Crystal Writes A Blog

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I Don’t Have The Time


So, I’ll start tonight with a confession. I am so not good at controlling my use of time. I tend to do better when I’m right at the edge of a deadline, but even then, I’m often late. I have to schedule myself to be places far earlier than I think I should be there, so when I run late for my schedule, I’ll be on time for the real schedule. I know some of my issues are with being easily distracted. Mostly, however, I know I’m not good at pacing, so I’m either not paying attention to time or rushing and making mistakes that cause me to be even later.

I wonder, if I had the control of time in my hands, would I control it any differently? Hmm, sounds like a possible novel. The main character can discover that she has the ability to control how fast time moves forward around her. so she can move herself faster when necessary. Of course, if she’s stuck in a traffic jam, moving herself faster won’t help her get to work on time. Ugh. I guess that won’t work either.

But really, what if we did have more control of time? Would we make the hours last on the things that mattered and speed them up during the painful times? I know if I knew exactly how much time I had on this earth, I would definitely want to linger in the good times as long as possible. I would hope, though, that I would also learn to get control of focus and pacing, so I could do all that God has called me to do while I’m here on earth.

Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter talks about the disciples’ relationship with times and seasons.

Infinite Supply Image for November Twentieth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Twentieth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 20

Times and Seasons

“It is not for you to know times or seasons that
the Father has fixed by His own authority.
Acts 1:7 ESV

They had asked, “Lord, will You at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?” The response from Jesus is anticlimactic to the impatient. The King will not be forced, or rushed, or pushed into action. Jesus said, “It is not for you to know the times and the seasons.”

The Kingdom of God is progressive – growing up from a single seed into an abundant tree with many branches and much fruit. Those seedlings were just freshly planted in eleven men and they would not come to maturity all at once but over the course of many seasons of increase and decrease. We cannot speculate as to when He will return in the power and glory of His Kingdom. We must “watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

Source: The Irresistible Kingdom by Chip Brogden

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I think the disciples might have wanted a bit more control of the time in their lives too. They had watched their world go from almost hopeless with no prophets or prophecies for years to the old books coming to life before their eyes. Why should they have even considered that it was just the beginning of a history more than two-thousand years in the future? After all the waiting, they were excited to have everything fulfilled; not just a few things.

In some ways, the urgency might have been good to get the disciples working on their appointed tasks. So, for us as well, a feeling of urgency to spread the gospel can be good inspiration. We can see that the darkness wastes no time spreading through every venue available, so maybe it’s time we get in the race too. As we get a grasp on the idea of not having the time in our hands, we can also grasp the idea of trusting The One who does. When we do that, it’ll mean something totally different when we say, “I don’t have the time,” and we can add, “but I know Who does.”

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

(Above chorus from: I Know Who Holds Tomorrow by Ira Stanphill)

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November 21, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What’s Your Finish Line?


What is it that you will have accomplished in this life that will make you feel you’ve achieved your best goal? Is there a finish line you see in front of you that will make you feel successful? Some want to die old. Some want to gain riches or fame or some other earthly prosperity.

In today’s Infinite Supply newsletter by Chip Brogden, we’ll read about pressing toward the right goals.

Infinite Supply Image for November Thirteenth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Thirteenth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 13

Press Toward the Goal

“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
PHILIPPIANS 3:14

God has a purpose for the universe: that in all things Christ would have the preeminence. This is the Heavenly Bullseye. Since you, dear reader, are part of the universe, you are one of those “all things.” So this purpose includes you.

Actually, this is the same purpose He had in mind for Adam: that Christ would have the preeminence in him. But Adam chose an independent path and failed to give Christ the preeminence. He took the preeminence for himself. Adam missed the mark, which is a life submitted to, and totally dependent upon, God.

Source: The Irresistible Kingdom by Chip Brogden

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You know what your finish line is by what you focus on each day. For example, do you focus on where you are now with a steady look at where you are going, or do you fill your thoughts with sentences that start with “if only”? If only my ship would come in. If only I’d win the lottery. If only my health were perfect. If only I’d been discovered when I was young, so I could be famous now. If only we had bigger, better, more, etc.

Like the author says, Adam (and Eve) chose the personal finish line. They had those sentences like:

  • “If only we could eat from the Tree of Knowledge,”
  • “If only we knew what that tree tastes like,” and
  • “If only we could be wise and know good and evil.”

Paul would have told them to change their sentences to something like:

  • “We have the promise of being able to eat from the Tree of Life,”
  • “Thankfully, we have the best flavors from all the wonderful trees we get to eat from,” and
  • “It’s so peaceful to just trust God and not have to know everything.”

Paul’s finish line was to become more and more like the Christ he loved and served. He sought to draw closer to Him each day regardless of what it took for him to get there. He learned how to be content in all things by focusing on the steps that were drawing him nearer to Yeshua and Heaven than on anything he was missing here on earth. His finish line was to become less and less attached to earth and its pleasures and more attached to Christ and the promises of eternity with God.

We all have finish lines, little ones and big ones. We all have to set goals in order to know how to run in this life. The big goal, however, should be the same for all of us, and it should run us on the race of faith Paul speaks of in Hebrews 12:1

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Pray, read God’s word, and offer praise up to The Lord, and then when you are in His holy presence, as yourself: What’s my finish line? Comment below if you’d like to share what you discover.

November 14, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beauty Out of Focus


Close Focus Lens Demo by Flickr User Jody Roberts, CC License = Attribution

Close Focus Lens Demo by Flickr User Jody Roberts, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

What does it take for beauty to be beautiful? Perception. Whether it’s a beautiful look, sound, touch, smell, or thought, it must be perceived. We can’t smell with a stuffy nose, hear when we’re deaf, or see when we’re blind, even if those disabilities are temporary. I think we all get out of focus at times, and I think it affects all our senses.

Our lack of perception does not change the quality or beauty of the thing we cannot seem to grasp. That includes trying to see ourselves through God’s eyes, so we can trust His direction for our lives. We fail over and over, and we cannot perceive that God sees us with a love that causes Him to forgive us over and over. We wallow in guilt and feel unworthy, but God wants to swaddle us in His love and help us to understand that His worth is what matters overall.

Imagine if you created something, and you saw it as perfect and wonderful, but someone else came along and kept saying it was horrible. That’s part of the lie the enemy of our souls has tried to create in us since God placed Adam and Eve in the garden. While God gave them every tree except one, the enemy changed their focus and perception to where that one looked greater than everything else they had with God and in the garden. The enemy made them believe they were incomplete without that one provision, and they fell for it–literally.

These days, we have the blood of Christ to cover our imperfections, so God sees us through that. We have God’s written word, so we can understand how He sees us. But, we still have human eyes and human perceptions, so we often see things incorrectly and get ourselves and our lives out of focus. We may focus on a beauty or success that is not beauty or success in God’s eyes, or we may miss a God-given beauty or success completely. When we get out of focus, we end up in chaos and running around as if we are spiritually blind and deaf instead of walking according to God’s path and rhythm.

The lesson of focus has been made abundantly clear to me (no pun intended) through a week of chaos. While I did everything in my power to create a scenario for our authors to present and sell their books, every door I tried to open slammed shut. I wondered if we were missing out on God’s favor, or if we were just under attack. I was missing the mark on both accounts, and I only found my peace in God when I got my perception corrected through prayer.

Here’s what I learned: God called many people to carry His precious good news to the world. He has anointed us to present that message through a variety of methods, and many of those are in the arts. I believe our creativity is a gift from God whether we use it for Him or not. And, because it is a gift from God, it will do its best work when it is done for Him first and for ourselves last. If we get that turned around, we lose perception.

For our writer’s group, we were trying to create an event centered around sales rather than ministry. We thought success meant a lot of people coming to buy our products instead of a lot of people coming to hear a testimony of God’s gifts in our lives. Our perceptions were skewed by the cacophony of voices out there shouting words like marketing and SEO. It doesn’t help that the Christian book market is more than just a niche genre anymore. It holds its own and therefore needs just as much professionalism and proper presentation as any book topic out there. However, if we’re not careful, we can let the marketing become more important than the message.

Well, we learned our lesson, and now instead of wondering how we’re going to handle a bunch of people we can’t sell things to, we’re hoping we can minister to all of them. We did a lot of advertising, but only God knows what souls He is sending and what message He is wanting them to hear. Our job is to be sensitive, so we can perceive His voice and direction. He says in John 10:27 (NLT)… “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” If we keep our perception in Him, we can see and follow His leading, so we will not become blind leaders of blind followers. If we don’t, we may find even His beauty out of focus.

October 9, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Multitasking With The Voices in My Head


Hubby Trying to Sleep with The Kitty on His Mind, by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved

Hubby Trying to Sleep with The Kitty on His Mind, by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved
Click the image to visit my Flickr Photo Stream

Are you a multitasker? Do you try to focus on one thing but get distracted by many other things? If so, you’ll probably relate to some of the sleep humor on a board I found at Pinterest. My favorite pin said, “3 out of 4 voices in my head want me sleep. The other wants to know if penguins have knees.” That is so me when I’m trying to go to sleep. I can sit here trying to write my blog and fight a sleep attack, but when I actually lie down to sleep, my brain opens about 100 new tabs. 🙂 Of course, that could also be from having ADD, but being a woman and being a writer fit there somewhere too.

I thought about multitasking today because of all the plans I’m trying to make for the week, some of which are overlapping with each other. Beginning Wednesday evening at sunset, we have the weeklong festival of Sukkot. It’s one of the most exciting feasts of the Lord, and if you search my blog for posts on it, you’ll find many of them. Under the label of WWJD, I can tell you without a doubt that He would (and did) celebrate this feast. And, I don’t believe He only celebrated it because He was Jewish, but I think He was also celebrating His birthday. I’ll tell you more as we go through the week since I won’t be posting Torah portions as I was last year at this time.

In addition to our home festival celebration, my husband and I have been invited to help celebrate and open the Sukkah for our friends at Christian Country Cowboy Church. If you are ever in the Louisville area on the last Friday of the month, I highly recommend a drive out to LaGrange (about 20 miles from downtown Louisville). Parsons Zeb & Joy Son, along with the house band, put on a free country concert that rivals anything you might pay to see. It often includes a great headline act (many who are award-winning artists), and it always includes “Cuzin Gus and The Boys from Sasquatch Holler which is reminiscent of a skit on HeeHaw.

Finally, along with just the regular stuff of life, like laundry, dishes and paying bills, we still have the event for the writer’s group that will be either a huge success or a great big mess depending on the answer we get from the venue. I’m still trusting God to provide the answer we want, but there’s a bit of stress in just waiting for the official answer. And of course, just adding it to the “to do” list of the week adds it’s own time consumption.

I say all of the above to say this: the one time when my multitasking mind bothers me the most is when I want dedicated time in prayer. I mean, I like that prayer is one of the running tasks in almost everything I do, but it is very hard to slow it all down, so I can pray without interruption. Thankfully, we go back to what I’ve said so often about God knowing our human form. I know He knows the depths of my heart even if the voices in my head are speaking too loud for me to hear it.

Nevertheless, it is my challenge to slow down and focus during my times of prayer, and I pray the same for all of you who have the same desire. If you ever struggle with this, post a comment to let me know I’m not alone. If you have ideas that help, I’d love to hear those two. I’ll be glad to add your positive encouragements to the voices in my head.

October 7, 2014 Posted by | Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Welcome to My Writing World


BLOG by Flickr User Christian Schnettelker of www.manoftaste.de, CC License = Attribution

BLOG by Flickr User Christian Schnettelker of http://www.manoftaste.de, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I’m editing and updating my first post on this blog to be more of a true welcome to all who stop by to visit. I hope to get back to every post before I get too far along. I want to add images, double-check for grammar, and do a quick readability check. I would love for every post to be five-star perfect, but I know that’s not reality. My most difficult issue is probably with the use of passive verbs, but when talking about past events, it’s a bit difficult to do otherwise.

So, what is this purpose of this blog? I’m using it as a place to make myself write more things to be read by others. I write a lot, but it’s mostly in the form of prayer journals or other journals, though I have had requests to publish my prayer journals because I speak to God as if He is the Best Friend I have ever had–because He is. What little I’ve shared from the journals has brought great encouragement to others, and being an encouragement is one of my greatest desires.

The first post I made here was probably a year after I actually created the blog, and it was just one little paragraph and a link on June 7th, 2009. I had tried to post before that, but each time I would run into a struggle in getting it to do as I wanted, I would quit for a long time before trying again. That’s an old bad habit wrapped around a fear of failure that I consistently work to free myself from. That said, daily struggles with recovery from a neck injury (and two surgeries), from the pain of fibromyalgia, and from PTSD related to many abuses in this life, kept me from updating the blog again until May of 2012–almost three years.

I added another space of nearly six months without posting until I shared my thoughts about the hero worship I saw the world offering Obama, and I compared it to the elevated worship ignorant Christians offered the apostate preacher Todd Bentley. Find that at November 6th 2012 article called “When I Said I Knew It.”

Just under a month later (a record considering how much space I had been leaving between posts), I shared about my purchase of materials from “Pro Blogger” and my hopes that they could help me get more done. I’m certain they would help if I would apply them, but I’m far more interested in being available for others who say they need my assistance than in taking the time to learn how something new and how to apply it.

In early 2013, I thought I would become consistent with posting a daily thought on the book of Proverbs and the thirty-one readings that correspond to the 31 days in the month. I got through two of them before whatever I allowed to distract me stopped me in my tracks, and I went another almost 4 months before posting again. That post on April 21st, 2013 called “So Many Laws” is about a lawful heart versus a lawless heart and how lawlessness it was actually creates the need for more laws.

Finally, on September 28th, 2013, I began writing a daily post with my commentary on portions of The Torah (the first five books of The Bible). For once I have focus, and I have posted regularly now for over eight months as of this update. I have learned that having a focus makes a lot of difference, so I’ll need to figure out what focus to apply once I have gone through the year of Torah readings. I know I love to teach, and I love to encourage, so I hope to find a way to incorporate that into whatever I do. In the meantime, I hope readers enjoy my commentary as I share my love for God and His great creation, mercy, and love for me. In the meantime, consider this your invitation to read, comment, and vote on my blog content; add a like if you like, and take a gander at some of my other blog-type projects…

And with that, may I introduce you to my first post on this blog…

My first post here will actually be a test on posting a PDF with line numbers so members of Louisville Christian Writers can post editing comments a little more easily. I had a bit of a hard time getting the PDF into my blog where people can read it as part of the blog. But, with perseverance, I finally got it. Just click the link below.

The Power of Faith by Crystal A Murray

June 7, 2009 Posted by | LCW for Edits, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

   

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