Category Archives: Self-worth

The Glass Half Full

Why is the mind so easily drawn to everything that’s wrong?
Why is the natural bend to let the bad stuff bring us down?
Why is it we don’t focus, on what is good and right?
When good and bad live side by side; our focus is a choice.

Is the glass half empty… or is it half-way full?
How do we choose to see our lives and trials that are known?
Will we be over-comers that walk in victory?
Do we know that our mindset will define our destiny?

Weariness from trials, battles for control,
Hurts and wrongs and living pain can darken tender souls.
If we were raised in families that thought in negatives,
Then we are set to do the same… for it’s our heritage.

But if we recognize the truth, that dark thoughts are a choice,
Bad patterns can be broken; our hearts learn to rejoice.
Instead of trying to control, circumstance and life,
Each trial can become a chance to change; to grow; to rise.

The day is what we make it, we choose our attitude.
A thankful heart will shine and change a heavy, darkened view.
Choose to be a shining light instead of a dark cloud,
And we’ll fulfill our purpose and inspire those around.

O Lord help me to hear the words that come out of my mouth
Help me to quickly recognize each negative, dark thought
O give me words of light and hope from a thankful heart
So I bring glory to Your name and brighten up the dark.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Sometimes negative thinking is a stronghold and binding the spirit of negativity in the name of Jesus and loosing a thankful spirit along with being aware of our thought patterns are both required to truly change a negative mindset. Being negative is like an umbrella over our heads that deflects God’s blessings and purpose away from us.
Blessings to you.

 

 

 

Things aren’t what they seem

My eyes are shocked at what I see,
What’s happened to the world?
It’s changing fast before my eyes
And fear is gripping me.
But as I stand there frozen,
A small voice says to me,
Fear not my child, hang on tight,
For things aren’t what they seem.

My job is coming to an end,
Oh what am I to do?
I’m older now; not in demand
So failure’s what I see.
But as I fear the future,
My God, He comforts me,
“Fear not my child, know I am there,
For things aren’t what they seem.”

I’m tired of stress and trials
That plague my family.
I’ve prayed hard for change to come,
That God would set us free.
But as I wait so wearily,
My God says “Stand my child,
I’ll be your strength, your sword and shield,
For things aren’t what they seem.”

God’s at work in mighty ways
That our eyes cannot see.
He orchestrates behind the scenes,
To change and set us free.
We do not know His greater plan,
But He is in control.
So rest and turn your eyes to God,
With deeper faith; let go.

When trials come, when fears abound
Rest in His mighty hands.
Know that He is holding you,
And working out His plan.
He hears your prayers, He sees your heart,
He’s working to that end.
But know He knows what change will take,
And in faith, stand again.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

God’s Great Symphony

God’s Great Symphony

The flow of God’s timing released in our lives
Requires our trust and to stop taking charge
It puts faith front and center and God on His throne
And trusting God’s timing for He alone knows.

You’ve been praying and praying for that unsaved soul
You’ve been asking the Lord to set free all your goals
Rest and wait; He’s at work, in ways we can’t see
Its God’s perfect rhythm and timing we need.

If what we think is best, is not moving forward
If our hopes and our dreams are lost deep in the forest
Don’t give up, don’t despair, and don’t take control
Let the unforced rhythm, of God’s script, soothe your soul.

As long as we’re breathing, there’s a chance to touch lives
With each human contact we’re God’s hands and His light
Even if our lives seem insignificant and small
We’re notes in God’s rhythm and play a great part.

Each life in this world is wanted by God
The great and the small are equally flawed
He has ordained what each man’s roll will be
It’s the unforced rhythm, of God’s great symphony.

Rest where you are, move forward in faith
Submitting all outcomes; He knows the right pace
He hears all our prayers; holds our tears in His hand
As we wait on His timing He’ll help us to stand.

God’s timing is music, it’s a heavenly chorus
As we wait on our Lord, it is beauty before Him
We praise You O God, the true Great I AM
For only You know the beginning from end.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

 

 

 

 

The Baggage Handler

I recently heard a friend talk about the baggage she had hauled around for years.  She wished that she understood the truth earlier in life that we simply aren’t  meant to carry the hurts and the pain from the past, because they hold us back and keep us down.  Her story, inspired me to write this poem.

The baggage that I haul around
Is cumbersome and heavy
It’s bursting with pain I hide
That part of life that’s messy
I know that you can’t see my bags
So I try to pretend
That my life has been perfect
When it’s been kind of grim.

Sometimes when I am all alone
I open up the bags
I look inside and cry about
The wounded child within
The little one that needed love
When hurt and pain occurred
The child longing just to hear
One encouraging word
That teenager that struggled
From a terrible event
The young adult who made mistakes
And then felt guilt and shame
My troubles and my trials
That I work hard to manage
Each have their place; hidden away
Deep within my baggage.

If I let go of all these bags
My load would be so light
But I can’t leave that wounded child
How could that be right
It would be an injustice
To set the contents free
For I still want to make things right
For then I will have peace
So I just keep on struggling
Beneath the weight I carry
Feeling like I can’t go on
Though I keep on trying
I tell myself “Keep pushing on”
“Keep holding it together”
But all the weight is pressing in
I’m breaking from the pressure.

A friend told me, I wasn’t meant
To struggle with this load
That Jesus died to bear my yoke
Though it’s dark and heavy
He doesn’t care about my past
He only sees the future
So I looked up and gave my heart
To my Lord and Savior
Then in my deep exhaustion
I laid down all my bags
To let the contents come out
To expose those filthy rags
I took a breath, undid the latch
I let my Savior see…
And as He took my baggage…
I cried… for I was free

Matthew 11:28
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Hope in our Frailty

God frequently uses people for His glory that we as humans would never choose. That fact gives me hope that no matter how insignificant, untalented, or floundering we or those we love might be, there is always hope. The bible is full of unlikely individuals that have made a vast difference in the world in spite of the odds. The very people you and I might pass over are often the ones that God chooses because he sees into the heart and chooses the ones that have a heart for Him. He doesn’t care about who we are, where we’re from, or how much money we have. With that in mind, who knows what God has in store for you and those you love!

A simple man with no big plans
No lofty goals consume him.
He didn’t come from wealth or gain
Nor high class education.
Most think he won’t amount to much
His future’s etched in stone,
But thank the Lord, God values man
By his heart alone.
A waitress working hard each day
Just trying to pay the bills.
She wasn’t born to silver spoon
Nor were her wants fulfilled.
Just working class and most would think
For her there’ll be no change;
But we don’t know, what God has planned
Nor what He has arranged.
God sees beyond her circumstance
Fulfilling hidden dreams.
Think about a fisherman,
Who worked in Galilee.
A simple man from lower class
He was no Pharisee.
He worked each day, just catching fish;
Obscure from most mankind.
Until the Son of God called out,
“Come fish for souls of man.”
From that moment forward
Peter was transformed,
When God perplexed the ways of man,
And shattered social norms.
David was the youngest son;
A simple shepherd boy.
He had no right to leadership;
Nor kingly path in store.
But God saw David differently
He cared not for mans rules;
For He knew David’s heart was right;
Humble, pure, and true.
God chose the one least obvious
To demonstrate His might;
And David’s place in history
Became Christ’s holy line.

 

God is not confined by man
We cannot know His mind.
He chooses those we least expect
To show that He is God.
He doesn’t look at privileged lives,
Nor beauty, fame, or brains.
He looks into the heart of man
And chooses in that way.
So if your life seems simple;
No wealth or fame in sight.
It really doesn’t matter,
For God only sees your heart.
Do you have a heart for Him?
A longing in your soul?
To serve and grow, to always change;
To give His love to all?
If you do, then rest assured
That God will bless you too.
And you will see what God has planned,
For someone just like you.

 

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

God Made You…You

gods-plan

Know you have a purpose, that God designed you for
Each trait and quirky detail that makes you who you are
He molded you with intent, designed you through and through
So never doubt the Potter’s work; see yourself through His view.

Our holy God decided, to make you like you are
There’s no mistake, you’re wonderful; a glorious shining star
Care not for the world’s values, the world knows not the truth
Embrace what God created; for you are not a fluke.

God gave us gifts and talents, entrusted for good use
To grow and nurture every day, so God’s plan can be loosed
No matter if they’re great or small, use them for His glory
Don’t discount what God’s given you, for He wrote your life story.

The devil wants to ravage, what God designed in us
He works to twist God’s perfect plan with lies that mar and crush
He takes life’s hurt and trials, to warp us through and through
He takes a hurtful word, and convinces us it’s true.

He even says we’re worthless; why would we even try
And then says selfishness is good; all means are justified
But we are vessels formed with love; designed before our birth
It’s satan lies that misalign, what God himself brought forth.

So recognize the devil’s goal is to make you crumble
And when he throws his poison darts; stand, don’t fall or stumble
Don’t believe the devil’s lies that steal and foster shame
For God made you with great intent, so break all satan’s chains.

Know you have authority to bruise the devil’s head
To walk upon his every lie, to become all God’s planned
God loves you and he made you, just the way you are
Fall on your knees and seek His face, he’ll melt away your scars.

God has a plan for each of us, even though we’ve failed
And as we humbly yield to Him, with new wings we shall sail
What satan used for evil, our God will use for gain
O Praise the Lord, we are set free, exalt the His holy name.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Psalms 139:   13,14 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

God’s Great Symphony

Image result for pictures of a symphony
The flow of God’s timing released in our lives
Requires our trust and to stop taking charge
It puts faith front and center and God on His throne
And trusting God’s timing for He alone knows.

You’ve been praying and praying for that unsaved soul
You’ve been asking the Lord to set free all your goals
Rest and wait; He’s at work, in ways we can’t see
Its God’s perfect rhythm and timing we need.

If what we think is best, is not moving forward
If our hopes and our dreams are lost deep in the forest
Don’t give up, don’t despair, and don’t take control
Let the unforced rhythm, of God’s script, soothe your soul.

As long as we’re breathing, there’s a chance to touch lives
With each human contact we’re God’s hands and His light
Even if our lives seem insignificant and small
We’re notes in God’s rhythm and play a great part.

Each life in this world is wanted by God
The great and the small are equally flawed
He has ordained what each man’s roll will be
It’s the unforced rhythm, of God’s great symphony.

Rest where you are, move forward in faith
Submitting all outcomes; He knows the right pace
He hears all our prayers; holds our tears in His hand
As we wait on His timing He’ll help us to stand.

God’s timing is music, it’s a heavenly chorus
As we wait on our Lord, it is beauty before Him
We praise You O God, the true Great I AM
For only You know the beginning from end.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Hold On To God’s Promises

                       Victory

My desire is for God to use me. My heart longs to make the right decisions that honor Him. I want to love humanity like Jesus does and to forgive easily. That is my aspiration. However, I keep getting in the way of God’s work. I keep messing up. Sometimes my mess-ups are just between God and I, other times they’re visible to many. Either way, my heart is saddened by my failure. Have you ever felt this way?

Have you ever wondered, “how can God use a screw-up like me?” I have. After all, we know our flaws; the nasty thoughts, careless words, selfish demands that reflect how imperfect we are. How many times have we ignored the Spirit’s nudging to reach out and be vulnerable to someone in need? Or allowed our insecurities to hold us back from opportunities placed before us. Oh, the guilt and self-doubt that grows in our minds because we know the truth about ourselves; we are imperfect, deeply flawed creatures.

This leads us back to the question, “how can God use a flawed person like me?” The answer is found in the lives of our biblical heroes whom God loved, used, and blessed. When feeling unworthy remember that Moses had a short fuse, was insecure, and murdered a man. David was too young, killed a man and had an affair. Sarah could be impatient, temperamental, conniving, pouty, jealous, and a complainer. Yet, God used them to do amazing work and He will use you too.

Does this make you feel better? It should. God loves you and has work for you to do just like Moses, David and Sarah. The work He has for you may not end up in history books, but it is important. We may never know the ripples that spread from encouraging one person; or from making a difficult but right decision. Each day we leave a mark on the world constructed from our choices and behaviors and when we follow God’s precepts the mark we leave will be a positive one.

The other part of being used by God is walking in victory. We know there’s victory in the lord, the Bible makes this clear in both the Old and New Testaments.  Yet, many of us struggle to live in victory because we focus on our failures and short comings instead of God’s grace and forgiveness. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Each new day He offers us forgiveness and hope even when we’ve blown it the day before. He also promises to strengthen us and make us victorious. 1 John 5:4 says, “For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world; our faith.” And 1 Corinthians 15:57 reminds us,  “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Embrace this victory! When self-doubt and defeated, negative thoughts dominate your day and prevent you from moving forward in Christ; claim victory in the name of Jesus and recite these verses over and over until you know in your heart Christ is with you, giving you victory in all situations. Isaiah 41:10So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Debora Shelford Hobbs

My Child; Come Forth!

free

Call forth Your people, into their true purpose
Out of the tomb and the grave clothes that bind us
Strip off the chains that have taken us captive
Set free our purpose to blossom and practice.

Sometimes it’s comfortably safe in the tomb
Where no one can hurt us and failure can’t loom
But each life’s important to God’s perfect plan
And failure to launch is what Satan demands.

Life’s pressures and hurts have blinded our eyes
They’ve robbed us of purpose and bound us in lies
But God has a plan for you and for me
To unbridle our gifts and set our talents free.

Gifts aren’t just arts, or teaching, or leading
But also of serving, hospitality, and giving
Together we form an ornate tapestry
That blesses our God and proclaims His majesty!

Lazarus was done; he’d been buried for days
It seemed all was lost and there was no way
But God’s mighty power called him out of the grave
To start life again, to be new; to be saved!

Out of the tomb, our mighty God calls us
He say’s “Child come forth, be free from the darkness!”
Strip off the grave clothes and soar like a bird
Become what I made you and no longer fear!

Embrace who God’s made you; you’re His great creation
Blossom and grow in your purpose and station
Do all that you do, as unto our Lord
Not for worldly approval that will come and go.

Bless Your name Father, our Creator, our Lord
Its You, Mighty God that we will adore
May we be a fragrance of blessing to You
As we use what You give us, with hearts humble and true.

 

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Well Done My Faithful Servant!

purpose

This is it. We have one life to be our very best.
To make the most of every day; to live our lives with zest,
To value most the things that last; to not be easily daunted,
To focus hard on good and right and blessings God has granted.
Though life is sometimes filled with trials; still what a gift it is!
There’s always good, if we’ll just look, for God is in our midst!

Each day live life like there’s no more, with purpose and intent,
With focus on relationships and in them, always give.
For when we reach our final hour, that’s all we’ll care about,
Not all the things that we acquired or a big bank account.
Did we love with all our heart? …Did we pour out kindness?
Did we forgive when we were wronged, like God’s forgiven us?

God has a special purpose, that He designed you for,
And you have gifts and talents, that should not be ignored.
For you can make a difference in this lost and lonely world,
And you are valued by our God, like gems and precious pearls.
We weren’t created to exist in passive isolation,
But we were made to grow and share Almighty God’s salvation.

When morning breaks take time to pause; commit the day to God,
Decide to bloom where you are planted and on each problem, trod.
Don’t be defined by past mistakes, but rather learn from them,
And you will blossom in your life and truly overcome!
Pride will never bring true gain… but it will bring a fall,
For there is nothing we can do, that God does not control.

Oh Father help us see in life, the things that really matter.
Help us fulfill Your glorious call and raise a victor’s banner!
Help us know our purpose, and help us see our gifts,
Help us rise when we could fall; pour courage into us.
Then on that day, when we stand before our God and Maker,
We’ll hear the words come from our God “Well done my faithful servant!”

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

O Holy Night and the meaning of Christmas

 

birth-of-jesus

Merry Christmas friends. May God’s blessings be on you and your family; may God’s peace fill your soul.

O Holy Night is one of my favorite Christmas carols because of the deep truths within its lyrics. Every time I hear them my spirit is reminded of the magnificence of God’s love for humanity. The lyrics are poetic yet clearly convey the message of Jesus’s birth; “when He appeared the soul felt its worth.” I stand in awe at the beauty of this truth; only God’s love reveals to us our souls worth, this is amazing.

Hope. We all need hope. To me it feels like the world is in chaos, seldom does the nightly news leave me feeling hopeful for the future. In fact, it feels like the world is plunging into darkness. Even though the world appears to be heading in the wrong direction, there is hope in the fulfillment of God’s promise at the birth of Jesus. Rejoice in this truth and find hope in the fact that God does keep His promises. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices.”

A good friend; we all need a good friend. Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you. He was born in a manger and lived as a man; he understands first hand our earthly struggles. “The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger; In all our trials born to be our friend.” Jesus will stay by our side and walk with us through difficult times, offering hope and purpose through His Word.

We all desire to be accepted faults and all and to have our deepest needs understood by another. God knows our needs and our weaknesses, yet loves us; accepting us completely. “He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger” Isn’t it wonderful to be accepted and valued by God!

Christianity is a religion of love and forgiveness because of Jesus’s birth. His birth gave humanity a new and radicle code of conduct that said put other’s needs above your own; all of humanity are children of God; forgive as you have been forgiven, and love God with your whole heart. “Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name.”

The beauty of these lyrics lies in how accurately they reflect God’s love through the birth of Jesus. We are blessed beyond measure to have such a loving God and savior. A savior who loves us even though we constantly mess up in our Christian walk. We are blessed to have a God who knows the value of our souls, even when we don’t. This Christmas, let’s stand in awe at the magnificence of God’s love.

A blessing for you this Christmas season and the new year.

May your soul know its worth through Jesus Christ. May you know hope. May you have a faithful friend that will never leave you nor forsake you. One who loves you even though they know your weaknesses. May you know peace, the peace that passes all understanding.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

Here are the lyrics for O Holy Night.

O Holy Night The stars are brightly shining It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth Long lay the world in sin and e’er pining ‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees O hear the angels voices. O night divine O night when Christ was born O night divine, O night, O night divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming, With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand. So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming, Here came the wise men from Orient land. The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger; In all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger, Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend! Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever, His power and glory evermore proclaim. O night divine, O night, O night divine.

Adolphe Charles Adam

GOD GIVES LIFE RENEWED!

God  frequently  uses people for His glory that we as humans would never choose.  That  fact gives me hope that no matter how insignificant, untalented, or floundering a child, spouse, or even ourselves might be, we should never write anyone off.  The bible is full of unlikely individuals that have made a vast difference in the world in spite of the odds.  God sees as incredibly valuable the very people you and I would pass over because He looks deep into the heart and searches far and wide for someone who has a heart for Him.  He doesn’t care about who we are, where we’re from, or how much money we have.  With that in mind, who knows what God has in store for you or those you love!

A simple man with no big plans
No lofty goals consume him
He didn’t come from wealth or gain
Nor high class education.
Most think he won’t amount to much
His future’s etched in stone
But thank the Lord, God values man
By his heart alone.

A waitress working hard each day
Just trying to pay the bills
She wasn’t born to silver spoon
Nor were her wants fulfilled
Just working class and most would think
For her there’ll be no change
But we don’t know, what God has planned
Nor what He has arranged.
God sees beyond man’s circumstance
Fulfilling hidden dreams.

Think about a fisherman
Who worked from Galilee
A simple man from lower class
No big-wig Pharisee.
He worked each day, just catching fish
Obscured from most mankind
Until The Son of God called out
“Come fish for souls of man.”
From that moment forward                                                                                        Peter was transformed,
When God perplexed the ways of man
And shattered social norms.

David was the youngest son
A simple shepherd boy
He had no right to leadership
Nor kingly path in store
But God sees things so differently
From mankind’s human view
And He looked deep in Davids soul
And saw a heart thats true .
God didn’t choose the obvious
He chose what man rejects
When the youngest son of Jesse
Became a mighty King.

God is not confined by man
We cannot know His mind
He chooses those we least expect
To show that He is God.
He doesn’t look at privileged lives
Nor beauty, fame, or brains.
He looks into the heart of man
And chooses in that way.

So if your life seems simple
No wealth or fame in sight
It really doesn’t matter
For God only sees your heart.
Do you have a heart for Him
A longing in your soul?
To serve and grow, to always change
To give His love to all?
If you do, then rest assured
That God will bless you too.
And you will see what God has planned
For someone just like you.
So yield your heart, turn back from sin
He’ll give you life renewed.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

A Valentine from God

Valentine from God

It’s two days before Valentine’s Day and I’ve been thinking about the different types of love and the many different ways we show our love to others. This caused me to ask a few questions. How do we learn to show love? How do we learn to accept love from others? The obvious answer is from our parents; which is true. However, I believe many of us have learned how to love and be loved from God’s perfect example found in the Bible. After all, The Bible is the ultimate resource on love.

A Valentine from God to You

You Are Precious to God

Matthew 10:30-31 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

Psalm 147:11 The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.

God Delights in You

Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Psalms 149:4 For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.

 God Will Not Forget You

Isaiah 49:15 Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.

Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.

God’s Love is Steadfast

Psalm 136:26 Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations

Isaiah 41:10-13 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.

 God Will Never Leave You

Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go.

1 King 8:57 May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may he never leave us nor forsake us.

God Will be with You Through Trials

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

God Knows You

John 10:14 I am the good shepherd, and I know my own and my own know me.

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

Isaiah 43:1 Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.

God Loves You

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

1 John 4:16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

I hope this Valentine of Love from God encourages your heart, comforts your pain, and reminds you how loved you are by God.

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

Hidden Within

Hidden Within

This poem deals with ugly things hidden within the heart. These hidden things hold names such as discontent, self pity, jealousy, pride, self-righteousness, selfishness, and greedy grasping, and that’s just a few. Though we may conceal these things to observers and even ourselves, they are never hidden from God; He knows our heart even better than we do.
This poem reminds me that we really are mere mortals and we are desperate for God’s grace.

HIDDEN WITHIN

I listened to her stories, of traveling here and there
Of seeing many wonders and having not a care.
I longed to live a life like that; to know that kind of blessing
And as I sat there listening, self pity washed upon me.
But as I walked away from her, God opened up my eyes
He showed me my ungrateful heart and in disgust I sighed.

Oh God why do I struggle with discontent and greed?
I’ll never comprehend the grace that You extend to me.

He sat there all in smiles, excited with success.
A new promotion, a big ole raise, his life is now the best!
I thought that he was bragging to tell us all like that.
I sat there with the fakest smile; distain was in my breast.
I walked away and asked myself…why do I act that way?
Am I that mean and petty? My heart sunk in dismay.

Oh God why do I cringe at… success for someone else?
Forgive me Lord, please change me! This icy heart, please melt.

I listened to the story… knew it was barely true
Each so called fact that was described was exaggerated and skewed.
I wondered why he worked in lies; my heart filled with disgust
I sat there wrapped in righteous pride, my patience huffed and puffed.
But when I walked away from him, the veil fell from my eyes
I saw my own wrong doings and I broke down and cried.

Oh God my God why do you care for one as frail as me?
I’m overwhelmed, can’t comprehend, Your love that sets me free.

Just hearing her go on and on about her kid’s success
Set my skin to prickling, my heart had some contempt.
I walked away and asked myself just why I felt that way?
Was I that small and jealous? My heart sunk in dismay.
What’s wrong with me, why do I act so selfish and with pride?
I hung my head and felt ashamed; I wished that I could hide.

Its times like these my feeble heart will never understand
The mercy and the grace God gives, in spite of all my sin.

The project was my baby, I was so proud of it
And when she took the credit, rage filled within my chest.
Speaking up before I thought, I set the record straight
And in a flash, I looked so bad; I’d taken Satan’s bait.
I slunked away angry and hurt; I hated her that day.
But as I stewed God gently came and washed the pride away.

Oh Lord why do I strive for, importance be-fore man?
I don’t know why You love me, when I fight against Your plans.

Lord, open up my eyes to see what’s hidden in my heart
Help me to change and grow in grace; please give me a new start.
Help me to stop comparing… my life compared to others
To be content with what I have, know-ing that others suffer.
Help me to grasp the fact of why You’ve put me in this world
Its to exalt Your name alone… not to exalt myself.
Help me to lay down all my pride and with You, humbly walk
To know You’ll raise up who You want, and in that I must trust.

May I help someone else succeed… even if I don’t.
May I rejoice in wondrous news that’s good for someone else.
Fill my heart with thankfulness so I might not forget
The blessings that you’ve given me and in those, be content.
Help me stop the judging of, somebody else’s heart
And may I live each day, O God, displaying Your pure heart.
May Your spirit fall on me and color all I do.
Help my eyes to see the truth; bid hidden sin, adieu.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Beauty Is

Staring long into the mirror
A face unknown seemed to be there
It’s not the face that I remember
But one that’s lost its youthful splendor.
I squeezed my eyes, then looked again
But that old face stared back again.
Sitting there so mesmerized
It came to me…where beauty lies.

Beauty lives within the heart
It shines with glory…like heavens’ art.
Beauty reaches out and heeds
It recognizes others’ needs.
Beauty seeks to understand
The thoughts of an opposing man.
Beauty is a word that flows
From humble lips, with love that shows.
Focused on what’s good and right
It thinks on pure and lovely sights.
Beauty’s found in hope renewed
In sweet forgiveness, grace and truth.
It brightens up this darkened world
Its value is like jewels and pearls.

Beauty’s not a perfect face
Beauty’s not a tiny waist
Nor is it a twenty-something
Nor words that please… but stand for nothing.
Beauty’s not the youngest skin
Nor a body that’s pencil thin.
No… Beauty isn’t our appearance
Nor gaining the whole worlds acceptance.
It isn’t found in self-absorption
In gossip, lies, or vain distortions.
It doesn’t live in brands and labels
Or fancy food upon the table.
Its not the home that fills our dreams
Its not attaining financial means.

O Lord, my Lord help us to see
What lasting beauty really means.
That when we look into the mirror
Our vision might become so clear.
To see ourselves, as You see us
To focus not on earthly stuff.
That from our heart true beauty pours
And radiates like sun and stars.
May our words restore and heal
May we shine with hope and zeal.
Make us glow with Your great love
With grace displayed from heaven above.
So when the darkness closes in
Light from our heart will leap and sing.
Then all will see what beauty is…
It’s You O God… living within.
Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

 

The Gift of Creativity

 

This story was written with the hope of encouraging you to be victorious over the negative voices from the past that hinder your creativity.  Whether your talents are in business, painting, writing, sculpting, building relationships, teaching, giving grace, or encouraging others, don’t believe for a minute they are unimportant.  If God has given you a talent he expects you to use it for His glory. 

Roberta sat before a blank canvas ready to paint but some invisible force was stopping her.  Her heart wanted to paint but her mind was blank, frozen with doubt and insecurity.  Voices from the past kept whispering to her that she lacked talent, that her hope of becoming a professional artist was a pipe-dream.  The voices came from teachers, family, or friends who over the years had suggested in one way or another that she lacked talent.  There was the instructor who said with great concern, “That piece needs serious help.” Or the aunt who was surprised at her choice of colleges, “so you’re going to art school, didn’t know you had any talent.”  Or the utterly shaming, “maybe you could try painting like Donna, she does such nice work.”

Stepping away from her easel Roberta began to pace around the house deep in thought.  Why did the negative voices from the past stay with her?  Why did they come back at unexpected times to haunt her?  Why did they have the power to shut down her creativity?  Ah, that was the question; why did the negative statements of others from years past still have power over her today?  After all, there had been hundreds of positive and encouraging words spoken to her, also.

Her creative mind began to form a mental picture of the power negative words had in her life.  She saw a beautiful box with its lid off filled to overflowing with talent, potential and beautiful art.  Each time she created a work of art the box became larger and more beautiful.  People who saw the box were inspired and uplifted by its beauty and God was blessed.

However, when she allowed negative words from the past to inhibit her creativity two black bands labeled insecurity and doubt appeared.  Slowly creeping their way up the sides of the beautiful box squeezing it and making it disfigured and small.  When this happened people who saw the box felt sad and disappointed.

Frequently the black bands would lose strength, shrinking back to the bottom of the box allowing it to grow in beauty once more.  This happened when she shutout the negative voices, choosing instead to believe in God and the talent He’d gave her.   In her mind’s eye she saw the box cycle several times between growing in beauty and shrinking from insecurity and doubt.  There was a continual struggle going on between the beautiful box and the black bands.

A struggle for my creativity; why?  Pondered Roberta.  The answer came from within the beautiful box picture.  Using her creativity inspired, encouraged and brought joy to others.  But most of all it honored God when she used the talents He’d blessed her with.

Conversely, when the black bands of insecurity and doubt squeezed hard they prevented her from honoring God with her talents. “That’s the reason the negative voices can be so strong at times,” thought Roberta.  “They are used to prevent me from honoring God with my talents.  I must stand strong against them.  I must shut down the negative memories before they hinder my progress.  I must believe in the talent God has given me and use it to bless His name.

With her new found insight Roberta felt a freedom in her spirit and a burst of creative energy.  She sat before the canvas and began to create a new painting.  Carefully, she penciled out a beautiful box filled with art work.  And at the base of the box she drew two small black bands lying next to it, not wrapped around it, representing her victory over the negative voices from the past. If God has given you a talent he expects you to use it for His glory.  Go, be creative and honor God.

1 Peter 4:10  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. Romans 12: 6-8  Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

The Importance of Being Grateful


Pam sat in the small auditorium eagerly waiting to hear the main speaker at her churches women’s retreat.  The theme of the retreat was “Living a Grateful Life” and she desperately wanted help in understanding how to live daily with a grateful attitude.  Somehow over the last several years her attitude toward life in general and her family specifically had become negative.  Pam knew her negative attitude was damaging her most precious relationships and that it wasn’t honoring to God.  With her whole heart she desired to change, but it was difficult establishing a new way of thinking.

The speaker began. “Lately I’ve been thinking about how important the act of being grateful is and how it can effects our everyday lives.  Learning to live a grateful life is such an important goal that when I type “being grateful” into the Amazon search box the results show 22,226 titles concerning this topic.  The Bible has more than 68 verses that specifically address “being grateful” or thankful to God for and in all our circumstances.   Pam thought, “68 verses!  I didn’t realize how important being grateful was to God.” 

The speaker continued.  “Why is it important to God that we Christians discipline ourselves in having a grateful spirit?  I think it’s because the act of being thankful focuses our minds on God, and His faithful hand of provision.  It puts the emphases on God and diminishes the frustration of our daily trials.  Practicing a grateful attitude helps us see and appreciate the many blessings God has given us, even when the blessings turn into momentary trials. ”  Pam identified with this last statement; so many things she’d once considered a blessing had become trials in her life.

The speaker went on.  “A grateful attitude is a powerful attitude because it can change our body language, tone of voice, thought pattern and interaction with others.  A grateful attitude increases our energy and inspires those around us.  A grateful attitude will help keep us mindful of the fact that we are blessed by God and he loves us mightily.  A grateful attitude may not change our situation or circumstances, but it will help gives us strength while going through them and make our days much more enjoyable.”  Pam wanted to be grateful; she wanted to be a blessing to others.

Next the speaker addressed the damaging effects of a negative attitude.  “On the other hand a negative attitude will have the opposite effect.  It will drain our energy, change our body language, tone of voice, thought pattern, and interaction with others; for the worse.  And it will discourage those around you.  A negative attitude will hinder our prayer life and Bible reading.  That’s why as Christians it’s imperative that we discipline ourselves daily to have a grateful attitude.”  Pam felt like the speaker was describing her and felt deep pain within her spirit.  She prayed for God’s forgiveness.

Concluding, the speaker addressed specifically how a God honoring attitude of gratefulness impacts the family.  “Sometimes our greatest blessings can also be our greatest struggles.  For example our families are indeed a great blessing.  However, when our husband’s idiosyncrasies start bugging us or when the children are whining, fighting, and generally driving us crazy, they can feel more like a curse than a blessing. This is when we need to practice the discipline of being grateful instead of giving in to negative thoughts about our loved ones.  If we allow that initial negative thought to take root in our minds, it can quickly grow and before long our annoyance with a few little quirks becomes the filter through which we see our spouses or children.  That’s why we need to discipline our minds to be thankful to God for the many blessings He has given us including our families instead of dwelling on our irritation with them.  When we choose to do this it will bring our negative thoughts into captivity and release ourselves to love as God has instructed us to love.”

That’s what Pam wanted, to honor God by disciplining her mind to be grateful so she can live and love as God intended her to.  The speaker passed out a list of Bible verses about gratefulness, Pam read them and determined to use them as her daily guide to disciplining her mind to be grateful daily.

Psalm 100: 1-5 (A Psalm for giving thanks.)  Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. 

 Ephesians 5:20  Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Philippians 4:6   Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippian 4:8   Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

You Are Set Free

 


Stacy sat at her kitchen table contemplating the reading from her weekly Bible study.  It was the story in Luke 7: 36 -50 that tells about a sinful woman, most likely a prostitute with addictions, who enters a Pharisee’s home, uninvited, determined to see Jesus.  With myopic focus she walks past a group of men eating then kneels down before Jesus and wash his feet with her tears, then wipes them away with her hair.  Finally she produces an alabaster jar of perfume and anoints his feet with the expensive substance.  The Pharisee was shocked that Jesus would let this woman touch him, much less wash his feet.  However, Jesus treated the woman with grace and said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.  Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”  It was this acknowledgement of the woman’s desire to honor him along with the freely given grace and forgiveness that touched Stacy’s heart. 

It had been five years since Stacy had given her heart to the Lord and those years were wonderfully transformative.  Immediately after receiving Christ she’d been given a Bible and wise words that said “in this Bible you will find the blueprint to God’s love and for a life well lived.”  She’d been hungry for answers and began reading the Word daily.  Within its pages she found comfort, wisdom, insight, instructions, and encouragement.  Stacy was in love with the Lord and hungry to please him. 

However, on occasions something would trigger guilt over her less-than-perfect past.  This little niggling of guilt and shame would quickly turn into frequent negative thoughts.   Now, Stacy hadn’t been a prostitute, but she had been an adventurous teen and in her twenties made some big mistakes that weighed heavy on her mind.  And during weak moments, when the past felt more real than today, the guilt she’d been set free from by Christ, would creep back into her thoughts like a slippery snake and slithered its way back into her life.

That’s what the last few weeks had been like for Stacy.  Feelings of unworthiness kept creeping into her contemplations.  Soon these thoughts of worthlessness and guilt turned into depression and the world around her became gray and uninviting.  When she looked into the mirror it wasn’t her reflection she saw, it was failure.  When a friend said something nice, she heard lies.  Eventually, words of discouragement were just about all that existed in her thought-life.  So when she read about Jesus’ compassion and grace for the worldly woman she felt like it was speaking directly to her.  Jesus hadn’t condemned the woman or judged her for being a prostitute like most people in her town.  Instead he acknowledged her faith in him, then forgave her sins and said go in peace. 

Peace, go in Peace.  “Your sins have been forgiven.  Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”  These words massaged Stacy’s troubled mind.  How had she forgotten them so quickly?  Why, at times, did the past have such a strong hold on her?  Why had she forgotten the profound truth that God’s love had forgiven her sins and removed them from her?  Psalms 103:12 says “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” She recited this verse out loud along with 2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  For the first time in days a prayer freely crossed her lips, “Lord, thank you for setting me free from my sins.  Thank you that I’m a new creation in you.  Thank you for knowing my heart, I love you Lord.” 

Stacy got up from the table and started pacing around her kitchen while claiming out loud all the things God had set her free from.  In claiming them audibly she found courage and strength.  And in her humble gratitude for God’s grace she found victory over the negative power of the guilt and shame from her past.  She was a new creation in Christ.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

 

The Roaring Lion

A few days ago I spoke with a woman that has struggled with depression since the death of her spouse seven years ago.  Sadly, the grief has taken such a hold that she is now mostly housebound.  She rarely goes to church because even though there are many other singles sitting all alone, she sees only the couples sitting side by side and that reminds her of her loss.  She finds it hard to remember the fact that she has value and a purpose to fulfill; that God has left her here for a reason…an assignment for her alone.  We talked for a while and then we prayed.  After that, I pondered for a long time how devastating loss and trials can be and how the devil loves to convince us that we are alone and that there is no hope since things didn’t turn out like we wanted.  The thing is my dear friend, that devastating belief… is a lie.

The Roaring Lion

The devil is a roaring lion seeking to devour                                                              
He plans to deal a mighty blow in our darkest hour
He fills our heads and hearts with lies that seem so logical
Our hands and feet he tightly binds, so all things seem impossible.

He takes the trouble in our lives and turns them into ashes
He tells us that our worth is gone and no one even likes us
He speaks so loud that we can’t hear the Spirit’s voice so soft
Reminding us to rise and grow and prosper from the loss.

He blinds our eyes to Gods great hand that’s reaching down to save us
He tells us there’s no use to pray and that we should be anxious
And as we listen to the lies our hearts change to a stone
The enemy laughs, and thinks he’s won; Our spirits cry and groan.

Oh Lord this day, come in Your might,  remove these chains I pray
Silence all the devil’s lies… and speak Your truth today
Tear the blinders from my eyes in Jesus mighty name
That I might see with Godly sight a purpose in the pain.

Soften up the hardened soil in my wounded heart
So I reflect a love and grace that only comes from God
Unchain my hands; give my feet wings – they were entombed in clay
And may I be Your hands and feet to share Your hope each day.

Help me to recognize the lies the devil brings in pain
Turn worry into passionate prayer and anxiety will flee
Help me to die unto myself, to know that our God’s sovereign
For as I bow before Your throne I’ll soar above my problems.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

                           

Forgiveness at Christmas

 


It was a cold Sunday morning two weeks before Christmas and each seat in the sanctuary was filled as the worship team began singing; Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.  Soon the collective voices of the congregation rose in praise as faces and hands were lifted up towards heaven; early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee. 

Toward the back of the sanctuary and several seats in from the isle Henry reluctantly stood with the other worshippers.  He was feeling uncomfortable and wished his wife had chosen seats in the very back so he could leave without disturbing anyone.   Henry could hear the passion in the united voices; holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!  But his heart felt no passion; it was heavy with guilt and defensiveness.

Henry’s guilt and shame gave birth to a defensive attitude which was the direct  byproduct of a bad decision he had made several months ago and no matter how hard he tried to escape it the guilt clung to his conscience like fly paper.  He’d tried to creatively explain away this bad decision but his conscience knew better, the result was an unhappy, defensive, and very guilty feeling Henry.  His mind obsessively said”you’re guilty, you’re not worthy of God’s love”.  Henry’s spirit was uncomfortable and he wanted to leave but couldn’t, people would notice and wonder what’s wrong.  The singing continued; God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Distracted, Henry began to examine all the worshipers with their faces and voices lifted towards God.  Oh how he wished to be like them entering into worship without the guilt and heaviness that was wrapped around his black soul.  Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee. 

Henry noticed Ralph a local business man who was known as a bit of a conniver, worshipping.  There was Ellen a suspected homosexual, worshipping.  Henry moved his eyes up and down the rows making a mental note about the imperfect humans who were worshipping God.  There was the gossip, alcoholic, ex-drug addict, the twice divorced, the liar, the abused and abuser, and of course the rigidly religious one who was always doing the right thing but also managed to judge harshly those who didn’t add up to her exacting standards.  They all kept singing; Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee, who was and is, and evermore shall be.

A tiny bead of warmth started to grow in Henry’s chest as he thought about how flawed each worshiper was; they were all sinners just like him.  Not a one of them stood without sin before man, but before God they were sinless through the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ.  The third verse continued: Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee, perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.

It was just a few weeks before Christmas and Henry hadn’t bothered to think about the birth of Jesus he’d been too consumed with his own quilt not to mention stressing over work and the family budget.  But, as the bead of warmth spread through his body Henry began to consider the miracle of Jesus’ birth and how this child was born to save the world from sin.  “God, please forgive me and help me to accept your forgiveness” Henry prayed as tiny tears moistened the corner of his eyes.

The bondage of guilt and defensiveness was loosened in Henry’s spirit by the divine knowledge that God saw him sinless through the blood of Jesus. For the first time in months Henry’s spirit felt free to worship.  Henry lifted his voice in praise with the congregation; Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea.  Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty, God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

May the deep meaning of Jesus’ birth and the cleansing power of his blood be made real to you this Christmas season.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

The lyrics to Holy, Holy, Holy by  Reginald Heber

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty! God in three Persons blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee, Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea; Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee, Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee, though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see; only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee, Perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea; Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty! God in three Persons blessed Trinity!