You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
* 2 Timothy 2:4-7
In this context, Paul gives Timothy a number of illustrations and analogies, according to all of which self-denial and persistent work are important.
Paul encouraged Timothy to continue on, pursue, be strengthened by Jesus our Captain. He enlisted us. My captain is Jesus. I will suffer-endure hardships-if I am a soldier for Jesus. It's a given. As my trials increase: I need to grow stronger, my faith stronger, my love for God stronger, my trust stronger. None of these do I do in my own strength (2Timothy 2:1,2) but by the Grace given by Jesus!
Last night we visited a couple nestled in a valley of the hills of Ohio on the end of long country road about 25 min from our church. From the door an older looking man with a slight limp greeted us. Upon entering M. his wife 15 years younger, warmly greeted us surrounded by his 4 grandchildren.
With a slow southern drawl, E. talked about how much he enjoyed our little church on the hill. M. quickly agreed. I listened as she shared with me her story of childlessness, her hysterectomy gone wrong, chronic back pain and knee pain. She was taking care of her ailing father and her mother... she is only 41. My heart went out to her. Life is so hard and it hurts.
The conversation turned to Jesus. How Jesus changed my heart. How Jesus completely filled up Michael's heart at the age of 13. Living in broken home filled with insecurities...God reached down and rescued him from his sin, wrapped His arms around Michael and filled Him up with a new hope, a new purpose, new life, all because of Jesus.
We asked, "How would you describe your relationship with God? What do you think God requires to have a relationship with God”?
They both answered the typical church, giving myself, bringing others to church...but M. said something telling, “But my sin bothers me."
Michael preceded to tell the old old story of how our God is Holy, He does not and cannot tolerate sin. God is just, and cannot overlook our sin. At the end of those two points, both agreed that we were all in trouble including them. Which brought us to the best point of all...
God is loving and has reached out to us. Jesus completed the perfect exchange: Our substitute, His righteousness, our payment in full.
Both E and M looked at us in disbelief and said, “No one has ever told it to us like that!”
No one? Has told them? They had gone to church here and there, they have been taught Christian beliefs, but had never been sat down and told the simple, glorious, powerful, life changing Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus and only Jesus is the Gospel Theme. Simple, yet we feel as if we have to DO SOMETHING.
I wish I could say that they were gloriously saved. I cannot. Because they knew the religious terms of Christianity, but not Christ's transforming power of salvation. They have eagerly agreed to the exchange Bible study and will be in church again on Sunday.
Why do I tell that story? I need to continue on in Walking worthy of the calling God has called us to: One of which is reaching others with the Powerful Gospel of Jesus Christ. The days that feel hard, without purpose, a struggle to get through, if I remember that I am a soldier in Jesus army…He’s my Captain…my purpose, then I can identify with Timothy and be encouraged by Paul’s admonition.
My captain is Jesus. I will suffer -endure hardships-if I am a soldier for Jesus. It's a given. As my trials increase: I need to grow stronger, my faith stronger, my love for God stronger, my trust stronger. None of these do I do in my own strength (2Timothy 2;1,2) but in strength from the GRACE that is in Jesus.
My purpose as a soldier is to please and serve my captain Jesus-the one who enlisted me.
”You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” 2 Timothy 2:1
However, my strength comes from the GRACE that is in Christ Jesus, my Captain.
Getting out of the house and giving the gospel is a wonderful encouragement in the Lord.
We soldier on following our Captain, the best, most blessed job in the world.
At the request of my sister (the one in college) I have come to update:). About a month ago (maybe more...I can't remember) my family went on a trip to COSI, a children's science museum that is super awesome. Above are Serenity and Mercy in front of the pendulum. I'm technically supposed to be doing school right now. Ahem. So I shall post the rest of the pictures and continue on:)
Ok onto South Carolina! Last week my mom, Melody, and Amarisa went down to South Carolina to help out Aunt Sarah with Owen (who is adorably cute!!!) Sadly, I have no pictures, but I'm sure you can just imagine the green leaves and warm weather down there:).
Edit: my college sister (which is Autumn:)) just emailed me some pictures!! So here they are!
Now to birthdays. I'm pretty I've already written about Timothy's birthday, but in case I didn't, he turned 14 in November. My mom turned 35 (not really; she's going backwards now;)) a couple of weeks ago, and Serenity turned 11 two days later. I don't think I have pictures of that either....But the cakes were good!!
Amarisa is now 17-almost-18 months old. She finally started walking a couple weeks ago and is soooo cute. But sadly she has a bad cold right now:( Now I really must get back to school, so I'll just dump some random pics I have in:) Enjoy and HAPPY SPRING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I break this blog-silence to tell y'all a real-to-life true story that happened actually today. Please excuse the quality of the pictures because I took them all with my iPod:) And now, without further ado, I bring you "The Tale of Two Tires" . Enjoy.
Once upon a time, I was driving home from church with my dad and sister when the tire blew.
Being the smart driver I am, I pulled over and turned on the hazards (actually my dad told me too:)). We decided it would be a great teaching lesson on how to change a tire! We got the spare, the jack, and the metal thing (I'm sure it has a name, but I can't think of what it might be at the moment) to take the tire off. One of the families from church graciously stopped to help, and we got the front part off after much pulling, tugging, and turning on the lug nuts.
The jack went right on and we took turns turning it to slowly lift the car up. Well, it lifted fine, but then (as I was taking a turn) the jack bent and the car fell.
We called another person from church and they brought their jack. The tire was leaning toward the left, so it wouldn't come off very easily. All the guys took turns kicking it, but without a hammer, we weren't going anywhere. Also, the jack we were using started bending, so we decided it was better to be safe and once again brought the car back down. We called yet another person from church who brought this super awesome jack.
The jack worked beautifully, but the tire wasn't very cooperative. But after kicking it/hitting it multiple times with a hammer, it came right off:). We got the spare on and the car down, but, then we realized the spare was flat. My dad went with another person to get the tire filled, and finally, without any other problems, we got the tire changed.
And there you have it!! A Tale of Two Tires. Or I debated calling it, "How Many People Does It Take to Change a Tire" :). I counted eight. Thus ending my first lesson in changing tires!
Hi! Wow, time sure flies! I feel like I say that a lot, but it really true. I think as I get older (16.....sooooo old;)) life goes by faster. My dad says it has to do with doing the same things over, and over, and over, and over, and over. Well, I've been keeping pretty busy lately, as have the rest of the clan. What with three-soon-to-be-five birthdays going by, school, learning to drive (!!!!!), and other random things, it's been pretty crazy. I also resurrected my camera after a couple months of rest (I brought it to camp but never took any pictures...something I very greatly regret).
On Sunday we were invited to a surprise anniversary party and we passed an amazing sunflower field!!! Dad stopped and let me take a couple pictures. Just 'cause sometimes, you've got to stop and smell (or take pictures) of sunflowers:)
So, now for birthdays. Amarisa turned 1 year old on September 6. She had a little trouble getting into her cupcake, but once we gave her a lick of the frosting, she dove right in!
Mercy turned either 7 or 8 (I honestly cannot remember at the moment) on September 8.
My amazing daddy had a birthday on September 25, but I won't say how old he is just because I'm his favorite daughter:)
Autumn turns 19 today!!!!!!! We sent her a whole bunch of gifts so she'll have a lot of things to open!! Charity turns 4 on the 19th and she's super excited. Timothy has the last birthday of the year in November, but that's a while away. Well, sort of.
Melody and I have been keeping busy with our on-line college classes. We're taking Fundamentals of Speech, which I do not like all that much, but I have to take, and Comp 1 which is awesome;). So far we've given two speeches and written two five-page papers. Such fun....
Also up in the amazing state of Wisconsin (and I can say that because I was born there;)) is the Cola Clash + !! We're taking a group up to Falls Baptist Church for the Cola Clash +. It's basically like an extended Cola Clash, but it costs money, and is more awesome.
Also, to whoever ate half the bowl of cookie dough that was in the freezer.....well, beware. :)
So anyway, that's pretty much all that's going on. Until next time!
Wow! It's been a long time hasn't it? All summer to be exact. My sisters and I had the most amazing summer ever! Maybe I'll get them to say something about it, but for now I'll just tell ya'll about my summer:) As I said, my sister's and I had the awesome opportunity of working at Camp Joy in Whitewater WI this summer. My mom posted a couple updates throughout the months we were gone, but I'll give some more detail. And throw in a couple random pictures too:)
I (Carissa) worked in the Housekeeping department. Basically, we cleaned everything. By everything I mean bathrooms (at least most of them which was a lot!), the chapel, the Lodge (which included the Fireside Room and Dining Hall), the Heritage Room, the Office, the Gym, the Nurse's Station, etc. We also serviced the Driftwood Cabins and Deluxe Rooms where families stay during family camps and sponsors stay during teen or junior weeks. Every afternoon we stocked the Gym Snack Shop and Snack Shack (try saying that five times fast! "Stocking the Snack Shop."). In the afternoons and evenings we worked in the different shops: the Bookstore, General Store, Gym Snack Shop, and the Snack Shack in the Lodge.
Because I wasn't able to be at Camp Joy during training week, I was definitely baptized by fire! I honestly had no idea what I was doing the first week, but thankfully, the other girls and both my supervisors taught me well:) I may or may not have exploded a blender during Junior Camp 1, dump hot chocolate mix all over me, and cut my thumb open two days before I left, but I survived! During Teen 3, a lot of us Housekeeping girls were able to help out in the kitchen because the Kitchen staff had lost a few people. We didn't really have any idea what we were doing in there, but the Kitchen staff graciously taught us. We waitress-ed, worked in the dish room (we REALLY didn't know what we were doing in there ;)) and helped clean up as much as we could before doing our own jobs.
I made a lot of friends over the summer as well! I had my own little cleaning buddy (the nurse's three-year-old son) who helped me clean every morning. He called me Cleaning Carissa:). And then all the other op-staff people. We had so many inside jokes that no one would ever get and would probably think we're crazy. But we had tons of fun. I was able to go to most of the evening chapel services. There were so many great messages and God was definitely working in every one of the camps. I had an amazing time this summer and hope to be able to do it again next year!!
But, moving on from Camp; now to life lately. Josh and Autumn leave for college in exactly one week, Josh as a sophomore and Autumn as a freshman. Melody and I are both high school seniors. We're taking a couple college classes on-line for dual-credit, plus some other random classes we need to graduate. Timothy (13) is a freshman this year, Stephen (12) is in 6th grade, Serenity (10) is in 5th grade, Mercy (7-soon-to-be-8) is in second grade, and Charity (almost 4) is sort of but not really doing Kindergarten. Amarisa is almost 1 (when did that happen??) and, even though she's still pretty tiny, she's pulling herself up on everything, "talking" all the time, and waving (and saying) "hi" and "bye".
Well, that's all for now! Thanks so much for everyone's prayers for us this summer!
The last one for at least the summer anyway :). We've been super busy for the past couple of days because we got to go to the Teach Them Diligently Home school Convention in Sandusky, Ohio.
Some see it as dreadful.
Some see it as enjoyable. I see it as a life given and directed by God.
Several years ago, God used II Corinthians 11 to show me that it is His plan for me to be single, because my focus can be fully on Him and serving Him without distraction.
I can spend as much time with God without immediate distractions in my home.
I can put my entire focus on Him whenever He wants to talk to me and I want to listen. (Yes, there are times that I don't want to listen.)
I still believe that He wants me to be single and know it's true, but sometimes I do dread it.
Not because I am missing out on something, but because I lack the connection with other people. My closest biological family members live an hour away.
The church I am a member of is mostly made up of children. With that said, there are a lot of married couples. In this church I am the only single, never married, 30-something, lady.
These circumstances could be discouraging because it means that, because I work outside of the home (and they don't), the other ladies are available for connecting with each other throughout the day.
I am available in the evenings. They aren't, because for most of them, that's the only time they get to see their husbands, and they are busy getting their children ready for bed. I can't connect with them during the time I am available.
These circumstances could be discouraging because a lot of what is taught in the church is about families and being a wife. I am neither a mother, nor a wife. Most of my friends there are one or both.
These circumstances could be discouraging for many other reasons that I will not list because, by now, you can probably come up with your own.
These circumstances could be seen as a blessing. While many wives and mothers have to search their busy days for five minutes to sit with God, I have seemingly unlimited time to spend with Him.
These circumstances could be seen as a blessing, because I don't have other people determining my schedule.
These circumstances could be seen as dreadful or a blessing, because I can drop what I am doing and help them out with babysitting or running Mom and one child to the ER or sitting with the children while Dad and Mom get out for a little while.
Am I saying that I am not happy where God has me? Am I saying that I wish it were different? Am I saying that this life is discouraging? Not at all!
This must be said before I move on...To become His child, you must be born of the Spirit (saved). We are all born physically and are His creation. That doesn't make us His children.
God promises in His Word that He will provide for His children. That means that what I HAVE or LACK today it EXACTLY where He wants me! I CAN be content in either situation!
Philippians 4 discusses this and includes two verses that are so often taken out of context. Paul is writing these words as he is moved by the Holy Spirit. He says he can do all things through Christ Who strengthens him and be content in any situation. He also tells the Philippines that God will supply their need as they have allowed Him to use them to supply for Paul's need.
Psalm 68:6 says that God sets the solitary (single) in families. Even though my biological family members are numerous and live far away, God has placed me in MANY families! I have more children than mother could ever give birth to!
I serve God Almighty! In my singleness! Because it is His plan for me today! It is His plan for me because it is where I am! If it wasn't His plan, it would not be taking place!
I am and can continue to be content only through Christ's help and strength!
Jump back to the Old Testament and look at the life of Joseph for a moment. He has some pretty rough circumstances to live with. He was Daddy's favorite, but his brothers hated him. They planned to kill him, but chose to sell him instead. They chose where he would live.
He did not choose his circumstances:
Just like me and you, Joseph could be content because of God he served! He did not choose his circumstances, but he did choose to respond rightly and with God's help, to his circumstances! If even one response was different, most if not all of the people in that region would have died!
We ALL have different circumstances in life. Yours and mine are EXACTLY what we need to get us to God!
If you are single, if you are a wife, if you are a mother of a few or a lot , if you did not choose the circumstances of your life, if you did choose your circumstances, if you are reaping what you have sown, if you are reaping what others have sown, YOU CAN BE CONTENT IN CHRIST!
Sure, you can make yourself believe that you are content for a little while, but in Christ, you can be content with ANY circumstance that comes!
I will admit that there are times when I dread the path God has me on and dread being single, but I AM content with it because I have Christ! I could be missing out on the connection and relationships with other people, but I have the greatest relationship of all with God through Jesus Christ! Through that relationship, everything I need (good or bad) is supplied!
Do you know that kind of contentment? Do you have a restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ? Do you know God as He describes Himself in His Word (the Bible)? I urge you NOT to go to a person to find these things out. I URGE you to pick up a Bible and find out about God from Himself!
Guest posted by Lisa Langley.
A women who is : Single. Loves God. Love children. Loves Serving others.
Back in October of 2014, a friend heard a message and told me that it was written for me. It was on Psalm 107. All she said was that I should read it sometime. Well, a few weeks later, I started reading it. I had NO CLUE what she was talking about, but because she is a very respected mentor of mine, I kept reading it at various times over the next couple months, still having no idea what she was referring to.
I also found the message she was referring to and listened to it MANY times! It was not sinking in.
By the end of January, I cried it to God in desperation, "I KNOW You have something You want me to learn in this Psalm or You would not have laid it on her heart to guide me to it and I would not be spending so much time trying to figure this out! You know I am slow at understanding and that I want to know You so much more! Please help me!"
That was my cry a few times during that week.
On January 28th, 2015, I learned what He was trying to show me! I only remember the date because I wrote it in my Bible.
On this particular day, I arrived at church early on Wednesday. I typically do because of the office work ministry God has given. But on this day, I had all that work caught up and had "extra time". Providence of God right there!! Earlier that day, I was desiring to know about Psalm 107 so much that I decided to write out the Psalm word for word before church. I spent an hour copying the text out. My eyes were opened as I reached the end of the Psalm...verse 43.
As I read those words of verse 43, I paused for several minutes. Not because I had finished reading, but because God opened my eyes. In the words of that one verse, I knew that I did not understand God's love towards me. I knew that I had to study out the Psalm to understand since it was referring to the things written in the previous 42 verses. I was speechless, even though I was by myself. I decided to let God work and help me to understand His loving kindness!
I continued listening to that message and reading through the Psalm many times per week. I wrote it out again in different sections and asked questions of the text as we had been learning to do through our afternoon Growth Point service. This opened my eyes more.
The definition of loving-kindness given in that message I was listening to was eye opening in itself - Loving-kindness is committed, unchanging, loving determination of the Lord, Who will NEVER give up on those who He has chosen for Himself. A quality that moves one to act for the benefit of another without respect to the advantage it might bring to the one who expresses it.
This Psalm describes four instances of trouble, crying, deliverance, and thanks. The immediate context is with the children of Israel, but I started seeing myself before salvation and even times since salvation when I was out of fellowship with God.
While doing this, God opened my eyes to seeing His mercy in this Psalm as well. I didn't see it before because I was focused on seeing and understanding His loving-kindness.
Though I knew God loved me, I never understood how much. This friend used an illustration of kicking at a brick wall rather than turning to God in some things in her life. This is what I have been doing as well, but didn't know it.
I didn't understand God's love for me which affected every area of my life. All of the bondage spoken of in Psalm 107 describes a place that I put myself because of lack of understanding of God's love and mercy. It also describes God's deliverance from that place!
I based my understanding on what others said and on how others showed or didn't show love towards me. God loves me even though I have done wicked things against Him. He loves me because of NOTHING of me. I had to (and did) choose to believe that! That's all! Just a small decision and my eyes were opened!! A weight was lifted!
In the moments as I realized this, God brought to mind an incident as a small illustration -- I had done some wicked thing. I went to "the office" for it. I don't remember what it was, honestly. I remember that I deserved everything I got in there and more! I remember not speaking because I couldn't make my thoughts into words. I remember not explaining because there was no need to. I remember partly what it involved, but not why I got in trouble. I do remember every part of the one in authority in that room, however.
She was stern.
She was honest.
When we left that room, she never spoke of it again. Only until years later when we would joke about it, was it ever mentioned, and that was after I brought it back up. I never understood that. I never understood why or how that was possible for someone to NEVER bring my sin back up. It was ever present in MY mind. She knew about it, too. Yet she never brought it up.
She was loving.
Now, after reading Psalm 107, I can see loving-kindness and mercy in her actions.
As I write this, tears are pouring down my cheeks because I can also see the lovingkindness and mercy of God in not only that situation, but in my life! I can't put that into words at the moment because of my crying, but I KNOW now that because of God's loving-kindness and mercy, though I may have consequences when I blow it, He will ALWAYS love me and ALWAYS relieve me from my miserable condition (that's what mercy always is)!
God’s love for me has been the same since He created everything! It hasn't changed because of my sin, failure, performance, or anything else! I had always seen God as heavy handed, though I knew He loved me because Jesus died for me and had accepted His free gift of salvation. I never knew what that love looked like or understood it because I was basing that understanding on my experiences. Experiences in which performance determined the amount and kind of love I received. True or not, this was how I saw it.
This brings up another eye opening moment that during all of this involving Proverbs 3:5-6. I WAS leaning on my own understanding in this and many areas of my life. I had never seen or understood thoses verses in this way before! I decided that I do not want to live or make decisions based on my experiences and definitely not based on my perspective! I want to live based on God’s Word! I want my thinking, my perspective, everything about me to me based on Him.
Something else I realized is, yes God wanted to save me from my sin, and He did! But He also wants to continue to save me from myself NOW! Me is what gets in the way! I can't see Him at times because of myself! My choices. My thoughts. My lack of understanding. My continue struggle with sin. Me! He created me and knows everything about me! Even the sins I have yet to commit against Him! Yet He CHOSE and continues to choose to LOVE ME!
Through Psalm 107, God allowed me to not understand the words of this Psalm so that I could see the brick wall in front of me. I never saw before, but I found it! I wasn't kicking at it to tear it down, but I was kicking because I knew there was something I didn't understand. That wall is gone now!
If ever I doubt my salvation or anything, I will remember that God DOES chasten His children! He doesn't leave us in our miserable state longer than it takes for us to see Him!
Ever wonder why we Paul prays that we would know the depth and breadth of God's love in Ephesians 3? I believe it is because we have no clue! I sure didn't!
Through this Psalm, so far, God has and continues to become my Best Friend. My eyes have been opened in ways that only God can do! I continue to unpack and learn more about Him and this Psalm as I continue reading. I have just begun understanding God's love for me and pray that I never stop learning and understanding that!
Guest posted by Lisa Langley.
A women who is : Single. Loves God. Love children. Loves Serving others.
I do realize that it isn't Saturday, but I promised someone (hi, Rebekah!!!!!!) I would do one last week, but I ran out of time. Soo, here I am on this lovely stormy Monday! I love storms.
Have an amazing Monday!!!!!!
God reached down in love and rescued Cassandra from her sin at the age of 21: changing her life, purpose, and focus forever.
Hi!! My name is Carissa DeLeon. Daughter number three, child number four, I am 16 years old and a senior in high school. I love writing, coffee, camp, and the color red (also the red team of pretty much anything). Thanks so much for stopping by to read about my crazy, but very fun, family!!