Thursday, May 3, 2012

Stepping Back

I realize I do not have a plethora of readers, but for the faithful few (whom I appreciate!) I am writing this brief post to let you know I am taking a step back from blogging for a bit. You may have noticed that I have not been very consistent with my writing for some time. I am trying to re-evaluate where my energy ought to be focused these days, especially being busy with 3 small children (and another on the way!). I am also praying about whether or not I should have a blog or website, and if I ought to narrow my focus somehow for a better content flow. (I appreciate your prayers in this matter, if the Spirit prompts you to pray for me.) I enjoy writing, and I want to do it in a way that edifies others and brings glory to God; I am just not certain if this is the writing avenue that the Lord wants for me, or that "I" want for me! Are you with me?  Maybe you can relate to those areas where you have a desire to do something, and may even go ahead and do it, but you still wonder if it’s God’s plan or your own.  Maybe you, too, need to take a step back and take time to pray about it and re-evaluate your own situation. May God give you wisdom, as I trust He will do for me as well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Made for His Glory

Can you imagine telling your family, “Sorry, but I don’t have time to feed you today. I’m too busy! I’ve got this deadline at work and I need to go for a jog and check my email, then fold the laundry before my TV show comes on tonight. I just can’t squeeze in time to get you some food, much less get a meal myself.” Well, you get the idea.
Yet many of us go without feeding on the “daily bread” God has given us: His Word. How sad it is that we who are created by God for the glory of God neglect the very purpose for which we exist. We fervently seek the things of this world, only to find that the joys we receive so quickly flee...and then we rush out to do it again! Have you been there? I have, too.
Consider this: Why should we have to “find time” to pray and read God’s Word, when communion with God is the very thing we are created for? That is the only way we will have an abundant and joyful life, yet we so often seek fulfillment elsewhere, or just get “too busy” with things that don’t have eternal value. Don’t get me wrong; I am not implying that Bible study and prayer as having some kind of magical power: “A chapter a day keeps the devil away!” But when we make it our priority to spend time with the Lord, we will begin to understand that He is to permeate all aspects of our life. (For more on that, read my post titled “Why All the God Stuff?”)
Here is my point: Have you ever felt like you are rushing through prayer time or Bible study so you can “get on” to something else? I know I have! Let’s all keep (or make) first things first -- in the true sense of what it means to keep our relationship with God top priority.
We can all get caught up with things that seem to mean a lot to us, but distract us from the true reason God has created and called us to Himself: “Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, whom I have made” (Isaiah 43:7). Prayerfully ponder this verse. Ask the Lord how you can focus on making His glory your priority, and what that means in practical terms. I will, too!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Peeking Over Fences

You know the statement: “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” Are you peeking over someone’s fence? Whose grass are you envious of? Let’s be honest: as women we often struggle with contentment in many (or ANY) areas! 
It’s kind of crazy when you think about it:
  • A single woman longs to be married...a married woman wishes she were single again.
  • A woman who has no children longs for children...a mom wishes for the days gone by without the responsibility of raising children.
  • A working woman longs for retirement (or any way to quit working)...a retired woman wishes for the busy work-days again.
  • A woman living “here” wishes she were “there” again...and then she gets “there” and longs to be back “here”! (Did I lose you on that one?)
  • A woman with straight hair longs for curly hair...a curly-haired woman wishes hers was straight!
Now, this is not to imply that a woman struggling in any of the above areas does not love her husband or children...or the fact that she has hair. But can you relate with any of those situations -- or come up with your own? I can!
Too often we spend so much time looking over the fences of others and what they seem to have, or even looking back over the fences of our past, and longing for what we do not have instead of thanking God and enjoying what we do have right now. Just imagine all of the blessings we miss out on when we expend our energy and time thinking and dreaming about the [seemingly] well-cut grass in someone else’s yard that we long for.
The good news is that we can learn to be content, like the apostle Paul who said: “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Philippians 4:11). Many of us cannot even compare our “trials” to those he faced; yet Paul learned to be content in the most difficult of situations. Certainly we can, too.
If contentment is a struggle for you in your life, first of all acknowledge what area(s) it is a problem for you. Confess it to God and ask Him to teach you how to be content. Ask Him to help you have a proper perspective on your life and to give thanks instead of longing for something else. Here’s an idea: make a list! Write down as many things as you can think of for which you can give thanks in the very thing(s) you are not satisfied (content) with. It may take some creativity, but you can do it! After all, Scripture tells us to be: “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ...” (Ephesians 5:20). This is one antidote for discontentment. In fact, this is such a good idea that I think I’ll do this myself right now!
Blessings for the Journey,
P.S. In 20 minutes I listed 40 items. How about you?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Intentional Input

I have been thinking lately about what helps us to grow spiritually, to develop that maturity and appetite for the “meat” of the Word and not only for “milk.” The book of Hebrews explains, “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (5:14). 
Notice the words “practice” and “trained.” This is our part! We put what God teaches us through His Word into practice and in doing so, we train ourselves to distinguish between good and evil. Unfortunately, there is a major problem: we are easily deceived. Evil is so often called good, and good is called evil these days, just as in the days of Isaiah: 
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).  

Have you experienced this in your life? Do people that you work with call evil good and good evil? What about your family? Friends? Other people you are around regularly? There are so many influences we encounter -- sometimes daily -- that we have little control over.
But what about intentional input; things we choose to put into our lives? 
What you put into your your mind eventually influences your heart (perspectives, attitudes, desires, thoughts, etc.). If we are not careful about our own intentional influences, we may unintentionally consider evil good, and good evil! Consider what influences you are intentionally allowing into your life through what you:
    • Watch (TV, movies, Internet)
    • Listen to (music, teaching, movies)
    • Look at (Online, magazines)
    • Read (books, websites, articles)
Are you training your senses to discern good and evil? Are you putting things into your mind and heart that are against God and His holiness? Are you accepting whatever ideas and teaching that sounds good or popular? (I ask myself these same questions!) We even have to beware of so-called “Christian” material and teaching, and be like the Bereans, who searched the Scriptures daily to see whether the things they learned from the apostle Paul (and Silas) were accurate (Acts 17:11). If they were examining the truth of Paul’s teaching, certainly we have a responsibility to do so concerning today’s teachers of God’s Word!
If you have taken a moment to examine your choice of input and realize that something needs to change, how will you do it? 
Filling your mind with the things of God will turn your focus upward and help you develop spiritual maturity. You will long for the meat of God’s Word, and not be satisfied by milk only. Such an appetite for God Himself will never be satiated -- and that hunger is good!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Words to Live By

I am currently reevaluating my blog. First of all, in my naivety, I had no idea how many other “bloggers” there are out there! Many far more professional looking, more well-written, more widely read than mine. But what is the purpose of this blog, after all? I do not want it to be about me. Even if there is only a handful of you out there reading this blog (“hi, Mom!”), I want it to be something that will turn readers’ eyes upward, toward Christ -- whether there is 1 of you or 100 of you. I hope it is an avenue by which you can be challenged and encouraged to fix your eyes on Jesus Christ; to have a mind that is firmly focused upon the Lord (Hebrews 12:2; Isaiah 26:3). 
In whatever I write or whatever I share, I will try to keep it succinct yet significant.  You need time to read those other blogs, and still keep priorities straight, right?! My goal is to whet your own appetite for a deeper study of the Bible -- or maybe just to get you into the Word at all. His are the Words of life (John 6:63, 68). If you are frazzled, bogged down, discouraged, overwhelmed, or just plain bored, you need those words of life -- abundant life.
What are you living by? Most days I don’t feel like I’d survive very well on three meals a day; I need a couple of snacks (and some chocolate) thrown in there, too! Okay, of course I would survive...but I admit my “flesh” (sinful tendencies) would rear it’s ugly head more quickly. 
What about spiritually? Is it enough to have one “meal” per week and try to survive? Some of us try to do this. We attend church or Bible study once a week, while during the other six days the Bible collects dust. It is neither in our hands nor our hearts during the day. There is no way we can have abundant life in Christ if He is not our life and His Words our very sustenance (see Colossians 3:4 & Matthew 4:4). 
So again, what are you living by -- spiritually speaking? What needs to change? Take a moment and pray for God to give you a burning desire to feed on His Word, make Jesus Christ your life, and experience the abundant joy He offers.
By the way, if you need a place to start with Bible study, check out my previous posts titled “Digging Deeper Into God’s Word,” Parts 1-4 under the Topic of Bible Study.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ringing in the New Year

It’s a new year...a fresh start...a chance for revival and renewal to take place in our hearts and homes.  For many of us it is a time to make “New Year’s Resolutions.”  But how long do those tend to last? 
While making a resolution is a great concept, keeping that resolution is the hard part!  What changes do you want to make this year -- personally (and inter-personally), physically, spiritually?  Maybe you want to eat better...workout more outgoing...mend a relationship...have victory over a particular sin...
I know how I would like to change!  I can identify the besetting sins in my life; I want true freedom from those sins.  But is it enough just to know where and how we want to change?  Of course not.  We need to have a plan in place.  Develop a realistic plan and break it down into “mini-goals” that you can achieve (with the help of the Lord!).  And, of course, the key: stick to it.  Or modify it if necessary.  Ask a friend to hold you accountable to reaching your goal(s) this year.  Check in regularly with her (weekly, monthly) and be honest about how you are doing, what obstacles you face, and how she can pray for you.  If your goal regards issues of overcoming sin, be sure to seek God’s counsel in the Bible or ask a godly woman to help you do so.
Whatever your desires may be for this year, be sure to consult the Lord and seek His wisdom and help first and foremost!  He will help you discern whether your desires match up with His desires for you.
Blessings for the new year,

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Is Jesus Away With the Manger?

What will you do with Jesus now that the Christmas season is over?  Maybe you will tuck Jesus away along with all of the Christmas decorations that come down after the 25th.  I urge you not to do that this year!  Really, we should be in awe of Jesus‘ coming to the earth as a baby boy every day.  We should be in awe because He came to offer every one of us forgiveness of sin.  
Forgiveness.  A complete cleansing.  A new life.  And it comes not through our own efforts to be “good enough” (see Ephesians 2:8-9)  We can never be good enough to measure up to God’s standard, which is perfection.  
This makes me think about the movie Mary Poppins.  (Another piece of evidence that I have young children!)  There is a point in the movie where Mary Poppins pulls a tape measure out of her bottomless carpet bag.  This isn’t any old tape measure; when she measures the children, each one “measures up” to an accurate description of personality and behavior.  When Mary is measured, it reads “practically perfect in every way.”  Imagine God’s tape measure: the standard is PERFECTION.  Only Jesus Christ “measures up.”  I won’t even tell you what my “height” would read!   Completely perfect in every way.  This is why we need a Savior!  None of us measures up without Jesus. 
The Creator of the world, the entire universe clothed Himself in human flesh and walked the earth (see Colossians 1:13-17).
The King of kings humbled Himself and left the magnificence of Heaven to become a servant and to give up His life for us (Mark 10:45).
The Ruler of all things came to the earth for one purpose: to be the final, ultimate sacrifice for sin, to offer us forgiveness of sin because without the shedding of blood sin cannot be forgiven (Hebrews 9:22).
This is just a sampling of what Jesus’ birth really means, and what those of us who believe in Jesus and trust Him as our Lord ought to celebrate at Christmas time and give thanks for every day of our lives.