Comparing

June 29, 2010 § 6 Comments

Must be nice….. She seems to have it all together. Why am I stuck doing _____ and he gets to do something I have been wanting to do for a long time? Why does everything seem to come easy to them and we have to struggle?

Sound familiar? Can you think of a time in the last day, week, or month that you have entertained even one of those thoughts? Have the words “it must be nice” escaped your lips lately?  I know I have thought those thoughts and said “it must be nice” more than once lately.  It is everywhere. We compare our hair color or amount, our dress size, the bulk of our muscles, the make and model of our car or phone. We even compare gadgets. Let’s face it comparing ourselves is the American way. The question is, “is it God’s way?”

Comparing ourselves leads to discontent with what we have and who we are. Suddenly our phone that has served us well and meets our needs is not as “cool” as someone else’s. Maybe our spouse isn’t as helpful or supportive as our neighbor’s spouse seems. We wish we were better at keeping our house organized and we want to be more like our friend or sister who seems to have it all together.  We want to be more free-spirited like our neighbor whose family seems to be having spur of the moment fun constantly.  Most of us have that one person in our lives that we idealize.  We think, he has it all together.  He or she has the job, the house, the spouse, the kids, the dog, the boat, the charisma.  I want to be like him or her…

Oh friends listen to Isaiah, “Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?'” (Isaiah 49:9b)  God has made us for His perfect plan in His perfect way.  God planned your “imperfections” as well as your strengths.  God doesn’t want you checking out everyone else.  Saying if only I could sing like that or it “must be” nice having that car.  He wants usto say with the Psalmist, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14b  He wants us to give back to Him what He has given to us.  He isn’t asking us to be something we are not.  He only wants us to be faithful with the things He has given us.  He only wants all of us!

So the next time “MUST BE NICE” starts to knock around in our brains, let’s use it as a thankfulness cue.  Thanking God for how He made us, what He has given us, and where He is taking us.  What are somethings you are thankful for today?  Comment below.  I’ll start.

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Water

June 25, 2010 § 5 Comments

I just got back from vacation in Jackson Hole, WY. Let me tell you it was beautiful and cool and we hiked until our seven-year old thought her feet may fall off.

The thing about Jackson Hole is that it is about a mile above sea water and it has NO humidity. In fact it had rained one day we were there and the ground was dusty within hours. Makes for cooler weather but I discovered something on our third day there. I discovered that since it was so dry, I needed to drink much more water than normal. How did I come to this revelation? I started having altitude sickness.  I was nauseated, had a headache, didn’t feel like eating, was somewhat dizzy.  So I forced myself to drink water.  32 ounces of water later (in less than 20 minutes), I had finally perked up.  I felt like myself and ended up going on a two-mile hike with my family when only minutes earlier all I wanted to do was lay down and close my eyes.  I didn’t feel dehydrated, I didn’t look dehydrated, but I needed MORE water.

The point to sharing this story is that in the dry places of life we need more water than normal.  So when you suddenly look around you and you feel spiritually dry.  Your prayers seem to hit the ceiling and bouncing back.  Discouragement beats you down like the blistering heat.  Maybe you are just feeling blue and nothing around you seems right.  You need more water than usual.  You may be saying, but I haven’t stopped praying or reading my Bible.  I am doing the SAME thing I have done before.  Friend, in the dry times you need more.

Jesus says, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:38  Don’t you see that in those dry times Jesus is saying, “Come to me.  Come.  Come to me.  Through ME you have water, but you have to come.”

So you need more Jesus, you need to memorize scripture (don’t tell me you can’t my two-year old is memorizing scripture).  Maybe you need to find a different way to read through the Bible (maybe a chronological Bible or Inductive Bible Study, or any other tool to give you a fresh perspective).  You also need to pray.  Pray more, pray for people you haven’t thought of in a while, pray for whatever is causing the dry time.  Pray for your church, pray for your friends, pray for your family.  Pray for our country, pray for our leaders, pray for forgiveness.  Pray!

Are you saying times are dry?  Are you saying you are feeling worn out, frazzled and discouraged.  You need more Jesus.  Spend intimate time with Him.  Tell Him how you are feeling.  Listen to Him by reading His word.  Meditate on His word by memorizing it.  Are you already doing that?  Do more!  Just like me in Jackson Hole, I didn’t feel like drinking water, I was nauseated.  However when I forced myself to drink more, I got better.  Friend, it may start as forcing yourself to spend MORE time with Jesus.  It won’t end that way.  I found the more water I drank the better I felt and the more water I wanted to drink.  It is the same with Jesus.  The more time you spend with Him, you will find that you want more and more time.  It may start with difficulty, but prayerfully it will end with greater intimacy with our Jesus, the dryness gone, and a new Godly perspective to boot.

How about you?  Have you experienced dryness only to find the answer More Jesus?  Tell me about it!  Or maybe you are in the dry time and need more tools to help bring you to the living water of Jesus.  Let me know.  I’d love to hear your comments!

God is Good…

June 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

I prayed that God would use a difficult time in my life to glorify Him.  I didn’t want to go through all that YUCK and PAIN for nothing.  So I prayed He would use it.  I never imagined where that prayer would take me, but let me tell you, I am AMAZED and HUMBLED by what He is doing.

First I had to get over myself.  Seriously, I had decided that God would use my pain and yuck in a way that was easy on me.  In a way that I could glorify Him at the time, but that I could walk through it and be done.  How wrong I was.  God has me writing a book about this very difficult time.  He has me studying how to deal with difficult times and has me walking those roads again.  I am exploring those old emotions, remembering the searing pain, and thanking God for it.  WHY?  Well, for one that road has brought me to my knees and closer to Him.  I am more compassionate and humble now than when I started that road.  That road has taught me that I can’t do life myself.  I need friends to strengthen and sharpen me.  That road has shown me that I can love a God who doesn’t work the way I think He should, but works infinitely better and more detailed that I could imagine.

Through this process of working on writing a book and writing a book proposal and studying God’s word for this book God is humbling me.  However God is also encouraging me.  So often we ask God to help us, but we don’t think to talk to those around us.  We forget that God puts people in our paths for a reason.  I have found the more I tell others about my book the more God blesses me.  I have also found that I have to get over my pride and ask for help.  Oh, I HATE that!  I want to do it on my own, but I can’t.  The more I have asked the more willing help I have found!  Seriously?  You mean it is that easy?  Why haven’t I asked for help before?  I am TOO PROUD!  However God is good.  He is bring my pride down…I must decrease and He must increase as John the Baptist said.

So how have I learned these lessons?  The more people who hear about my book, the more encouragement and publishing contacts I have gained.  Also because I swallowed my pride and my fear and asked, an organization is willing to read my book for a possible endorsement!  Yes, me a nobody in publishing, someone who HATES to “bother” people with my stuff, who is timid and fearful often when it comes to something I have written, was BOLD.  WHY?   2 Tim 1:7 “..God has not given [me] a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”  So as I seek to honor and glorify God, He is encouraging me along this path.  Does that mean this journey will turn up easy and all roses?  NO WAY!  However that means that God is good and faithful.  He is bringing me closer to Him and opening my heart and mind to things I never expected.  He is GOOD!!!  ALL the time!

My WAY!

June 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

I love to get my way. I always have. Once when I was in elementary school, I brought home a paper with a word misspelled on it. My mom tried to help me learn and pointed out my mistake.  However, I insisted that I spelled it right, that I copied it straight from the board and my teacher certainly spelled it right. So my mom tried again to teach me with a different tactic. She grabbed the dictionary to show me that I was mistaken. Oh, but my stubborn unteachable heart wouldn’t listen and even with the truth of my error in black and white in front of me, I stated, “Well, the dictionary MUST be wrong.”

Have you ever wanted something your way so badly that you have ignored all the signals that it wasn’t right? I really WANT to date this guy.  It isn’t that big of a deal that he doesn’t know Jesus.  I’ll take him to church and lead him to Christ. I really WANT to take this job because it means more money and prestige.  It isn’t that big of a deal if I won’t see my family much. They will appreciate my hard work and sacrifice.  I really WANT my children to like me. It isn’t that big of a deal if I don’t say no to them.  They will enjoy the freedom I am giving them.

Jeroboam did the same thing.  He was the first king of the divided Israel.  God told Jeroboam that he would rule over ten of the twelve tribes of Israel.  God told him that if he would walk in God’s ways like David that God would be with him and build a dynasty for him as enduring as the one God built for David.  1Kings 11:38  So when Jeroboam does become king of Israel and its ten tribes, Jeroboam remembers God’s plans right?  He obeys God and stays strong.  I mean God told him the kingdom would be his.  Jeroboam clearly didn’t obtain the kingdom himself.  It was clearly and act of God.  So Jeroboam relied on God to maintain that kingdom.  Right?  Unfortunately no.  (1Kings 12:25-31) Jeroboam like me, wanted to keep the kingdom his way.  So when he came to power instead of following God’s commands and heading to Jerusalem to worship God, he made idols.  Not just any idols, he made golden calves.  Remind you of something earlier in Israelite history?  When Moses went to the mountain top to talk to God and Israel grew impatient so Aaron formed golden calves for the people to worship.  Not only did Jeroboam make golden calves for the ten tribes of Israel to worship, but he told them these were the “gods” who brought them out of Egypt.  His words must have struck a chord some how in someone.  These are the exact words of Aaron (Ex 32:4) when he made the golden calf.  Don’t you think the people were ignoring the red flag of RUN from this idolatry that was clearly waving in their face?

So how many red flags have you had waving in your face?  How many blessings have you lost for your disobedience?  Just like Jeroboam lost the chance for a dynasty that would honor God, we often miss out on God’s blessings because we insist to do it our way.  If this is true of you today will you pray with me:

Father God, I am tired of doing it MY WAY.  I am grieved that I have offended You.  I have been wrong and I have blatantly ignored Your warning flags.  I have sought to secure Your blessings my way.  Forgive me Father.  Forgive me and help empower me with Your Spirit to say no to myself and yes to you.  Thank You that I do not have to live in the bonds of sin, but that I am free and victorious through Your Son Jesus.  In His powerful holy and awesome name I pray.  The name of Jesus.  Amen.

So my brothers and sisters, I challenge you to say with me no to self and yes to God.  So long MY WAY!  Hello GOD’S WAY!

Focus…

June 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

Focus changes lots of things.  When you focus on one part of this optical illusion you see the young woman, but change your focus and an old woman appears.  When you lose your focus during a competition, you lose.  You don’t get a job done or you fail the test if you can’t stay focused.  Your focus affects every aspect of your life.  It affects the choices you make.  If you are focused on being the best basketball player of all time, you will choose to practice all the time, spend money on basketball camps, and it will affect what school you choose to attend.  It may even affect your relationships, you may stop taking time for friends and family in your quest to perfect your game.  Your focus even changes the way you interpret what is going on around you.  It changes your attitude towards life.  When you focus on the negative your day becomes terrible.  When you focus on the positive things, your day becomes better.

Have you ever noticed Paul’s attitude when he is in prison?  Paul is waiting to find out if he is going to be executed as a Roman traitor for spreading the gospel and yet he isn’t anxious, he isn’t angry, he is focused.  Philipians 1:20-21 says, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  So Paul isn’t lamenting his chains, he isn’t whining about the poor food, or complaining about the rat bites.  No Paul is focused.  He expects that he will not be ashamed if he is brought to the executioner because he is focused on glorifying God.  Paul understands that in whatever circumstance he is in he can and will glorify God.  So instead of focusing on himself, his circumstances, the injustice of the situation, Paul is focused on Christ.  He also understands if he does die that he will get the reward of heaven.  Heaven is gain and life is to glorify Christ.

How would your life change if you like Paul focus on Christ?  Mine would be different.  I would not concern myself about what others thought, but about what God thought.  I would not worry about how a difficult time would work out, but instead I would be at peace.  I would not have a bad attitude when things don’t go as planned, but I would rest in God’s perfect plan.  My life would not be the same.  I would be about glorifying Christ and not myself.  I would be about seeing others cared for and not out for number one.  I would not be in fear of people, but I would truly fear God.  Oh that I would “fix my eyes on Jesus” so that I could “run with perseverance the race marked out for” me.  Only with my eyes fixed on Jesus could I “live a life worthy of the gospel.”  That focus can only be attained through time spent with Jesus.  Time spent reading and memorizing God’s word.  That focus can only be maintained through the Holy Spirit working in me.  Oh that my life may be focused on You Jesus!  Oh that through Your Holy Spirit, I may choose to live a life worthy of You.  Father change me as I seek to keep You my focus!

Approval or Approved?!

June 1, 2010 § 2 Comments

Have you ever embarked on a new venture or chapter in your life that you have no doubts God is calling you towards? In this new journey you are a bit fearful and uncertain. You are way out of our comfort zone and you are confident in God if not so much in yourself. As you seek to let this new goal be known to others, you may feel weird saying God has called me to ________. You wonder if it sounds as bizarre to the person you are telling as it does to you. Does this person I’m telling my dream and plans and new direction to know how inadequate and totally uncomfortable I am? Yet something (prayerfully Christ’s love) compells you to continue down this new road. God is stretching you beyond your complacency. He is growing you and as He grows you, you gain confidence in Him.

Somewhere along the way you mention your dream to someone else. This time you receive a lukewarm at best reception. The approval you were seeking did not come and you start to doubt. You begin to question this dream or goal and you ability to accomplish what God has asked of you. You begin to doubt and waver that God ever called you to this dream or path. Maybe you should just give up.

The thing is that you don’t need approval from anyone, you have been approved! God approved you when He called you. 2 Corinthians 10:18
For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

So God has approved you to do His will. You are approved no approval needed.

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