Category Archives: Faith

Get out of the boat!

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 boat in Titicaca Lake in the peruvian Andes at Puno Peru

Matthew 14:28-30  “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” He said.Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Okay, let me put the verse in a Biblical context. Prior to this “boat” incident; Jesus had multiplied 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread to feed 5,000. Immediately after, Jesus urges the disciples to get into a boat and set sail across the lake. He will catch up with them later. During the wee hours of the night, the wind and waves pick up, buffeting against the boat. Shortly before dawn, Jesus comes walking ACROSS THE LAKE to the disciples. Of course, the disciples are frightened thinking they are seeing a ghost. Jesus yells out “Don’t be afraid!” Peter opens his mouth as only Peter can and says “If it’s really you, Jesus, call me out upon the water.” Jesus says, “Come.” Peter gets out of the boat and walks on the water. But then, he looks around. Waves. Wind. He loses focus. He sinks. Jesus reaches out his hand and pulls Peter up and delivers him back into the boat.

I am a “Peter”.

This past year, Jesus has been calling me to get out of the boat and walk with him into some uncharted seas. I am afraid. I am insecure. I am doubtful.

I have taken a few steps but; then I quickly get back into the boat. It’s safe in there. It’s cozy. It’s familiar. It’s also limiting the scope of where the Lord wants to lead me.

Outside of the boat, I will encounter waves, wind, deep waters with unseen hazards beneath the surface. It’s scary.

The Lord has placed some amazing women along side of me. We are going to exit the boat together. Safety in numbers, I guess. As we step out of the boat and into this new adventure, we will encounter criticism, buffeted by nay-sayers, people who think we are “self promoting”, waves of negativity, people who will misinterpret what we are doing. I’m at the point now where I can declare “Say what you will, I’m walking on water with Jesus”.

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A word to the newlyweds

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This morning, I was reading through some of my favorite Christian blogs. One that I particularly like is Club31Women: A passion for husband, home & family. Lisa Jacobson is the writer on this blog. She writes with passion about family and marriage from a Biblical perspective. Today, I read her blog post “25 Tips I want to Share with Younger Wives” Really, really good advice and wisdom here. Below, I have her list of 25 tips:

25 Tips I Want to Share with Younger Wives

1. Hold hands whenever you can. We do and always have. We’ll clasp hands when sitting next to each other on the couch, while we’re driving along in the car, and when we’re out walking. A simple connecting that goes a long way.

2. Pray for him every day. Faithfully. What better gift than to offer up a prayer for him? Ask God to bless him, protect him, and work in his life.

3. Look for the many ways to love on him. Small gifts and thoughtful gestures. Those little things that say, I love you and I’m thinking of you.

4. Make friends with people who’ll encourage your marriage. Surround yourself with those who will support and pray for you both as you grow together.

5. And avoid those who pull against you. If they were “friends”, I’d ditch them altogether. (Real friends are going to cheer you both on). It’s harder with extended family members, but I’d dodge those as much as possible too.

6. Go to the Word of God for the best marriage counseling. You can get good advice from others, but there’s no replacing the loving, powerful Truth to be found in Scripture.

7. Cultivate your friendship. Marriage isn’t merely a business deal.

8. Never give up on each other. People go through difficult seasons and we get to persevere through them. Don’t let go.

9. Confess your sins to one another. Doesn’t help to smooth it over; instead repent and ask forgiveness. (Jas. 5:16)

10. And then forgive freely. (Col. 3:13)

11. Be patient with him. Love is long-suffering, remember? (I Cor. 13:4)

12. Show him respect. It’s in the Bible. And it’s what he needs (Col. 3:18).

13. Leave off with the complaining. It only drags the both of you down (Phil. 2:14).

14. Focus on those things which are true, pure, and lovely. (Phil. 4:8)

15. Speak kindly to him. Gracious words are sweet to the soul (Prov. 16:24).

16. Let the little irritations go. Is it really worth bothering about? Probably not.

17. Keep the home fires burning. Intimacy is still important. Yes, even long after the honeymoon.

18. Stand by your man. You’ll probably find loyalty toward the top of his list.

19. Make loving him your priority. Over your job, your friends, your extended family. Even over your children.

20. Give him – and yourself – room to grow. I know that we’re not done growing yet and I’m guessing you two aren’t either.

21. Express appreciation for the man that he is. Be an encouraging voice in that otherwise thankless world he lives in.

22. Protect your marriage. Value your relationship for the treasure that it really is.

23. Never leave off with kissing. No matter how old you grow. My husband’s 80-year-old parents still kiss each other goodbye – on the lips!

24. Decide you’re going to stick together. With God’s help, you’re going to stay together throughout the years. (Mark 10:9)

25. Put on love. Above all things. (Col. 3:14)

All of these are solid, Biblical pieces of wisdom. The two that stuck out to me were #9 and #10: Confess your sins and forgive one another. Easy to say; hard to do; but confess and forgive you must! Unforgiveness is the death nail in a marriage. From unforgiveness grow the roots of bitterness, resentment and anger. 

Dr. Phil and I have been married for over 22 years. We have given each other plenty of “fertilizer” with which to grow the roots of bitterness, resentment and anger over the years…BUT we haven’t. We have chosen to forgive and love  each other.  Forgiveness is not a feeling; it’s a choice to lay down your grievance against another, even if it’s justified. Forgiveness is working together toward a resolution of peace; it’s not a cease fire. Forgiveness is actively showing love toward the other; it’s not a cold war. 

Ephesians 4:25-27 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

I have seen how unforgiveness has devastated marriages and families. The anger and bitterness causing divorce and children to be bandied about as weapons between warring parents. Unforgiveness is a foothold for the enemy to enter into the fortress of marriage and destroy it from within. 

I have also seen the miracle of forgiveness and restoration in a marriage and family. When spouses surrender to the mercy, grace and forgiveness of Christ; they are able to forgive each other and emerge stronger on the other side.  I have experienced this in my own marriage. 

Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

I love newlyweds and young married couples.  They are so full of excitement and anticipation for their future. It’s beautiful. I love seeing them form the nucleus of a family, founded in Christ. It makes my heart happy. It’s difficult for them to even imagine being at a crossroad where they must choose to forgive a sin that has been committed against them OR choose not forgive and travel the path of bitterness. It will happen. Why? Because they are married to flawed people. The choice is theirs. I would ask this of a newlywed: how would you want your spouse to respond to your sin? Would you want forgiveness and restoration OR bitterness and anger?  Choosing forgiveness is choosing love. It’s choosing Christ.  It’s choosing restoration and reconciliation. 

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

 

If you are having difficulty forgiving; seek help. There is no shame in seeking help to strengthen your marriage.  It’s a tragedy when we are too afraid or embarrassed to ask for help and guidance to the detriment of our marriages. 

Pray for your marriage, friend. Pray for the marriages of others who are struggling. The enemy would have us cultivate unforgiveness that leads to the destruction of marriages. 

Philippians 4:6-9 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

 

“Idle” Worship

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Yes, you read that right. “Idle” worship. It’s what I have termed the act of going to church and being a non-participant in all aspects of the service. Completely unengaged in what should be one of the most sacred, beautiful times of the believing community. Instead, we sit idly by and say, “We are not amused”. We make excuses for our mental and spiritual laziness. How do I know this? I have done this very thing, my friend. Can I just tell you this: idle worship is a heart issue. It’s my heart issue.

 

Recently, Donald Miller wrote a blog post that caused quite a stir. You can read it here: http://storylineblog.com/2014/02/03/i-dont-worship-god-by-singing-i-connect-with-him-elsewhere/

Miller wrote this in his opening paragraph: 

I’ve a confession. I don’t connect with God by singing to Him. Not at all.

I know I’m nearly alone in this but it’s true. I was finally able to admit this recently when I attended a church service that had, perhaps, the most talented worship team I’ve ever heard. I loved the music. But I loved it more for the music than the worship. As far as connecting with God goes, I wasn’t feeling much of anything.

 

Miller goes on to write his reasons for not attending church. He can’t remember sermons, he doesn’t like to sing, it’s not his learning style, etc. I don’t recall every having seen the words “I”, “my” and “me” used so much in an article that was supposedly about church.

Here is a newsflash: Church is not about you! Church is not about me!

Church is about “WE”. Church is community.

 As I have thought about my own heart and the Donald Miller article; I came to realize that the gathering of believers in one location, church, is about three main things: Loving, leaning and learning. (Catchy alliteration, yes?)

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the benefits for believers meeting corporately. (Secretly, I ran out of “L” words)

1. Loving: Church is about loving God first and then, loving others. Worship, thanksgiving, and even tithing are all acts that we participate in to love the Lord. Loving each other is loving God. Is it difficult to love those flawed people sitting in the rows of the church? Yes and amen! What better place for flawed and sinful people to be than in a house of healing? Church is where we learn to love other flawed people, like ourselves; so, we can go out into the world and love.

  • John 15:17 This is my command: Love each other.
  • 1 John 3:18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
  • Psalm 48:9 O God, we mediate on your unfailing love as we worship in your temple.
  • Psalm 100:4-5 Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good, His unfailing love continues forever and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
  • Psalm 95:6 O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
  • Acts 2:46 They worshiped together at the Temple, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper and shared their meals with great joy and generosity.

2. Leaning: Church is about leaning on each other. We cannot do it alone. We need accountability, fellowship, prayer, encouragement, correction: we need all aspects of community. Those who try to stand alone can be taken down in trials when there is no one to help or provide counsel. Those who are sick, in body and spirit, need prayer. God doesn’t call us to do life alone. Church is about the body of Christ coming together to strengthen, encourage and challenge each other.

  • Hebrews 10:24-25 Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—all the more as you see the day approaching.
  • Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
  • James 5:13-16 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call for the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
  • Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

3. Learning: Church is about learning. Learning about God, His will and how to apply His Word in our every day lives. Have you learned everything you possibly learn from God’s Word? I know I certainly haven’t. In fact, the more I study; the more I find that there is so much more truth in God’s Word than I will ever be able to uncover, absorb and apply in my lifetime. Learning strengthens your faith, prepares you for daily battles, informs you of right & wrong, and gives discernment when you hear false doctrine or worldly teaching.

  • Proverbs 18:15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.
  • Proverbs 1:5 Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.
  • Psalm 119:9,15 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your Word…I meditate on your precepts and consider your way.
  • Titus 1:9 …hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
  • Ephesians 6:12-18 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground and after your have done everything, stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and request. With this in min, be alerts and always keep on pryaing for all the Lord’s people.

 I will confess to you that I sometimes have difficulty motivating myself mentally and spiritually to go to church on Sunday. I belong to a fantastic church. We have wonderful music, Biblical teaching, great youth programs, lots of community outreach, Bible studies during the week, etc. I have difficulty getting motivated because I am spiritually and physically lazy at times. I want to turn off the alarm clock and go back to sleep. BUT I get up and go! I know my children are watching my example and I want to live in obedience to the Lord. I am always glad and my soul is refreshed and encouraged when I obey.

 I have been in church and been completely distracted. I have allowed outside things to take over my thoughts. Again, a heart and mind issue. I have some action steps that I take in order to combat my tendency to be distracted.

  • Listen to worship music. I do this while I’m getting ready for church. It helps my mind and heart to focus on the Lord before I even get into the sanctuary.
  • Actively listen to the sermon. Take notes, look up the complete Bible reference. Ask yourself “What can I apply to my life this week?” There is always room to grow.
  • Attitude of expectation. If I go into church expecting NOTHING; then NOTHING is what I will get. If I go in expecting to gain Biblical wisdom, or healing or fellowship; then I will receive those things. Low expectations = low return.
  • Sing along I can hear some of you now. “But I’m not a good singer” Who cares? It’s a JOYFUL noise not a “perfect pitch noise”. If you really just can’t sing; then close your eyes and meditate on the words of the songs. Say them as a prayer.
  • Be a giver Church is not and should not be a spectator sport. Be an active participant by giving. Yes, I’m talking about money but I’m also talking about giving in other ways. Help in the nursery for one service, then attending the other service. Ask where you can serve in your church. Don’t be a taker. Be a giver.

 Do I struggle sometimes with my lazy self? Yes. Am I tempted to give in to stay home and not honor the Lord? Yes. I know that I am not alone in this.

I know there are times when going to church is just not possible. I have four children. Believe me, I know. But whenever it is possible, please, GO! You will be blessed!

 

Colossians 3:15-16 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body, you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as your teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

 

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Old Vines

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In January, Dr. Phil and I took a short trip to Napa Valley to celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary.  We absolutely adore the Napa Valley.  The scenery is gorgeous and the food is always outstanding. As we drove around, we noticed that many of the vineyards had cleared out acres of grape vines.  We wondered why.  We had the opportunity to ask at one of our stops.

After a certain number of years, the old vines are cleared out. The soil is prepped to receive the new plants. The depth of the soil, the chemistry/nutrients, and the drainage are all vitally important to the young vines. Sometimes, the field is left fallow for a period. This reduces the possibility of pathogens or diseases from being spread to the tender, new vines. When conditions are optimal; new vines are then planted. It takes 3-5 years before there is any significant production from the new vines.  They must be given time to grow roots, be tended, pruned, and mature before they are producing usable fruit.

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There are all kinds of Biblical imagery and lessons to be learned here!

The first image that comes to my mind is that Christ is the Root. Isaiah 11 and Romans 15:12 both speak of Christ as the Root of Jesse.  The prophecy in Isaiah coming to fruition in the New Testament and Paul declaring it in Romans 15.  All of Christianity, and our very lives, are rooted in Christ. If our lives, motives, thoughts, words, actions, families, marriages are not rooted in Christ, we are bound to dry up, wither, produced limited fruit; if any. We can be uprooted easily if we don’t have a firm grasp of the gospel of Jesus Christ and who the true Vine really is!

John 15:-6 I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

As I am writing this, we are three days into Lent. I am participating in a Lenten challenge: Fill a large trash bag a day with items to throw away or donate; a bag a day for 40 days.  My first stop was the closet of Punky and Emmalicious. Oh boy! It’s apparently been awhile since I cleaned out their closet.  I found some clothes that were size 7/8. They wear 14 now. I removed about 7 bags of clothing from their closet. Now the closet is much more functional and it’s easy to locate items.  How does this relate to the vineyard?

Every few years, the vintner must clean out the old vines to make way for the new.  The old vines are not productive; thereby, useless. Just like piles of ill-fitting clothes stuffed into a closet; useless.  Sometimes, the Master Vintner must come through and do some clearing of old vines. He clears out unproductive attitudes, uproots sin, plows the soil of a hardened heart, sprinkles the nourishing water of the Holy Spirit and, often, gives us a much needed respite before planting again.

Psalm 139:23,24  Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. 

Growing grapes is a 24/7 occupation for vintners. There are no days off. Something always need pruning, watering, checking, weeding, evaluating, planting, plowing, etc.  The farmer does not plant vines and walk away.  He doesn’t expect the vines to just grow and produce fruit without giving the vines any attention. The vines could become infested with a blight, dry up without water or be over run with weeds. Walking with Christ is a daily commitment.  We don’t just say, “Okay, I’m saved. See you in heaven.” and then go live our lives. Everyday, we need to connect  to the Master Vintner.  Our relationship with the Lord needs daily attention. Prayer, scripture reading, worship. All of these bring our focus upon Him first; everything else, then, falls into place.

I will confess that getting quiet time first thing in the morning is difficult. I don’t like getting up before the sun. Somehow, it seems that whenever I get up early to read and pray; a child decides that this is the day that they will wake up early and come find mom! How do they know? Seriously, I’m asking! I have made it a habit to sit down AFTER the kids have been dropped off at school. There are no, well, very few, interruptions then. I can focus on cultivating my relationship with the Master.  Here is an excellent article from Desiring God on the why of daily devotions.

Psalm 5:3 In the morning, O Eternal One, listen for my voice; in the day’s first light, I will offer my prayer to You and watch expectantly for Your answer. (The Voice)

My prayer today is that you would be encouraged in your walk with the Savior, Jesus Christ. Let the Master do His work and you will bear much fruit, my friend.

In all honesty…

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I just read a blog post by Perry Noble regarding his struggle with depression.  Mental illness has been a prominent topic in the Christian news lately owing to the tragic suicide of Rick Warren’s son, Matthew.  It’s sad that such a tragedy had to happen before Christians realized that mental illness is real. We live in a fallen world in fragile clay jars that are often cracked in various places. If our bodies are prone to illness; what makes us think that our minds would not? Circumstances, trauma, or chemical imbalances cause different and varying illnesses of our minds and emotions.

In all honesty, I take 10 mg. of Prozac every night. I have never publicly admitted this. I was embarrassed. I was insecure. I was worried about what people would think. I thought it would disqualify me from the things that I love to do. So, why would I divulge this now? Partly because I know there are many other people who struggle with the same thing or much worse. People need to know they are not alone. There is no shame in needing help.

I have a serotonin deficiency. This diagnosis didn’t happen overnight. I had been experiencing symptoms for months. Lack of sleep, excessive inward anger, food cravings, anxiety are among a few of the symptoms that I experienced.   The final straw came when I threw a mirror against a wall and broke down, crying uncontrollable.  My sweet husband said, very gently, “I think you need to see your doctor about how you’ve been feeling lately.”. So, I saw my doctor. Filled out a chart to track symptoms for three months. My doctor said it was very clear that I had a serotonin imbalance. He prescribed fluoxetine HCl or Prozac.

I am grateful for that little pill. I’m grateful that I can be on an even emotional keel. I’m glad that I can sleep at night. I’m glad that I don’t have to fight to keep control over inward, unexplained anger. I’m grateful for a God who loves me in spite of the cracks in my clay and has provided a way, through medication and faith, for me to live a beautiful, fulfilling life.

A New Year’s Resolution

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New Year’s Resolution

(The New York Times, Far From A Straight Shot to a Milestone Achievement. July 29, 2012)

Kim Rhode became the first American athlete to win five medals in an individual event in five consecutive Olympic Game

She earned a gold medal in women’s skeet, setting an Olympic record and tying the world record by hitting 99 of 100 targets. She also became the first woman to win three gold medals in Olympic shooting.

She cast purple plumes in the air as she hit target after target after target, calmly casting her discarded shells into the basket beside her. Realizing she was on her way to gold, Rhode cracked a smile after hitting her 95th shot.

After Rhode’s final shot, the audience rose to its feet for an ovation, which was followed by Rhode’s tearful acceptance of her medal.

“I don’t think it ever becomes old hat,” she said of the Olympics, adding, “It’s really about the journey.”

Rhode’s path to the record books was not a linear one.

In the four years leading to the London Games, she had a breast cancer scare, and the gun she had used for years — a prized, customized and pricey possession for elite shooters — was stolen from her car after the Beijing Games. It was recovered a year later, but in the interim, she had to adjust to a new firearm, which she likened to a swimmer having to learn a new stroke.

“It was very fortunate to have gotten it back,” she said. The gun she won the gold medal with Sunday was the one that was donated to her when her gun was stolen.

“It’s a pretty amazing story to have so many people who believe in you,” she said.

“The journey to this one was one of my most challenging,” she said. It made her winning of the medal “that much sweeter.”

Rhode began shooting when she was 10 and is coached by her father.

She began her Olympic career with a gold medal in double trap in 1996 at 17, making her the youngest person to win an Olympic medal in the sport. Then, after the 2004 Games in Athens, women’s double trap, was eliminated from the Games.

Undeterred, she made the transition to skeet and earned a silver medal in that event at the Beijing Games.

She averages 500 to 1,000 rounds a day, seven days a week.

“They have me at 3 million-plus targets under my belt,” she said. “I know at a very young age, I was very focused. It’s something definitely I can do for a long time,” Rhode said, adding that she plans to compete in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. “Right now, I’m just going to take it one competition at a time.” (The New York Times, Far From A Straight Shot to a Milestone Achievement. July 29, 2012)

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says this: 24 Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win. 25 Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.26 So I do not run uncertainly or box like one who hits only air. 27 Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified.,

Paul says that life is a race and its a race that we are all entered in so we might as well compete. We can choose to sit down at the starting line but it is to our detriment. Our entry fee was paid by Christ’s blood, the starter has fired the gun, and our finish will still be recorded. Only those that complete the race get to advance to the next event.
Run to win. Run to finish.  Maybe, you’re thinking “I’m not a Bible scholar, or a pastor, or have any noteworthy position in the church.” Well, praise the Lord;  these are not requirements to run the race. At the very least run the race in such a noble, honorable, and faithful manner that you are allowed to finish. Compete so that even if you do not win by the standards of this world, you will not be ashamed of how well you finished when you stand before the ultimate judge: Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 4:20-27 gives us wisdom on how to run this race. It says this:My son, pay attention to what I say;
 listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;for they are life to those who find them
and health to a man’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

  1. Listen up!
  2. Keep God’s word close to your heart
  3. Guard heart
  4. No perverse or corrupt talk
  5. Fix eyes on the path ahead: God’s will for you
  6. Follow His will
  7. Do not take any detours!

This is going to be my resolution this year.  God impressed on my heart that this is the way to lasting change. Resolutions are usally broken by mid-January. We say I’m gonna eat healthy, I’m gonna go to the gym for 2 hours everyday; I’m not gonna eat any junk food; I’m not gonna get angry when I’m driving; I’m gonna be more patient; I’m gonna get up at 4 a.m. and pray for 3 hours; I’m gonna lose weight; I’m gonna be faithful in my finances; I’m gonna be generous; I’m not gonna yell at my kids, I’m not gonna be critical of my husband.   All of these are fine resolutions; but time after time; and year after year; we fail.  I think we make it to complicated. What if we just said “I’m going to follow the path of Christ.” What do you think would happen? I believe that all these other things will fall into place. They will be the result of seeking Him first.

Matthew 6:33 says Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these other things; will be given to you as well.

Entitled

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conceptual sign with words reality check ahead caution warning o My husband and I are co-writing a Bible study together on The Beatitudes.  It’s been a fun challenge to write and research each beatitude; but, also, to learn.  As I was writing about “blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”, I was struck by the lack of meekness, not only in myself, but in society, in general. There is an entire generation coming up who have no sense of meekness.  No humility. No deference to others. No sense of their own limitations. They believe that they “deserve” to get things which they have not earned.  A sense of entitlement is rampant.

This is most clear to anyone who has ever watched “American Idol“.  I am amazed at the talentless, tone deaf people who get up to sing and are outraged to be told that they have no singing talent. They are shocked!  They have been told by all their family and friends that they are phenomenal singers.  They use the word “awesome” to describe themselves.  They have no talent but have been told for many years that everything they do is “awesome” and worthy of high praise.

This has done a lot of damage to an entire generation who have received unearned praise and misguided encouragement in areas that they are not gifted.  They produce mediocre crap and are told it’s awesome! Instead of redirecting a young person toward their talents and interests, we say “You can do anything!”  Well, no, they can’t. Some people are just not gifted in certain things.  A terribly shy person who is afraid of speaking in public will never be president.  A blind person will not qualify for the NASA. A tone deaf person will not be singing at the Metropolitan Opera. Taking a realistic look at oneself, and an personal inventory would help to point people toward meekness.

I know, without a doubt, I would not make a good carpenter.  I hate the tedium of measuring everything.  I take short cuts.  Not good qualities for a carpenter. I see qualities, gifts and talents in my children and encourage the positive that I see. I encourage my son to read science books because he is fascinated by it.  I encourage my oldest daughter’s artistic ability by getting her pencils, paper, drawing kits. And, I have to say, that not everything my kids make or do is “awesome”.

In Gary Smalley’s book The Five Love Languages of Children, he points out that children need verbal affirmation and praise.  I agree.  He, also, points out that the praise and affirmation should be proportionate to the accomplishment.  If your child draws a picture of a house, you can say “You did a good job.  I like how you used the blue for the house. I can tell you took a lot of time on this”.  How do you think the child who grows up hearing that everything he/she does is “awesome”, “the best in the whole universe”?  I’ll tell you….an over-inflated sense of self and their accomplishments. You have a child lacking meekness.

So, unless your 5 year old built a particle accelerator out of LEGOS, let’s reserve the word “awesome” for the Creator of the universe.  And use “good job” for the creator of the play-doh bowl.