Sunday, July 31, 2011

A life fully alive

Why would a man check out from life being content to live day to day going through the motions of living? Why for that matter would a woman check out? Why would a person choose to live life in discontentment and with a hardened heart than to live life the way God designed, fully alive? God I don't understand. Can a woman whose husband has checked out of life and maybe the marriage, still live a life fully and wonderfully alive? Can she find a way to do that? Can you Father fulfill a woman's heart to be fully alive when her husband is walking dead? Lord show me...teach me, so I can share this with the women in my life.

Lord it appears that the first thing I must do to live life fully alive is to be sure I do not have a hardened heart. Lord I ask you to reveal anything that might hinder me from walking moment by moment each day with you. Is there some area in my life that is not pleasing to you? Father I will take a few minutes to let you speak to my heart.....yes Lord, I hear you. I agree Father and nail that area of my life you just revealed to me to the cross. Thank you Father for forgiving me when you died for me. I trust you Lord to work in my life to direct me away from that area and to help me turn away from it. Lord thank you for speaking to me so that my heart stays tender towards your voice.

The second way to live fully alive is to read God's Word each day. I know Father that you speak to me through your Word. In 1 Corinthians 2 it says's I can know your mind through the Holy Spirit revelation to me. WOW! To think I can know the mind of God is mind boggling to say the least. So let me get this in my thought process, I can know God's will for my life? If I read His Word He will reveal to me His plans for me? So by reading the Bible, I can walk in His will for me because I will be hearing Him speak to me? As I understand this, the answers are a whopping and resounding, YES!

As I come to terms with living fully alive there seems to be a process. First I must have a tender heart through agreeing with God when I do something that is not pleasing to Him and acknowledge and receive His forgiveness which He already paid for when He died for me on the cross. Next, I hear the Holy Spirit speak to me the mind of God by reading His Word which in turn offers me the opportunity to walk with God in fellowship moment by moment with the result of a fully alive life.

Okay..that seems easy enough. I can do that!

It seems to me the reward is worth the cost. I like rewards! It also seems to me it is a choice to walk in this manner as opposed to walking checked out of life with a hardened heart.

Why would I not choose life? Life lived fully alive is my choice. I want all that God has for me, nothing less. What is it you want in life?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Successful Witnessing

“Successful witnessing is simply taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leave the results to God.”

Some time ago, while talking with a friend, I asked about a step-sister who had suffered a life threatening illness as a result of poor choices. While she was recovering in the hospital, I mailed her a Bible and some booklets to read. I spoke with her on the phone and shared with her some truths of the gospel. I realized she needed someone who could meet with her on a regular basis to answer her questions and to equip her to know Christ intimately. Although she lives in a small outlying community several miles from a town of any size my friend informed me the stepsister was being visited by two women who were giving her book studies. Instantly, I felt the heat rise in my face as the book studies were information about a religion I knew was a cult. Righteous indignation began to creep all over me as I realized I did not know anyone I could call to visit this step-sister living in the middle of no-where. Could I have called you? Who would be willing to equip her with the gospel of Jesus Christ, a hurting woman, an outcast, knowing they would have to travel many miles out of their way to serve? Who could I call to be a witness to her?

As I have pondered on this, I came to the realization there are three characteristics that must take place in the Christian’s life to be an effective witnesses for Christ. The three characteristics that must take place are; a heart change, a life controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit and a desire to love and serve others.

First, we must have a heart change. A pastor friend has often joked that his life has taken on a feminine side now that he has had a heart transplant. His new heart is from a woman! Men often attribute emotions to women and it is true that a heart change does involve some level of emotion however, we must keep in mind our walk with the Lord is not just an emotional walk. Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, explains what happens when a person has a heart change. He says three things take place: there is an emotional decision, an intellectual understanding and an act of the will.

Just like in the courtship stage prior to marriage, we emotionally fall in love. We want to spend time with our fiancé to get to know them. We want to talk with them and to be with them. Remember the warm feeling you had just hearing their voice on the phone or seeing them drive up to your home? I remember spending endless hours sitting in the car talking with my husband before we were married not wanting our time together to be over. We must also emotionally fall in love with Jesus. It is a heart change.

John 1:12 & 13 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Important to this change of heart is to know Christ is who He says He is. More Than a Carpenter author Josh McDowell uses the argument that Christ is either a liar, a lunatic or he is who he says he is our Savior and Lord. A person must ask themselves, “Is there any rational basis for following Christ?” Look at the claims Jesus made about Himself and see whether or not there is any evidence to support the claims. When we know what is true and can state facts about the truth, we will be much more vocal in its defense. It is an intellectual knowing. However, just knowing Jesus is who He says He is, is not enough. While having an emotional experience and coming to an intellectual realization that Jesus is who He says He is, there is more. We must make a choice.

As an act of our will we choose to be a follower of Christ. In the same way, we choose our spouse by saying, ‘I do’. When I stood at the altar to marry my husband, I had a choice to make. So too a decision must be made about Christ. If we choose to follow Him, then He will need to have access to every area of our life.. God is looking for F.A.C.T. people. People who, are faithful, available, committed and teachable. Emotionally we fall in love with Jesus, we know intellectually that He is who He says He is and we have made a decision to trust our life to Him. Now we have a heart change.

The second characteristic of an effective witness is to understand what it means to be controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 says, “Do not get drunk on wine for this is a waste but rather be (being) filled with the Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 5:8 says, “For you were formerly darkness but now you are light in the Lord, walk as children of light.”

Until 1990 I did not understand what these verses meant. I knew in my heart that if I died I would go to heaven because of Christ’s payment on the cross for me, but my life was “walking” in frustration and disharmony with God. My life was like a car going down a one way street in the wrong direction. I was the driver of that car and although I knew I was going the wrong way, I could not get turned around. I lived a defeated Christian life. I was not sharing my faith, I was a poor witness, I was making bad choices and I had no desire to read the Bible. Much to my sadness today, during this difficult time I taught a children’s Sunday school class, worshipped in church regularly along side of other believers and participated in church classes and functions. I looked good on the outside but was miserable on the inside. Then I discovered how to get turned around. Christ is now in His rightful place in my life, controlling and empowering me.

However, “Walking as children of light” means our daily life is a moment by moment, minute by minute, hour by hour experience with God allowing the Holy Spirit to speak truth to us, speaking to us of sin. Ouch! This is big in our walk with God. It is imperative we understand what sin is. Sin is doing anything both in attitude and action that is against God. Today I seem to be convicted in the area of attitude the most. Have you heard the term, “they have a bad attitude or they think they are better than others?” These are a sin of attitude. In order to walk in fellowship (harmony) with God it is important to confess sin as quickly as the Holy Spirit speaks it to you. It is often in this conviction-confession process that the enemy will hinder us. Guilt is a battle ground by satan. If we are laden with unconfessed sin and guilt, we will be ill-equipped to share our faith. It is satan’s role to render Christians ineffective in the area of witnessing and if we are not sharing our faith then we are fruitless for Christ. Another victory for satan. At the start of each day be sure God is on the throne of your life.

Confession is agreeing with God about your sin. It is an expression of faith and an act of obedience, which results in God making real in your experience what he has already done for you through the death of His son. This real and ongoing experience of God’s forgiveness helps you remain an open channel through which God’s love and power can flow. Unconfessed sin short-circuits the flow of God’s power in your life. (How You Can Know God’s Love and Forgiveness by Dr. Bill Bright.)

After a heart change (Christ in on the throne of our life) and the Holy Spirit is controlling and empowering us (we have confessed all known sin and received God’s love and forgiveness) the third characteristic for being an effective witness for Christ is a willing heart to love and serve others. In the second greatest command, Christ tells us to love others as ourselves. One of the ways we do that is by caring about the spiritual life of others. Out of our love for God, we want people to know Him too.

After training a group of women in how to share their faith by using the Four Spiritual Laws booklet titled Journey of Joy, I left the first class of what would be a 12 week Foundations class with a heavy heart. Several of the ladies were new in their faith and I had given them quite a challenge to share the booklet with one person before we met again the following week. Discouragement began to drop little beads of doubt into my mind. I felt I had asked too much of these ladies and it was too soon into our times of meeting together. Fear that they might not return the following week due to the assignment I had given them caused me to question the use of the booklet. As I sat sulking in the corner of a lonely and quiet restaurant for lunch, I noticed two couples place their order at the counter and saunter over to sit at the table next to mine. I found it odd that in the entire establishment of table choices they chose to sit next to me. As they shared together I overhead one of the men ask the other couple, “Have I told you how I came to know Christ as my Savior by someone sharing the Four Spiritual Laws with me?” I could not believe what I had just heard. I leaned over to hear more of this mans story, almost falling off my chair, however I did try not to look too obvious but I was so overtaken with amazement that I had to lean in. I did not want to miss a word this man was saying. He went on to share his story with his lunch companions. My heart leapt with joy. As the couples were leaving I boldly stopped the man who gave his story and learned he was sharing with his pastor. I explained what had happened that morning in my class and my discouragement. I know God allowed these two couples to sit at the table next to me at the very time I would be in that same restaurant to encourage me, and did it ever. I was even more convinced using this little booklet was a way to share my faith effectively. Using a booklet like the Journey of Joy or Would You Like to Know God Personally gives an edge to sharing your faith. At first I am told that the booklet feels uncomfortable and canned. I felt that way too. I can remember the first time I was asked to go door to door sharing the booklet in a training class. Horror, sheer horror, took over my mind, my body and my emotions. When I was told it was my turn to share the booklet I did not think I would be able to breathe. I prayed as I knocked on the door that no one would answer however a woman came to the door and somehow by the grace of God I was able to share with her. As you share the booklet more and more, a level of confidence begins to take over. To be successful in sharing our faith it is important we care more about the person and what is going on in their spiritual life than the emotional trauma we might experience.

Successful witnessing then, is simply taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leave the results to God. I do not know if the woman at the door came to know Christ as her Savior as a result of me sharing the booklet with her, like the man in the restaurant did, but I do know we who were in the training that day were successful witnesses. We simply took the initiative, we were controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit and we left the results to God.

Always keeping our “spiritual antennae” up, looking for ways to transition a conversation from the things that are going on in the world or around the persons life to the spiritual will result in being successful witnesses. Be confident. This is a divine appointment. It is indeed God’s will for you to share your faith, however, be sensitive as you share. If the listener seems interested in what you are saying but does not have the time to listen right then, ask them to lunch or coffee with you. Let them know you would like to share your story (testimony) with them. The Purpose Driven Life book by Rick Warren confirms how important it is to write out your story using three parts; what life was like before you knew Christ, how you came to know Christ and what your life is like now. No one can dispute your testimony. It is your story. The Bible tells us in Revelation 12:11, “And they overcame him (satan)…..because of the word of their testimony…..”

Please do not be preachy or talk negatively about any church or doctrine. The person you may have been able to share Christ with might have been raised in the very church you are talking badly about. Keep Christ pre-eminent in your conversation. Often times the ones you are sharing with will want to go on about something of insignificance to the message of salvation. Keep coming back to Christ and what He has done for you. The other evening I had the awesome opportunity to share with a former neighbor whose wife was dying of cancer. I went to visit them because God had laid them on my heart. I wanted to take the peace of Christ to them because I was not sure of where they were in their spiritual journey. As I visited with him, she was asleep, he shared with me how they had left the church in the 1960’s and had not been back because of a misunderstanding. They had thrown out the baby (Jesus) with the bathwater (church). After visiting for an hour and a half and developing a relationship with him, I was able to effectively begin to share my story and God’s love for us. I gave him the Would You Like to Know God Personally booklet to read later and asked him if he would read it to his wife. As I was leaving her bell rang indicating she was awake. He asked me to wait and went in to see his wife. A minute or so later he walked out and said she would like to see me. I did get to pray with his wife that night. The next day I received a phone call from this husband saying his wife had died early in the morning and that he had read the booklet to her after I left. In my time of sharing with this man it was important that we did not get off on subjects of little value that took away from the message of Christ. Time was short in this couples life and for that matter in all of our lives.

Another way of loving others is to help equip them for their journey, their daily walk with Jesus. Perhaps this would involve meeting with them in your home or theirs or for coffee or lunch at a local restaurant to take them through a basic Bible study. These studies can be purchased at the local Christian bookstore or maybe your church has already prepared a study you could use. Take several weeks to look up scripture and pray together. Commit to each other the time and day you will meet and the expectation of your time together. Then be faithful to fulfill your commitment.

A person who is “walking” with God in fellowship and harmony due to a changed heart is controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit and is successfully sharing their faith with others. This person is a successful witness and is leaving the results to God. This is the person I could have called knowing they would go out of their way, perhaps way out of their way, to meet with this stepsister to help equip her with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

How about it, could I call you to help equip others for Jesus Christ?

by Cathy Cheshier
founder, Discipleship Ministry International, Inc.
a discipleship ministry equipping the church for Christ

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Captured Heart

As I sit at my laptop this very cold morning in Phoenix Arizona, sipping my first cup of morning coffee, waiting for the predicted rain to wash the desert and snow to the high country, noticing a freeze warning alert on my Droid phone, my mind has wandered back to Javon Wilson. "Lord are you asking me to help this young man? Lord is that you talking to me about him?" This morning as I was nestled in my bed under warm covering, somewhere between the time of sleep and comprehension, I began to ask God these questions. As I realized it might be true, Javon has been captured by my heart, I knew the answers. It was then that I also knew I could not do this alone. It is too big and so I ask God for help. "If, and it seems it is, if this is a part of your plan for me, Lord, I need your help." I will desperately need His help.

Javon, a 14 year old boy and member of the Juggalo family (they do not call themselves a gang although others do) on Mill Avenue in Tempe, was arrested in October 2010 for 1st degree murder being tried as an adult and held at the county jail.

Wow, I again am overwhelmed by his crime and his age and his life story. Javon is a young boy who has had a terrible home life. His father a former hard core drug addict (who recently went into rehab and is now in jail in Phoenix for child support and other past charges), his mother kicking him out of his home at 13 years old because he did not get along with the new boyfriend. Sure there might have been places this young man could go instead of the streets, like his grandmother's home or his school counselor, however there is a lure on the streets, especially on Mill Ave. It is known that kids come from all over to join the family of Juggalo's that hang out mostly around the streets surrounding Mill Ave in Tempe. These run-aways and lost kids, like Javon find solace in their new found friends. There is a camaraderie amongst each other, they have each other's back. For the first time in Javon's life he found commonality.

Javon loves music, he likes to sing and write music. The Juggalos follow the band Insane Clown Posse or 'ICP' with lyrics that speak of sexuality, brutality and God known as 'horrorcore hip-hop' with band members painting their faces to look like clowns. The group was formed by Joseph Bruce, Violent J and Joseph Utsler, Shaggy 2 Dope and calls their followers Juggalos.

In a June 2010 interview with The Columbian's Alan Sculley, Bruce explained, "[Sex and violence is] the stuff that people are talking about on the get attention, you have to speak their language. You have to interest them, gain their trust, talk to them and show you're one of them. You're a person from the street and speak of your experiences. Then at the end you can tell them God has helped me out like this and it might transfer over instead of just come straight out and just speak straight out of religion." This has led some to say this group is a sub-Christian band trying to lead people to God, others are saying until these men say they are Christians they should not be called a Christian group.

Perhaps these are some reasons Javon decided to follow the music of 'ICP' as it spoke to the terrible things this young boy has seen and heard in his short life and yet gave him hope that there is a God and maybe, just maybe, God cares.

In a weird and strange interview about the economy Christine Boomer of ABC Channel 15news met up with Javon Wilson just a couple of hours prior to the murder. In the interview Javon was upbeat and shared his heart to be peaceful and write music. He sang a song into the camera about love and peace and God. See the the clip below although you may have to cut and paste into your browser.

This is what I need; $40,000.00 to defend Javon. My niece and her husband, Todd and Cari Nolan criminal attorneys in Phoenix, have agreed to defend Javon pro-bono except for expenses which they believe to be about $40,000.00. I know God is able. I asked Todd after he spent two hours with Javon, "is this young boy worth saving?" Todd with a broken voice responded, "Yes, most definitely, Javon is worth saving!"

Javon is being charged as an adult.

My plan: 1) Immediately petition the court to get Javon out of jail and into the hands of New Horizon Christian Academy in Flagstaff Arizona, a Teen Challenge boys facility where he can receive a caring support team along with schooling and a deeper understanding of Faith in God. 2) Get charges removed, dropped or in juvenile court, this would be at the leading of Todd and Cari, his attorneys. 3) Begin raising $40,000.00.

How you can help: Pray....then email me at: Let's talk.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Eve's Temptation

I wonder if Eve's temptation went something like this..."I saw you as you came in even though the room was full of beautiful women there was no one like you. I noticed your beauty above all the rest, the aura of confidence around you. I watched you. I studied you as you moved. I was intrigued by your hands, your hair and the way you carried your body. When you came near I discovered I wanted to know you and so I desired you." He was not especially handsome or striking but he had a sound when he spoke that caused me to listen. Could it be these might have been the words spoken to Eve ever so sweetly, so enticing? As she meditated upon his voice, his words, his longing, did she say to him, "I am yours." Did she open her heart to look upon the tree to do anything he asked of her? A man can do this to a woman. He can appear out of nowhere, unsuspectingly masculine, desiring and sweet. A man can entice her to think about him, to desire him, to be filled with passion, to want more. Women find this in the romance novels lining the shelves of Borders Books making these books the number 1 best selling books of all books purchased by women. A woman's porn. We long to be told of our beauty, our intrigue, our mystery. We are starved for the words that tell us we have what a man wants and needs to fulfill his passions, his desires. So we listen, even though we know we should not. And as the words are spoken we cry inside to hear more and know death is waiting if we hold on.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Holloween or 'Trunk or Treat'?

My heart hurts as I learn more about events that as a Christian I participate in that may or may not be what I think they are about. The last couple of years I have been struggling with Christmas and the commercialization of Christ’s birth. Christmas has become everything but about Christ coming into this world to reconcile me to my Father God.

Now that Halloween is approaching I saw this article posted to my FB page and thought it appropriate to send out. This will take 10 minutes to read but the article is very informative. I went on to read the next article that has a link at the bottom of this article.

What should we as Christians do about Halloween now that we are informed? I believe it is a great opportunity to share Christ. We can hand out candy with a Christian message or candy and a little booklet that a child could easily read telling the story of Christ. These can be purchased at the Christian bookstore. We can volunteer at our church’s ‘Trunk or Treat’ as the article mentions. Most churches are now seeing the need for an alternative to Halloween.

Be blessed this week as we pray about Halloween and what it means for Followers of Christ

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sweet Baby Girl

On October 12Th, 2008 the call came early in the morning hour as my husband and I slept at our little cabin in the north country of Arizona. It is our retreat. We had just arrived the day before and had planned to stay for several days. Little did we know this would be the time. The call came on that Sunday morning to tell us our precious 8 month old grandbaby girl Roselyn Kay Haire had gone to be with Jesus. Even as I type this now tears come too easy. My heart broke that morning and a piece of it went with Roselyn. As we gathered our things quickly and left our retreat and as we we drove through the tall pines and green patches underneath I began to think of Roselyn and what heaven must look like. I took out a pen and paper and wrote this poem trying to imagine Roselyn doing the things a little girl would do in a heavenly place. Once down the hill and at the side of Roselyn lying there so still in her basinet, wrapped in a hand sewn yellow blanket and in the dress already picked for her for this day, I saw the words beauty and perfection. Months earlier those words were placed in my heart for Roselyn but I did not understand until that moment when my eyes fell upon her face. It was in that instant of time I knew she was perfect and she was most certanily beautiful. I do not understand all of these things that life and death have for us on this earth but I do know and am convinced God does and so I leave these things to Him and trust His plan for life and in His plan for death. And so today we celebrate Roselyn's life and we grieve for our loss but rejoice because our hope is in her Creator, Jesus Christ.

An 'Ode To A Grandaughter

Now you are gone
Our sweet baby girl
We will rock you and hold you
And sing you a new song.
And our arms will long
To hold your tiny little frame,
And long to brush our lips across
Your cheek all the same

But we gave you away
The day you were born,
And we will speak
Today of our love.
And our hearts will bear
The scar of how we are torn.

Into God’s arms go,
We offer you, our sweet little girl.
We will remain only a little while to show
The world of your beauty and perfection.

Go dance by the rivers edge
And sing the song of your delight
As you jump around on tippy-toe.
Go run with the children sweet baby girl
Flitting here and froe,
Just like a butterfly,
Don’t be shy
Our sweet baby girl.

Sit in the green grass
Play with the lion and the lamb.
In our hearts we hear the laughter,
We see the sparkle in your eye,
And we sigh.
Because we miss you
You see, sweet little girl.
Our hearts are lifted to a new high
Knowing Jesus in right there by your side.

You are free now, sweet baby girl
And while we may not see you for a while,
We know, one day, in just a little time
We will see you again, when all is fine.

by Cathy Cheshier 10/12/2008

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The word "Mother"

First I want to acknowledge this is a quote from the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge and is not my own writing. I am honored by a young sweet woman who is growing in her walk with Jesus who calls me 'Mother' and so it is to her I post today.

To Mother
As large as the role our mothers have played, the word "mother" is more powerful when used as a verb than as a noun. All women are not mothers but all women are called to mother. To mother is to nurture, to train, to educate, to rear. As daughters of Eve, all women are uniquely gifted to help others in their lives become more of who they truly are - to encourage, nurture and mother them towards their true selves. In doing this, women partner with Christ in the vital mission of bringing forth life.

The nurturing of life is a high and holy calling. And as a woman, it is yours. Yes, it takes many shapes and has a myriad of faces. Yes, men are called to this as well. But uniquely and deeply, this calling makes up part of the very fiber of a woman's soul - the calling to mother.

All women are called to mother. And all women are called to give birth. Women give birth to all kinds of things - to a book (it's nearly as hard as a child, believe me), to a church or to a movement. Women give birth to ideas, to creative expressions, to ministries. We birth life in others by inviting them into deeper realms of healing, to deeper walks with God, to deeper intimacy with Jesus. A woman is not less of a woman because she is not a wife or has not physically born a child. The heart and life of a woman is much vaster than that. All women are made in the image of God in that we bring forth life. When we enter into our world and into the lives of those we love and offer our tender and strong feminine hearts, we cannot help but mother them.

The capacity of a woman's heart for meaningful relationships is vast. There is no way your husband or your children can ever provide the intimacy and relational satisfaction you need. A woman must have women friends.

It is here, in the realm of relationship that women receive the most joy and the profoundest sorrows. The friendships of women inhabit a terrain of great mystery. There is a fierce jealousy, a fiery devotion and a great loyalty between women friends. Our friendships flow in the deep waters of the heart where God dwells and transformation takes place. It is here, in this holy place that a woman can partner with God in impacting another and be impacted by another for lasting good. It is here that she can mother, nurture, encourage and call forth Life.

To have a woman friend is to relax into another soul and be welcomed in all that you are and all that you are not. To know that, as a woman, you are not alone. Friendships between women provide a safe place to share in the experiences of life as a woman.

(Captivating, 176-180)