Friday, February 16, 2018

Three Questions to Ask Each Day

It’s Friday. I hear the same thing again every week.

TGIF. Thank God it’s Friday.

We can’t wait for the weekend. The weekend is almost here, and I have two days off from work.

Let me ask this? What will we do with those two days? More important, what did we do with the last five? If our workdays are spent each week just getting by and living for the weekend, then we have wasted five days that we can never get back. That time is lost.

As I get older, I’m thinking more about the fact that I have more years behind me than ahead of me. I don’t want to waste a day (definitely not five of them).

What can we do during these five days each week that will make us glad to live for each day? Let’s start by asking three questions. 

? ? ?

1. Ask God a question each morning. Start each day in prayer asking God what He wants you to do this day. Then live for the day at hand anticipating God’s presence and direction.

2. Ask the first person you see (not family) how you can pray for them that day. Take time throughout the day to pray as God brings them to mind. The opportunity to be a part of someone else’s life is priceless.

3. Ask yourself a question too. What can I do today that will bring me a sense of accomplishment? When we focus on things that will fulfill our purpose, even if it is just a small step toward a larger goal, we impact the world around us.

Three questions. Ask God, ask others, ask yourself. If you want to live dangerously, you could even ask these questions on the weekend.

Don’t live each day waiting for a future moment. Live for today’s moment and see what God has in store. I’d love to hear your experiences this next week.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” 
(Psalm 118:24).

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Pig's Life

The story is told of a royal breakfast feast to be prepared for the King. Every person and animal was asked to contribute. Three stood out. A chef, a chicken, and a pig.

The chef came forward and offered his culinary genius in preparing food. He would give the talents which had been gifted to him and use them for the King who took care of the people and animals of the land. He would also gain the accolades and earn the respect of all in attendance.

The chicken came forward and offered a part of herself. She would selflessly dedicate her days to giving effort to lay the best eggs for the feast. This would be how she gave back to the King for the wonderful farm where he had placed her. After the feast she knew the profits of the farm where she lived would increase.

Then the pig came forward. He was also thankful for all the king had done and wanted to contribute to the royal breakfast.

The day of the feast came, and the chef prepared a meal unlike anyone had ever known. The king stood to give thanks and accolades to everyone that had been involved. The chef took center stage for giving of the talents he had. The chicken was then praised for her dedication to providing enough eggs.

Then the king turned his attention to the sausage and bacon that had been expertly prepared. He took special note to bring everyone’s attention to the fact that the pig was not there to acknowledge the appreciation for his contribution. The pig had not just given his talents or his best. The pig had given his all. He gave his life to the king.

While it’s only a story, it reminds me of our lives as Christians in the Kingdom of God. We are quick to note how we use our gifts for God’s glory. We volunteer at church. We teach, we greet, we pray. We are also quick to note how we give our money, our time, and our possessions. Both are a correct response to our King.

Yet all of it means nothing if not done with the correct heart. God wants our whole heart, everything we are. Not that we die in service, but that we die to self. We give up our lives and our plans for the life He wants for us and His plans.  

Are you a chef, a chicken, or a pig? Never thought I’d say it, but I want to be a pig. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Don't See Me

Don’t See Me!

My son used to say this when he was little. He was shy and didn’t like to have attention drawn to him. His first season of soccer, he refused to walk up and get his trophy, he wouldn’t take an individual photo because everyone would be looking at him, and he had a huge scowl on his face for the group picture. It’s as if in some way his pouting would make him less visible in the picture.

I carry some of those same feelings. While I may want to be recognized for an accomplishment, I am very uncomfortable with attention drawn to me in a group setting. I don’t like the spotlight. It’s another way of saying, “Don’t see me.” Notice my accomplishments, but don’t put me on display.

There are differing ways we say don’t see me.

Don’t see me because I am shy. I am uncomfortable in the spotlight.

Don’t see me doing what I know is wrong, or at best – not best. If no one sees me eat this candy bar, then it doesn’t count. We are hiding from what others think and hiding from our own acknowledgement of what is true.

Don’t see me in church and ask me to volunteer. If I don’t make eye contact, they will see someone else.

Don’t see me when I don’t want to be called on in class. If I don’t make eye contact with the teacher, she won’t notice me and won’t call on me to answer a question I might get wrong in front of others. 

If we can run from it or ignore it, we can pretend it doesn’t exist. But others do see us.

Don’t see me, God. Don’t notice when I do things my way. Don’t notice when I ignore Your promptings. If I don’t look at God, maybe He won’t look at me. 

But that’s the whole problem, isn’t it? When I don’t look at God, it’s then I am most likely to tell Him, don’t see me.

Don’t see me, don’t see me, don’t see me.

Lord, search my heart. Wash me, and make me clean, so I no longer want to say, “Don’t see me.” 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Where Do I Go from Here?

I remember playing follow the leader as a child. One child was the leader. The next person in line had to do what they did and then on down the line.

As adults we still play follow the leader. We have mentors, those we admire and aspire to be like. If we truly want to be like them, we follow what they do. Sometimes we follow the wrong leaders resulting in the wrong actions. So who do we follow, or do we follow at all?

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus said, “Follow Me.” Each time, He had a specific purpose in mind.

There are two Greek words used in the gospels when Jesus says, “Follow Me” (or sometimes translated “Come”). One is used in the sense of urgency, such as follow now or come now. The other is used for inviting someone to follow as a disciple, much like we think of following a leader and imitating their actions.

The first is used with a sense of urgency in three ways. 

1.      A new purpose
Matthew 4:19 - Then He said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Jesus set forth a new purpose for these men. They would no longer be fishermen to satisfy the physical, but they would follow Him and become fishermen to satisfy the soul. 

2.       Rest
Matthew 11:28 - Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Mark 6:31 - And He said unto them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
Jesus knew the need for rest, and sometimes that rest is an immediate need. It’s okay to need rest. 

3 – Refresh and restore
John 21:12 - Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.”
Following this meal Jesus reaffirmed His purpose for Peter three times just as Peter had denied Him three times. He was refreshed with a meal and restored to ministry. When we stop and refresh by spending time with Jesus, we walk away reaffirmed and ready to move forward.

The second is also used in three ways. 

1.      Leave others
Matthew 9:9 - As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose, and followed Him.
John 1:43 - The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”
In the gospels, the disciples were called to leave behind their former lives and follow Him. We may not be asked to leave our homes and family, but we are asked to leave behind what hinders us in our walk with Him. 

2 – Leave self
Matthew 16:24 - Then said Jesus to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
Mark 10:21 - Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
Jesus loves us. Because of His love, He does ask us to leave self behind. Our desires are replaced with His desires as we follow Him. 

3 – Follow His voice where He leads you
John 10:27 - My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
John 21:22 – Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”
When we spend time with Jesus in prayer and in scripture, we come to know His voice. Where He leads us might not necessarily be where He leads someone else.

Jesus still says, “Follow Me.” He still has a specific purpose in mind for each of us. Come now to learn your purpose, find rest, and refresh. 

Follow Jesus. Leave the world and selfishness behind. Follow His voice, and His specific purpose for your life. 

The call is to follow Jesus and discover His purpose. Fill your spiritual jewelry box with the treasures that await as you follow Jesus. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Tribute to My Mom

This will be the third Mother’s Day without my mom, but I am thankful for the 32,420 days she lived and the influence she had on my life. 

She met my dad on a blind date when he was stationed in California while in the Navy during WWII. My oldest sister, Carolyn, was born there while my dad was overseas. After the war, they moved back to my dad’s home in Arkansas where my two middle sisters, Tricia and Eileen, were born. 

My dad worked for Sears for 30 years which brought them to Texas, where I was born. After 4 girls, they gave up on a boy and named me after my dad, Don. My sisters tell me my mom wanted to name me Donnie Sue. Thankfully they convinced her otherwise, and she settled on Donna Jean. 

I am thankful for the Christian home that my mom and my dad provided for all of us. 

I am thankful that when I accepted Christ as my Savior at a young age, she took me to meet with our pastor to be sure I understood, so that today I can stand on that rock of assurance. 

I am thankful for the memory of my mom reading her Bible every night before she went to sleep. 

I am thankful for my mom’s gift of service and hospitality. From inviting church visitors to our home for Sunday lunch to caring for the elderly in her church when some might have said she was elderly herself, she served. I am thankful for the example she set in providing for the needs of others. 

I am thankful that after 88 years, my mom was still a sweet, innocent woman with a childlike faith, despite the world we live in. If you think living in this world makes it impossible to retain a sweet innocence and love, then you never met my mom. While there were times I believed she needed to see the world more for what it was, the truth is -- I probably need more of her sweet innocence, outlook, and childlike faith in my life. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t also let you know there was a certain stubborn streak that she had that she passed on to each of her daughters (as I’m sure each of our husbands can attest). While some may consider stubbornness a weakness, it is a great strength when directed toward our faith and stand for Jesus Christ as evident in my mom’s life. 

I am thankful today for the picture I have of her in my mind. I picture her with an intense look of concentration on her face as she plays her violin in heaven.  Then I see a smile spread across her face as the angels sing along. 

I am thankful for my mom. I am thankful for the assurance that I will see my mom again. 

Psalm 31:24 says, “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” My hope is in the Lord, and a great deal of the credit for that is my mom. 

Thank you, God, for giving me my mom. 

Thank you mom for being my mom. I love you and miss you. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Fake News

We hear a lot about fake news today. Stories that are made to shock and grab your attention, but not necessarily true. It’s nothing new really. Fake news surrounds us every day, and we don’t even know it. We are absorbed into a culture of fake news passed as reality. So how do we know the difference?

Some say there are many ways to happiness. Some say there is one way, but the roads are varied. Some say there is only one way, but depending on who you ask, the answer will vary as to which one way that is. So how do we know the difference?

Fake news says you can have it your way. Do you really think this is truth?
Fake news says you just need to try harder. How is that working out for you so far?
Fake news says success is a big house, nice car, and expensive toys. Do you really think that’s the answer?


What is truth?

Truth is good news. Good news is the gospel truth.

Truth says you are a sinner. You know it’s true.
Truth says there is a price for sin. You know anything else is fake news.
Truth says you must pay the price. From experience, you know this must be true.

Good news says God loves you. He really does.
Good news says Jesus died to pay the price for you. He really did.
Good news says Jesus rose again for you. He lives today for you and for me.

The truth of the good news is that you can be set free.

How do you know the truth?

Jesus said three things. Abide in His word, then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:31-32,34,36)

Fake news or good news? You have a choice as to which one you believe.

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Struggle is Real

So my word for this year is discipline. I struggle with discipline in some areas. I love to be in control, but I’m not always in control of myself.

One struggle I have is eating right. I ate bad yesterday and had a piece of candy that I was going to eat this morning in the car. Yes, it was chocolate. “God, what do I do? Why is this such a struggle for me?”

I had two impressions right away. One, you need to obey me in small things first. Two, I love you just as you are even if you eat the candy. So which one was from God. Both? I know they are both true.

I could immediately remember reading books where the authors told of times when God impressed on them that they were loved regardless. I could also remember books where the authors told of times when God said they had to take this first step in order for Him to show them the next one.

So, God, what are you really saying to me?

Okay, here it is – totally not what I was expecting or even asking.

God: You read too much sometimes.
Me: What? What does this have to do with anything?
God: Shouldn’t you be immediately remembering what my Word says instead of what some author says?
Me: Conviction.

How many times at a Bible study is my memory triggered by something I read, and I share something I recently read about what someone else said about this situation that really impressed me. Shouldn’t my memory be triggered by something I recently read in scripture and what God says about this situation.

Yes, I am writing, and I want others to read my books; but first and foremost, we all need to be reading God’s book. If you are reading this and have not yet read from God’s book today, stop here and go read it now. NOW!

Pick a book of the Bible and read it as if you have never heard it or read it before. Imagine it is a book off of your book shelf, and read it with no preconceptions of what anyone else has ever said. Ask God to help you do this. Enjoy the read. Don’t try to analyze it. Just read for pleasure, and see what God reveals to you.

My takeaway is to spend as much time or more reading God’s book than books other people write about it.  

Your thoughts?