Matters from the Grey Cells Contemplations of a believer in a realm of unbelief

Weapons with Divine power!

March 15

weapons with divine powerYesterday, I finished listening to a CD by Beth Moore entitled Freedom. At first, I did not think what she had to say made much of an impression. However, I cannot get some of the ideas she presented out of my head, so I must be wrong.

The topic, of course is freedom. I didn’t need a sermon about freedom. As a child of God, I know I am free. So what kind of freedom was she talking about? She gave some concrete ways to weaken the strongholds Satan has on us. The reason I didn’t think it made much of an impression was because the strongholds she mentioned were substance abuse, sexual abuse, pornography, unforgiveness and extra-marital affairs. I do not have problems with these types of things, so I didn’t pay that much attention to what was being said at the time.

I know, I sound arrogant. I am ashamed to admit I had to think for a moment and wonder what strongholds Satan does have on me. There are many, believe me. I cannot believe it took me even a moment to think of some. In my mind, as long as I don’t have any “major” sins, I am as good as I can be. I believe in God, I trust in Him, I am doing the best I can. But, truthfully, I had to confess I am living in denial. I had to admit that I know I still have weaknesses, I am not free. I had to sit and meditate on what God wants me to learn; how He wants me to grow, what strongholds He wants destroyed. According to Beth Moore, “Identifying the lie is absolutely crucial to destroy the thing that has gotten hold” of me. Her words helped me to understand, and know how to apply.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 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.”

Before listening to the Freedom CD, I knew the battlefield is in the mind. I did. But I never truly learned 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. I did not realize that the weapons we fight with “have divine power to demolish strongholds.”

I did know Philippians 4:8
“whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or
praiseworthy—think about such things.”

And Ephesians 6:11-17
”Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

I knew I was supposed to think as Christ thinks, but why didn’t I know that thinking God’s thoughts had divine power to demolish strongholds?  I knew I had to stand firm and put on the full armor of God. I’ve done those things and I still have strongholds in my life. We ALL do. So, why am I just now awakening to the truths about 2 Corinthians 10:3-5?  Why am I just now realizing I have strongholds? I honestly thought I had taken care of them. If Satan had holds on me, it had more to do with my weaknesses and inability to overcome.

Some of what I thought was true. I was weak and I did have an inability to overcome. Some of what I thought of as true was just a lie meant to destroy me.  I am only weak when I do not use the weapons that “have divine power to destroy strongholds.”

Now, I feel much more equipped to fight the war and win. When I hear the whisper in my head that tells me I can’t ever change, I know exactly what to do. Replace it with the thinking of Jesus Christ himself. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” Jeremiah 31:3.” I can do all this through him who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13.

I know I have been equipped the full armor of God. I know the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  Now I know for a fact they have divine power to demolish strongholds. Now I am equipped to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

My prayer today is – God make something beautiful from the mess I’ve created on my own. Strengthen me to follow your principles which have divine power to demolish all the strongholds in my life.

Jeremiah 17:9

March 13

Jeremiah 17

There is no wisdom or beauty in me

without Thee.

There is no kindness,

no goodness, no faithfulness,

no gentleness;

 

Inside me, beside me,

around me, or through me

unless You are there.

 

But the greatest of these is love

February 2

Love isThe Lord never ceases to astound and amaze me. I delight in finding Him in he midst of the most mundane activity or even better, during a time when I am most definitely not thinking about Him. I love the vast and myriad ways He brings my attention back to my center,Him.

I am confessing that I do not think about Him 24/7. I do my best to keep my thoughts, deeds and eyes on Him, but I am only human and things happen, you know.

Just this week, in my first grade classroom my students were working their learning centers (or workstations as we call them). It was very near the end of the day and I was working with two students on their reading while everyone else was quietly active at their workstation. I noticed it was time to clean up and told the student working closest to me to start picking up. I then turned back to the two readers and tried to finish up with them.

Suddenly, there was a commotion and someone was crying. What a way to end the day, I thought! Now there will have to be an investigation. What happened? Why is this student crying? Then, there will have to be soothing for the crying student. No calm ending to this day is likely. When just a moment ago there was peace and harmony, calm and quiet in the room, now there is chaos and confusion, madness and mayhem. I am everywhere at once. Soothing and administering a wet paper towel for the injured party, directing students to complete their cleaning, directing others who have completed their clean up to sit down.  There I was, working in and of myself. Thinking only of the here and now and letting the circumstances control me and my attitude.

When one particular student walked toward me quietly, of course, I did not notice him. Oblivious, he kept moving forward toward me. He positioned himself right in front of my face and said, “Mrs. Sterrett, I love you.” He then placed his precious little head on my shoulder. Oh my LORD! What a precious moment. I see you Father, you are sending this sweet one to remind me of who I am, and who You are, and how much you love all of us.

There is nothing better than being in the Lord’s presence, when just a second ago there was chaos and confusion, madness and mayhem, the Lord sent his messenger to restore our room to fully focus on the “greatest of these…love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

The room froze and all eyes were on the love the student was giving me. I could see it on their faces as they waited for my response and reaction. What will she do now? I did what anyone would; I put my arms around him and said, “I love you, too!” I gave him a big hug. All at once everyone was lining up for hugs. We all hugged and happily cleaned up, lined up and left for home.

Thank you, my Father. Thank you that “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. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Love did its work and did not fail our class this week!

Thumbs down for Charlotte

January 20

Charlotte the tarantulaWe’ve had a tarantula in our room for the last three weeks…….. Her name is Charlotte. We had a cornsnake for several months before Charlotte and we all loved him. Charlotte, however, is a different story. This spider is so boring. She moves, but we never see her do it. She eats live crickets, but not when we can see.  She drinks water. The only way we know this is because her water bowl gets empty. If you ask me, I really think it just evaporates.

Every morning I come in the classroom and check on Charlotte. The first time I did this and couldn’t see her in the habitat, I was afraid she’d somehow gotten out. It literally took me five minutes to find her in there. She is so dark that she is very hard to see. Her surroundings in the habitat are very dark too and that adds to the difficulty of finding her every morning.

I never dreamed a tarantula would be so blaah. Next time we get an animal, we are going to get the two headed lizard or something fun. I do not want the iguana or one of the parakeets, but the lizards and snakes are the best for me. They are fascinating to watch and easy to keep.

So, I say Charlotte’s is not an amazing creature. Oh, I guess I have to take that back. She did shed her skin once and that WAS something to see! We were able to feel how fuzzy she is all over. That was really great.

After that though, it’s been downhill all the way with Charlotte.

Watching a miracle

January 10

Happy birthday to me
Paper whites are pushing out,
from russet bulbs a top round stones.

Lengthy shoots which grow each day
an inch or more as if to say,

Look at me! I will be tall
my stems are growing after all!

My blooms will be as white as snow,
and prettier than a Christmas bow!

The beauty of these gorgeous flowers,
will be cherished by us for hours and hours.

It’s been our pleasure to have a role
in helping these wonderful flowers grow.

We know that we are assistants of
God’s creation and unfailing love .

Biblical Friendship is God Ordained

December 15
A true friend lights the heart like a rainbow

A true friend lights the heart like a rainbow

The study of the book of Proverbs my Sunday school class continues is completely fascinating. I say this for a couple of reasons. First, every time I am able to attend, the topic studied for that week is hard-hitting. We’ve looked at Proverbs on pride, anger, humility, and today it was about friendship. You’d think friendship would be a welcome topic after pride or anger, and it was, but it was an emotional topic for me today.

Our pastor had a fascinating way to lead us in a discussion about friendship. What is friendship and how is it different from fellowship? How is Biblical friendship different from Biblical fellowship? The questions and answers that follow come partially from our
Sunday discussion and partially from my own thoughts and reflections about today’s discussion.

So, what is friendship? Friends put the other person first. They listen to each other and they are there when things go terribly wrong. They do not need to talk, their presence is enough.

How is friendship different from fellowship? Friends encourage and admonish each other with Biblical truths. Fellowship involves people with common interests but not necessarily common religious beliefs. A Christian may fellowship with a great number of people: non-believers, Muslims, and people of all denominations or political beliefs.
However, just being with people or sharing a common interest, doesn’t make them friends and especially not Biblical friends.

What is Biblical fellowship? Biblical fellowship involves Christians being together with
Christians in mutual agreement with mutual interests.

How is Biblical friendship different from Biblical fellowship?
Biblical friendship is God ordained. My pastor pointed out the friendship between David and Jonathan in the Bible as a Biblical friendship. That friendship was God ordained.
Jonathan was there for David, he saved David’s life. “Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.” 1 Samuel 18:1. Jonathan made a commitment to David that was for life. When Jonathan gave up his hope of ever being king to be friends with David God was there giving Jonathan the strength to be the friend David needed against all odds.

When my pastor said, “Everyone wants a friend like Jonathan.” It was surreal for me. I felt as though I was almost unable to follow the discussion because of what was going on in my own mind. I felt humbled and blessed and honored and overwhelmed all at the same time because I know without a doubt that I have a true Biblical friendship at this point in my life. I’ve never had that kind of friend (other than my husband) before. I have had a longing in my depths for a woman friend of this kind.

Before September 17, 2010, I would have been able to say that I had some close friends. I had some friends that were Christians and wonderful and helpful, but there was something missing. But, during my class reunion, I was reunited with my very best friend from high school. I hadn’t seen her in 40 years, but we reconnected like we had never been apart.

God and His everlasting love, goodness and mercy brought us together again. My friend lives in Lancaster and has been there as long as I’ve lived in Richardson. The Lord has taken us both down some very hard, rocky roads and through some difficult and trying circumstances. He could see us both all the time and He knew the exact moment we would meet again because that meeting was in His plan for us both. It is humbling to me to know how He led me through so many things I needed for this moment in my life. To be a friend to the wonderful, godly woman my friend now is.

Since that weekend in September, we have spent many hours together talking about what God is doing in our lives, praying for each other, crying together and confessing to one another. We have also had tons of fun! We’ve made jewelry and handmade cards, we went to the fair. We meet for dinner once a week to listen, encourage, cry – whatever is needed.

I do not know why God has chosen to bless me so much this year, but I am so very blessed. I have been blessed just being His child, just knowing I am in the palm of His hand. I knew Him in the hard times and loved Him. But it is oh so wonderful to know His love through this friendship.

I do not know why this scripture keeps coming to my mind. I do not know exactly how to weave it into the fabric of my journal today, but I want it here. So, here it is

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3:17-19

Happy Birthday to me

November 14

Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me.

      I am not sixty-three.

For that I am grateful

      Happy birthday to me.

 

To those who love me

      Happy birthday again.

What you’ve helped me attain

      I pray it didn’t drive you insane.

 

Happy birthday at last.

      This year went so fast.

Grow me up my dear Lord

      and make me steadfast.

Fixed on the facts

November 2

girls volleyballAs I am sitting here trying to think of something to write, my thoughts are like rocks skipping across the top of the smooth surface of a clear, cold pond; hopping from one thought to the next. Nothing seems related at the forefront of my mind.

Once I start to become aware of all the thoughts jumping around, one thought keeps skipping back to me: a volleyball game I attended Monday afternoon. Why am I thinking about that? If I am truthful with myself, I can’t deny I have very good reason to think of that now.  I enjoyed the match immensely. It reminded me of the many times I was on the court myself. It was amazing to me that I remembered so much of how to play and what to do. I wanted to be on the court playing instead of observing all the action. But, old bones do not play as well as they once did. “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”(Matthew 26:41b NIV)

After the game, I kept thinking about working with those girls. I even told their coach I’d be willing to help her in the mornings before school. She seemed genuinely glad to have the offer of help.

Then the worst happened…I started to doubt whether or not it would be good for me to help out. My inner thoughts ran along what seemed like a constant path of negativity.

‘You realize that it is from 7:00 am to 8:00 am….Every day.’
‘You’d have to be there ready to help before 7:00.’
‘Can you do that? Do you want to do that?’
‘What were you thinking?’
‘You’d have to bring a change of clothes and change before school.
‘How would that work?’
‘What is your motive for doing this?
‘Is it for the girls or for you and your own ego?’
‘What ego? It’s been 30 years since I actually played the game.’
‘That’s just it. Now you’re wondering if your skills aren’t good enough.
‘What if you look bad in front of the coach? What if you look stupid
in front of the girls? Don’t kid yourself, your ego is involved!’

The questions ‘Why? Why did you do that?’ keep coming back. I am trying to answer the questions about my own ulterior motives honestly. Is my offer to help for the team or for me? I love volleyball I was immersed in the action, the players and everything about it.

I must have gotten carried away…That’s about the summary of what I decide is my motive.

Then, finally, new thoughts start bouncing around like rubber balls all at once. I latch on to one,
‘You did it to make yourself look good in front of your boss.’
‘You want to be seen as someone who is ready to help out in any way.’
‘You want to be really appreciated.’
‘But you know you are appreciated, you’ve been told by all the top people  that you are appreciated.’
‘But that is not enough. It is never enough.’

I hate these awkward conversations with myself. Invariably, something comes up that I do not want to deal with. Why do I never feel that I get enough praise or appreciation? No matter how much I do get it never seems to be enough.

At these times, when the hard reality of how I think hits me in the face, I have to stop and repent immediately. “Oh Father, forgive me. Forgive me for not believing you. You have told me in your word, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. (Jeremiah 31:3 NASB) “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31 NASB).

I get myself into a place I probably have no business stepping in all because I crave praise and appreciation. As a believer, I know, that is wrong. But, as a human, that is where I am. I need the words of the Lord to be my truth. I need to believe Him when He tells me I was drawn with lovingkindness, and that I am more valuable than many sparrows. I used to tell my daughters all the time that they should not let their feelings drive their trains.  I told them they needed to let the facts of God’s word drive their trains. So, here I am today having to tell myself the same exact thing. “Oh my Father, I choose the facts of Your Word to live by and to drive my thoughts and actions. I repent from living by feelings that can never satisfy me. I ask you to forgive my unbelief and restore me into your presence free from the things that can never replace you or fulfill me.” Amen.

 

 

 

“God blessed us so much…”

October 2

West Dallas

Above is a video about the school where I teach. It is an awesome place and I am so blessed God lovingly placed me there (take a few minutes to watch it and you will be blessed too).  This year, West Dallas Community School (WDCS) is celebrating its 15th year serving the community of West Dallas.  Last Thursday, our school held its annual Fall Fundraising luncheon. We have been praying  for God to move the hearts of the people attending this luncheon to give and give in a mighty way. We wanted God to be glorified above all else.  You see, we at WDCS know that God has us in the palm of His hand and lovingly keeps us there day by day.  As I write this entry, I do not know how much the people gave, but I do know that whatever it was, God will be glorified.
As a matter of fact, he already has!

I was so honored to co-escort 30 first grade students to the luncheon. They had been practicing a recitation of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) daily for several weeks.  I was in charge of 15 of the students, making certain their shoes were tied, all the spots on their uniforms were washed off as best as could be, they had all gone to the restroom, had a snack, were lined up in order and lead on and off the stage.  It was a very small task, but one I am so honored to have had.  I just wanted to be at the luncheon and see what God would do.

The time came for our first graders to recite. They marched in and took their assigned places on the risers. I stood on the sidelines watching, praying and reciting it with them. The lead teacher, Mrs. Lopez, raised her had to give the signal to begin. The room was silent with anticipation. I closed my eyes. Thirty, six and seven year old students from the 8th poorest district in the United States began to speak. I heard one voice, I heard every word, no mistakes. Suddenly, I knew God was with us. He had filled the room with His presence. Those children looked as though they could conquer the world with the word of God. I began to cry. I tear up now just remembering it. They finished speaking. They stood like statues in their places while the crowd rose to its feet and gave them a standing ovation. I walked over to lead them out quivering from the worship that had just taken place. It was over. We all loaded up on the bus and went back to school.

On Friday, I asked my students what the best thing about their luncheon experience was. I love first graders! They are so honest. Some said they loved watching the elevators moving up and down from our viewpoint on the third floor. Some said they loved being in the elevator. They all said they loved reciting in front of so many people. Finally, I had to bring the discussion to a close and chose one more student to share. I felt again that God was in the room as she shared what she liked the most about the day before. She said, “I liked how God blessed us so much that we didn’t make any mistakes and He blessed us so we wouldn’t be afraid.”

Polishing Rocks

September 26

polishing rocks with waterSunday school began again three weeks ago at my church. We had to meet in another building for the summer and could not have Sunday school. We are now back in the building we’ve worshiped in for the last three years and everything started up again several weeks back. The first week I missed because of helping with the two and three year old class – I help out once every six week with them. I missed the second week because I was out of town, but yesterday, I was able to attend and as always, the lesson hit me where it hurt. The pastor is teaching from Proverbs. The subject is anger. Proverbs about anger are typed neatly on a one page     hand out:

“An angry man stirs up strife, and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.”  Proverbs 29:21-23
“For the churning of milk produces butter, and pressing the nose brings forth blood…” Proverbs 30:32-33
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”   Proverbs 15:1-3
“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute.”   Proverbs 15:17-19
“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty…”Proverbs 16:31-33
“A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.”  Proverbs 19:10-12

As I see it, I am always polishing the rocks in my character. I am as jagged as a multifaceted quartz. Sometimes, I do not even know where to begin polishing. The need for self-control is primary in every nook of my being, every cranny in my character. Almost every day I find a new rock that I must polish with self-control. Here are some of the chinks in my character regarding anger that I have to buff hard to polish away the edges.

Rock one. Why do I get upset when I see someone do something wrong? Or when I have to do the right thing and another person does not. Why am I angry and want to quarrel with the people around me? God tells me that if those things are in me, they are not from Him, they are earthly, natural, demonic. “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”(James 3:14)

Rock two. I am struggling with the concept that I am responsible only for myself. I have to behave the way God expects me to behave. The way I promised Him I would behave when I became His child. I have to be an island in this respect. I have to pretend that I am standing all alone surrounded only by water and be concerned only about what I do and say. I have to keep my eyes on Him, not on the person here in front of my face. Especially if that he is not behaving the way I think he should. That someone and God are responsible for him.

Rock three. As if one struggle is not enough, from class yesterday came the added conviction that it is not sufficient to control my physical actions. If I control my anger physically, that is good, but not enough. I must control my angry thoughts, for if I am angry and do not act but continue to be angry inside, I am still “an angry man.”

Well, isn’t that just wonderful? Don’t I just love that? Working on me is a full time job. There is never a vacation and it is always something new. I don’t feel as though I ever get one rock polished before there is a new jagged stone dropped in my lap. Work on this for awhile.

Gracious Father, give me a renewed strength to polish these rough edges. Strengthen my self-control. Hold my hand, speak in my ear, keep me from anger in any shape or form. Fill me with Your Spirit and teach me how to “rule my spirit.” For if I am able to do this thing through Christ who strengthens me, then it will be done for You and Your glory alone.

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