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Holy Spirit

Freedom (a Timeless Truths blog post)

man jumping

How many of you would like to be free just about now? With all the regulations in place it seems that rebellion against authority is a given (regardless of whether or not that rebellion is actually carried out). We were not meant to live under the tyranny of rules and regulations that cause us to forfeit our freedom. We were not meant to live without a means to express ourselves in an appropriate way … that’s why so many people have fought for so long and for so hard so that we could enjoy the freedom that is meant to be ours. Did you know that Jesus was one of those people? Did you know that Jesus came to set you and me free? For too long religious leaders would have you believe otherwise. For too long people have been led to believe they had to follow a long list of do’s and don’ts in order to receive favor with God … but that’s not true. The truth is found in scripture. The truth says in Galatians 2:15,16 (NIV) “We … know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” This is good news for you and for me. It means we don’t have to be perfect. It means we can choose to trust in Jesus’ perfection that is credited to us on our behalf when we accept his free gift of salvation. It means we can enjoy freedom in a personal relationship with God knowing, by faith, He accepts us, approves us, and loves us unconditionally … all because of what Jesus did for each and every one of us when he died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and to justify us before God as we put our faith and trust in him alone to make us righteousness. Galatians 5:1 (NIV) is also an encouragement to us as it says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Of course this doesn’t mean we should just go out and commit every kind of sin imaginable though because we’re trusting in Jesus. No, on the contrary, because of what Jesus has already done for us we should have an attitude of gratitude … and that gratitude should motivate us to want to live in a way that is honoring to him. So, as you ponder the timeless truth of the freedom Christ has already made available to you, check yourself to see if you’re actually living in that freedom. See if you are trusting in Jesus alone to make you right with God. And don’t be afraid to exercise that freedom as you allow the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you in how you live your life because the Holy Spirit will never lead you in a way that is contrary to scripture and to honoring God. Be thankful, therefore, for the freedom you can enjoy today … no matter where you live … for John 8:31, 32 (NIV) says, “ … Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Also, 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV) tells us, “ … where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

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Law of Love (a Timeless Truths blog post)

courthouseThe law of love supersedes the law of man. Jesus himself showed this to be true when a leper came to him for healing in Mark chapter 1 verses 40-41. The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) reads, “Then a man with leprosy came to him and, on his knees, begged him, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched him. “I am willing,” he told him. “Be made clean.” In those days, people with leprosy were considered “unclean” and usually quarantined themselves away from others due to the law of Moses. This man, however, knew that Jesus could heal him and had no qualms about asking to be healed. In turn, Jesus responded to this man’s faith with love … effectively breaking through the barriers of society … miraculously healing the man, and showing us that nothing is greater … or more important … than love. Song of Songs 8:6-7 (NIV) says, “ … love is as strong as death … many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.” So, with all the “laws of man” out there, don’t forget an even more important law – the law of love. Even Jesus, when asked what the greatest commandment was replied, “’Love the Lord your God … and the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37, 39 NIV). This timeless truth involves obeying the Holy Spirit as He leads and guides you in your interactions with others … even in a pandemic. It may mean you obey the “laws of man” by keeping social distance and wearing a face mask in public to protect others from potential harm … or it may mean something even more radical. It may mean heeding the Holy Spirit’s whisper to your heart if He’s prompting you to approach someone others may consider “unapproachable” … such as a broken person you may “happen” to see crying off to the side … away from others … crying because they feel discouraged by the many rules and regulations out there that have turned them into a virtual hermit feeling like nobody cares how alone they feel … until you courageously approach them with the healing words of encouragement they so desperately need to hear to keep pressing on for yet one more day. If you’ve truly heard from God and truly obeyed His direction, you may just find yourself in the middle of God performing a miracle through you … perhaps even saving someone’s life … simply because you chose to obey the law of love above all else … believing nothing is more important.

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There’s a time to speak and a time to be silent … and only God knows how long that time period will be.

 Ann Marshall author photo 2017

Dear Reader,

I’d like to share a letter with you that I recently sent to my Pastor’s wife this week after an unexpected turn of events brought me out of retirement and back into writing. (Names have been omitted to protect privacy.)

Hi (Pastor’s wife), How are you? I wanted to thank you for all your prayers, support, and encouragement recently … especially the encouraging words you spoke to me that Sunday after I “screamed” in Sunday School about how if I was going to write again I’d basically need to tell God it had to be different (so it wouldn’t consume my life in an unhealthy way and hurt me, etc.). Well, since that Sunday I retired from writing and let it go completely and moved on with my life and focused on having my identity be in Him (not writing) and basically learning how to get back to “reality” and living a real life that was much more balanced, etc. I lost the emptiness and void that had come from not writing and I eventually learned to enjoy just living again in the “real” world and getting reconnected with people. I had also lost all desire to write … I just wanted to live – and so I was doing that right up until this past Sunday when I went to the altar. I actually wasn’t sure why I even went to the altar to be honest. I didn’t really feel led to go. But I did hear something in my heart about “you can’t change if you don’t go (up)” – and I had been “working on” trying to change one aspect of my thinking (that had been bothering me and had been making me feel like I was wrong all the time even if I wasn’t wrong, etc.). So, I went up to the altar and tried to pray, etc. and then you came and prayed for me too and then I heard (another woman) stand behind me after the singing was over and I don’t know if she was praying for me or for herself but I could feel the Holy Spirit’s presence really strong in either case. Then, I just did whatever I felt led to do and pray, etc. (still not even thinking about writing). When I went back to my seat, (another woman) came over and told me something the Lord had told her to tell me (right then – she said she’d asked if she could wait until after service and God had said no – that’s why she told me right then). It was about how if I surrendered more to God and I sat and watched He would make a way for me, etc. That was when I began thinking about writing again and wondered about if it could mean that. Then Pastor asked people to come forward who wanted fresh fire and passion, etc. and I was already shaking in my seat and more than willing to be surrendered to God, etc. so I went forward. I felt like I was going to fall down immediately but also like I was supposed to try to stand up for a little bit anyway so I did for a little bit then saw Pastor go way at the other end to start praying for people so I knew there was no way for me to stand up that long so I just let myself “go down.” I wasn’t sure exactly what God was doing or saying to me but I was trying to be surrendered to whatever it was. My right thumb got extremely hot and the heat went up my arm and my fingers were moving (almost like typing motion) and that hand was banging on the floor and I knew from my past experience that usually had something to do with me writing and with God sort of putting “something” in me. But this time I was upset because I didn’t want to feel a desire and passion, etc. to write again because I didn’t want it to take over my life – the life I was just starting to enjoy having again. So I was basically having conflicting feelings even as I tried to be open and surrendered to whatever God wanted (somewhere in there you and Pastor came and prayed over me too – thanks for that also). Eventually, I just tried to exercise faith that, basically, if God did want me to write again that it would somehow be different (’cause it HAD to be – I knew I couldn’t go back to the way it was). So, I chose to speak in faith that I believed it could/would be different (also still aware of being careful not to presume or assume that God wanted me to write again at all – realizing it might be something else, etc. too). Eventually, I got up and went home because I felt like I needed to listen to God and whatever He wanted to say to me. Later on after sleeping/resting I was still thinking about everything and still felt upset ’cause I couldn’t see a way it could be different (if I was going to write again). So then I prayed and “dared” to pray what you had suggested previously on that Sunday morning (about me telling God if I was going to write again it had to be different – even though, previously, I had felt like if I said that it was like me telling God what to do and back on that Sunday I had felt like it would be wrong for me to do that). So, I prayed about it having to be different (if that’s what He wanted me to do). After that I tried to sort of let it go and wait to see, etc. Not long after I felt like watching a Hallmark movie so I looked to see what was on coming up. It “just so happened” to be a movie about a romance novelist who had to do research for her book, etc. (and the one right before that that was already in process was also about a writer but I’d already seen that one). So, with there being around a half an hour before the movie was to start I found something else to do while I was waiting. During that time, I started out still upset ’cause of not knowing how things could be different, etc. then, as I began to think about the movie that was going to be coming on and began to think about how the writer had to do research for her book, I started to get an idea. I started to think about if I wrote something how I could have it be that I couldn’t write about anything unless I’d actually experienced it myself (like in the real world now) – like how if I gave myself that as a guide how it could keep me in the “here and now” (in the real world rather than in the imaginary world of a future book, etc.). And then I thought about how the writer was a romance novelist … something I’d never done before (I’ve never written a romance book per se). And I thought about how if I wrote a romance that would sort of “force me” to stay in the “love mode” way of thinking and the here and now and would sort also be like a “guide” so I wouldn’t “forget” my own husband, etc. (I could actually use him as inspiration for a character, etc.). That made me laugh. And then it was like I stopped being upset and started to see possibilities that I hadn’t seen before … I started to see ways it actually could be different (and this was before the movie even started!) So, I did end up watching the movie and tried to see how the novelist had a “real life” apart from her writing career, etc. (by the way, I’m aware it’s only a movie, etc. but God has inspired me before through movies,etc. having to do with my writing and this time I was still being cautious to make sure it really was God directing me, etc. no matter what it may sound like as you read this). So, then I started getting a few idea’s and made a few (short) notes. Eventually, I went to bed. Then I woke up about 2am wide awake…. and I said NO… I’m NOT going to do that again!!! And it’s like I got a revelation that it was ok for me to say NO … that it wasn’t wrong for me to say NO (wait until morning to write something now is the time to sleep!!!, etc. mentality – whereas before when I woke up at 2am I felt like I HAD to get up and write something down right then or I’d be disobeying the Holy Spirit – like quenching the Holy Spirit type of mentality). It’s like this time I got that revelation and it was like I realized for the first time it wasn’t me saying NO to God, it was me saying NO to my flesh… it was exercising self-control… it was like the Holy Spirit developing the fruit of the Spirit of self-control as I yielded myself to Him (still trying to be surrendered to Him). And it’s like God was enabling me to change that “I’m always wrong” mentality thinking and was enabling me to see things in a different way/from a different perspective (His). So it’s like two things can look exactly the same way on the surface and feel the same way, etc… but the difference is all in the heart and the heart attitude. So then I was even more happy about that and excited and wanted to share it with my husband but also knew I needed to go back to sleep somehow. (I hadn’t said anything to (my husband) before this about what God was doing in my heart since I wanted to be sure it really was what I thought it was before I said anything… and I had also prayed that God would help me to tell him because He knew I couldn’t keep a secret long from my husband, etc.). Fortunately for me, my husband woke up on his own right after my revelation (unfortunately for him he’d had a bad dream). But it gave me the opportunity to ask him if he wanted to talk to distract himself from the dream (and he was awake too). So, we got the chance to talk right then (at 2am) and then after our conversation we were both actually eventually able to go back to sleep and we both “got back” the time we’d spent talking with actually being able to sleep in (this was Monday morning – Memorial Day – before we saw you at the BBQ). So, now, I “said all that to say this” – I do believe God is leading me to write again, BUT in a much more balanced way (with the mentality being that it’s more like part-time/or an odd job rather than a “business” so it doesn’t “take over and consume me” like it did before). (My husband) can relate to that mentality himself since he used to have a business that did the same thing and now he does odd jobs and it’s much better for both of us… so he can help keep me accountable too this time and I can listen to him and not think I’m wrong to stop and say “no not now” to myself, etc. since I got that revelation, etc. So, even though it might look the same on the surface, I wanted to tell you first that it is actually different in my heart this time (so you wouldn’t be overly concerned for me if you heard I was writing again, etc.). I now know how to have a balance and I’ll continually be aware of needing to keep the balance so it doesn’t get crazy again, etc. (even though I know nothing is perfect and I can’t control everything, etc.). Anyways, I felt like I needed to tell you what was going on “behind the scenes” (so now you know). Also, yesterday, I felt like I wanted to give away the Devotional I had written previously (the kindle version of it anyways) so people could be blessed by it, etc. and so I also wanted to tell you about that. Starting June 1 through next Monday June 5 my Devotional will be FREE to download on the kindle through amazon.com (It’s called One Size does not Fit All 30 day devotional) so you’ll probably see that “advertised” later also). I know this is a long e-mail, so thanks for taking the time to read it, and thanks for your support and continued prayers going forward. Take care and God bless you!!! (Have a great day!!!) Love, Ann

P.S. To reader, In case you haven’t already guessed, I’m Pentecostal and my description of what happened to me involved the moving of the Holy Spirit.

 

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whispers-to-the-soul-front-book-cover-for-poster

Brought together by circumstances beyond their control, three women join forces to support one another as each embark upon a journey to discern God’s voice above all the others whispering to their soul.

 

 

 

Behind-the-Scenes (Part 5)

whispers-to-the-soul-front-book-cover-for-poster

The Making of Whispers to the Soul

After I finished writing Vision I knew in my soul I needed a break … an extended break from writing. I was weary and worn out and after so many things happening in my life in such a short period of time I knew I needed time to recover before I could rally my strength once again to write another book.

At the same time, I was just finishing up a painting project I had decided to undertake of painting the walls of two bathrooms and a bedroom in my home. With that nearly completed came the desire to get a new clock for one of the bathrooms new décor. I looked around town but couldn’t find the style I had envisioned. Not wanting to travel an hour away or order something online I decided to check the local thrift shop hoping maybe they had something I could use.

Tired, I approached the front door of the thrift shop only to see a Help Wanted sign staring me right in the face. I couldn’t miss it. Going inside to look for the clock my mind began to whirl, thinking about the potential job opportunity even as I simultaneously argued with myself against such a foolish notion seeing how exhausted I truly was. In any case, I didn’t find a clock and I didn’t mention anything about the sign to anyone while I was in there either – I just simply went home empty-handed.

Then, for some unknown reason to me at the time, the idea of a potential job wouldn’t leave me alone. My mind was thinking of all kinds of possibilities about how it could be a good thing and something I could do while I was on my break from writing. Seeing as it was only part-time I also thought maybe I could still write and work too after my writing break was over (whenever that might be.) I prayed about it and tried to surrender my will to God’s will – whatever that might be – remembering that His will didn’t always make logical sense.

Needless to say, the idea wouldn’t go away and I felt like I should apply for the job as soon as possible since I didn’t know how long the sign had been in the window. So, I updated my resume and took it with me the next morning to apply for the job. Once there, I found out a little bit about the job itself, filled out an application and gave it back to the lady – then the waiting began to see what their decision would be.

In the meantime, I continued to finish my painting project and continued to go back and forth in my mind whether or not I actually wanted to do the job – all because of something the lady had told me while I was there about how much weight I’d have to be able to lift.

I knew I couldn’t lift that much in my own strength – but even so I didn’t want to admit it. I prayed about the whole thing again and still didn’t have any peace about what I should or shouldn’t do. Somewhere along the line I had the thought that maybe someone could help me lift the amount of weight I needed to lift (like help me carry a box or something), and I went back and forth between hoping to get a call telling me I got the job to dreading having to answer the phone and having to decide what to do. It seemed like forever went by and still I had not received a call one way or another.

While all that was going on I started thinking about other possible job opportunities if that one didn’t work out and began exploring my options. Eventually, I got tired of waiting and actually went back to the thrift shop to ask if they had hired anyone yet. So far they hadn’t I was told by the same employee I’d spoken with previously.

Then, I courageously decided to ask about how often I’d have to lift the amount of weight she’d mentioned and if it would be possible for someone to help me or not. She basically told me it would be pretty much an ongoing thing and no, I couldn’t have someone help me as there was not enough manpower around.

With that in mind, I had to accept the fact that even if they did want to hire me I couldn’t take the job as I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it. So, instead, I applied for one of the other jobs I’d come across (all the while praying for God’s direction). I even decided to drive out of my way past the location of another possible job opportunity to see if I might like to work there, but I had a bad feeling about that one so I didn’t pursue it any further.

I continued to wait to hear something from someone about whether or not I would at least be able to get an interview, but time went by and I didn’t hear a word from anyone. Still not sure what to do I continued to try to pray about it to find out what God wanted me to do.

Then, through the process of seeking God’s will, I came to learn some insights I hadn’t realized before. One of which was how I could choose to take things a certain way if I really wanted to; how I could focus on all the big, obvious signs that appeared to be confirming my decision to pursue whatever goal or dream I wanted to pursue and how I could ignore all the little, subtle “voices” that appeared to merely be doubts – or at the very least negative comments/negative thoughts – thinking once again that they were just distractions from me attaining the desired favorable outcome I imagined to be best (through exercising the faith I “fed” because I wanted to feed it).

I realized I could choose to do all those types of things and I could be wrong (in the decisions I made) – even when I thought I was trying to obey God’s will for my life – and the only way to tell the difference was to humble myself and get to the end of myself and sincerely pray and seek out God’s answers and God’s real and genuine truth – remembering that His answers often came as a whisper to my heart; to my soul.

As I remembered that God often spoke to me in a whisper (not in the earthquake or the fire like it talks about in 1 Kings 19:11,12), I remembered that I needed to be quiet and still to actually hear what He was trying to say to me – or what He may have been trying to remind me of – or what He may have been trying to confirm to my weary battered heart (soul) to soothe all the stress I had been under from so many things over-stimulating my mind, body, soul, and spirit. I realized I really did just need time to get back to basics and rest – so I could hear Him.

And, after all that, God’s Spirit would testify with my own spirit what His truth really was; what His will really was for me, personally (and then I could see all the whispers that He had whispered to me when I was unaware – not really paying attention.)

So, as it came to be, I realized I really wasn’t supposed to get a job anywhere after all – I was actually supposed to rest instead … and then eventually use the experience as I believe God intended – as a catalyst to be the inspiration for the book I have now written entitled Whispers to the soul.

Behind-the-Scenes (Part 2)

The Making of The Surrendered Life Series

The Surrendered Life Series of books (Sweet Surrender, New Life, and Legacy) started out as a seed – a seed that God put in my heart that grew.

I had already published My Journey With God (my memoir) two months prior and had thought I was “done.” I had thought what I had to say had already been written. When God had told me, ‘I want you to write for Me … everything you’ve been through is so you’d have something to write about … I created you to write for Me,’ I had assumed that meant everything I’d been through up until that point, and – since I’d pretty much covered all the highlights in my memoir I didn’t believe there was anything left to cover. However, I realized I was wrong.

The realization came when I was at church once again. There had been an invitation to go up front for a “fresh Spirit of God” and I, along with others, went forward. Everyone was standing in a line that went across the front of the church waiting for the preacher that day to come by and pray for them individually. Before my turn even came the Holy Spirit filled my spirit to overflowing and I was so overtaken by it that I could no longer stand. So, first I sat down on the floor then laid down. God was working on me through the power of the Holy Spirit. He was answering my desire for a “fresh Spirit of God.”

My right hand got hot and I found myself banging it and shaking it and I thought about the possibility of God wanting me to write another book. I had no idea what it would be about and it made me cry since I was so humbled because I had thought I was done what I had to say and had no more journals to go by now. I felt groans in my spirit/stomach/gut area to some extent but they weren’t loud … more like breathing out heavy. Then I relaxed, had a few seconds for a break, then my left hand started shaking some after my right side was done. My leg muscles contracted and my mouth felt like it had hyperventilated (even though it hadn’t). I touched my mouth with my left hand since it felt funny, then took my hand off and it still had the same sensation. After all that, it passed and I “got over it” rather quickly and got up off the floor.

There were some people I had to talk to and make plans with to schedule a date for a meeting, then I had to go clean off my car where it had been snowy and rainy and I went home. I felt like I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) talk (to people) and I prayed for God to help me quick before I went inside my home (and I told myself it would be okay).

Still, I felt like I couldn’t talk English … my mouth was full of tongues (inside) and I kind of felt “drunk in the Spirit.” The English words I did say were slurred some and I prayed in tongues some out loud (privately).

I tried to talk to my husband a little but I was still “out of it” and didn’t want to “come back to earth.” Then, my husband decided to go uptown and I had something to eat, thought about things, and relaxed.

Previously (while I was still in the car before I came inside) I had made a note about a book idea that had come to me … the title (Sweet Surrender), the main character (Cassie), and a general idea of what the cover should look like (medium/dark pink roses on the cover that covered the book’s cover at that point). I wasn’t sure if those idea’s were just my own idea’s or if they were God’s idea’s. I thought it was sort of “just me” but also thought, “we’ll see.”

Eventually, I came to believe the idea’s in my head were actually something God wanted me to develop into a fictional story. Again, like with My Journey with God, it was a process. It didn’t happen overnight.

I had to go through a battle in my mind over what a fictional story even was and how I could use inspiration from my own life to write it and still be able to call it fiction. I had to realize that anyone who wrote fiction needed to use their imagination together along with their own personal life experiences and whatever “research” they did on the subject and characters they were writing about as their inspiration. At the beginning especially it was a complicated process for me to get my (wanting to be) logical mind around. However, I persevered and exercised faith as God directed me throughout the process.

As I came up with more and more characters for the first book in the series (Sweet Surrender) I realized how much work it was and how it sort of felt like it was too much work to go through for only one story. I felt like maybe there should be more stories.

One day as I laid on the couch to take a nap I started asking myself the question about Cassie (the main character in Sweet Surrender), “what had she done to show that her life was surrendered to God?” And I started realizing it wasn’t so much a specific, special thing she had done as it was the fact that whatever God asked her to do she did (like it was her life – it was a surrendered life). When that happened, it’s like the idea came to me: The Surrendered Life Series.

It wasn’t something special she (Cassie) had to do; it was more something she had to be – surrendered – a state of being – ongoing – having the mindset ahead of time – ahead of being asked to do something – something special or something ordinary.

And then I thought, “Do you have a surrendered life to Christ? Is your mind ready and willing to be obedient to God – no matter what the cost? Have a heart set on surrender – and your life will be a surrendered life to God too!”

And so, on that day, The Surrendered Life Series was conceived.

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