Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Word Study Wednesday

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. ~~2 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)

In this verse Paul breaks out with a heart of thanks, relating the Roman victory procession to the victory we have in Christ. A triumphal procession is the equivalent of a parade in our day.

Many Americans on Thursday morning will watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade celebrating the many victorious blessings bestowed upon us by our Lord. The Grand Marshal will lead off with extravagant floats following down the parade route. Large crowds will be cheering as the floats cascade down the streets. After the parade, many people across our land will watch football games.

In the times Paul wrote this letter, the Romans held the custom of triumphal procession. This special tribute paid honor to victorious generals who led successful battle campaigns. These processions were planned out much like parades are in this day. Designated routes, a specified line-up order with the commander riding in a golden chariot (like a Grand Marshal), the officers, the spoils of war, captive enemy soldiers and the Roman priests burning incense were part of this procession. This parade would end up at the Circus Maximus to watch the games. (Sound familiar?)

Paul relates the Roman triumph to the triumph we have in Christ. Jesus Christ, our Great Commander in Chief or Grand Marshal already has the victory. He defeated our enemy by His death on the cross and resurrection. As His officers, co-heirs, children of the living God through Christ, we follow Him in the victory parade.

No matter what problems we face, we already have the victory in Christ!We can now shout in thanks because we know we already have the victory! Paul’s situation did not look so great, but he believed God and God turned the defeat into victory.

Let’s give thanks to God and follow Christ who leads us in triumphal procession.

Engrafted by His Grace--


Source: Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. 2 Co 2:14

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Triumphant Attitude

I enjoy contemporary worship music, but sometimes I need to hear a good old-fashioned hymn.

This week of Thanksgiving, I want to focus on giving thanks. Yet sometimes, life’s circumstances attempt to inhibit my heart from giving thanks to God. When that happens, I seek the Lord to help change my perspective.

At the age of 31, Martin Rinkart was called to pastor the state Lutheran church in Eilenberg, Germany. This call coincided with the 30 Years War of 1618-1648. According to historical documents, the war yielded some of the most severe sufferings imaginable. The conflict between the Catholic and Protestant forces from European countries significantly decreased the German population from 16 million to 6 million.

Eilenberg became an over-crowded city of refuge for refugees. During these years diseases and famine decimated these inhabitants. In the climax of this war, plague and famine, Rinkart was the only surviving minister in Elienberg. He performed the work of three men and buried more than 4000 people. In the midst of this suffering, the Swedes levied an exorbitant tribute. Rinkart pleaded for mercy, but it was denied. He turned to the citizens and stated, “Come, my children, we can find no hearing, no mercy with men, let us take refuge with God.”

Rinkart prayed with such earnest fervor, the Swedish general reduced his demand. Rinkart’s personal losses were significant, yet his spirit was never broken. His life displayed a triumphant attitude, gratitude and confidence in God for all of us to know that we too can be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

Therefore, I realize this morning that my issues pale in comparison to Rinkart’s. I have so many blessed reasons to give thanks to God by His grace through Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit. I can give thanks!

God wants us to be victors and not the victims of life. With His presence we can overcome and not be overwhelmed. Carry this musical truth with you-- [1]

Engrafted by His Grace--

[1] Osbeck, Kenneth W.: Amazing Grace : 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Kregel Publications, 1990, S. 351

Friday, November 21, 2008

Just wanted to mention

And the headline from the local newspaper reads:

Whitworth to play baseball in Puerto Rico

by Brian Argabright
Del Rio News Herald

Del Rio’s Chase Whitworth acts like a typical 11-year-old boy.

Chase, the son of Eldon and Shonda Whitworth, is full of energy, is still shy about answering questions and smiles every time his name gets mentioned.

Like most boys his age he also enjoys sports. He’s wrapping up his first year of youth football, but it’s the sport of baseball that he loves most.

And it’s that love of baseball that has garnered Chase the opportunity to participate in a select tournament with some of the nation’s best young athletes in Puerto Rico in March as part of the Coast to Coast Baseball Program.

Oh yeah, Mom and Dad are excited about our young man. To read the rest of the story, go here.

Engrafted by His Grace--

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Word Study Wednesday

"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star." ~~Revelation 22:16 NIV

Jesus said He is the Root and Offspring of David. Jesus is the Root.

In the Greek the word Root is Rhiza which literally means root. Rhiza is the root word for rhizome in the English language to describe a particular type of root.

A rhizome is defined as:

n. A horizontal, usually underground stem that often sends out roots and shoots from its nodes. Also called rootstalk, rootstock.[i]

When I pictured a root, I thought of a root growing down into the soil, which some plants do. A rhizome root grows horizontally under the ground with shoots and roots growing from the horizontal root. Examples of plants with rhizomes are the Lily of the Valley, St. Augustine’s grass, the fern and bamboo. These types of plants grow in clusters and are typically invasive.

Jesus is the Root, a Rhiza, a rhizome. He is firmly planted by His Father. As believers, we are grafted into the Root and grow in clusters. We’re meant to be part of the body. We're connected by the Root. That's why we can rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. We have connection. Let’s be firmly planted and fully engrafted to the Root!

Engrafted by His Grace--

[i] rhizome. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. (accessed: November 12, 2008).


Monday, November 17, 2008

Touchdown Pass

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. ~1 John 5:14-15 NIV

This past Saturday night, my son’s youth football team played a game that heated everyone up on a cold night in South Texas. On this chilly night, the game excited the fans (aka parents) on both teams. It was one of those evenly matched, highly competitive games.

I shared last week for the football game that I prayed two specific things—first for the boys safety and second to see my son, Chase, make a touchdown. I saw the answer to the first and thanked God that if keeping him safe meant he did not play offense, then I am thankful.

This time, I prayed only the first prayer for the game—to keep all the boys safe. It just breaks my heart to see boys injured on the field, even more so if it is my boy lying on the ground (which I’ve sat through and thankful it was nothing serious).

The Lord answered my prayer (and I’m certain the prayers of all the parents) as there were no injuries during the game. Only one official time out for an injury for one of our team members, but he recovered quickly.

As I watched the game nearing the end of the first quarter, I saw my son who played on defense go in on offense. He lined up in formation with the team on about the 20 yard line. Chase went to the end ready to run out as wide receiver. The ball snapped. Players scrambled. Chase ran into the end zone wide open. The quarterback threw the ball in Chase’s direction. Chase caught the ball. The umpire’s arms lifted straight up. Touch down! I saw my boy make a touchdown.

The game went back and forth with the last one minute and eleven seconds being the most exciting. Behind our team made a touchdown putting us ahead by eight points. The opposing team made a touch down during their possession. Going for the two point conversion, they tied the game. On the kick off, our team got the ball and made a touch down and earned the extra point. With 30 seconds, our defense held them in our territory and won the game 41 to 33.

On the half-hour ride home, my son discussed how stressful the game was for him. We talked about his touchdown. His first one in his first year to play tackle football. I mentioned to him how I did not pray for it this week, but the Lord enabled him. He looked at me from across the vehicle and said, “Mom, our prayers don’t expire. God just knows the best time to answer them.”

He reminded me the Lord hears our prayers. The Lord answers all our prayers. Just as the timing for the quarterback and Chase lined up for Chase to catch the pass for a touchdown, we must wait to be in line with God’s timing to catch the answer to our prayers. Touchdown pass!

So know this my dear friends, the Lord hears our prayers and whatever we ask according to His will we shall have--in His timing.

Lord, I give You praise this morning for Your loving kindness endures forever. Thank You Lord that You hear and answer our prayers. Lord, I pray that we make the play as You call it so we will be lined up to catch the answer You have for us. Lord, I ask Your will be done. Thank You Lord for this day we have. I ask You to guide our steps and establish the work of our hands. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Engrafted by His Grace--

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Not Done

“I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” ~ J. Hudson Taylor

My oldest son, Stephen, graduated from our homeschool high school this past summer. Homeschool students receive diplomas and have transcripts just like those students who attend regular schools. At his graduation ceremony I gave a speech based on the three points of the Hudson Taylor quote.

First, Stephen came into my life when I thought it would be impossible to become pregnant. The Lord knew the right timing. And the Lord used him to bless me in ways I didn’t know to ask for or would not have asked for it. I gave up a lot of selfish ambitions to be a mother.

Second, Stephen was difficult to train. Not bad, just difficult. I think Dr. Dobson would have to re-write his Raising Boys book if he actually met Stephen. I did not find the advice in any one particular parenting book to work; I had to combine strategies. It was as if he came preprogrammed to outwit all the plans. When he was in school, I attended all the required all the parent/teacher conferences as well as the called special called sessions, which were frequent. Then I homeschooled and he was the sand paper that softened my attitude (sort of).

Third, it is done. When I got to this point in my speech at the graduation, I let out a sigh as I said, “Now I’m done.” My tone was serious as I gazed at my son, but the crowd busted out in laughter. I turned and addressed those in attendance and asked, “What I’m not finished?” Heads nodded all across the room—no. I dismissed the elderly admonishment and self-declared – I’m done. I really thought I reached a milestone that I don’t have to fret and worry over this boy any more.

I’m learning though that one does not stop being a mom just because her son has grown to be larger than she. I still stress out over the boy. He is still irresponsible, but responsible enough to skate by. I still pray fervently, probably more now as I have very little control over his choices. The choices he makes belong completely to him.

Today he rented his first apartment. He chose to work full-time delaying education for experience. Did he make the right choice? Well it is his choice and he has to own it. I ask myself if I drove him to reject what I pounded into him—education, education, education. Still it is his choice.

As he moves his personal belongings, I asked him at lunch (which I cooked and he ate) about his financial situation. Being the responsible adult teen that he is, informed me (willingly I’m certain) that he spent all his money on deposit and prorated rent. He looked at me with the little puppy look. His eyes begged for help, but his adult male ego allowed no voice to express it.

I armed myself with my wallet and took on Wal-Mart. I did what good mother’s do. I purchased his basic necessities for him until his next pay day. Basic stuff like dish soap, Clorox wipes (which my husband asked if he knew what to do with it), dish drainer, sugar canister, sugar, frozen pizza, pizza pan (for the oven that he’ll have to learn to use as he has no microwave), kettle to boil water, top ramen noodles, bread, peanut butter, jelly, cereal and milk.

So I’m not done. I still worry about him. I wonder how I’ll sleep tonight. I wonder how he’ll sleep tonight. So those parents ahead of me who laughed at me knew what lay ahead for me. I’m still not done, it’s just different.

I know the scriptures tell me not to worry or be anxious about anything. Can any of you give me some practical tips on how not to be anxious about my adult son spreading his wings?

Engrafted by His Grace--

Monday, November 10, 2008

Team Members

My son, Chase, plays sports. This fall he is playing football in a local prep league. He played soccer for five years, and decided to try football this fall. Though small, he holds his own pretty well. He holds several positions on the team both on defense and offence. If I were intelligent enough about football, I’d list those positions for you.

This past weekend was the first play off game leaving only two, possibly three games before the end. The selfish part of me wants to see my son make a touch down. Perhaps that is a dream every parent holds for their child. I hear parents admit it.

I prayed and asked the Lord two things last weekend. First, to keep the boys safe from injury. Second, to see Chase make a touch down. I watched the game. Our team did well winning 32 to 0. However, Chase played every defensive play and on all the special teams. Yet, very few times he played in an offensive position to receive the ball. I felt disappointed. I kept thanking God for keeping him and the boys safe. But then I started asking, “What do I need to learn from this? Lord, I thank You for keeping him safe, but why didn’t he get to play offense?”

The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. ~~1 Corinthians 12:21-26 NIV

Like all players on the football team are needed, so are the members of the body of Christ. It seemed that my son contributed very little to the last game, but he is still significant to the team. That’s how we are in the body of Christ. We’re all not the quarterback, running back, or receiver who carries the ball. Some of us are the linemen, guarding the ball carrier. Praying and protecting in spiritual warfare those who share the message to others. Some of us are on special teams, ready to prepare and serve at special functions at the church. Some of us are on the defense, ready to intercept or prevent the first down so our team can carry the ball to the victory.

When a team member receives an injury, it affects the whole team. Everyone has equal concern for the other. When the team wins, everyone on the team receives honor. That’s how God put His team together.

No matter what position we hold on the team, we are indispensible! Do you realize whatever position you hold, you’re needed as a vital part of God’s team? What position do you play on God’s team?

Engrafted by His Grace--

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fully Engrafted Living™

I heard many times the discussion on the reader take away at the writer's conference. When I spoke to editors about an article or book idea, the question that came up most often was, “What’s the take away?”

One can write a really funny, compelling, or sad story, but if the reader does not benefit, it’s useless.

I’ve been pondering on this much over the past ten days. What’s the take away as it relates to the ministry entrusted to me by the Lord? What is the take away of the blog? How does it benefit the reader?

Well as I prayed about this, I’ve come to the conclusion I desire to share, encourage and teach the reader how to live fully engrafted lives. Thus, I present to you

Fully Engrafted Living™

The purpose of Fully Engrafted Living™ is to teach readers what I learn about living fully committed lives to the Lord—another words fully engrafted. I have lived my life grafted into the Root just enough to escape the fire and have a little bit of life. I am ready to move beyond partially grafted living. Are you ready too? Jesus Christ came for us to live life to the fullest, not partially. That’s what I want to share on this blog.

The day after the presidential election is a great day to launch the Fully Engrafted Living™ series. Though Obama won by a landslide in electoral votes, the margin was much closer in popular vote leaving almost half of the American voters disappointed.

Therefore, here’s my encouragement for all Christians regardless of which candidate has been supported. Using the Bible as a plumb line, here are a few instructions that helped me today that I want to pass on to you.

Trust in the Lord and commit our ways to HIM.

Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:

He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

~~Psalm 37:3-6 NIV

Submit to the authorities God established. McCain set a great example in his concession speech last night.

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. ~~Romans 13:1-7 NIV

Pray and intercede for all those in authority.

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. ~~ 1 Timothy 2:1-4 NIV

By following the written instruction for believers from the Word of God, we’re on our way to Fully Engrafted Living™. Now let’s live Fully Engrafted™!!

Engrafted by His Grace--

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

One Nation Under God

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands: One nation, under God, indivisible, With liberty and justice for all."

Today Americans exercise their privilege to cast their votes for president of the United States. If you have not voted yet and need more information, download the Family Research Council Guide here.

I find it disturbing that when we cite the pledge of allegiance, we declare “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” yet with our party system our nation seems divided -- divided over major issues.

Without God, there is no virtue, because there's no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we're mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what our senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.

Ronald Reagan, August 23, 1984

This morning in my scheduled chronological reading, I read Jesus’ prayer for those who believe in Him. He prayed this prayer before His crucifixion for all believers be united.

I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. ~~John 17:20-23 NASB

I ask you to join me in prayer today.

  • First, the body of Christ be one as Jesus prayed so that the world may believe that the Father sent Jesus, His son and that we be perfected in unity.
  • Second, this nation is united as one nation under God. Pray that our elected leaders will use the Bible as their plumb line for decisions not the ways that seem right to man.
  • Third, voters will be led by the Holy Spirit for whom to cast their votes.

Dear Heavenly Father, I praise You that You are on the throne and no one can vote You out of Your position. Lord, You know today is election day in the United States. Lord, I pray that Your body be united as one under Jesus who is the head. I pray Your body seek Your will before marking the ballots this day. Lord, I pray that this nation is united as one nation under God who seeks to do Your will using the Your word as the basis for making decisions and not the ways of man. Lord, I pray that the Holy Spirit lead Your people today as they cast their ballots. Lord, we ask You to bless our nation. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Engrafted by His Grace--

Saturday, November 1, 2008

And the winners are...

Nicole. Nicole, you won a free book from the free book offer list.

Anna S. and Marina. You both won one free copy each from the pre-order list.

I thank each of you who entered. If you're wondering how I conducted the drawing, I went high tech. I wrote your names down on a piece of paper. Cut your names out, folded the cut papers and placed them in a bowl. I had Chase draw slips of paper out of the bowl. Whola--winners.

Winners, please send me via email your mailing address so when the books arrive I will send them out to you. My email is shonda (at) engraftedbygrace (dot) com.

I thank all of you who pre-ordered. I will be contacting you about shipping and payment options via email.

To all--the books are to arrive after Thanksgiving.

I will be posting more about what I learned from the writers conference starting next week. But for now I'm off to enjoy football this afternoon.

Have a great weekend!

Engrafted by His Grace--