Tuesday, June 6, 2017

There's Got to be More

"there's got to be more
than going back and forth"

Did that "Mercy Me" song just pop into your head???
(if it didn't pop into your head, but you want it to....
just click the picture and you can listen to it)

I realize that song is about going back and forth
between doing what is right and what is wrong,
but when I hear it, it always makes me think of going about our daily lives,
going back and forth to Publix,
back and forth to Walmart,
back and forth to church,
that routine that we call life,
that trap that we think we're stuck in.

We all do it, right?
We are all so busy.

Get up, go to work, go home, go to bed,
get up, go to work, go home......
(wash, rinse, repeat lol)

So my question today is.....
FOR WHAT???

For money to pay the bills?
Then we make more bills?
Then go to work, so we can make money,
ok you get the picture.

For what???
What is the purpose???
Is there any worth in our back and forth???

I ran across this quote from Amanda Bible Williams
"The apostle (Paul) didn't while away his time on earth
just to get to the next chapter,"
"Paul wasn't living for this vapor of a life here on earth.
He was living for something bigger.
He lived for the eternal by making the most of the temporary." 

I think that most of us have this backwards.
I think that we live for the temporary
(house payments, rent, cars/trucks, light bills, etc)
and make the most of the eternal.
Maybe in the back of our minds
we are hoping that we will do something for Jesus today,
but the real effort is going into all the other stuff.

If in the midst of all of that going back and forth
we're not doing something for Jesus,
something that has some eternal value,
then what's the point???

I don't know about you,
but the older I get the more I get tired of wasting time.
I don't want to spend my entire life
simply going back and forth.
I don't think "she paid her bills on time"
is a good enough quote for my tombstone.

Yes, I realize that God gave us work and
earthly things to buy and enjoy and to take care of ourselves with, but
I want to look at my life and see the eternal stuff first,
things like....
chasing Jesus first,
 serving HIM first,
in HIS word first,
loving and serving others first.

And maybe after that, I'll go to work :)

#checkingmypriorities

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Afraid You'll Miss It?

I'm confessing!

I got to church this morning and,
realized our pastor was not preaching
(our pastor is amazing!),
it was graduation Sunday
(we have no graduate this year)
and you know what comes next, right?

Well, I waited for Strike 3 just like you're waiting for it,
but it didn't come.

Please know that I love church and yes, I know it's not about me.
I'm just being honest when I say that 
I walked into church hopeful and 
then sat in the pew for a few minutes.....disappointed.

I wondered who this guy was that was going to 
"try to fill in" for our pastor, and
what he could say to me 
(since I was not a current graduate).

Well, maybe there was a Strike 3,
maybe it was me and my attitude :(

If you follow me on Facebook, 
then you might know that I retired from teaching on Friday
(after 24 years).
Everybody keeps asking....
what are you going to do now????
what are your plans????
you're too young to retire (thank you), 
are you going to work somewhere else????

Well, the truth is, I don't really know.
What we (my husband and I) know
is that God has released me from full-time teaching right now.

So, how about that?!
I was sitting there this morning, 
not even realizing that I was just like some of those sweet graduates.
Yes, some of them thought they knew what was next,
college, military, mission field, etc
but I also have to believe that many of them sat there wondering what was REALLY next.

And then it came,
the quote that I wanted to write about,
the thing that this fill-in preacher said
to these graduates (and to ME)....

"God's ability to reveal HIS plan for me is much stronger than my ability to miss it."

I forget that sometimes,
when I'm wondering what's next,
when I'm seeking HIS will.
I keep thinking that it somehow ALL depends on me,
me looking, me seeking, me searching, me asking
and then me wondering if I'll miss it when HE finally reveals it.

Yes, I do think I need to keep talking to HIM
and yes, I need to stay in the Word,
but I also need to trust that when HE is speaking to me,
that HE will make sure that I hear HIM. 

Tonight I am a "graduate" who is thankful
that I didn't miss HIS word for me this morning.

Monday, January 2, 2017

DO NOT!

How many times have we read this verse?
How many times have we been obedient to it?
Yes, obedient.
Did you catch the key word in the first line?
COMMANDED

I usually take this verse as a cheer,
a coach's pep talk at half time,
"you can do it, now go show me what you've got!"

But that key word in the first line is not just an encouraging word,
not a word to rally the troops.
It says....COMMANDED.

What's the COMMAND in this verse?
be STRONG
be COURAGEOUS
do NOT  be terrified/afraid
do NOT be discouraged.

How's everybody doing with that?
Me?
Well, I do great with that when things are going well,
when things are going my way.

But how are we doing when things are not going "well"?
No place to live in 30  29 days?
No deposit?
Just lost your job?
No money to pay the light bill?
Kids running wild?
Someone you love is sick?
How are we doing with that command during those times?

Because the truth is.......that's when it counts,
that's when we really find out where our faith is.

But let's be honest.
When those hard times come most of us can be found with our heads hung down,
whining to anyone who will listen, crying, complaining,
wringing our hands, worrying, the list goes on......
All of those things are bad for us,
but they are also bad for those who are watching us.
What does it say to lost people when they see us falling apart?
I think it says that we were trusting in earthly things, earthly security.
I think it shows them that we say we trust God but we don't really mean it.

So how do we fix that?
We do what God told Joshua to do in these verses.
Obey the law, keep it always on your lips, meditate on it.
(Joshua 1:7-9)
The answer is the Word.
We need to be in the Word.
How's our quiet time? Our Bible study?
Are we spending time with HIM in HIS Word?
That's where our strength comes from.

Instead of looking at our problems and seeing problems,
let's look at them and call them opportunity.
Opportunity to draw closer to HIM.
Opportunity to trust HIM.
Opportunity to point others to HIM.
Opportunity to prove to anyone who is watching that our God is real,
that HE will come through, in HIS time and in HIS way.

And remember,
HE PROMISED TO BE WITH US.
What else do we need?


Friday, December 16, 2016

John Wayne?

Who's your favorite actor?
I had to use John Wayne or my mama might not forgive me :)

Now, I never met John Wayne but
if all I knew was what I saw on the silver screen,
 then I would believe he was a cowboy.
I bet the people he lived with knew better.
I'm sure they knew all too well the roles he played,
but they also knew who he really was when he put the script down.

John Wayne...well really, acting is on my mind today.
 I came across a quote during my quiet time this morning.

"They cared about APPEARING righteous more than actually BEING righteous."
Whitney Capps
#first5

It was referring to the Pharisees in the New Testament,
who cared so much about outward appearances and rule following.
But when I paused to think this quote through,
I realized that it could also describe me.

Have we Christians ever put on an act?
Just done the thing because we were supposed to?
Put on our mask and sat in church and made nice every week?
Study and teach Sunday School lessons that never changed our hearts?
Sang songs in the choir without ever hearing or applying the words?
Sat through sermon after sermon with little or no change in our lives?
Have we ever been so good in those roles that we have influenced people
 for the cause of Christ?

Please know that I'm the last one passing judgment on this topic.
I am guilty.
But I think many other people are guilty as well, they just don't realize it.

I believe that there are many of us who are almost squeaky clean to the outside world.
To those people who sit on the outside and only see us
for short periods of time on the "silver screen,"
we must look like we have it all together.
Some of us probably deserve an Academy Award for our performances.

So what's the problem?
If we are still influencing others for Christ, then what's the big deal?
(I'm glad you asked.)

I've thought of a couple of problems....
1) We are not living up to our full potential in Christ. We are not allowing God to truly transform us. We are missing out on who HE is and all that HE has for us.
2) The problem that I find most devastating for Christans is that sometimes we lose the people that we love the most. I'm talking about those people who are the closest, those people who live in our houses, the ones that know the roles we play, the people who see us when we put the script down. They are the ones who see the truth. They KNOW the act.
They know all about our APPEARING and not BEING. They see right through our act.
What could be more devastating to a believer than to know that you yourself have eternal life but those you love the most reject what you know is the truth?

So what should we do about it?
Surrenender, that's it.
The answer is so simple, yet so hard to do.
Ask HIM.
Ask HIM to show us the places in our lives where we are writing the story and not HIM.
And then when HE shows it to us.....let's hand HIM the pen.

Thinking back to the quote........
APPEARING righteous is something that I can do for myself.
BEING righteous is something that only GOD can do.

And what others need to see is what God can do.
They see enough of us and what we can do and many times it turns them away.

But HE can change people.
HE can change us when we are surrendered to HIM.
And HE can change those we love,
those who have not been accepting what we are dishing out.

Let's not miss out on who HE is or cause others to miss out as well.

Let's don't just make random "Christian" appearances.
But let's BE everyday.

Friday, November 4, 2016

No!

Ever been told NO?
At one time or another, we have all been told NO.
How do we respond?
Do we accept it?
Do we try to find a way around it?
(Like our kids....if mom says NO, go ask dad?)

What if the person we're asking is God?
What if there is something that you really want from God
or something you want to do for God,
and HE says NO?
What do we do with that?
Especially when "we think" it's something good,
something that will minister to people,
lead people to Christ.
But HE still says NO.
How do we respond?

Do we try to make it happen anyway?
Or do we accept the NO and continue to follow HIS leading?

In all of our lives, God opens and closes doors.
In the book of Acts, the apostle Paul wanted to go to Asia to spread the Word.
That sounds like a good plan, right?
People there needed to know about Jesus.
But scripture says that the Holy spirit prevented him from entering Asia,
told him NO, wouldn't let him go in.

Now what I sometimes do with that NO
is I try to find a way to make it work anyway,
or I whine about it, talk about it
(because surely someone will agree with me that my idea is a good one).
Why can't I just accept the NO?

If you keep reading this section in Acts, you will find that God didn't say NO 
to Paul and then sit him on the couch.
NO, HE sent him somewhere else, and Paul went.
God had plans for Paul to go to the people of Macedonia
(HE had plans for Asia as well, it just wasn't Paul).
HE has plans for all of us too!

So maybe our ministry doesn't look like we want it to,
maybe we're not serving where we wanted to serve,
maybe we're not serving who we wanted to serve,
or how we wanted to serve.
(see all of the "we wants"?)

Remember that God knows the whole story.
HE knows what we need and who needs us.
Let's choose to submit and be obedient.
Let's not miss the place and the people that HE has for us,
by focusing on HIS NO, let's follow HIS YES.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

What Kind of Waiter Am I?

What kind of waiter am I? 

I'm not talking about delivering your dinner to the table 
because I know how that would go. 
I mean when I pray about something and I am then forced to wait on the answer....
what kind of wait-er am I? 

What am I doing/thinking/feeling during the waiting?
wringing my hands?
thinking that God doesn't care?
am I anxious?
am I fretful?
am I talking it to death with anyone who will listen?
complaining about it?
whining about it?
do I keep it to myself and quietly worry?
And the key question might be.......Who am I listening to???
satan filling my head with doubts and thoughts,
trying to convince me that God doesn't care about my circumstance?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes!
At one time or another I've answered yes to everyone of these questions.
I'm sure we all have.

But what should we be doing?
What is the job of the waiting?
What is the job of the wait-er?

I think the answer (and the question) is TRUST.
Do I really trust that God knows and that God cares?

Maybe the job of the waiting is to build trust, 
to grow our relationship with God.

Waiting certainly keeps me talking to HIM more.
But as I'm talking to HIM, I also need to remember to listen to HIM.

I need to listen to the voice of God, 
who constantly reminds me that HE loves me, 
HE cares about my circumstance, 
HE loves those that I am praying for more than I do.
HE knows what HE is doing!

I need to choose to TRUST HIM. 
I need to pray faithfully and then wait expectantly,
watching for the answer to come,
looking for the miracle to happen.

You are my strength, I watch for you;
you, God, are my fortress
my God on whom I can rely.
Psalm 59:9-10

Monday, September 5, 2016

Audience of ONE

Ever come up with a really great idea,
the greatest lesson plan ever,
an excellent bulletin board idea?

Ok, so maybe you're not a teacher.
Maybe you are the person who......
had the most sales,
built the best deck ever, 
holds the record for the fastest time in the drive-thru.

What do you do with that?
Run tell someone?
Keep it to yourself?
Thank God?

I was reading this morning in the book of Acts,
the story of Ananias and Sapphira.

Now I know that what they were bragging about was a lie,
but they took it and ran straight to the apostles.
My "what if" mind says....
what if what we are running to tell is the truth?
Is it ok then?
Does it bring to mind the phrase,
"It's not bragging if it's the truth"?

Either way, the point is the same for me today.

When we do great things (whether it's the truth or a lie that we've made up)
do we then want the approval of God or the approval of man for having done it?

Do we talk about our great things LOUDLY IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE 
so they will "just happen" to overhear us and commend us for being so great?

Do we keep it quiet and secretly hope that someone finds out and tells everyone?

Warren W. Wiersbe said,
 "Once we are more concerned with our reputation than our character, 
there is no end to the things we will do
 just to make ourselves "look good" before others."

We can wear ourselves out trying to make sure that everyone knows 
all the great things we have done.
But then what?
On to the next great thing?
On to tell the next person we see?
What happens when the applause fades?
Because it will certainly fade.

Maybe in that moment when we want to speak up brag,
we pause and then say HIS name instead of our own.
Let's perform for an audience of ONE.
Let's allow HIM to decide how HE will acknowledge what HE has allowed us to do,
And then if someone does happen to notice, 
let's use that opportunity to point to HIM,
to brag on HIM and what HE has accomplished through us.
That's the kind of bragging that can change lives,
that's the kind of bragging that can last for eternity.