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As we draw to the close of another year, I like many, have been reflecting on the past year and making plans for the next. As I look back there are areas that I am pleased with and some places that I am not so much. Some areas where I regressed and still more that there have been improvements. I see room to grow. I see how I stunted my growth with bad habits. I see changes that need to be made. I see an opportunity to make a change, to be a new creature.

I read the scripture this morning in 2 Corinthians 5:17,

Therefore is any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Many times we liken this change from old to new at first salvation. There is a crisis moment, Jesus comes down, and a change is made. It is used to encourage someone that had experienced much sin and because of God’s grace, Jesus sacrifice, they no longer have to partake in the same activities.

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But today, as I was reflecting on the new year, I saw it as an opportunity. Even as saints of God, we can become a new creature. If we aren’t satisfied with our service to God, our health, our habits, our attitudes, our outreach, our kindness, our relationships, our “fill in the blank”, we can make the change.

We can have a crisis moment in the middle of our salvation. Salvation isn’t stagnate,  it is an evolving status. We can draw closer to God. We can make better choices for our health. We can change our habits and attitudes. We can be more kind and loving. We can forgive. We can improve our relationships… We can change.

This year, starting today, I vow to myself and to God, changes will be made. I am not looking at an easy road ahead. I have some habits to break and new ones to make. I have some flesh to crucify. I am some time to give. I have some reaching out to do. I have some inconvenient love to show. I have some early nights to bed and some early mornings to rise. I have better eating choices to make. I have some physical activity to be endured. I have some better house keeping practices to instill. I have some listening to do. I have some purging of clutter. I have some better time management skills to work on. I have some ground to conquer. I have some victory to gain.

This isn’t just a New Year’s Resolution that is forgotten and unfulfilled, it is a promise. These are goals. I have written many down. And as more come to me, more changes that need to be made, I will write those down to. I am a work in progress, allowing God to mold and shape me into the person he wants me to be.

Last night, during Bible Study, we continued in Jonah, a deeper look into Chapter 2. In class, these scriptures were compared to a soul in sin. How lost and desperate they are for help. Their search for God, that spark of hope, the surrender to him and their deliverance.

But this wasn’t my experience. I made the decision at a young age and throughout time to serve God. I wasn’t bound and miserable in sin. I was 8 years old.MEDION DIGITAL CAMERA

To me, this passage resembled a saint, overwhelmed by life, in the depths of grief, going through a valley, a time where you can’t feel God, a season of waiting, a trial of faith, CRYING out to God. Looking to him to him for help. Through the discussion and thought it struck me that, with slight alteration (removing the part about the fish’s belly and being spit up on dry land) it could be relocated to the Psalms. It reads:

Jonah 2: Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly,out-of-the-depths

 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.

mountains Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.

 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.

I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God.

hope When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.

 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.how-to-increase-the-value-of-your-relationships-22-638

 And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

I wonder if Jonah read the Psalms, if the words of David resonated with him as he searched his soul, as he desperately went before God, taking responsibility for his actions, and agreeing to follow through with his vow. His purpose of fulfilling God’s will for Nineveh.

Last week, out of the depths of my soul, I cried unto the Lord. I was overwhelmed and felt like I was drowning. I recognized that I could not continue on my own strength. I did not have that ability. Through a scripture, a reminder to rely on God’s strength, his help through the day, gave me something to hold on to. A hope that this is for a reason, that it won’t be forever, that his strength and grace are ALWAYS sufficient. christ-strengthens-me

The thought tonight in class was our Personal Theology Statement. What/who is God to you? Not what the Church thinks, not what the Bible says, but your very own personal study of God statement.

Salvation is a personal thing and in order to be successful we have to keep it personal. We can’t change our focus to what others are doing or how they think of us. We need only be concerned about the connection between us and God. With this connection sure, we can then be a conduit by which others can be helped.558309

So what is in a Personal Theology Statement (PTS).
1. Who is God to me?
2. What is God to me?
3. What am I willing to do for him?
4. Thanksgiving and Praise
These are just some of the points this statement might cover. It would also include his help in the most difficult times. It speaks of responsibility and promises made to him. It is fluid and relevant to your current condition with God. The longer one serves God, the deeper and more revealing their Personal Theology Statement is.

As I drove home from service and went on a walk with my dog, I meditated on my PTS. What is God to me? Who is he? What has he done? What am I willing to do for him? How is my gratitude? This is what came out as I began to write.

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My God is…
Hope in the dark
Peace in the unknown
Joy in the daily tasks
The bearer of burdens
An unending supply of strength
All Loving.
He fills the voids were sorrow grows with hope.
Master Healer.
Worth of my confidence
Fulfiller of dreams,
He satisfies all needs.
Ever present.
Guides each step of my path and I carefully follow his lead.
From the depths of my being I seek him and he is always to be found.
When I don’t know why, he is the answer.
The praise of my soul rises to him.
In daily thanksgiving I see his beauty in the colors of the grass and the clouds across the sky.
He is wind.
A breath.
Life.
He is a rock when the waves rage.
Provides rest in the busy of life.
Proves peace is the perfect way.
God is worth waiting on.
I will wait without complaining and with joy for his light to move upon my path.
He overwhelms me, my fears, my desires
I choose to accept his way in contentment even when I can’t understand.
Beyond merciful when I have failed.
A Faithful friend.
Collector of tears, calming the storm of disappointment and loss, he gives grace and hope to go face the world and go another day.
My motivation.
My first thought when I wake, and the last as I finish my day.
He is my ALL.

I am sure this isn’t all and more will come in time. On my walk as I was listing off each thing God is to me and my promises to him tears of thankfulness and praise ran down my face. I was and am overwhelmed by the greatness of God.

girl-backpack-thinking-sunset-field-fence-What is your PTS? While it might be similar, and you might be able to relate, this isn’t your PTS. Take a minute. Think on this. Ask yourself “Who is God to me? What has he done? What will you do for him? Offer him Thanksgiving and praise.” Join in the Personal Theology Statement Project, share what God is to you. Maybe it will encourage someone to know this God in a personal way.

The service this morning was opened with a song of Joy. And while we have sung it hundreds of times, the second verse jumped out at me.

“I still have Peace.
I still have Peace.
After all the things I have been through,
I still have Peace.”

Do I still have peace? Just last night I read of Perfect Peace. I was still thinking on it this morning. What is this peace? This Perfect Peace?IMAG0333

The scripture reads “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” Isaiah 26:3-4.

As I reread this passage I realize that it is more than just the people of God speaking of God, but singing of him. This is a song of confidence in God’s provision and care.

Thou, God, will keep him, me, in perfect peace, when I keep my mind on you, when I trust in you. My Trust in the Lord must endure for in the LORD is everlasting strength.

So my trust, utter dependence, reliance, belief in, confidence on God will provide me with perfect peace, In-Gods-Handsnot a little bit of peace or shattered peace or broken peace or incomplete peace, but perfect, whole, complete, enough, abundant peace. Abandoning my life in God’s hands gives me a peace that is all I need.
And that isn’t all we get in return for placing our wants, desires, hurts, pains, questions, ambitions, families, loves, on God, he gives us strength to continue to trust him. This strength is everlasting, not just for today, this hour, this trial, the well won’t run dry. The strength of God that he gives in exchange for trust is EVERLASTING. It is of God, there is no beginning and no end. It is eternal strength.

In need of Peace, in a strength drought? Why not Trust in God Again?

“Is there a mountain standing in your way
Is there a loved one you’re worried about today
Is there a blessing you desire that seems intangible
Instead of giving up the fight
Cling to faith with all your might
The One who’s seen you through before is still able
(He’s still able.)

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take Him at his word
Why not trust

Why not trust God again
I know that he can do it
If I pray again, believe again
My God will work it for my good again
I know that He will see me through it all
If I trust in God again.”
Kurt Carr – Why Not Trust God Again Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Why NOT trust God again? He has proven himself Faithful.

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I started this blog several years ago, writing and sharing my personal studies, thoughts, conversations with God. As the years went by I fell out of the habit, I didn’t take the time to stop and write. In looking back, I see that my personal study time suffered as well. Yes I continued to read and pray, to spend time with God, but all to often it was on the go, just a scripture here or there and not unmeasured time in communion with him. I recognize that I often used the excuse that I talked to God all day long. That I wasn’t missing out. But while talking to God throughout the day is fantastic and necessary, so is time set aside to study and meditate. I suffered, my walk with God wasn’t always as it should have been. It wasn’t the writing, that is a by product of the study. It was missing the time alone spent in communion with Him that put a strain on my relationship with him.

20160116_092509When I started the blog, my burden was to write anonymously. If someone I knew came across it, their opinion of me wouldn’t taint the words. I wanted God to be able to use the words to edify with out my name label. There is a certain freedom in writing anonymously. You can share personal things with out feeling stripped bare for the whole world to see. If you put your name to your words, you claim the hurt, the failure, the loss… Recently I have been impressed to write again, only to claim my words, to put myself out there, to tell my story. While it is humbling, how can I personally be a blessing if I don’t share who I am? And as I write these words, it comes to me that in claiming my words, that I am not only claiming the hurts and failures, but also the victories, the promises of God, the innumerable blessings that he has bestowed upon me. For to tell my Story, is to tell of Him.

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My name is Emily Susanne Crain. (There, I said it) I am the youngest of 5 children, born and raised at the Church of God in Carmichael. I always had a tender heart. I have been told I was easily intreated as a child. I don’t remember ever wanting to go experience the world of sin. But that doesn’t automatically buy me a ticket into heaven. I had to have an encounter with God for myself. I remember always wanting to have the last word in an argument, getting frustrated and angry when I wasn’t heard, that contentious sprit rise up when I didn’t get my way. I don’t remember outwardly showing this, but keeping it inside. And that can eat at a person.

When I was eight years old, there was a little skit during the Tuesday night Bible Story calvin-susieTime. It depicted 2 brothers that were saving money to buy a radio. Once this task had been accomplished and they brought it home, they argued greatly of where it should go. While such a simple lesson, it spoke to me. I sounded like that. Always wanting my way, always having to have the last word, to be right and that was UGLY. I knew God couldn’t be pleased with that. That night in October, I repented and gave my life to God. I was young, I didn’t know how to serve God and didn’t fully understand what I had just done. Through the years I have failed him, I haven’t always made the right decisions, sometimes even multiple times. But after each stumble, each trip and fall, I always got right back up, repented to make things right with God and continued on.

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Even in my sometimes foolishness, my desire has never been to leave God. I want to make it to heaven. And while God would never want me to fail, He has worked those failures for my good. For in those time I have personally recognized the greatness of God’s mercy and faithfulness. He is so good to those that have a deep desire to serve him. As the minister stated during the revival a week ago, if there is one solitary ounce of fiber in our being that cries out to God, he will not fail us or depart. 3938259119_ba1b6492af_z

He won’t quench that smoking flax, but he will fan the flame. He won’t break the bruised reed, he will splint and nourish it. God is not willing than any would perish, that any includes me, and I am SO thankful for that.

The song, “My Story” sung by Big Daddy Weave has been on my mind lately, he sings my story, my life, for it is Jesus that makes my Story what it is.

IMG_6357My Story

If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn’t let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

If I told you my story
You would hear victory over the enemy
And if I told you my story
You would hear freedom that was won for me
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life overcome the grave

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long

For the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell
For the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long

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