Suck It Up

Photo: Tammy Cardwell

I love succulents! They are amazing in so many ways; one of my favorites is their ability to suck up water when it rains and store it for use during dry seasons.

I want to be like that! I want to stay full of the Holy Spirit, full of the Word of God, and full of love so that dry seasons, times of trials and troubles, don’t catch me unprepared. Yes, I may take a beating and look less than my best in the midst of the battle, but when it’s over I’ll still be standing!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Oh Lord

I come to you as a child of the church. Some of my earliest memories center around Sunday school and the sanctuary. We weren’t always in church over the years, but we were there enough that I accepted Jesus in the summer after sixth grade.

On that day, at summer camp, in a chapel by a lake, I accepted Him as my Savior. It was years before I accepted Him as my Lord.

You hear the question all the time: “Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” And you hear others answer, “Yes.” It seems you especially hear them answer affirmatively if they were raised in church like I was – because that’s the response you’re expected to give.

In actuality, though He was undeniably my Savior and I knew it in the depths of my soul, I had no clue what it even meant to accept Him as Lord. Worse, I didn’t know there was a difference. I guess I figured “Lord and Savior” was all the same thing. But…lordship?

I knew what it meant to follow the guidelines I was taught in church.

I knew what it meant to obey the rules laid down at home.

But Jesus as Lord? I didn’t even know what a lord was, or not until I started studying certain historical time periods.

Throughout history, the lord of the estate or region was the one who ruled – similar to a king, but on a much more personal level. If he were a good lord, he kept his eye on you, saw to it that you had what you needed to get your work done, knew if you were sick… He accepted a certain level, a high level, of responsibility for you.

And you? If you truly accepted him as your lord, you obeyed him and submitted completely to his authority. You made sure you knew what he expected of you and you did it. You learned what pleased him and tried to make him happy. You were his and he was yours, and you considered it an honor to serve him.

It was after gaining this understanding that I began to grow up as a Christian. Jesus’ question in Luke 6:46 is relevant, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and don’t do what I say?” Here is reality; it’s one thing to say He is your Lord. It is another thing entirely to live with Him as your Lord. Honestly, it seems that most Christians today don’t even know what He says. How, then, can they let Him be Lord? So…

Number 1: We learn what He says. The very first thing we have to do, of course, is start listening to Him. Read the Word and truly pay attention to it. Pray and genuinely listen to what He has to say to you. Be in the church He calls you to and let the minister He has set there guide you as you learn.

Number 2: Act on what He says. Always do what He says, and put forth every effort to please Him. Remind yourself continually that He was never supposed to be only your Savior, but also your Lord.

Accepting Jesus as your Savior requires a heart change and a declaration. Accepting Jesus as your Lord requires action – continual, faithful, intentional action.

Salvation is free, but accepting His Lordship requires effort – an investment of time, heart, intentions, and actions.

But oh, the rewards on that investment!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Don’t Just Read

Inspire Bible – NLT

When I first started actively serving God, I thought I was doing great just to read a few verses every once in a while. I loved it when what I was reading fell in line with things I was experiencing or what ministers were teaching me. Even so, all too often it was ONLY reading.

By that, I mean that… It’s hard to know how to express it. I had trouble making connections, probably because I didn’t have much of a scriptural foundation. I also found myself reading, and then forgetting what I’d read. It was frustrating.

Things changed when I started using tools. Bible studies helped me make connections, and those connections helped me remember. Learning that it was ok to write in my Bible also made a huge difference because those notes reminded me of things I’d already learned. I considered dipping my toes into tried-and-true Bible commentaries because I knew that’s what a lot of wise people did, but the very thought intimidated me for some reason.

Now, with smart phones, things have changed. We have even more access to tools, and my current favorite, the Through the Word Bible app, has revolutionized my Bible experience. You can simply listen to the app, which is how I started, and it’s great. For months, it was my go-to for my drive to work.

I then moved on to first reading and making my own notes and highlights, then listening to the commentaries and making more notes. I’ve read these verses who knows how many times, but I’m getting more out of my reading today than I ever have before.

Yeah, I don’t just read anymore. I’ve changed the way I experience the Bible, and the Bible is changing me in increasingly greater ways.

We will live by the Word forever – starting right now. Don’t just read it; make it yours so that it can change you into who God wants you to be.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Hindsight and the Future

How many adults, with twenty twenty hindsight, wish they had given more while in high school…or in college..had put more effort into preparing themselves for their unknown future? Hindsight serves one important purpose; it helps us learn which mistakes to not make next time.

And there is a next time. We were put on this earth just as we were put in school – to prepare ourselves so that we will be ready to live the future that waits for us in Eternity. It is our responsibility, while we are here, to develop the closest possible relationship with God and to learn His Word, which we will live by forever.

My memories of school, and all the things the adult me would have done differently, help keep me aware of this truth. While I do forget and deviate from my preferred path on occasion, I try to continually be growing in the things of God, learning all I can about His Word and His will for my life, and getting just as close to Him as I can. I don’t want to just make it through the ultimate graduation; I want to excel now so that God can use me exactly the way He wants to in the next phase of my life.

Life is the childhood of our immortality. -Goethe

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Don’t Let the Devil Win

EDIT: This post has already hurt one friend. I don’t want it to hurt more, so let me clarify.

What I say here is ME owning what God is holding ME accountable for. I’m in the full-time ministry. That means I have certain spiritual necessities that are non-negotiable. I failed. I paid. I repented. I’m getting back up.

I am NOT saying that someone who gets COVID gets it because they fail spiritually any more than I’m saying they get it because they fail to wear a mask.

And I’m stopping here. I don’t know if this brain can make it any clearer right now

=====

Long COVID Post shamelessly copied and pasted from my Facebook page.

I’ve been absent because I was in Purgatory. (My Catholic friends, please forgive me, but seriously…)

So here’s the deal.
I use wisdom.
I’ve been actively building my immune system for 11 months.
I compulsively wash my hands anyway.
I naturally socially distance.
I wear a mask when I must.
I have NO idea where I would have picked it up, or from whom, because the only people I came into contact with who were positive had it too long ago.

Nonetheless, my test came back positive and this second go ‘round (Yup, I KNEW this was what I had in March!) has been a doozy. I’m just now entering recovery mode, and I thank God I am. I’m sure the main reason it was so bad is that I was already sick when I got sick, but whatever…

Ok… laughing at myself here. I had a plan when I started typing, but it’s gone. The brain thing…it’s part of the problem. It’s starting to work again, but…

Shoot.

Oh! Yes!

Christians, this message is for you.
We’re in a spiritual battle, and the enemy is using this virus in an attempt to tear us down and tear us apart. He’s all about DIVISION, and I have never seen him be so successful as he has been in recent months. I’ve seen friends, loving Christian friends, turn on each other so badly that I came away with my heart torn. I’ve seen judgement and ridicule and attack and…

But look at me. I’ve actively done it RIGHT on a purely natural level. Yet I got COVID.

However, I have NOT done it totally right on a spiritual level, and frankly I’m thinking that I – and I alone – am responsible for me getting sick.

I have a habit of spending time in the Word daily – except in recent weeks when this and that interfered and I…wasn’t.

I have a daily habit of declaring God’s Word over myself and those I love – except in recent weeks when I kept forgetting to do it.

I have a habit of “praying without ceasing” and legit staying in pretty constant conversation with God – except in recent weeks when… boy, is this humiliating.

I forgot that I am a soldier on the battle field.
I lowered my shield.
I dropped my sword.
I turned my back on the enemy.

And he stabbed me in the back just like he is trained to do.

I am COVID positive, finally starting the road to recovering from some of the worst physical agony I’ve experienced in years, and I have no one to blame but myself.

It didn’t happen because someone else didn’t wear a mask or wash their hands. It happened because this warrior forgot what she was.

Stay alert, my fellow soldiers. Don’t let the devil get a blade in. Don’t let the devil bring division to our ranks. We’re here for a reason and we have a job to do.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Reading Through the Bible

I originally posted this on Facebook two years ago today. When it showed up in my memories, I decided it needs to be shared again. The Bible is IMPORTANT my friends.

Reading through the Bible is powerful, especially reading through it quickly enough that you still remember previous books while reading the current one. Im always in the process of a readthrough, though some have taken me longer than others – this time being one of those.

So I’ve set a goal of finishing my current Bible readthrough by mid September, forcing me to read more every day. Reading so much so fast makes a lot of things more clear, and in this case it has forcefully reminded me of two things I already knew, two vitally important things that we should all bear in mind.

  1. God DESPISES pride. Repeatedly, you see people being called down for their actions, but God forcefully makes it clear on myriad occasions that the root of those evil actions is pride. People often misquote one verse as “pride goeth before the fall.” That’s bad enough, but in reality that portion of the verse reads, “pride goeth before DESTRUCTION.” You can recover from a fall, but destruction? Pride is, literally, the devil’s sin – and he “generously” shares it with us so we can join him in destruction.
  2. It’s all about bringing glory and honor to God’s holy name. MANY times in Scripture, God rescued or promoted or chose to delay punishing His people not because they deserved it, but to protect His reputation. “Hallowed be Thy name,” is not just four words in a model prayer. We truly need to do our best, behave always in a manner that reflects that holiness, that brings glory and honor to Him.

Read your Bible. It’s the most awesome book on the planet.

Read the whole thing, from cover to cover. It will open your eyes like they’ve never been opened, and every time you read it through you’ll grow more than the time before.

Read it from cover to cover as fast as you can at least once. It will revolutionize your walk in ways you can’t even begin to imagine.

I was going to quit, but think about it. If you were to read a novel the way most of us read the Bible, a line here and there, you’d never grasp the whole story. Even if you read a novel the way most read through the Bible, you’d read maybe a page a day. How much of page/day 12 would you still remember on page/day 332? Not much.

But if you read through the Bible like you read through a novel, you REMEMBER, and you start seeing connections you’ve never seen before. It’s legit mind blowing, my friends!

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

My Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father

Our FATHER! Not some uninterested god who created the planet and then walked away, not an angry God who has to be appeased. No. He is MY FATHER who loves me and will love me forever, who wants the best for me, who has good plans for me.

who art in Heaven

He’s not bound by Earth. He has a higher perspective. Where I can only see what’s around me, He can see everything. Where I have access only to the resources at reach, He has it all.

Hallowed be thy name

My father is holy. His very name is holy, and I commit myself to living a life that reflects His holiness, to strive to have a reputation that reflects well on my Father. Yes, living in this world can make that a challenge, so I ask, “God, help me.”

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven

Yes! It’s GOD’S KINGDOM that I want to see here on Earth, where HE rules, where HIS will and ONLY His will is done just as surely as it is in Heaven. I know it will happen ultimately, and pray it is soon. I also pray that it be in ME today. Let God’s kingdom come in the earth that is Tammy Cardwell. Let God’s will be done in the earth that is Tammy Cardwell.

Give us this day our daily bread

Yes, please provide our physical needs for the day. Even more, let me feed on God’s Word. Let me chew on it and find in it the spiritual nourishment I need for the day. Let it strengthen me and help me grow.

And forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors

Ah, Lord God, give me the ability to always walk in forgiveness. I refuse to let unforgiveness poison my soul, and want to always forgive, whether or not the other person ever deserves it or asks… or even admits they were wrong. And Lord, forgive me for my sins as I forgive them.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

Yes, oh yes. Lead me in every step I take, Father, so that I can stay far away from temptation and the evil that comes with it.

For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever

And that is the bottom line. It’s ALL about God. No one ranks higher. No one has His authority or power. He was in the beginning and will be throughout eternity.

Amen

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Hello. My Name Is…

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

Princess Bride fans recognize this line and love it. In my Bible time this morning, as I was thinking about how lazy most Christians are when it comes to the Sword of the Spirit (Word of God), I remembered it. 

Inigo Montoya was able to avenge his father’s death for one reason. He spent much of his life learning his sword and how best to use it. The line would have meant nothing if all he’d done was wear the sword on his belt. 

Christians, we need to wake up! Our Bibles are not meant to be home decor items or shelf fillers! The Word is a weapon, our only offensive weapon, and learning how to use it effectively is not an option. Why? Because, like it or not, we are at war. 

We ARE at war. We can convince ourselves that we don’t need the Word working in our lives, but we’re deceiving ourselves when we do. The battles aren’t “out there.” They are right here, in our very hearts, homes, and lives. 

We need to do our part so we can confidently declare, “Hello. My name is ________. You think you can destroy me. Prepare to fail.”

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Staying in the Word

NLT Inspire Bible

Months ago, I shared that my word for the year is consistency. I also reviewed some things that were helping me stay consistent in my walk with God. One of those tools is the Through The Word Bible app.

It seemed right to return today and share that yes, I have been consistent. It’s taken self-discipline, sometimes in the form of a swift kick to my own backside, but I am working my way through the Bible in an eye-opening, methodical way that I’m loving. Best of all? It’s simple, requiring nothing but my Bible, pens, and one app.

I start my study by reading a chapter in the Bible – just one. I don’t ONLY read it, however. I ask the Holy Spirit to talk to me, teach me, open my eyes. As I read, I’m underlining and making notes (journaling Bibles help with that!).

Then I hit play on my Through the Word app and listen to what Chris Langham or one of his associates has to say about the chapter. While I listen, I’m making more notes as things become clear or I make connections I’ve never made before. I’ll sometimes go back again, afterwards, to make even more notes. It seems the more connections you make the more you see new connections.

It’s such an easy way to gain a greater relationship with The Word, which is necessary if we want a greater relationship with God, and a close relationship with God is an absolute necessity.

Time is short, my friends. If we’re putting off this vital aspect of our walk with God we are making a grave mistake. The day will come, soon, when there will be no tomorrow. I mean that literally. If you’ve studied the end times at all, you know what I mean.

Blessings!

Celebrating Jesus, The Word!

Tammy C

Do You REALLY Love Him?

John 14:15 ends with “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandments, even so I do.” Because Jesus loved the Father, He kept His commandments.

It’s the same for us. If you love Jesus you keep His commandments; John 14:15, 21, and 23 declare it. Likewise, if you don’t keep His commandments, you don’t love Him.

Do you love Him?

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C