A CHANGED HEART

A changed heart led to a changed mind, and ultimately, a changed life. In 1970 I was an angry feminist. I recall a heated exchange in a college classroom with a man who argued against legalizing abortion. In those days, I prided myself in having a black-belt in verbal Karate. I pulled out all the stops as I passionately peppered my argument with F-bombs and lobbed them straight at him. Two years later, I experienced a change of heart…and a change of mind. It began with a step of faith. I had screwed up my life with poor choices. I prayed to God to forgive me and asked Jesus to be my Savior. I had an idea that some of my convictions wouldn’t fly with God, so I challenged Him to convince me otherwise. A short time later, I stopped mid-sentence during a discussion with a friend. I asked myself, “When did I start believing that?” I honestly wasn’t aware of changing my mind on the subject. No one handed me a list of “Do this” or “Think that,” since becoming a Christian. I experienced what 2 Cor. 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Before my change of heart, no argument could have changed my mind about some of the beliefs I clung to. In her book, What Do I Know About My God? Mardi Collier quotes Dr. Amy Nicely: “You do what you do, and you say what you say, because you think what you think.” Mardi’s husband Ken took it a step further; he said, “You do what you do, and you say what you say, because you think what you think; and you think what you think, because you believe what you believe about God, His Word, and yourself.” It’s great to have God-given convictions, but then what? In 1981, I found a way to live out my convictions. As a young mom with children ages 1- and 3-years old, I joined with a handful of others to form Pregnancy Services of Houghton County, now, Life Outreach Center (LOC). We offered practical services and compassionate emotional support to women facing crisis pregnancies in our college town. We also reached out to women suffering from post-abortion syndrome (PAS). For the next 9-years, I volunteered as director, hot-line volunteer, the speaker’s bureau, and volunteer trainer. My passion was fueled by my heart breaking for the things that breaks God’s heart. Also, I had an unplanned pregnancy at the age of 19. I chose adoption, but I understand how panic can cause a woman to opt for what seems an easy way out. In my years as an Addictions Counselor, I helped many women find healing from abortion’s aftermath. A changed heart led to a changed mind, and ultimately, a changed life. Today’s thoughts were the result of commemorating Sanctity of Life Sunday and Martin Luther King Day. There is a place for arguing a pro-life stance – and I am truly grateful for those who fight that battle. Martin Luther King rallied the masses to march, but he exhorted them to do it peacefully. When he resorted to words, they were eloquent words of reconciliation, not accusation and retribution. In these days of bitter political debates, we would do well to heed Martin Luther King’s words: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” I have hung up my black belt in verbal Karate. These days, my desire is that my words and my life demonstrate the light and love of Jesus. He is still in the business of changing hearts and minds. Only He can make a lasting change in a life. Today’s Challenge: Ask God to show you a way to live out your convictions.Let your words be seasoned with grace, and may you love in spirit and in deed. Let the light and love of Jesus shine through you....

CONFESSIONS OF A BOOK LOVER

I confess: I am a book lover. My love affair with words and paper goes back to the 1st grade where I learned to read. My mother wisely nurtured my interest with subscriptions to Little Lulu comic books and Jack & Jill magazine. Years later I devoured The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and Trixie Belden series. In the 9th grade my English teacher handed out a Recommended Reading List to those of us who planned to attend college. I tackled the list with a holy fervor, and found great satisfaction in having most of the classics read and crossed off the list by the end of my senior year. I learned to love a good read. My vacations are typically trips to visit my family and to see my grand-kids. They are also book-buying trips. My family knows my love language – they frequently give me gift cards to my favorite bookstores for birthdays and Christmas. I have collections of books by my favorite authors, ones that most impacted my life and spiritual journey. If they write it – I will read it. A prized find this Christmas was Ken Gire’s first book in years, Relentless Pursuit. I read it cover-to-cover in a matter of days. Another purchase with this year’s Christmas gift card was the One Impact Bible (Zondervan). I will read it from cover-to-cover by the end of 2013.  It contains 300 devotions that remind us: “There is One God. You are One Person. You have One Impact.” By the time I read the third devotion, I was encouraged by God’s personal message of hope for me. That’s what happens when we read God’s Word – He shows up! I have read the Bible from cover-to-cover each year for the past two decades. To keep it fresh, I use different translations. Last year I challenged myself to read the English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible, complete with study notes. I’ve used the One Year Bible and the One Year Chronological Bible. Eugene Peterson’s The Message, The Bible in Contemporary Language, thrilled my heart so, that I gave many copies as gifts one year. Some of you may be thinking, “Well, good for you! I’m lucky if I can read the cereal box without interruption in the morning!” Believe me, I remember the day! My habit of daily Bible reading was blown out of the water when my first baby was born. It wasn’t until two years after the birth of my second child that I was able to re-establish anything like a regular time in God’s Word. I don’t know how much time you spend reading His Word, but I do know God will honor whatever time you give to Him. It is my conviction that God allows us to be more productive with the time we have left in our day, after we’ve taken time with Him. Just think: The Author of the Book promises to show up if we take just one step toward drawing closer to Him: Say a quiet ‘yes’ to God and he’ll be there in no time (James 4:8 The Message). Happy reading in 2013! Today’s challenge: Say a quiet ‘yes’ to God by committing to read His Word on a regular basis. Be realistic re: your goal. Start small. I guarantee you will want to take more time with Him as your hear Him speak words of love and hope to your heart....