so much more than that...it is that I am His child and in continual fellowship with him. I have truly found the key: My life is not about me anymore it is about Him and serving others through HIM. Each time that I have stepped out in faith, I am seeing how God is blessing me and other people. Things that I would have been too timid to do before God is giving me his power to do.

The most AMAZING thing of all is that God has worked simultaneously on my husband's heart at the exact same time as mine! Drawing him into a closer relationship with him as well. I can't even begin to describe the transformation I have seen. This has been such an answer to prayer and has been such a confirmation of God's love and direction to me. It is a beautiful thing to walk in and serve the Lord together. Our marriage has never been better than it is today because of the Lord. Not only that, but I am seeing the Holy Spirit move in other members of my family as well and I am overjoyed!

I pray that all who are reading this who desire a deeper relationship with the Lord will cry out to him because HE WILL ANSWER! I pray that anyone reading this who has never been Born Again and recieved the Lord as their savior will do that now! A saving faith is more than just believing that Jesus died on the cross to save the world from it's sins and that he rose from the dead. Even the demons know that! Going through certain rituals or belonging to a certain church won't save you.

You must admit to God that you are a sinner and repent, turning away from your sin.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

"Therefore repent and turn back, that your sins may be wiped out so that seasons refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." Acts 3:19

Believe that Jesus Christ is God's Son and accept God's gift of forgiveness from sin.
Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life, No one comes to the father except through me. "John 14:6

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."Acts 4:12

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:8-10

"He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in this name, he gave the right to become children of God-children born not of natural descent, nor a husbands will, but born of God. John 1:11-13

Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
"If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord, " and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." Romans 10:9-11

Working IN Christ Jesus
Remember Jesus says: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?
James 2:14-26

"For we are God's workmanship, created IN Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."
Philippians 2:12-13

Growing in Christ

Read the Bible daily for this is how God speaks to you and tells you how to live today. Pray that the Lord will lead you to a church that accurately teaches the word of God. Be baptized to show the world of your new birth as the Bible teaches! Become friends with people who are on fire for God and follow their example! Immerse yourself in the things of God and he will make the desires of the world grow dim and conform you to the image of his Son!

Dear Lord, I pray that I will never just 'go through the motions' again!

I challenge ALL Christians to be excited about our Lord and spreading his Love...post your testimony too and see how God will use it!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Charles Allan Avant

I just saw a story on the news about a lady who was reunited with her father who she has not seen since she was two. I always love to see things like that because I am in a very similar situation. I have not seen my father since I was two as well. The news story told how the father had seen a movie where a man did a search of his own name on google. After watching the movie he did a search on his own name and found a message from his daughter online!!

I have been searching for my father, Charles Allan Avant, for about 18 years off and on. Wow...has it been that long? I began my search when I went away to college and ever since then, every few years the bug will bite me and I will try again. I have always come to dead ends.

So this post is my attempt to put his name out there on the web, just in case he ever searches for his name! So here I go:

If you are Charles Allan Avant and had a daughter named Cheryl Ann born on May 2, 1973, then I am your daughter and would love to meet you and get to know you. You have 3 beautiful grandchildren whom I have told about you and are also hoping to meet you one day! We have wasted too much time in our lives already! Please contact me by replying to this post!

I know you were born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and were adopted by Charles Agen Avant and Dorothy Baker Avant. You lived in Sheridan Arkansas and went to high school there. I have recently found one of your good high school friends named Joe S. on facebook who says he has been looking for you too!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Slow Food

Watch CBS Videos Online

I have never heard of this woman named Alice Waters...but she sounds wonderful. I love everything she stands for and believes in. I hope this way of thinking sweeps the country! Yippy for President Obama for putting in that organic veggie garden! I found this video from a blog called Food Renegade from the Real Food Media website. The blogs listed on the website are WONDERFUL! I can't wait to dig in and start reading them.

I caught the fever of the traditional whole food mindset a couple of years ago and have slowly been dabbling in it. It is true that people are truly brainwashed to believe that this lifestyle is too hard or impossible. So not true. I feel that most people are unhealthy because they eat junk. Let's go back to how God intended our food to be.

Let's teach our children from an early age to grow as much food as they can themselves and and make better choices in what they buy. You can eat economically this way with a little preparation and planning. You can actually find some organic food for the the same price or even sometimes less if you look. I just joined a group where a lady is teaching us all the tricks of using coupons. I'm finding lots of coupons for organic products which will save me even more!! Cooking things from scratch with healthy ingredients can be much cheaper than eating out at fast food restaurants or buying unhealthy boxed chemical laden foods.

Please don't freak out when you hear the words "from scratch." It sounds horrifying to some people. I did not grow up eating this way at all and no one sat down and taught me. I am slowly teaching myself a little at a time. Don't do it all at once! Do one thing at a time and once that habit is established, add on another one....take it slowly...baby steps! Trust me I still eat out and eat junk food sometimes...I just have a rule that I *try* not to bring it into the house.

The interviewer in the video makes a big deal about the fact that Alice does not have a microwave....well neither do I, and I have not missed it. I am learning to make my own "fast food" by cooking things we eat a lot of in big batches and freezing them. Like yesterday I made a big batch of chicken stock, used some to make soup and then froze the rest for later use! The other day my husband paid me such a compliment by saying that my meals have been tasting so wonderful lately! I told him...it's all in the homemade stock! And really.....it's so cheap to make...You just use your leftover chicken bones and throw in some veggies!!! So healthy for you and makes your house smell great while it is simmering all day!

What's the big deal in waiting an extra 10-15 min for something to be heated up in the oven or in a saucepan, as opposed to the 1-2 min nuke in the microwave. I'll take my nutrient dense food wait over the one min dead food any day of the week!

Yes busy moms, it is possible! It won't hurt your kids to wait a little extra for healthier food. Kids need to learn more patience these days and not have instant gratification all the time anyway :) Or if you're really in a bind and they are screaming, "Mom I'm hungry I can't wait!".... and you just can't take it anymore..try giving them some of God's fast food, you know an apple, banana, glass of healthy milk. Boiled eggs are a really cheap and very healthy snack or meal! I keep a bowl of them in my fridge for ready made snacks!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Farm and Gardening!

Since everyone in the world (it seems) is on spring break this week AND since we all have spring fever so bad...I have decided to do some light homeschooling. My mom is planning on taking Callie and James camping for a couple of days this week while I stay home and spring clean and organize.

Today we had a nice time visiting a friend at her farm! She is selling free range eggs that we are going to start getting! They are so yummy! Much better tasting and healthier than store bought eggs. We had so much fun petting all the animals. They have: horses, chickens, goats, ducks, bunnies, pigs, turkeys, cats, and a dog. Whew..I think that is all.

Then we came home and the kids played in the backyard while I planted some seeds in the garden. Last week I planted: lettuce, sugar snap peas, green beans, radishes, morning glories, sunflowers, and zinnias. Today I planted more radishes, spinach, and carrots. I started seeing my first lettuce sprouts poking through the soil today!!!

This year we are doing the square foot gardening technique. In the past we have always done the rows...so we will see how this goes. We also have some earthboxes that we put things in....usually all our tomatoes. I'm really excited about all the new things I'm going to try this year. I have always just planted everything all at once...but this year for the veggies that do well with this...I will be planting new seeds every two weeks so we will have a more spread out harvest! I also plan to plant: cantaloupe, eggplant, cucumbers, okra, and do tons of various herbs!! It just thrills me to work outdoors in nature and watch my garden grow!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Callie's 8th Birthday

We had a wonderful time celebrating Callie's 8th birthday at the Rainforest Cafe in Dallas. Oma, Grandad, Aunt Martha, Uncle David, Max and Kyla were there with us to party!
Callie and her volcano cake, minus the sparklers!
Aunt Martha, Justin, & Callie
Cheryl and the gang


All the cousins!

I love frogs!!!