THE BRISK WINDS OF TRANSFORMATION

 Taking advantage of the few remaining hours of daylight on a sunny Sunday afternoon on the eve of winter, I took a stroll with my two dogs. Typical of March, the winds were blustery and biting. It made the walk a challenge for the three of us, but we pressed our way to get a bit of cardio exercise. Facing the force of the wind, I watched dead leaves thrust from their winter resting places. They tumbled down the pavement in an almost dance-like fashion.

The scene reminded me of the Holy Spirit’s power to transform the human heart. In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he penned these words: 

“But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:14-18, ESV).

When we turn from the charm and distractions of the world and turn to God, the veil is removed. The veil is like a dark opaque curtain that separates us from God. It blocks us from the truth of the gospel. Our view and approach to life are obscure because the liberating light of Christ is hidden from our sight. Paul often refers to this veiled state as the hardened condition of the heart.

When we turn to God, remarkable life changes begin to occur. We are set free from our sin. He sets us free from the guilt of our past. For in Christ, there is no condemnation (read Roman 8:1-3).

There is a freedom to serve a living Savior through our daily interactions with others. There is the freedom to be transformed into Christlikeness through the power of His Word and by His Spirit.

When we surrender our lives to Christ, the brisk winds of His Spirit will change us from our spiritually dead lifeless state into a people who are fully alive.

A woman tried desperately to find happiness and success through human effort. Though busy and productive as defined by man, there was pain and battles both internally and externally. The score was uneven. She was losing more than she was winning. As the struggles mounted, she realized that change was needed. She prayed this simple prayer with a sincere heart, “Lord, help me.”

A new journey began as the Spirit of the living God lifted her from her dead state (worldly, religious, but no relationship with God) and set her on the path to transformation. The battles and struggles of living life on this earth did not come to a screeching halt; however, the Spirit of God remains a constant companion. His Spirit and His word have been the hope and anchor for her soul.

That woman is me. God has delivered me from so many things. In Christ, I have a freedom that I would not have known had I not turned my heart toward Him. I am still on the journey of being transformed into His image, and it has been well worth it.

You might have wounds from the battles of life. You may feel weary and worn. You may not believe that God exists or cares about you because you have experienced frequent and intense episodes of hurt and disappointment. But He does care, and He does love you. There is hope no matter what has happened in your life before today. His name is Jesus. Do not give up on Him, my dear friends. He is knocking at the door of your heart. Please open the door and let Him in.

I leave you with these words of God spoken through the prophet Ezekiel.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:26-27, ESV).

Blessings

Phyllis

A SEPTEMBER SUNRISE

It was the final Saturday sunrise for September 2021. The hues of color that spanned the morning sky were stunning. Realizing that the moment would soon fade, I hurried back to the house to grab my camera. Above the tree peaks were orange, pink, blue, and gray bands.       

As the sun was rising from the east, God was calling attention to the greatness of His creation. Only He could orchestrate such beauty.

The hues of the morning sky would also introduce an array of exposure to life under the sun. The dawn releases new mercy and a pouring out of God’s unearned grace.

The sunrise signals another day to strengthen our trust in God. We can breathe deeply, knowing that He will guide us through the day if we trust and believe.

We may face problematic and sometimes-peculiar dynamics of human relationships on any given day. It may be cynicism, hatefulness, false accusations, and jealousy where the motives are designed to cripple us beyond recovery, destroy our hope, silence our giftings and crush our destiny. God, however, has the power to shine through the darkest of darkness. Through His Son, Jesus the Christ, He beckons us to come, to follow him to the light.

Jesus’ message is always illuminating. John, the gospel writer and beloved disciple of Jesus, recounts the Messiah’s dawn appearance at the temple courts. In a portion of the narrative, we find Jesus’s own words: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, NIV)

Christ’s light living inside gives us strength to overcome the deeds of darkness not with worldly responses but with love and Godly wisdom. I don’t know about you, but I have struggled in this area. There have been times when I’ve handled matters in ways that were not pleasing to God. I am so grateful that He forgives! I can almost hear Him saying, “Okay, not quite the response I was hoping for, let’s try again.”

Like the hues of the morning sky, transformation often occurs within the context of human relationships. Through Christ, our trials, struggles, pain, and disappointment become illuminating pathways to spiritual growth. Through Him, we can rise above the darkness and see the dawn.

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he instructs the believers to walk as children of light, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:8-11, NIV).

You may question this biblical truth and wonder how this can be possible. But I must ask, are you ready for a new life? If so, then take a giant leap forward, give up the darkness and surrender your life to Jesus Christ. He gave His life for you, and His arms are wide open to receive you. It doesn’t matter how deep in the darkness you are at this moment. It doesn’t matter what you have said or done. Neither your past nor your present excludes you. He died to rescue all of us from the domain of darkness and bring us into the glorious light of His kingdom.

 I say to you give Jesus Christ a chance. It may be for the first time, or it may be the renewal of the relationship you once had with God, but for whatever reason, you walked away. 

I pray that every sunrise will be a reminder of His greatness, His power to save, and His amazing love for you.

Choose Him, Choose Light, Choose Life.

Blessings  

Phyllis

Major In The Minor

Major in the Minor

My gratitude journal entries often begin with random expressions of thanksgiving. On this cold Saturday morning in February, I wrote these words. “I want to major in the minors.” I am not sure why this phrase suddenly surfaced in my thoughts, but it caused me to record a series of questions.

Could these words in some manner be related to humility?

Could they be a nudging message to shift from lofty aspirations? These may include breaking a glass ceiling, reaching for the highest rung of the corporate ladder, and pursuing a specific position, title, or certification.

Don’t get me wrong, all of these pursuits certainly have merit. Many were created and called to serve in high-ranking levels of leadership. Scores of people were destined from birth to remove barriers that have stood in the way of equality and justice. Many are called to entrepreneurship. They lead in various areas of the marketplace.  We need their God-given gifts and certainly applaud them for their service, sacrifices, and hard work. However, some are not called to high levels of leadership but rather to support those who are.

The idea of “majoring in the minor” reminded me of my own journey. I have reached for positions and titles that were too lofty. They were more than I was equipped by God to handle. But I reached anyway because I chose to listen to the corporate world’s voice rather than the voice of God. The failures, closed doors, disappointments, and dissatisfaction led me to inquire of God.

He led me to this Psalm.

“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore” (Psalm 131, ESV).

These words of a shepherd boy turned king resonated with me. They compelled me to examine my heart and the direction of my life. Since then, some aspirations have been laid aside. I have gotten off paths where my feet did not belong. I have learned to let go, and I am becoming increasingly satisfied with simplicity.

I leave you now with the final question in my journal.

Could it be that we need to minimize the long list of what we want to do to maximize the list of what we are called to do?

Blessings,

Phyllis

Copyright© 2021 Phyllis A. Clemons

ENDURING LOVE

The time has long since passed, but I remember it so very well. When I was a young child, my nephews and I frequently sang a bedtime cry, “Mommy, I want some milk.” Snuggled in our respective beds, we repeatedly sang this refrain and increased volume until we received the desired response, ice-cold glass of milk!

I am not sure if we were prolonging sleep or had a genuine thirst that needed to be satisfied. What we did desire, however, was an answer to our cry. This little memory from my childhood makes me chuckle, but it also reminds me of childlike faith and the need to cry out to someone bigger myself.

In this season, many are crying out for relief, healing, and deliverance. Many have questions about what is “normal” and are seeking responses. Many desire resolutions to the complexities of life changes. There are genuine needs to be met for people to move forward. Many are in distress.

Distress is real and affects people of all ages. It is an enormous pain, anxiety, and sorrow when we are going through the difficult seasons of life. We are often discouraged to the point of feeling defeated, and many of us lose hope.

The psalmist in the 118th Psalm is all too familiar with distress. He was hated, surrounded by enemies, and pushed to the point of almost falling.

In the 118th Psalm, verses 5 and 6, we find these encouraging words:

“Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.  The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

In his distress, he was confident that the Lord would help him.

Despite the struggles and the resulting anguish of heart, the psalmist opens and closes the Psalm with these words.  “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (verses 1 and 29).

No one loves us more deeply than God. He is our creator, redeemer, protector, helper, strength, and song.

The Lord is who we need to cry out to in our times of distress. His love is unshakable. His love never diminishes because of wounds from friends, family, and associates or even those that are self-inflicted. His passion isn’t casual or situational but genuine and relentless.  God’s love for humanity lasts into eternity.

Just like a loving parent responds to a child’s cry, our Faithful God responds to the cry of those who seek Him and call on Him.

I want to end with the words of this hymn, written by Elisha A. Hoffman.

“I must tell Jesus All of my trials,

I cannot bear these burdens alone.

In my distress He kindly will help me.

He ever loves and cares for His own.

Refrain: I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!

I cannot bear my burdens alone.

I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!

Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.”

 

Be encouraged; His love is enduring!

Blessings

Phyllis

IN EVERY SEASON

The season is winter. In our part of the country the weather is cold, snowy, icy, rainy, cloudy, and often unpredictable. The sun makes its glorious appearance on occasion. When it bursts through the clouds it tends to dissipate the winter blues, create warm smiles and happy hearts.

For most, myself included, winter is not a preferable season. I, like many of you, prefer the ambiance, brighter days, and colorful landscapes of summer. I love the musical interludes of the birds and the harmonious choruses of the crickets.

Over the years, however, I have learned to appreciate the season of winter. The pace of everyday living tends to be slower. The snow and ice causes hurriedness and routines to come to a halt. The shut downs, cancellations and delays can be a welcome reprieve. Winter is a great time to retreat, reflect, reorganize, rethink, and rekindle.

In the ancient book of Genesis we find the narrative account of the great flood. It rained upon the earth for 40 days and 40 nights (Read Genesis chapters 6-9). At the cessation of the flood, the receding of the waters, and the appearance of a dry earth Noah emerged from the ark with his family and every living creature. Afterwards he built an altar. The sacrifice was pleasing to God.

Despite man’s proneness to sin God promised Noah that He would never curse the ground again, nor destroy every living creature as He had in the flood. Before God pronounced a blessing over Noah along with His instructions for the replenishment of the earth, He had this to say, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22, ESV).

Seasons will not cease to be. The seasons do, however, change. God is at work in every season. God is faithful in every season.
So enjoy the season of Winter!  Above all it is a wonderful time to dwell deeply into God’s presence, to savor His beauty, and the power of His word.

 

FUN THINGS TO DO IN THE WINTER
Learn a new craft! I love trying new knitting patterns for dishcloths.
Try a new recipe! This morning I tried a new healthy pancake recipe in the book Forks Over Knives by Alona Pulde, MD and Matthew Lederman, MD. It was quite tasty!

TEA FAVORITE IN THE WINTER
Hot Cinnamon Spice by Harney and Sons

Let’s Talk Soon!

Phyllis Continue reading “IN EVERY SEASON”

Conversations and Tea

Conversations and Tea, actually began as an event to help gain readership for the books God has blessed me to write. I wanted to gather people to engage in conversations, along with brief teaching moments, that would encourage, empower, and strengthen.

The first event was held at a local bakery called The BonBonerie located in O’Bryonville, a neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio. In the quaint tea room of the exquisite bakery a few friends and family members gathered in midafternoon to discuss the content of my book, Broken Wing: An Expose´ on the Journey Through Affliction.

Over the delicacies of finely prepared quiche, finger sandwiches, petite desserts, and an assortment of fine teas I highlighted the contents of one of the chapters. There were moments of reflection, laughter, and sweet fellowship. It was a great beginning.

Several more Conversations and Tea have been held since the inaugural event. Each has had a slightly different flair, but the focus was the same to encourage, empower, and strengthen.
As I continue to write for the Lord my constant prayer is that lives will be touched deeply, and that the relationship between God the Creator and mankind the created will grow to its greatest height.

I pray that all of you will experience great joy as you read my posts.
Now my dear friends go make yourself a hot cup of tea or a coffee and let’s start the conversation.
Stay tuned.
Happy New Year!!!

Phyllis