Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas #6 - The Reaction


Luke 2:19-20  But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.  
            Two different reactions. Mary pondered everything that had happened in her heart. I remember people telling me to cherish each moment when my children were young because the time would pass quickly. I still remember rocking my baby daughter one night just cherishing the moment that would all too soon be gone. I wonder how Mary felt holding baby Jesus and cherishing the time she had with Him while knowing He had come into the world as a Savior for all.
Mary pondered in her heart. The shepherds glorified and praised God. One was internal and the other external. Both are great responses. We need both quiet time with God pondering His words and His gift to us AND we need the expression of praise.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas #5 - The Message


Luke 2:15-18 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
When I read this passage, I think of the song that says go tell it on the mountain, over the hills, and everywhere that Jesus Christ is born. The shepherds came with haste to see Jesus. After their encounter with Him, they made it widely known.
Jesus’ birth is no less miraculous today than it was over 2,000 years ago. When we share the message of His birth and what that means for us, others still marvel at its impact.
Make it widely known. Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills, and everywhere including in your home, in your office, and in your neighborhood. Jesus Christ is born. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas #4 -- The Angels

Luke 2:13-14 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
We see nativity scenes with two or three angels, but scripture says there was a multitude of heavenly host praising God. I can only imagine the sky as it burst at the seams full of angelic chorus praising God. It was surely a sight of what is to come in heaven.
This makes me wonder if others saw or heard what the shepherds were seeing and hearing. Or was it perhaps such a bright reflection of God’s glory that others only saw light without realizing what they were seeing. Could this be what caught the attention of the magi when they first noticed the star in the east?
May our lives reflect a similar light that gives praise and honor to God sharing peace and goodwill to all men.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas #3 - The Shepherds

Luke 2:8-12 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
            When the angel of the Lord appeared, the glory of the Lord  surrounded the shepherds. They were afraid, but the angel brought good tidings which changed their fear to joy. The angel said the joy was for all people, and the source of the joy was the baby Jesus.
Not only did the angel tell the shepherds about Jesus, the angel told them how to find Jesus. Our mission is to tell people the story of Jesus so that their fears can be turned to joy. We can share the story and then also tell people how to find Jesus for themselves.
Jesus came to give us life more than abundant. He modeled the perfect life, He paid the perfect price for our sins, and He gives us perfect joy through His resurrection.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas #2 -- No Room


Luke 2:6-7 “So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
There are so many significances here. Jesus was born into a common family without any fanfare from those deemed significant at the time. Yet Jesus’ birth was miraculous. He was born of a virgin, and his life has an eternal significance for every person that will ever live.
The days were completed for Jesus to be born into the world. The days are now completed for us to have a second birth. We were born once physically into a common earthly family, but we can now be born again into the most significant family – the family of God.
There was no room for Jesus that night, and still today many have no room for Him. It is my prayer that we will find there is no room for anything else in life without Him.

 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas #1 - The Place


Luke 2:1-5 “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.” 
It’s amazing how God works everything out. Prophecy told that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem, but Joseph and Mary didn’t live in Bethlehem. Yet God orchestrated the fulfillment of prophecy. It may not have been a fun trip, but it was according to scripture.
We may not see how God can work something out in our lives; but with God, nothing is impossible. He can work a miracle or coordinate events beyond our wildest imagination. 
Everything in our lives is a miracle waiting to happen.
I love the simple word, “Believe”. Many associate it at this time of year with Santa Claus. I associate it at this time of year and all year long with Jesus and the possibility of miracles. What do you “Believe”? Trust God to orchestrate your next miracle.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Regifting - Try It, You'll Love It

Okay, we’ve all done it at some point in our lives. I know I have, even though I can’t recall the specific incident right now. You receive a gift that is nice, but it’s just not you. It’s too nice to just give away, and you feel guilty returning it to a store.
Soooooooo, you keep it.  After some time passes, you realize it’s too nice to keep in your closet, so you wait for the opportunity to pass it to another home. This is a great idea; unless at some point, the original gift somehow makes it back to the original giver of the gift. “So, Donna, didn’t I give you one just like this last year? Were you able to use it? Where did you put it in your house?” Oops.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could take those gifts that we really love and regift them yet keep them at the same time? Instead of giving what doesn’t really work for us, we could share the gifts most important to us while also holding on to them.  Doesn’t make much sense, does it? But we can.
The best gift I have ever received is God’s love. I can regift His love to others while never losing it myself. This Christmas season, try regifting the best gift you have ever received.  Regift God’s love, grace, and mercy to others.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Many Mountains


We all face mountains in our lives. There are mountains we have to climb, mountains we have to go around, and mountains that we must tunnel through. Sometimes we face mountains that we can command to move. Every one of us is heading up, heading down, walking around, or tunneling through. Some have the faith to move them.
There were many mountains in Scripture. Noah floated over the mountains in a boat. Moses received the 10 commandments on a mountain. The Israelites worshipped at the mountain. David slew Goliath in a valley between two mountains. Jesus was tempted on a mountain and defeated Satan. Jesus prayed on a mountain.
Sometimes we view mountains as obstacles, but it’s after we have climbed the mountain that we usually say we have had that mountain top experience.
Remember that whatever mountain you face in your life, every mountain is a place to meet with God.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Burnout


Recently I’ve heard a lot about burnout and ministry fatigue. For some reason this reminded me of the analogy of a glass half full or half empty. I tend toward a positive outlook on most things, so I always think I see the glass as half full. But I’ve realized there is another way to view the glass.
Our lives can be at the halfway point and be either on the way up or on the way down. Both can be positive. Our lives are half full when God is filling us up. We are half empty when we have been pouring out into others. There are times for filling and times for pouring out.
If your glass is half empty and decreasing, you may have been pouring out more than filling up. It may be time to get away and let God begin to fill you again. Burnout or ministry fatigue occurs at this point. The only answer for burnout is to spend more time with God for filling than we do pouring.
Another side of this equation is when we become too full to receive more. If you don’t feel like you are receiving more from God, then it is probably time to pour into others.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Make a List Monday for 10-21-13


Do you remember the song Count Your Blessings?
"When upon life’s billow’s you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done."
Today for Make a List Monday, we are counting our blessings. Make a list of every blessing you encounter today, then share your list with others. Ask them how they have been blessed.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Inactive Ingredients

What is the purpose of inactive ingredients? The FDA description of an inactive ingredient is any component of a drug product other than the active ingredient. Well, that’s helpful. I found two other descriptions: 1) inactive ingredients are substances that are not intended to treat symptoms of a health condition including colors, flavors, preservatives, and materials that bind a pill together; and 2) inactive ingredients are used to take the active ingredient to a site in the body where it will be most effective.
       This last definition gives more purpose. Inactive ingredients can be used to control how, where, and when certain medicines are released in the body to achieve maximum benefit. So while they are considered inactive, they are still active. Others are only used for flavoring and color, but sometimes these inactive ingredients are more dangerous than the active. 
       I am allergic to a red dye called carmine. I can’t take certain medications because they are colored with this inactive ingredient. It’s not an allergy to the active, but the inactive. If I take a medication containing carmine, I have an anaphylactic reaction. Most pharmacies and doctors are concerned with drug allergies, but they don’t focus on the inactive ingredient allergies. I have to be aware and take on this responsibility for myself.
       We all have inactive ingredients in our lives. Some are useful and some are only for show. The active ingredient in our life is Jesus Christ. He is manifested in our lives by the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. This active ingredient brings healing to a world sick with sin. The inactive ingredients would be gifts that we develop to carry this message of faith.
       We are also each unique with our own set of other inactive ingredients. I see a tendency to become more concerned with the inactive, which causes us to hinder the working of the active.
       Are you overly concerned with the inactive ingredients in the family of God? Maybe it’s time to read our labels and determine which inactive ingredients are just for show and which ones actually carry the message of Christ where it needs to go. Maybe it’s time to be aware and take on the responsibility for our own inactive ingredients and not those of others.
       Which inactive ingredients in your life help spread the gospel, and which ones hinder it?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

It's Not About the Nail

                You may have seen the recent YouTube video entitled It’s Not About the Nail. I love this clip. It illustrates one of many relational differences between most men and women. Men want to fix things. Women want to share about things. It’s not always about the problem. Sometimes it’s just about how the problem makes us feel. We don’t necessarily want the problem fixed, at least not yet -- not until we are through sharing how it affects us.
                I wonder if, as women, we are sometimes like this with God. He has the solutions to our problems, but sometimes we just want to talk about the problem. And you know what? With God, that is okay. Not only does He want to fix our problem, He also wants to hear how we feel and share in our pains and frustrations. He wants to fix the problem, but He also wants to heal our hearts and minds.
                As humans, we also have a sin problem. There is an answer to our problem. Many people want to debate it, discuss it, add to it, take away from it, share it, refute it, etc. When all is said and done, our sin problem is still there. The answer is the cross. Jesus died on the cross as the final sacrifice for our sin. He rose again bringing us salvation.
                So, it might not be about the nail, but it is about the cross.

  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Make a List Monday

It’s Monday again. Time to make a list. Today we are making a list of the most influential people in our lives. Think back as far as you can remember and make a list of those that influenced you the most.
                You might even want to send them a thank you note, text, email, or post thanking them for their influence in your life. Suggestions are your parents, siblings, pastor, teachers, coaches, friends, employers, and even your children. Who else has made a difference in your life?
                My mom passed away last Monday, and this reminded me of the influence she had in my life. The hope that I have in Christ, my relationship with Him, and my knowledge of God’s Word are all in part due to my mom.
                Time to make your list. Above all else, pray for those on your list today.
                “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy” (Philippians 1:3-4).

Thursday, October 3, 2013

In Memory of My Mom

This is an excerpt from what I wrote for my mom’s memorial service today.
                Today, I am thankful. I am thankful for my mother’s life.  I am thankful for her 32,420 days.
                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.
                My mom would ask each of her doctors if they were a Christian. My sister told us about mom’s first visit to a new cardiologist. She asked him if he was a Christian, and he told her, no, he was Jewish. Her comment was, “Oh, you’re still waiting.”
                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 to be 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.”  Our hope today as a family is in the Lord, and a great deal of the credit for that is our mom.
                Thank you, God, for giving me my mom.
                Thank you, mom, for being my mom.
                I love you.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Drive Thru Experience

                You are sitting in a drive thru line. The car in front of you pulls up, but not quite far enough for your window to reach the speaker. The attendant inside is asking, “May I take your order?” But they can’t hear you because you are too far away. So you yell your order. Then everyone outside is looking at you. Everyone in the parking lot and surrounding cars knows your order except for the person trying to take your order. Why can’t the car in front of you just pull up a little more? Don’t they see you behind them? Does anyone else get annoyed by this? It’s like every car in the drive thru lane leaves a full car’s length between them. Just pull up already.
                The same thing happens at a red light where you are left blocking an intersection. If the cars in front of you would just pull up 6 inches each, you wouldn’t be blocking the person that is staring at you from the cross street waiting for you to get out of their way. Just pull up already.
                You might be thinking I lack patience, but the real issue is control. I know how far each car should pull up and how they should merge and how they should park. My way is best. If you don’t believe me, ask my husband.
                So I’m driving through my Bible study and God says, “Stop”. This is one area I relinquish control. I stop. I’m in the middle of a Bible study about my weakness and God’s strength, and He keeps bringing me back to control. Mine, not His. However, it should be His, not mine. Wait a minute. I was hoping to learn how to have God’s strength in place of my weakness.
                So I stop and listen. Perhaps control is my weakness. Along with the many benefits being in control can have, God says it is also my weakness. I love to plan and organize and problem solve. Those things are great--unless I plan and organize and problem solve God right out of the picture. He wants to be my planner, my organizer, and my problem solver.
                What is your pet peeve? Is it the drive thru line, the traffic circle merge, the empty coffee pot, or the toilet paper rolled the wrong way? What can God teach you through your day to day routines? Give Him control.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Make a List Monday

                Make a list of everything you can think of that you need to do today, this week, this month, and this year. Put it all on paper or on computer. You don’t have to do it all now, but this frees you up to concentrate on the task at hand. You won’t get distracted by what you may have forgotten. It’s all written down in one place.
                Once you have dumped all your worries and tasks onto paper, give them to God. I’m not going to tell you to now go burn the paper you wrote them on. Instead, keep that list where you can review it each day or week so you can do what is necessary at that time. If you have a few spare minutes one day, review the list for something to do.
                Ask God to guide you in prioritizing what needs to be done when, and feel free to add to the list as you think of something else. Release the worry, and be more productive. You might even find you can carve out more time alone with God.
                Maybe that should be first on the list. Time with God every morning. Make a list.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

And the winner is . . .

When I grew up it was all about winners. It was ingrained in us since we were children. From the beauty pageants on TV to down the street football games, there was always a winner. Somebody won and somebody lost.
Then somewhere along the line, everyone became a winner. Everyone got a trophy. We didn’t want anyone to feel left out, so we made sure everyone at least felt like a winner. While there are upsides and downsides to this, I believe it has partially evolved into why we are now taught tolerance and apathy.
I don’t believe in tolerance and apathy when it contradicts God’s Word, but I do believe in love. If you love someone, you don’t tolerate their wrongdoing. You are not apathetic to sin. When you love someone, you want the best for them. You want them to win. You don’t judge, but you do correct and encourage. Somehow we have lost this understanding. We are called to speak the truth – in love – whether or not it’s popular. We don’t condemn, but we do stand for truth.
The truth is, someday we will all be a winner or a loser. There is no middle ground. We will either be first or last. No runners up and no number 2 or 3 or top 10 out of 100. We are either in or out.
As Joshua said over three thousand years ago, Choose – make a choice. Whom will you serve? The gods of this world or the one and only true God of the Bible?
            As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. We choose the crown of life and eternity with Christ. This choice is a blessing now, because our eternity with Christ starts today in this world.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Make a List Monday

I am a list maker. I usually have a master to-do list, a daily to-do list, and the beginnings of a grocery list. For a control freak like me, lists are crucial. I’m not the only one. Everywhere you look, you see lists. They are in magazines, in books, in blog posts, on Facebook, and in seminars.
3 Uses for Anything
4 Myths of Skin Care
5 Secrets of Successful Women
7 Best Recipes for Chocolate
8 Keys to a Great Marriage
10 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Behavior
50 Ways to use Chicken in Leftovers
You name it, and someone has researched it or is giving you their opinion on a list for something. You are probably intrigued by at least one of the lists noted above and want to read it. Isn’t it about time we made our own lists? You know you want to. Don’t wait for someone else to make it for you. Make your list now.
Mondays on my blog will now be “Make a List Monday”. Each Monday I will give you a subject and some ideas to get you started. Today will be easy.
List 5 of your favorite Bible verses.
It’s hard to rank one as a favorite over another, but one of mine is 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV): But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Your turn.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Feel free to share your list each week. We can all learn from each other as we walk this road together.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Moment of Silence

                Perhaps instead of a moment of silence, we should have a day of prayer. Start your prayer during that moment of silence that others around you might be observing and then continue throughout your day in a conversation with God on behalf of our country.
                Set aside your normal prayer requests and desires for one day and pray only for our country and how God would have healing start with you individually.
It Is Time to Pray, It Has Been Time to Pray, It Will Continue to Be Time to Pray
From 2 Chronicles 7:14, 19, 22
“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
“But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods, and worship them, then I will uproot them from My land which I have given them.”
“Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers . . . and embraced other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore He has brought all this calamity on them.”
                Take time to read the entire chapter of 2 Chronicles. God is speaking to His people in the Old Testament. God is also speaking to His people today. He isn’t speaking to those that don’t know Him and those that openly reject Him. He is speaking to those who claim to be His people.
                What is He saying? Humble yourself, pray, seek His face, and turn from any wicked ways. I could preach, but I won’t.
It Is Time to Pray, It Has Been Time to Pray, It Will Continue to Be Time to Pray

Monday, September 2, 2013

The ABC's of My God

Psalm 63:1, “O God, You are my God.” The ABC’s of my God. He is my:
Authority
Benefactor
Confidence
Deliverer
Expectation
Forgiveness
Guide
Help
Instructor
Joy
King
Light
Might
Necessity
Oasis
Protector
Qualification
Rock
Strength
Trust
Uplifter
Vindicator
Wisdom
eXample
Yearning
Zeal
And He is so much more!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Do You Measure Up?


 
                What has God saved you from? What if you were saved before you needed saving? Don’t get me wrong, we are all sinners and need a Savior. But do you ever feel like once you are a Christian, you can’t let anyone know you might still make mistakes? Especially, big ones? 
                I got “saved” at age 6. I asked Christ into my life to be my Lord and Savior. So how is it that once I grew up, I made some bad choices? How is it that there were times I did things my way? Why haven’t I always listened to God’s voice? Even though I was saved, there have been times I needed saving.
                If you are a Christian and have made mistakes, you are not alone. We all have problems in our lives and have all made poor decisions. I used to look at other people’s lives and think I was the only one. But I’m not, and you aren’t either. We don’t need to compare ourselves to others. We don’t have to measure up, because none of us would.
                The only measure that counts is that of God’s, and Jesus Christ paid the price for each of us to measure up through His perfect life by paying the price for our poor choices, our sins. Even after we have been saved, we can’t measure up on our own. We have to rely on Him. 
                I John 1:9 is written to Christians. It tells us to confess our sins, and He will forgive us. Each day is a new day. You can begin again. Where are you in your walk with Christ? It’s never too late to get back on the path of righteousness. Take His hand and step out in faith. Measure up by walking with Him.
                Let me know how I can pray for you.     

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Living for Tomorrow


I am a planner. I am always planning for the next trip or the next event. I have a list prepared for what to do tonight, what to do this weekend, when to pay which bill, etc. I look forward to when the next task is accomplished and then look forward to what I can plan next. I love calendars and lists and spreadsheets.
Some people are much more laid back. They are happy-go lucky and are just waiting for 5:00 each day or for the weekend. They look forward to the next slot of free time to relax and be carefree. They look forward to a time without responsibility, or they long for retirement.
It’s great to plan, to look forward to your next accomplishment, and to have free time to relax. Weekends are a great time to recover from a week of responsibilities. HOWEVER (you knew it was coming), what about today? In all of our living for tomorrow or next week or next month or next year, we can forget about today. When we forget about today, we LOSE today.  
Do you remember wishing you were in high school? Do you remember waiting for the day you could drive? Can you remember a time when you couldn’t wait for your child to stand up alone or walk? Was there a time you couldn’t wait for them to drive themselves to activities? What about the teenage years when you couldn’t wait for them to graduate? What about looking forward to college graduation and that pay raise you get when your children find a job and start supporting themselves?
In all of our longing for the next steps, did we remember to enjoy holding those babies before they were scrambling to get out of our arms and walk on their own? Did we enjoy watching our children dance, play sports, play in the band, work on a science project, or just eat pizza at a slumber party in our living room? Did we enjoy the conversations in the car when we were the taxi driver?
Don’t just live for tomorrow. Live for today. Time goes by too fast. Don’t miss it. Tomorrow it is guaranteed that the sun will rise, but you are only guaranteed this moment. Don’t let it pass you by.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Who Are You?


I have had many identities in my life. I have been one of the Wilson girls (the youngest), an employee of whatever company I worked for, Katie’s mom, Jimmy’s mom, divorced, a single mom, David’s wife, and many more. These titles and the circumstances surrounding them do not dictate who I am or what I can achieve? I am not defined by the circumstances of life.
                Scripture tells us that Gideon’s family was the weakest in Manasseh and Gideon was the least in his father’s house, yet God called him a mighty man of valor. Saul was handsome and taller than anyone else, but he was also from the tribe of Benjamin, the least of the tribes of Israel. His family was the humblest of all of their tribe. Yet God called him to be the first king if the Israelites.
When Samuel was sent to anoint David as king, God told him not to look on the appearance or the height of his stature. What a contrast David must have been to that of Saul’s appearance. When Samuel came to see Jesse and his sons, they didn’t even introduce him to David. He was just the younger brother out keeping the sheep. Yet David was anointed king and later called a man after God’s own heart.
                God has a plan for each of us. Our circumstances and the labels assigned to us by this world make no difference in His plan. We can be from a family of poverty or wealth. We can be short or tall, plain or beautiful, unknown or well known. It doesn’t matter. What matters is who we are in Christ and our obedience to the purpose and call God has on our lives.
                Who are you? Who am I? As the song says, “I’m a child of the one true King.”

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Back to School

It’s time to go back to school. It’s time to buy those school supplies and get organized. Every child needs new pencils, pens, notebooks, glue sticks, a backpack, a lunch box, and clothes. What about you? My kids are grown and out of school, but I find myself missing some of the back to school organization and new supplies.
I have an answer for this. Let’s go back to school ourselves by going back to the basics. Make a list. What do you need? What about new pencils, fancy pens, highlighters, bookmarks, stickers, sticky notes, notepads, notecards, journals, carryall, coffee cup, devotional, and maybe even a new Bible? While you’re at it, pick up a new necklace and a T-shirt. Make your list, gather your supplies, and find a place to call your own.
Short on cash after purchasing everything for your children? Look around your house for some type of container to carry supplies. Find a pen, make a pretty bookmark out of last year’s school supplies, recycle what your kids don’t use, pull out a coffee mug from the back of the cabinet that you haven’t used in years, grab a devotional book from your church resources, and open the Bible you already have.
If you need accountability, call a friend and challenge them to do this with you. Or you could purchase poster board, stickers, and glitter and make a chart just like you do for your children. Whatever works.
Most important! Set a time to call your own. You won’t find the time. You have to set it. Make an appointment with yourself and a commitment to God. Put on your new T-shirt, make a cup of coffee for your new mug, organize your supplies, open your Bible, and GO!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Our Spiritual 5K

                My daughter has decided she wants to run a 5K, so she started the Couch to 5K Running Plan. This plan transforms you in nine weeks from sitting on the couch to running a 5K. It starts with walking and then slowly alternates walking and jogging until you build up to running 3 miles. My daughter downloaded an app on her phone that tells her when to walk and when to start running.
                The other day her little boy wanted to go with her, so she fastened him in the stroller and set off. When the app told her to start running, he said, “Get with it, mom.” He knew what she was supposed to do, but he had the luxury of riding along and letting her do all the work.
                What about a spiritual development plan to get in shape spiritually; a plan where we stop riding along and start doing some of the work. What would that look like for you?
                Based on the philosophy of the Couch to 5K Running Plan, here is my recommendation for a Snooze to Blessing spiritual workout. Instead of hitting the snooze button, you are transformed with blessings. This is a 7 week program.
Every day:
Start your day with 5 minutes in prayer.
Praise God – It’s all about Him.
Express thanks – What has He done for you?
Acknowledge God – Get right with God, confess sin, restore your relationship, ask for an attitude check-up.
Release – Give God your burdens. Do you have needs and a heavy heart? Give it all to Him.
Listen – Get quiet and spend time listening for God’s voice. Ask Him to speak to you through His Word.
Three times a week:
Start your day with 5 minutes in prayer as above.
Read eight verses in Psalm 119.
                Read two chapters in the book of John.
                Journal notes on anything that speaks to you personally.
                End with 5 minutes in prayer as above.
                If you decide to try this plan, please let me know how it goes. Don’t get discouraged. If you miss a day, jump right back in where you left off.
“But to You I have cried out, O LORD, And in the morning my prayer comes before You” (Psalm 88:13).
“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (Mark 1:35).

Friday, August 2, 2013

Hopeless


This morning I read the following in Jeremiah 18:11-12. “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.”’” And they said, “That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.”
My first thought was how could they blatantly decide to reject God and follow their own ways? They were intentionally walking away from God. But then as I read further and also read in other passages, God opened my eyes. This is us. In this passage, they felt it was “hopeless”. How many times do we feel like a situation is “hopeless”? Things are so bad that not even God can fix them. And even if He can, why would He? We must take matters into our hands and figure it out and solve the problem ourselves. After all, it is “hopeless” unless we do it ourselves and follow our own hearts.
This reminded me again what I have heard so many times before: Let go, and let God. We aren’t that different today than the disobedient Israelites in the Old Testament.
Do you have a “hopeless” situation? Take that step of faith, and let God handle it. Sometimes He is just waiting for us to get out of the way.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Routines

What’s your morning routine? Here is mine for weekdays.
First alarm goes off. Turn it off. Second alarm goes off. Hit snooze.
Husband says goodbye and leaves for work.
Second alarm goes off again. Hit snooze.
Second alarm goes off again. Turn it off, and get up.
Weigh, Shower, Brush Teeth, and put on moisturizer.
Time with God: Read Bible, Journal, Pray.
Towel dry and comb out hair, Put in contacts, Put on makeup, Dry hair.
Finish makeup, Flat iron hair, Get dressed for work, Deodorant and Perfume, Jewelry.
Pack snacks or lunch for work. Daily Facebook posting. Put on shoes, Leave for work.
Adjustments I need to make: Less alarm snoozes, add exercise, more time with God!
                Routines are predictable. Sometimes it’s good to be predictable, but sometimes we need to shake things up so we don’t become stagnant or too predictable. The habits I have developed for getting ready in the morning are good habits because I do things in the most efficient manner in order to maximize my time. But I don’t want my time with God to become efficient. I want it to be effective. I want it to be life changing.
                What do you need to add or remove from your morning routine? What ideas do you have for making time with God effective and life changing rather than efficient and routine?
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35 ESV).

Monday, July 22, 2013

Loving God


What does it mean to love God? I recently completed a discipleship course at our church. One of our assignments was to tell God we loved Him three times per day. It was strange when I realized I don’t normally tell God that I love Him. I wondered why. Of course, I love God, so why was this not a normal practice?
I thought about the discussions on love that my husband and I had before getting married. We talked about how the infatuation of new love wears off (of course, it hasn’t yet after 11 years of marriage). We talked about how we believed that loving someone is a choice.
I choose to love my husband. On the days when things don’t go right and he might do something that irritates me (although this has never happened), I still love him. If he stopped loving me and no longer showed love for me, I would have a choice to make. Do I love my husband because of what he does for me and how he treats me? Or do I love my husband because I have made a choice and a commitment to love him?
Scripture says, “We love Him because He first loved us.” This doesn’t mean we love God because He is good or shows us love, but it means that God has made it possible for us to love at all because of His love for us.
When we fall in love, all we think about is the one we are in love with. When my husband and I were dating, we stayed up late at night talking on the phone. Many nights we sacrificed our sleep in order to hear each other’s voice. When we first got married we did everything together.  I went to the hardware store with him, and he went to the shoe store with me.
We always wanted to be together. We put the other one’s wishes above our own. We desired each other’s presence and to hear their voice.
When was the last time I missed sleep so that I could stay up and spend time with God? Do I think about God incessantly? Do I desire His presence and long to hear His voice?
What sacrifices am I willing to make for God in comparison to the sacrifices I have or will make for my family because I love them?
Do I really love God? Do you?

Monday, July 15, 2013

What Have You Done for Me Lately?


Each week our adult Bible study (small group) meets together to fellowship, study scripture, and share prayer requests and answers to prayer. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to set aside a specific time for sharing what God has done for us individually that week, what He has shown us from His Word, or how He has worked in our lives. It would have to be limited to two or three people because if everyone shared, there wouldn’t be time for our study. It would be encouraging to watch as each person sat in anticipation of the joy of sharing. But that isn’t the case. 
We don’t set aside a time like this, probably because most of us don’t come prepared to share how God is working in our lives. It’s embarrassing when no one has anything to share. Could it be that God isn’t working in our lives? Could it be He hasn’t done anything for us or shown us anything? Or could it be He is working, but we haven’t noticed? Or maybe we haven’t spent time with Him other than to recite our list of needs and wants?
I challenge you to look at what your response would be. This is a challenge for me as well. What has God done for you lately?

 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Become a Cult Leader

                 The other night at dinner, we were talking about how a record number of church-going people brought up in conventional denominations leave their churches to become part of a cult. What is a cult? The actual definition of the term “cult” is a system of religious beliefs or rituals. According to Wikipedia it’s a term for a new religious movement or other group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre by the larger society. Hmmm, now that I think about it, Christianity might be headed that way.
                Mainstream churches consider other groups to be cults based on deviations from the central doctrines of Christianity. Several groups claim to be Christian, but because of their doctrinal differences, they are considered cults.
                Why do people leave conventional church denominations to join a cult? Many groups offer free acceptance, love, and care for those that don’t feel they fit in elsewhere. But I believe the main reason people leave our churches today is that they see others who appear to have something they want – sincere devotion and discipline. Just as a child needs and desires discipline, as adults we also need and desire discipline in our lives.
                Most cult members are completely dedicated to their beliefs regardless of what others think. People are looking for something to believe in that is real, and cult members are devoted and disciplined in their beliefs and actions. They are passionate about what they believe. They walk their talk, many at all costs. What group comes to mind when you think of a cult? Are they committed? Are they disciplined? Can you tell they believe what they say?
                The term “Christian” means follower of Christ. The majority of Christians today might say they follow Christ, but do their co-workers and friends and family see it and believe them?
                I believe as Christians we should all become cult leaders by living what we claim to believe, so others will see our lives radically devoted to God as Christ followers. We should all be cult leaders – Committed Unique Leaders of Truth.
                I want to be as dedicated and disciplined in my faith in Christ as others are in heretical teachings that lead people away from the one true God of the Bible. I want to be a CULT leader, a Committed Unique Leader of Truth – the truth of God’s Word.