Friday, November 15, 2019

Christ-Followers

“For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.(1Co 9:19-22)

The apostle Paul’s example convicts me, and today, I look harder at myself. Am I willing, have I tried, to extend myself that far?

I hear the voices around me, awful, nasty comments from those in the church. IN THE CHURCH. Tearing down this preacher or that celebrity, who may or may not have faltered. And I grieve over it.

It’s as ungodly as what him or her has been accused of. We cannot sit in the pew, smile at the sermon, and stab someone in the side.

We cannot focus on the sin, condemn the sin, and be content to destroy the sinner.


Image by James Chan from Pixabay


In 2 Corinthians 2, Paul addresses a matter that he had admonished the church on in his previous letter. A member had been allowed to attend while living freely in a known sin, and he’d instructed them to deal with it. (1Co 5:1)

But notice his next words: “Contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him.” And then also, “I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.” (2Co 2:7-8)

We have been instructed to pray for all men, to pray for government, to love and “do good” for our enemies. Nowhere in any of that does it say to gossip or tear anyone down. Regardless of how we feel about them, our reaction as a Christian is to pray and to love one another like Christ. (1Ti 2:1-2; Lk 6:27; Eph 5:2)

And hear this — “God, crucify him,” is not a prayer but an accusation. We should NEVER wish evil on anyone.

Instead, we are told to encourage one another. Romans 14:19 in the Passion Translation says this powerfully: “So then, make it your top priority to live a life of peace with harmony in your relationships, eagerly seeking to strengthen and encourage one another.” 

Eagerly. As a top priority. This means it’s not optional or last on the list. The grace that God has extended to us, we are to extend to others, above all else. Grace with our actions. With our reactions. With our thoughts. We are to think on things that are just, pure, lovely, of good report, and of virtue. (Php 4:8)

We are to give grace with our words.

Don’t say anything that will hurt others, but only say what is helpful [good] to make others stronger [build others up] and meet their needs. Then what you say will do good [give grace; be a gift] to those who listen to you.” (Eph 4:29 EXB, paraphrased]

My mother used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, then say nothing at all.” I’m sure she didn’t originate that saying, but how much we, as the children of God, have forgotten it.

How we feel about someone is unimportant. Who we like or dislike doesn’t matter. We are no longer controlled by our emotions, tossed to and fro like the sea. (Jas 1:6)


Image by Shlomaster from Pixabay


Proverbs 14:30 in the Message Bible says, Runaway emotions corrode the bones.”

How true that is. We are people of faith, who walk by faith, and we follow the example of Christ, who died for whosoever, and instructed us to love in that same measure.

This is what makes us Christians, Christ followers. People look at us and see Him. (Jn 13:34)

“Let Christ himself be your example as to what your attitude should be.” (Php 2:5 PHILLIPS)

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Suzanne D. Williams, Author
www.feelgoodromance.com
https://sdwauthor.blogspot.com/

Monday, October 7, 2019

Something New

I clung to the broken pieces. After all, this was what remained of what was important to me. No matter, I can’t repair what was lost. Perhaps, if I hold on tight enough, I’ll, at least, remember what it used to be.

Except God isn’t interested in dredging up the past and sticking it all back together. He’s God of all things new. New heart. New life. New pathway. (Rev 21:5; Ez 36:26)

Granted, one straighter and narrower than what we’re used to. One fraught with difficulties. (Mt 7:14)

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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay


George Mueller started a string of orphanages in England in the late 20th century without any funds, strictly to walk by faith. In his book, “Answers To Prayer”, he talks about the difficulties he faced, whether it was the need for a new building or a new furnace or food to feed thousands of children. He spoke only to the Lord about the need and then expected the answer. Time and time again, someone would show up, unprompted, and say, “God told me to give you this,” and it was always enough.

Of such difficulties, he said, “[The difficulties are] for the exercise of our faith and patience; and more prayer, more patience, and the exercise of faith will remove the difficulties.” 


Image by Dominic Alberts from Pixabay


We are incredibly shortsighted. We see only the fragments in our hands. But it’s by releasing them and expecting something new from God that we’ll end up better than before. That’s been His goal all along, to give us more than we’d ever need so that we can share what we have with someone else, and it only comes when faith and patience are put into use.

Then, instead of being empty-handed like we expected, our baskets overflow, but first, we have to set the pieces down and take a step without them. Rather than be discouraged by the difficulties, we increase our faith, meditating on His promises, and take God at His Word. For He is faithful. (Joe 2:24; 2Pe 1:4)

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2Co 4:17-18)

I don’t know about you, but I’m through patching things together with misfit pieces. I don’t want another temporary fix. New is better, and new is God’s will for me. It only takes a little more prayer, a little more faith, and a lot more patience.

That isn’t so hard when I already know the results.


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Suzanne D. Williams, Author
www.feelgoodromance.com
https://sdwauthor.blogspot.com/

Monday, September 16, 2019

Jesus Alone

“Their vision of Jesus Christ and Him crucified has become cloudy. They no longer see Him and His work on the cross as the center of their Christian lives, now it is Jesus plus …” (David Guzik commentary on Gal 3:1)

There is no Jesus plus.

Jesus plus our job, our bank account, our years in church. Jesus plus charity work, generous contributions, an hour in prayer every day at five a.m. As if He needs our help. No, He needs our faith.

Not, Jesus in our pocket, and we pull Him out like a repair kit. Jesus, hocus pocus. Wave Him over your problem and recite a few psalms.

“Jesus plus” implies He’s not enough. Run, quick because Jesus can’t handle the mountain we’ve started to climb.




It sounds ridiculous, but the Galatians tried something similar. They mixed faith with carnal works and forgot about the time-altering moment when faith became faith in the first place. “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you …?” Paul asks. “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal 3:1,3)

There’s no Jesus formula. Buy now, the five-step program toward success! Take these spiritual vitamins and call me in the morning. Faith requires living in God’s Word. It’s burying your head in the water of the Good Book and drinking deep.

My mom tells a story about a woman who meditated on Acts 10:38 so long that when the grocery store clerk said, “That’ll be $10.38,” she recited the verse instead. That’s awesome. We should be that full.

Full of Jesus alone. Our every breath, knowing that He answers prayers spoken in faith. Faith that’s grown in us because we’ve spent so much time in His Word, we’ve totally overlooked the distractions. We’re focused, instead, on the Author and Finisher. (Heb 12:2)

Notice:  He started the ball rolling and has provided the happy ending already. Jesus, singular, enduring the cross, in spite of all the voices howling around him. In spite of the fear lumped in His throat, knowing He had to die and be disconnected from the Father, He saw the Resurrection as completed.

Jesus, victorious. Consider that next time you want to give up. (Heb 12:3)

“But they should consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, and be encouraged, not discouraged, knowing that they are following in the footsteps of Jesus.” (David Guzik commentary on Hebrews 12:3)

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Suzanne D. Williams, Author
www.feelgoodromance.com
https://sdwauthor.blogspot.com/

Monday, August 12, 2019

I Am The Remnant

Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left [of the prophets], and they are seeking my life.” But what is God’s response to him? “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too then, at the present time there has come to be a remnant [a small believing minority] according to God’s gracious choice. (Rm 11:2-5 AMP)

There is only a remnant of anything because the majority has turned away. The apostle Paul predicts this in 1 Thessalonians 2:3. The devil is the deceiver. It is his job to steal the Word of God from our lips and replace it with secular humanism, with ungodly principles, with compromise. To give us excuses for why we don’t read the Bible, listen to the Holy Spirit, and spend time in prayer. And having not read it, having forgotten God’s Words to us, our vision of Christ and the power of God grows dim. (Rev 12:9; Mt 13:22)

It takes dedication to be a Christian, in the true sense of the word. A follower of Christ. Someone who places His principles first place every minute of every day. It’s a lifestyle. Even greater, it’s an active position.

My nature regarding most repairs at home is to pass them off on someone else. “Honey, the car is doing this thing,” and my husband investigates, calls someone, and has the repairs made. I didn’t have to do anything at all. But in the last few years, I’ve had to learn to handle things on my own. I’ve called about the well, the septic, and innumerable car repairs. Frankly, it’s uncomfortable. I’d much rather let him do it.

But, here’s my point, that repair requires me to take action.


Image by skeeze from Pixabay

You cannot sit on the couch and be a Christian. Otherwise, the very thing that drew you to Christ, that caused you to pray the prayer of salvation, will grow cold. By not pursuing your faith, by not growing and exercising it, you will start to listen to the devil’s voice in the world instead. There is no middle ground. You are on one side or the other. (Mt 24:12)

Just as it is written [in Scripture], “God gave them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear, [a spiritual apathy that has continued] to this very day.” (Rm 11:8 AMP)

Thinking of this nation, Christians have chosen passivity. But there, again, is no middle ground. The Bible says to pray for our leaders (and complaints are not prayers). Have you done that? Or are you letting some other more fanatical Christian do that? Meanwhile, you will sit on the couch and let the circumstances you dislike pass by, making a powerless protest.

Doing nothing is doing something, just not with the results you want.

I heard a prophet say that God saw the prayers of a remnant in this nation and is honoring them in this present age. That’s a marvelous thought. And a concerning one. Because what if I wasn’t in that remnant? What if I was sitting on my couch doing nothing? What if I passed this duty off onto someone else because she looks stronger than I am?

She studied the Word. She applied its principles. She saw the power of God in it to work in her behalf. She realized she was a part of something that could change the world. Sitting around wasn’t an option. She believed, and therefore she spoke. (2Co 4:13)

We believe and speak. We disregard. We mock. We make fun of. Or we gripe and curse. Same thing.

But now I am speaking to you…in the hope of somehow making my fellow countrymen jealous [by stirring them up so that they will seek the truth] and perhaps save some of them. (Rm 11:13 AMP)

Our words are powerful, and they change things either positively or negatively. We can encourage and bless, or we can tear down and destroy. Another place without a middle ground. You will always be doing one or the other. (Jas 3:10)

We cannot dislike the end results of our passivity, of our negative speech, when we reaped exactly what we have sown. (Mk 11:23; Gal 6:7)


Image by Mark Thomas from Pixabay

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you…were grafted in among them to share with them the rich root of the olive tree, do not boast over the [broken] branches and exalt yourself at their expense. (Rm 11:17-18 AMP)

We are meant, as Christians, to offer mercy. To walk in grace. To be humble. To pursue peace and holiness. We are meant to mend, to bind, to heal. We are Christ’s representatives on earth. And that isn’t a badge we wear while we act how we want. It is a behavior we learn by studying the Word every day, by doing what Jesus would do, whether that’s throwing out the moneychangers or praying for lepers.

Someone will not find God without our efforts, and God will not have a place in this nation without our actions. Our leaders will not make godly decisions until we stop and pray for them. Unless we become serious, active, motivated Christians, unless we become part of the remnant, we will have no excuse for why things stay the same.

But if we’ll dedicate ourselves to the things of faith, if we’ll swallow that retort we wanted to make, if we’ll stop and pray when it’s been a long day and we’re tired, if we’ll slow down and help someone, though it’s inconvenient, if we’ll do something for God, then He will change it. God will change us. God will change them. It’s that simple.

Jesus replied, “Have faith in God [constantly]. (Mk 11:24 AMP)

My Prayer:  “Heavenly Father, today I pray for President Donald J. Trump. That you will protect him physically, strengthen him mentally, and guide him spiritually. I pray you surround him with godly people who guide him into godly wisdom. That he sees the truth of your Word and operates effectively in it for this nation. I pray that those who stand against your operation in this government will fall away, that deception will be show for what it is, and darkness will come to light. I pray that the people of this nation will see it and become united. One nation, under God, indivisible.”


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Suzanne D. Williams, Author
www.feelgoodromance.com
https://sdwauthor.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Peace and Holiness

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:  (Hebrews 12:14)

Perhaps I am just growing older, or perhaps I’ve dipped my toe into a tiny puddle of wisdom, but more and more, I turn away from things that don’t please God. Not simply certain television programs, but also circumstances and people that have sent me in a negative direction.

I find myself walking well out of my way to pursue integrity and holiness.

I’ve learned that often comes down to the simple tasks. Putting things back where they belong at the grocery store is one example. Ask anyone in my family, and I’m the person walking a box of cereal back to aisle 7.

“Now, how does that show holiness?” you ask.


Image by badski007 from Pixabay

Well, someone at the store went through the trouble to set that item where it belonged. You moved it, thinking you would buy it. By setting it down wherever you are at, you leave them to pick up after you and do the task twice. Holiness, or excellence, asks you to do it yourself.

I always tell myself I need the exercise. I sit all the time, writing, and am amazed how much time has passed, so I take every opportunity to do what I am able. And here’s the important part—without complaint.

That is another example of holiness. I’m still working on not shouting at cars while driving. But at home, I’ve learned to prefer my daughter and my spouse over myself. Sure, sometimes, I want the last bite, but then again, if they eat it, then I won’t have to and, especially if it’s dessert, I don’t really need more sugar. Plus, they’re happy, and now, I don’t have to throw the item out.

Holiness and peace go hand-in-hand, in that manner. Holiness always prefers the other person. It gives. It forgives. It exercises self-control. I like The Passion Translation of version of Hebrews 12:14. “In every relationship be swift to choose peace over competition, and run swiftly toward holiness.” The J.B. Phillips translation says, “Let it be your ambition to live at peace with all men and to achieve holiness.”

Choose peace over competition. Make peace and holiness your ambition. That makes it a 24-7 rule. We must do it all the time, in everything.


Image by TréVoy Kelly from Pixabay

Contrary to what you might think, being a peaceful, holy person is a position of strength. It takes a lot sometimes to not give into what you want to do. I have found, though, the more I practice at it, the more successful I am. The less I seek to get my way, the more God gives me the desire of my heart anyway. Oh, maybe not right at that moment, but later on, someone does something kind for me that I did not expect.

I’m happier at home as well. There are less opportunities for strife, simply because I don’t see them anymore. What I see is another opportunity to walk after Christ, to bear holy fruit, and show eternal life to those in my sphere of influence. That is far more valuable.

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. (Rm 6:22)

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Suzanne D. Williams, Author
www.feelgoodromance.com
https://sdwauthor.blogspot.com/

Monday, June 17, 2019

Dead Man Walking

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20)

I picked up the weight of the world and carried it on my shoulders. Depression. Anxiety. Confusion. Deceit. Everything done to man and done by man has become part of me. I am bitter, unhappy, unkind.

I saw sin and ran after it, giving into temptations painted gaudy colors, juggling them alongside a revised version of morality. Righteousness is adaptable. What was wrong, isn’t. What wasn’t acceptable, is.

Let’s change the rules to gild the new pro forma. Everything fits if you cram yourself into it far enough. You need only close your eyes and ignore any unusual discomfort. It’ll disappear after a while.

Might as well enjoy ourselves while a silent God reclines on His throne, twiddling His thumbs.

Except everything I’ve gained is a mirage, and this freedom I’ve embraced smells a lot like death. Looks a lot like prison bars. A tiny cell. A putrid rat hole with a bucket for a latrine and grave clothes to wrap myself in.




By kicking at the walls around me, I’ve broken my spirit. By closing my eyes, I’ve rolled in the filth of condemnation. But it felt good. But it looked good. But they said I could. But they called it “love.”

But God is deaf and dumb and stupid.

My fist raised, I shake it at the sky, unable to see further than the ceiling. “God, if you’re out there, why didn’t you stop me, pull me back, rein me in?”

I want an answer, a clash, a thunderclap. Lightning and wind carrying the voice of the Almighty. I feel justified in my accusations.

But instead, the door opens and the guards lead me out. Dead man walking.

Bloodied pride, injured feelings, every guilt and immorality I’ve renamed is open for display, and there in front of me, at the end of the path, stands my execution.

This is the end. I blew it. I am regretful. I look up, my throat tight, prepared to accept my fate.





I startle. This cross has been used already. Someone died here and bled out on the ground beneath my feet. Worse, He carried the weight of my actions on His shoulders.

Repentant. Weakened through willful starvation, I fall, face forward, in the muck. I have that Man’s blood on me now, in my eyes, my ears. It’s coating my hands.

My airways close. My heartbeat stops. I lie inert, unmoving.

Yet, there falls a gentle rain, washing my failures away. A heavenly wind blows, filling my lungs again. My eyes open to a golden future, a new beginning.

I died. But I live. As a new man. My hand in His, the Savior who died for me, my feet guided by His loving Words onto a prosperous path toward a celestial tomorrow.

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Suzanne D. Williams, Author
www.feelgoodromance.com
https://sdwauthor.blogspot.com/

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Things I Learned From My Mother

Note to Readers: I originally wrote this in 2017, but it is even more true today. I love my mom. She is my biggest spiritual and personal influence.


My favorite "Mom" pic


Use the good china.

I have nothing against paper plates and plastic forks … Oh wait, yes, I do. My mother never uses them. If she invites you over for hamburgers, she uses porcelain plates, silverware, and stemmed glasses. The food is always served in decorative bowls. She has cabinets full of them in every size and for every reason from pickle dishes to large glass trays.

Guests are worth the time for you to wash things afterward, and they’re happier because you’ve made the effort.

Buy gifts. And don’t be cheap.

She has a card for everything, keeps a cabinet full of them. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays where it’s required, she will send you one. She has a running account at the florist where they know her by name. Generosity is part of her nature, and if, for some reason, she’s roped into spending more than she has planned, she never complains. Giving is important and the heart behind it of the most value.

People are wrong.

When I was girl, I’d come home, quoting things I’d heard at school, and she’d look me in the eye and say, “They’re wrong.”

That mentality solved so many situations in my life. Because, the fact is, a lot of people nowadays are just plain wrong. Not everything goes. The rules are there for a reason and not meant to be broken or changed. Rules make you a better person, a freer one.

At the same time, she always says:

It’s okay to be different.


Her saying was, “If it’s immoral or illegal,” don’t do it.

This means, I can hate watermelon and refuse to drink coffee. Neither one are illegal or immoral. I can prefer to stay home and refuse to leave home after dark. Conversely, you can sleep in and stay out late and eat all the melons you desire.

It’s okay to be unique and bad to condemn others for things that aren’t against God’s Word.

Be thankful for everything, no matter how small.

Even if you hate it. She’s eaten more meals she didn’t like (Fish!) and not said a word crosswise. She prepares dishes for her guests that she won’t eat.

She writes thank you cards for gifts she’s given and reciprocates in kind. Being thankful is an important part of being a good guest and a good person. Always appreciate other people’s efforts. This seed of kindness will multiply back to you one hundred fold.

Lower your voice.

Use your inside voice. There’s no need to yell. In fact, though I fail at this one regularly, she doesn’t raise her voice ever. I can’t recall hearing her shout, unless she was calling my dad in from his woodworking shop.

Politeness is cool.

Say please and thank you and excuse me. Don’t blow your nose at the dining room table. Clean up after yourself in the kitchen or the bathroom. If you are renting a room on vacation or staying with friends, always leave the place better than it was when you arrived.

The biggest key to politeness is to always consider the other person first.

Refuse to take offense and be sure to walk in forgiveness. Hate and anger only lead to bitterness, and bitterness will cancel out your faith.

Apologize even if it isn’t your fault.

It is most important to walk in peace. The Bible says to “seek peace” to “pursue it”. That means, even when you know the other person was in error. If your refusal to say “I’m sorry” fosters strife, then it is your job to apologize and correct it. (Ps 34:14)

Keep your word.

Sometimes this means not making promises in the first place. Other times, it means doing things you’ve changed your mind about, but an honorable person will “swear to their own hurt” and follow through. (Ps 15:4)

Most of all:

Stand up for what you believe.

Never compromise to fit in, and always tell the truth. Lying will get you nowhere. And God is able and willing to take care of you in the first place. Nothing in this world is worth turning aside from your faith.





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Suzanne D. Williams, Author
www.feelgoodromance.com
https://sdwauthor.blogspot.com/