Author Archives: vickitillman

About vickitillman

I've finished homeschooling my 5 kids. I still have a life :)

A Little Twist on Faith

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A Little Twist on Faith

A Small Twist on Faith VickiTalksPrayer.com

Faith is a multi-faceted thing, don’t you think? In my many years of religious experience, I’ve had lots of opportunities to be educated about what *faith* is. Can you relate to any of these?

When I was a child, I was in a denomination that only used the word *faith* in the phrase *saving faith*.

Once I had confessed that I was a sinner and believed that God raised Christ from the dead (accepted Christ’s sacrifice), I had a saving faith. That was cool, but eventually I needed *faith* to be more than insurance against hell.

Saving Faith is one kind of faith VickiTalksPrayer.com

I had some learning time in a fundamentalist denomination where not only do you receive a saving faith but you learn that faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17 KJV).

So learning the word of God (Scripture) was the way you helped your faith to come (or grow). That makes sense to me: How can I truly have a relationship with someone if I don’t know what they:

  • have done
  • do now
  • how they talk?

I learn about God from Scripture. In that fundamentalist denomination we focused on the Scripture:

2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for instruction, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (KJV)

Respect for Scripture and eagerness to learn about God through His word was strengthening to my faith, but it seems to me that faith is more than that.

Then I had some fun but name-it-and-claim-it… or *Word* churches. They took a totally different view about God. This *faith* was about God looking out for US.

In a harsh and uncaring world, I found it a great relief to know that God loves me and cares about the minutiae of my life. This kind of faith taught that Scripture knowledge was the door to growing faith so that I could know God better and be rewarded by receiving what we will.

It was sort of on the *God is a cosmic vending machine: I do my part and He’s required to do His part*. One of the big Scriptures we were taught was John 15: 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you. (KJV)

Faith Comes Through Knowledge of God VickiTalksPrayer.com

After a while, I got tired of it. However, I do believe that faith is a thing that grows. It is fed by knowing who God is, by loving Him, and by time with Him. My faith tells me God cares about all the parts of my life. But I wanted more.

Recently, I was reading in Luke 17 during morning devotions. It is the story of faith and gratitude. Here is the story (thanks to BibleGateway.com)

11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole. (KJV)

It seemed to me that Jesus was appreciating the leper’s gratitude. Jesus was connecting faith and gratitude and healing for the leper.

What this story said to me is that gratitude is a KIND of FAITH.

Luke 17 affirmed to me what I’ve already been experiencing. As a prayer discipline, I’ve been keeping a daily written gratitude list for about a year now. As I’ve noted the big and small things that I have to be grateful for, it has helped me calibrate my soul with the way that God does things. This has, I believe, given me a deeper and quieter faith.

I had never thought of faith and gratitude as being interconnected. It was a *twist on faith* for me.

Gratitude is offering my faith back to God VickiTalksPrayer.com

Understanding faith is a journey for me. So far I’ve learned that there’s:

  • Saving faith
  • Faith that grows as we learn about God through Scripture
  • Faith in a God who looks out for us
  • Faith given back to God in the form of gratitude

What have you discovered about faith? What helps your faith grow?

A Little Twist on Faith

 

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

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This post is running concurrently at VickiTillmanCoaching.com.You shall love your neighbor as yourself VickiTillmanCoaching.com

In case you ever wonder what you should do, Scripture has some wise advice:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love works no ill against his neighbor.

That’s pretty clear.

And if that’s not clear enough. God made sure this sage advice was repeated in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Gospels and the Epistles (parentheses mine):

  • Romans 13:9-10 You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love works no ill against his neighbor.
  • Leviticus 19:18 You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord (giving you this command)
  • Matthew 22:39 The second (commandment from Christ) is like the first: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
  • James 2:18 Show me your faith without works (of love), I will show you my faith by my works (of love).

If you’ve read much Scripture, you’ve probably noticed that:

  • If God says something ONCE, he means it.
  • If he says it TWICE, you better not ignore it.
  • If he says it 3 TIMES, you’re going to start getting “woe unto thee”.

So if it is in Scripture more than 3 times? I’d say that was high priority in God’s eyes.

How to Create Your Own Rule of Life

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How to Create Your Own Rule of Life

How to Create Your Own Rule of Life

How to Create Your Own Rule of Life

What’s a *Rule of Life*?

Sometimes in my work as a life coach I have the blessing of discussing *Rule of Life* with my clients. I tell them that a Rule of Life is simply a way to organize their lives- especially their spiritual lives.

The trending ways people organize themselves are with planners, bullet journals or online calendars. But the Rule of Life was there first…by centuries.

The Rule of Life is an old term dating back to the early monastic times. I have a copy of the Rule of Life of St. Benedict that he created for his monks in the 6th century! The Rule of Life from a monastery organized the spiritual and practical activities of the people there.

These days a Rule of Life is a believer’s way to organize spiritual (and practical, if they wish) activities of the day. It is a commitment to practice spiritual disciplines.

When I first heard the word *Rule*, it got may Protestant dander up! We don’t have rules anymore, that’s legalism! I was able to settle down when I found out that the word *Rule* in Rule of Life, simply means *organization*.

The Rule of Life in the real world change with phase of life and levels of spiritual growth. My Rule changes year to year. That is a good thing. Here is my present Rule of Life:

  • Short meditation on the Lord’s Prayer before getting out of bed
  • Morning Scripture reading
  • Morning gratitude journaling
  • Morning 3 minutes silent prayer
  • Midday intercessory prayer or prayer in tongues
  • Midday prayer for the nation
  • Rosary at nighttime
  • Bedtime Ignatian Examen. Here is a link to a how I  pray an Ignatian Examen.

At my current phase of life, this works for me. Here’s what makes it work:

  • I don’t get stressed if something interrupts and I miss part (or all) of the Rule. Prayer is about willful, respectful presence with God and recognizing His presence with me. I could toss the entire Rule of Life and do nothing prayerful without endangering God’s love for me and my comfort in that knowledge.
  • I don’t fall into the trap of believing there’s a *right way* to do a Rule of Life.
  • I don’t take myself or the Rule too seriously.

This leaves me free to enjoy the process.

My Rule of Life has been constructed over decades of walking with the Lord. A younger person in a different phase of life will have a much different Rule.

Here’s how to create your own Rule of Life:

Prayerfully ask yourself and ask God to reveal to you:

*Who are you? We often are so busy with the mundane or stressful parts of life that we forget that God intentionally created us. How? Why? It is good to remember…or discover. Here’s a good place to start if you aren’t sure who you are (from my coaching website).

*What do you love? That is, what kinds of spiritual disciplines or devotions do you naturally enjoy? This should be the anchor of your prayer life/Rule of Life. Here’s a nice post from Renovare on spiritual disciplines to give you some ideas.

*What do you need to work on? Where are your weaknesses in self-discipline or character. Ask God for a way to pray about that. Often I will add prayerful journaling when I feel that God is working on a fear or character issue; or I will ask for Him for Scriptures to pray. Sometimes I work with a counselor, coach and or spiritual director. All of these fit into my Rule of Life for that phase of life.

For some people, their Rule of Life also includes daily activities such as chores, mindfulness or relaxation activities.

There are many ways to create a Rule of Life. Your Rule of Life will change over time and need to be flexible day by day, but when you have that Rule as a life structure, it will help you feel grounded and connect to God.

Here’s a white paper on the Rule of Life from C.S. Lewis Institute on Rule of Life.

How to Create Your Own Rule of Life

How to Start a Revolution or Revival

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How to Start a Revolution or Revival

There are lots of revolutions in this world. A revival is a spiritual revolution. There are fashion revolutions. Musical revolutions. Cultural revolutions. Political revolutions.

I propose that our nation is ripe for a revolution. Mostly it needs a spiritual revolution. We need the type of revolution that would look prayer and culture-changing-type lifestyles of the loving-kindness that Christ would be proud of.

We also need other types of revolutions. No matter what side of the political fence you sit on, you can see need revolutionary change in culture and politics.

How do revolutions start? There’s a great discussion at Top 40 Philosophy’s podcast #30 episode.

My paraphrase of  that podcast episode: Micah talks about revolutions being something that people find themselves doing when there is enough flow. Like emotions (or yawns), revolutions are contagious events that spread. Change for good or ill happens as the revolution spreads.

One of my favorite revolutions is the 1904 worldwide revival. It started in Wales. A young youth group pastor, Evan Roberts, was teaching his teens the necessity and power of prayer. He led them in prayer for repentance and personal revival, in prayer for their nation, in prayer for the world.

Evan Roberts Photo: wikicommons

Evan Roberts Photo: wikicommons

The Holy Spirit moved on those teens as they used their words in prayer. The move spread to the adults, then across Wales. By the end of 1906, the revival had hopped around the globe and landed in Azuza Street Mission in Los Angeles, CA. There was a revolution of prayer and Christ-like living for a time. It was a cross-cultural, multi-racial, multi-denominational move of God.

It started with prayer. AND words.

Evan Roberts used his words to describe for his teens a world-changing life of prayer.

I think it is this way with all revolutions: Words.

We humans are largely afflicted with a lack of words to describe what we feel and want to think. We simply muddle through our days knowing there are things that are wrong. Something’s wrong. But we can never fully describe the wrong, much less do something about it.

Then along comes someone who has words. That person uses his/her words to describe the wrong and propose a change. That person becomes a word-giver.

When people who don’t have words hear the word-giver’s words, they have a way to think about what is wrong or give names to the feelings they feel. When people accept the word-giver’s words, something in them ignites and they are ready to follow the word-giver. The follower-ship of the word-giver grows into a revolution. Things change.

When the word-giver is wise and good, the world is changed for the better.

We see this in little ways, like kids standing up for a bullied kid. It took one courageous kid to use his words to his friends, “Hey, let’s stand up for little Billy.” Others follow. Billy’s world is changed.

When the word-giver is greedy or cruel, ESPECIALLY if he is also loud and angry, the words fill the broken, angry parts of people’s souls and they follow him with zeal. These loud and angry words create a loud and angry revolution. It is quickly contagious. (I won’t give any illustrations from current culture where one can see a leader mock disabled people or greedily write orders that take advantage of, or harm, minority or disadvantaged populations because you might have already noticed this happening anyway.)

What’s the point? We can start a revolution.

  • How about WE become word-givers?
  • How about WE become the word-givers for a godly revolution to help create a world of loving kindness, looking out for the weak, aiding those in need of comfort, defending the strangers and the widows and the orphans.

How do we do it?

Use words.

use-your-words

First, use words in prayer. (II Chronicles 7:14: If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and heal their land.)

Second, use words describing a better world.  Talk about a world of loving kindness. In order to do that, you need to imagine what that world would be like. (The Old Testament word for that kind of world is held in the word, Shalom. Do a word study on Shalom. It will give you hope.)

Third, increase your vocabulary so that you can better describe a better world. Read:

  • Thinkers, philosophers
  • Poetry
  • Scripture

Fourth, write your words. Write the words about a better world (Habakkuk 2:2 talks about writing the vision and make it clear so that those who read it can run with it.) Social media, blogs, journals, and books need written words of a better world.

The more that there are word-givers who speak prayerful loving kindness, the more chance we have to stand up to those word-givers of greet and hatred.

Will you join me in the good kind of revolution and revival?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Kinds of Alternative Facts and What to do About it

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2 Kinds of Alternative Facts and What to do About it

Here are 2 kinds of alternative facts and what to do about it.

There’s been lots of hype about the new administration’s use of what they call “alternative facts”. I want to clarify for anyone who might be confused about them.

  • There are alternative facts.
  • There are 2 kinds of alternative facts.

The first kind of alternative fact is the kind that has a bit of truth in it but has been laced with misinformation by the fact-giver in order to achieve a personal end. This end could be:

  • Less embarrassment
  • Manipulation of the populace to behave in a manner that gets the fact-giver what he wants

A great illustration of this from children’s literature is C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle. You might remember that in this last book from The Chronicles of Narnia, leaders used alternative facts to conquer Narnia without battle- by enslaving the people one at a time.

They did this by:

  • taking famous Narnian sayings and twisting them just a little. The gullible population who had not studied Narnian history nor learned by heart the actual sayings were quickly lured into slavery for these leaders profit-motivated ends.
  • lying about Aslan’s nature and desires. Because the Narnians had become fat, happy and lazy- caught up in their own good lives, they had forgotten to know Aslan, to know his character and his will. Thus when evil-doers lied to them about what Aslan wanted, they followed blindly along.

What to do about it?

Know for yourself, by prayer and study of God’s word, God’s character and will and what God says about:

  • Greed (Check out Ephesians 4)
  • Arrogance (Check out Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. biblegateway.com)
  • Poor treatment of the poor, disadvantaged, stranger, disabled (Here are 2 of many Scriptures: But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:34 BibleHub.com and Matthew 25:45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. Biblegateway.com)

Learn discernment. Discernment comes by prayer and holding up behavior and things spoken to Christ’s own words. See these verses:

I John 4:1

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. biblegateway.com

Luke 6:43-45

A good tree does not bring forth corrupt fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.

A good man out of the treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good. An evil man out of the treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil. For out of the abundance of his heart a man speaks.

A man who speaks alternative facts is a man with an alternative reality. One that will bring forth out of the abundance of greed, arrogance and use of people and resources to his own gain. His alternative facts are meant to deceive and enslave.

Discern. Know God. Don’t be like the lazy Narnians in The Last Battle.

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So what about the OTHER kind of alternative fact?

The other alternative facts are God’s facts. Allow me to explain:

We live in a 3 dimensional world. We are often encouraged to believe only things we can see, hear and touch.

But God’s reality is bigger than that. He has not limited himself nor his angels to a 3 dimensional world.

Our world is a mess and being led by messy men. It is like the days of old when the prophet Elisha and his servant had pissed off the king of the Syria. The king sent his army to arrest the prophet.

Elisha’s servant gets up in the morning and sees the house surrounded by an army. In a panic, he wakens Elisha. Elisha calmly prays: Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. II Kings 6 biblegateway.com

The Syrian army was there. God’s army was there, too. And actually, God’s army was MORE REAL than the tangible army. God’s army was there. Ready to KICK BUTT.

But then God gave Elisha His words and Elisha, obedient to God, spoke them: Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And God smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

2 Kinds of Alternative Facts and What to do About It

Elisha had made himself available to God and to the way that God works so he was able to “see” things that are not limited to the 3D world.

Elisha had made himself available to God and to the way that God works so he was able to speak things that are not limited to the 3D world.

THUS were the evil intentions of the king thwarted.

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So listen to me please.

  • Do not be as the gullible who do not know God, his words or his ways. Pray. Know Him through Scripture so that you are not lured away from the truth of God.
  • Do not fear like those who have no hope nor help. We serve the God of the universe who has His limitless power and legions of angels to do His bidding.
  • Do not run amok trying to accomplish God’s will for Him. Seek Him first. He’ll tell you what and how. And He WILL tell you what and how, and you WILL need to obey.
  • Read my post on how not to be a loser.

Thus, there are 2 kinds of alternative facts:

  • One is laced with lies and will lead to destruction.
  • One is more real than our earthly reality, full of God’s love, power and life. It leads to love, power and life. I recommend choosing this kind of alternative fact.

yup

 

 

 

How Not to be a Loser

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You don’t want to be a loser, right? (Not quoting anyone, right?)

Anyway, I reckon a loser might be someone who refuses to pull their spiritual weight in a time of great need.

If you want to be a true contributor to the spiritual condition of our nation and our national government, please dedicate yourself to these things:

*Pray for the leaders. No matter who they are, we have a biblical mandate in I Timothy 2:1-2

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings, and for all that are in authority…

*Pray in personal repentance for the nation. Sometimes we don’t like to think that we good Christians need to be repenting, but the mandate is there. God commanded Solomon that when rotten stuff happens:

If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.

There’s plenty of rotten stuff right now, so I reckon this is a good time for repentance and prayer. I wonder if a loser would think he didn’t have anything to repent of?

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*Stand with, stand up for and do what you can to help: the weak, the defenseless, the poor, the widow, the orphan, the stranger in our land. (But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:34 BibleHub.com).

This is not a time to sit in our spiritual comfy chairs, making ourselves richer and self-consumed, like the rich man in Luke 12 who decided to tear down his barns to make bigger ones to hold all his goods- that night God required his life. I reckon that guy was a loser…

A contributing Christian is looking out for those who cannot look out for or defend themselves. As James 1:23,27 says:

Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves…Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

And Isaiah 58:6

Is not this the fast I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?

*Be more gracious in your speech than ever. Bullies and uncouth people mock, jeer, and humiliate others. A loser has so little goodness that he must resort to such things. This is not the behavior of a child of God.

Colossians 4:6

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how ye ought to answer every man.

There may be a time when you may need to assertively call someone in authority a “white-washed sepulcher”. Jesus did. God will let a humble and repentant soul know when that needs to be said.

Bullied Bullying Scare Torment Force Concept

*Do not fear. That’s what bullies and sick people want you to do. If you fear, they have control over you.

INSTEAD: Remember, you are the child of the Living God, the dunamis power of the Holy Spirit dwells in you.

I remember the old Southern “blessing”, when uppity people need to be put in their place. We’d look at that person and say: “Well, bless your heart.”

It follows Christ’s exhortation in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:44):

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you.

*Overcome that evil with good (that’ll heap some coals of fire on his head)…Romans 12: 20-21. Every time there is an evil, go out and make something good happen. A loser would harm, belittle or take advantage of people for his own greed and lust. Let’s fill our nation with so much good it makes evil fearful!

*Find things of beauty. All creation is praising God- you do it, too. Find a sunset, a bird, a river, a painting, a song. Don’t be so overwhelmed with the losers in the world that you miss the gifts God is giving you.

This is a time for prayer, courage and virtue in the power of the Holy Spirit. May it be a time we Christians are not losers, but instead: glorify God.

Prayer and the OhMyGosh Elections

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Prayer and the OhMyGosh Elections AboutPrayer.com

I’ve been a voter since Jimmy Carter was elected back in the day. This is the most OhMyGosh election I can remember. I can’t imagine anything good coming out of it…

Except that when things are a mess in the political world (just like when things are a mess in our personal lives) we SOMETIMES remember that there is a God who loves his creatures and is interested in helping.

I can remember during the last election cycle, several of our local churches got together and prayed for our nation. They didn’t pray, “Hey, God, please make So-and-So to be the next president!”.

Rather, they prayed II Chronicles 7:14:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (KJV)

I don’t think it was a local phenomena. I think there were churches gathering around the country, making a point to pray together for the nation.

I haven’t seen much of that this election cycle.

I wonder if God, being a parent-figure to us (“Our Father, who art in heaven…”) is handling us like we parents sometimes must handle our kids. We give them great advice and then they ignore it. We give them great advice and they ignore it again. THEN the most loving thing we can do sometimes is to step back and let them create their own disasters.

Nothing like experiential learning…

What if God decides that one of our great sins is ignoring the advice:

II Chronicles 7:14 If my people…will humble themselves and pray…

II Timothy 2:1-3 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we might lead a quiet and peaceable life in all goodliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.

I know I’ve been guilty of an egocentric prayer life. I always pray, but often for those in my direct sphere of life (family, friends, clients, church folks, business). By the time I cover that stuff, I’m done.

What if God, like a parent, in this OhMyGosh election cycle is saying to us, “I’ve given you good advice. If you continue to ignore it, I’m going to step back and let you learn from your own disaster.”

We need a miracle for sure. A miracle rescue from our own disaster. Maybe it starts with our nation’s Christian population’s prayer life.