What Really Counts 

  
 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before Him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship Him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” John 4:23-24 MSG 

Today’s verse reminded me of this exert from the book The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown.

Cultivating Authenticity

Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.

The idea that we can choose authenticity makes most of us feel both hopeful and exhausted. We feel hopeful because being real is something we value. We feel exhausted because most of us know that choosing authenticity is a huge undertaking.

Choosing authenticity means
Cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable;

Exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and

Nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough.

Authenticity demands Wholehearted living and loving – even when it’s hard, even when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the joy is so intense that we’re afraid to let ourselves feel it.
Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy and gratitude into our lives.

                                           ~Brene’ Brown  

I like Brene’ Brown. I think all that she said is true, and can only be true, with God. 


What really counts, before God, as the verse says, is who you are and the way you live.  


We should live authentically. We should mindfully practice authenticity as she states, but to practice all that and so much more we need to invite Jesus into our lives. Only Jesus can restore us back to what really counts. 
                   ~XXOO Michelle Bollom 

Strength For The Journey 

  
I am half way through my fasting experience. I can’t say it has been easy or effortless; but I can say it has been much easier than I imagined and so very worth it.  

The scale is down almost 20 pounds. I feel so much better. My time with God is like on steroids! I can hear Him so clearly now. I have developed a much deeper spiritual walk and a deeper love for God and His word.   

God is continuing to be faithful.  

Today is 24 for 24.  

I love this verse!

If you are right with God, He strengthens you for the journey; the Eternal will be pleased with your life.~ Psalm 37:23 The VOICE 

Lord, strengthen me for the journey. May I always seek To obey You and Your word so that I am always in right-standing with You. Continue to remove my flesh responses and replace them with only Spirit responses. Thank You for Your faithfulness, Your mercy, and Your grace. Help me to continue to run my race well. Amen. 

                     ~XXOO Michelle Bollom 
  

Avoiding Entanglements 

  
en•tan•gle•ment (ɛnˈtæŋ gəl mənt) 


n. 

1. the act of entangling. 

2. the state of being entangled. 

3. something that entangles; snare; involvement; complication. 

The dictionary describes entanglements as being like a spiders web.  

When you think of it, the spider weaves this intricate enticing web to snare his prey into the complicated but beautiful mess in order to devour it. That is pretty much what satan tries to do with his web of lies.  

But if we stay ever close to God and remember all the good He has done, fill our minds with His word, and learn to be led by the Spirit, we will avoid the enticing entanglements of the enemy that will try to lead us away from God and His plan for us. The enemy is subtle; he will even use something that seems good at first glance to try to entangle us. 

Lord, help me to never recount the wrongs or the negatives. May I only declare and speak of Your goodness and miracles. I love You, the Blesser way more than the many blessings. Show me how to avoid the entanglements of the enemy and the inner me as I learn to be led by Your spirit and no longer by my flesh. Your timing is worth waiting for. Help me to never rush or delay. Help me to rely fully on You and Your stability to move forward. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 

O Lord my God, many and many a time you have done great miracles for us, and we are ever in your thoughts. Who else can do such glorious things? No one else can be compared with you. There isn’t time to tell of all your wonderful deeds.~ Psalm 40:5 TLB 

God’s timing is always worth waiting for. If we look to Him for help, He will rescue us from destruction and despair and from the things that hold us down. He will also bring stability to our lives so that we can move forward again with confidence and joy. If we are to experience God’s best for our life (which far exceeds all we can imagine), we need to rely on Him alone and avoid any entanglements with those who will lead us away from God and His plan for us. ~ Life Recovery Bible 

A Work In Progress 

  

Sometimes we think caring for ourselves is selfish. I thought so too before I ran my health off in the ditch and suffered a stroke in 2008.   

Now seven years later I was well on my way back to the ditch; doing it again.  

We can’t be effective to our families or to God if we aren’t healthy. 

I am thankfully now well into my fasting experience. I have lost 20 lbs and several inches. I am more than half way through my fast and a 1/3 of the way to my health goals. 

I knew todays verse well. I was vandalizing my temple. I was not caring for my body as a temple that housed the Holy Spirit. Christ’s home was inside me but I was making Him to live in a cluttered run down shack.   

What I like to visualize now is that I am going through each area of my temple, each room of Christ’s home, and I am doing a major house cleaning job. I am a work in progress. A new body under construction. 

I want my outer self to reflect the inner self. I can’t have God doing amazing things within my heart, my mind, and my soul, if I still was trashing my body. 

Thankfully, God has given us amazing bodies capable of repairing themselves.   

We never have anyone or anything to blame but ourselves because we have either created or allowed it.  

This promise does not say- hey maybe you should, or maybe you might want to….. 

No, it says- you MUST honor God with your body. 

God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. ~1 Corinthians 6:20 NLT 

Lord, forgive me for vandalizing what You so graciously and wonderfully gave me. You paid for me at a very high price. Please help me to honor and show gratitude by caring properly for my temple. Thank You that you are a loving God that gives us the grace and mercy to begin again. May I never slip back to old patterns of living or thinking. Forgive me for blaming anything or anyone for what was my choice to dishonor You. Thank You that You provide strength in my weaknesses. Thank You for Your promises. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 

                ~ XXOO Michelle Bollom 

Implicit Insignia 

  
  

Today while unpacking my verse these two words jumped out at me; Implicit Insignia

I started thinking of these words as almost like a tattoo. Many people will wear or cover themselves in symbols, or emblems to display they are part of a group of organization. Some biker gangs use tattoos of tear drops or a skull and crossbones to signify certain things but I don’t think those mean good stuff.  

What about the most common. The millions of people that have the fish or a cross or the word Jesus tattooed.  

Those insignia’s aka tattoos, would imply they are Christian’s. But by some of their actions, words, or choices, would it be plainly expressed?

Some simply could just be insignia bearers. Not Implicit Insignia bearers. 

Jesus doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. I want to be the 2nd definition of implicit- no qualification or question, absolute – no chance of not being plainly expressed. I want to be an implicit Jesus follower.

What the verses refer to is love. When we love like Jesus. When we obey the command to love God and others as ourselves, the darkness in our lives will disappear and the new light of life in Christ shines in and ultimately is reflected out.  
I won’t be rushing out for a tattoo, they just are not for me, but in my unpacking and thinking of this whole implicit insignia thing like tattoos, I wondered…..
How awesome would it be that without the big cost or pain or time fading ink or the risk of infections, we all could have an implicit insignia representing Who we have inside of us and showing others that we belong to an organization of people that are really loving God and others well.     

Lord, help me be known by my fruit. Help me to Obey Your command to love. May my love for You be so deep and wide and long that it overflows to others and is not simply implied, but is absolute without question pointing others to You. Help me to love others well and may my life represent You well in all my words and actions. Your love is never weak or compromising, it is the insignia of emotional strength. Help my love to be that too Lord. Help me to always display an implicit insignia of belonging to You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen 

                       
               ~XXOO Michelle Bollom 
Dear friends, I’m not writing anything new here. This is the oldest commandment in the book, and you’ve known it from day one. It’s always been implicit in the Message you’ve heard. On the other hand, perhaps it is new, freshly minted as it is in both Christ and you—the darkness on its way out and the True Light already blazing!~ 1 John 2:7-8 MSG 
im·plic·it

imˈplisit/

adjective

1. implied though not plainly expressed
2. with no qualification or question; absolute.

Yet it is always new, and works for you just as it did for Christ; and as we obey this commandment, to love one another, the darkness in our lives disappears and the new light of life in Christ shines in.~ 1 John 2:8 TLB 

Light and darkness cannot exist in the same heart. Notice the absence of love will keep us in the dark and prove a severe hindrance to progress in our recovery. Love is never weak or compromising; it is the insignia of emotional strength. The love God gives us provides the energy to approach those we have harmed and to make amends when possible. ~Life Recovery Bible 
in·sig·ni·a

inˈsiɡnēə/

noun
1. a badge or distinguishing mark of honor;military rank, office, or membership of an organization; an official emblem.

Getting The Clue 

  
I hadn’t a clue for far too many years.

 I sometimes think how much time I wasted as a young girl, teen, adult, wife, and mother. I did so many things wrong. I had a ton of defects in my character. I am so thankful that I finally started getting the clue.   

I did religion most of my life and thought I had to work my way to heaven and gain God’s love and approval. I also lived in guilt and shame and condemnation for many years but would also keep sinning and believing Grace would keep me covered. 
I probably was barely skidding into Heaven. 

I did not even have the slightest clue on so many things.  I was clueless! 

As I have grown and developed a relationship with Jesus and no longer practice any form of religion it is so freeing. I try to live and teach my children to live by a Biblical world view.

I don’t look at His word, the Bible, as a list of rigid rules and meaningless stories. I look at it as covenants and promises and valuable information for me to get a clue on what is the best way to live and how to allow God to change all my defects of character.  

I am learning to release my control and rely on God and no longer on my self. 
This fasting experience is taking me so much deeper and closer to God. It is showing me that in just 21 days that there is a much better way to live. I don’t have to live in bondage to my flesh. I have Christ in me so I always have His resurrection power readily available to me.  

Lord, may I never take for granted Your living Word and Power. May I remove anything that does not bring You Glory. May my life be a sermon preached without words. Remove the dullness and defects of my character so that You can shine more brightly through me to others. Thank You for being so patient with me. Thank You for lovingly revealing the best You have for me through Your love letter, the Bible. Help me to unpack and store all Your promises in my heart. Thank You for saving me despite my selfishness and sin that I lived in for far too long. I know You are the Great Restorer. You make all things new and work all things out for my good. Thank You for Your greatest sacrifice, Jesus. I am so grateful that now because of Christ I am in on everything so I never have to be clueless again. ~ Amen.

                 ~XXOO Michelle Bollom 

But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything. ~Ephesians 2:11-13 MSG 

Smooth Traveling 

  
Do you struggle with finding your words?
I know I certainly have. 
I know you may be thinking, what? 

The long winded run on sentence tell you the whole back story nitty gritty detail girl, has a problem finding words?

But yes, it is true.   

What about telling the whole truth even with the risk of someone taking it wrong or fear of offending ? 

God has been speaking to me that when I don’t “find my words” and speak anything less than the whole truth, that at the end of the day it is still a lie.  

God even took me back to what I teach my children about lying: 

It is never ever acceptable or necessary to lie.  

God’s word specifically states -Do Not Lie.

Embellishing is also a lie.

There are no white or gray lies, no matter the color, they all are lies.  

Not fib, no windy, no only joking, they are all still a lie. 

Then He took me to two areas He dealt with me personally on over the years….

When answering the phone and pretending not to be you with a sales call ? 

How many of us have done that before? 

Newsflash: that’s a lie- dishonesty. 

What about “courtesy falls” when in a prayer line? 

How many have done that before? 

  God will slay you if He chooses, but courtesy falling is deception, which is still a lie. 

So why was God bringing me back around to this lesson? 
Because I was still being dishonest when I don’t tell my true opinions or reaction or feelings about something. I don’t have to offer it up when not asked, but when asked or God tells me to speak up, I better say the truth, the whole truth and not just what they want to hear. 
God has been having me practice this and “find my words” lately as I have spoken some really hard words to people. God has honored my obedience to be truthful in all areas so He also thankfully prepared them to hear the truth, which was a huge relief. 

(Some even said they wanted to punch me, but they knew it was the truth)  

We don’t have to hurt someone’s feelings, but we can be honest and let them know we did not agree or like something when asked. If God is asking you to share something to help them, we must tell the whole truth.   
For me, I may give you every detail before around and after it, but you can be sure that it is nothing but the whole truth.  

I am no longer stuffing the hard words since I stopped stuffing my face.
I am finding my words. All my words.   

As I have allowed God to guide and direct me through this fasting experience, He is showing me that I am to be guided by total honesty. 

A good man is guided by his honesty; the evil man is destroyed by his dishonesty. ~Proverbs 11:3 TLB 
Moral character makes for smooth traveling; an evil life is a hard life. Proverbs 11:5 MSG 

Lord, let complete and total honesty always guide us. Please don’t let us be destroyed by dishonesty or deception or even embellishing the truth. May we find our words and even when not easy to still speak the whole truth in love. Build and develop our Moral character so we may have smooth traveling to do all You have called us to do. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 
                     ~XXOO Michelle Bollom 

Becoming Altar’D

  
During my fasting experience I am also doing a study by Jennifer Kennedy Dean called “Altar’d”.
The subtitle is “40 Days of Transformation- Experience The Power of Resurrection.”

Today as I was unpacking my many verses, the one that I felt most stirred and excited over was:
And the Spirit of the Lord began to excite him …. ~Judges 13:25 TLB 

I had been conversing with a friend about the study and our season we both were in.  I described it as sort of a cocoon state before the butterfly is ready to break out and fly again. 

I couldn’t help but really think that like Solomon in the verse above, the Spirit is really exciting me. Since studying about denying my flesh and living in the Spirit to become Altar’d, I am really super duper excited.
  (picture a crazy happy dance inserted here) 

When the cloud of stinking thinking is removed and the bondage to food is removed and my flesh is learning not to respond but instead choosing the Spirit response, it is just amazing to me how so many things become clearer. Things begin to just flow instead of feeling forced.  Like the butterfly, the caterpillar’s life is taking shape and being transformed. 

It feels great to be in rhythm with the Holy Spirit.   
May we all be stirred and excited by the Spirit!    

                        ~XXOO Michelle Bollom 

Share in the hashtag fun by using #BecomingAltarD on social media and tell us your story of transformation and restoration. 

The Chief And Choice Parts 

  
Have you ever thought about a kaleidoscope? All the little pieces of intricate glass swirling about. They seem so insignificant at first but as it is adjusted and moved they begin to fit together reflecting and displaying such multifaceted layers of light and beauty in such a wonderful pattern. 

That is the image God gave me of not only our lives, but also all His wonderful dimensions.  
We already know the different names for God are endless- some of my favorites are 

Healer, counselor, friend, Daddy, supporter, savior, bridegroom, protector … 
So as I read today’s verse, I was thinking on those lines. 

For the reverence and fear of God are basic to all wisdom. Knowing God results in every other kind of understanding.~ Proverbs 9:10 TLB 

I can’t really explain it other than I know this to be true because of a season when a huge storm forced me to be very mad at God and to deny or want any part of Him. I could only see God as a cruel punisher for taking my brother from this earth. 

 I also know that during another time when two really huge storms, just two years later, God was all I had. I clung to Him with everything I could, and some days it wasn’t much, but I clung to Him and His Word and God revealed great understanding to me in many other areas and on many different levels. He became my protector and my healer after having a stroke. He became my Daddy after my earthly Father died suddenly. He continues to be my supporter and friend and bridegroom and a whole list of other things.  First and foremost He is always my Savior. So the deeper I know God on all those levels, it does produce a greater understanding in all other areas of my life.  
I continued to unpack in other translations-

The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning (the chief and choice part) of Wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight and understanding. ~Proverbs 9:10 AMPC 

The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of wisdom [its starting point and its essence], And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding and spiritual insight.~ Proverbs 9:10 AMP 
What really caught my eye on the first of these two translations was – chief and choice parts. 

I did not have to head to the dictionary because I knew chief was the top, the head, the beginning, as the next translation calls it the starting point. Choice I knew to be the finest, the very best, and again the next translation summed it up as the essence of.  

I understood that a reverent fear of the Lord, which is simply worshipping God and regarding Him as truly awesome, that is the chief and choice, the beginning and preeminent, the starting point and essence of wisdom. Once we have wisdom down, we continue staying close to God and we will grow in more understanding.  

The Message translation tied it all together for me:

Skilled living gets its start in the Fear-of-God,

    insight into life from knowing a Holy God.

It’s through me, Lady Wisdom, that your life deepens,

    and the years of your life ripen.

Live wisely and wisdom will permeate your life;

    mock life and life will mock you. ~ Proverbs 9:10-12 MSG 

It is through wisdom, having that reverent fear of the Lord, and through skilled living that our life deepens. As we grow closer to God and see Him on every level meeting our every need, the years of our life ripen.  

All our fruits of the Spirit will ripen too! 

We become wise, but not in our own eyes.  

As we learn to live wisely and skilled, wisdom begins to permeate every area of our life. 

My second verse that had me stirring to unpack was:
Then when you realize your worthlessness before the Lord, he will lift you up, encourage and help you.~ James 4:10 TLB 

Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant]. ~James 4:10 AMPC 

Humble yourselves [with an attitude of repentance and insignificance] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up, He will give you purpose].~ James 4:10 AMP 

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.~ James 4:7-10 MSG 

For a person that struggled with pride, and sometimes still does, this is such a great verse. 

From the various translations I unpacked it in, I came to these final thoughts: 

God can’t help us, raise us up or even encourage us until we recognize our worthlessness, humble ourselves by knowing our insignificance, and have an attitude of repentance for our sins. We must purify ourselves and stop dabbling in sin. All sins! There are no insignificant sins. We can’t play the field. We can’t have divided loyalties. We must get serious, really serious. The only way we’ll ever get back to our feet is first getting down on our knees before God. 




Lord, I want to recognize all the chief and the choice parts of You. I want to grow so deep and close with You that I am continuously in the flow of Your spirit. I want to hear Your voice clearly. I want to be able to examine all the pieces, like a kaleidoscope, to grasp and understand Your love and Your will for me. Remove all pride from me. Help me to stop dabbling in sin and become purified in every area. Only flat on my face before You will I ever be able to stand.  

           ~XXOO Michelle Bollom 

Vital Need

  
vi·tal

ˈvīdl/

 1. absolutely necessary or important; essential

So many times we can confuse a vital need with a simple want. Like temptations, for instance, whatever the drug of choice is, we can convince ourselves of making that simple want into a vital need.  

But what if every time the urge hit, we seeked, inquired and required God to fill those desire as our vital need? 

That is what I am learning to do; to replace the dancing of sugarplums, ok maybe not sugarplums, but whatever idea or thought or cravings that dance around in my head, with the Word of God.    

Today’s first verse was,

May all those who seek, inquire of and for You, and require You [as their vital need] rejoice and be glad in You; and may those who love Your salvation say continually, Let God be magnified! ~Psalm 70:4 AMPC 

We would be wise to keep prayer always at the tip of our tongue. ~Life Recovery Bible 

That is exactly what I am doing!

Replace the negative thoughts and cravings with God’s Word, Keep Praise on my lips, and Keep Prayer on the tip of my tongue. 

The 2nd verse today I actually liked it in two translations:

Everything good comes from God. Every perfect gift is from him. These good gifts come down from the Father who made all the lights in the sky. But God never changes like the shadows from those lights. He is always the same. ~James 1:17 ERV 

So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures. ~ James 1:16-18 MSG 

Light casts no shadow. The Father of Lights, God, never changes or shifts like shadows do. He is always the same. Nothing deceitful, two-faced, or fickle about Him.  


When things and people change around us, God doesn’t.  

How awesome is that? 

I am not getting thrown off course by those silly dancing cravings or negative thoughts. 
No, I am pressing in and pressing on! God is 17 for 17 on my fasting experience downloads. 

He is faithful, so I will be too! 

                      ~XXOO Michelle Bollom