Monday, December 14, 2015

Life Gets a Bit Sticky Sometimes

 I can’t believe it has been over a month since I’ve written anything here.
Honestly, everything is rocking along just fine. (sigh) I just don’t know what to write.
 
Thing is, I have had topics banging around in my head and in my heart this past month.  I just can’t get them into print.  My heart is too tangled up in them.
Here’s the thing, God’s been growing me. Thankfully, He didn’t use a new cancer diagnosis to get my attention this time. He just nudged me to trust Him a little more…and a little more…and a little more. Then He nudged me to trust Him a little more.
He nudged me to trust Him more with our finances. I did and He did not immediately pay off my mortgage. No debt collectors called to tell me that my Medical bills had been paid in full. Paycheck by paycheck, I tried to make better choices concerning our finances. Baby Steps. One better decision at a time. After almost a year of this, peace has replaced the anxiety that once surrounded any thoughts of our finances.
 
He nudged me to give up leading the Ladies Ministry at our church.  Not only that, but to also entrust it to another. Looking back, God dealt with me on several levels here. First, I love the ministry that we started several years ago. I poured my soul into it and truly loved everything about it. There was a falling out among the ministry team (it happens, we are all human after all) and that left a tinge of sorrow where pure joy had once been.  My second bout with cancer forced me to step away from the ministry completely and, to be honest I just never quite felt the same way about it. When I was approached about passing the leadership role to someone else, I only struggled slightly. God pressed on my heart that this ministry isn’t “mine”, but that He would not force me to let it go. I needed to choose for myself whether or not to close that door.
 
Earlier this year I joined Internet Café Devotions. Moving beyond my little blog brought me tremendous joy, and it still makes me smile to see my words somewhere else. God being God knew all the other ways that the Café would challenge me and, in His sovereignty, waited until I was ready before connecting me to the ladies there. While writing with them has been wonderful, connecting with them has been the biggest blessing I’ve received in a very long time. The ladies I’ve “gotten to know” through email and phone calls have been a breath of fresh air. I don’t know how to explain it other than to say that I have found in them the like-minded-ness  and understanding that I’ve longed for. They’ve showed me how to appreciate the unique gifts God has given me. They’ve encouraged me to see the value in the heart God has given me for the women He has placed in my path. Their spiritual maturity is refreshing and inspiring to me. They challenge me to be…more of who God made me to be.
God used everything I’ve mentioned to bring me to where I am now. He has helped me to see that the gifts and talents He has given me are best used one on one. I thought that I needed to do “big” things in order to make a difference. He has shown me the importance of investing in the women He has placed in my life. I am overwhelmed at the need for an encouraging word or offered prayer and am so thankful that God created me in such a way that I am naturally driven to meet those needs. I am so thankful that He created me in such a way that I see Him working in most all circumstances. I am so thankful that He created me with the discernment to see Satan’s schemes. I am so thankful that He gave me a powerful testimony to share.
So, back to my original thought…Life gets Sticky Sometimes… investing in people can get sticky. I only have a few people in my life who I consider my “inner circle” and I love them fiercely. It makes me angry to see Satan working in their lives. It makes me angry to see them in bondage to sin or to Satan’s lies. It breaks my heart to see them hurting. It brings me tremendous joy to see them victorious. My heart swells with unfathomable happiness and pride when their lives reflect Spiritual growth. These are the things that have been consuming me lately.  God is working in the lives of the people I love most and I can’t always write about that because…well, it can get sticky.
So there we go.  A month’s worth of words in one sitting.
I will try not to go so long next time!

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Season of Joyful Thankfulness and Deep Gratitude

Please join me at Internet Café Devotions today.

Warm winter branches.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
November comes with all sorts of opportunities to express thankfulness. The things at the top of my “Things I’m Thankful For” list are not surprising. They include salvation, family, friends, church, home, and career.  These have not changed in years and I doubt they will change in the future. However, the things further down my list have changed significantly as time has passed.

 Continue Reading Here...



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What do you believe?

 

Sunday Morning we were asked “What do you believe?” and told that we answer that question by looking at what we do. I’ve been thinking about this and asking myself this question for the past few days. Actually, these are the questions I’ve been asking….
  • Do I believe that there is power in prayer?  
  • Do I believe that Studying God’s word is beneficial to me?
  • Do I believe that all sin grieves God’s heart and puts a rift between Him and me?
  • Do I believe that Jesus died to save ALL people?
  • Do I believe that my children look to me as their example of what it means to be a Biblically Christian Adult?
  • Do I believe that people need Jesus more than they need anything else?
  • Do I believe that what I do for God is the only thing that matters?
  • Do I believe that my children need to be encouraged and guided with love?
  • Do I believe that my husband needs me to encourage him and support him and speak kindness to him and about him?
  • Do I believe that, as a Christian, I should pattern behavior, decisions, lifestyle, and the way I treat all people after Christ?
  • Do I believe that God takes all sin seriously?
The list goes on and on and on (and also contains all sorts of non-spiritual things about laundry and house work and naps and TV and my phone and bills and cooking that I wont go into here.) I ask myself these questions and then look at my life and the choices and decisions I make and my heart aches. If my daily routine, the choices I make, the way I talk to and treat people, & the ways in which I choose to spend my time all point to what I believe, then in reality, I believe that I am very important, that My feelings and My needs are important, and that I shouldn’t be uncomfortable or do without. This makes me very sad and it needs to change. It must change if I truly believe the things I think and say that I believe.
For the longest time I thought that striving to be a good person was at least aiming in the right direction. Truth be told, I feel like, overall, I do okay by “good person” standards. I certainly have a long list of rules about things I do and don’t do because I am a Christian and honestly, I love living a life that serves my Savior. By “the world’s” standards, I suppose I am a decent person but as Christians, Christ is our standard, so I’m nowhere close to where I want to be. I blogged sometime recently about how "being good" isn’t enough and I feel that today more than ever. Trying to be a good person isn’t working. I need Christ to change my heart so that I am more and more a reflection of Him.
 
I'm pretty blue right this minute because I am feeling the weight of my sin and the many ways I fail every day. It makes me thankful that Christ died for my sin and thankful that He defeated death so that we can spend eternity in heaven. I am thankful for all the many ways He has changed me and grown me to look more like Him. I am thankful that He reveals my need for more of Him every single day. I'm thankful that HE still takes time to shape me into someone He can use. I am so vey thankful that He does not give up on me.
It is my prayer that I continue to grow spiritually so that those who know me, know what I believe.

Monday, October 26, 2015

What are you reporducing in others?

Last week I shared my lunch hour with a coworker and was given the most interesting quote. She said it is something that her father has always told her.
“You can teach what you know, but you can only reproduce who you are”
I’ve rolled this around in my head for the better part of a week now, and I still don’t have a complete set of thoughts on it, but I have noticed it to be true in my life and in the lives of those who we have ministered to over the years.
Children DO what their parents DO, not what their parents TELL them to do. I saw this over and over again when we were in youth ministry. Children mimic what they see and hear at home. Of course they may rebel and act out on their own or likewise may rise above the way they are raised. Still overall, children talk and act like their parents. For example, they most always treat people the way their parents treat people.
As an adult I see that the people I surround myself with do still “rub off” on me, and I on them. I got really tickled when a coworker said, “Oh my goodness that is so stinkin cute!” As soon as she said it, her eyes got really big and she pointed her finger at me and said “YOU did that to me!!!!! I never said “stinkin” til I came to work here! This is your fault!” It still makes me giggle a little. I do use "stinkin" as my adjective choice when describing something as very cute, very funny, or very... whatever. That is just one of many examples. If you have ever been around anyone, you know how this works, but I’ve never heard it explained the way my coworker’s dad explained it.
“You can teach what you know, but you can only reproduce who you are”
So, on one hand, this tells me that I need to be careful who let into my “inner circle”. I need to be careful who I let influence me. That's nothing new.  Mom’s been telling me that as long as I’ve been able to choose friends.
There is something else to this. Something I haven’t quite worked through…
I need to look at the people closest to me…the people I invest in…the people I “teach”. I KNOW what I am teaching them….but I wonder, what am I reproducing? I don’t have an answer for that yet, and I am not sure that I will elaborate on it here when I do.
Even so, I want to challenge you to look at the people you “rub off” on… your spouse, your kids, your coworkers, your close friends and ask yourself the question:
What am I reproducing in them?
 
Something to think about!


Monday, October 19, 2015

Why is it so hard to pray?




As my  Sunday School class fills each Sunday morning, there is talk of football games, homecoming dates and dresses, coupons and sales, yard work and home improvement projects, sick children, grounded children, good / bad grades, new boyfriends/girlfriends, favorite teachers, track meets, science projects, baseball practice, aging parents, career changes, potty training, learner’s permits, and wives who take 3 years to get dressed. Sunday School "starts” at 9:15. Somewhere between 9:25 and 9:30, our teacher will get everyone’s attention and ask if we have any prayer requests.
Dead silence fills the room. Then, one by one, we mention our requests:
“Joes mom is having surgery.”
“We need to pray for our nation.”
“And our students”
“Yeah, we really need to pray for our students.”
“We need to pray for our church”
“And our staff”
“Anything else?”

Silence.

“Anyone want to lead us in prayer?”

Silence. (I think some people even stop breathing)

Some brave soul will end up praying for our church, our class, our youth, our staff, the nation, our students, and Joe’s mom’s upcoming surgery. There is a sigh of relief as we exit prayer time and get into the lesson.

Why are our prayer requests so limited and generic and... bland?

I wish that our prayer requests sounded something like this…
“Joes mom is having surgery.”
“My daughter is looking for a homecoming dress. Please pray that I am able to help her understand how precious she is to me and to God and that she can dress modestly and still be absolutely beautiful”
“We still haven’t been able to get little Johnny to poop in the potty. I have cried. I have begged. I have bribed him with candy and stickers and new big boy underwear. I don’t know what else to do. I feel like a failure.”
“Joey has been dating Suzy for about 6 months now. Y’all, there are girls their age having babies. It seems like “everyone” is having sex. I don’t want that for them. I don’t think that they are, or even that they would. They are both good kids. I just worry. Please pray that they will make good choices, that they continue to respect each other, and that they value their purity.”

The things that we talk about and ask for advice on are important to us. Why do we not pray about them while we are together?  Do we think that things like modesty, purity, career changes, potty training, and all sorts of parenting and marriage issues are unimportant to God? Do we feel like we are putting too much weight on these things if we ask to pray about them? Do we think that God can't/won't fix these things? Do we want His intervention in our daily lives?

 God’s Word says:
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6 (HCSB)
Why do you think it is so easy for us to talk about things but hard to pray about them?
 (I really want to know. Leave me a comment…)

Let’s pray

Father God,
Help me to remember that you are concerned with all things in my life and that I can bring everything to you in prayer. Let me not be hesitant to ask my church family and Christian friends to pray for the things that give me anxiety or cause me to worry. Help me to remember that nothing is to large or too small for me to bring to you in prayer.
Amen

Monday, October 12, 2015

"good" isn't enough


I have struggled with this post for ages. I have struggled with how exactly to put my thoughts on being "good" in order so that they make some sort of sense. Until now, I have come away sounding something like a lunatic.

Being good is important. It is. I think we need more "good" in this world. Seems like there is sooooo much bad....we need some positive stuff, some good, to at least somewhat balance things out.

Here's what has my heart hurting...
Someone told me that their neighbor isn't a Christian, but he is "better than most Christians I know". Another told me that his sister is "more moral than most of the people I go to church with and she doesn't even believe in Christ." Still another told me that she has a difficult time believing that Jesus is the only way to heaven when she knows so many good people who don't believe in Jesus and so many hateful people who do believe in Him.

I have struggled with just how to express the fact that "good" behavior isn't enough. Good behavior isn't the point. We need Christ. We need Christ to change our hearts. We don't need to change what we DO, we need Christ to change who we ARE.

I read the following recently and it struck a chord with me:

"Goodness without Christ is powerless to prevent itself from becoming self-righteousness;
purity without Christ is powerless to prevent itself becoming pride..."
You can read the rest of this post at Shiny Ginger Thoughts.

THAT is what I see. When we don't allow Christ to change the very fiber of WHO we ARE, we become prideful, self-righteous, judgmental, pious church members.

We don't need to be "good". We need the powerful all-mighty earth-shattering life-altering soul-changing touch of Jesus Christ. Being good isn't enough. Being a good church member isn't enough.

We need Jesus.

Scripture says this:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (HCSB)


Monday, October 5, 2015

Painful Restoration

Please join me on at the Internet Café today.

Painful Restoration
Internet Café Devotions

My friend Shellie owns a B&B named Clyde and Marie’s. It is a beautiful Victorian home filled with treasured antiques.
But this wasn’t always the case.clyde and Marie's
The house stood empty and neglected for years on a tiny lot in the middle of a small Mississippi town. Shellie purchased the house,  had it cut in half and moved in two separate pieces to its current location. Issues with the contractor  led to the house sitting on its current property totally exposed to the elements for months (in two pieces). The resulting damage was so extensive that everything but the hardwood floors had to be gutted and replaced, giving the restored house new walls, ceilings, electrical work, etc. Shellie celebrated opening the B&B by dedicating the home and business to the Lord. Once nothing but an empty neglected house, Clyde and Marie’s now hosts weddings, class reunions, rehearsal dinners, and all sorts of travelers, but the guests Shellie treasures most are young women, hurting couples, and women’s groups who utilize her home for a place of ministry.

I love this story. It resonates in my heart because I AM that house.

Before Christ, I was a list of failed relationships, shattered dreams, and broken promises. I felt discarded and worthless. I was beaten down and worn out… empty and hopeless…a shell of the woman I am now. What changed? God saved me.

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Life is Like a Cookie Sheet


Last week 2 of my favorite women reminded me of a post I wrote  several years ago for our church's Ladies Ministry blog. I dug it up and it made me smile. Thought I'd share.
 
Lessons learned from a Bridal Shower, Pt 3
LIFE IS LIKE A COOKIE SHEET

I sat next to Mary and Willie and had the BEST time with them as the gifts were being opened and passed around. We talked about how you can give a new bride all the advice in the world, but nothing will really prepare her for marriage, and how you can tell a mom-to-be all you know about parenting, but nothing can prepare her for motherhood. Along with this serious conversation, we joked about slipping some of the gifts under our chairs because our (toaster, coffee maker, sheet set, etc.) needed replacing. The Bride-to-be got a WONDERFUL set of cookie sheets. (amazing what I covet these days) As I admired them, I told Mary, “I need these. Mine look just like my mom’s”. I was startled when Mary whispered in a wistful voice, “yeah, mine look like my mom’s too.” Now, I am not ABOUT to speculate on this wonderful lady’s age, but I am thinking she is closer to my Grandmother’s age than she is to mine, and at that moment, we bonded…over missing “mom” and ……of all things…cookie sheets…
And that’s when it hit me:
Cookie sheets, the new shiny ones, the ones that dark and spotted, or ones that are stained and even dented, are a lot like the women at that shower.

The new cookie sheets look so pretty, all shiny, smooth and new and so full of potential… so much like the Bride-to-be…unblemished, radiant, glowing, excited about the adventure before her. As I admired (and perhaps envied) the Bride-to-be’s youthful beauty (and her new cookie sheets), I was reminded that the old-worn out cookie sheets are the ones that make the BEST cookies and pizzas! While they appear spotted, stained, blemished, and maybe even dented here and there, they are seasoned, tried and true, reliable, durable and able to do the job well….

The same can be said of women. We may be a little rusty around the edge, a bit spotted, a little blemished, stained, and maybe even dented…not by cookies and pizzas, but by marriage, jobs, friends, pregnancies, kids, joy, laughter, heartache, and tears….. but nothing can take the place of the life experiences that influenced and made us into the women we’ve become (and are becoming) ...seasoned, tried and true, reliable, durable, and able to do the job well.
Proverbs 31:30-31 says, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What I want


Things get all turned around and upside down so quickly.  Why is that? It always amazes me that I can get so far from where I want to be in such a short amount of time. Sometimes, when I evaluate my heart, I am not who I want to be. I'm not making any sense, am I? Okay, let me try this again.

I don't want to be one of "those" Christians who make people feel bad about themselves. I don't want to make it my "job" to make sure that people understand how "bad" they are. I don't want to be angry about people's sin or blatant disobedience to God's Word. I don't want to puff out my chest and pride-fully say "well, what comes around goes around."  I don't want to focus on where someone has BEEN or what they've DONE. 

I want...what do I want? I don't know how to put it into words. I want to be honestly heartbroken over sin.  I want to be someone who makes people WANT Christ and I want them to want Him NOT because of how bad they feel about themselves.

I want people to want Christ because of how GOOD He is....not because of how bad they are.

I mean, I was well aware of how wretched I was when Jesus drew me to himself. No one needed to tell me all the many reasons I was a bad person. The well meaning people who DID tell me how much I needed Jesus really just made me feel worse about myself. That didn't send me running to the cross. Honestly, that just made me want to give up and die.

Catching a glimpse of how GOOD Jesus is sent me running to Him.

I want to be the sort of person that people are drawn to. I want to be characterized by warmth and caring and understanding. I want to be trusted and trustworthy. I want people to feel comfortable around me. I want to offer hope and comfort...not condemnation and judgment.

At the same time, I am burdened by the sin in people's lives. I want to take them by the shoulders and shake them and scream, "Don't you see what this is doing to you? Don't you see that you are in bondage? Don't you see that this sin is what is stealing your joy and peace?" Goodness, my chest started aching just thinking about it.

So, there is the conflict. I want to show the love of Christ and share the message of Christ because I do believe that Christ is enough. I know that I don't want to be another hateful, judgmental Christian. At the same time, it burdens my heart to see people bound in sin. Still, if the goodness of Christ is what drew me to Him, then I have to believe that the goodness of Christ will draw others to him.

It is so easy to get caught up in how wrong "the world" is. It is easy and it makes me feel better about my own life because I can always find people who sin differently and more blatantly than I do. But comparison isn't the point, is it? The point is to share Christ.

I want to find the balance. I want to live so that there is no question about where I stand with regards to sin. I want to live and speak so that anyone who is around me sees and hears Christ in me. I don't want to be angry and bitter about being a Christian. I don't want to tell everyone what I "have" to do or what I "can't" do. I don't want to keep a check list of things that make me "good". I just want to follow Christ and let Him work in me and thru me. I want Him to fill me up so that HE spills over into my conversations. I want Him to fill me up so that HE spills over onto the people in my life.

That seems pretty simple.


Father God,
I mess things up so quickly. I want to do the right things and say the right things, but I find myself being prideful. Help me to surrender to you more every day. I want you to work in me and thru me Lord. I know that I get in the way of that. Fill me up Lord so that the people you put in my life see you in me and hear you in me. I want the people who know me to know you. I know that you can make that happen.
Amen



 

Monday, September 28, 2015

It's the End of the World as We Know It

Well, the Blood Moon Eclipse has come and gone and we are all still here.
 
It's the End of the World as We Know It (R.E.M.) ran through my head this morning. I started thinking about what "The End of the World as We Know It" could mean and what the ramifications of it would be.
 
Obviously, if the Earth exploded, flew off into space, or catapulted into the sun, those of us who know Christ would find ourselves in heaven. Hmmm...I guess if something like that happens, Christ would come back and rapture us first, right? Never really thought about that before.
 
When Christ raptures the Church, the world as we know it will cease to exist.
 
If there is a zombie apocalypse, the world as we know it will cease to exist. (hee hee)
 
There are all sorts of scenarios that are discussed here and there. Most are interesting to ponder.
In reality though, God's Word tells us that Christ will return to rapture His Church and that no one knows when it will happen.

So.... I'm thinking about something that is probably as far-fetched as a zombie apocalypse.
 
What if all the Christians started living like Jesus?
 
I know...crazy right?
 
Just humor me...
 
What if every single born again believer in Jesus Christ started living like Jesus at, say... 2:00 tomorrow afternoon?
 
What if we stopped chasing the America Dream? What if we all sold our houses, cars, time shares, boats, golf carts and hunting camps and used all that money to feed the hungry and house the homeless? What if we canceled our country club memberships and gym memberships and stopped eating out 3 or 4 times a week so that we don't have to work so many hours and spent more time making disciples? What if we cashed in our IRAs and 401ks and our savings accounts and used that money to care for the widows and orphans? 
 
What if we stopped spending our Saturdays and Sundays and weeknights at the ball fields and spent that time making disciples? What if we spent that time sharing the love of Christ and the promise of salvation with...well, with people.
 
 What if we stopped making excuses for the sin in our own lives? What if we stopped spending so much effort making sure that "the world" knows how wrong they are? What if we saw every person as someone who needs Christ or someone who needs to be discipled?
 
What if we lived like we believe the Bible?
 
 What if "Sunday School Answers" were our REAL answers??
 
 What if we lived every moment of every day with only God's agenda on our agenda?
 
What if our ONLY goal was to make sure that EVERYONE we come in contact with knows the saving power of Jesus?
 
Jesus had a zero tolerance for sin, yet people gave up everything to follow him and traveled days just to be able to hear him teach. Jesus didn't have a praise band, a projector, a 3 point sermon, a children's ministry, a calendar of youth activities or a Sunday School program and people still followed him everywhere he went. He didn't spend time making sure that they understood how bad they were. (except for the religious leaders...he had to call them out) Jesus didn't make excuses for people's sin.  He simply told them to go and sin no more. Done. End of story. Move forward. No drama. No condemnation. Just go and sin no more. People loved him and wanted to be near him.
 
 What if we, as his church, lived like Him?
 
 I'm sure it would be the end of the world as we know it.
 
 Lord,
Many days my life looks no different than anyone else's. I know I can't live a perfect life like Jesus, but I DO want to live MORE like Him. Help me to do that. Show me the things in my life that make me look more like "the world" than like Jesus and help me to remove those things or change those things so that I look more like you.
Amen


 

Monday, September 21, 2015

What's Your Witness Worth?


Recently, I found this little gem in Paul’s letter to Titus…

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Titus 2:7-8

See that? Read it one more time. It doesn’t say “scream and yell and protest so that you opponents will agree with you.” Paul tells us to show ourselves in all respects…to live in such a way that an opponent will be put to shame, having NOTHING evil to say about us. We are to live so that when people try to talk bad about us they realize they really have nothing to say.

As Christians, we know the things that God’s Word speaks against. The short list is found in Exodus 20 and includes “don’t murder, don’t steal, and don’t commit adultery.” There are others like “don’t gossip, don’t lie, don’t hate and don’t lust” that we don’t talk about as often … probably because most of us find them harder to obey.

There are still other things we must pay attention to; things not obviously wrong as murder.

For example, God’s Word does not say “Don’t have lunch alone with a co-worker of the opposite sex,” nor does it say, “Don’t have a glass of wine with dinner.” God’s Word does not speak specifically against lots of things. But just because we CAN do something doesn’t always mean we SHOULD.

Having lunch with a coworker certainly does not constitute adultery. Even so, it gives opportunity for someone seeing said lunch to potentially damage my witness by saying “You will NEVER believe who I saw having lunch together”. (We all know someone who loves to share such juicy tidbits)

Likewise, I can have a glass of wine when I’m out to dinner with friends.  One drink would hardly intoxicate me. Since my close friends are our church leaders, can you tell me how THAT scene would be described?  Not “I saw Kris and her friends at dinner last night.” Oh no, it would sound more like: “Oh my goodness, I saw Kris and the preacher and some of the Deacons and their wives out the other night and they were ALL DRINKING!”

(You laugh ‘cause you know it’s true.)

Is it unfair for someone to think the worst of me if they see me at lunch with a coworker or insinuate that my friends and I are heavy drinkers just because they see me drink a glass of wine? Absolutely!


Still, people are looking to us to show them proof that Jesus is still in the business of saving souls and changing lives and Satan will use whatever he can to make them believe that He is not. I believe that’s why we need reminders like Titus 2:7-8. I don’t know about you, but I make enough poor choices and mistakes for Satan to use against me without consciously choosing to do something that can tarnish my witness….even if God’s word doesn’t specifically speak against it. I want to live so that my opponents are put to shame, finding no evil in me.

So, when given the opportunity to do or say something that isn’t “wrong” but could be “questionable”, I ask myself…

“Is this worth my witness?”

Most times, it’s not.

 

Let’s Pray

Father God, 
Thank you for the change you have made in my life. I want to live so that others see Your love and of the hope found in following Jesus. Help me to remember that You have placed in my life who need to know You. Help me to remember the value of my witness and the power of my testimony and protect me from things that will tarnish either of them.  Help me to live in such a way that anyone who desires to speak ill of me will be put to shame.  Let my opponents find no evil in me…let them find Christ.
Amen

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Trusting the Closed Door

Today you can find me on Internet Café Devotions

Door during a bright day.
People say that God closes one door to open another.  God has chosen to close a few doors in my life… and I have been known to knock on a door He closed. I might have even been known to wiggle the knob to see if it is locked. I could possibly have even used a flathead screwdriver and hammer to take a locked door off the hinges because I was SURE that God shut, locked, and dead bolted it by mistake. Perhaps I’m not the only one. PERHAPS you have done a little work on a closed door as well.
It goes something like this…

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Monday, September 14, 2015

I am Afraid



Fear is an interesting emotion. God gave us fear to protect us. It’s not a bad thing. Fear creates the “Fight or Flight” reaction in our bodies. The rush of adrenaline causes us to flee danger, or fight it off. Fear gives us the strength to outrun an attacker. It gives us people the strength to lift a car off of an accident victim. Fear protects us and keeps us safe by encouraging us to lock our doors, install security lighting and alarm systems.

Satan found a way to manipulate something God created for our good into something that cripples us rather than helps us. Fear of the unknown fills us with fear and anxiety about something we can do nothing about. “What if” causes many people more anxiety than actual worst case scenarios. Satan took the fear that God gave us to help us survive when attacked and manipulated it to make us afraid of things that may or may not happen. In the worst situations, the fear of the unknown keeps people in situations that are not good for them.

I see this in abused women. They stay with their abuser because they know what to expect with him…or her. In a recent conversation with an abused woman, I was asked, “but what if I leave and I end up worse than I am now?” She would rather stay where she is and KNOW what the danger is (her husband) than to leave him and face the unknown.

I see it in people who have grown up in abuse or extreme poverty. Sometimes, the unknown is more frightening than their current troubles. Given the opportunity to have a safe and comfortable place to live, plenty of food, and no threat of abuse, they choose to stay in their current conditions. One woman told me “But this is all I know.”

I also see this same thing in new Christians. I remember being afraid that God (or the church) was going to ask too much of me. I was afraid that God was going to take away everything that gave me pleasure or enjoyment. I was afraid that I would not be “me” any longer if I totally surrendered to Christ, so I held tightly to things I was unwilling to give up and rebelled against things I felt were too demanding. Even though Christ promises life and live abundantly, I clung to that which I knew…even things that stole my peace, kept me up at night, and caused me guilt because I KNEW what to expect from these things. I did not know what to expect from God. I see this play out over and over again in new Christians. When given the opportunity, I am eager to explain that I absolutely lost the “me” I was before Christ. My ONLY regret is that I did not completely surrender to Christ sooner.

There are other circumstances where this plays out. These are just the situations I have witnessed in the past few days. In all these situations, my heart broke for women who do not see the value God places on their lives. In each situation, my heart broke for a woman who cannot see what God can do in her life. This is only one of the many ways that Satan uses something good against us.

God’s word says

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Stealing thougths from a friend....


I have to share my friend Kelly's post. The message is beautiful, tender, heartfelt and much needed.
So thankful for  her and others like her who are faithful to put the cries of their hearts in print.

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All this time, we’ve been praying for the wrong people

This is a prayer for the non-controversial, invisible Christian.     For you, the one who flies under the radar. Who doesn’t cry persecution, or rejoice when another self-professed Christian trounces someone with his religion. Who doesn’t jump to conclusions or resort to petty name-calling and judgment. Who reads the Bible as a life-giving source of sustenance and not as a weapon with which to bludgeon unbelievers.     Who doesn’t even use the word “unbeliever.”     Who prays, hopes, trusts, holds her tongue, and errs on the side of love. Always love.     This is for the one who accepts those who are not like her and doesn’t let the differences threaten her own beliefs. The one whose faith is not diminished when faced with opposition. The one whose faith is, in fact, strengthened by different perspectives. The one who is never reactive, combative, hateful, or exclusionary.     The one I want to be.This is for you.

Continue Reading....


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Kim Davis and the God Christians Follow

A Kentucky woman named Kim Davis has been arrested for refusing to issue marriage license to homosexual couples. It was only a matter of time before someone did this. I'm sure many others have wanted to take this stand, but were afraid to. I am totally in support of Kim Davis and her choice to stand by her beliefs. I believe that if anyone at any job is asked to do something that contradicts their belief system, they should find another job. 
 
That's human nature and common sense.
 
Kim Davis is wonderful and brave and I admire her for standing up for what she believes in. 
I do wish there was more talk of WHO she believes in. That is what will make her time in jail worthwhile.
 
As is usually the case in situations where Christians take a stand, much has been said about Kim Davis and little about the wonderful God she serves...a Lord and Savior who changes lives and has the power to forgive sin and offer eternal life in heaven.  
 
We have heard much about Kim Davis, but little about the God she loves enough to go to jail for. 
The God being depicted in the news is hateful and spiteful and uncaring but Christians do not follow an uncaring, hateful, spiteful God.We follow a LOVING God who sent His one and only son to die so that anyone who believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. We follow a LOVING God who delivered the Israelites time and time again despite their lack of gratitude, disobedience, and grumbling against Him. We follow a LOVING God who washed the feet of the man who would turn Him over to be crucified.  We follow a LOVING God who will heal and restore and give the promise of heaven to ANYONE who believes and follows Him...no matter their life story.
 
The God we love, follow, and serve is not hateful or mean. Our God is a LOVING Father who sets rules in place to protect His children from pain and from harm.... Just as I set rules in place for My children to protect them and keep them from harm.....Just as most all parents who love their children do. (And, most children rebel against those rules because they do not understand the reasons for them.) 

Kim Davis is wonderful and brave and I admire her for standing up for what she believes in. 

I just wish there was more talk of WHO she believes in. 

THAT is what will make her time in jail worthwhile.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Brandon Ms, How Great Thou Art

 
Last Friday, Brandon’s high school band was told by the court system they could not play their halftime show. The show that the have worked all summer to perfect includes the hymn “How Great Thou Art” and they were told that if they played it, they would be fined $10,000. So…they didn’t.
Brandon is our neighbor city and the Bulldogs are our greatest rivals, but we found absolutely no joy in the situation they found themselves in. At our game a few towns over, what was going on in Brandon was the topic of conversation. How sad and frustrating for the students who’d practiced so hard for so many months to no not be able to perform. Would the same verdict have been handed down if a Christian group complained about some other type of song? Will the Brandon band be forced to change their show for competitions or are they only forbidden to play at games? Are they only forbidden to play in Brandon…or in Rankin County School District? Can they play at away games?
Shortly after Halftime, we all started to get messages on FB and via text telling us what was going on in Brandon. If you haven’t heard or seen it on the news,  it is better that you see for yourself…

 
This is what happened at Half Time... Click the link




I am so proud of the way the fans chose to take their stand. I am so proud of the Bulldogs for the way they chose to make their voices heard. I don’t know how this will play out. I hope that the other Mississippi schools make a point to showcase the Brandon Band at their games, if it will not more negatively impact Brandon.
At this point, many are standing with the Bulldogs. On the way to work I saw several cars with “How Great Thou Art” painted on their back windshields and the thought that occurred to me as I sat in traffic was simply…
“Do you realize how great He truly is?”
I pray that the citizens of Brandon Mississippi and the students of the Rankin County School District will continue to stand in a manner that reflects the God and Savior they represent. I pray that the School Boards and legal systems will see that there are still professing believers in Jesus Christ and that, while we are not as outspoken and loud as the groups that oppose our Savior, we also have a voice. I pray that it is made abundantly clear that we believe that the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ and that the only alternative to belief in Christ is eternity in hell. I pray that it is made abundantly clear that our only objective is to share the message of Jesus Christ so that every person we meet has the opportunity to choose to follow Christ...or not to. We want to make sure that everyone has that choice, just as we have the choice to follow or not to follow Mohammad, Buddha, or any other god, profit, religion, or doctrine.

How like God to use a court order against Christians to spread His name and His message. How like God to use this to unite Christians and give them courage to take a stand? I hope and pray that this story will continue to  spread. I am interested to see how it all shakes out.
 
Until then, I am one of the...
 
 
 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

No Matter What Tomorrow Brings...

So, I go see Doc for my annual “let’s see if the cancer is back” check up tomorrow.
I made this appointment months ago and have fought everything in me not to cancel it several times each day over the past few weeks. I’ve often said that I should have let the Preacher make the appointment and then have him tell me the day of the appointment rather than have it hanging over my head for months. The anxiety is almost unbearable. .  If it goes well, I will celebrate 4 years cancer free on the 31st. If it doesn’t go well, I will be plummeting into the valley again.
 Logically, I know that everything is fine. I have no reason to think that Doc will give me anything but good news. The cancer shouldn’t come back. We caught it early. Attacked it and for 3 years I have been cancer free. Logic tells me that going to the see Doc doesn’t make me sick. Either I am or I am not. If I am, I need to be treated. If I am not, I can stop worrying. I know all this and tell myself this over and over every day. Problem is, my fears and feelings are not logical.
I am hoarse again. People…complete strangers… have been asking about my voice. My neck hurts and I feel…unwell. No matter the physical things I can notice or imagine to give me anxiety, there is one question that is near to sending me over the edge.
What if it’s back?
What if it is? What am I going to do if he says there is something he’d like to take a closer look at? What am I going to do if he gets that look on his face that reveals more about his concern than his words do? What am I going to do if it’s back? Whether I like it or not, it could be. Every time the thought “what if it is back” crosses my mind, my chest tightens, I get sick to my stomach, I have a hard time swallowing or breathing, my ears ring, my heart races, my head swims. Cancer is a vicious nasty monster and the treatments to keep it at bay are not much better. I do not want to face it again….but there is always a possibility that I might have to.
So today, before tomorrow, I need to decide how I will handle it if my visit with Doc does not go like I want it to. I am tired of just being anxious. It is time to address this and figure out how I really feel about it all.
I am standing on the edge of the cliff again. Before me lies a dark valley full of shadows and unknown dangers. Behind me is my normal happy cancer-free life. Tomorrow, one of two things will happen. Either I will turn from the valley, step away from the ledge, and return to my happy, normal, cancer-free life OR I will close my eyes and leap off that ledge into the darkness of the valley below, knowing that my Savior will be there waiting to catch me…just as He was before.
I suppose things are the same as they were the last time I stood here. I do not want to have cancer again. I do not want to revisit that valley. BUT if God entrusts me with this battle yet again, I will fight it. I know that He will not leave my side. I know that He will carry me when I am weak and weary. I know that He will put people in my path who need to see more of Him and who need to know Him. I know that all things will work together for good, because I love the Lord. He has a plan and a purpose and I trust that his plan is best.
I don’t know what else to say about this. I just wanted to record my thoughts today…before tomorrow…because I really am expecting Doc to give me the all clear and a high five and I will go home feeling like all is right in my world again. It’s so easy to say I trust God’s plan when it agrees with mine. I need to say today that I trust His plan no matter what it is. I will follow Him into the valley if that’s where my life will bring Him the most glory and I will serve Him cancer free if that is where my life will bring Him the most glory. Either way, when it is all said and done the only thing that will matter is that I serve the one who saved me...and I will do that no matter what tomorrow brings.
 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

In Between

Today Internet Café has allowed me to be a guest on their site. Please join me there!

 

cloudy-ocean copy copy

What do you do with God when you are not in some sort of battle or celebrating some victory? What do you do with God when the storm has passes and you are sailing on smooth waters?
 
Really, I want to know.
 
When we are in crisis, we rush to God. We seek answers. We long for His presence. We crave His comfort. We pray. We plead. We beg God Almighty to be near to us and hear our prayers.
 
When we are celebrating some spiritual victory, we tell everyone. We thank God publicly and privately. We praise Him for everything from sunrise to sunset. We easily see and acknowledge His hand in all that goes on around us moment by moment.
 
So then, what happens when there is no crisis, no pain, and no struggle? What do you do between battles and celebrations? I want to know. Continue Reading...



 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Share Christ

 
It has indeed become a time in which we seem to have no shortage of things, ideas, behaviors, and people to judge. As I have been reading God’s Word over the past few months, I have been convicted. Not for things I’ve done. Not for the life I lived before I knew Christ. I’ve been convicted over and over again for judging harshly, for hating the sin more than I love the sinner, for choosing the sins to take a stand against (and those I will ignore)… for ignoring the plank in my own eye while pointing out the speck in someone else’s.
I am so thankful for a loving Father who reminds me through His word that I am insanely unworthy of His grace.  I am thankful that He reminds me what it was like to be dead to Him and lost in sin. I am thankful that He reminds me that Satan lies, deceives, and manipulates. He strikes fear in the heart of people and causes them to make terrible, life altering, irreversible, unalterable, binding choices that carry unbearable consequences. He feeds insecurities and feelings of insignificance, despair, and unworthiness. He breeds hatred, mistrust, and unforgiveness. He offers choices that lead us deeper into despair, that build walls between us and those we love and that drive a wedge between us and God. I remember all too well what that was like and know all too well how very much I needed a Savior.
My heart aches for the woman who has had an abortion and for the drug addict and the alcoholic. My heart aches for the less masculine guy or less feminine girl who has been told that he or she is gay because they don’t fit our perception of what their gender “should” look and act like. My heart aches for the porn addict, glutton, adulterer, or homosexual. My heart aches for those who feel trapped and helpless to fight his or her demons. My heart aches because they have been lied to...  deceived by Satan into believing that they have no choice but to sin and no hope for redemption. My heart breaks for them because so much of the Christian voice is being used to speak out against their sin… offering much condemnation and very little hope.
Of course we as Christians should live out what we believe and speak against sin...but at what point did we become Pharisees? At what point did we become more concerned with whether people are obeying the rules, “acting right”, and “behaving properly” than we are with whether or not they know, love, and follow Jesus? At what point did we decide that it was more important to police the morals of the world than to share the love of Christ with them?

At what point did we forget that our battle is against Satan and not people?   

When we spend our time talking about how “bad” people are, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that Satan is having his way with them and they are very much in need of one thing… a Savior.
There are things that are wrong. There are things that we can never condone because they are in contradiction to the Word of God. There are things that we hate because they are of Satan and they do nothing more than destroy lives. We hate these things for what they do to people…but we cannot hate people nor can we hate sin more than we love the people who are trapped in it and in need of a Savior.
We are servants of the most High God and are called to share the message of Jesus Christ to those who do not know Him. We preach Christ crucified. We should speak and act in such a way that the world will listen.
 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Your Mission Field

Today was the first day of school for my PKs.
PK2 called after school to tell me about her day...it was "terrible". 
The mom in me wanted to fix it, but a sweet friend reminded me "God is sovereign". She suggested I explain to my sweet little one that God has a reason for her to be in the class she's in, sitting beside the people she's beside, under the teachers she has this year. This is a lot for a 10 year old to digest....but I know she will understand when her heart is ready. 
I know, because I see it in PK1. He's 16. He has been on the football team forever. He doesn't start. He gets promised to play much more often than he actually plays. It's a lot of time and effort to put in for seemingly no "reward". We asked him if he wanted to quit and he did not hesitate in his response...
"That's my mission field"
He believes that and takes it seriously and it shows. Several of his teammates come to church with us now & I would not be a bit surprised if the Preacher baptizes some, if not all, of them before they graduate. PK1 understands that he is where God has put him and he has a job to do...and it is a lot more important than catching a football.
PK2 watches her brother and sees how he lives. She is growing in her faith and her salvation and I have no doubt that God will lead her as firmly as He has led her brother. She is already learning to trust God and work the mission field in which He has placed her.
All this makes me stop and question my faithfulness to MY mission fields...at work, at home, at church, in the community. Am I working them? Am I looking for opportunities to let God use me...or do I get comfy in my day to day routine?
As we start this new school year, I am challenged to look at the mission filed God has placed ME in.
I challenge you to do the same.